Massachusetts Casinos Forced to Close Overnight, Encore Boston Harbor Shutters Hotel

Posted on: November 3, 2020, 12:39h. 

Last updated on: November 3, 2020, 01:37h.

Beginning Friday, Nov. 6, Massachusetts’ three commercial casinos will be required to close between the hours of 9:30 pm and 5:00 am.

Encore Boston Massachusetts casinos
Encore Boston Harbor received its first snowfall of the season this week. The casino’s hotel is shutting down on the reimplementation of COVID-19 restrictions. (Image: Everett Leader-Herald)

The order comes from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), responding to a 278 percent surge in new COVID-19 cases since Labor Day and a 145 percent increase in coronavirus hospitalizations. The governor has issued a stay-at-home advisory that urges people to avoid all nonessential travel between 10 pm and 5 am.

The advisory allows for activities such as going to work, running critical errands, including grocery shopping, and taking a walk. It provides no exception, however, for gambling.

Baker’s decree is the latest blow to the state’s gaming industry. Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and the slots-only facility Plainridge Park were forced to close in mid-March on the governor’s orders. The venues remained dark until July.

The casinos fared well, however, in September. Gross gaming revenue (GGR) totaled $70.5 million. Though operating at 49 percent capacity, the casinos won 87 percent of the GGR that they did in September of 2019.

Encore Closing Hotel

Wynn Resorts wasted no time in deciding to close its 671-room hotel at Encore Boston Harbor.

The company says that without all-night gambling, demand will be too low to warrant keeping the hotel open. Encore Boston is not actually in Boston, but across the Mystic River in Everett. The hotel will be closed until at least December 15.

Encore’s casino will be open daily, effective Friday, from noon to 9 pm on weekdays, and 9 am to 9 pm on weekends. MGM Springfield has not announced its reduced operating hours, nor whether it will keep its Massachusetts hotel open.

“We are evaluating the impacts on operations. We are in this together and remain committed to the health and safety of our guests, employees, and the overall well-being of the state,” an MGM statement read.

Jobs in Jeopardy

Massachusetts’ spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, and Baker’s response, further risks hospitality and gaming jobs.

In August, Encore Boston laid off 385 workers who had been furloughed for months. MGM laid off 1,000 furloughed employees that same month.

Christopher Carlozzi, the Massachusetts director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), expressed his opposition to Baker’s reimplementation of restrictions.

“Just as the state unemployment rate has started trending in the right direction, a statewide rollback will certainly threaten those job gains,” Baker told the Boston Business Journal. “Instead of penalizing businesses playing by the rules that are already experiencing a drop in customers and sales, the state should attempt to take a more targeted approach to curb the spread of the virus.”

“Rollbacks like this could permanently damage an already fragile economy and hinder the state’s recovery,” Carlozzi concluded.