At least one of the two poker rooms in Massachusetts will be reopening later this year.
At the latest meeting of the state’s Gaming Commission, a representative of MGM Springfield said that it would be reopening its room at some point between October and the year’s end, according to a local news outlet.
“So, really, I think our first statement is that poker will be returning to MGM Springfield,” said Daniel Miller, director of casino compliance. “We have plans that it will come back in Q4 of this year.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the property’s poker room was home to 28 tables. When it reopens, however, it will be more than halved with between 10-12 tables returning.
Encore Boston Harbor, the other casino in the Bay State that previously held a poker room, has yet to update regulators on its plans. At a hearing last month, representatives said that the casino needed to “prioritize space” and that executives would need to close slot machines and other table games if poker were to return.
They also cited the current labor shortage and said that the company couldn’t hire enough dealers to run the room the way it used to be.
“If and when poker should return to Encore, it will likely be at a reduced capacity,” said a spokerperson for the resort last month.
Gov. Charlie Baker instituted some of the harshest restrictions in the nation when the pandemic set in last year. It took more than a year before all of them were removed, but when they were, the two casinos opted to keep poker rooms closed.
Last month, regulators revealed that they were receiving a 1,000% increase in complaints, with nearly all of them based around the lack of poker in the state. The commission then forced the casinos to address the reasons behind the decision at a meeting lats month, ultimately leading to MGM’s decision to reopen towards the end of the year.