Once again, the world has to deal with a rise in COVID-19 cases. And it is bound to affect the poker community! The best online poker games have become more popular than ever, while land-based casinos have to fight to keep their doors open.
How do European poker rooms planning on staving off the pandemic? And what about US venues? And lastly, will the WSOP events proceed as scheduled? Find out more about how the world is dealing with the fast-spreading virus more than 18 after it changed our lives for good.
A Short Recap: COVID-19 In the Past Few Months
At the beginning of 2020, rumors of this contagious virus were spreading around fast, but no one could predict how quickly it will change our lives. Around March 2020, brick-and-mortar poker rooms in the US and other countries had to close their doors, which led players to move to online venues.
For many months, casinos were as deserted as the streets, but once the number of active cases went down – venues began to reopen. However, most casinos around the world still had to adhere to severe restrictions. Wearing masks was a must, casinos weren't allowed to reach maximum occupancy, social distancing was still in effect, etc.
In May 2021, it seemed as if the world has finally beaten the pandemic, and COVID restrictions were nowhere to be seen at the top poker rooms. But now, the Delta variant is spreading around the globe, and the number of COVID cases is on the rise again.
According to the CDC, an average of 108,470 cases are being discovered in the US every day. And in the UK, more than 28,000 get a positive diagnosis every day.
Due to those troubling stats, casinos have to change their tactics and bring back some of the social distancing restrictions.
How do Casinos Adjust to the Changing COVID Situation?
Casinos all around the world announced they are going to extra cautionary measures to ensure the safety of their guests.
In France and Italy, casinos are legally bound to ask the players whether they were vaccinated or not. Visitors have to be either fully vaccinated or present the casino with a negative COVID test. In some cases, players will also be able to show proof they have recovered from COVID-19.
In Cyprus, various poker events are about to take place. The casinos hosting those tournaments require foreign players to show proof of vaccination, but they can also show a negative COVID test and isolate for a while.
The WSOP organizers also decided to make an effort to keep the poker players as safe as possible, but their announcement was met with some disapproval.
Last week, the WSOP published its guidelines for the 2021 events, in which they referred to possible COVID-19 complications. According to Rule 115, the casino can remove players from the tables – without reimbursing their cash – in the following scenarios:
- If the player has received a positive COVID test result.
- If the player has come in close contact with a COVID patient.
- If the player doesn't want to undergo the required COVID testing.
After learning about Rule 115, poker players were outraged, as they thought it was unfair that fully vaccinated players can be disqualified if they come in contact with a COVID patient. And let's face it, there is no way to avoid being exposed to COVID in such a grand event. Overall, this rule seemed to be a bit unfair.
But the WSOP organizers cleared things up as they explained that fully vaccinated players won't be automatically removed from the tables if they've been exposed to a sick person.
Also, it became clear that the event's staff will rely on the players themselves to inform them if they've tested positive for COVID. At this moment in time, it doesn't seem like players will have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to participate in the event. However, things can change rather quickly, and there is no knowing whether those things will become mandatory soon at all casinos around the world.
Stay Safe & Play Poker Online!
At this moment in time, it seems as if all live poker events are still on. But many players still prefer to play poker online, as the number of COVID cases rises constantly. Hopefully, all players will be able to remain as safe as possible during these hard times!