Three months after reopening, casinos in Massachusetts are planning to expand operations. According to Investigations and Enforcement Bureau Deputy Director Loretta Lillios, the operators in the state are broadly complying with the health and safety measures.
Three Months after Reopening, Massachusetts Casinos Plan to Expand Operations
Similar to other U.S. states, casinos in Massachusetts were closed back in mid-March. This was an effort of the state officials to reduce the spread of the respiratory disease COVID-19. The shutdown lasted for three months and MGM Springfield, Plainridge Park, and Encore Boston Harbor were finally allowed to reopen in July. But similar other businesses, casino operators had to implement strict health and safety protocols for operating in the COVID-19 environment. By now it has been nearly three months since the reopening of casinos in the Bay State and talks about casinos expanding operations are no longer off the table.
Earlier this week, Investigations and Enforcement Bureau Deputy Director Loretta Lillios said: “On the safety and health measures, things are continuing to go well at each of the three properties with continued broad compliance by the casinos with the health and safety requirements.” She outlined that the operators continue to dedicate resources in terms of sanitization, hygiene, and enforcement of mask protocol for both employees and guests.
With that in mind, the casinos in the state announced their plans to expand their operations. Earlier this week, the spa, the retail store, and the beauty store at Encore Boston Harbor in Everett reopened. On the other hand, MGM Springfield plans to reopen its steakhouse next week on October 2. And starting from October 9, Plainridge Park Casino plans to resume 24/7 operations.
Operating in the COVID-19 Environment
Participating in a Massachusetts Gaming Commission conference call on Thursday this week, Karen Wells, MGC Executive Director said that the amenities which operators plan to extend must comply with the existing COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. She outlined that the guidelines will be reviewed for facilities such as spas to ensure they meet the required health and safety.
Speaking with commissioners on Thursday this week, Lillios revealed that “a small number” of casino employees have been tested positive for COVID-19. She did not reveal specific details as to which property was employing the workers who tested positive but assured that the positive cases were a single-digit number. “We’ve been notified that none of those cases involve front- or guest-facing positions or direct contact with any commission employees,” said Lillios. She added that each of the positive cases has been contracted off-property. Lillios assured that all operators are communicating with the board of health and are strictly following the guidelines for safe operations.
Focusing on the bigger picture, by now there have been 130,000 reported positive cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. So far 9,391 patients have deceased and more than 111,000 have recovered. Based on those numbers, the Bay State is still far from the top of the chart where California is with the most reported positive COVID-19. In California, 807,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19. The 2nd and 3rd state with the most reported positive COVID-19 cases are Texas and Florida with 768,000 and 700,000 respectively.