Is Poker Coming Back to Massachusetts Casinos Soon?

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission gradually lifts COVID-19-related restrictions. Although Governor Charlie Baker plans to lift all such restrictions until August 1, the MGC is yet to take action which may result in the return of poker games to Massachusetts casinos.

MGC Gradually Relaxes COVID-19 Restrictions

Poker fans from Massachusetts may need to wait some more before the game returns to casinos in the state. Governor Charlie Baker recently revealed that by August 1, he aims at removing all COVID-19-related restrictions. If all goes as planned, poker may return to casinos on that day, but so far there are no guarantees.

After the lockdown which ended in July last year, casinos and other hospitality and entertainment businesses had to operate under strict health and safety regulations. For casinos, masks are mandatory, while some games are restricted or are allowed with fewer players. Furthermore, the maximum capacity of casinos is currently restricted to 40%.

Despite the pandemic, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has been gradually relaxing the COVID-19-related restrictions. Two months ago, in March, the MGC allowed casinos to reintroduce craps. Furthermore, before that, last year in October, the regulator allowed operators to reintroduce roulette.

Operators Are Waiting for the Right Time to Return Poker

A statement shared by MGM Springfield reads that currently, the casino does not offer poker games. The operator noted that current MGC minimum reopening standards and social distancing requirements do not allow “the volumes necessary to operate poker”. Despite that restrictions are gradually being lifted, MGM says that it cannot predict when poker games will return. However, the company said that when the time comes it will evaluate the market conditions before introducing poker.

A similar statement from Encore Boston Harbor informs the players that the casino currently does not offer live poker. The operator stressed that the social distancing guidelines currently restrict table games to four people, including the dealer. According to Encore, having three players per table cannot generate enough volume to support the casino’s poker operations, which is why the company chose not to bring back the game. Similar to MGM, Encore cannot guarantee when it will be safe to return poker in Massachusetts.

Although for the moment, players can patiently wait, and operators are waiting for the right moment to reintroduce poker, now, it may be up to the Massachusetts regulator to take action. If indeed the MGC continues to gradually lift COVID-19-related restrictions, poker games may come back in Massachusetts this summer.

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