In a third amendment to the policies they established for the reopening of the Nevada gaming scene, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has taken a step that may be a significant change for some participants. After initially not mandating their usage, the latest update from the NGCB will mandate that, if table games are played in an “unshielded” manner, then the participants will be required to wear some sort of facial covering. This will have an impact on poker especially as the other table games have already resorted to some sort of shielding.

No Barrier, Wear a Mask

In the updated notice released yesterday, the NGCB now states that the individual casinos and businesses falling under their jurisdiction will now have to have “face masks or cloth face coverings” available for the people patronizing their establishments and offer the customers that facial covering. As to their movements around the establishment, patrons won’t have to wear the covering, but the “mask rule” will be enforced should they want to play any of the table games.

The NGCB puts the onus of mask wearing not on the person but on the establishment itself. “Licensees must require patrons to wear face coverings at table and card games if there is no barrier, partition, or shield between the dealer and each player,” the newest regulation states. “This requirement applies to table and card game players, spectators, and any other person within six feet of any table or card game.”

Table games in the Nevada casinos have already used plexiglass shielding or some sort of separation between the players and dealers, meaning that they could conceivably remove the masks there. In the poker rooms, however, there hasn’t been the separation. There has also been a reluctance from the players to wear masks (a quick trip to many poker forums will demonstrate this fact). It is implied that, without the dividers between players or masks being worn, there aren’t going to be any increases over the current five players allowed to play; whether that helps poker players to make a decision on mask wearing isn’t known.

The newly revised guidelines also don’t bode well for a quick reopening of other amenities that Nevada – and especially Las Vegas – are known for providing. “Musical performances, live entertainment, concerts, competitions, sporting events or any events with live performances” can start up again, according to the NGCB and Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. However, those activities will have no public attendance per the directives and the NGCB will have to approve events prior to their performance date.

Handful of Openings Remain, Others Remain Shuttered

At this time in Las Vegas, many of the casinos and hotels have reopened, although at limited capacities and offerings. The Westgate Las Vegas is set to open today, following the LINQ and Excalibur are the most recent openings that have joined the return of Las Vegas. Joining the throng of returns next week (June 25, to nail down a date) are Mandalay Bay and Luxor, while OYO will join the party beginning on August 1.

There are still several casinos and hotels that haven’t announced a reopening date, with one of those outlets having a significant impact on the poker world. Mirage, Bally’s, Paris, Planet Hollywood, the Palms, The Cromwell and Main Street Station are all still currently closed. They are joined by the off-Strip property the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino, the home of the World Series of Poker.

The Rio is important to the poker community as it is supposed to be the host for the WSOP at some point this fall. Any further delays in the opening of the property make it less and less likely that there will be a live event held this year on the grounds of the Rio. If that is the case, then it would be the first time in 50 years that the World Series of Poker has not been held in Las Vegas (let’s just let the “online” version be an aberration).

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