In the late summer of 2020, spikes in hospitalizations and deaths due to the pandemic were still part of our day-to-day life. Massachusetts Gov. Baker added desperate measures to disrupt the increasing trend of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. At the time, Massachusetts casinos were open but were already hampered by essential protocols. Here is how Gov Baker Adds To Mass Casinos Concerns.
Stay-at Home Advisory and Early Business Closures
For the rest of November, two policies hit the already limping Massachusetts casinos. First, the state administration issued a revised Stay At Home Advisory. The intent was to ensure residents avoid unnecessary activities that can increase COVID-19 transmission by staying home between 10 PM and 5 AM. The Advisory allows for activities such as going to work, running critical errands to get groceries, addressing health needs, and taking a walk. This would also add To Mass Casinos concerns.
“The data points to a clear need to do something about these trends now. What we should not do to deal with these trends is to shut down the economy or close our schools. The simple truth is this — too many of us have become complacent in our daily lives. We’re doing much better than many other states, but here too, we’ve let down our guard and have work to do.”Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker
Gov Baker Adds To Mass Casinos Concerns
Governor Baker then issued a new executive order that required the early closure of certain businesses and activities each night at 9:30 PM. The 9:30 PM closure requirement was to coincide with the Stay At Home Advisory. In addition, Baker’s order included casinos and horse tracks/simulcast facilities in the venues that will be affected.
Casino Concerns in Connecticut
Most casinos across the country were still struggling to get gamblers back. New England was no exception. In response to a spike in the coronavirus across eastern Connecticut, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun decided to continue operating at 25% capacity, even though Gov. Ned Lamont moved to phase 3 on Oct. 8, 2020, easing some restrictions. This was both a responsible and socially considerate move by both tribes.
Massachusetts Has Had a Tough Casino Expansion
The process of getting three casinos over the last seven years had not been an easy one for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Revenue had not equaled expectations. But, with other casinos falling by the wayside, the MGC felt they had the three that would bring back the revenue from competing states.
Impact On Casinos – Gov Baker Adds To Mass Casinos Concerns
The impact on Massachusetts Casinos was seen largely on the weekends. All three had sparse crowds during the week. But on the weekends, when all three properties hoped to make a dent in the losses due to Covid, now crowds would have to leave by 9:30.
In terms of casino dining, restaurants (in-person dining) had to close by 9:30 PM, which meant orders had to be completed even earlier. This influenced takeout and delivery for food and non-alcoholic beverages to continue as the best option for many. In addition, restaurants such as the luxurious Chandler at MGM Springfield had a small window on weekends to entertain customers.
Both hotels at Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield continued to be closed. Encore closed its hotel until mid-December and only opened on weekends. MGM Springfield partially opened in the middle of 2021.
Much like the rest of 2020, and still, in 2021, patience and persistence are the keys.