The bestbet Jacksonville casino has postponed the WPT bestbet Scramble poker festival because of a massive surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the area. [Image: WPT/Flickr.com]
New dates yet to be determined
As new COVID-19 cases sweep across the United States and the state of Florida, in particular, the bestbet Jacksonville casino has decided to postpone the upcoming WPT bestbet Scramble festival. Though the World Poker Tour has yet to make a formal announcement (aside from a “POSTPONED” notation on the Main Tour schedule), bestbet Jacksonville did so on Twitter on Monday:
The casino immediately received criticism for putting off the event while at the same time keeping the rest of the casino, including poker games, open. bestbet Jacksonville likely determined that its regular number of guests in the poker room was manageable, but the influx that was expected for the WPT event was not, as far as COVID-19 safety was concerned.
There have also been rumors that the postponement was because either a) the casino was worried about a lack of participants and thus having to pay overlay, or b) the casino could not find enough dealers. The former has no merit, while the latter is always a possibility, though it would be odd for bestbet Jacksonville to not simply explain that this was the reason and that it stemmed from the pandemic.
The person who runs the casino’s Twitter account said that they are working on reconfiguring the tournament schedule.
Florida is COVID-19 central
After seeing COVID-19 cases decline precipitously in the first half of the year, aside from a slight rise in the spring, cases are exploding throughout the United States and especially in Florida. Nationwide, the seven-day moving average of new daily cases is 81,300, the highest mark since the middle of February.
Florida, specifically, is a mess. Its seven-day moving average of new cases is 21,683, the highest it has ever been, higher than it was during the peak of the pandemic, the peak of testing, and before widespread availability of vaccines.
Florida has set another record for COVID-19-related hospitalizations at 11,515
According to data released by the US Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday, Florida has set another record for COVID-19-related hospitalizations at 11,515. Fortunately, while hundreds of people in US are still dying each day from the virus, death rates are lower than they used to be because vaccinations help prevent serious illness.
World Poker Tour events were some of the first to be canceled last March as the seriousness of the pandemic was realized in the United States. To fill the live poker void, the WPT and other tournament organizers both moved tourneys online and created all new internet-only festivals.
The World Poker Tour launched the WPT Online Series in May 2020, the WPT World Online Championships in July 2020, and the WPT Online Poker Open in December. All were held on partypoker, the latter in New Jersey. Both the WPT Online Series and WPT World Online Championships were revived this year.
The WPT was also the first to bring back major live tournament action with the WPT Venetian in early March of this year. Since then, live tournaments have been extremely popular. April’s WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown (also in Florida) broke the all-time World Poker Tour record, attracting 2,481 entries. The previous record belonged to last year’s WPT Online Championship, which drew 2,130 players.