Encore Boston Harbor was excited to welcome back Roulette to its gaming floor this week after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) voted 5-0 on Oct. 8 to allow the game to return for the first time since the casino’s shut down in April.
Encore, in particularly, had been pushing to allow Roulette and Craps since the full re-opening last summer, custom building a Plexiglas separator that allowed guests to play the high-energy ball-rolling game at a safe distance and with the right precautions. However, last August, the MGC felt it was too late to bring back such games, and put it off until the fall.
Now, however, with a good track record in the resort of being safe and having no compliance problems or COVID-19 outbreaks, the MGC felt it was time to allow one new game to accompany Blackjack and slot machines. Both Blackjack and slots are operating at a scaled-down capacity, and poker and Craps and other games still are not allowed.
“We have worked with the licensees to identify health and safety precautions associated with Roulette,” said Loretta Lillios of the MGC.
She said already Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have brought back Roulette and that the state Department of Public Health (DPH) was amenable to allowing Roulette with precautions. Some of the precautions include only having three players to a table, and all are required to be seated, the MGC rules stated. Unlike in normal Roulette, no patrons would be permitted to gather or observe at the tables, and players/dealers would be separated by a six-foot Plexiglas barrier. Likewise, all bets have to be in before the ball starts rolling in the game – which is unlike the typical game where bets are taken while the ball spins around the wheel.
At Encore, there would be not more than 16 tables with 48 players at them. The new game does not add to their capacity, but simply allows another offering to the games now offered on the gaming floor.
MGC regulators said at Encore, the addition of the new game would likely result in the re-hiring of about 60 people to their jobs.
Commissioner Gayle Cameron said she felt it was appropriate to bring Roulette back.
“We have a positive track record and the licensees are working really hard to go by the rules and the numbers of cases in the casinos are minimal,” she said. “That’s not the case everywhere…I’m convinced the safety precautions here are appropriate and probably stronger than anywhere else, especially with the dealer not taking bets while the ball is in play. It is also pretty important to note that some of these individuals will be getting their jobs back.”
Encore Spokesman Eric Kraus said they are thrilled to have Roulette back on the gaming floor, and got started immediately offering the game.
“We don’t know yet if there will be any major increase in our volume of our guests, but it allows another game for our guests, who have been asking repeatedly when Roulette would be back,” he said. “It helps us really upgrade our games portfolio for our guests.”
He said they would be re-hiring dealers for Blackjack as a result of bringing the game back. However they didn’t know just how many.
He said Roulette dealers are some of the most experienced, and all know how to deal Blackjack as well. So, when Roulette closed down, many came back as Blackjack dealers. Now, they have moved back to Roulette, and that allows Encore to be able to bring back some Blackjack dealers.
“We’re looking at expanding our dealers and we’re looking at that now,” he said. “We don’t know an absolute number that will come back right now, but we’re in the process of figuring that out.”