The 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP) live festival is just two months away. It is set to kick off on September 30 at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, featuring 88 bracelet events.
The excitement is already building up among WSOP players and fans across the globe who are itching to return to the live felts, but latest developments in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic could impact the running of the series this fall.
European Travel Ban Still In Place
Earlier this week, the US government announced plans to extend its European travel ban as the country experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases. Latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that over the last seven days, the country recorded an average of over 50,000 daily cases, the highest since May. That’s despite almost half of the country’s population being fully vaccinated.
The new Delta variant has particularly become a major concern as it now accounts for 83 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the country. The new strain, which originally surfaced in India, spreads more quickly and is potentially more dangerous. According to health experts, most of the people who have recently contracted the Delta variant in the US are those who are unvaccinated.
US President Joe Biden initially aimed to have 70% of the American population be fully vaccinated by July, but that goal has yet to be achieved. Based on latest figures, just 56% of people living in the US have been fully vaccinated. Some people remain hesitant to get the COVID-19 jab due to political propaganda and misinformation going around in relation to the efficacy of the vaccines.
A recent report from the Associated Press show that the unvaccinated are more at risk of contracting the virus and developing severe symptoms. It found that almost all (99.2 percent) COVID-19 related deaths in the country were among those who have yet to receive the vaccine.
Travel Bans Could Affect 2021 WSOP Numbers
In addition to boosting its vaccination efforts, the US government will also continue to put in place travel restrictions to contain the virus, and this could inevitably affect participation numbers for the upcoming 2021 WSOP.
Players from restricted nations, including those in Europe who aren’t already in the US cannot directly travel to the country in the wake of the travel bans.
To enter the US, they would need to travel first to a non-restricted jurisdiction and spend 14 days there before flying to the US. This was what most players from restricted countries did when they took part in poker tournaments held in the US since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
Some international players might be deterred from participating in the 2021 WSOP due to travel difficulties, but the festival is still poised to draw a significant number of competitors from overseas, just like how it used to prior to the pandemic.
In 2019, the WSOP Main Event pulled in a total of 8,569 participants, a huge portion of that field came from non-restricted nations. However, three players who reached the final table traveled from locations that are presently affected by US travel bans.
No Changes In Plans For WSOP Fall Series
Vaccinated or not, Las Vegas casinos are once again requiring employees and patrons to wear face masks upon entry into their establishments due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. The state of Nevada has recorded one of the highest cases in the country per 100,000 residents over the past week.
Despite the current situation in relation to travel bans and the rising COVID-19 cases, the WSOP’s plans for the fall festival have remained unchanged. In fact, they are actively hiring floor staff and dealers for the live series. Online satellites have also begun running on WSOP.com sites in New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
 

TightPoker Staff

TightPoker Staff

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