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WSOP 2021: COVID-19 Vaccination Required for Players, Update on Staff

2021 WSOP

Update Aug. 30:

PokerNews reached out to WSOP officials to inquire if dealers and staff will be required to have been vaccinated. They offered the following statement:

“As with all Caesars Entertainment Team Members, WSOP Team Members are strongly encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Caesars is committed to making vaccination easy and accessible for all Team Members. Additionally, the Company is providing significant incentives for Team Members who choose to be vaccinated."

In addition, PokerNews several other follow-up questions including:

  • What will happen if a player is caught trying pass off illegitimate/forged vaccination documents? Will they be banned?
  • The Nevada governor has said masks are not required at events where everyone has been vaccinated. How come the WSOP will require masks? Could this potentially change?
  • How will the WSOP know if someone tests positive for COVID? Will the WSOP be conducting any testing?
  • Has the WSOP considered allowing unvaccinated individuals who have antibodies to attend the WSOP? Could this become a possibility?

"For all your other questions, we recommend reviewing the FAQ and release as we won’t be responding beyond them," the WSOP official offered."

All attendees at the 2021 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas — players, media, and spectators--must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19, the WSOP announced in a Friday press release.

Earlier this month, the WSOP introduced Rule 115, which permits staff to remove any player who is suspected to have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. The WSOP then clarified that confusing rule last week by stating that those who are vaccinated wouldn't be removed.

Rule 115 likely won't come into play as often as many expected now that proof of vaccination is required for everyone in attendance at the Rio.

"One of the primary reasons for the vaccination requirement is to avoid rule 115 ever being invoked at the 2021 WSOP," said Ty Stewart, WSOP Executive Director, told PokerNews. "However, all gaming licensees in the state of Nevada are required to follow the guidance of the CDC. Should there be an unfortunate incidence of a rare breakthrough case for a fully vaccinated player, and the WSOP staff receives information to determine that patron has tested positive for COVID-19, appropriate action would need to be taken given positive cases must individually quarantine according to CDC guidelines. What today’s announcement ensures, in addition to providing the safest and most comfortable environment for players, is that there will not be any disqualification due to contact tracing, as no fully vaccinated player would be required to quarantine due to close exposure to a positive case."

The WSOP isn't the only major event in Nevada going down this route. The NFL's Las Vegas Raiders, which play at Allegiant Stadium just off the Strip, announced earlier this month that fans must be vaccinated to attend games, and the popular Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in October is also requiring the same.

Vaccination Rule Details

Not only are players ineligible to compete in bracelet events without proof of vaccination, but they also can't even register without a vaccination card. And they must be fully vaccinated, meaning two doses (if applicable, depending on the shot).

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly–it is made with no agenda beyond protecting player eligibility and the operations of a unique televised gaming event,” said Stewart. “The nature of poker is to be in close proximity with your opponents for extended periods of time, and a seat at the World Series of Poker is a commitment for both our company and the participants. We want players to be excited for their return to the WSOP, while offering the greatest level of protection and limiting complications during the tournament this fall.”

Players are only required to show proof of vaccination one time. So, if they're already in the system as vaccinated, they won't again have to provide their vaccine card. The WSOP will utilize a free mobile app and Health Pass feature so the players can quickly and easily upload vaccine cards.

That app is only for US residents. Other alternate documentation including physical vaccination cards, & state/country-specific health passes will be verified at the Belize room prior to first registration.

For those who aren't yet vaccinated and want to play in WSOP bracelet events or daily deepstacks and cash games at the Rio during the series, the 2021 World Series of Poker begins September 30, so there's still time to get the jab in time to compete. All attendees must be fully vaccinated, which means you'll need a 14-day window following the last dose, per CDC guidelines.

As for face masks, they are currently still required in all Nevada businesses. Unless that mandate changes, players and staff won't be permitted to enter the Rio without a face covering on.

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