The Bay State’s gaming industry prepares to reopen in two weeks’ time. The state’s three casino operators are preparing all venues and hope to see business restart on June 29.
Three Months into the Outbreak, Massachusetts Prepares to Restart Casinos
Casinos in Massachusetts are preparing to reopen on June 29. This was confirmed by the three state casinos – MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park. According to the operators, they are in the process of preparing their venues but are also aware that this date is not final and might change.
Each casino contacted the state regulator on Thursday to announce that they will begin preparations for resuming operations. At least two weeks would be needed before each venue can be ready to meet visitors. The preparations will mainly include rearranging each venue’s areas so that social distancing is achieved. Operators will also train their employees which are coming back to work.
The casinos in the Bay State were closed on March 15. The closure was enforced in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state. With the closures, many of the workers in the casinos were furloughed. Back in May, the coronavirus situation did not look good so the closure was extended. Now, nearly three months later, operators can finally resume work and have their employees return to work.
Guidelines for Resuming of Operations Are Still Being Discussed
While the casino operators in the state are preparing to reopen, the Gaming Commission asked on Thursday for clarity regarding the state regulation for six-foot distancing. The main question of the regulator was whether six-foot distancing needs to be introduced regardless if there are plexiglass separators or if those are in place, the distancing can be reduced. The state’s commissioners agreed on plexiglass separators for card games such as blackjack and similar games. They however did not set this requirement for games such as craps, poker and roulette.
Another topic of discussion is the wearing of masks and hand sanitizer. Whether those would be mandatory or just available for the visitors is still in discussion. A point was raised by the state Commissioners regarding the drawing of cards between players and the chips which are won or lost. This, according to them, poses danger for the punters.
Commenting on the subject commissioner Enrique Zuniga said: “What we are trying to do is to layer as many provisions as are feasible in order to minimize the overall risk.” He continued by stressing: “We are not going to bring down the risk to zero. Let’s face it. That’s true for every other industry. What we are left with is the workability of each precaution.“
How Are the Three Casino Operators Preparing to Restart Business
Ensuring social distancing in each of the Bay State’s casinos will be done by reducing the playable slot machines. While this point is still being discussed, operators also prepare additional measures in order to offer safe operations for both visitors and employees.
MGM Springfield has announced that the company is planning to introduce plexiglass separators. However, the separators will be available for some of the games, but not all. According to the company, it’s the visitor’s choice to decide which game they will go to. In the event that the Gaming Commission chooses to cut the slots to two disabled slot machines between one operational machine, MGM Springfield slots will be 589 out of 1,768. Allowing every other slot machine to be disabled will increase the slot offering to 884 slots for players. Another point still in discussion is the reducing of players at roulette tables at MGM Springfield.
Looking at Plainridge property of Encore, the operator will be able to offer as many as 440 slots out of 1,320. This is in the event that two slot machines are disabled between one which is operating. If six-foot distancing is introduced as minimum, the slots will be reduced down to 385 player slots. If the Gaming Commission decides to shut off every other slot machine, slots will grow to 660 out of 1,320 player machines.
Focusing at Encore’s Boston Harbor venue, available player slots will be as much as 935 out of 2,804. This is in the event that the Gaming Commission rules out two disabled machines for one working slot machine. If every other slot machine is disabled, the total available slots will increase to 1,402 out of 2,804 in total.