Gaming Commission considering several options to reopen casinos, slot parlors

by Administrator

As they prepare for the eventual reopening of the state's slots parlor and casinos, gaming regulators on Thursday combed through some of the health and safety protocols they could impose on gambling halls to limit the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

The Gaming Commission did not make any decisions Thursday, but instead talked through an 11-page memo that detailed three possible sets of guidelines for a safe reopening. The commission focused on ways to build social distancing into the gaming experience, ensure the health, hygiene and safety of all workers and guests, and hold casinos accountable for maintaining safety.

Commission staff recommended that regulators require each gaming facility to submit its own plan detailing "the steps and measures the licensee will take to achieve compliance with the guidance and protocols" issued by the commission, governor and others at least a week before being allowed to reopen.

Commissioners were in consensus that masks should be required for players, in keeping with Gov. Charlie Baker's order, but they wanted to think more about possible exceptions, like when a gambler is drinking a beverage. There was also consensus that each facility should make hand sanitizer available at each entrance, though there was not solid agreement on whether the casinos should encourage or require players to use it.

Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor in Everett have all been closed since March 15 and cannot reopen until June 29 at the absolute earliest. The commission has been studying the reopening plans in other states and countries as it works to compile its own set of requirements.

Commission officials said Thursday that the commission's rules will not be the only ones the casinos will have to adhere to; Gov. Charlie Baker's administration is working on its own set of guidelines as well, they said.