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New COVID-19 Restrictions Force Massachusetts Casinos To Close Overnight

In Response To New Regulations, Encore Boston Harbor Shuttered Its Hotel Until At Least December 15

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday that new COVID-19 restrictions have been implemented. Baker’s mandate will force the state’s three casinos to close between 9:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.

Several other types of businesses will be forced to close as well, but most of those industries are not typically operating 24 hours a day like casinos. Massachusetts was one of the final states to reopen its casinos after Baker allowed MGM Springfield, Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor to open in mid-July with many restrictions in place in hopes of mitigating the spread of the virus.

As part of those restrictions, the two poker rooms in the state at MGM and Encore were not allowed to reopen. In August, gaming operators made a plea to the state regulators to resume poker, craps and roulette, but the request was ultimately denied.

“We will comply with the governor’s new directive regarding hours of operation,” Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver told CDC Gaming. Weaver also cited that the company has also required masks since it reopened and will continue to do so moving forward.

The virus has surged again with reports of a 278 percent increase in new cases since Labor Day and a 145 percent increase in the hospitalization rate. Baker cited those numbers as the reason for the new restrictions.

With the new restrictions in place, Encore decided to close its hotel until at least December 15, citing the reduced demand for hotel rooms without overnight gambling.

With reduced hours and a shuttered hotel, the jobs of many in the industry are now at risk again. A risk Baker is aware of.

“Just as the state unemployment rate has started trending in the right direction, a statewide rollback will certainly threaten those job gains,” Baker told the Boston Business Journal.

In August, Encore Boston Harbor let go of 385 workers that were previously furloughed as MGM Resorts laid off 1,000 furloughed workers nationwide.