Massachusetts Gaming Commission Continues Work on Reopenings, Target for Encore Boston Harbor Is June 29

Posted on: June 11, 2020, 08:24h. 

Last updated on: June 12, 2020, 09:37h.

Monday June 29 reportedly appears to be the earliest Massachusetts’s Encore Boston Harbor could resume operations after months of shuttering because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Baker Phase 3
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has just started Phase 2 reopenings this week. Phase 3 reopenings, which may include casinos, have yet to start. (Nicolaus Czarnecki/Pool via Boston Globe)

The planned reopening date could be pushed back if required. A further wrinkle in the estimated reopening date is that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has yet to approve a reopening policy for the state’s three casinos, according to The Republican newspaper, a Springfield-based publication.

The Springfield MGM, and apparently Plainridge Park Casino, the state’s two other casinos, have yet to identify their predicted reopening dates.

Each of the three commercial casinos say they will require two weeks or more to prepare for reopening requirements, the report said. During a Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting on Thursday (June 11), Commission Interim Executive Director Karen Wells pointed out there are just a few days until the two-week period starts on June 15.

In this four-day period, it is unsure if the casinos will receive timely information from the commission on what safeguards will need to be implemented.

Social Distancing, Health Safeguards

Some possible changes include needing to move slot machines and table games so adequate social distancing can take place on gaming floors, the newspaper report said. Workers at the casinos also need to get training on new health and safety precautions to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Charlie Baker has predicted casino floors will reopen in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. On Monday, June 8, the state entered Phase 2 of the reopening plan.

For its part, the Gaming Commission wanted to require each gaming property to provide the commissioners a “detailed” reopening plan at least seven days in advance of reopening, according to commission documents.

The plan would need to include “the steps and measures the licensee will take to achieve compliance with the guidance and protocols issued by the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] (CDC), the Massachusetts Department of Health (DPH), Governor [Charlie] Baker’s orders, and the Guidelines ultimately adopted by the Commission.”

In its draft form, the commission guidelines focus on social distancing, health, hygiene, safety, and reporting measures. The draft guidelines are “comprehensive.” But they are not an “exhaustive list,” the commission adds.

Possible Coronavirus Safeguards Proposed

Among the proposals are the need to promote social distancing by, perhaps, distancing machines and limiting the number of chairs. Players at some venues may need to wear face masks. Plexiglass dividers may need to be installed.

There could also be a cap on the crowd size allowed under the state’s building code. As visitors enter, they may get their temperatures checked and staff could perhaps prevent those with fevers of 100.4 or higher from entering. A series of questions about COVID-19 exposure may also prevent some visitors from entering.

There will likely also be enhanced cleaning and lots of hand sanitizer available to guests.

In neighboring Connecticut, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun reopened earlier this month. Many Las Vegas casinos reopened last Thursday.