WSOP Introduces Face Mask Exemption for Seated Poker Players

Face masks won’t be mandatory at this year’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas if you’re sitting at a poker table. That’s the latest COVID-19 rule announced by the WSOP last night, bringing more clarity to the safety guidelines for this year’s series.

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Nevada’s COVID-19 rules mean that poker players won’t have to wear a face mask if they’re sitting at a table during this year’s WSOP. (Image: Sierra Wave)

The decision to make masks optional at the poker table runs in line with state policy. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed Emergency Directive 050 on Sept. 2, extending Nevada’s mask exemption to large indoor events and conventions where all attendees are vaccinated. It was unclear whether this rule applied to poker events, but the WSOP updated its COVID-19 FAQ on Tuesday to confirm that the mask exemption does apply to its forthcoming series.

Mask exemption only applies to seated players

This means that players at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino won’t have to wear a face-covering if they’re sitting at a poker table. They will, however, be required to wear a mask when they’re away from the table and while walking the halls of the Rio.

“Within the WSOP playing areas, players will have the option to remove their mask while seated and playing at their poker table, consistent with Directive 050. However, pursuant to the Rio’s health and safety policies, players must put their mask on anytime they are moved or step away from their poker table for any reason while indoors,” reads the WSOP’s latest COVID rule.

Players are advised to consult the CDC’s guidelines for what qualifies as an appropriate face covering. All other rules in force have been implemented either by the Rio, the WSOP, or a combination of both.

The WSOP also made its position clear on religious exemptions to the mask mandate. Again, it has deferred authority to Nevada Directive 050, which states that there are no religious exemptions. In other words, you won’t be able to attend the WSOP if you haven’t been vaccinated because of your religious beliefs.

Latest WSOP COVID-19 rule sparks new debate

As has been the case since the WSOP announced that only vaccinated players can attend this year’s event, opinions on face masks are mixed. The majority of those planning to attend are happy with the rule.

“Nice. It’s about time they took a stand. WSOP thank you for being a responsible Corp,” tweeted Twitter user @mike64445963.

However, there are others that believe it’s another illogical policy. The main contention among the naysayers is that dealers don’t have to be vaccinated. However, unvaccinated dealers will have to wear masks at the table.

If that’s the case, Twitter user Brian Reinhart wants to know why unvaccinated players can’t attend if they agree to wear a mask.

Pleasing everyone in this situation is impossible and the WSOP is taking steps to protect its own interests as it sees fit. That means players at this year’s series will be exempt from wearing a mask, but only while they’re at a poker table.

Written by
Daniel Smyth
Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.

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