Since June 2020, casinos in Pennsylvania have begun accepting customers after months of being out of business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, poker rooms have remained closed due to safety concerns.
Poker Tables Now Open at Mounty Airy, Mohegan Sun
Now, poker players and fans in the Keystone State will be delighted to know that the live poker scene in PA is finally back, marked by the reopening of two poker rooms – the Mohegan Sun Pocono in Luzerne County, and the Mount Airy Casino Resort in Monroe County.
Both rooms became the first two land-based poker rooms to reopen in the state since the COVID-19 lockdown in mid-March. They have resumed operations since October 16.
Several other venues are expected to follow suit, though there’s been no word coming from them yet as to when exactly they are going to reopen. Penn National Gaming already announced plans to welcome back poker players to the Meadows Racetrack & Casino in western Pennsylvania by October 23, but it remains unclear when its Hollywood Casino in Dauphin County will return to offering poker.
Wind Creek Bethlehem also has yet to announce a reopening date for its 26-table poker room. In August, Harrah’s Philadelphia decided to close down for good; that decision has remained unchanged up to this day, with no further updates from the venue.
Before going back to business, poker rooms need to get approval from the PA Gaming Control Board. In September, casinos in the state received a letter from the regulator, asking them to submit their poker room reopening plans for review. The plans must comply with a number of safety requirements laid out by the board, such putting in place glass dividers between the players and dealers. All rooms also need to limit each table to just seven players.
Operators are also required to regularly sanitize all equipment, including the tables, dividers, poker cards, and chips. Wearing of translucent gloves is allowed, but bringing of food inside the venue is prohibited.
Live poker has returned to Pennsylvania despite a recent warning from Health Secretary Dr Rachel Levine that the state was bracing for a new wave of coronavirus infections during the fall. The state will stick to its mitigation orders expressing confidence that they can now better deal with a possible resurgence of the virus.
Borgata Poker Room Reopens in New Jersey
Meanwhile in New Jersey, the poker room at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City is also set to reopen, becoming the first poker venue in the city to open its doors.
The Borgata poker room will begin re-accepting poker players on October 21, initially offering seven-handed cash games. The venue will also run just 30 out of its 77 poker tables, with only seven player allowed for each table. While the games on offer are limited for now, players will still be able take advantage of some huge value promotions, such as the Bad Beat jackpot which will give away at least $100,000 in prizes.
Borgata is requiring all individuals entering public areas in the casino, including its poker room, to wear a face mask. The tables have also been equipped with dividers to ensure social distancing between players. Additionally, hand sanitizing stations have been installed throughout the room. Beverage service is available, but food is prohibited inside the venue. The room is also open to players only, meaning spectators cannot go inside.
Borgata is the busiest poker room in the city. In 2019, the room was able to generate almost $18 million in revenue, representing a significant percentage of the $28.5 million racked up by all five poker rooms in the city, including Harrah’s Atlantic, Golden Nugget, Tropicana, and Bally’s. Borgata is aiming to strengthen its foothold by continuing to host major tournaments, such as the popular Borgata Poker Open.
It has also benefited from its long-standing partnership with the World Poker Tour. Both recently worked together to hold the first ever WPT Online Borgata Series on the partypoker US Network.