No Norman Chad as WSOP 2020 Hits the TV Screens

It is WSOP on the TV time but not as we know it, coupled with bad news for Vegas and mixed blessings from their UK counterparts in the casino industry…

By: Andrew Burnett

Chad replaced by Kerstetter as 2020 WSOP airs on ESPN

We’ll start with the annual airing of the World Series of Poker on ESPN, but there is a missing link this time around, with Norman Chad’s health issues meaning he won’t be joining long-time co-host Lon McEachern in the broadcast.

Chad’s health issues after a nasty bout of COVID-19 sees him replaced by Jamie Kerstetter, the new couple bringing us the condensed 2020 version of the world’s most prestigious poker event.

The hybrid format saw two legs played, a domestic version in the US and an international one on GGPoker – the final tables played live in Vegas and Rozvadov respectively.

McEachern and Kerstetter will describe all the action across 4 episodes as the Main Event culminates in a heads-up showdown between the winners of each section, Joseph Hebert and Damian Salas.

“The format may be different, but the action remains captivating,” stated Tim Bunnell, Senior Vice President of Programming & Acquisitions for ESPN.

Vegas casino revenues fall for 11th straight month

Staying in Vegas, and it was a rather ‘doom and gloom’ end of January revenue announcement from the NGCB, yet another drop in takings for the state’s casinos.

A 26.5% drop in year-over-year revenue meant it was 11 months in a row that the massive drops had occurred, although the silver lining is that January’s taking of just over $760 million was up on December’s numbers.

Although the Las Vegas Strip casinos were the worst affected, MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle thinks that a corner will be turned this month.

He told shareholders in an earnings call: “March may hopefully begin to feel like October if we’re lucky. I’m hoping by the end of spring, as we go into June, we’ll see yet another significant rollback as we get ready for events.”

UK casinos set for re-opening in May

Across the pond, UK casinos have been given a glimmer of hope as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a highly-anticipated ‘route out of lockdown’.

The nation has been among the worst hit in the world by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 120,000 deaths from COVID-19. The casino and betting industry has been badly affected, effectively shut down since November, but Johnson’s announcement could see them open again between April and June.

Betting shops are included in an April 12th re-opening of ‘non-essential’ stores, with casinos hoping to join them on May 17th, with “all legal limits on social contact” expected to be removed on June 21st if vaccination levels and other government coronavirus targets are met.

That’s the industry news in brief for this week, but be sure to check in again next week for the latest big stories!


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