Massachusetts Casinos Reopening in July – Is the Waiting Game Worth It? looks at why Massachusetts is lagging behind other New England states. Around the country, states are struggling to open after the coronavirus epidemic. The nation’s casinos are caught between
- employing thousands of workers,
- supplying revenue for state budgets, and
- still offer a safe environment for guests and staff.
Massachusetts hasn’t opened its casinos yet. Meanwhile, Connecticut and Rhode Island casinos are. Maine continues closed until further notice.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission Wants it Done Right
In 2013, Steve Wynn once called the Massachusetts guidelines for attaining a license the most challenging and complex he’d ever faced. Due to his vast experience in the gaming that speaks volumes. Massachussetts maintains on how difficult attaining and keeping a gaming license could be.
The commission stood by its strict rules approving licenses in 2013. Consequently, in 2020, they stand by their strict rules for opening during the pandemic. The MGC recently pushed casino openings in Massachusetts to July. Massachusetts Gambling Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said, “As we all continue to navigate this unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation, the MGC remains focused on its regulatory duties, maintaining operational functionality with the assistance of technology.”
Massachusetts Casinos Reopening in July – Can You Blame Them?
When the Massachusetts Gambling Law was approved, the Pilgrim state’s Gaming Commission insisted on taking time to “get it right.” Now, casinos in New England, Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods, Twin River & Tiverton look to open in June. Furthermore, many changes for the health and safety of employees and guests are already implemented.
Let’s remember, it was this tact that enabled the MGC to make all three casinos in Massachusetts non-smoking. Now we see more and more casinos across the country become non-smoking due to the pandemic. Even Foxwoods & Mohegan’s openings today and tomorrow are non-smoking. In the future, we may see more innovations mandated by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, after they wait and watch other casino openings.
Some Changes May Be Drastic
According to Colin Young at WBZ in Boston, things might be very different at first. “For one thing, the casinos might not be open 24/7 right out of the gate. Brian Gullbrants, president of Encore Boston Harbor, said “Encore was looking into the possibility of limiting the number of days it is open.” Patrick Madamba, counsel to MGM, also said data from other MGM casinos could determine whether we want to limit the hours of that facility.”
Waiting for Massachusetts Casinos Reopening in July is Hard on Employees
“It’s not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It’s the customer who pays the wages.” – Henry Ford
Here’s a quick look at the three casinos and their handling staff benefits.
At the onset of the pandemic, MGM International is paying for benefits for all eligible employees through June 30. But what about July, or later? Jim Kinney from MassLive reported, “Expect most of the 2,000 or so employees at MGM Springfield during the coming days to join the flood of dislocated workers filing unemployment claims. Furthermore, furloughed workers at Springfield could lose their jobs permanently if MGM International does not quickly recover.
Penn National, owner of Plainridge Casino and Raceway in Plainville, Massachusetts, took a different approach. They said it was necessary to furlough employees because multiple states have issued orders requiring businesses to close.
Encore Boston Harbor
Encore Boston Harbor had initially taken care of its employees. Encore’s parent company, Wynn Resorts, spent roughly $220 million providing full pay to all employees across North America. It also included average distributed tips and benefits from the original date of closure through May 31. Unfortunately, Encore Boston Harbor plans to furlough about 10 percent of its full-time workforce. And they will not be paying their extra part-time workers as the casino remains closed.
Waiting to see may just be the very best plan. Unfortunately, employees suffer. If an additional spike does happen, which scientists have predicted for later summer, Massachusetts future plans may change again. Let’s hope we are all on the road to recovery.