- Pennsylvania’s card rooms remain shuttered since mid-March while casinos have restarted business
- Doug Harbach from the PGCB has said that any casino looking to reopen their card room would have to come up with an action plan
- Card rooms generated mere $37 million over the fiscal 2019/2020 compared to $583 million for table games
It has been two full months since casinos in Pennsylvania reopened for business, but card rooms remain suspended. How long is this going to last?
Card Rooms in Pennsylvania Still Shuttered
Pennsylvania has restored operations in all of its casinos enforcing strict anti-COVID-19 measures to prevent further infections. Yet, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has not included card rooms in the regulator’s health and safety guidelines just yet.
As a result, all of the Keystone State’s physical card rooms remain shuttered. Meanwhile, casino employees are expected to wear masks, keep social distancing and stick with enhanced cleaning protocols.
Given the high expectations from casinos, poker rooms are deemed inoperable given the specific demands placed by the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Responding to popular demand for bringing poker back, Doug Harbach, PGCB Director of Communications, sent a written update to PlayPennsylvania outlining the logic behind the current guidelines and when they could be revised.
“There has been no alteration to the casino reopening protocols released by the Gaming Control Board in May in which poker rooms were not authorized to operate. At the same time, this guideline can be reexamined based on health experts’ guidance. Should casinos wish to explore reopening a casino room, it would need to provide plans to do so safely which would be reviewed by the Board on a case-by-case basis.”
According to Harbach all guidelines are negotiable so long as there is scientific evidence for lifting some of the restrictions. Casinos may apply for restarting their card rooms. However, they would have to present a plan that would allow them to do so safely and be based on health experts’ opinions.
Casinos in Pennsylvania Open, But Card Rooms Shut
Since June 9, casinos in Pennsylvania have been operating at full blast. However, Pennsylvania has imposed a ream of restrictions, including limited capacity to 50%. Pennsylvania has also enforced a temporary ban on eating, drinking and smoking.
Card rooms’ revenue fell significantly, posting mere $37 million in revenue over 2019/2020 fiscal year. The revenue generated from table games stood at $583 million over the same period.
The worst affected properties were Parx and Harrah’s Philadelphia with 48 and 27 poker tables respectively. Understandably, Parx and Harrah’s would have the biggest incentive to seek the early restoration of activities in the state.