Mass. Gaming Commission lifts COVID-19 restrictions at casinos

Hampden County

BOSTON (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has voted to lift COVID 19 restrictions at all the state’s casinos beginning at 12:01 AM Saturday, May 29. The ruling follows Governor Baker’s recent order to rescind limitations placed on businesses in Massachusetts beginning on May 29.

In a meeting on Wednesday commissioners reviewed the three original COVID-19 related orders for gaming establishments issued in June and October 2020, and March 2021.

As part of the ruling to rescind those orders, casino operators will be required to follow all state and CDC issued COVID-19 guidelines; must continue to retain a pandemic safety officer; report positive COVID-19 tests results among guests and/or employees and vendors to the commission and state and local health authorities; and regularly report to the commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau on compliance with health and safety guidelines.

RESCINDED ORDERS:

A. MGC COVID Order dated 6/23/2020: Minimum Requirements for the Initial
Phase 3 Opening of Gaming Establishments

B. MGC COVID Order dated 10/8/2020: Minimum Requirements for the
Reintroduction of Roulette at the Category 1 Gaming Establishments

C. MGC COVID Order dated 3/11/2021: Minimum Requirements for (1) Expanding
Blackjack-Style Tables to Include a 4th Player Position and (2) the Reintroduction
of Craps at the Category 1 Gaming Establishments

Representatives from the MGM Springfield, Plainridge Park and Encore Boston Harbor casinos expressed their desire to return to pre-pandemic operations and outlined the protocols they would have in place as restrictions are lifted. They answered questions from the commission on gaming floor and hotel occupancy, food and beverage delivery and consumption, removal of plexiglass dividers, enhanced cleaning procedures and employee training on cleaning and personal hygiene compliance, and how to notify guests and employees of current COVID-19 protocols among other topics.

The commission also discussed the state mandates for the use of face coverings among guests and employees. The operators admitted that while there is no way to tell if anyone is fully vaccinated, they will continue to follow state and CDC guidance and rely on the “honor system” that people will comply. Some casinos are offering incentives to employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The commission said they would reimpose restrictions should COVID-19 cases begin to rise in the state and at casinos. They applauded the casinos for their diligence and continued cooperation and compliance with the commission. They also urged a slow return to full operations with continued monitoring for health and safety.

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