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MGM Springfield Looks For Ways To Keep Minors Off Casino Floor

MGM Springfield is trying to figure out how to keep people under 21 from getting onto its casino floor. 

The casino said it had to remove 64 minors from its gambling area in December. That's a big jump from the single digits in previous months.

MGM President Mike Mathis told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission it's because the casino boosted enforcement in the fall.

"We dedicated more officers to patrolling the floor," he said. "But I think the finding the minors on the floor is really a reflection of our stepped-up enforcement, and dedicating more officers."

The holidays were also a factor, he said.

"We did a tree lighting, ice skating rink, and we just had more families that were going through the facility," Mathis said. "And if they stepped into the floor, that constituted being in the gaming area, even if they didn't actually intend to game."

Mathis has been asked before by regulators to explain the number of minors on the casino floor.

Back in September, Mathis said two new policies would help: a ban on unattended minors, and a midnight curfew for people under 21.

A floor plan of MGM Springfield shows the initial "non-gaming" area crosswalk through the casino floor.
Credit Massachusetts Gaming Commission
Massachusetts Gaming Commission
A floor plan of MGM Springfield shows the initial "non-gaming" area crosswalk through the casino floor.

Mathis is suggesting an ongoing challenge is enforcing the law without irritating customers old enough to gamble. 

"One of the issues we ran into from a customer service standpoint was that our policy is to card anyone that looks under 30. And you get some of these baby-faced 40-year-olds, and they were literally getting harassed on our casino floor," Mathis said, because such customers would get stopped multiple times.

More recently, the casino started offering a hand stamp to legal customers.

When the casino opened in August, the gaming floor included a "non-gaming" path meant for families with underage visitors to walk through. But that proved problematic during a 90-day review period, and now the path is considered part of the gaming area.

Disclosure: MGM has purchased underwriting from New England Public Radio publicizing the company's non-gambling activities. The NEPR newsroom operates independently of the station's development department, and editorial decisions are made without regard to any funding relationships.

Heather Brandon began at NEPM in 2017 as Digital News Editor. She served as the news department's Managing Editor during the coronavirus pandemic.
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