The coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the country. Every industry is affected by business closures and there are record numbers of people being furloughed or laid off. Due to these uncertain times, even professional gamblers in Nevada are now allowed to file for unemployment.
From Las Vegas to Reno and everywhere in between, there are more than 200 casinos in the state of Nevada that will remain closed until April 30 or later to help contain the spread of COVID-19. The 206,000 casino employees aren’t the only people feeling the effect of the closures.
Professional gamblers are feeling the pinch as well. Poker players don’t have a venue to make a living. Sports bettors only have four sports betting apps with limited wagering options available. Blackjack and other advantage gamblers don’t have casinos in Nevada and around the country to use their skills.
Unemployment for Nevada gamblers
Gambling isn’t a traditional job, though it’s a way for some Nevada residents to make a living. Usually, professional gamblers wouldn’t be able to file for unemployment — but these aren’t normal times. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, professional gamblers may qualify as independent contractors or self-employed under the CARES Act for the time being.
Professional poker player Chris Konvalinka tells the newspaper, “I’m going to give it a shot.” In true poker player lingo, he went on to say that “It seems like a freeroll to me. Worst case, they say no.”
Anecdotally, only about 1% of all gamblers consider themselves professionals. An even-smaller portion of those gamblers are full-time professionals. A number of professional gamblers can keep a regular day job while using their gambling skills part-time.
Many full-time professional gamblers are truly self-employed and report income and file taxes just like many freelancers who work for themselves. As Konvalinka said, this is a freeroll to make up for revenue lost while the casinos are closed and sports betting options are limited.
Gambling in Nevada during the quarantine
Gambling options for professional and recreational gamblers in Nevada during the quarantine are limited. Gov. Steve Sisolak has ordered all casinos and nonessential businesses to close until at least April 30. Additionally, all gaming machines are off, which means not even slot games inside essential businesses, like supermarkets, are available.
There’s only one gambling option for table game players. The World Series of Poker website is open for poker players throughout the Silver State. The games at WSOP include a pool of players beyond Nevada. The site allows players from New Jersey, Delaware and, of course, Nevada.
Most professional sports leagues remain closed, so the options for sports bettors are minimal. Placing wagers on future events is always popular, but not everyone wants to tie their money up for months in something that may or may not take place.
There are still a few sports to wager on, such as esports, table tennis, UFC 249, and small division international soccer, hockey and basketball. Some sportsbook operators even offer in-play wagering for select events.
Sports bettors in Nevada still have access to a few sportsbooks that are active because of their mobile sports wagering apps:
- Circa Sports
- William Hill
Only players with an existing account can wager. Three of the four apps accept mobile deposits for anyone looking to wager on current and future events. Circa Sports is the only Nevada sports wagering app that doesn’t accept deposits outside of the casino.