Recent reports have shown that Massachusetts might be facing a new COVID-19 dilemma. The new strain of the coronavirus that is said to be more contagious than its predecessor has landed in the state, but public tension is reaching a boiling point. As of today, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is removing the 9:30 PM curfew that was put in place last November, which is good news for casinos. They will now be able to operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week, unless things get out of hand and COVID-19 makes a massive return.
Since November 6, Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park have been shoving gamblers out the doors dutifully every day at 9:30 PM. The casino revenue in Massachusetts dropped significantly last year before dropping even more when the gambling properties were forced to reduce their capacities to just 25% on December 26. That led to two, Encore and MGM, shutting down their hotels and the results of those actions continues to be felt today.
Baker is now hopeful that people will be responsible enough to follow necessary social distancing guidelines to allow commercial activity to resume. In addition to casinos, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and more are now allowed to resume normal operations, with Baker explaining, We all know that we are not out of the woods yet by any means. But things do appear to be getting a bit better here in Massachusetts. These have been long and hard days for everybody. But our hospital system was able to continue to provide medical care for residents.”
For the brief time that gamblers had been able to return to casinos across the U.S. last year, in between mandatory prolonged restrictions, many gambling venues enjoyed a sudden uptick in revenue that was greater than what they had seen while operating at full capacity. That led to the conclusion that there had been serious pent-up demand for gambling during the various lockdowns and Massachusetts is most likely hopeful that the same trend will be seen now. By reopening its commercial scene and allowing businesses to return to normal, the state is likely to see a surge of consumer activity, which will help it begin the post-COVID-19 recovery process and return to normal.
While the casinos will now be allowed to operate around the clock, they still have to adhere to state and local coronavirus policies. Among these is a requirement that they maintain the current 25% capacity limits, but at least there will be more hours in the day gamblers can hit the floors and slots. Since the latest restrictions were put in place in December, not one of the casinos in Massachusetts reached its 25% limit, which means it should have no difficulty complying with that requirement now.