Wynn Las Vegas announced its race and sportsbook will, along with its poker room, be closed as of Sunday. Friday’s announcement follows Wynn’s closing of its entertainment venues and buffets in its Las Vegas and Boston properties due to coronavirus concerns.
The is no mystery behind Wynn’s closure of its race and sportsbook. Most professional and college sporting events have been canceled. The cancellation of the NCAA’s March Madness is a particularly costly blow to Vegas sportsbook activity and hotel occupancy rates.
While sportsbooks are morphing into virtual ghost towns due to a dearth of sports, poker is suffering for a different reason.
Wynn Cancels Spring Poker Tournament Mid-Event
In poker, players and dealers all handle the same cards and chips. It’s a germaphobe’s nightmare. For instance, it’s common for participants of the multi-week World Series of Poker (WSOP) to catch a cold or flu. It’s so common, it’s dubbed “the Rio Flu,” named after the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, which hosts the WSOP.
Casinos have been reluctant, however, to cancel poker tournaments — even as other sports stepped up to the plate. But as the virus spread, so did the concern among poker’s elite players.
All poker operators: stop.
Suspend all tournaments and cash games now.
There isn’t a more infectious environment imaginable than a poker table.
Shut it all down.
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) March 12, 2020
Wynn was nearly through its Feb. 17 – March 18 Spring Classic tournament when they abruptly canceled the rest of the events. In a Thursday Facebook post, Wynn wrote, “The remaining events of the Wynn Classic, scheduled March 13-18, have been postponed indefinitely, including the $5,300 Championship Event.”
The very next day, Wynn announced the poker room would shut down indefinitely.
Horse Racing and the Iditarod Persevere
There are still a few sporting events that have not been canceled.
The Iditarod’s doesn’t attract many fans along its remote, thousand-mile course. That’s one reason why the annual sled dog race has avoided cancellation. Checkpoints have moved outside of more populated areas, and Nome has canceled its end-of-race celebration. But, “the last great race on earth” has successfully completed Day 6 without cancellation.
Meanwhile, few horse racing events have been disrupted. Spectators may not be able to watch in person, and bettors may have to wager online or at a casino sportsbook, but a bugler still sounds at many of the country’s racetracks.
Unfortunately for retail sportsbooks, horses and dogs don’t begin to offset losing the revenue generated by events like March Madness and the NBA finals.