Massachusetts Casino Closures Extended Until April 7

BOSTON (State House News Service) — Massachusetts casinos will be closed until at least April 7 in keeping with the governor's urging that people should stay at home until then unless for essential work or limited other reasons, the Gaming Commission decided Wednesday.

Regulators on March 14 ordered the temporary closure of Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor in Everett until at least March 29 in an attempt to staunch the spread of the highly-contagious coronavirus.

During a brief virtual meeting Wednesday afternoon, commissioners voted unanimously to extend the temporary closure until noon on April 7, when the governor's stay-at-home advisory and order banning gatherings of more than 10 people is set to expire. The commission agreed to convene again before April 7 to further extend the closure, if necessary.

"It's a sound plan, following the governor's order and then evaluating ahead of time so that if there are other necessary arrangements we have to make, we will be prepared to do that," Commissioner Gayle Cameron said during the meeting.

The shutdown went smoothly at all three gambling halls, operators and regulators said, and the Gaming Commission later decided it would have to postpone the start of the live harness racing season that was due to begin at Plainridge Park Casino on April 6 until at least June 1.

The commission is due to publish March revenue figures for the slots parlor and casinos on April 15, which will show the first round of coronavirus pandemic impacts. The state can typically rely on about $21 million in monthly tax revenue from its three gambling halls. Last month, the Gaming Commission reported that the three gambling centers generated roughly $86 million in gross gaming revenue in February. The state's share of that revenue was roughly $24.3 million.

by Colin A. Young, State House News Service

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(Photo: Mario Jarjour/WBZ NewsRadio)

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