Having opened just three weeks ago, the MGM Springfield has been extremely busy trying to handle the tens of thousands of customers visiting the resort casino each day. This has resulted in a problem with minors accessing the gaming floor.
Underage gambling is a big deal at casinos, as regulators impose fines for minors accessing the casino space as well as for playing games.
MGM Springfield is handling around 25,000 visitors during weekdays and 50,000 on weekends, being so busy that youngsters are finding their way to the game floor, an issue the casino must get a handle on.
The new casino resort was designed to include an open-air plaza and retail shopping center as well as restaurant dining. In the near future, there will also be a movie theater. All these amenities will be enticing to families with children as well as teens aged 16 and older who can drive, but do not meet the 21-year age requirement for the gaming floor.
Because of the design of the space, people who are under 21 are gaining access to the casino. Speaking to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, CEO and president of MGM Springfield Michael Mathis said: “We definitely still have some folks that are getting onto the floor who are underage. We’re stopping them and we’re trying to increase our communication around that.
“We’ve got some parents who are choosing to leave their children in different parts of the resort while they game and we’ve identified that issue and it is a big problem for us and it is a big problem for the experience.”
To try and stop the problem, MGM has banned unattended minors and considers any individual under 16 to be an unattended minor. A midnight curfew has also been put into effect. Only those who are 21 years of age or older, or guests of the MGM hotel, will be allowed in the facility after midnight.
The facility’s general counsel and vice-president, Seth Stratton, stated that some underage gaming was intentional, but a portion of the problem was down to lack of understanding because this is the first gaming facility in the community.
The commission has accepted that the issue can be attributed to the newness of the facility and that MGM Resorts was asked to provide not only gaming, but also non-gaming activities, which would bring in those who do not want to gamble as well as underage visitors.
The Commission has agreed to stand by MGM as it tries to figure out what to do with this issue.
Card counter removed
While MGM Springfield has had an issue with minors on the casino floor, it’s not just underage gambling the facility needs to look out for.
The casino recently removed a veteran blackjack player after he was found to be counting cards. Tommy Hyland is the first gamer in Massachusetts to be removed from a state-licensed casino for counting cards, having been kicked out of the venue earlier this week.
As a professional blackjack player, Hyland travels around the US and uses his card-counting skills to improve the outcome of the game.
While card-counting is not illegal, casinos do not like the activity and have the right to refuse such players from accessing their games. Since the casino opened, Hyland had visited two times, putting his card-counting skills to the test.
Mike Mathis, the MGM Springfield president, confirmed that a handful of card-counters had visited the property since its opening in late August, but declined to comment on how the casino recognizes them.