Encore Boston Harbor Not Likely To Resume Live Poker Soon, Expert Says

Posted on: July 18, 2021, 07:32h. 

Last updated on: July 18, 2021, 10:54h.

The fact that Encore Boston Harbor is still not offering live poker does not come as a surprise, according to a Boston College professor who follows New England gambling trends.

In contrast, craps and roulette were reoffered on the casino’s gaming floor
The Encore Boston Harbor, pictured above. The Massachusetts casino is unlikely to resume live poker. (Image: Boston Globe)

“Poker never really attracted the kind of audience that could make it profitable,” the Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor, told Casino.org.

Unless some of the high rollers demand that it return, there is no reason to reinstate it.”

He explains that the typical patron at MGM Springfield or Plainridge Park Casino is not a poker player.

Poker games were halted at Massachusetts gaming properties when they were shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Poker was not offered as the venues reopened.

There were complaints made by players at the Everett-based Encore and the MGM Springfield because of the loss of poker, State House News Service has reported.

The report adds that people suggest “if the properties aren’t going to offer poker, we should establish poker parlors, which we explained the statute doesn’t allow for,” said Bruce Band, the assistant director of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) Investigations and Enforcement Bureau and chief of the Gaming Agents Division, speaking to the news service.

Poker Does Not Make Sense for Casino

To reoffer it at the casino does not make economic sense. “The space that poker occupied could much more profitably be utilized for either additional slots or table games,” the Rev. McGowan said.

In a recent statement, the Encore said it is “aware of and sensitive to our guests’ disappointment” about poker.

Based on current market conditions and the resulting need to prioritize space, Encore Boston Harbor will not be bringing back live poker at this time. If and when poker should return to Encore, it will likely be at a reduced capacity,” the statement added.

In contrast, craps and roulette were reoffered on the casino’s gaming floor.

Players Lose Blackjack Suit

Meanwhile, blackjack players who sued Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield in Massachusetts lost their case at the Supreme Judicial Court last month.

The plaintiffs had argued the casinos were paying out worse odds than state regulations overseen by the MGC allowed.  That thereby illegally increased the house edge. All had won games at odds of 6/5, rather than at 3/2.

They claimed it was illegal to offer 6/5 blackjack in Massachusetts, and argued the casinos should have paid out at 3/2.

A panel of judges ruled that gamblers knew the rules when they sat down to play, and they could not use the judicial system to adjust their winnings.

“We conclude that the plaintiffs understood the rules and the stakes, and that deference is due to the commission’s interpretation,” the judges said. “Therefore, the plaintiffs lose this last bet.”