Gambling facilities in the Bay State are ready to take the next step toward operating at their pre-pandemic levels. Next month, Massachusetts casino amenities like restaurants and spas will be available to guests again, if everything goes well.
Perhaps of greatest importance to Massachusetts gamblers, Encore Boston Harbor intends to offer video poker again soon. All the plans remain contingent upon COVID-19 levels, however.
Which Massachusetts casino amenities will return soon?
Not everyone visits casinos to gamble, or solely for that purpose. For casinos, providing other products and services helps to capture as much revenue as possible.
According to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, three of the state’s commercial casinos have clearance to resume offering some of those ancillary products and services next month. Encore has already done so, now offering retail shopping and spa services again.
The retail shops at Encore are open from noon to 9 p.m. ET. The state still requires retail customers to maintain social distancing and wear face masks properly while shopping.
MGM Springfield will follow suit shortly. On Friday at 5 p.m. ET, that casino will reopen The Chandler Steakhouse for indoor dining on a limited basis. Guests can make reservations online.
Gov. Charlie Baker just loosened restrictions for indoor dining Monday. Restaurants can seat up to 10 people at a table and diners can sit at bars again.
Plainridge Park plans to resume 24-hour slot play on Friday, Oct. 9, as well. The biggest news for gamblers, however, may be at Encore.
By the end of next month, that property plans to restore 87 more gaming positions. That will include a small number of video poker games in a loft area.
There’s still no word on when physical poker and other table games might resume at Encore or MGM, however. If these measured resumptions go well, those options may be next.
Things are going well for Massachusetts casinos so far
Massachusetts Investigations and Enforcement Bureau Deputy Director Loretta Lillios spoke to the success of the safety measures that casino operators in the state have taken in the MGC’s last meeting.
“On the safety and health measures, things are continuing to go well at each of the three properties with continued broad compliance by the casinos with the health and safety requirements, the continued dedication of resources for sanitization, hygiene, the enforcement of mask protocol with their employees and with guests, enforcement of the beverage requirement limited to those seated while gaming, and overall the acceptance by the patrons has been good with no significant issues to report at this time.”
Operating amidst the pandemic hasn’t been perfect, however. Lillios shared that a small number of casino employees have tested positive since returning to work.
She said that the number is less than 10, however, and none of them were in roles where they came into contact with guests regularly. Local health department officials are aware of each case and following state guidelines.
Massachusetts casinos are doing the best they can to mitigate risks at their properties, and that success has afforded them more opportunities to collect revenue.