Massachusetts Gaming Commission Approves 25% Capacity Limits for Casinos

Governor Charlie Baker imposes new limitations to combat surge in Covid-19 cases and to prevent full lockdown.

Gatherings During the Festive Season Might Lead to a Surge in New Cases

The number of customers allowed at MGM Springfield and Massachusetts’ two other casinos will be limited at 25%, the state’s Gaming Commission ruled Tuesday. The new limitations come as a response to a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, with fears that the situation will worsen after the holidays.

The Commission’s latest order goes into effect December 26 and applies temporary additional capacity restrictions to statewide Covid-19 safety rules. The requirements will be valid until at least January 10, 2021 unless further extended and will reduce the maximum capacity of casinos from 40 percent previously to 25 percent currently. The formula for occupancy remains the same as in the Gaming Guideline from June 23, 2020 and workers and staff are included in the occupancy calculations.

At a news conference at the State House, Governor Charlie Baker said:

“We would like people to spend the next couple of weeks, between Christmas and sort of the week after New Year’s, as regularly as they possibly can just with those they live with. And if you need to go out and do something, go out, get it done and come home.”

Gaming Venues are Going Through Tough Times

The number of newly confirmed Covid-19 deaths increased by 41 on Monday while the number of newly reported cases of the virus increased by more than 3,700.

Two of the state’s three casinos are operated by Las Vegas-based companies. Encore Boston Harbor in Everett is run by Wynn Resorts, while MGM Springfield in western Massachusetts is operated by MGM Resorts International. Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming operates Plainridge Park, the third casino in the state.

Furthermore, gaming licensees are ought to develop a communications plan in order to ensure that adherence to the 25% occupancy limits is achieved in an effective, safe, and orderly manner, especially in cases when the occupancy limit has been reached and additional guests may seek entry to the gaming venue.

Massachusetts casinos and the state’s monthly gaming tax haul suffered a sharp decrease in revenue in November during the first month that the three casinos had to comply with a 9:30 p.m. curfew. Last month, Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor posted $45.45 million in gross gaming revenue altogether, a decrease of about 34% from $68.73 million in October.

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