Seven months after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, New Jersey’s largest poker room will be reopening for business next week.
On Thursday, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa announced it will reopen its poker room on Wednesday, Oct. 21.
30 tables, seven-handed games, barriers and masks
According to Borgata, the room will open with 30 socially distanced tables. That total represents a little over a third of the room’s 85 tables when operating at full capacity.
The tables will be limited to a maximum of seven players, with polycarbonate barriers in between the seats. Additionally, games will operate according to protocols designed to protect the health and safety of players and staff.
Players will be required to wear masks when at the table and in all public areas of the casino. Players will find copious hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the poker room. Spectators are not permitted in the poker room.
“We are happy to welcome back our loyal players as we reopen Atlantic City’s market-leading East Coast poker destination,” said Melonie Johnson, president and COO of the Borgata.
“We have made some changes to enhance our guests’ experience and are excited to reintroduce live poker and the Borgata Poker brand more safely.”
Last in AC to reopen casino, first to reopen poker room
After closing in mid-March, the Borgata reopened its casino to the public in late July. That was several weeks after Atlantic City’s other eight casinos welcomed back guests for the Fourth of July holiday.
Since reopening, the Borgata is following the “Seven-Point Safety Plan” implemented by parent company MGM Resorts. These guidelines include:
- Guest screening and temperature checks.
- Masks required of guests and employees in all public areas of the casino.
- Physical distancing policy with floor guides.
- Handwashing stations on the casino floor.
- Employee screening, temperature checks and safety training.
The casino and BetMGM Sportsbook & Bar reopened at 25% capacity, with no indoor dining (takeout and outdoor only).
The Borgata might have been the last casino in Atlantic City to reopen. However, it will be first in line for poker, welcoming back players before Atlantic City’s other four poker rooms at Harrah’s Resort, Golden Nugget, Tropicana and Caesars.
Borgata announcement coincides with first Pennsylvania poker rooms reopening
The Borgata news arrives just as poker rooms in neighboring Pennsylvania‘s casinos are starting to reopen as well.
According to the American Gaming Association, every one of the country’s nearly 1,000 commercial and tribal casinos closed in the spring as part of the effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The AGA now reports that more than 90% of casinos have now reopened, most with capacity restrictions and extra safety protocols. However, poker rooms have generally been slow to return. This has especially been the case in the Northeast, where the impact of the coronavirus was particularly grievous during the pandemic’s first few months.
Like in New Jersey, poker rooms in Pennsylvania all ceased operations in mid-March and remained closed after casinos began reopening in June and July.
Both Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre and the Mount Airy Casino in Mount Pocono began welcoming back poker players on Friday afternoon. As will be the case at the Borgata, games in those rooms will be seven-handed. The rooms will use plexiglass dividers to separate players.
The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington, PA, has also announced plans to reopen its poker room on Oct. 23. Additional rooms in the state have submitted safety protocols to state regulators, demonstrating their intention to reopen as well.