WPT and BetMGM announce upcoming online Borgata tournament while Boston struggles to find casino dealers

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World Poker Tour and BetMGM have released a joint announcement regarding the upcoming WPT Online Borgata Poker Open, which will run Sept. 19-21. The $3,500 buy-in tourney will lead next month’s partypoker US Network Online Series in New Jersey with the latter running Sept. 12-19.

The tournament is the latest event brought about by the partnership between WPT and BetMGM. The two entities have hosted a few events in the past that have been very successful and they fully intend to keep working together in order to provide “quality, relatable poker offerings and prestigious events with large prize pools available to players.”

 “The WPT Online Borgata Poker Open, powered by partypoker US Network, marks the return of the Sexton Cup to New Jersey,” WPT CEO Adam Pliska said. “We are very happy that WPT’s strategic move in online tournaments has been bolstered by one of the longest and most prestigious casinos on the tour.”

 “BetMGM has found a great partner in WPT and are excited to work together again to bring another online Main Tour event to New Jersey,” BetMGM VP Matthew Sunderland added. “Our last Main Tour event together was a huge success, and we look forward to offering players in New Jersey a piece of the $1 million prize pool.”

“New Jersey continues to be a leader in regulated online poker and the WPT is thrilled to partner with BetMGM,” said Angelica Hael, VP of Global Tour Management for the World Poker Tour. “This event follows up on the three incredible series held in 2020 and we are confident this series will continue pushing our partnership to new heights.”

The winner of the inaugural U.S. WPT Main Tour event from Season XIX will have their name etched onto the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup, a piece of silverware displaying the names of every WPT winner for the past 18 seasons. All event participants can accrue points in the WPT Player of the Year race, which runs all season.

Players looking to participate in the WPT Online Borgata Poker Open on Borgata Poker, BetMGM Poker or partypoker NJ must be physically in the state of New Jersey. Partypoker US Network will also host satellites, which start at just $5, plus a freeroll tournament, to give players chances to enter.

One doesn’t have to be in NJ to enjoy other online poker tournaments, though. And, to that end, the well-reviewed PokerStars Casino offers the best tournaments in the online market..

Meanwhile, Encore Boston Harbor is having trouble hiring dealers for poker and would not be able to get back to business immediately as guests have been urging because it cannot find enough people to employ because of the pandemic, according to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Encore Boston and MGM Springfield resumed operations back in May, albeit not fully, but did not return with poker. The increase in complaints about the lack of poker has not gone unnoticed by said commission. And both casinos have announced they’re to decide on the issue by the end of the year.

“To be clear, we did not say ‘never’ to poker,” Encore’s senior vice president and general counsel Jacqui Krum said. “We have said, ‘Just not at this time.’ We’re constantly readjusting our offerings based on guest demand. Throughout this difficult time, we have really tried to be agile and responsive. However, we do have limited space, and the former poker area is currently occupied by some of our highest-performing slot machines.”

As has been the case with many businesses across the United States, the casino is having a pretty difficult time hiring people to work as dealers.

“Because of this labor crunch, reopening poker right now would necessitate the closure of other table games. We simply don’t have the staff available to do both,” Krum added. “We fully understand the impact of these changes to our valued guests, including our poker players, and if we could add another floor to the casino we would.”

Last Thursday, assistant director of the commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau and chief of the Gaming Agents Division, Bruce Band, told commissioners that the number of complaints his staff receives over the absence of poker at Encore has increased from four or five a month to about 45 and 50 a month.

The body opted not to take any action as it pertains to poker on Thursday, with commissioners pointing out that they want to give the casino the leeway to run operations in a way that maximizes tax revenue while preserving the jobs that come with table games. However, they expect regular updates from Encore.

 “We are concerned about not only the physical health of our employees, but also the mental health, because there may be some anxiety surrounding that, and going back into an office where people are congregating together,” commission executive director Karen Wells stated. “So we’re just trying very hard to be mindful of both things.”