5 Things To Know About Casinos Reopening In Mass.

Slot machines on the main floor during a preview tour at the MGM Springfield casino (Charles Krupa/AP)
Slot machines on the main floor during a preview tour at the MGM Springfield casino (Charles Krupa/AP)

Gaming will soon be back on in Massachusetts.

Casinos in the commonwealth are set to open for gaming in phase three of the state's reopening plan, which could start July 6 at the earliest.

But if you're looking to hit the slots, things will be different due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here's what you need to know about casinos reopening.:

1. Are there restrictions on what I can play and do?

Yes. There will be no poker, roulette or craps until further notice. Also blackjack-style tables will be capped at three players.

You should also keep in mind that some services won't be available either — including valet service and coat check. And casino amenities such as theaters and arenas won't open until later in the state's reopening plan.

Bars will also remain closed until phase four. There will be drink service available to people who are actively gambling, but you won't be allowed to carry your drink around the gaming area.

2. So, what can I do at a casino?

Well, other casino games will be ready to roll — with some restrictions. (As previously mentioned, blackjack-style table games will have player caps).

Also slots will be playable, though there may be fewer machines open in order to keep people six feet away from each other. Casinos are required to either disable slot machines to allow for physical distancing, or install plexiglass that's at least 6 feet tall between slot machines. Slot machines with plexiglass barriers must be set four feet apart.

You can also go to a casino restaurant or hotel. Those opened back up at the beginning of phase two.

3. What are the safety guidelines for casinos?

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has a number of health and safety guidelines for casinos. In general, you can expect extra cleaning and disinfecting, and plexiglass shields. Casinos must now sanitize all gaming equipment more frequently — including cleaning slot machines and chairs at least every four hours. Casinos must also disinfect chips and replace cards — and limit the touching of both as much as possible.

There must be hand sanitizer available at all entry points, table games and at cashier cage areas. Sanitizing wipes must also be available so guests can wipe down slot machines and chairs. Casinos are also required to install plexiglass shields between dealers and players at table games, in cashier cage areas and at GameSense counters.

Casinos must also train employees on safety guidelines and ensure they can keep six feet apart. Employees may also be required to undergo temperature checks.

4. How are casinos preparing to reopen?

In addition to cleaning and disinfecting their establishments, casinos are required to submit a detailed health and safety plan to the commission at least seven days before they reopen. Casino leaders must work with a public health expert to develop that plan. The plan must include how they will comply with safety guidelines; deal with guests who don't follow the rules; and ensure air quality in their establishments.

Casinos are also required to designate an employee as a "pandemic safety officer" — who will be a liaison to federal, state and local public health agencies. The "pandemic safety officer" will be responsible for notifying local health boards and the commission if there is a positive COVID-19 case at the casino and for helping with contact tracing efforts.

5. Are there new rules I have to follow if I go to a casino?

Yes, wear a mask. You must wear a mask when entering a casino, and you must wear a mask while you are in the gaming area.

The state's gaming commission is also discouraging people from wearing hats. If you wear one, you'll be required to remove it — and briefly lower your mask — so your identity can be checked when you enter a casino.

You may also have your temperature checked and be prohibited from entering a casino if it's above 100.4 degrees on two consecutive tests. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, you should not go to a casino.


Zeninjor Enwemeka Senior Business Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a senior business reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.



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