When Will Live Poker Rooms Reopen At Atlantic City Casinos?

Written By Bill Gelman on September 23, 2020 - Last Updated on November 16, 2021
ac poker rooms

Editor’s Note: The Borgata poker room reopened on Wed., Oct. 21. The 30 tables are limited to a maximum of seven players each. For more information, click here.  

Live poker rooms at Atlantic City casinos are still closed. And nearly three months have passed since land-based properties reopened.

At this point, there is no timeline for when Atlantic City’s five poker rooms will reopen. Basically, the COVID-19 closure announcements made back in March still apply to poker rooms.

This makes it 159 days and counting since poker rooms in Atlantic City were open to the public.

When the Borgata reopened to the public on July 26, ropes were set up to prevent players from entering the 85-table poker room.

And when customers try to call Harrah’s Resort, they get a recording dating back to March 16. This would be the date the poker room with 40 tables closed at 6 p.m.

Golden Nugget AC’s website continues to use this message: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Poker Room is closed until further notice.”

For now, no AC casino has any update on a timeline for restarting poker play.

Are poker games available in Atlantic City?

Different variations of poker are still being offered at Atlantic City casinos, even if the poker rooms themselves are closed. The games include:

  • Pai Gow Poker 
  • Let It Ride
  • Three Card Poker 

Of course, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has safety protocols in place. It prevents the possibility of all the seats being filled.

Besides the 25% capacity limit on the gaming floors, Pai Gow tables are limited to three players at a time. The same rule applies to blackjack.

Other poker games can have up to four players. And plexiglass partitions must be set up at all table games, including poker.

The poker situation is similar in other jurisdictions. Pennsylvania’s poker rooms remain closed even as casinos reopen. In August, Play Pennsylvania learned that the World Series of Poker Room at Harrah’s Philadelphia is permanently closed.

In Las Vegas, some poker rooms are open but must follow Nevada’s COVID-19 protocols.

Besides impacting the players, the scenario in AC is eliminating jobs, even if it’s only temporary.

But these coronavirus restrictions regarding gameplay and number of players are likely the underlying reason Atlantic City poker rooms remain shut.

Atlantic City poker rooms closed, but online poker is always open

New Jersey poker players do have another option, and this one doesn’t have COVID-19 restrictions.

There are seven legal NJ poker apps. They are:

And since Atlantic City casinos closed in March, the NJ online poker industry has recorded some pretty impressive numbers.

August NJ poker revenue came in at $3,035,033, which is down nearly 63% from July’s $4,818,561. Still, both numbers are a significant increase from February’s $1.8 million when land-based casinos (and live poker rooms) were fully operational.

These days, those popular WSOP tournaments are an online thing.

It doesn’t match the excitement of playing in a live poker room, but the alternative — no poker at all — would be far worse.

And with the word “temporary” being used when referencing closed AC poker rooms, there is still hope that operating hours will change.

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman has been reporting on the NJ gambling market since 2018, right around when the Garden State launched sports betting. Bill transitioned from lead writer for PlayNJ and NJ Gambling Sites to his current role as managing editor in 2020. Besides offering in-depth analysis on NJ gambling market trends and news, Bill regularly sits down with Atlantic City casino industry executives to offer readers exclusive interviews and comprehensive coverage. Bill received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ithaca College. He has contributed to other Catena Media sites including The Lines, Legal Sports Report, PlayPennsylvania and PlayCanada.

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