The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Massachusetts Gambling News

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month!

March 1, 2021 -- March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month!

The Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance is hosting the 8th Annual Gambling Disorder Screening Day on Tuesday March 9, 2021. Please visit the Division on Addiction's website for more information and to access the Gambling Disorder Screening Day Toolkit.

Additional resources for problem gamblers and those impacted can be found on the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health and National Council on Problem Gambling websites.  

Webinar Offered by the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health

Rachel Volberg will be presenting at an upcoming webinar hosted by the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health to be held on December 1, 2020.

Register here.

Massachusetts’ three casinos are slowly reopening over the next week

July 07, 2020 -- 

Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville is set to be the first casino to reopen, with plans to open its doors Wednesday morning. In an announcement last week, Encore Boston Harbor in Everett said it plans to open up on Sunday, July 12. MGM Springfield will be the final Massachusetts casino to open — on Monday, July 13. Their release also came last week.

Read the story here

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission Launches Online Gaming Research Hub and Data Sharing Platform

June 25, 2020 -- 

The Newly Created Massachusetts Open Data Exchange (MODE) Offers Researchers Enhanced Access to Casino-Impact Related DataSets

Today, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is excited to announce the launch of a robust online research library and data sharing portal, which will improve transparency and access to MGC’s extensive and growing collection of gaming-related datasets. The MGC’s burgeoning research agenda is recognized as the nation’s most comprehensive research program to study, assess, and prepare for the social and economic impacts of casino gambling. The new web-based information platform, located at, offers a categorized and centralized repository of the research program’s wide-ranging studies and data. Please see here for more information. 


The Massachusetts Gaming Commission Approves Detailed Health and Safety Requirements for Casino Reopening

June 23, 2020 -- The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) voted unanimously 5-0 to approve detailed guidelines, outlining the minimum requirements for the reopening of the state’s two resort-casinos and single slots facility. During a remote public meeting, the five gaming commissioners adopted health and safety rules that Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino must meet in anticipation of the resumption of casino operations, scheduled for Phase 3 of the Commonwealth’s phased-in reopening plan. See the guidelines here

MGC Votes to Further Extend the Suspended Operations of Massachusetts' Casinos until June 1st

Commission information and vote from May 14 public meeting: 

The MGC and its three licensees are engaged in preliminary discussions about the development of reopening guidelines.

The four primary topics include: Physical Distancing, Hygiene & Cleaning, Staffing and Operations, and Screening and Occupancy.

Review the draft plans from Encore, MGM and Plainridge here.

VOTE: The Commission voted unanimously to extend the temporary closure of the state’s three casino properties until at least June 1, given the current circumstances and pending forthcoming guidance from Governor Baker and the state’s Restart Advisory Board.


MGC Votes to Extend the Suspended Operations of Massachusetts' Casinos until May 18th

Issued on 5/1 as discussed during remote public meeting

A Message from Chair Cathy Judd-Stein: 

In keeping with the latest mandate issued by the state, the Commission voted unanimously 5-0 via roll call to extend temporary closures of the state’s three casino properties until May 18. Operational status will be reviewed prior to May 18 as we continue to follow the orders issued by the Baker-Polito Administration.

When we first decided to temporarily suspend operations at the state’s three gaming facilities, the Commission and our licensees held a shared view that public health was paramount to all other considerations. At the time, the urgent circumstances required us to move quickly and decisively.

The timeline to reopen is still uncertain; however, our attention is now focused on developing a responsible restart plan and maximizing this time to establish guidelines, in coordination and collaboration with key stakeholders, including the three licensees, state and local leaders, and public health officials.  We will leverage our internal expertise and lessons learned from other jurisdictions.  Additionally, we will closely monitor guidance under development by the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board.

Our shared priority of public health remains paramount in our decision-making as we determine how best to proceed in a post-pandemic environment.

To support the work already in progress under the leadership of Interim Executive Director Wells, an internal Restart Working Group will be convened.  This group will assist in the development of the work plan and identify early on issues for the Commission’s consideration to facilitate agile action by on key policy and regulatory matters.

This task force will also assist with oversight and planning for two primary areas identified as core to a safe and sustainable reopening plan:

1) Technical Opening

Technical Opening Protocols & Procedures will consist of an assessment of the regulatory process required to bring casinos back online, including an extensive operations checklist that ensures the necessary compliance and integrity standards.

2) Health & Safety

Health & Safety Operational Planning will address a comprehensive opening strategy regarding measures necessary to prioritize the well-being of casino guests and employees. Topics will include, but not be limited to, enhanced sanitation procedures, employee training, physical distancing, occupancy limitations and any other guidance provided by public health authorities.

The plan will also need to account for what procedures will be necessary in the event of a restart setback.

In addition, the MGC team will be developing in parallel the protocols and procedures for the reopening of the MGC Office to ensure a safe return to the office for MGC employees.

In terms of timing, the MGC will continue to follow the state’s lead and abide by all mandates.  A status update will be provided at next week’s public meeting.

This difficult set of circumstances has presented an unprecedented global challenge. As so many have said, we are all in this together. An effective reopening plan will require sustained cooperation from all involved. Thank you to the MGC team and our licensees for your hard work and thoughtful diligence, despite this intense and challenging situation.

MGC Votes to Extend the Suspended Operations of Massachusetts' Casinos until May 4th

Issued on 4/3 at 10:26am

VOTE: During a public meeting on April 3, 2020, the Commission voted unanimously 5-0 via roll call to extend the temporary suspension of operations at the 3 gaming establishments, initially instituted on March 14, 2020 and extended on March 25, to May 4, 2020 at noon, consistent with Governor Baker’s order issued on March 31, 2020 and the Commission’s statutory obligations. 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. The temporary suspension until May 4, 2020, will also apply to the state’s simulcasting facilities.

MGC Votes to Temporarily Suspend Operations at Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino

Issued on 3/14 at 11:26am

Today the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously to temporarily suspend operation at the state’s three casino properties, including Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the decision was made in collaboration and cooperation with our licensees to safeguard the health and well-being of casino guests, employees, and regulators.

As we all continue to navigate this unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation, our agency and our licensees will remain in close consultation with public health authorities and government officials to determine safe protocols for resuming operation. As we develop the appropriate course of action, we will keep you informed of next steps. This decision will be re-assessed in two weeks, while an orderly shutdown process is actively underway. It is anticipated that the gaming floor will close to patrons at 5:59am on March 15, 2020.

We are all doing our best to appropriately and thoughtfully respond to this highly complex and unprecedented set of circumstances and uncertainties.  United in a shared goal of preventing the spread of infection, the MGC and our licensees view this immediate mitigation measure as our social responsibility to prioritize the health and safety of one another above all else.

We encourage you to visit for the latest information as we continue to determine a path forward. Thank you for your understanding.

Addressing Compulsive Gambling In Massachusetts

March 13, 2020 -- This is a special encore edition of Under the Radar with Callie Crossley. This segment originally aired on April 26, 2019.

Eight years ago, when the legislature approved casinos in the Bay State, opponents worried that more opportunities to gamble would be difficult for people with compulsive gambling habits. Everett’s Encore Boston Harbor resort is now set to open in just under two months. It’s the state's third casino, with more to come. How is this impacting people addicted to gambling? Do more casinos put others at risk of developing gambling addictions?


Dr. Debi LaPlante - Director of Cambridge Health Alliance’s Division on Addiction
Marlene Warner - Executive Director of Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling
Ed Talbot - Executive Director of the New Hampshire Council on Problem Gambling

Listen to the WGBH segment here