With the Massachusetts Gaming Commission about to release monthly gaming results, casinos are still averaging only 19% occupancy out of 25% currently allowed.
Low Casino Occupancy in Massachusetts
Massachusetts’ three casinos – MGM Springfield, Everett’s Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park – are seeing very low attendance numbers, reflecting the weakened state of the industry. The numbers are even below the tight capacity restrictions imposed in December by Governor Charlie Baker.
According to Bruce Band, Gaming Agents Division Assistant Director of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the average occupancy is currently at only 19%. For context, state safety regulations limit occupancy to 25%.
These attendance figures do not bode well for MGM Springfield, Everett’s Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park. The Gaming Commission will release the casinos’ gross gaming revenue and tax data later today.
It is important to note that none of the state’s three casinos actually managed to hit the 25% limit, even at peak attendance.
Numbers in Detail
MGM Springfield’s highest occupancy these last few weeks was only 22% at its peak. This happened during a new car drawing on 26 December, which was both the day after Christmas and a Saturday. Attendance dropped down to an average of 19% the day after the event.
Plainridge Park’s peak was even lower at 19% – once on 26 December and again on 8 January. Encore peaked at 19% as well – on New Years Eve. Attendance averaged around 17% the rest of the time.
Mr. Band explained that attendance tends to be weak at the beginning of the year. “So we are kind of lucky with that anyway,” he said.
Operational Restrictions in Massachusetts
Massachusetts’ safety restrictions went into effect on 26 December and will last until 24 January, unless the state decides to extend them. In addition to the 25% occupancy limit, the restrictions also enforce a 9:30 pm closing time for all casinos.
Casinos were also forced to cease operations for four months beginning from March 2020. The casinos reopened in July with a 40% occupancy limit, which was then lowered to 25% in December. Occupancy counts include the members of staff.
There are 147 reported cases of COVID-19 infections among casino staff since the reopening in July. According to Investigations and Enforcement Bureau Director Loretta Lillios, employees report contracting the virus from family or friends. The Gaming Commission has not detected any COVID clusters among workers.