Encore Boston Harbour warned after huge hotel suite party
A casino hotel party has drawn the ire of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Enterprise News reports the commission met last Thursday to address blatant violations of its coronavirus pandemic regulations, calling for increased accountability after more than 100 people were partying in a hotel suite at Encore Casino Boston Harbour.
All bets are off when it comes to gambling with public health at the state’s casinos, with the need to comply with state regulations “critically important”, according to commission chairperson Cathy Judd-Stein.
The commission addressed protocol changes at Encore in light of a party that lasted until 3am on August 16, when more than 110 people were finally cleared from a suite by security and state police, three hours after the gathering was first reported to staff by a tipster, who saw pictures of the event on Instagram.
Face masks were missing and social distancing guidelines flouted, interim director of the state commission and director of its investigations and enforcement bureau Karen Wells said.
“The majority of them were not wearing masks,” Wells said.
The gaming commission issued an order of non compliance to Boston Harbour after a swift investigation in concert with state police, requiring the casino property to implement measures to make sure its guests comply with the state’s coronavirus public health orders.
The party organiser, identified as Dorchester resident George Gerez, was charged with disorderly conduct for hosting the gathering, and issued a $500 citation for violating the state’s coronavirus pandemic order prohibiting large indoor gatherings.
Gerez, who had a DJ playing at the late night party, later took to social media with a post sharing a photograph of his $500 fine, stating “Knew this was coming.”
In addition to the Instagram tip, Wells said a hotel butler observed more than 30 people inside the hotel suite around 12.15am after being called to the room.
The hotel made a call to the room, ordering them to clear out, but surveillance video shows 36 people deprecating, but the party continued into the night.
Judd-Stein said the “egregious” problem was that a lower level employee “did exactly the right thing” by passing on information about the party to higher ups at Encore, but immediate action was not taken.
On Friday, Encore pledged to the commission in writing that it would take additional steps to prevent parties from happening in the first place, beefing up security, monitoring social media and warning guests up front of their new occupancy limits – four people in a hotel room and eight people in a two bedroom suite.
The sector casino in Everett also increased its fine assessed to guests who exceed occupancy limits, jumping from $1000 to $3000.
Massachusetts casinos given the all clear to reopen
Massachusetts casinos were cleared to reopen to the public, albeit under significant operating restrictions.
Calvin Ayre reported in July that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted to lift the temporary suspension of gaming operations at the state’s casinos and racetracks that was imposed in mid-March due to COVID-19.
Casinos can reopen as early as Monday, July 6, but must first submit plans indicating compliance with state-mandated health and safety precautions
These include keeping a minimum six-foot separation between operating slots positions or installing plexiglass dividers no less than six feet tall between operating slots.
Blackjack tables will also have to feature plexiglass dividers between individual players – no more than three per table – and between players and dealers.
For the time being, the MGC won’t permit poker, craps or roulette tables to operate.
The restrictions are expected to effectively limit each casino’s individual capacity to around 25 per cent of normal.
All casino guests, as well as staff, will be required to wear face masks, which will be provided free to guests if they don’t bring their own.
Beverages will be permitted on the gaming floor, but only for seated customers who are “actively engaged in gambling” and guests won’t be permitted to carry or drink beverages while moving about the gaming area.