This week, Massachusetts casinos were allowed to put away the “closed” signs after the state’s mandatory curfew was removed.
Both the Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park Casino resumed 24-hour operations on Wednesday. On Friday, the MGM Springfield casino will do the same following the easing of COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions.
Restriction on hours lifted for Encore, MGM, and Plainridge Park
Starting Monday, Massachusetts officially lifted the 9:30 p.m. curfew on casinos, restaurants, liquor stores, movie theaters and other businesses. Gov. Charlie Baker announced the decision to remove the curfew last week.
When making the announcement, Baker explained the decision to lift the curfew came following positive signs regarding the virus. According to Massachusetts health officials, hospitalizations in the state decreased by 10%, and positive tests went down 33% since the start of January.
Such figures show the state “trending in a better direction,” Baker said, thereby prompting the move.
MA casinos must operate at limited capacity
That said, casinos and other businesses must continue to abide by a 25% capacity limit through Feb. 8. Although Baker could choose to extend that timeline.
The requirement to close operations from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. each day had been in place since it was first ordered starting Nov. 6.
Baker added the capacity restriction on Dec. 26 following a holiday-related surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. That same order requires mask-wearing and social distancing in all public places.
As MassLive reported, the casinos have not experienced any problems adhering to the 25% limit on capacity. According to state regulators, even on busy days with promotions, none of the casinos has reached the limit on capacity.
Casinos look to rebound from tough end to 2020
The lifting of the curfew comes as welcome news to the casinos who recently endured their worst month ever.
Last November, the three properties together collected about $45 million in gross gambling revenue. That figure was down considerably from about $69 million in October. It also represented a 43% decline year-over-year.
In December the three properties rebounded slightly, combining to generate around $50 million in revenue.
That was still down considerably compared to the $83 million pre-pandemic total from December 2019. That figure also did not fully reflect the capacity limits which only went into effect for the final days of the month.
All three properties shut down entirely from March until July last year.