Massachusetts gaming regulators give poker the cold shoulder

Posted on: June 22, 2020 08:27 PDT

When casinos start to reopen in the state, poker won’t be permitted

Massachusetts is preparing its third phase of reopening nonessential businesses that were established to avoid the spreading of the coronavirus pandemic. The third phase includes casinos in the list of places that can reopen for business; however, that doesn't mean that live poker is returning to the Bay State. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is working on a new set of guidelines this week that will not include poker, craps or roulette.

The decision to leave these games out of the third phase is because the MGC is taking into consideration the recommended distance, which can't be possible at those specific casino table games. Therefore, if there are no plexiglass dividers in place, the distance between visitors must be six feet and four feet only if there are dividers in place. For now, games like blackjack will be able to operate, but sitting only three players at a time while being separated by six-foot-tall plexiglass dividers.

Another rule that will be in place in casinos is the mandatory use of facemasks unless the person is drinking or seated; casinos must provide face coverings to those who don't have any. Also, gamblers won't be allowed to carry their drinks around the casinos – not even from one slot machine to another. The bars inside the casino can't open yet as they have been included in the fourth phase of the reopening plan laid out by Governor Charlie Baker.

There hasn't been any official date given for the third phase to start. According to the Boston Business Journal, Encore Boston Harbor, which belongs to Wynn Resorts, hopes to be back for business before the month ends.