Tuesday May 19, 2020 at 2:58 pm

Poker returns to the sunshine state this week. A trio of poker rooms in Florida are set to open this week. Derby Lane in Tampa Bay, Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, and Bestbet Jacksonville in Jacksonville will all reopen under strict post-pandemic guidelines. Last week, casinos reopened in Deadwood, South Dakota. And now more states will slowly return to action, including tribal casinos in California.

South Florida casino testing out new poker tables with plexiglass (Pic by @AndySlater)

A lot of curious and cautious folks will be paying close attention to what happens in Florida the next few days. Will Florida man fall ill playing cards? Will Florida man become a superspreader? Will Florida man play cards for two weeks without any sickness but get eaten by an alligator in the parking lot of Publix? Will the naked Florida man jacked up on bath salts eat the face off an unsuspecting Amazon delivery driver? I guess you'll have to tune into the great state of Florida and find out what happens when the entire state rolls the collective dice to reopen casinos and poker rooms across the glorious sunshine state.

Derby Lane in Tampa Bay, FL reopens on Wednesday. Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, FL will reopen on Thursday, May 21. Bestbet Jacksonville in Jax. FL will reopen on Friday, May 22.

Derby Lane will operate 10am to 10pm hours. Poker will be limited to 6-max and everyone must wear a mask.

The oldest dog track in Florida, Derby Lane, reopened for racing purposes (sans spectators) on May 8. This is supposedly the final year for greyhound racing in Florida, so it is the last chance to gamble it up on greyhounds. Derby Lane initially sought to reopen the poker room, but postponed the reopening until now.

Casinos and card rooms will not operate more than 50% but it is up to the discretion of each card room on how many tables to open up. Bestbet Jax is one of the largest card rooms in Florida with 70 poker tables. Those were pre-pandemic numbers. SHR has 46 poker tables.

Meanwhile, in California Governor Gavin Newsom asked tribal casinos to reconsider reopening. Win-River Resort & Casino in Northern California reopened over the weekend. Several SoCal casinos near San Diego will also reopen. Viejas Casino in San Diego reopened on Monday. Jamul Casino, Sycuan Casino Resort, and Valley View will also reopen this week.

"I understand that some tribal governments are planning on reopening casinos on their lands," said Gov. Newsom. "This deeply concerns me, and I urge tribal governments to reconsider and instead make those determinations based on how they align with the current local public health conditions and the statewide stage of reopening."

California was one of the first states to shut down during the earliest days of the outbreak. San Francisco had become an epicenter in California, but the city went to stay at home orders quickly to reduce the spread. The remainder of the state followed suit.

Las Vegas casinos plan to reopen at the end of the month, including the Venetian and Palazzo.

Arizona casinos are open for business and have been so for over a week.

Florida has 46,420 reported COVID-19 cases and 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths according to the CDC. Projections indicate nearly 3,000 fatalities by June 1 and 4,000 fatalities by July 4th... and that's with social distancing and lockdowns.

Of course, the data is not 100% trustworthy. There have been numerous reports that Florida health officials are under-reporting the number of actual deaths, including nursing homes, per some arm-twisting from the stooge of a governor. "Stooge" is an old-timey pejorative, but in this instance it's somewhat complimentary because much harsher words could be used to describe the governing occurring in one of most crooked states in the union. Florida is the punchline to so many jokes, that's it sort of absurd to see a rush to reopen when a significant number of the population are retired senior citizens. Ah, but the growing sentiment has been "who cares about old people anyway?", while others are hellbent on sacrificing grandma to save their 401Ks.

Hey, I know what's it like to be locked down for over two months while losing your mind. But whatever you do during these reopening at casinos... proceed with caution. And if you play poker, for Ivey's sake... bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands!

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