Nevada county ready to end COVID-19 restrictions; impact on Las Vegas poker

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 04/08/2021

Nye County in Nevada says it will end some major COVID-19 restrictions come May 1, and that could have an indirect impact on the Las Vegas poker scene.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has called the shots for his state on pandemic guidelines since Day 1. But in February, he announced that on May 1 he would turn things over to local governments. At present, restaurants and casinos are only permitted to operate with 50% of the establishment’s fire code capacity. That has forced poker rooms to limit the number of players, tables, and games since the pandemic hit.

Until Wednesday, none of the state’s 16 counties had publicly disclosed what restrictions they’ll keep in place or eliminate on May 1. But now we have one county ready to move on from the pandemic, even though thousands of Americans continue to contract the virus on a daily basis.

Nye County, one of the only counties in the U.S. with legal prostitution, let it be known that on May 1, that’s it, there will be no more COVID-19 restrictions. No more masks required, businesses can return to operating at maximum capacity, and the brothels can reopen for the first time since March 2020.

What will Clark County decide?

Nye County is large in area (over 18,000 square miles), but has a relatively low population (around 46,000). The county is best known for its small town of Pahrump, which is about a 45-minute drive from Las Vegas. Numerous Vegas tourists drive out to Pahrump to be entertained by a legal prostitute. Contrary to popular belief, prostitution isn’t legal in Clark County, which is home to Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is, however, home to 20 poker rooms (31 pre-coronavirus) and is considered the poker capital of the world. The county hasn’t yet announced its plans come May 1, but local bloggers have reported that local politicians are planning to quickly ease COVID-19 restrictions as soon as they are given permission from the governor to do so.

At present, poker rooms in Las Vegas can only operate at 50% of capacity, face masks are required at all times while playing, and plexiglass dividers are in place at every poker table that has more than six players. Those restrictions have become frustrating to numerous poker players, especially those who refuse to take the pandemic seriously and believe it’s nothing but a political hoax or just the flu.

Given that the first domino fell — Nye County announced the elimination of restrictions on May 1 — it’s likely other counties will follow suit. And since Clark County’s economy is so dependent on tourism, there’s a high probability that many, if not all, COVID-19 restrictions will be eliminated on May 1 or soon after. And that would mean poker rooms could go back to business as usual.

With that said, even if the local governments permit businesses to operate at 100% of capacity and remove the mask mandate, that doesn’t mean certain businesses, including some poker rooms and casinos, won’t decide to implement their own restrictions.

Featured image source: Flickr