Casinos are re-opening across the country and welcoming back customers — much to the chagrin of COVID-conscious critics.
Land-based casino re-openings in several U.S. states have poker players and fans scratching their heads this weekend following unmasked gatherings at Las Vegas casinos (and in metropolitan areas throughout the country) that seemingly ignore “social distancing” practices that have been widely promoted for months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early Saturday morning, LA Times columnist Arash Markazi uploaded a 2-minute video clip from The Cosmopolitan that sparked immediate (and mostly negative) feedback from the USC Annenberg adjunct professor’s 120,000+ Twitter followers.
Las Vegas is officially back. pic.twitter.com/EI3nXs2e5w
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) June 6, 2020
ESPN senior writer Ramona Shelburne:
“Correction: Las Vegas is officially stupid.”
Poker player, actor, and comedian Michael Rapaport:
“People should be masked & gloved up in Vegas during normal times but this video being PRESENT DAY during a PANDEMIC that killed 1,000 people TODAY is beyond bugged out.”
Las Vegas local Christina Hutt:
“This is why as a local to Las Vegas, I’m going to keep staying home and protecting me and my daughter.”
By Saturday afternoon, public intel submitted by Vegas Advantage website administrator and The Nevada Independent contributor John Mehaffey suggested that “around 20-25%” of Las Vegas “tourist” casino patrons were wearing masks…
I've been asked this a lot and it is a big discussion today: I think the percentage of mask wearers in tourist casinos during my visits is consistently around 20-25% with a couple of outliers on each extreme. The locals casinos I've visited are a bit higher.
— John Mehaffey (@John_Mehaffey) June 6, 2020
…and that the crowds being displayed through embeds on social media are “an anomaly” rather than a broad overview of Las Vegas casino traffic this weekend.
I wish I took more pictures of all the empty casino floors I saw on the Strip last night. The pics with crowds floating around are an anomaly. Some of the casinos were almost entirely deserted. Most of the others were still slower than a few days before Christmas.
— John Mehaffey (@John_Mehaffey) June 7, 2020
According to a recent article published by Katherine Doherty and Davide Scigliuzzo via Bloomberg, the reports by Mehaffey may have been separately corroborated earlier this week during an investor call led by Texas billionaire Tillman Fertitta.
READ: Golden Nugget Owner Calls ‘Bullsh*t’ on Casino and Restaurant Recovery (Jun 5, 2020)
Are Short-Handed Live Table Games Really Even Necessary?
Continuing restrictions on live table games (including poker) have resulted in somewhat of a cruel irony for traditional “pit” and “peer-to-peer” casino offerings — which remain hampered in their ability to meet revenue per square footage “gaming floor” benchmarks due to mandated short-handed formats.
Despite the large gatherings tied to casino re-openings in Las Vegas and public demonstrations nationwide.
“We have to limit blackjack tables to three players!”
— Vital Vegas (@VitalVegas) June 6, 2020
RELATED: Poker Players Skeptical of Four-Handed Games (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Should live poker rooms, casino executives, restaurant owners, and other commercial land-based interests do away with “sneeze-shaming” and plexiglass monstrosities altogether so they can focus on a meaningful post-COVID economic recovery?
Or will the eagerness of business owners, patrons, and demonstrators alike lead to a targeted expansion of CDC Activities and Initiatives associated with COVID-19 Infection Control and Contact Tracing (pages 16-20)?
I’ll tell you the thing about being in Las Vegas right now, is that I kind of like it. There’s a certain atmospheric quality that if you’re here right now — which you probably shouldn’t be — you’re not likely to ever forget.
— Jeff Hwang (@RivalSchoolX) June 7, 2020
Either way, much of the terrestrial U.S. commercial landscape appears destined for short-term uncertainty along with contradicting local and state policy guidelines on how best to move forward into H2-2020.
If you owned a Live Poker Room & well being of customers & staff were the only deciding factor – when would you open again?
— Rob Yong (@rob_yong_) June 4, 2020
* This article is directly funded by Part Time Poker.
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