Encore Boston Harbor to Stop Paying Part-Time Workers, Furloughing 10 Percent of Staff

Posted on: May 29, 2020, 10:53h. 

Last updated on: May 29, 2020, 11:18h.

Encore Boston Harbor says it will stop paying its approximately 850 part-time workers after Sunday, May 31, and is furloughing more than 10 percent of its overall staff.

Encore Boston Harbor Massachusetts casinos
After months of paying its staff, the closed Encore Boston Harbor is furloughing workers and stopping checks to part-time employees. (Image: Charles Krupa/AP)

The Boston Globe broke the news that the $2.6 billion integrated resort that was forced to close on March 15, less than a year after its June 2019 opening, is trimming overhead due to its operational suspension. Eric Kraus, head of public affairs for Encore Boston Harbor, says the property has about 4,200 part- and full-time workers.

We still have no clear indication of when we can reopen, and the conditions under which we will be permitted to operate,” Kraus said of the employee decisions. He added that it’s the company’s hope that the furloughs are temporary.

Wynn Resorts has been paying its workers company-wide during the shutdowns of its casinos in Las Vegas, Massachusetts, and Macau. The company says it will have paid employees $220 million through the end of the month.

Massachusetts Last?

Commercial casinos are beginning to reopen in certain states. Gaming floors are back open in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Deadwood. Tribal casinos, free to rebuff state closures of nonessential businesses, are open in numerous other states, including Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma, Washington, and California.

According to the American Gaming Association’s casino tracker tool, there are currently 225 commercial and tribal casinos open. The map shows that 764 remain closed.

Massachusetts’ three commercial casinos – Encore, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park – could be some of the last gaming properties to reopen in the United States. Massachusetts has been one of the hardest-hit states by the coronavirus, with 94,895 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,640 deaths.

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has laid out a four-phase reopening plan. But the state hasn’t even entered the first phase. Massachusetts residents are to remain at home, and only essential businesses and services are operating.

Baker says casinos cannot reopen until Phase 3, the same time as when bars, gyms, and museums can restart operations.

Each phase will last a minimum of three weeks. To progress, the state must experience public health data trends showing a decline in the number of coronavirus patients, hospitalizations, and deaths. If data goes the other direction, Baker says the Commonwealth could return to an earlier phase.

Late July?

Connecticut’s two tribal casinos – Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods – plan to reopen June 1. Rhode Island’s two commercial casinos – Twin River and Tiverton – will reopen June 8 by invitation only.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is in the process of developing a reopening plan that Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park will need to abide by to reopen. Karen Wells, interim executive director of the MGC, says the state is monitoring neighboring casinos reopening “to look what positives and negatives come out.”

The MGC has given no time frame as to when the casinos might reopen. But with each phase requiring at least a three-week run, even if Massachusetts entered Phase 1 tomorrow, the earliest time would be mid-July.