Poker rooms prepare to reopen in the UK

Jon Pill
Posted on: May 12, 2021 11:53 PDT

Poker rooms are finally reopening in the UK on March 17. Casinos were briefly allowed to reopen between August and November of 2020. With one week until they can reopen again, the UK's card rooms are fighting to be poker players' first port of call once vaccinated.

The government's new plans have entertainment venues scheduled for reopening on May 17, 2021. Now we are just a few days out from that date. And the government has not issued any statements adjusting the plan. So, all across the country, poker rooms are wheeling out their promotional arms to get people psyched for the return of poker.

UK poker players are clearly starving for action, risking arrest and £800 (~$1,125) fines at poker games. In one case, players tried to pass off a poker game as a wake.

Grosvenor reminded players on Twitter that they will be opening their cardrooms in "just 5 day's time."

Splendid (social) isolation

This reopening has been long awaited. The Johnson government opted to reopen the country for two weeks over Christmas. This allowed an enormous third spike that peaked with 1,823 deaths in a single day.

This third spike has already cost tens of thousands of lives. Not to mention an additional month of lockdown, with all the attendant economic woes that come with that. Casinos in particular have suffered from the additional time with their doors shuttered. In the wake of the disastrous handling of the Michaelmas term, BoJo tried to get tough. So he issued a new reopening plan at the start of the Lent term for reopening by end of the Summer term.

In the last few weeks, there have been several days without coronavirus deaths. These are the first death-free days in 14 months. The seven-day average for deaths is down to the low-teens. The nation is breathing easy for the most part and for the first time since this disaster crossed the English Channel.

Thirty-five million people across the UK have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. In a population of 67 million, that is a significant number. And the counter is rising every day.

Poker is looking less and less foolhardy as the nation finally gets things under control.

Plans and prizes

Genting's have updated their website to read: "We're excited to confirm that we will be opening our doors again on May 17th. We're also pleased to announce that our casinos in Scotland will also be reopening alongside our English casinos on this date."

Most of Genting's places will be opening with full shifts running from 2 PM to 4 AM). A few will have extended hours of 12 PM to 5 AM. Others are opening with brutally truncated hours of 2 PM to 10:30 PM.

Grosvenor are offering £300,000 of prizes to casino goers. These include £50 vouchers to anyone who lands number 8 on any of their American roulette wheels and £10 food vouchers for anyone who stakes £100 on their slots. The latter is quite an ask with the UK government's recent limitations on maximum slot bet sizes.

Their poker rooms will be opening with plexiglass and short-handed tables.

Absent friends

Genting's list of opening times also marks some of the economic losses of the pandemic. The Genting casinos in the coastal towns of Bristol, Margate, Southport, and Torquay are all listed as "Permanently closed."

One surprising absence from the advertising stampede is Nottingham's premier poker room, Dusk Till Dawn. Dusk Till Dawn is one of the gravitational centers (or centres) of the UK's poker world. However, neither DTD's website nor Rob Yong have announced details of if or when the venue will reopen. The silence of Rob Yong, the CEO, on the site's back-to-business plans, is particularly concerning. DTD is continuing to run online events.

If you're going to play live poker on or after May 17, please remain safe. Wear a mask. Wash your hands regularly. If at all possible, wait until you've got both your vaccine doses before playing.

Bear all that in mind till I see you all at the tables, soon and at last.

Featured image source: Twitter