4 a.m. last call at casinos not a done deal yet

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Last call for alcohol could be deep into the morning if you’re gambling.

Governor Charlie Baker, in his fiscal 2018 budget he signed on Monday, has given the Massachusetts Gaming Commission the ability to allow casinos to serve alcohol until 4 a.m.  That’s two hours later than all other bars in the state.  Although, this isn’t a done deal quite yet.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission says it has yet to make any decision on this issue, but MGM Springfield would first need to request extended serving hours.

“If a licensee makes a request to extend drinking hours pursuant to the amended statute, the Commission would expect to conduct an extended public discussion on the issue and hear from a full range of constituencies, but at this point no such request has been made,” said Massachusetts Gaming Commission Communications Director Elaine Driscoll.

MGM Springfield is expected to open in September 2018.  MGM Springfield Spokesman Carole Brennan said, “MGM Springfield is evaluating the opportunity for extended alcohol hours provided by the Legislature. We would work with the City of Springfield and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to advance a policy that ensures MGM Springfield’s successful operation for both the community and our guests.”

These changes would only apply to casinos, not bars or restaurants.  The co-owner of Theodores’ Blues, Booze & BBQ on Worthington Street believes a 4 a.m. last call only at the casino, won’t impact their business too much.  “I could see where a lot of bars would definitely be upset by the varied time, especially if certain bars we also allowed to be open and it wasn’t just the casino, but we wouldn’t want to be open until 4 a.m. it’s a long enough day,” said Keith Makarowski.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said he anticipated this potential change.  “I believe this was inserted in the state budget giving the Gaming Commission the ability to approve casino alcohol serving until 4 a.m.  MGM will be a 24/7 operation and I think we expected alcohol serving to exceed restrictions for city establishments, but I will have my appropriate city departments also review to see, if any other local modifications are warranted or not,” said Mayor Sarno.

City Solicitor Ed Pikula told 22News that the city would not have any oversight over alcohol served on the premises of a gaming establishment, but would where there may be liquor served on site, which are not within the defined area of the “gaming establishment.”

If the Gaming Commission approved any request, alcohol would not be able to be served between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m.