Encore Boston Harbor is not planning to bring back live poker to its $2.6 billion resort casino in Everett in the immediate future and if the game ever does return, the casino said Thursday evening, it will be a different experience.

On Thursday, the Mass. Gaming Commission discussed the deluge of complaints it has received since the state’s two casinos — Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield — resumed mostly normal operations in late May without reintroducing poker. The casinos have both said they will make decisions about the future of poker by the end of the year, but the Gaming Commission may press executives for answers sooner.

In a statement Thursday evening, Encore Boston Harbor said it is “aware of and sensitive to our guests’ disappointment” about the extended period of time without poker. But the Everett casino also said poker, if it returns, will not be the same.

“Based on current market conditions and the resulting need to prioritize space, Encore Boston Harbor will not be bringing back live poker at this time. If and when poker should return to Encore, it will likely be at a reduced capacity,” an Encore spokesperson said, adding that the casino will re-assess as business normalizes.

Poker is not as profitable of a game for the casinos as many of their other offerings and the casinos have recently posted strong financial results without poker being part of the mix. One Gaming Commission official said Thursday he thinks the casinos are holding poker back while waiting to learn whether the Legislature will legalize sports betting this year.

MGM Springfield did not respond to a News Service request for a response as of Friday morning.

(Copyright (c) 2021 State House News Service.

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