Massachusetts’ casinos bounce back but recovery laboured

by William Brown Last Updated
Massachusetts? casinos bounce back but recovery laboured

Business at Massachusetts’ casinos rebounded in December, but remained below pre-COVID levels.

Biz Journals reports that MGM Springfield, owned by MGM Resorts International, reported $11.4 million in gambling revenue in December.

That’s an increase of 8.5 per cent from the $10.5 million MGM reported in November, but down on the $19 million in gross gambling revenues from December 2019.

In December 2018, it reported $21.6 million.

At Encore, owned by Wynn Resorts, the Gaming Commission reported gross gambling revenue of $29.3 million, up about seven per cent from $27.3 million in November.

At Plainridge, gross revenue from poker machines was $9.2 million in December, up about 20 per cent from $7.6 million in November.

Plainridge, run by Penn National Gaming, does not have table games.

November was historically bad for MGM Springfield, with a revenue figure that was even lower than the $10.7 million recorded for July, when it wasn’t even open a full month following the state’s shutdown.

Casino revenues have been impacted by decreased patronage due to gathering restrictions thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Massachusetts state regulators said Thursdays that crowds at casinos aren’t even big enough to cross the new, lower, thresholds in place across the state.

MGM Springfield’s biggest crowd in recent weeks was 22 per cent of its capacity for its “Winning Wonderland” new car drawing on December 26, which was the Saturday after Christmas.

After the promotion, occupancy fell back to about 19 per cent.

MGM is operating under strict COVID precautions.

Hours are only from 8am to 9.30pm daily and with only about a third of the spots at its gambling tables available.

Many of its poker machines are not available.

There is no hotel, movie theatre and spa facilities.

Food is limited with Chandler Steakhouse open only from 4 to 9.15pm Friday and Saturday.

Encore Boston Harbour warned after huge hotel suite party 

A casino hotel party has drawn the ire of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Enterprise News reported in August the commission met 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.

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