A minimum of eight groups were evicted from the premises of Encore Boston Harbor and charged with fines for disregarding the hotel room ban on large gatherings. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission received a complaint about the incident on Saturday, August 16th which followed into the early hours of Sunday, August 17th. More than 110 people were thrown out from a suite, triggering an investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety into the man who booked the suite. The casino was also consequently served with a notice of non-compliance.
Under Gov. Charlie Baker’s restrictions, meetings in the building can’t exceed 25 people. According to officials, Encore has now taken matters in their own hands, enforcing its own stricter rules and imposing a potential $3,000 fine for each violation.
Interim Executive Director Karen Wells mentioned that the man in question, who booked a suite on August 16, began escorting small groups of people into the lobby from 6.30 pm.
The first sighting of this illegal gathering was made by a hotel butler who was following a request to deliver something to the suite. After spotting that there were over 30 guests inside, he informed the front desk who subsequently called the suite to warn them about the occupancy limit rules, giving them 15 seconds to vacate. It was also reported that hotel management received a call informing them of a post on Instagram which clearly showed more guests were present in the room than the imposed limit.
Wells stated that Encore security and the Massachusetts State Police Gaming Enforcement Unit got involved when there were reports of disturbances at 3:00 am from the suite which housed over 100 guests who did not even bother wearing face masks.
Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission released the following statement after the incident.
“In light of recent events at Encore Boston Harbor, I wish to remind all that the MGC’s jurisdiction and regulatory responsibilities extend to the entire gaming establishment, beyond the gaming floor. It’s imperative that we take all necessary steps to enforce social distancing and all other COVID-19-related measures as outlined in the reopening safety guidelines approved by the Gaming Commission.”
Aside from the notice of non-compliance which required changes to Encore’s policies and rules, the commissioners did not take further action against the casino. However, the regulator said it was aware of the incident and the steps the commission and the casino have taken since.
Encore Boston Harbor must now:
- Clearly communicate state and own restrictions to guest capacity per room/venue
- Apply training to staff so they can identify similar issues and respond appropriately
- Ensure issues are efficiently relayed to upper management so similar matters can be dealt with quicker
- Improve security and expand their range of CCTV monitoring to prevent non registered guests from accessing the premises
Once more furloughed employees begin returning to the business, they will also need to be made aware of the changes and placed on specific training programs.
There was a big change at Encore over this past weekend. They were extremely vigilant in their duties. What we saw is not only guests change their mind about their weekend registration at the desk when they found out the new rules, but through their vigilance, eight different rooms were evicted for breaking those rules and fined as wellEnforcement Bureau Assistant Director – Bruce Band
While regulators as well as Judd Stein and the commissioners agree that Encore handled the situation very well, she stresses that there are always improvements that can be made which will be vital to easing back into the norm once we recover from the pandemic.