Gambling Today: Wynn Las Vegas to Reopen Without Poker. Will Others Follow?

Wynn Resorts is the first major Las Vegas strip property to announce it will reopen without poker.
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Predictions, like the ones we have previously made at SI’s Gambling Today, have painfully come to fruition now that we have learned that Wynn Las Vegas will not be offering live poker when it reopens as part of “Phase 3” of Governor Steve Sisolak’s ‘Road To Recovery for Nevada.”

In recent years, Wynn Resorts had moved its poker room from the Wynn over to its adjoining property Encore, creating easily the most comfortable and alluring poker room in the city. The casino operator originally included live poker as Section 11 in their detailed reopening document released last month. However, it appears that management came to the decision that many players would balk at the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s rules of limiting poker to four-handed play, making it an unprofitable endeavor.

The Wynn Poker Room had originally planned to take social distancing requests from the CDC seriously. Besides having every other poker table remain empty at all times, staff were going to be advised to request players sanitize their hands prior to sitting down at any game. Here’s the complete list of poker-room protocols that were outlined in document, prior to the requirement of no more than four players per table:

11. Poker Operations: Cleaning & Sanitizing Protocol

a) Supervisors to sanitize table game rails after each customer leaves (ongoing)

b) Supervisors to sanitize each chair area after a customer leaves (ongoing)

c) Supervisors to sanitize the outside of shufflers every hour; inside to be cleaned once per week

d) Supervisors to sanitize podiums at least once per hour including phones, computers, Veridocs, all hard surface and cabinetry

e) Dealers to sanitize in table rating units each time they enter a game

f) Dealers to sanitize toke boxes

g) Chip sanitation solutions being reviewed – pending expert guidance

Physical Distancing Protocol

a) Every other table open and tables to be staggered

b) Maximum seating to be established based on expert guidance

c) Dealers to verbally give breaks instead of “tapping in” and maintain appropriate separation

Guest Considerations

a) Guests will be reminded to sanitize their hands prior to the start of play

b) Food service protocols to be reviewed

The news also dashes the hopes for any 2020 edition of the Wynn Summer Classic. The event is normally among the largest of the summer poker events held annually in Las Vegas. Wynn now joins the Aria Resort and Casino in cancelling its summer offering, who recently announced its Summer High Roller Series would not take place this year.

The decision by Wynn, one of the most prominent casino operators in the country, highlights the massive changes gamblers can expect when they are allowed to return to Vegas casinos. One post that has been popular on social media platforms displays Hialeah Park Racing & Casino in Florida testing a poker table with customers wearing masks and playing behind a giant guard. In all honesty, these kinds of extreme measures look more like they are protecting the poker felt from COVID-19 as opposed to players.

The live poker industry, especially in Las Vegas, appears to be on life support with over-the-top demands of four-handed play. Can you hear that? That is the sound of phones ringing nationwide with demands for the return of legalized online poker, with many of the casinos getting cut in on the action. Bettors, specifically poker players, can take that to the bank as the lock of 2020. 

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