According to a report from CardsChat, three MGM properties on the Strip – the Mirage, Excalibur, and Mandalay Bay – are closing their poker rooms for good. All of the card rooms have been closed since mid-March, when casinos in Nevada were ordered to shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Casinos were permitted to reopen on June 4 and while many poker rooms have also reopened, these three poker rooms had yet to do so.
None of the three were particularly large, so by sheer volume, their losses won’t be all that significant. The Mirage, though, had a great history in the Las Vegas poker scene, even mentioned in the movie Rounders.
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MGM Resorts International has not put out a press release about the poker room closings, but it isn’t all that difficult to figure out what’s going on. Casinos have struggled mightily this year because of the pandemic. Even after they reopened, they have been under capacity restrictions. Poker rooms are not nearly as profitable as the other parts of the casino, so the company likely figures it’s just not worth it to get them staffed up when they are also arguably the most dangerous gaming areas in terms of COVID-19 risk.
Freerolls at the MGM Grand
There is a temporary silver lining to the three poker room closures, as least for loyal players at other MGM poker rooms in Las Vegas. Each of the poker rooms had bad beat jackpots from before the pandemic that had not been paid out. Since the jackpots were funded from drops paid by players, they belong to the players and not the poker rooms. They obviously can’t be repaid by the regular jackpot process, so the MGM Grand will host three freerolls using each closed poker room’s money.
The first freeroll will be on election day, November 3, using the $24,022 from Mandalay Bay’s bad beat jackpot. Unfortunately, if you are reading this on November 3, it is too late, as the limited seating has sold out.
The Mirage’s $69,804 jackpot will be used for the prize pool on November 17. The registration deadline for that one is November 11. The third and final MGM Grand freeroll is on December 1, with a registration deadline of November 25. That one will have a $27,837 prize pool funded by the Excalibur’s bad beat jackpot.
To register, wade on over to the MGM Grand’s website. Registration opens on the specified day at 5:00pm local time. Any open spots can be filled via in-person registration on the day of the tournament.
There are now just 21 poker rooms open in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, with 285 total tables. Those numbers are down significantly from before the pandemic, when there were 430 tables in 34 poker rooms.
There are only eight more poker rooms open in the rest of the state, with fewer than 50 additional tables total.