Encore Boston Harbor, Four Other New England Casinos Close as Coronavirus Spreads in Region

Posted on: March 14, 2020, 11:25h. 

Last updated on: March 16, 2020, 09:38h.

Three Massachusetts casinos will be shuttered for two or more weeks, and two Rhode Island gaming properties will close for at least a week in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Encore Boston Harbor is one of five New England casinos which will close temporarily in response to the coronavirus outbreak. (Image: NECN)

On Saturday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted to close the Encore, as well as the MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino. The hotels and casinos will close this weekend.

The decision was made in collaboration and cooperation with our licensees to safeguard the health and well-being of casino guests, employees, and regulators,” the Massachusetts Gaming Commission said in a statement on Saturday.

It has been reported by the Boston Globe that Utah Jazz basketball star Donovan Mitchell went to the Encore on March 5, where he played in the high limit area of the gaming floor for about an hour. He later tested positive for coronavirus.

On Friday, Massachusetts had 123 people test positive for COVID-19, according to news reports.

“As we all continue to navigate this unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation, our agency and our licensees will remain in close consultation with public health authorities and government officials to determine safe protocols for resuming operation,” the commission statement adds. “This decision will be re-assessed in two weeks, while an orderly shutdown process is actively underway.”

The Massachusetts casinos will pay workers during the closure, MassLive reported. Cleaning crews, security, and human resource staff will report to work during the two-week period.

Rhode Island Casinos Close for Week

On Friday, a similar decision was made to close the Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton, Rhode Island. The two casinos will close for one week. Rhode Island, as of Saturday, has 20 coronavirus cases, news reports said.

“In consultation with the Rhode Island Department of Health … we have ordered the Twin River Casino and the Tiverton Casino to be closed to the public,” Rhode Island Lottery Director Gerry Aubin said in a statement Friday.

Most employees will not get paid during the week-long period, the Providence Journal reported. “Impacted employees will be eligible for unemployment benefits,” the Journal quoted the state lottery statement.

Cleaning crews and security staff are among the workers who will be at the casinos during the seven days.

“The closure is anticipated to last one week, at which point the situation will be reassessed based on the most up-to-date data and guidance from the Rhode Island Department of Health,” the lottery statement adds. “Our top priority is the safety of Rhode Islanders.”

We sincerely regret any inconvenience to our customers,” Marc Crisafulli, president of Twin River, was additionally quoted by the Journal. “However, the state’s efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus are of paramount importance.”

“We believe this preventative approach is a necessary step to help ensure the health and safety of our employees, customers, and all Rhode Islanders.”

In nearby Connecticut, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resorts Casino remain open.

Coronavirus Leads to Closings Nationwide

Elsewhere, other gaming properties are closing or are cutting back on operations. These include Ohio’s MGM Northfield Park and MGM’s Yonkers Raceway — where a long-time trainer and office worker died after contracting coronavirus.

Pennsylvania’s Valley Forge Casino Resort was temporarily closed by Boyd Gaming, and several other Pennsylvania casinos are also closing.

The Wildhorse Resort & Casino in Oregon closed for two days recently for a deep cleaning “out of an abundance of caution” after one of its workers was declared presumptive positive for COVID-19.

The Illinois Gaming Board ordered each of the state’s 10 casinos to close for two weeks, according to news reports.

Elsewhere, MGM has also revealed it is closing nightclubs and day clubs. Spas and salons will close starting on Monday. Some 150 food and beverage venues will close on a rolling basis.

An unspecified number of MGM workers’ furloughs and layoffs will commence next week.