Massachusetts Gaming Commission started researching in detail what the process of re-opening the state casinos would require in terms of safety measures, based on the experience from casino-operating companies in Macau.
Closure Period Not Over Yet
Casinos in Massachusetts have been shut since St. Gov. Charlie Baker has issued his order March 15, to close all non-essential businesses as part of the state-wide implementation of the social distancing measures. Less than 8 days remain from the order expiration date, May 4, but it is not clear yet whether the governor will extend the order.
In the meantime, Massachusetts has joined the multi-state Council to Get People Back to Work and Restore the Economy, where state governors from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island coordinate their efforts with regards to safely re-opening the economy.
The Council consists of one health expert, one economic development expert and the respective Chiefs of Staff from each state, joining efforts to develop a fully integrated regional framework to gradually lift the states’ Stay-at-Home orders while minimizing the risk of increased spread of the virus.
Gaming Regulator Forward-Thinking
Despite the uncertainty regarding when the re-opening process in the state will begin, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein pointed out during the commission’s meeting Thursday the regulator was beginning to consider steps to prepare.
In communication with its licensees, the gaming regulator engaged into discussions what safety measures need to be implemented, looking into insights from Macau operations, derived from the experience from MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts. Both casino operators already closed down and re-opened in February gaming facilities in the Chinese Special Administrative Region.
MGM Resorts International, in partnership with Pansey Ho, daughter of casino magnate Stanley Ho, operates MGM Macau, a 35-storey building integrated casino resort. Wynn Resorts operates Wynn Macau, a 2-tower building casino-type resort, and Wynn Palace, a 28-storey hotel and casino located on the Cotai Strip.
Judd-Stein explained the regulator was also drawing insights from a document containing specific policies including disinfection of surfaces, protective equipment for employees and guest, as well as setting capacity limits in the casinos. These guidelines for casinos elsewhere were provided by Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox.
The members of the regulatory body are convinced, despite that for now the focus is to stay at home, planning for the upcoming next phase is required as the re-opening process involves robust public education campaigns for both customers and employees, commission’s chairwoman further explained.
Wynn Resorts has been paying full wages to all its employees since casinos closure commenced as it promised to do it for 2 months, while MGM Resorts started placing its team members on furlough from the moment the company’s casinos started closing doors.