With Massachusetts casinos given the all-clear to reopen, each has been making its way back to open doors, with various policies in place to help keep their patrons safe.
MGM Springfield announced a public reopening of Monday, July 13, but the weekend of July 11-12 they had an invite-only event for some of their guests. For reasons I can’t explain, I received one of those invitations, and ended up going up early Sunday afternoon.
My previous freeplay offering was basically the same as the one listed on my invite (and what they’re offering for July and August to come up). They used to do it in two tranches, weekday and weekend, with Sunday and Monday omitted; now it’s Mon-Thu and Fri-Sun offers, and no other promotions like tier multipliers and so forth running right now.
As an already non-smoking casino, they didn’t have to make any changes there like Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Hand washing stations replaced the self-service coffee/soda stations, which makes sense given what’s going on.
When I came in, they had us enter a line that was at the time empty, so they had a guy lift the rope. When busier I presume people wait their turn, but it zig-zagged back around in a narrow space that would be unlikely to allow for distancing.
Next up was a stop at the security booth, where they looked at my invite and had me take down my mask.
Unlike Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, where I didn’t notice any major changes to the slot layouts other than some machines being off, I saw some differences in some sections of the casino floor versus my last visit in February.
Some popular slots were moved into a round carousel to avoid having to turn them off, and some games had moved positions. They were in the process of finalizing a location for the stadium table games in an area that housed a lot of slot machines.
The bulk of the games, however, remained in the long, narrow aisles that were there before. One of MGM Springfield‘s biggest mistakes was putting slots too close together to begin with, making the place feel claustrophobic to fit in some more machines. But they’ve fixed it only in some areas. By the cashier is oodles of space where the stadium gaming used to sit; meanwhile other sections are configured largely as they were set up almost two years ago.
The biggest problem with all this is that there is a one off, two off minimum that is going on here. I presume the more airy spacing has more to do with state regulations, given they’re doing tighter spacing in Las Vegas. There’s plexiglass up in a few places where popular machines exist and the only want one machine off vs. two.
Sometimes the spacing is more extreme; you’ll find one (or even no) machines on in a row of five or six, usually because you can’t distance effectively from the bank across the aisle. My guess is about 75 percent of the machines overall are off; it could be slightly lower once factoring in those round carousels where most/all are on, but those were by far the minority of the slots.
As such, while it wasn’t that busy there, you could constantly see people trying to find an open machine because there weren’t all that many. If someone got up, someone would sit down right after. I guess that’s a win for MGM Springfield to have the machines they do have open to be constantly in use, but as a player it was frustrating having to do laps around the casino to find any open game, even if it wasn’t one I wanted to play.
The higher limit/bet games on the main floor that weren’t getting a lot of action; MGM might be wise to flip-flop some high limit machines with lower limit ones in some places to make the most of the positions they can open up if that demand mismatch continues.
The hand washing stations look identical to their Las Vegas sister properties. Mask adherence was fine; I saw a couple of people with the mask off their nose, but that was the exception.
Drink service was visible and frequent overall; without the self-service stations, they seem to have been stepping it up. Massachusetts won’t let people walk around with beverages to avoid mask off situations, so the only option is service to the seat and consuming it there.
It wasn’t a good gambling day for me – it was my worst outing since casinos reopened with just over 70% return on my coin-in. Until the last portion of the visit I was struggling to see any bonuses or big hits at all, but I made up a bit of ground before heading out.
Ultimately I think MGM Springfield is going to have to hustle to compete on experience with Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, which are much farther along on their reopenings, and, especially in the case of Mohegan Sun in how they’re running things, a lot more room to work with.
With some of their differentiation, like being non-smoking, temporarily matched by their local competition, they’re going to have to work hard to get players to visit. The fact they launched with offers intact is probably one step they’re taking to counteract, but we’ll see what happens from here.