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Poker Options Remain Slim As Gaming Markets Reopen Throughout The U.S.

Even Where Casinos Have Reopened, Most Poker Rooms Are Staying Closed

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The reopening of various U.S. casino markets has continued over the last several weeks after months of forced closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But even in areas where casinos have reopened, many poker players that are ready to return to the felt are finding it hard to get in a game.

According to the American Gaming Association, 621 of the nation’s 989 commercial and tribal casinos are now operating again in at least some gambling capacity.

Florida is by far the state with the most plentiful game selection at the moment. With the Seminole tribe opening two of its South Florida locations in Hollywood and Coconut Creek Friday morning, nearly every poker room in the state is operational.

The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa location was one of the first to open in late-May and other major poker rooms like bestbet Jacksonville followed suit. Many are still adhering to short-handed play, but some rooms have already begun to transition to traditional nine-handed full ring games.

But as you look up the eastern seaboard, the pickings are slim for grinders.

In Maryland and New Jersey, casinos are still closed. Maryland casinos are set to reopen June 19, but there is no word yet on whether poker will be offered. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has yet to announce a timeline for the reopening of the Atlantic City casinos, but was hoping for a July 4 return.

In Pennsylvania, a handful of casinos in Pittsburgh are open, but neither Rivers Casino nor Meadows Racetrack and Casino have reopened their card rooms yet. Both will remain closed until further notice.

Upstate New York casinos have begun to reopen but Turning Stone Casino’s poker room is the only spot for poker in the Empire State. Most of the New England gaming market is still completely closed.

Massachusetts has yet to open its three casinos, but it seems unlikely that the two poker rooms in the state will open for business when gambling is back. MGM Resorts owns MGM Springfield and Wynn Resorts is in charge of Encore Boston Harbor. Neither company opened any of its poker rooms in Las Vegas when Sin City reopened last week.

Connecticut’s two tribal casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, are both open, but without poker. All of Maine’s casinos are still closed as well. The lone New England poker room with a scheduled opening is Chasers Poker Room in New Hampshire, which will open on June 15.

The trend is similar across the Midwest. Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan are all poker-less. Ohio casinos are eligible to reopen June 19, Indiana on June 15, while Michigan and Illinois have yet to put forth a timeline for its commercial casinos.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that when the state’s Detroit casinos reopen, poker rooms will remain closed until further notice. Poker rooms in Wisconsin and Minnesota are also closed.

As players move further west, poker options become more plentiful. Nearly every poker room in Texas is back in business with certain guidelines in place to prevent the spread of germs at the table, while Choctaw Casino is running games in its poker room just north of the Lone Star State in Oklahoma.

One of Arizona’s largest casinos, Talking Stick Resort, opened its doors on June 1 and is running several games in its poker room.

Nevada reopened its gaming market last week, but there are only a handful of rooms to choose from. South Point, Venetian, The Orleans and the Golden Nugget are Sin City’s only options, while the Peppermill is the only spot to play poker in Reno.

Outside of Florida and Texas, California likely has the most options. Jamul Casino, a tribal casino in the San Diego area has been spreading poker games since late-May and has been joined by other properties throughout the state. Thunder Valley Casino near Sacramento and Towers Casino in Northern California are both showing active poker games on the Bravo poker app.

Stones Gambling Hall in Sacramento and Seven Mile Casino in San Diego are both scheduled to open Friday morning. The major Los Angeles-area cardrooms have yet to be given a timeline for a reopening.