Dealers nowhere to be found at Encore Boston Harbour

By Noah Taylor Updated
Dealers nowhere to be found at Encore Boston Harbour

One of America’s newest casinos is struggling to find dealers for its table games.

Massachusetts’ Encore Boston Harbour can’t find sufficiently qualified dealers for its game, which a finance professor said wasn’t surprising.

The Reverend Richard McGowan from Boston College said gaming properties like Encore may be forced to raise salaries paid to dealers and other workers.

“I would venture that the casinos will have to raise the salaries of dealers and other employees so that they are not so dependent upon tips to make a living,” McGowan said.

Many would-be dealers also may now have a wait-and-see attitude.

“The dealers’ salaries are usually low and they depend on tips for their income,” McGowan explained.

“So unless the tables are full with patrons, the dealers might be better off to wait to see if the patrons are willing to return to the tables.”

Dealers need higher salaries and are worried about catching COVID

Also, he speculates dealers may not heading to casino floors because they “are afraid of catching COVID from a patron.”

Encore Boston Harbour senior vice president and general counsel Jacqui Krum told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that the casino “simply cannot find enough dealers” and other workers.

It has been operating schools to train new dealers “almost non-stop”, she said.

Neither Encore Boston Harbour nor MGM Springfield have reintroduced live poker after gradually reopening following months of closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, many poker players have complained to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

In addition, if Encore Boston Harbour once again provides live poker, the casino might have to eliminate other games to have a sufficient number of dealers, Krum warned.

“We do have limited space and the former poker area is currently occupied by some of our highest-performing slot machines,” she said.

“Because of this labour crunch, reopening poker right now would necessitate the closure of other table games.

“We simply don’t have the staff available to do both,” Krum added.

Encore has told dealers trained in poker it would pay for training for another table game.

“If we could add another floor to the casino, we would,” Krum said.

“Part of the issue that we’re facing right now is we have the jobs and we can’t get people to fill the jobs.”

Gaming Commission receives complaints about lack of poker tables

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s assistant director of the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau and chief of the Gaming Agents Division told the commissioners the lack of poker at Encore has increased public complaints from about four or five a month to about 45 to 50 a month.

The MGC is holding off issuing an order to resume poker at the gaming properties.

It will monitor the situation and not micromanage the casino, it said.

“I’m hearing that poker in the poker room has been replaced by very high revenue-generating slot machines, and I appreciate that, again, given our overall desire to maximise revenues,” MGC chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said.

“I am thinking about that proverbial slippery slope, because with each table game comes another part of those objectives, which is…providing a high number of quality jobs,” she said.

“We know that table games provide more jobs than slot machines.”

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