Nearly two months after COVID-related restrictions in Massachusetts were lifted, commercial casinos are yet to resume poker games. Now, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is reportedly looking into the topic and checking whether commercial operators are legally obliged to resume poker.
Poker Games Not Profitable with COVID-Related Restrictions
Easing COVID-related restrictions across the US enabled states where poker, one of the most popular table games, to resume. While states such as Nevada have resumed poker with full force, launching multiple events throughout the summer, this may not be the case for Massachusetts. Earlier this year, when capacity limits and other COVID-related restrictions were in place, commercial casinos in the state chose not to return poker, claiming that a game with three or four players may not be profitable.
Restrictions Go Away, But Poker Doesn’t Return
Although back in May, all COVID-related restrictions were lifted by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), poker still did not return to the gambling venues. This marked a strange move, as operators chose to return other games like craps or roulette, but poker was left behind.
Checking MGM Springfield’s website, there is a statement informing customers that currently, the venue’s poker room is closed. A similar statement is shared by Encore Boston Harbor. Both venues inform their customers that a decision regarding the return of poker games is expected by December 31, 2021.
With that in mind, the missing poker games in Massachusetts have resulted in a significant increase in complaints related to the topic. Additionally, some residents have even urged the BGC to establish poker parlors, considering that the commercial operators have not returned poker games. Although the idea does sound appealing, last week, the regulator reportedly rejected the possibility, saying that the current legislation does not allow such venues.
Are the Operators Legally Obliged to Resume Poker?
Undoubtedly, poker remains a hot topic in Massachusetts. This past Wednesday, during a regulator meeting, the MGC addressed the missing poker games issue. Even more, according to local news outlet WWLP, the regulator is currently checking if the casinos are obligated to offer poker games. Additionally, the MGC is also looking into what authority it has over the game.
MGC chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein asked teams working on the matter to prepare details regarding the “legalities and the history of poker,” as well as to confirm what authority the Commission has regarding poker in terms of the gaming licensing. Judd-Stein questioned what the obligation of the commercial operators is and why they haven’t resumed poker play. Details regarding the topic may be released as early as next Thursday, when the next MGC meeting is scheduled.