Massachusetts Casinos Reopen 24/7, Rhode Island Casino Execs Plead for Relief

Posted on: January 26, 2021, 11:14h. 

Last updated on: January 27, 2021, 07:53h.

The three casinos in Massachusetts — Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park — will return to around-the-clock operations this week.

Massachusetts casinos Rhode Island Encore Boston
Encore Boston Harbor and two other casinos in Massachusetts can now resume gaming operations around the clock. Casinos in neighboring Rhode Island aren’t so lucky. (Image: Townsquare Media)

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s (R) nightly curfew on nonessential businesses expired on Monday, Jan. 25. Casinos, restaurants, movie theaters, and gyms no longer need to cease operations at 9:30 pm nightly.

Encore and Plainridge will stay open 24/7 beginning tomorrow, Jan. 27. MGM is waiting two extra days. All three of the gaming floors remain limited to operating at 25 percent of its fire code capacity.

The governor cited a 10 percent decrease in COVID-19-related hospitalizations and positive test rates dropping by one-third as reasons for the curfew ceasing.

With slot machines and table games allowed to run all hours of the day, the three casinos hope it’s the start of a 2021 recovery. Encore is reopening its hotel beginning February 4. MGM says it will soon announce a reopening for its guestrooms.

Rhode Island Casinos Frustrated

Baker’s ending of the curfew is welcome news to Massachusetts’ three casinos. But competition in one neighboring state is less than thrilled.

Marc Crisafulli, executive vice president of strategy and operations at Bally’s Corporation, tells NBC 10 in Providence that ongoing coronavirus restrictions are hindering the company’s business. Bally’s owns and operates two casinos in Rhode Island — Twin River Casino Hotel and Tiverton Casino Hotel.

The two properties must shutter operations at 10 pm through the week, and 10:30 pm on Friday and Saturday nights.

We have capacity limitations, obviously all sorts of health and sanitary protocols, which will continue. But the curfew is a limiting factor for us,” Crisafulli explained. “From a competitive standpoint, we’re at a real disadvantage now.”

Twin River and Tiverton’s hotel rooms are currently unavailable. Rhode Islanders seeking an overnight adventure or long weekend can visit Encore and MGM Springfield later this week, or head west to Connecticut’s two tribal casino resorts.

Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are both open 24/7, as are their thousands of hotel rooms.

“Only the state can tell us what they think is healthy for the citizens and how we can do it. We’re going to follow whatever the guidance is,” Crisafulli added. “It’s just the fact that it’s a challenging environment right now with our competitors to the north and the southwest open more than we are.”

Bally’s Portfolio Expanding

The current Bally’s Corporation, formed last year, is the new identity of Twin River Worldwide Holdings. The Rhode Island-based casino operator acquired the Bally’s casino trademark and properties from the former Caesars Entertainment and Eldorado Resorts, as well as VICI Properties.

Today, Bally’s owns and operates gaming properties in Rhode Island, Mississippi, Delaware, Colorado, Missouri, Louisiana, and New Jersey.

This week, Bally’s announced it is acquiring daily fantasy sports company Monkey Knife Fight in an all-stock deal. This transaction is part of the casino company’s commitment to further invest in the ever-growing internet gaming and sports betting spaces.