WSOP To Require Proof Of Vaccination For Fall Series

Move to require vaccination draws mixed reviews from poker community
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The World Series of Poker, an entity owned by Caesars Entertainment, announced that it will require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for its upcoming fall poker tournament series.

The requirement, which also applies to international players, was met with mixed reviews, but anecdotally it seems the majority of people welcomed the news. Earlier this month, in a move that helped clarify things for the WSOP and all other events in Las Vegas, the state of Nevada announced that indoor events requiring proof of vaccination would not need to require masks.

“If a large event venue chooses to require vaccination proof for all attendees, those that are FULLY vaccinated will be allowed to take their masks off,” Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, said on Twitter Aug. 16. “Partially vaccinated attendees may still attend, but they must wear their mask at the event.”

According to the governor, the move was designed to give an event like the WSOP more discretion.

“This gives an option for event organizers to choose between requiring masks indoors for all attendees, regardless of vaccination status, or making the choice to only allow vaccinated individuals into their event, and letting the fully-vaccinated take their masks off … We’re giving our private sector partners the choices and flexibility to lead in this area – and I’m so proud that many have already been leading,” he added.

The WSOP hasn’t said anything officially about masks in the wake of the announcement regarding vaccines. It seems likely many players will still wear them. About a month ago, Las Vegas went back to a mask mandate due to the surge of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Despite virus, a record number of tournaments

The WSOP is going bigger than ever this year with 88 in-person bracelet events at the Rio Casino-Hotel’s convention center. The series is set to kick off Sept. 30 and conclude on Nov. 23. In the past, the WSOP was held in June and July. The popular poker festival will overlap with the NFL season and the sports betting around it, which could result in a nice boost for sportsbooks on or near the Las Vegas Strip.

Previously, the WSOP was going to go with negative test requirements and it would have needed to enforce a mask mandate, which would have been a logistical nightmare for staff. Thousands of poker players, some of whom would have been intent on flouting mask rules, are expected to attend the event, which was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Prior to that, the WSOP had occurred every year since the 1970s.

There was also concern among the poker community surrounding tournament disqualifications stemming from a positive COVID-19 test, prompting the WSOP to clarify its rules just days later while calling the situation “evolving.” The vaccination requirement appears to have put those DQ concerns to rest.

Some big names in the poker world responded to the WSOP’s vaccination announcement.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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