Las Vegas poker rooms can soon resume operations at full capacity

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 04/14/2021

After more than one year of limited capacity, restrictions in Las Vegas poker rooms will come to an end by June 1 at the latest. And it’s possible card rooms will be able to operate at full capacity a few weeks earlier.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) held a statewide press conference on Tuesday to provide an update on COVID-19 restrictions. For the past month, businesses such as casinos and restaurants have been limited by capacity restrictions of 50%, which is up from the 25% rule since the fall. He announced during the press conference that once June 1 rolls around, all 16 Nevada counties can fully reopen for the first time since March 2020.

“I am pleased to announce that I am confident every county in the state of Nevada will be able to fully reopen at 100% capacity by June 1,” the governor said during a news conference.

Some counties may eliminate the current restrictions earlier. Sisolak announced in February that on May 1 he would turn things over to local governments. When that day arrives, local counties will be permitted to determine their own COVID-19 restrictions. Nye County, home to legal prostitution, already said the county is dropping all restrictions immediately on May 1. Other counties may follow suit.

“We are aware that some counties may make the decision to move to 100% capacity as early as May 1 when they gain the authority — and others may not. Each county in Nevada is unique and 2 of 7 have different factors to consider – rural or urban settings, community transmission rates in the area, and vaccine administration, among a few,” Sisolak said during the news conference.

But for now, the governor is setting a June 1 target date for the entire state to fully reopen. That means no more social distancing, no seating restrictions, and a likely boost to the local economy. In Las Vegas, you can expect a significant increase in tourism this summer due to pent up demand.

“To be clear, this does not mean that social distancing will no longer exist in the state,” Sisolak said. “Every health official will agree that it’s still an important prevention tool. This just means that the state will no longer be setting the requirements. That authority will also now transition to the counties so they can make decisions based on what works best for their local jurisdictions.”

As for the poker rooms, the Nevada Gaming Control Board will have final say on restrictions, according to Governor Sisolak. So, even though the governor plans to eliminate most COVID-19 guidelines on June 1, it’s possible the gaming board could determine that restrictions in casinos are still needed. If so, poker room operations may not change much, although no one knows if the gaming board will choose to overrule Sisolak.

As for face masks, which are required at the poker table and in every Nevada business, Sisolak said during his press conference that he can’t give us a timeline for when he’ll remove the mask mandate. But he is encouraged by his state’s ability to vaccinate its population. As of April 13, 25% of the state has been fully vaccinated, and 40% have received the first of two doses. By June 1, Sisolak’s target date to fully reopen Nevada, more than half the state will have been vaccinated.

Featured image source: Twitter