MGC Votes to Allow Back Craps, Expand Blackjack Player Seats

Casinos in Massachusetts received good news Thursday following the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Open Meeting after the state’s gaming regulator voted to allow the return of craps tables and to expand the number of seats on blackjack tables.

MGC Allows Craps Tables

MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor asked the commission to consider further easing of restrictions due to the improved statistics in the state related to new daily coronavirus cases and to help the resorts return to the path of recovery.

Nearly a year after the coronavirus outbreak materially impacted the casinos in the state which had to shut operations for 3 months and lay off employees en masse, the MGC voted unanimously to allow the return of craps games to the two battered gaming venues. Commissioners said other states including Connecticut also allow casinos to offer craps games.

Crap tables will be allowed to have 3 players on each side of the table with a minimum distance between seats of 4 feet and plexiglass partitions separating players and the dealers on each table. No cheer-up crowds will be allowed to stand or gather around the tables, though, and the dice will have to be sanitized between shooters.

Fourth Seat at Blackjack Tables

The MGC also voted during the March 11 Open Meeting in favor of adding an additional seat to blackjack tables which will now be able to operate with 4 players. Plexiglass partitions will continue to remain on the tables with a minimum of 3 feet distance between player positions upheld.

“There is a lot of comfort in knowing that our enforcement measures are heightened… and we will continue to rely on the compliance efforts of the two licensees here.”

Cathy Judd-Stein, Chairwoman, MGC

According to the MGC, the gaming option expansion will allow casino operators to provide new gaming options for patrons and employ more people than they had to let go a year before.

All state casinos were forced to close doors mid-March due to the virus outbreak and only started scaling back their operations in July, but the severe reductions in the number of customers continued to erode their revenues.

The slow attempt to return to normal was halted by Gov. Charlie Baker at the end of last year, when he imposed new limitations to the state due to the surging number of new coronavirus cases, seeking to prevent further spread of the infection without imposing a second lockdown.

Under the new restrictions, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor were ordered by the MGC to implement a 25% cap effective December 26, but even that capacity could not be fully utilized as by mid-January the two casino resorts’ occupancy rates averaged 19%.

Casinos will continue to implement a 40% cap on the number of patrons, but according to representatives from the MGC, even that level could not be fully utilized by them since the return to business in July.

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