PAGCOR proposes double-wide tables to increase poker volume

Close up photo of a poker table with cards and chips
Close up photo of a poker table with cards and chips

With vaccines yet to roll out, the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is turning to creative solutions to get people back to the poker table. The regulator has published a new memo, allowing an increase of players allowed seated at a poker table.

The February 8 memo amends the Health and Safety Standards for Resumption of Operations of Gaming Sites.

Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR has issued new guidelines to operators across the Philippines that allow for an increase in the number of players allowed to be seated at poker tables. While no new maximum is stated, the memo sets out a handful of steps operators can take to get as many people at the table as they can.

Most of these would be shocking to someone following what other territories, namely American operators, have bene implementing. Players still must be at least 1 meter apart and wear Personal Protective Equipment, namely masks and face shields, but operators can now install acrylic walls and barriers between each seating position.

The more interesting change is what operators are allowed to do to get more players in the game. The memo notes in its second point:

“Poker Operators shall be allowed to refurbish, widen and/or customize their poker tables accordingly to further increase its seating capacity subject to the same conditions above, including assembling at maximum two (2) existing poker tables into one to form a larger single poker table that shall count as one active table.”

A double-wide table? Sounds nice for the players, but that can’t be fun for the dealer.

The step is a necessary one to get the poker industry back into gear while the Covid-19 pandemic still ages. While PAGCOR has considered the Liveshots online casino concept to get VIP casino players back, and online cockfighting to help save some of their own revenues, the country has had no plan to get poker players back to the table until now. That’s a considerable slice of the pie, considering Manila has dozens of poker clubs, and hosts the Asian Poker Tour (APT).