Poker has been lacking in the state of Massachusetts, ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Poker rooms have had a more difficult time opening back up in the United States due to the social nature of the game, as well as figuring out how to protect players from spreading the virus due to handling the same cards and chips. Players in Massachusetts have complained to regulators, saying they want access to gaming again.
After a recent meeting, the commission told operators that they need to find a way to bring poker back. Now, MGM Springfield has decided to open its poker room, but with limited gaming options.
Coming This Year
MGM Springfield will reopen its poker room sometime this year, between October and December. Director of Casino Compliance Daniel Miller spoke with the media this week, stating that there are plans to bring poker back during Q4.
Before the pandemic, the poker room offered 28 gaming tables within the poker room. Now, when the venue is back in business, it will offer only 10 to 12 tables. It is unclear if major events will take place or if the poker room will focus on smaller cash games and tournaments.
We expect some type of protection to be put in place, be it mask-wearing or continual disinfecting of the tables, cards, and chips during gameplay. Exact details as to how the poker room plans to operate have not been revealed.
What About Encore?
The Encore Boston Harbor, also located in Massachusetts, has no plans to reopen its poker room at this time. During the meeting with regulators in July, the operator stated that they will need to prioritize space, shutting down some slot machines and table games to bring back the game.
Encore is also having difficulty hiring people to work at the casino. The operator already has a shortage of table game dealers, so they would need to find additional help for poker operations. The casino also said that if the games come back, it would be at a smaller capacity than before.