Posted: November 17, 2022, 10:02 am.
Last update: November 17, 2022, 10:20h.
Encore Boston Harbor is looking to expand its resort across the street from its current property. But state gambling regulators aren’t sure if gambling is legal there.
Despite its name, Encore Boston Harbor is not in Boston, but in the nearby city of Everett. In 2013, voters there signed off on a local referendum allowing Wynn Resorts’ $2.6 billion mixed-use shelter project to move forward.
Nearly a decade after the local election — and with more than three years of operating experience since the June 2019 opening — Wynn officials want to increase the footprint of the living room with separate poker room and sports book area.
A paved parking lot across Broadway from the current casino is targeted for expansion.
Encore Boston Harbor is Massachusetts’ largest casino with three casinos. The casino has taken in more than $1.88 billion from gamblers since it opened in 2019. It has generated more than $470.4 million in federal tax revenue.
Wynn said earlier this year that not getting involved in the expansion was a gamble. The company planned the new location as a nightclub and event space.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) said in March that as long as no gambling takes place in the area, it does not fall under the commission’s oversight. Wynn says gambling can be conducted there through sports betting and poker. And there’s a little legal confusion among MGC selectors.
Everett voters in 2013 approved the following ballot question:
Will the City of Everett allow the operation of a casino licensed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to be located at the property on Horizon Way off Lower Broadway in Everett, formerly known as the Monsanto Chemical Site?”
The MGC is questioning whether the referendum would allow Wynn to operate gambling anywhere within the city limits, or whether gambling would have to be on the proper property included in the ballot language.
Wynn’s lawyers argued before the MGC this week that voter support should be interpreted to allow gambling in properties directly connected to the area designated in the vote.
Attorney Tony Starr, who appealed to the state on behalf of Wynn Resorts, also pointed to the company’s agreement with the City of Everett in which he believes gambling will be allowed east of Broadway.
“The hospitality community agreement between Wynn and the city of Everett makes it very likely that Wynn will construct new developments on property other than the current Encore Boston Harbor location,” the Star insisted.
The MGC adjourned its meeting without a vote on the Encore Boston Harbor expansion proposal despite extensive discussion on the matter.
Attorneys from Wynn and the City of Everett, along with counsel from the state and gaming commission, have worked hard to determine whether the community’s reference to the “project site” applies to the first phase. of Encore Boston Harbor or if visiting the area surrounding the casino. and possibly throughout Everett.
The MGC asked Wynn to prepare an exhibit detailing the boundaries of the former Monsanto chemical site, which Wynn cleaned up and rebuilt for his casino, for the next hearing on the matter. .