Massachusetts casinos will remain closed at least until June, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission decided Thursday — confirming the expectations of an industry that has little hope of being in the first wave of businesses to reopen in the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The commission made the decision after a lengthy discussion with the operators of Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park. The three facilities laid out their plans for aggressive cleaning, social distancing, and other public health measures to manage the risk of COVID-19 whenever they do reopen.
The commission had previously ordered casinos, which closed on March 15, to stay shuttered through May 18, the date that Governor Charlie Baker’s stay-at-home advisory will expire.
The discussion at the meeting stayed away from firm timelines. Operators will need a few weeks to get back up and running after they get the green light. But they said they were confident that they could operate safely through measures such as temperature checks for guests and employees, mandatory face coverings, and aggressive social distancing measures.
The Plainridge Park slots casino in Plainville expects to have less than half of its slot machines in operation when it reopens so players can sit far apart from each other. The other two casinos offered similar plans. Operators say they’ll likely use plexiglass to separate people from one another, and will also limit crowds around table games and other areas of their facilities.
“I know everybody wants to come together, but this is one place where we’re going to have fun apart,” said Encore president Brian Gullbrants.