Meet the new game. Same as the old game.

By Pat Lyons

Now that we’re knee deep into the Coronavirus pandemic and can see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, let’s take a look at what has changed in the casino and poker industry, what the future might look like, and how some things might just remain the same.

I can’t believe we’re already into the month of June. We were thinking back in March that this might be two weeks or a month. Time was going slowly, but now it is marching along and we’re not getting any younger.

Being in the gambling industry we are risk takers. What risks are we willing to take to get back to the tables and what can be done to minimize those risks?

The casinos should hand out face masks and disposable gloves each day in a protective wrapping. This would be smart and way for them to let people know that they care and are willing to go into their own pockets to regain people’s confidence.

Cubicles or dividers in a casino are not good because what happens when you eventually remove them? Somebody gets sick after that and they wonder whether the plexiglass would have prevented it. If the dividers are still up maybe it collapses on someone or they otherwise get hurt by it. There would be so much liability the casinos might have to consider requiring people to sign a waiver when they enter.

Regular cleaning of the chips, surrounding borders and felts are jobs that should have been done more often in the past. A casino in general (and a poker table in particular) can be a dirty environment if not religiously maintained. Giving it a clean image can’t hurt.

Another thing that should be kept in mind is that it is not a contest between casinos over who is doing the better job of cleaning. All casinos should be doing regular cleaning and will be learning from each other’s practices.

I feel that once everybody is back in the casino there is going to be a love in the air, a joy we never felt because we didn’t realize how good we had it. You might have sneered at the guy who didn’t cover up when he sneezed or the one who didn’t wash his hands properly, but now things are very different. But we survived, so now we can get back into it. Only it can be even better.

Things will never be exactly the same because now people will expect things to be cleaner and people more careful. Personally, I would like to see us start back up tomorrow, because you’re going to have people that are waiting to see what happens. The earlier you start the quicker the testing goes—wow, nobody got sick! Wow, everyone is having fun!

We may not necessarily win money. We may not necessarily lose money. But they can’t take away that enjoyment.

I feel that now would be a great time to do it, with the summer, the great weather and the good times ahead of us. Delaying this enjoyment is the reason I wish I could pause the clock to get back all that time.

The masks and gloves will be temporary. Poker is a game of interaction and people will have to remove them to eat and drink and—eventually—socialize. One of the first things people will want to do when reunited with friends is hug and shake hands, just to show they’re so damn happy to be back.

We’ve got the best owners and it is a customer service-oriented industry. They want the customers back and we want to come back—feeling safer and happier. We love the game, so let us show our affection by returning to the tables!