After a long shutdown involving table games, the casinos in the state of Massachusetts can now resume craps table games and add more seating to the blackjack tables. The Gaming Commission announced yesterday that Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield can start offering these services after coronavirus statistics have improved.
Details of the Vote
Craps was approved to return after a vote of 4 to 0 by the Commission. This vote came a year after the casinos originally shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic first began. All casinos in the state were closed for a total of four months and employees were affected by massive layoffs. Once casinos reopened in July, there was a major reduction in the number of visitors allowed as well as revenues earned.
The Commission also voted 3 to 1 to allow the casinos to expand the number of seats at the blackjack table. Now, four people are allowed. In the past, only three players could be seated at the table. Chairwoman of the Commission, Cathy Judd-Stein, commented on the vote, stating that it is comforting knowing that the enforcement measures are heightened, and the group will continue to rely on the compliance efforts of the license holders.
With the expansion of gaming in Massachusetts, employees will be able to return to work and gaming opportunities will expand for visitors. The casinos requested the expansion and were approved due to the conditions and enforcement of the venues to protect players and employees.
Protective Measures Taken
While craps games are resuming and more seats will be offered at the blackjack table, protective measures will still be in place. Plexiglass partitions will separate players from each other and the dealer at the table. Each seat must be separated by four feet.
Players are not allowed to stand or gather around the craps tables. Between shooters, employees will sanitize the dice. This will ensure no germs are spread from player to player while games are taking place. For the blackjack games, partitions will remain in place with more added for the fourth seat. Players must stay at least three feet from each other.
While the games are allowed once again, the casinos will remain operational based on a 40% capacity level. Over the past few months, the casinos have stayed below this cap. It seems that players are not traveling to the casinos in large numbers. This could be due to the lack of table games or the continued threat of the coronavirus.
One Commission member is still worried about patrons and if they will remove face masks while seated. The casinos are doing all they can to ensure that face masks are worn, and players are socially distanced to avoid any unwanted spread of the virus.
Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield are hopeful that players will want to visit the casinos now that they offer more opportunities for table gameplay. With vaccinations taking place across the country and restrictions starting to lift, operators remain optimistic that tourism will kick in and more players will start to visit the gaming venues once again.