Canada’s Playground Poker Club has joined the WSOP in making vaccine passports a condition of entry, starting today.
The popular poker room in Kahnawake, Quebec, regularly hosts WPT and Partypoker Live events. COVID restrictions meant it closed for more than a year. Now, however, it’s welcoming back players — but only those who have been vaccinated.
Yesterday’s announcement was made after proof of vaccination became mandatory in Quebec. In line with local bars, restaurants, gyms, and other entertainment venues, casinos can only allow entry to people with Quebec’s vaccine passport, VaxiCode.
Playground Poker Club bound by local COVID laws
Proof of vaccination will be required for anyone entering the Playground complex, which includes the poker room and onsite restaurant. Everyone from Quebec will be expected to show their VaxiCode passport. The app was made available on iOS devices last Wednesday, and for Android users this week.
Those who don’t have the app can show a QR code that confirms they’ve been fully vaccinated. QR codes can be found in an email or text message provided after a recipient’s most recent jab. If confirmation hasn’t been sent via email or text, Quebecers can download their QR code from Quebec.ca.
Anyone from outside of Quebec has to show an equivalent form of proof. This could be a potential stumbling block for international visitors if vaccine passports aren’t available in their country. However, Playground Poker Club has said that whatever proof someone has from their region will be sufficient.
The introduction of mandatory vaccine passports will work in tandem with other COVID-19 restrictions at the venue, including:
- Playground Poker Club is working at a reduced capacity, allowing a maximum of 650 patrons
- Poker players need to reserve their spot in a game by calling 450-635-7653 at least one hour before attending
- Facemasks are mandatory inside the poker room and throughout the entire complex
- Social distancing markers are in place through the complex, but nine-handed tables are permitted; there are no plexiglass dividers at the poker tables, but masks are required
What about natural immunity or proof of a negative test?
CardsChat spoke to a representative for Playground Poker Club about the issue of natural immunity and negative tests. They told us that only people who have been fully vaccinated are able to enter the complex. The representative said that, along with a COVID vaccine passport, visitors will need to show a valid form of ID.
For anyone in Quebec, VaxiCode is the preferred vaccine passport. For those from outside the province, Playground will require proof that a person has had two jabs of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.
This means that natural immunity from prior infection isn’t enough to enter the venue. Moreover, unlike casinos in France and the Czech Republic, Playground Poker Club won’t accept a negative PCR or lateral flow test taken just before attending.
Vaccine passports split opinions
Playground Poker Club is following local laws with regard to COVID vaccine passports. However, there was some desire among customers to introduce a mandate before yesterday’s announcement. The poker room reopened on Aug. 11 after being closed for 515 days due to local restrictions.
Even with social distancing measures, mandatory facemasks, and enhanced cleaning protocols, some people wanted more. “Any chance you are only going to let vaccinated people play or at least have vaccinated only tables? I would like to play but I would also like to lower my chances of getting COVID,” twitter user FlowJunkie tweeted.
Playground’s announcement has gone down well with FlowJunkie and those who share his views.
Thank you for continuing to be a responsible professional establishment. This is great news, well done!
— Murray Kurtz (@Knightmoved) September 1, 2021
However, just as the WSOP stirred up controversy last week, Playground Poker Club’s new rule has irked certain players.
“What a bunch of BS! Vaccination for a single strain is better than having had COVID and an antibody infusion? I think not! Natural immunity to viruses is the way to go,” Keith Kemper wrote on Twitter.
The future of live poker, at least in the short-term, looks increasingly as though it will be defined by vaccine passports. The WSOP is asking everyone attending this fall’s events to provide proof of vaccination, as are certain casinos in Europe. Now, with one of Canada’s largest poker rooms following suit, a domino effect is starting.
The issue will surely continue to divide opinions among players, but with venues bound by local laws, there isn’t anything that venues can do to keep everyone happy.