Three Things You Need To Know
- As information related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rapidly evolve, MGC will utilize this dedicated webpage to provide Commission-related updates and advisories.
- MGC is engaged in frequent communications with gaming licensees and state officials to share information, monitor developments and determine appropriate next steps.
- Individuals are encouraged to routinely review the Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites for regular updates.
This information was last updated on April 3, 2020, at 10:26.
Latest MGC Statements
Issued on 4/3 at 10:26am
VOTE: During a public meeting on April 3, 2020, the Commission voted unanimously 5-0 via roll call to extend the temporary suspension of operations at the 3 gaming establishments, initially instituted on March 14, 2020 and extended on March 25, to May 4, 2020 at noon, consistent with Governor Baker’s order issued on March 31, 2020 and the Commission’s statutory obligations. The Commission will continue to review and assess the public health conditions in cooperation with appropriate authorities and the gaming licensees and make a determination as to the status of operations in advance of May 4, 2020.
The temporary suspension until May 4, 2020, will also apply to the state’s simulcasting facilities.
Issued on 4/1 at 11:30am
On April 1, 2020, MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein issued an open letter outlining MGC’s latest actions in regards to COVID-19. Chair Judd-Stein also noted that MGC is closely monitoring and assessing this rapidly evolving public health crisis and specifically its effect on the state’s expanded gaming industry. She offered MGC’s heartfelt thanks to front line workers, recognized the collaborative and compassionate leadership of MGC’s licensees and commended the internal MGC team for its work and attention to ensuring the continuity of the agency’s operational and regulatory duties. Read the full letter here.
In addition, the MGC issued a series of blog posts aimed at keeping the public and key constituents and stakeholders informed about helpful resources and other COVID-19 response activities, including:
- A Message From Our Casino Licensees
- The MGC Provides List of Resources for Casino and Racing Workers
- The MGC Offers Resources to Small Businesses Serving the Casino and Horse Racing Industry
- Doing Our Part: MGC and Casino Licensees Contribute to COVID-19 Response Efforts
- The MGC Offers Resources To Support Mental Health, Wellness and Responsible Gaming Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
Issued on 3/25 at 3:06pm
VOTE: Today the Commission voted unanimously 5-0 via roll call to extend the temporary suspension of operations at the 3 gaming establishments, initially instituted on March 14, 2020, to April 7, 2020, at noon, consistent with Governor Baker’s order issued on March 23, 2020, and the Commission’s statutory obligations discussed at the March 14, 2020 hearing. The Commission will continue to review and assess the public health condition in cooperation with appropriate authorities and the gaming licensees and make a determination as to the status of operations in advance of April 7, 2020.
Interim Executive Director Karen Wells recommended that given the current health emergency, MGC staff will provide recently submitted Region C-related RFI responses and public comments to the Commissioners for their review on a rolling basis. The Commission will then evaluate the appropriate time to discuss the next steps at a future public meeting.
On a related note, the MGC is so pleased to have the opportunity to donate 40,000 pairs of gloves from our Racing Division to workers in need of PPE who are on the front line of fighting the spread of COVID-19. The gloves are in the process of being delivered to MEMA by members of the state police who work in our Gaming Enforcement Unit.
Issued on 3/23 at 2:30pm
The MGC today announced resources available for small businesses in Massachusetts that serve the casino and horse racing industry and have been impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Recently the MGC engaged two small business technical assistance providers to provide targeted, one-on-one consulting expertise to small and medium-sized Massachusetts-based companies who are currently vendors to the state’s gaming licensees. Also, MGC is providing a list of resources now being offered by the Commonwealth to support small businesses.
Learn more here.
Issued on 3/20 at 11:11am:
VOTE: The Commissioners voted unanimously 5-0 (via roll call) to approve the joint recommendation from the MGC Racing Division and Plainridge Racecourse to delay the April 6 start of live harness racing at Plainridge Park Casino until June 1, 2020. The commissioners also committed to revisiting this decision at the beginning of May to assess the facts and circumstances available at that time.
