WSOP providing cash incentives to dealers who get COVID vaccination

Kat Martin
Published by:
Posted on 09/09/2021

The evolution of the WSOP’s COVID-related requirements has been fast and furious over the last few days. After the initial debacle of Rule 115, the situation solidified to a player mask mandate but no vaccination requirement. Subsequently, proof of vaccination became a condition to compete, with masks now being optional, but not required.

Wherever one stands on the merits of these rules, there has been a general consensus that WSOP’s current position contains one glaring inconsistency. While all players (as well as spectators) must provide proof of vaccination, dealers and floor staff can work unvaccinated.

Some, like Daniel Negreanu, have suggested WSOP has no choice in this regard due to Nevada labor laws. Specifically he has claimed on Twitter that temporary staff cannot be mandated to receive the COVID shot. This seems inconsistent with the MGM’s recent mandate requiring all staff, including those on hourly contracts, to be vaccinated. Besides, at some level nearly all non-union jobs in Las Vegas casinos can be regarded as temporary.

Another common supposition is that WSOP is not requiring vaccinations simply because the company is already struggling to find enough dealers.

“WIN BIG from becoming vaccinated”

Irrespective of the underlying reasons for allowing unvaccinated dealers to staff the series, Poker.org can report that WSOP is throwing money at the problem to get the vaccinated numbers as high as possible. We have seen an email from WSOP to its dealing staff with the title “WIN BIG from becoming vaccinated.”

The text of the email details two ways in which vaccinated dealers can get free money.

“1. Receive one shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine between September 3rd 2021, and November 4th 2021, and you will be eligible to receive $250 in cash.”

“2. If you have already received one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or receive one shot during the promotional period, you are eligible to enter a drawing for a chance to win your share of $25,000 in cash and prizes with a grand prize of $5000.”

While we are encouraged that WSOP is addressing player concerns about unvaccinated dealers, we note that their approach contains some oddities. With the series almost upon us, time is already running out for vaccinated dealers to obtain maximum protection. Why compound the issue by extending the date of cash bonuses so deep into the series?

November 4 deadline for vaccination promotion

The cut-off date of November 4 for this promotion is telling. It is the day the Main Event is due to begin. There are a couple of reasons why this might be important to WSOP management.

The first is purely optical. A dealer working Day 1 of the Main Event having had a COVID shot that same morning is no better protected than an unvaccinated dealer. The only likely difference is that halfway through their shift they will feel run down and have to leave. However, the Main Event is also the big television event. It is conceivable that as coverage begins, WSOP can accurately announce that all dealers have received at least one COVID shot.

Second, the November 4 deadline allows WSOP to hire more dealers during the series, with the dangling carrot of free cash. The series tends to see a significant fraction of dealers quit the job in more normal years. With the additional possibility of a partially-vaccinated initial dealer pool leading to COVID-positive dealers being sent home, significant hiring of dealers throughout the series seems highly probable.

We hope everyone visiting to Las Vegas for the WSOP has a safe and enjoyable trip. This guide for players and spectators will help you do so.

Featured image source: Twitter