In shock news, Europe’s largest poker room, King’s Casino in Rozvadov, has declared that all Italian players will not be welcomed at its casino due to the possibility of transmitting the COVID-19 – or Coronavirus – infection.
While just under 100,000 cases have been reported worldwide, with an estimated death rate of 3.4% being declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), King’s Casino regularly organizes events for players who travel from a specific country – such as Italy – to play in Rozvadov. Barely anyone lives in Rozvadov to play poker, with the King’s resort almost exclusively welcoming traveling players, so the exclusion point may be a valid one, but Italian only?
The King’s Casino statement defined the action in details:
“King’s Resort communicates with regret to its customers that, given the evolution of the epidemic phenomenon coronavirus that for a few hours has been interested in the Czech Republic (with two [cases] contracted in Prague after visiting Italy), in order to safeguard the health of our international guests and prevent the spread of the Covid-19, we have chosen to completely limit access in all areas of the casino, not even accepting hotel reservations, to all residents and coming from Italy indefinitely, canceling from now all the events of March and April 2020 that target mainly target the audience mentioned above.
Given the constant evolution of the situation, we will follow any new developments, in the hope of removing this limitation to an audience to whom we are very fond of, giving timely communication via our channels as soon as possible.
We inform you that, unless new provisions, the Poker Room events calendar remains unchanged from May 1, 2020 onwards.”
Many events have been planned from March and April month. Many of the events included Italian participants, though now due to the outbreak all of the events were canceled. Some concerns arise at this point. Questions like would the situation be the same for the Chinese “whales” or any other players or is it all about Italians. Will the other countries suffer from the same exposure as Italian poker players are facing right now?
None of the above-mentioned questions were addressed by the King’s casino officials and representatives. Neither they have come to the contact with their fans. The final decision regarding the Italian ban was made straight after the first case of coronavirus infection was confirmed in Prague, Czech Republic.
Despite the fact that Prague is almost 200 km away from the poker tournament destination, the question is not really about the nationality of the player. All of the major cities are the tourism destinations for many international people to gather. Including Prague, Viena, Milan, Rome and etc. Thus, many people of different nationalities can simultaneously gather in one of the European cities. It is very easy to have the case of an Italian player being infected in Prague, as well as having german player infected in Italy.
With the World Series of Poker declaring that there will currently be no changes to the 2020 schedule, which to date includes 104 events – albeit with over a dozen of these being online events – the potential impact of the COVID-19 virus on poker is not to be underestimated. But, in the same breath, it is not to be overexaggerated or used as prejudice either.
As it stands, the scheduled events for March and April that were being laid on with Italian players in mind have been canceled, but while events are said to be set to continue as planned after May 1st, surely that would change if another country suffered the same outbreak that has occurred in Italy. With 3,089 Coronavirus cases as of March 3rd in Italy and 107 deaths being reported at the time of going to press, the situation is no doubt serious in Italy.
Italian players, who want to participate in the World Poker Tournament are banned from the King’s Casino. Though, the question of the Italian origin players who have not been to Italy recently still remains. The fact itself is very hard to be justified, thus it is completely understandable as well. The other countries simply want to avoid the same situation as in Italy currently.
The Triton Super High Roller Series in Jeju, South Korea has already been canceled. The Malta Poker Championship is under the question, which will most likely be canceled any time sooner. There is an assumption of postponing the championship to May, but it is yet unconfirmed information. At the end of the day, poker has to figure out where does it stand between the safety of the citizens and the massive outbreak of the virus infection.
2020 World Series of Poker is not an exception in whole this story. The fate of the championship is yet unknown. The story might proceed with the championship holding as scheduled, or it may take a turn to some other month. The Sping and Summer are promising to be interesting with a load of events.
The casinos have been shut in Macau, the gambling capital of China. The massive shut down of casinos has already caused the loss of over $300 million to the economy of the region. Although the predictions said that the city will soon be coming to life again, the casinos are still closed for an uncertain period.