To review the memo sent to the commission from the Racing Division, see page 3 of the meeting materials: https://massgaming.com/wp-content/uploads/Commissioners-Packet-3.20.20.pdf
Issued on 3/16 at 11:36am
Casino Properties: During today’s public meeting, MGC staff and licensees confirmed the successful implementation and completion of closing protocols and procedures at each casino property.
Racing: Onsite simulcasting operations have ceased at Suffolk Downs, Plainridge Racecourse and Raynham Park. Online account wagering remains available. Live harness racing at Plainridge was previously scheduled to begin on April 6 and discussions about postponement are currently underway. We will provide an update when more information is available.
Revenue: Several media outlets have inquired about the availability of the monthly revenue data. February 2020 gross gaming revenue is available here.
Meeting Archive: The MGC is in the process of preparing the audio files associated with the public meetings that occurred remotely on March 14 and 16. Those files will be posted in the corresponding dates in the meeting archive, as soon as they are available.
MGC: In light of the mounting public health crisis, the MGC is informing the public that its physical office at 101 Federal Street in Boston is closed until further notice. Our agency’s technology division has diligently planned and prepared for this possibility, enabling the MGC commissioners and team members to remotely sustain required operations.
Issued on 3/15 at 8:51pm
PLEASE NOTE: Given the unprecedented circumstances resulting from the global Coronavirus pandemic, Governor Charles Baker issued an order to provide limited relief from certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law to protect the health and safety of individuals interested in attending public meetings. In keeping with the guidance provided, the Commission will conduct a public meeting utilizing remote collaboration technology. If there is any technical problem with our remote connection, an alternative conference line will be noticed immediately on our website: MassGaming.com.
Issued on 3/14 at 11:26am
Today the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously to temporarily suspend operation at the state’s three casino properties, including Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the decision was made in collaboration and cooperation with our licensees to safeguard the health and well-being of casino guests, employees, and regulators.
As we all continue to navigate this unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation, our agency and our licensees will remain in close consultation with public health authorities and government officials to determine safe protocols for resuming operation. As we develop the appropriate course of action, we will keep you informed of next steps. This decision will be reassessed in two weeks, while an orderly shutdown process is actively underway. It is anticipated that the gaming floor will close to patrons at 5:59am on March 15, 2020.
We are all doing our best to appropriately and thoughtfully respond to this highly complex and unprecedented set of circumstances and uncertainties. United in a shared goal of preventing the spread of infection, the MGC and our licensees view this immediate mitigation measure as our social responsibility to prioritize the health and safety of one another above all else.
We encourage you to visit massgaming.com/COVID19 for the latest information as we continue to determine a path forward. Thank you for your understanding.
Issued on 3/13 at 11:12pm
Meeting Notification: MGC to hold public meeting on March 14 at 10:00am
PLEASE NOTE: Given the unprecedented circumstances resulting from the global Coronavirus pandemic, Governor Charles Baker issued the attached order to provide limited relief from certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law to protect the health and safety of individuals interested in attending public meetings. In keeping with the guidance provided, the Commission will conduct a public meeting utilizing remote collaboration technology.
Issued on 3/12 at 7:18pm
This afternoon on March 12, 2020, the MGC learned that an individual who visited Encore Boston Harbor on March 5, 2020 has subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Both the MGC and Encore immediately notified the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). The MGC is working in close consultation with public health authorities and with Encore and Wynn executives to identify the facts, assess the situation, and determine next steps. Public health authorities have informed the MGC and Encore that, based on their review of the facts, the individual was asymptomatic (not exhibiting symptoms) on March 5. Consequently, DPH has advised that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by persons who came into contact with this individual at Encore is minimal. Encore has reported that this individual was present at the casino for one hour and had contact while there with a small number of individuals, currently determined to be seven. Encore has reported that all of these individuals have been identified and alerted. DPH recommends that Encore continue its enhanced sanitization practices. Additionally, Encore has reported that, out of an abundance of caution, all identified individuals have agreed to self-quarantine measures.
