Massachusetts Gamblers Still Won’t Get A Seat At Table Games

Written By Derek Helling on August 14, 2020Last Updated on January 31, 2023

If you feel the urge to play craps, roulette or poker at Encore Boston Harbor or MGM Springfield, you won’t be able to scratch that itch anytime soon. The policy currently barring casino table games in Massachusetts isn’t changing.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) turned down a request from those casinos to start offering table games again on Thursday. The situation remains fluid, however.

MGC says ‘not yet’ on Massachusetts casino table games

Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield are the two primary destinations for table game players in Massachusetts. Plainridge Park Casino only offers slots.

Executives from both casinos sought approval from the MGC to start offering craps and roulette again, with restrictions. They cited customers’ compliance with existing safety protocols as proof that they could offer table games again safely.

On Thursday, the MGC didn’t dispute part of that assessment of the situation. The commission concurred that enforcement of existing restrictions, like mask mandates, has been more than satisfactory.

Whether either property could safely resume craps and roulette play was a point of differentiation for the commission’s members, however.

MGC Investigations and Enforcement Bureau Assistant Director Bruce Band told the commission:

“In light of some of the increase in COVID things at this time, we didn’t really feel it was appropriate to add new games, so we’re going to continue reviewing this and keeping an eye on the COVID numbers and consider that at a later date.”

The commission meets again on Thursday, Aug. 27. It’s unlikely the members will review this matter again at that time, so the best-case scenario for craps and roulette now looks like late next month.

How about poker at Encore and MGM?

For poker, there’s even greater uncertainty. The casinos essentially punted on that category in this request. Comments during Thursday’s meeting were indicative of where things sit on poker.

Band felt four people per table is an acceptable standard, but casino executives stated operating at that level would be a net loss for them. Because the casinos pushed harder on craps and roulette, the MGC might move on easing restrictions on those games first.

The return of all table games will be a huge step in both facilities recovering from a months-long shutdown.

The commission hasn’t released figures for July yet, but table games have typically accounted for $5-$6 million in win at MGM Springfield and around $23 million in revenue at Encore on a monthly basis.

Because of their value, the casinos will probably keep pushing for table games. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess as to when those efforts will pay off.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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