Poker players left out in the cold when Massachusetts casinos reopen

Posted on: June 24, 2020 12:50 PDT

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has just approved health and safety guidelines for casinos looking to reopen, but poker players will have to wait a little bit longer.

While no dates have been set for the reopening of Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino, poker won’t be in the mix when the doors finally swing open.

But it’s not just poker that’s off the table. Craps and Roulette are also not included in the reopening plan. The reason? It’s more difficult to social distance at Craps and Roulette than at other table games.

Craps and Roulette, like poker, tend to be extremely social games. These tables are built to accommodate many players, including those who are just there to spectate.

The move runs contrast to what’s happening in other parts of the country. Most casinos have reopened with Craps and Roulette, albeit with onlookers restricted from watching the action.

Commented Massachusetts Gaming Commission chair Cathy Judd-Stein, “The MGC is working to ensure a safe and sustainable reopening, issuing guidelines today that will no doubt shift to reflect the changing public health data over time. We are confident that our three licensees will work in good faith to implement and enforce these measures. We also know that the success of a reopening will require the casino patrons’ cooperative efforts, thoughtful awareness, and empathy for one another and the greater community.”

When casinos reopen, patrons and employees will be required to wear protective face masks, something that isn’t government mandated in Nevada.

Massachusetts was initially among the hardest-hit states by COVID-19. But it has also been one of the most successful curve flatteners, with its 7-day average of new cases on a steady decline.