Encore Boston Harbor Short on Dealers, More Demand Poker Return

Posted on: August 1, 2021, 03:36h. 

Last updated on: August 1, 2021, 03:49h.

Massachusetts’ Encore Boston Harbor is unable to find sufficient dealers for its casino table games. That is “not at all” a surprise, given current conditions, according to an expert on New England gambling trends.

The MGC will not micromanage the casino
Jacqui Krum, Encore Boston Harbor’s senior vice president and general counsel, pictured above. She reported if Encore once again provides live poker, the casino might have to eliminate other games to have a sufficient number of dealers. (Image: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Boston Herald)

The Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College, predicts gaming properties like Encore may be forced to raise salaries paid to dealers and other workers.

I would venture that the casinos will have to raise the salaries of dealers and other employees so that [they are] … not so dependent upon tips to make a living,” McGowan said.

Many would-be dealers also may now have a wait-and-see attitude.

“The dealers’ salaries are usually low and they depend on tips for their income,” McGowan explained. “So, unless the tables are full with patrons, the dealers might be better off to wait to see if the patrons are willing to return to the tables.”

Also, he speculates dealers may not heading to casino floors because they “are afraid of catching COVID from a patron.”

Casino Training New Dealers

Jacqui Krum, Encore Boston Harbor’s senior vice president and general counsel, told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on Thursday that the casino “simply cannot find enough dealers” and other workers. It has been operating schools to train new dealers “almost non-stop,” she added, the Massachusetts-based State House News Service reported.

Neither Encore Boston Harbor nor MGM Springfield have reintroduced live poker after gradually reopening following months of closing because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, many poker players complained to the MGC. In addition, if Encore Boston Harbor once again provides live poker, the casino might have to eliminate other games to have a sufficient number of dealers, Krum warned.

…We do have limited space, and the former poker area is currently occupied by some of our highest-performing slot machines,” she was quoted by State House News Service.

“Because of this labor crunch, reopening poker right now would necessitate the closure of other table games. We simply don’t have the staff available to do both,” Krum added.

Encore has told dealers trained in poker it would pay for training for another table game, the report adds. “If we could add another floor to the casino we would,” Krum told the MGC members.

“Part of the issue that we’re facing right now is we have the jobs and we can’t get people to fill the jobs,” she added.

More Poker Players Complain

On Thursday, Bruce Band, MGC’s assistant director of the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau and chief of the Gaming Agents Division, told the commissioners the lack of poker at Encore has increased public complaints from about four or five a month to approximately 45 to 50 a month, the report adds.

The MGC is holding off issuing an order to resume poker at the gaming properties. It will monitor the situation and not micromanage the casino, MGC Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said.

… I’m hearing that poker in the poker room has been replaced by very high revenue-generating slot machines, and I appreciate that, again, given our overall desire to maximize revenues,” Judd-Stein added.

“… I am thinking about that proverbial slippery slope, because with each table game comes another part of those objectives, which is … providing a high number of quality jobs,” she said. “We know that table games provide more jobs than slot machines.”

Last month, McGowan told Casino.org, “Poker never really attracted the kind of audience that could make it profitable.

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