Encore Needs Poker Dealers as Player Demand Increases
Poker has been absent from the Encore Boston Harbor casino in Massachusetts, but now dealers are needed as player demand is rising.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States, casinos were among the first businesses to close due to the social aspect of the facilities. Across the nation, venues were closed for weeks and even months depending on the level of positive case counts in a given state. In Massachusetts, casinos were closed for several months before reopening again. Even then, many amenities were missing, including the game of poker.
Now, players are wanting to see the game return, though the Encore is having a hard time finding enough employees to work as table game dealers. The demand is there but the employee pool is lacking.
Bring Back Poker
In speaking with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Senior VP and General Counsel of the Encore, Jacqui Krum, stated that the casino cannot find enough dealers to provide poker gaming or work at other table games.
Schools have been set up to train dealers and they are operating almost non-stop. Along with the Encore, MGM Springfield is also without live poker, stemming from the onset of COVID. Many poker players are complaining to the Commission about the lack of poker gaming. For Encore, the casino may have to shut down other table games and shift employees from those tables to the poker room, if the demand continues.
Apparently, the poker room was shifted to a slot gaming area. So changes would have to be made in that regard as well if the casino decides to bring back poker. Officials of the casino said that Encore does not have the staff numbers to offer its current table games and poker.
The casino has even told dealers that are trained in poker that they would pay to train them for another casino games. The property would also add another floor to its gaming venue if the option were available to do so.
Complaints to the Commission are really rolling in regarding poker. Months ago, it was just a handful of people complaining about the game. However, the Commission is now receiving around 40 to 50 complaints per month as patrons want to be able to play the game.
The Commission is not ready to give the go-ahead for poker gaming and the wait may be longer still as COVID-19 cases are increasing across the country. The Commission also noted that the high revenue slot machines in the poker area are a good substitute as it is helping bring in revenues that are much needed.
Small Employee Pool
Across the United States, casinos are trying to get back to 100% operations. The process has been hard, especially since many employees were laid off and moved on to new jobs in order to avoid being without work for months on end during the COVID-19 closures.
The employee pool is small, and many people do not want to work for the price points that casinos are paying. Some offer lower salaries and allow tips, but it is not enough employees to come back after being laid off or finding new employment.
Another problem is that the average person does not know how to deal cards for a table game. Training is required and people in today’s work pool may not want to devote time to training for the position. It will certainly be interesting to see what the Encore plans to do to bring in new table game dealers and if poker will eventually be back in operation.
For now, it seems the casino will have to offer what it can based on the size of the employee pool.