Staff Lay-offs, Tournament Schedules and Coronavirus Threats as Live Poker Gets Underway

This weeks industry offerings are a real mixed bag for poker players, live play and even tournaments back on the menu.

By: Andrew Burnett

Kings Casino adds tournaments – and no masks required

Across in the Czech Republic, Leon Tsoukernik’s Kings Casino has taken advantage of the new coronavirus rules that allow for indoor gatherings up to 500 people.

Already re-opened last month for cash games, the latest news will see a new tournament schedule offered, and players from neighbouring Germany and Austria able to take advantage of the easing of border travel restrictions.

Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospelier, who lives in Prague just one hour from the Rozvadov cardroom, was among those delighted that a full poker schedule was up-and-running again.

There will be no need for masks or plexiglass walls either, the Czech Republic relaxing most restrictions across the country except for in the worst-affected areas.

Venetian facing staff coronavirus issues

Over in the US, however, what many were hoping would be a return to some sort of normality took a twist this week.

The Venetian planned on opening up for multi-table tournament play, but rumours that staff members had already come down with COVID-19 were doing the rounds.

That led management to release this announcement…

…but there are many who believe things are opening too soon and too quickly, with face masks still not mandatory for players.

Casinos come in at 6/10 on a scale of virus danger

A report on masslive.com has seen poker come in at 6/10 on a scale of how risky they are for the spread of the novel coronavirus, bars topping the charts at 9/10 while tennis is down at 1/10.

Four infectious diseases experts determined five main factors as being important to the spread of the virus - whether it’s inside or outside; proximity to others; exposure time; likelihood of compliance; and personal risk level.

That, perhaps surprisingly, brought casinos in at level 6 – with gyms, churches, basketball, public swimming pools and schools all more dangerous, with bars and large music concerts topping the list at level 9 out of 10.

‘Casinos check many of the concerning boxes – like crowds, alcohol and loud talking. Casinos with more of an open floor plan and other precautions in place will be less risky’, the experts said.

Playing tennis and getting a takeaway from a restaurant were the lowest risk at 1/10 among the 36 activities listed in the report.

Online poker steps in to replace sportsbetting

The recent upsurge in online poker has many factors behind it, but replacing sportsbetting is among the main ones, according to an industry expert.

EvenBet Gaming CEO Dmitry Starostenkov told SBC Americas in a recent interview: “When sports are stopped, many betters turn to poker.”

That may seem quite natural given the crossover between the two areas, but it may well have a lasting effect, according to Starostenkov.

Although sporting events are making a comeback of sorts, though many behind closed doors, those who have turned to online poker during lockdown – including poker players and sportbettors - may well stay there.

“Some of the players that were playing offline and are coming to online now will not return to casinos due to various reasons.”

Latin America is also an area of keen interest among online poker operators, says Starostenkov. “In Latin America, there are a lot of casual players and a huge share of audience preferring such unusual for European poker players formats as bingos or lotteries, and we are ready to provide these in addition to poker.”

That’s it for this week folks, but we’ll be back again next weekend with the best of the industry news – watch this space.

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