Updated December 22, 2020 - 5:20 pm
Massachusetts’ three casino properties will operate at reduced capacity for at least two weeks, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission ruled Tuesday.
Reacting to a new order issued earlier Tuesday by Gov. Charlie Baker, the five-member commission, in an emergency meeting, reduced capacity to 25 percent of existing fire codes in a bid to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Prior to the order, casinos were allowed to operate with a capacity calculated by a formula that was about 40 percent.
The restrictions also affect restaurants within the casinos.
Baker’s order takes effect at 12:01 a.m., Saturday, and continues through Jan. 10.
Two of the state’s three casinos are operated by Las Vegas-based companies, Encore Boston Harbor in Everett by Wynn Resorts Ltd., and MGM Springfield in western Massachusetts. A third casino, Plainridge Park, is operated by Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming.
During deliberations, the commission struggled with determining whether casino employees were included in the 25 percent reduction. Ultimately, commissioners decided to include them. They were hopeful that the new restrictions wouldn’t result in additional casino worker layoffs.
An MGM Springfield spokesperson said there would be no layoffs at that property as a result of the new restrictions.
“We will continue to welcome our guests following this new capacity limit,” the spokesperson said. “Based on the capacity we’ve maintained since reopening this should have little impact on our guest experience.”
There was no immediate response Tuesday from Wynn Resorts.
Massachusetts casinos already have a 9:30 p.m. curfew that took effect Nov. 5.
Gaming Commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said public health experts made the restriction recommendations and that the state’s residents need to be “more vigilant than ever” to reduce the spread of the virus during the holiday season.
Contact Richard N. Velotta at email@example.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.