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With Curfew Lifted, MGM And Other Massachusetts Casinos Resume Round-The-Clock Gambling

MGM Springfield reopened in July 2020 after a four-month closure due to COVID-19.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen
The Republican / masslive.com/photos
MGM Springfield reopened in July 2020 after a four-month closure due to COVID-19.

As they shift back to 24/7 operations now that Gov. Charlie Baker's 9:30 p.m. curfew for businesses has been lifted, none of the three gaming facilities in Massachusetts have come close to encroaching on the 25% capacity limit that remains in effect, regulators at the Gaming Commission said Thursday.

In the last two weeks, Encore Boston Harbor reached 17% capacity at its busiest point, MGM Springfield hit a high of 18% capacity and Plainridge Park Casino topped out at 18.5% capacity, the commission's Investigations and Enforcement Bureau Assistant Director Bruce Band said.

Based on those figures, all three gaming centers appear to have been less crowded in the last two weeks than they were between the Dec. 26 start of the capacity restriction and mid-January. During that time period, MGM Springfield had reached a high of 22% capacity, and both Encore and Plainridge topped out at 19% capacity.

Encore and Plainridge Park both returned to 24/7 operations this week and MGM Springfield will do the same on Friday.

MGM’s Chris Kelley said in a statement this “feels like a step toward a level of normalcy.”

“We appreciate everyone having done their part to slow the rise in COVID-19 cases, and we will continue to be vigilant with our health and safety protocols,” said Kelley, who leads MGM’s casino operations in the Northeast. “We are happy to welcome back some team members today, and as the capacity restriction is eased and additional amenities reopen, such as the hotel and Tap, our hope is to welcome back even more.”

MGM’s employee headcount has dropped significantly from pre-pandemic levels, which were already well short of the company’s promises when it opened the casino in August 2018.

As of the end of September 2020, MGM employed 911 full and part-time employees, according to its most recent report the gaming commission. But the casino’s workforce took a hit in November when the state imposed the 9:30 p.m. curfew, with MGM laying off or cutting the hours of 273 employees.

An MGM spokeswoman on Friday declined to provide a current headcount, saying the company anticipates the number will “continue to change.” She would not comment further on the MGM’s reason for keeping the information private.

Colin A. Young of the State House News Service and NEPM's Sam Hudzik contributed to this report.

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