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Daily News

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) recently approved awards of more than $10.6 million in Community Mitigation Fund grants to numerous municipalities and other eligible entities across Massachusetts.

Since 2015, the MGC has awarded approximately $37.7 million in grants from the Community Mitigation Fund. The fund, established by the state’s gaming law, helps host and surrounding communities and other qualified applicants to offset costs related to casino construction and operation. Grant awards support a range of community needs, including education, transportation, infrastructure, housing, environmental issues, public safety, and emergency services.

“The more than $10 million in grants awarded through the 2022 Community Mitigation Fund is yet another example of the Commonwealth’s commitment to fully realize the benefits of its gaming industry as well as the Gaming Commission’s continued fulfillment of the mandate made by the Legislature to mitigate any unintended impacts tied to gaming in Massachusetts,” MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said.

“The MGC is proud to support communities in the Commonwealth as they seek to improve government services and make advancements in road safety, tourism marketing, wellness and recovery services, public-safety training and personnel, and job-readiness programming,” she added. “On behalf of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, I extend congratulations to all of our 2022 grant recipients and look forward to the numerous ways those awards will make innovative, tangible improvements to the Commonwealth and its communities.”

In Western Mass., the grants include:

• Agawam: $833,300 for reconstruction of the intersection at Suffield, Cooper, and Rowley streets;

• Hampden District Attorney’s Office: $75,000 to continue funding for personnel to handle casino-related prosecutions. The funding has been in place for three years;

• Hampden County Sheriff’s Department: $400,000 to provide lease assistance for the Western Massachusetts Recovery and Wellness Center after having to move its location to make way for the MGM Casino;

• Holyoke Community College: $500,000 for Work Ready 2022, a collaborative effort of HCC, Springfield Technical Community College, and Springfield Public Schools to provide adult education, career readiness, and occupational training to connect unemployed and underemployed residents to education, training, and employment opportunities to meet the workforce needs of MGM Springfield and the region;

• Longmeadow: $85,900 to provide funding for cameras at the intersection of the I-91 and Longmeadow Street/Route 5 junction. Monitoring this site will determine the most effective methods of deploying law enforcement and public-safety resources;

• Northampton: $75,000 to provide continued funding for development and improvement of the northampton.live website;

• Springfield: $300,000 to advance the site feasibility, design, and financing/development options for a new mixed-use parking garage recommended in the Springfield Parking Authority parking study;

• Springfield: $766,700 for the revitalization of East Columbus Avenue and Hall of Fame Avenue. Major elements will include roadway resurfacing, sidewalk and median improvements, bicycle accommodations, guardrails, and safety upgrades;

• Springfield: $1,500,000 to help fund the construction of near-term priority public realm improvements to reopen roadways, improve overall access, upgrade utilities, and enhance the pedestrian environment to reestablish connectivity with MGM and the 13-31 Elm building renovation project;

• Springfield Fire Department: $41,300 to purchase extrication tools for the apparatus that primarily responds to the casino area;

• Springfield Metro Police: $16,000 to address unforeseen deficits in the area of IT connectivity in support of the Gaming Enforcement Office;

• West Springfield: $200,000 to fund additional police and fire/EMS personnel hired to increase staffing for the impact to municipal services resulting from the opening of MGM; and

• West Springfield: $1,266,600 to fund Complete Streets transportation improvements of Elm Street (Route 20) from Park Street/Park Avenue to Garden Street.

Daily News

BOSTON — During a remote public meeting on May 26, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) voted to rescind COVID-19-related restrictions for gaming establishments and horseracing and simulcasting facilities.

The casino operators agreed, as part of the new guidelines, to retain a pandemic safety officer until further notice and continue to report any positive COVID tests to the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau and their respective local boards of health.

“It’s been 15 months since the Gaming Commission convened with all three casino licensees in a virtual setting to discuss the rapid reach of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Cathy Judd-Stein, MGC chair. “The three gaming licensees have cooperated fully throughout this process, working always to serve the public’s interests and protect their patrons and employees.

“We thank Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor for their compliance and dedication to health and safety during this difficult period,” she continued. “I also wish to extend my sincere gratitude to the entire MGC team for its consistent commitment over the last 15 months.”

The commission also allowed horseracing and simulcasting licensees, including Plainridge Park, Raynham Park, and Suffolk Downs, to rescind their respective MGC-approved COVID-related reopening plans, with similar agreements in place regarding pandemic safety officers and COVID reporting.

Daily News

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) voted 5-0 on Tuesday 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 MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, and Plainridge Park Casino must meet in anticipation of the resumption of casino operations, scheduled for phase 3 of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan.

The minimum requirements adopted by the commission address key areas, including cleaning and sanitization, social distancing, guest screening, occupancy limits, and reporting measures, among others. Each licensee will be required to submit a detailed plan at least seven days in advance of reopening. The licensee plans must identify the steps and measures taken to achieve compliance with the guidance and protocols issued by the CDC, the Department of Public Health, the Board of Health in the host community, the Baker-Polito administration, and the guidelines adopted by the commission.

“The MGC is working to ensure a safe and sustainable reopening, issuing guidelines today that will no doubt shift to reflect the changing public-health data over time,” MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said. “We are confident that our three licensees will work in good faith to implement and enforce these measures. We also know that the success of a reopening will require the casino patrons’ cooperative efforts, thoughtful awareness, and empathy for one another and the greater community.”

The guidelines require the casino properties to sanitize routinely in compliance with CDC guidelines. Guests will be screened upon entry and required to wear face masks, which will be provided if needed. Employees will also be subject to screening procedures, including temperature checks, and will be required to wear face masks.

The commission agreed that all three casinos will promote social distancing of slots play, either by maintaining a minimum of six feet between operating slot positions or by installing plexiglass dividers not fewer than six feet high between operating slot positions.

For table games at MGM and Encore, licensees will install plexiglass dividers at blackjack-style tables separating dealer from player positions and between player positions. There will be no more than three player positions at each blackjack-style table, with chairs for unavailable positions removed. The commission also ruled that there will be no poker, craps, or roulette until further notice.

Each licensee will be required to limit occupancy based on its number of gaming positions available multiplied by three plus gaming-area employees of the licensee and the MGC and capacity of open amenities (utilizing the occupancy limits set by the governor’s guidelines for each amenity).

The required minimum health and safety standards put forth in this guidance are subject to adjustment or modification based on evolving information and/or mandates from the state.

Daily News

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission met this week to discuss detailed guidelines for reopening the state’s casinos. The full report, to be voted on next week, is available by clicking here.

Among the guidelines are copious instructions about what casinos must do to clean and sanitize the facilities, both before the yet-to-be-determined reopening date and each day thereafter.

Also, craps, roulette, and poker will be unavailable at first, and plexiglass dividers at blackjack tables will separate players from dealers and each other. Slot machines must be spaced a minimum of six feet apart, or separated by plexiglass shields.

Food service and consumption will be limited to designated areas. While beverage service will be allowed in the gaming area, guests must still wear masks and may lower them only to drink.

The commission could also limit occupancy to as few as 25% of each casino’s regular capacity. For MGM Springfield, that would lower capacity from 7,400 to 1,870.

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