The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) gave high marks to the opening procedures put in place by Encore Boston Harbor after its first week of operations at the re-opened resort.
There were many worries as the resort opened, but many precautions were also taken by Encore and the MGC to oversee the return of guests to the casino this month.
Gaming regulators from the MGC told Commissioners at a public meeting last week that Encore had done a really good job in being prepared.
“At Encore specifically, the security and gaming department there did a great job monitoring the floor and making sure face coverings were being properly used,” said one of the gaming agents. “It was a job well done at Encore.”
Regulators were looking at the many precautions taken at the tables, and in the counting cage with money and chips. They said one of the keys was reminding patrons to put their masks on fully without be too forceful – a delicate balance.
Eric Kraus, the communications at Encore and the Pandemic Safety Officer, said they have run into very few problems. He said they were glad to hear the MGC appreciated their approach.
“It was great to receive the recognition from the MGC and everyone at the resort is thrilled with being recognized for health and safety,” he said. “One reason we brought back 1,700 furloughed employees back one week before we opened was to train everyone on the health and disinfecting protocols. Regardless of your job, every one of us is aware that if you see something, you say something. If you see someone whose mask is down, very politely ask them to pull it up.”
He said that has been a success, as has been the restrictions on walking around with beverages. Patrons are required to sit in one place when drinking a beverage and not to move around the floor with it.
“At the end of the day, it’s for everyone’s safety, both guests and employees,” he said. “Hopefully everyone has that in mind.”
Kraus said they are vigorously using the digital imaging thermometer at the front door, but after their first week, they hadn’t identified anyone with an elevated temperature.
“We have not identified anyone at the door with a high temperature, but what would happen is we would take that person out of line and take their temperature again,” he said. “If he or she were above 100, we would ask them to leave the property.”
In fact, Kraus said they have had few problems, and most they have had to remind about masks have simply forgotten.
“The vast majority of people we have had to remind to move their mask have not done so to be indignant, but only because they forgot,” he said. “That’s really it. With the exception of two or three people there has been zero issues.”
At the MGC, Commissioners were curious about re-opening more areas of the casinos and larger venues.
“As more things open in the state, we’ll keep our eye on it and we’ll look at the metrics the governor has put forward to see if it works for us,” said the investigator. We don’t want to revisit any closures, but we are keeping out eye on it.”
Encore working on new device to help introduce other games safely
Encore Boston Harbor said it is working on a device that will outfit Roulette and Craps tables with safe, Plexiglas shield while not ruining the fun of the game – a prototype that they will soon submit to the MGC.
Spokesman Eric Kraus said they are working on the piece with a plastics fabricator and hope to submit the idea to the MGC soon to help in the coming phases of opening more table games if the metrics of COVID-19 allow.
“We have deployed a prototype and will be proposing to the MGC Roulette and Craps tables that utilize Plexiglas enable physical distancing with those games.”
Already, the casino is allowed to deal Blackjack and hopes to be able to include poker soon as well. However, standing games like Roulette and Craps present a challenge to the industry. “It uses the shields like you might see at the Blackjack tables,” he said. “However, we’ve done some really interesting positions of the Plexiglas to promote safety and at the same time allow you to experience those games. We’re hopeful the Commission will allow it.”