The Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park are the three casinos located in the state of Massachusetts that have been shut down for several months due to the coronavirus outbreak. The casinos are working on a timeline in which to reopen and it was revealed this week that they are considering June 29 as their target date. While this date could change, operators are working now to be ready to reopen once the go-ahead is given.
Two Weeks Needed
During a meeting with state regulators yesterday, the three operators stated they would need at least a two week time frame to be ready to reopen. Time is needed to reconfigure game floors to provide space for social distancing. Slot machines must be spread out and table games prepared so that gamblers can keep their distance from each other while playing.
Employees must also be brought back in and retrained based on measures the casinos are taking to provide a safe and healthy environment. New cleaning protocols will need to be reviewed by employees as well as details regarding what is expected of them as well as how to react to customers via social distancing.
The MGM Springfield did not reveal a target date they would be ready during the meeting but did state they are working to welcome back players to their property. Karen Wells, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Interim Executive Director, pointed out during the meeting that June 29 is just a few days over two weeks from now. The short time frame would provide only a few days for the properties to provide specifics regarding how they will operate in the covid-19 environment.
Details of Commission Guidelines
The state’s Gaming Commission provided details on requirements casinos must meet in order to be ready to open. Included in the mix are requiring Plexiglass barriers for games like blackjack. The commission is also still hashing out certain details and trying to find out more information on what will be the best practices.
Commissioners talked about mask requirements and if hand sanitizer should be available or mandatory. Handling cards as well as passing them between players was discussed along with chips. The goal of the regulators is to create provisions that are feasible and also minimize the overall risk of the coronavirus.
The Encore Boston Harbor pointed out a few things they plan to do during the meeting including installing barriers on all the regular blackjack games. The MGM Springfield is also planning to install the barriers on some games. Patrons will essentially be able to choose if they want to play a game where a barrier is installed or not.
For now, the details are still being discussed and casinos are working on their own safety plans. We shall see in the coming weeks if the properties are ready to go by the end of this month or if they need more time to prepare to welcome guests once again.