Casinos in Massachusetts will be allowed to reopen this month, though they will not be able to operate like they used to for the time being.
The state’s third phase of reopening begins today, with casinos having been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Casinos could open as part of this stage, with capacity limited to roughly a quarter of what it normally is – plus other restrictions.
Racetracks are also allowed to reopen as part of the Bay State’s most recent emergency measure relaxations.
What will casinos in Massachusetts have to adhere to?
In addition to only operating at 25% of their usual capacity, Massachusetts casinos will not be allowed to offer poker on their premises. Blackjack, craps and roulette tables will also remain out-of-action until further notice.
A minimum of six feet must be kept between people on each property. This will be enforced by plexiglass dividers – which are to be six feet tall – between gaming slots.
As has been enforced by other US states and casino operators, face masks will be obligatory for staff and customers alike. If individuals do not arrive with one, they will be given a complimentary face covering.
Guests who are “actively engaged in gambling” will be allowed to take their drinks onto the gaming floor, but only if they are also seated. When moving about the gaming area, carrying beverages will be prohibited.
Plexiglass dividers will also be placed between individual players and dealers at blackjack tables. No more than three individuals are to be permitted around each table at any given time.
When will each individual casino reopen their doors to Massachusetts customers?
Plainridge Park Casino, operated by Penn National Gaming and offering slots only, is set to welcome players back this Wednesday (July 8th). Following that, Wynn Resorts expects to reopen its Encore Resorts Boston Harbour casino on July 12th. And next Monday, MGM Springfield – operated by MGM Resorts – is planned to return to action.
Casinos reopening in nearby states too
Fellow East Coast state New Jersey gave the green light for its casinos in Atlantic City to reopen ahead of the recent July 4th weekend. Players from near and far headed to the city as they were welcomed back, though some staff remained without a job for the time being.
As is the case in Massachusetts, casinos in New Jersey are only permitted to operate at 25% of their usual capacity at the moment.
What does phase 3 consist of in Massachusetts?
It’s important to note that while the majority of Massachusetts enters phase 3 today, Boston will not. Instead, the city is instead going to join the rest of the state in doing so on July 13th. This is due to city officials asking for more time to prepare for the next phase of reopening.
As was the case with the first two phases of reopening, phase 3 will be split into two steps. Step one will allow venues to operate at a fraction of their usual capacity, with a maximum of 100 people permitted for outdoor gatherings.
Along with casinos, other venues in Massachusetts allowed to reopen include fitness centers, museums and professional sports venues. The last of these will only be permitted behind closed doors, and if league-wide rules say games can be played.
Massachusetts has already said that it will not move into the fourth and final phase until either a vaccine or other form of effective treatment can be found. Reported new daily cases in the state have dropped from 358 on June 2nd to 136 on July 5th.