Crown Melbourne to reopen this week but long road back for poker

Crown Melbourne will reopen some gaming operations this week for the first in almost eight months, but it will likely be some time before the famous Crown Poker room can shuffle up and deal once more.

In an ASX filing on Monday, Crown Resorts revealed it has been granted permission to “commence the operation of a limited number of electronic gaming machines and electronic table games,” at Crown Melbourne, most likely from this Thursday 12 November.

However, those limitations mean only VIP patrons will be allowed in for the time being at one of 10 designated areas, with a maximum of 10 patrons in each area, and smoking will not be permitted. There will also be a requirement for every second gaming machine to be disabled while no single patron will be allowed on the gaming floor for more than 90 minutes per day.

The main gaming floor at Crown Melbourne, which shut its doors on 23 March as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country, will remain off limits while there is no word on when poker will be allowed to return, and with what restrictions.

It also seems almost certain that the 2021 Aussie Millions – originally due to kick off in mid-January – will be postponed until later in the year. The 2020 Aussie Millions was one of the last major tournament series in the country to be completed before COVID, with the Crown Poker Championship, Melbourne Poker Championship and Victorian Poker Championship all subsequently cancelled.

Star Entertainment Group has also cancelled all poker for 2020 including WSOP Circuit Sydney, previously planned for late November.

Crown Resorts CEO Ken Barton said Monday, “We have been working for some time with the Victorian Government and health authorities to determine how we can safely re-open Crown Melbourne and have developed extensive physical distancing and hygiene measures to allow re-opening in a safe manner.”

“We are pleased to be able to commence the process of welcoming back our employees and customers to Crown Melbourne.”

The company said it had reopened its Crown Towers hotel from Monday, while some retail and F&B outlets opened from last week.

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