The poker room at the Wynn is now effectively a mask-optional zone.
The evidence is finally (and mostly) in. As of Thursday, the CDC has ruled that in the U.S., vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks. The White House tweeted about the CDC’s announcement, “If you’re fully vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask – indoors or outdoors, in most settings.”
Following suit, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has ruled that casinos can decide their own policies regarding mask-enforcement for vaccinated guests and employees. Previously, all casinos had to uphold a mask-mandate for all guests and staff.
The Wynn Las Vegas has been the quickest off the mark. Within minutes of the NGCB rule change coming into effect, Wynn announced that they are dropping the mask mandate for vaccinated people in their Vegas locations.
In a press release issued today, Friday, May 14, 2021, Wynn said that “beginning this evening, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore will communicate to guests that they are not required to wear a mask if they are fully vaccinated and are required to wear a mask if they are not.”
The resorts are also no longer actively enforcing the mask rule for unvaccinated guests either. Instead, “the resort trusts guests to take the appropriate precautions based on their personal vaccination status.”
This rather naive policy also extends to employees. However, this is likely to be less of a danger to public health as 91% of the staff at the Wynn are vaccinated, and more are taking up the vaccine every day.
The poker world reacts
The Wynn moved so fast on this that their own resort websites have not caught up. At the time of writing (several hours after the press release dropped) the Wynn Las Vegas website’s section on face coverings still reads:
“Face coverings are mandatory in all public indoor and outdoor spaces throughout the state of Nevada. All guests (including children 10 years or older) are required to wear face coverings while on property at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore. Only those wearing a face covering will be allowed entry onto the property. Replacement face coverings are available anytime from the front desk or Wynn Rewards desk.”
We have no doubt that other casinos will be weighing the public’s response to Wynn’s honor system before announcing their own updated policies. The reaction to lifting the mask mandate, in general, has been broadly positive so far.
The vaguely paranoid branch of right-wing poker Twitter that despises masks was thrilled. It is not often that the slow march of science briefly coincides with the time on their stopped-clock.
“Ho hum CDC now says if vaccinated we can take off mask! We all knew this months ago!” writes Matusow in an example of very un-poker-player-like results-oriented thinking. “About f**king time.”
Other people say they are opting to continue to wear masks at the poker table after getting vaccinated. This is largely on the grounds that others can’t know if you’re vaxxed or not. Especially in a nation that struggles with scientific illiteracy on as grand a scale as the U.S. does, these folks view masking up as good manners.
On the other hand, some of these mask-wearers just aren’t ready to go back to playing poker with their tell-heavy mouth-parts on show again.
Poker rooms in Vegas are slowly dropping the plexiglass dividers. Since the old administration left on Jan 20, 2021, the number of coronavirus deaths per day has been dropping. Now masks are being phased out in step with the vaccine roll-out. In America, at least, a feeling of normality is returning to the live poker scene.
Wynn may be leading the way towards a safe, mask free WSOP this summer. A poker player can dream.
Featured image source: Flickr by Daryl Kenyon