Massachusetts’ three casinos – Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park – will all remain closed until at least noon on May 4.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) extended its mandatory closure order on Friday by a unanimous 5-0 vote. The casinos were first closed on March 14 for a two-week period, which was extended on March 24 until at least April 7. Now, they will remain shuttered for at least another month.
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,” an MGC statement read.
MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said the current times are “extraordinarily challenging and complex.”
MGM Resorts and Penn National Gaming, the respective parent companies of MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park, have both laid off their US employees because of the nationwide shutdown of gaming operations.
“There is nothing easy about telling loyal employees that their lives are being upended because of a global event that is out of our control,” MGM Resorts Acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle said recently. “The hardships, I am afraid, will be real for many of you for some time.”
Hornbuckle said this week that roughly 60,000 of the company’s employees have been furloughed.
Penn National CEO Jay Snowden says 26,000 team members are on unpaid leave. The executive called it “extremely difficult,” and the company deeply regrets “the hardship this will place.”
Wynn Resorts, however, the owner of Encore Boston Harbor, is continuing to pay its workers despite them remaining at home. On April 1, the company announced all of its North American employees would see their compensation continue through May 15. “We owe it to each other, our families, and to our community,” said Wynn CEO Matt Maddox.
Laid off workers have several resources to help pay the bills. Along with state unemployment and the federal government’s CARES Act $600 per week increase, MGM and Penn National employees can apply for assistance through their companies’ emergency relief funds.
The United Way of Massachusetts COVID-19 Family Support Fund is also providing one-time $2,000 grants to families in need.
With New York being the hardest hit coronavirus state, the northeast is on high alert. There are nearly 9,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and the disease is responsible for 154 deaths. All persons entering the state are being urged to self-quarantine for 14 days.
The three casinos are assisting in the health crisis response.
Encore Boston donated to area hospitals 46,000 surgical masks, 3,000 N95 masks, 4,000 pairs of gloves, and pallets of toilet paper and water. Wynn also contributed food to the Greater Boston Food Pantry and Grace Food Pantry in Everett.
MGM donated 12,000 pounds of food to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and Open Pantry. Penn National donated 45 tons of perishable food to food banks across the country. The MGC additionally got its hands on 38,000 pairs of gloves from its Racing Division and donated them to health officials and state police.