Earlier in March, while the US casino industry was beginning to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic was going to affect their operations, MGM Resorts International shut down, alongside its poker rooms in Las Vegas.
According to MGM, properties Excalibur, Mandalay Bay, and The Mirage have shut down their poker rooms for good. Although all three casinos have been shut down since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, company officials have described the casinos as “temporary” and said they would continue to be re-evaluated. The “re-evaluations” eventually determined that the casino rooms were better off being closed indefinitely.
The Nevada poker scene has been severely affected by the global health crisis. An entire 34 rooms with 430 tables ran poker games in February, just before COVID-19 erupted, based on estimates from the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB). Now, their activities have resumed in only 21 rooms and 285 seats. Back in February, the state was home to over 50 locations offering live poker. That number has now fallen dramatically to just 29. The poker industry in Nevada has continued to shrink in recent years, with the lowest numbers being registered in 2020.
Freeroll Tournament for Players Upon Closure
Although the closure of the poker rooms is sad news for Vegas poker players, there is a silver lining to this news.
Six figures worth of bad beat jackpot will be distributed back to the players, and this will happen in a series of freerolls as per gaming regulations, as this is money that belongs to the players and not the venues. This means that more than $100,000 will be given away in a series of three upcoming freerolls. These series of freerolls include one that started at Mandalay Bay on the 3rd. There are still two options for poker players to participate in the freeroll tournament, one at the Mirage starting on November 17 and one at the Excalibur starting on December 1. Registration for the tournament ends on November 11 and November 25, respectively, which will take place at MGM Grand.
A Downside for the Vegas Poker Scene
The poker rooms of MGM were stomping grounds for some of the best poker players, including Daniel Negreanu, who earlier in his career also played at the Mirage. The poker rooms were never able to achieve overwhelming popularity despite being able to claim a reputation as hangouts for many pro players. This may have contributed to deciding to shut them down a little easy.
The closure of these three rooms, however, will be received as sad news for many in the industry, especially for the employees who are currently out of a job.
Although the poker rooms at Excalibur, The Mirage, and Mandalay Bay were not any of the busiest in Vegas, operating with only seven to 12 tables, the recent closures are still seen as a significant blow to the industry.
The Mirage will be missed, particularly given its legendary past. In 2015, the room was redesigned and downsized to its smaller size of 12 tables. It was, however, formerly one of the city’s top poker destinations.