Live! Mini-Casino Plans To Add Poker Despite Other Casinos Cutting Back

Westmoreland Mall venue will open a small room and is looking for dealers
poker room
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Pennsylvania has fewer live poker games in its casinos than it did before COVID-19 hit, but it appears poised to add another room.

Live! Pittsburgh has announced that it plans to add a seven-table poker room at the Westmoreland Mall mini-casino, pending Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approval. A press release stated the room is expected to open in early 2022. It will create about 25 new jobs, and the casino owned by The Cordish Companies opened a free six-week dealer school Monday to begin the process of filling them.

“Our new poker room will be exciting and provide our guests with yet another reason to enjoy their time with us,” said Sean Sullivan, the casino’s general manager. “Our free poker dealer school is an amazing opportunity for someone who wants to start a career in the fast-paced gaming industry.”

The school is in the lower level of Westmoreland Mall. The poker room itself will be on the second level of the mini-casino that opened a year ago with 750 slots and 30 table games.

No huge profits, but poker brings more patrons

Poker is not generally viewed as a big revenue earner for casinos compared to slots and other table games, but like sports betting, it is an amenity that can attract gamblers who don’t normally come. They might indulge in other casino games once there, or spend on food or beverage, or bring spouses who do the same.

Since the poker rake provides a relatively small profit margin, however, and players are required to be in closer proximity than is the case for many casino games, the live poker action in Pennsylvania has been particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harrah’s Philadelphia permanently closed its poker room, and the ones at Presque Isle Downs and Hollywood Casino at Penn National have yet to reopen.

Live poker is available at eight of the 15 casinos: Rivers Pittsburgh, Rivers Philadelphia, Parx, Wind Creek Bethlehem, Mohegan Sun, Mount Airy, Hollywood Casino at The Meadows, and Live! Philadelphia. Live! Pittsburgh is a satellite of the latter, bigger venue, which has 29 poker tables.

In many cases, even though those rooms have reopened in the wake of COVID, various restrictions are in place, such as reduced or no tournaments, fewer seats per table, or mask requirements. It’s wise for interested players to check ahead with each individual casino about its poker room’s particular details.

Card players also have the option of going online to use one of the state’s four digital sites: PokerStars, WSOP, or BetMGM and Borgata, which share a platform.

Image: Shutterstock

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