Between Massachusetts’ three gambling centers combined, there are now fewer traditional casino-style games available than there were before the pandemic, though the legalization of sports betting has added a new type of gambling to the mix.
Compared to when the Gaming Commission required Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor to close in March 2020, there are fewer slot machines (5,879 then, 4,907 now), tables games (263 then, 251 now), poker tables (96 then, 38 now), and stadium gaming seats (78 then, 55 now) available to bettors in Massachusetts as of this month. And because of last year’s legalization of sports betting, there are now a combined 156 betting kiosks at the state’s gambling centers.
Plainridge, the state’s lone slots parlor, had 1,320 slot machines on the floor in March 2020 and now has 937. MGM Springfield has reduced its slots from 1,844 machines in March 2020 to 1,506 this month, and the number of slots at Encore has dropped from 2,715 in March 2020 to 2,464 this month, commission officials said.
MGM Springfield now has 48 table games available, compared to 79 in March 2020. Encore has increased the number of table games since March 2020, from 184 to 203 this month. Poker has seen the greatest decrease — from 74 tables in March 2020 to 24 tables at Encore, and from 22 tables to 14 tables at MGM.
Gaming regulators got the look Thursday morning at the full suite of offerings at the three properties they oversee and the prepandemic comparison as part of a larger effort underway to inspect how the casinos are living up to the commitments they made when they first sought licenses.
“We do need to be mindful that we’re not sacrificing anything that was promised or that the licensees aren’t sacrificing anything that was initially promised when they were approved for a license,” Commissioner Nakisha Skinner said.
Burke Cain, the commission’s interim gaming agents chief, told commissioners that the “pandemic reset” and changes in market conditions once casinos began to reopen in July 2020 would be an “X factor or the asterisk” in the discussion of shifting game options.
“After the March to July 2020 situation, I think the market dictated some changes and I guess the pandemic dictated some changes,” he said. “But going forward, we do want to keep a mindful eye that we’re paying attention to what was promised.”