Playground Poker Opens Without Poker Temporarily

Poker players have quite a few options in Canada, most of them online. Due to the ambiguity of poker laws in most provinces, Canadians can access numerous online poker websites for real-money action.

Live poker is not as prevalent. Those within driving distance of Playground Poker in Montreal, though, have long depended on its range of poker action. Recreational and pro players call Playground their home for poker. Some other casinos do have poker rooms, but they don’t compare to the variety at Playground.

So, when the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of casinos, gambling halls, and any public place that might have offered poker in the past, players were left to the online sites. And even though many of those places have since reopened, albeit at limited capacity, poker remains mostly unavailable.

Playground Poker is working on it, but it’s not there yet.

Open for Business… Sorta

The official time of closure was at 11:59pm on March 13, 2020. By order of government and health officials, Playground Poker shut and locked its doors for the indefinite future.

As Canadians mostly followed orders regarding masks and social distancing, the number of positive Covid-19 cases has decreased in the past few months.

On September 4, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission approved the reopening of land-based gambling establishments per all safety requirements ordered by the Kahnawake Covid-19 Task Force.

Playground opened its doors with these requirements for customers:

  • Everyone must complete a health questionnaire.
  • Every person must wear a mask. (Playground will offer disposable masks for anyone in need.)
  • Players may use a stylus pen to play slot games without touching them.
  • Customers may use free gloves.
  • Players must reserve entry via an online registration system for entry.
  • Playground restricts initial visits to three hours per player.

Customers will have access to more than 100 sanitizing stations on the gaming floor. Playground staff will clean machines and all playing areas after every use, and they will “rigorously” clean all high-contact areas of Playground each day and spray them with sanitizers.

The first phase of the reopening allowed only 50 players in at a time, and they only had access to electronic gaming devices – slot machines. If things continue to go smoothly, the maximum number of players will increase by 50 each week to put the number at 200 by September 25.

At this time, there will also be no valet services or alcoholic beverages or smoking allowed.

Where is the Poker?

As addressed in the above video, Playground is working closely with the Kahnawake Covid-19 Task Force to reintroduce poker to its customers.

“I cannot stress this enough,” said Playground’s CEO. “Poker will be back, and it’ll be bigger than before.”

It appears that Playground staff distanced the gaming machines for the time being to adhere to health guidelines. This may have impeded on the poker room for the time being. However, since Playground is primarily a poker club and fully intends to reopen to poker players as soon as possible, it will likely take that space back from EGDs in the coming months.

As a reminder of the poker playground that was available before Covid-19, this WPT video takes us back in time.



Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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