World Poker Tour makes rare return to Japan

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Victorian casino high roller ban would slash revenues 

The World Poker Tour has hosted a record-setting event in Japan.

Legal US Poker Sites reports that while most live poker tournaments remain on hold with no restart dates in sight, the World Poker Tour did sneak in an event in one of the countries least affected by COVID-19 with WPT Japan finishing up last week.

There were 726 entries in the Main Event competing for $35,000 worth of WPT Passport prize packages.

In three previous treks to Japan, the WPT has been successful, but the fourth one happened as Japan was grappling with a second wave of coronavirus cases.

In the past month, testing discovered 33,813 cases, with 185 of them resulting in deaths.

It was a risky move to host the WPT Japan in Tokyo August 10 to 16.

They did it as carefully as possible and set a new record.

Gaming company Sammy Inc was the lead sponsor of the event and hosted the action at its headquarters.

There were two starting flights, the first delivering 391 entries and the second 335.

That put the total number of entries at 726.

Players had to qualify to play, as there was no official buy-in, per Japanese laws.

And the prizes were all in the form of $35,000 worth of WPT Passport prize packages – not cash.

There was also a side event – a freeroll for a trophy – comprised of 51 players for Keio University and the University of Tokyo.

This WPT Japan event was not on the main tour nor on the WPTDeepStacks schedule.

It was listed as a special event on the World Poker Tour website.

It seems there are other events tied in with this Japan tournament, but they are not listed in the same way.

Poker, craps and roulette still off limits at Massachusetts casinos

Doors were shut at casinos in Massachusetts for almost four months before reopening last month with a series of restrictions.

Milford Daily News reported in mid August that some games won’t return, despite the casinos reopening.

Roulette will not return to the state’s three casinos in the immediate future, nor will craps or poker, after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission declined to expand the slate of games offered during the limited-scope reopening that has been underway for weeks.

Two casinos, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, had asked the commission to authorise craps and roulette, but the commissioners agreed that now is not the time to do so given the current public health landscape and a recent uptick in COVID-19 transmission.

“In light of some of the increase in COVID things at this time, we didn’t feel it was appropriate to add new games, so we’re going to continue reviewing this and keeping an eye on the COVID numbers and consider that at a later date, MGC Investigations and Enforcement Bureau assistant director Bruce Band said.

Under revised plans to reopen, poker, craps and roulette were not allowed, while casinos were instructed to space out or separate which slot machines are used and cap blackjack style tables at three players maximum.

Two of the casinos sought permission to bring craps and roulette back on board.

“We developed prototypes that would allow those games to be played. That said, we are following the directives of the state,” Encore spokesman Eric Kraus said.

“What we want to do, at the appropriate time following the state’s lead, is to offer the full complement of gaming options for our guests.”

MGM Springfield spokesperson Jocelyn Kelly said the casino “appreciates the Gaming Commission’s thoughtful consideration and will continue to work collaboratively to determine when it’s appropriate to offer more amenities to our guests.”

Neither casino estimated how much the absence of craps and roulette would affect business or the revenue they direct to the state.

In a related decision last Thursday, Mr Band told the Gaming Commission that poker will not return to casinos for the foreseeable future.

Other jurisdictions have allowed full poker tables to operate, which Mr Band described as “not what I would consider a safe situation for the employees or players.”

Back to top