Las Vegas Poker Players, Frequently Unmasked, Gradually Return to Tables

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The first four Las Vegas casino poker rooms to resume operations since Thursday appeared busy this weekend, and had multiple coronavirus precautions in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Often, fewer than half of the players at tables bothered to wear recommended masks, based on local news reports.

Under guidelines from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, casinos must make masks available to guests who ask for them. Also, some Nevada poker rooms now can have five players at a table instead of the initial requirement of four. Before the pandemic, nine or 10 poker players were found at each table.

The South Point Hotel Casino on Wednesday got the gaming board to approve its request to have five players at the tables, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The Orleans Hotel & Casino received similar approval on Thursday.

Upon hearing the news, players at the Orleans cheered, the Review-Journal reported. Poker room manager Garrett Okahara immediately began moving the extra chair to each table.

Poker rooms at South Point and the Orleans reopened on Thursday. The Venetian resumed poker on Friday, followed on Saturday by the Golden Nugget

At the Orleans on Friday evening, there were 16 poker tables in use, the Review-Journal reported. More than 70 players were waiting.

On Thursday, the Orleans saw ten to 13 tables in use. More than 100 players were often waiting to play. The South Point saw up to 15 concurrent poker games on Thursday. More than 30 players were on the waiting list.

At the Venetian, there were no multi-table tournaments Friday night. But the Venetian had a single-table tournament, the newspaper report adds.

Coronavirus Safeguards in Place
Upon the reopening of some venues on Thursday, casino floors across Las Vegas installed plexiglass dividers, were taking temperatures before visitors could gain entrance, and hand sanitizer abounded. Last week, Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Union, announced, “From dealers to bellmen, cooks to guest room attendants, all casinos workers deserve to be safe and protected.”

She added that the Culinary Union “demands that the Nevada Gaming Commission, the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and the Clark County Commission mandate all casinos follow the updated guidance from SNHD [Southern Nevada Health District] regarding COVID-19 testing of 100 percent of front-line workers.”

A gaming board guideline, that casino workers encourage visitors to wear masks, was largely ignored by many guests.

Word from out of the Cosmopolitan is the casino was slammed Saturday night, and hardly anybody wore masks. At Red Rock Resort, friends report a naked-faced crowd assembled at the bar at Rocks Lounge, happily chatting and imbibing at close range,” Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes reported.

On Sunday, the gaming floor at Circus Circus Hotel & Casino saw many players not wearing face masks, the Review-Journal said. The casino had them available for anyone who wanted one, as required by the Gaming Board.

Sportsbooks Saw ‘Modest’ Turnout
Overall, the Las Vegas sportsbooks which reopened before this weekend saw “modest” crowds, ESPN reported, based on statements from bettors and bookmakers.

Specifically, horse players were seen more frequently than those wagering on other sports, the report adds. At the Bellagio, the race and sportsbook started off with three ticket-writers for over-the-counter bets on Thursday. On Saturday, they needed to add more, given the demand for horse racing wagers, ESPN said.

On Thursday, the initial bet at the Bellagio was $20 for the Dallas Cowboys to capture the National Football Conference (NFC). Someone even took a flight to Las Vegas to place seven bets at the venue on the NFL, totaling $157,250.

Upon leaving for the weekend on Sunday afternoon and evening, visitors did not experience significant travel delays.

The Review-Journal reported McCarran International Airport was “fairly quiet.” Nor were there any “apparent major traffic incidents on area interstate highways,” the report adds.

On Sunday, McCarren’s Twitter page announced, “As this #BackToVegas weekend comes to a close, many visitors will be headed to the airport. Give yourself plenty of time and space (six feet!) and pack your patience. As we adjust to a new normal, wait times may be longer than you’re used to seeing at LAS.”

Most visitors this weekend drove to Las Vegas rather than taking a plane, based on initial reports.

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