As major casino companies such as MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) seek to get eager gamblers back to their slot machines and blackjack tables following the prolonged COVID-19 shutdown, they face even tougher health rules in Massachusetts than in Nevada. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, chaired by Cathy Judd-Stein, met yesterday and handed down a preliminary set of guidelines for the as yet undetermined reopening date.
The commission's guidelines ban multiple games outright, including roulette, craps, and the perennial gambling favorite, poker. For other table games, 6-foot Plexiglas sneeze shields are required between seats. Yet some casino company representatives said 6-foot Plexiglass sheets are not easily found -- one said 5-foot-10-inch sheets are the largest available.
All guests will be required to wear masks, except when taking a drink (food will be banned on the casino floor). People who report having COVID-19 symptoms will not be admitted. The commission is asking for chip sanitation measures, along with procedures that limit how often guests can touch their chips or cards and frequent changes of card decks.
Judd-Stein noted the "licensees are saying to us that there is a potential that that is a game changer for them" and went on to remark "we want to be fair but we obviously need more information if this today presents a real challenge for you with your business model." She added, "I think we have a document that is really close."
The exact timing of Massachusetts casinos reopening is still uncertain, but will not occur prior to June 29, with an approximate two-week wait after the health guidelines are finalized expected before Gov. Charlie Baker approves the restart.