The three commercial casinos in Massachusetts have been ordered to submit reopening plans to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Commissioners are set to meet this week, and they will begin going over the reopening plans before coming to a vote.
Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board have been working on releasing their own reopening plans, and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is working closely with both parties. Casinos must have plans in place that ensure that the health and safety of both workers and employees are considered.
Encore Boston Harbor, Plainridge Park Casino, and MGM Springfield are the three commercial casinos in the state. All three locations were forced to shut down their operations in mid-March due to COVID-19.
Some non-essential businesses will begin reopening in the state on May 18, but that will not include casinos. Maryland will be reopening its state in phases, and it is unclear where the casinos will fit into the plan.
While much of the focus has been on creating a safe environment inside of the casino, one proposal would allow casinos to offer gaming outside of the property. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is expected to discuss this proposal at the meeting this week.
Outside gaming would help reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease, but it also brings up several other issues. Security and proper covering against inclement weather are two of the main issues the commission sees with allowing outdoor gaming.
Other businesses in Massachusetts have utilized outdoor spaces as a way to reopen their business, but the casino industry is a little different. New laws would have to be enacted before gambling outside of the casino would be allowed.
Maryland and New York are two states that do offer gambling outside of the casino, but those locations were established through strict regulations. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will consider the idea, but don’t expect to see slot machines outdoors anytime soon.
Small Impact on Crime with Encore Boston Harbor Opening
Encore Boston Harbor was open for just six months before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the casino in March. Law enforcement officials in the Everett, Mass., region reported that there was only a small increase in crime during the first six months of operation.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission was keeping a close eye on the crime rate around Everett, and they released their findings earlier this week. Police arrested over 100 different people, most of them late at night, during the first six months of operation.
A local radio station reported that several troopers had been injured while trying to arrest rowdy guests inside of the casino. A Massachusetts state trooper did suffer a concussion, and two others were reported injured while trying to break up a group of unruly guests.
Encore Boston Harbor has served over three million customers since opening last June, and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission found that the number of arrests was to be expected. There were over 500 guests that had to be removed from the casino from June to December 2019, and some of these people were forced to appear in court.
There was a five percent jump in violent crime and a six percent jump in total crime based on the numbers in 2019 compared to 2018. Many experts had predicted that the crime rate around the area would go up, but the numbers are not alarming.
Local residents were worried about the amount of crime that a new casino might bring, and local police did note that they received a large number of complaints. Most of the calls for traffic-related issues as customers were parking on the street when the garage was full.