The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is lifting orders related to COVID-19, allowing the state’s three commercial casinos as well as simulcasting facilities to operate much more as they did in pre-pandemic times.
On Wednesday, the MGC voted 4-0 to rescind three measures that had been put in place over the past several months with the aim of reducing the spread of coronavirus.
This news comes on the heels of a near-record month for combined gaming revenue in April at the three Massachusetts casinos – MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park.
Those casinos combined for $709 million in revenue last month, surpassed only by the state record $718 million reported in March.
The newly relaxed regulations will take effect on Saturday (May 29) at 12:01 a.m.
"This would mean opening up every slot machine, every gaming table, restoring our restaurants to previous occupancy, restoring the occupancy of the gaming floor," said Encore Boston Harbor senior vice president Jacqui Krum, according to Boston NBC-TV affiliate WBTS. She added, "We would allow fully vaccinated guests to not wear a mask, and we will continue to make complimentary masks available for guests to use."
According to the MGC, the three orders that have been lifted are related to minimum requirements for Phase 3 opening of gaming establishments, requirements for bringing back roulette at Category 1 casinos after the game had been shut down, and limits on seating at gaming tables.
Casinos and simulcasting facilities must still adhere to any state-level protocols related to COVID-19 that were issued by Gov. Charlie Baker. The facilities also must maintain a pandemic safety officer and continue to report any positive COVID-19 tests.
The casinos were allowed to resume around-the-clock operating hours in January after having their hours (and capacities) restricted for several months.
“It’s been 15 months since the Gaming Commission convened with all three casino licensees in a virtual setting to discuss the rapid reach of the coronavirus pandemic,” Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said, according to the MGC. “The three gaming licensees have cooperated fully throughout this process, working always to serve the public’s interests and protect their patrons and employees.
“We thank Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor for their compliance and dedication to health and safety during this difficult period. I also wish to extend my sincere gratitude to the entire MGC team for its consistent commitment over the last 15 months.”
The casinos in Massachusetts were shut down for part of March and all of April, May and June in 2020 as the spread of coronavirus brought the entire American casino industry to a halt.