MGM Springfield set to welcome back workers next week

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
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MGM Springfield’s $960 million resort casino is recalling its employees ahead of its planned July 13 reopening.

Mass Live reports the Massachusetts casino had about 2,500 employees before the state ordered it and the state’s other two casinos to close in mid-March to arrest the spread of coronavirus.

An official with the casino’s largest labour union doesn’t expect everyone to resume their jobs initially, if at all.

Four months since closing, the casinos will reopen under virus safety restrictions imposed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Some 600 of the 2,500 people working at MGM Springfield before the shutdown were members of Unite Here, chief of staff for the New England Joint Board of the union Ethan Snow.

“I don’t know, it’s definitely going to be a lot less on reopening day,” he said.

Mr Snow is expecting that bars and restaurants either won’t be open or will have operations curtailed.

Half of gaming floor to remain shut and some games won’t return yet at MGM Springfield

MGM has said its hotel and spa will remain closed for the time being and valet service will not be available.

Dining options will be limited initially to the Tap Sports Bar, South End Market and Costa’s pizza.

Liquor and other drinks will be available on the casino floor and in connection with seated dining.

In accordance with rules from the state Gaming Commission, MGM will disable pokie machines to accommodate six feet between players.

Poker, roulette and craps will not be offered.

Unite Here represents hotel housekeepers, bartenders, cocktail servers, casino porters and cleaners.

Dealers at gambling tables are not in the union, but its members include slot attendants who cash folks out.

There are other unions representing workers at the casino, including the Teamsters, Electrical Workers and Stage Hands.

MGM is keeping all its laid-off employees on its health insurance plan through the end of August, including ones who are not called back right away.

“That’s a really big thing for people,” Mr Snow said.

He said he was proud of protections Unite Here had negotiated for its members in the areas of cleaning, sanitisation and protections for workers who must interest with the public.

MGM has announced a policy of mask wearing covering all its locations.

“People are slowing trickling back and receiving training on what the operation is going to look like once it reopens,” Mr Snow said.

MGM spokeswoman Jocelyn Kelly did not go into detail in emails responding to questions from The Republican this week.

“We are bringing back employees based on available amenities and business demand,” she wrote.

“It’s an evolving situation.”

Chris Kelley is the new MGM Resorts Northeast president

MGM will reopen with Chris Kelley, president of the Northeast Group at MGM Resorts, taking on new responsibilities at MGM’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers, just north of New York City.

MGM announced back in May that Kelley – who is still less than six months into his time in Springfield – was named president of the Yonkers facility as well.

The move came as part of a companywide management shakeup that saw four MGM presidents lose their jobs.

Kelley’s appointment is pending approval by New York state gaming regulators.

He came to Springfield in January from an MGM property in Ohio.

He replaces Mike Mathis, who shepherded the MGM Springfield project through regulatory approvals and construction, to its opening in 2018 and through its first several months of lacklustre financial performance.

Before the casino opened, MGM Resorts International told regulators it would bring in an average of $34.8 million a month in gross gambling revenue from slot machines and table games.

Instead, the average over its first 18 full months was $21.5 million, peaking at $26.9 million in September 2018.

MGM promised to create 3,000 jobs in Springfield, but has fallen well short of that goal.

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