Massachusetts Gaming Commission Rejects Casinos’ Request to Restore Craps and Roulette Gaming

  • Massachusetts casinos are still not allowed to open craps and roulette tables
  • Poker is also restricted because of the player volume needed for profit
  • The Gaming Commission based the decision on an increase in COVID-19 cases
Female businesswoman throwing standard and "YES/NO" dice
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has denied a request by MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor to reopen their craps and roulette tables. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

No expansion of games yet

An increase in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts has led the state’s Gaming Commission to reject a request by casinos to restore craps and roulette games. MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor wanted to be able to offer guests more gaming options, but the Commission feels it is unsafe to do so at this time.

Last Friday, Governor Charlie Baker announced that the second step of Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan will be postponed indefinitely. The continued increase in cases also led to this decision. It is unlikely that more casino games will be allowed until the state continues the phased reopening process.

Craps and roulette a no-go

The Commission hosted a meeting on Thursday to discuss the possibility of letting casinos start offering craps and roulette gaming again. The Commission stated that MGM and Encore, along with Plainridge Park, have done well in complying with the COVID-19 safety guidelines, but despite this, the regulators do not feel it is prudent to add more games at this time.

Bruce Band, the Commission Investigations and Enforcement Bureau Assistant Director, said:

We’re going to continue reviewing this and keeping and eye on the COVID numbers and consider that at a later date.”

Poker is also off the table at the moment for casinos. A Commission staff representative said that poker would need to be limited to four players or fewer to make it safe for players and employees. At that low number of players, the game would not be profitable for operators.

For now, the casinos are only allowed to offer slots and blackjack.

Sports betting saga continues

As casinos vie for more gaming options, the saga involving sports betting continues in the state. At the end of July, the Massachusetts House of Representatives rejected an amended version of an economic development bill by the Senate. Because the House rejected the measure, sports betting legalization could be an option for the state once again.

The Senate had amended H.4887 and in the process, removed the sports betting aspect as well as the legalization of online lottery ticket sales. A compromise committee has now been created to try and find an agreeable solution between the House and Senate.

The committee must submit a compromise bill to both chambers; there is a possibility that sports betting and online lottery gaming will be included with the compromise bill.