Gaming Commission hears casino re-opening plan

May 20, 2020 | G. Michael Dobbs

BOSTON – If the MGM safety plan is adopted by the Commonwealth, expect to see less slot machines in operation, plexiglass shields, electronic menus and no lines at any of the restaurants.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission received safety plans from the three casino operators in the state at their meeting on May 14. No decisions were made to re-open the casinos during the meeting.

Cathy Judd-Stein, the chair of the Gaming Commission said this would be the start “of a discussion about casinos re-opening protocol and procedures.”

She added, “Each of you have had to make difficult assessments regarding in your individual business needs, but it’s clear all of you have shared common, moral and civic conviction in the health and well-being of your communities, your employees and your guests have been at the core of all of your decisions. For that, we thank you.”

Judd-Stein said the commission would be guided by the decisions made by Gov. Charlie Baker and would be driven by “data and not dates.”

The plan submitted by MGM Resorts International is the company’s response to re-opening all of its properties, not just MGM Springfield specifically. In the plan there is no mention, for instance, of how the Regal Cinemas will be re-opened.

Highlights of the plan include: “number of players reduced; machines cleaned frequently; drink service will continue; hand sanitizers at gaming tables; and every other slot machine will be placed out-of-service. At restaurants, there will be no waiting at entrance and guests will be added to a virtual queue and will receive a text message. Hand sanitizers will be at every entrance. There will be digital menus for personal devices. There will be more pre-packaged food options and condiments will be individual and upon requests. Dining table sand barstools will be placed six feet apart. Payment by smart phone or credit card.”

The following is the MGM company-wide plan:

1. “We have implemented employee-screening measures to assess signs and symptoms of infection and the possibility of recent exposure to someone infected with the virus. Employees are currently and will continue to go through temperature checks before entering a property. Employees are also asked to answer a series of screening questions about any current symptoms and recent exposure to COVID-19-infected individuals. Employees that are not well or who reside with an infected individual will not be allowed to work on property. We ask that guests abide by a similar self-screening protocol prior to arriving and during your stay. If you have reason to believe you may have been exposed to the virus, we strongly urge you to follow CDC guidelines for self-quarantine and not travel to our properties. We will look forward to welcoming you once the self-quarantine period is complete. If you develop symptoms during your stay, we have medical personnel on staff and protocols in place to assist. Employees will receive comprehensive training on new health and safety protocols, on proper wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) and reinforced training on the importance of hand-washing, cleaning and physical distancing guidelines. We will install digital and physical signage to both train and remind our employees of the proper protocols.

2. “Employees will be provided and required to wear an approved mask when on one of our properties. MGM Resorts will also strongly encourage our guests to wear masks in public areas and will offer masks to any guests who need one, free of charge. Gloves will continue to be worn by employees who require them to do their jobs, such as food handlers and employees who clean public areas. Additional categories of employees required to wear PPE will be identified by our medical experts.

• Drink service: We will continue to offer drink service on our casino floors. We ask when customers are drinking to minimize the amount of time masks are removed.

• Eating: We will ask guests to refrain from eating on the casino floor to minimize the amount of time masks are removed.

3. “A six-foot physical distancing policy will be in place, with floor guides serving as reminders throughout our properties. From time-to-time, 6-foot distancing will be challenging—in those cases, reasonable mitigating protocols will be implemented, such as plexiglass barriers or face shields for our employees. Plexiglass barriers may be installed in areas throughout casinos and lobbies, where appropriate, for the safety of our guests and employees. Signage will be installed throughout our properties to help guide employees and guests on how to safely practice physical distancing.

4. “Following CDC guidelines, we have already increased the amount of routine cleaning, with a focus on high-touch surfaces in common-areas. We will continue using proven cleaning products in accordance with EPA guidelines for coronaviruses, bacteria and other infectious pathogens. Electrostatic sprayers will be used in many of our large areas to allow us to apply disinfectant more efficiently. Custom-built hand-washing stations, with soap and water, and hand sanitizing stations will be readily available with a visible presence maintained throughout the property. Signage will be installed throughout the properties to guide and remind employees and guests of the importance of proper hand-washing protocols. We also have detailed sanitation protocols for our guest rooms.

5. “We have always placed a high priority on air quality for our guests and have reviewed the operation of our HVAC systems to identify additional opportunities to enhance their effectiveness. Rigorous measures in accordance with the established guidelines to help mitigate the risk of virus transmission have been taken throughout our properties.

As scientific information becomes available about the virus, and as additional guidance from state and local authorities and our medical experts evolve, we will continue to review and adjust the operation of our HVAC systems, fully recognizing the important role they have in keeping employees an’d guests healthy and safe.

6. “We have many protocols in place that are aimed at reducing the chance the infection will spread on our properties. In the unfortunate event a guest or employee tests positive for the virus, we will activate incident response protocols to ensure the infected individual has access to medical treatment, exposed areas are thoroughly sanitized and, when possible, notify those who may have come in close, prolonged contact with the infected individual. MGM has medical and security personnel on staff to respond quickly in the event of an incident.

7. “We are reimagining several aspects of the guest experience through technology to transition current processes into contactless options for guests. The most convenient, contactless way to check-in is as easy as reaching for your phone. MGM is putting the arrival experience into the hands of our customers, enabling them to complete the check-in process themselves, from beginning to end. Guests will no longer need to wait in line, if they so choose. Guests can confirm their arrival time, add payments and verify their ID all before setting foot in the lobby. Once a room has been assigned and is ready for check-in, guests receive a notification and can access their room number and a digital room key in the mobile app. Or, if they prefer a physical Key Card, guests can utilize the self-serve Key Encoders in the Lobby. Alternatively, for guests without smart phones or who prefer to not use one, they can complete the check-in process with the support of our employees in a contactless, line-reduced environment designed with our customers in mind.

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