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Complaints roll in as Encore and MGM Springfield casinos struggle to bring back poker

"We simply cannot find enough dealers, cashiers or food servers."

SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg


COVID AND CASINOS:

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts gambling regulators, in response to complaints, want to know why two of the state’s casinos have not yet brought back poker.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission normally receives about five complaints a month, but lately has been receiving about 50 per month, many of them regarding poker, Bruce Band, deputy director of the commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau, said at a commission meeting Thursday, the Boston Herald reported.

When casinos reopened after being shut down during the pandemic, the commission limited poker tables to four players.

Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield said that limit would not have made poker profitable enough to bring back. Even though the limit was lifted in May, poker has still not returned.

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Encore executive Jacqui Krum told the commission that what was once the poker area has been repurposed during COVID-19, and the casino is having trouble hiring.

“We remain in continual hiring mode. We simply cannot find enough dealers, cashiers or food servers,” Krum said, adding that reopening poker right now would require shutting down other games.

The two casinos have said they would revisit the poker issue by the end of the year. The state’s third casino does not have table games.

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