Three Pennsylvania Casinos Set to Reopen Next Week Without Poker

Three Pennsylvania casinos announced plans to reopen next week, but they can’t offer poker under state gaming rules.

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Pennsylvania casinos are starting to reopen, with three welcoming gamblers next week. But under state gaming rules no state casinos can offer poker initially. (Image: DJZ)

‘Green’ Phase Regions Can Open Next Week

The Meadows Casino in Washington County and Rivers Casino Pittsburgh will both open their doors on Tuesday, while Lady Luck Nemacolin plans to open on Friday.

Those facilities can open because the counties in which they’re located are moving into the “green” phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan. These areas have seen downturns in COVID-19 outbreaks for at least two weeks.

As in Las Vegas and other gaming jurisdictions, the casino experience will be much different, with a face-mask requirement for employees and patrons, plexiglass at gaming tables, hand-sanitizer stations, and some disabled slot machines to enforce social distancing.

Unlike most other jurisdictions, however, poker can’t be offered right now. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s rules for reopening prohibit the game initially, but will be revisited based upon guidance from health officials, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Gaming Control Says Poker Isn’t Safe Yet

“Poker rooms are not authorized to operate due to players handling cards and chips,” the board said.

The Meadows Casino and Rivers Casinos both operate poker rooms, but Lady Luck does not.

In fact, Rivers Casino has replaced poker tables in its room with a dozen blackjack tables to aid in social distancing. Blackjack tables will be limited to three players, while roulette tables will host a maximum of four players and no more than six can play at a craps table.

PGCB officials will be on-site at those casinos to ensure they are following the protocols, which also include preventing patrons from congregating behind tables and maintaining distances of six feet apart on the casino floors.

The board “desires to assure that reopenings occur in a manner which promotes the safety of casino patrons and employees alike, as well as assure an environment conducive to proper regulatory oversight,” Executive Director Kevin O’Toole said Wednesday during a regulatory conference.

The state’s other nine casinos won’t open for at least two weeks because they are located in regions of Pennsylvania in the yellow or red phases or Wolf’s reopening plan.

State gaming revenue dropped 84% in April compared to the previous April, from $284 million to $46 million, with almost all of that coming from online gaming.

Written by
Johnny Kampis
Johnny Kampis -- the author of "The Essential Guide to Vegas during the World Series of Poker" and "Vegas or Bust: A Family Man Takes on the Poker Pros" -- has been making the summer trek to Las Vegas from Alabama since 2004. When not playing poker, he's a professional journalist who's written for American Spectator, Fox News, HuffPost,, and many others. He currently writes for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and serves on the FCC's media advisory panel.

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