The US-Canada border may soon reopen, according to Bloomberg News, and it would have a positive impact on poker, including the 2021 WSOP.
Canada closed off its border to the neighboring United States last year due to widespread COVID-19 in America. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the action as a preventive measure to slow the coronavirus from rapidly spreading in his country.
During the 2020 WSOP Online Bracelet Series on GGPoker, which wasn’t available in the US, many American players had limited travel options due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in other countries, including Canada. Most made the trek down South to Mexico.
Now, American players hoping to head up North to play legal online poker might soon have that opportunity available again. Bloomberg News reports that the Canadian government is holding internal discussions to reopen its border with the US, despite the fact that Canada isn’t keeping pace with the US on COVID-19 vaccinations.
As of Thursday, May 14, 36.6% of the US population ages 16 and above have been fully vaccinated. That’s a stark contrast to Canada, where only 3.6% of the total population has been vaccinated. Given how slow the vaccine rollout is going throughout Canada, Trudeau has been forced to keep his border closed, not only to protect his own citizens, but also citizens of the United States.
“Senior officials have begun to formally talk about options for how to proceed,” three people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition they not be identified. “One question under consideration is whether to employ a two-track system in which quarantine and testing requirements would be relaxed for vaccinated travelers,” Bloomberg News reports.
Although only a tiny percentage of Canadians are fully vaccinated, the country has ramped up its vaccination process in the past week. As of Thursday, 43.5% of Canadians had received at least one dose of the shot, which means within a few weeks, nearly half of the country will likely be fully vaccinated. As a result, Canadian officials are now beginning to discuss a plan to reopen the border, at least for those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Canada’s impact on the 2021 World Series of Poker
The World Series of Poker is the biggest and most popular annual poker event in the world. Although the series takes place in the United States, players come from all over the world to compete. At the 2019 WSOP, seven countries each saw more than 100 players travel to Las Vegas to compete in bracelet events.
Canada was the most represented non-US country at the series, with 420 participants. Should the US-Canada border reopen in time for the fall series (Sept. 30 to Nov. 23), that could have a positive impact on attendance at the World Series of Poker.
For the game of poker as a whole, opening the Canadian border to US players would be a benefit to the online poker industry. Many Americans travel to Canada to play online since all the major international poker sites aren’t available within the United States.