The MGC is making every effort to maintain a safe and healthy work environment, while closely following guidance issued by federal, state, and public health officials. As a reminder, important information is available from the DPH and the CDC.
Issued on 3/12 at 1:28pm
As circumstances related to ongoing public health continue to rapidly evolve, an emerging issue has come to the Commission’s attention that demands immediate assessment. Executive staff is engaged in ongoing discussions with the appropriate stakeholders and officials. Additional information will be forthcoming as soon as more facts are established.
Issued on 3/12 10:00am
The MGC is proactively engaged in frequent discussions with gaming licensees focused on prioritizing the health, safety and well-being of casino guests, employees and regulators. Like many organizations, we are closely monitoring developments from the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Our licensees are employing enhanced sanitization procedures and other precautionary measures, while we maintain a constant dialogue with the casinos and other stakeholders, sharing collective updates to inform appropriate next steps.
MGC Operational Planning Policy and Prevention
The MGC is making every effort to maintain a safe and healthy work environment, while closely following guidance issued by federal, state and public health officials.
An internal-departmental team has been convened and is actively engaged in monitoring the rapidly evolving situation, assessing risk and identifying implementation needs. The team has also been tasked with developing contingency readiness, operational redundancy and overall preparedness planning.
MGC has instituted a series of precautionary measures, including:
Enhanced Sanitization: The MGC has enhanced cleaning and sanitization procedures for the Boston office, and the MGC offices and GameSense Info Centers located at each casino property, including heightened disinfectant protocols for high touchpoint areas and the increased availability of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies.
Travel Restrictions: In keeping with the guidance provided by the Massachusetts Human Resources Division (HRD), all work-related travel, both foreign and domestic, is discontinued until further notice.
Preparedness for Increased Telework/Remote Work: The MGC Information Technology Division (ITS) is working to ensure that our agency is able to access many (if not all) of its systems remotely. Employees have received updated instructions and training on remote access capabilities, including remote collaborative technology.
Wellness Policy and Workers at Higher Risk: Employees feeling sick with fever or flu symptoms are required to stay home from work. According to the HRD, information indicates that the highest risk population includes older adults and individuals with serious chronic medical conditions. Employees in this risk group have been encouraged to talk with their supervisors to review possible alternative work assignments to reduce their exposure to others or the chances of being infected.
Public Meetings Modifications
As this situation continues to rapidly evolve, the MGC will make decisions regarding public meetings on a case-by-case basis. The MGC has a well-established live stream system, allowing for convenient remote access. External parties will participate remotely via call-in.
The Commission continues to maintain a robust online meeting archive that includes convenient access to all meeting materials, transcripts and videos.
In keeping with guidance issued by Governor Baker and declared in the state of emergency, discretionary gatherings that involve external partners are to be held virtually or canceled.
Casino Mitigation and Prevention Initiatives
Gaming licensees remain in frequent communication with regulators and other government officials, sharing updates about precautionary measures, mitigation planning and contingency preparations, including (but not limited to):
- Engagement of independent experts to advise about best practices and strategies during a public health crisis
- Enhanced cleaning protocols, including additional hand sanitizer dispensing stations in high-traffic areas and increased frequency of disinfectant procedures throughout the properties
- Enhanced communication to patrons and casino staff about prevention tips and critical health information, including risk for older adults and those with pre-existing medical conditions
- Enhanced communication to the workforce about health, wellness and sick leave policies
- Continued monitoring of the guidance provided by federal, state and public health officials
IMPORTANT ADVISORY: The CDC has issued specific guidance about high-risk individuals and large gatherings. Specifically, older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. People who are at higher risk are encouraged to avoid crowds as much as possible.
For more information about precautionary measures and event cancellations at Encore Boston Harbor, click here.
For more information about MGM, click here.
For more Information from Plainridge Park Casino, click here.
Prevention Tips & Information
The best defense against spreading illnesses (including seasonal influenza, the common cold, and COVID-19) is to follow some simple preventive guidelines as recommended by the CDC:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid close contact with others who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Stay home when you are not feeling well
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeves (not your hands)
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (phones, computer components, door handles, etc.)