The World Series of Poker (WSOP) has just announced in a press release that all participants in the 2021 WSOP tournament will need to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. The event is still scheduled to play out live and in-person at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The proof-of-vaccination policy will go into effect on Thursday, Sept. 30 through Tuesday, Nov. 23 — the duration of the series.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly,” said the WSOP in a press release. “It is made with no agenda beyond protecting player eligibility and the operations of a unique televised gaming event. The nature of poker is to be in close proximity with your opponents for extended periods of time, and a seat at the World Series of Poker is a commitment for both our company and the participants. We want players to be excited for their return to the WSOP, while offering the greatest level of protection and limiting complications during the tournament this fall.”
The WSOP made its decision amid resurgent COVID-19 infectivity rates nationwide that have the potential to severely impact the series. Tens of thousands of players visit the WSOP each year, many of whom travel some distance to play. International travel restrictions were already likely to impact player attendance. The vaccination mandate represents a second attendance hit in the form of a minority percentage of players who have refused vaccination to date.
WSOP to employ CLEAR tracking app to verify vaccination status
The WSOP will employ CLEAR’s free mobile app and Health Pass feature to verify the verification status of all WSOP 2021 visitors, which include players, press, and vendors. WSOP and Caesars staff are covered under separate employment mandates. The vaccination mandate applies to all poker-related activity at the Rio Convention Center. This includes bracelet events, satellites, daily tournaments, and cash-game action.
Once verified via CLEAR, players may proceed directly to the registration cage to enter various WSOP events. The WSOP will also provide an on-site center to verify alternate documentation about vaccination status.
Players and other visitors will be considered “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19 if they have received their final dose 14 days prior to their first appearance at the Rio. The alternate-documentation station will be set up in the Belize Room at the Rio. It is unknown how rapidly the WSOP will be able to process the alternate documentation, for those who are unable to use CLEAR.
Mask mandate also goes into effect
In order to give the WSOP 2021 series the highest chance of running to a conclusion, a mask mandate has been added. According to the WSOP, “All attendees and Team Members will be required to wear masks.” The decision, according to the WSOP, is consistent with current Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and state mandates.
The vaxed-and-masked requirements do offer some relief regarding one’s exposure to players, other visitors, or WSOP staff who test positive. Fully-vaccinated players who have been exposed to a positive COVID case won’t be required to leave the WSOP, nor to enter a quarantine period, as long as they remain asymptomatic. This reverses the original COVID-19 rules as first announced by the WSOP earlier this month.
The World Series of Poker has modified its 2021 WSOP landing page to include information relevant to the vaccine requirements. The page acknowledges the “inherent risk” in playing the WSOP in a large venue, and notifies the public that participation is at one’s own risk. The updated landing page also includes a FAQ series offering specifics on several aspects of the vaccination requirement’s implementation.
Featured image source: WSOP.com