Massachusetts Roulette, Craps Ban Will Be Devastating for Encore Boston Harbor, Expert Warns

Posted on: August 19, 2020, 04:49h. 

Last updated on: August 20, 2020, 09:11h.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s (MGC) decision to once again delay offering table games such as craps and roulette at gaming properties will harm Encore Boston Harbor, says a New England gambling expert.

No craps, roulette in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein wants the ban on craps and roulette at the state’s casinos to continue because of coronavirus risk. (Image: Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

“For a casino like Encore Boston Harbor, where over 50 percent of its revenue is [from] table games, the effect will be devastating,” the Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College, told in response to the MGC’s recent determination.

It will be a much different experience. Patrons who play table games will probably not want to play slots,” McGowan predicted.

Last week, MGC commissioners determined that to continue to try to flatten the curve of COVID-19, they were not yet ready to vote on the proposals brought forth by MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor with respect to craps and roulette, MGC spokeswoman Sarah Magazine told

Massachusetts casinos reopened last month, with slots in operation after months of closure. The MGC recently chose not to permit craps and roulette despite requests from the MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor. Blackjack is currently permitted at gaming properties.

As of Wednesday, Aug. 19 Massachusetts health officials said the statewide death toll from coronavirus is now at 8,645. There have been 115,048 COVID-19 confirmed cases.

Limiting Games, Limiting Risks?

Limiting casino games relates to the need to prevent the spread of the virus, McGowan said.

“It is easier to keep social distance with slot machines,” McGowan told “You can put up barriers between machines, and only allow a certain number of slots to be operating.

As for games such as … roulette, etc., by the very nature of the game you need to be close to other patrons,” McGowan said. “Putting up barriers between them would be very difficult and change the nature of the game and experience.”

“At this juncture, it just wouldn’t be prudent to expand the options right now,” MGC Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said in explaining the commission’s decision. “We’ll always be monitoring the public health metrics.”

Sarah Magazine further told that the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau is continuing to review whether the safety measures suggested by the licensees, which take into account the mechanics of the players and casino personnel, can be implemented without affecting the integrity of games.

Playing by the Rules

Under the state’s reopening policy, table games are restricted to only three players. Players must cover faces with a mask or other coverings while on the gaming floor.

Any person entering a casino must have their temperature taken. Hand sanitizer is provided at all entrances. Signs encourage workers and guests to use the sanitizer before entering the venue.

There is also a four-foot gap between each slot machine, and plexiglass dividers situated at table games. Drinks can only be consumed while guests are seated. Visitors cannot walk around the casino floor with drinks.

Initially, MGM Springfield, along with Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park, were ordered by the state to close on March 15.