More black eyes for Encore

By Josh Resnek

Do you know anyone who goes to a casino or hotel intending to start a fight on the gaming floor?

I don’t.

Frankly, the idea of fighting inside a casino is as alien to me as fighting in public anywhere.

Last weekend, several folks showed up at the Encore Casino who were headed for very different and difficult experiences.

To be perfectly honest, there was no way for the Encore operators to stop what happened over the weekend.

It is, after all, impossible to police people bent on creating havoc in places meant for fun.

Saturday night, two State Police troopers and an Everett police officer were injured in separate chaotic scenes leading to the tasering and arrest of one man and the arrest of another.

Around 2 a.m. Saturday night, a man identified as Brandon Wangoon, 25, of Brockton was being led from the gaming floor by Encore security when he became irate and aggressive.

When police arrived, he apparently took it to another level and violently attacked the police.

A trooper used a stun gun to disable Wangoon and to handcuff him. Wangoon again became assaultive, according to police, and had to be tackled.

A trooper struck his head taking down Wangoon and was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital where it was reported he had suffered a concussion.

Wangoon was charged with disorderly conduct and with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.

Around 4:20 a.m. troopers and Everett police were called back to the casino where two men were apparently fighting.

After police arrived, one of the men, 24 year old Brian Navarro of Dorchester struggled with police and assaulted an Everett police officer. Navarro was arrested and charged with assault and battery of a police officer and disorderly conduct.

The actions of Wangoon and Navarro have given the casino yet another black eye.

There have been many instances of violence by individuals and larger groups in the hotel lobby and on the floor of the gaming room and in the outside parking lot where visitors are dropped off during the last six months.

These incidents are both embarrassing and symptomatic of a larger problem.

What was set-up exclusively by Steve Wynn to be a five star complex is no longer a five star complex.

It is a casino with a fine hotel, and with a clientele the Encore officials never bargained for when they assessed how the their Boston/Everett casino hotel product would turn out.

The casino is not all about the famous and the rich and the well to do coming to Encore to gamble on the gaming floor and then depart to their rooms at the five star hotel.

Many thousands arriving at the casino, and the hotel, are fancy types, well to do Asians and businesspeople in Boston for a round of fun after business hours.

Many other thousands are Massachusetts Boston types, six pack Dan’s as we used to call them, wearing Bruins t-shirts and shorts and walking around with sandals on in the winter time and looking not so much for winnings as looking for trouble.

Last week a friend in from out of town – a fancy type friend – got a room at the Encore Hotel for $89.

This is a far cry from rooms that were to go for $450 -$1500 and parking charges of $40 for your automobile and on and on.

Table game wagering buy-ins have been reduced to attract more players – something that has worked flawlessly.

However the Massachusetts/Boston/Everett experience for Encore is anything but what they had anticipated and certainly doesn’t bode well for the future – although the future can hold anything both positive and negative.

Last month, revenues dropped about $6 million at the casino. This is not the end of the world but the graph is drifting in the wrong direction. The immediate future, is hanging in the balance with the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The outbreak here could cause large crowds of all kinds from collecting everywhere overnight – and this includes the casino.

In Macau, the crowds have vanished and income has plunged. Wynn Resorts stock has plunged along with the stock market. What was $130 a share several weeks ago is now closer to $100 – a pretty good buy if you can stand the downward pressure.

Wynn also pays a nice dividend.

The fighting and occasional rioting at the casino and hotel in our city is problematic for them and for us.

Encore is a victim of setting up a business that did not take into important consideration the full effect of the Boston mentality. Boston is not Las Vegas. It is not Macau.

How to make the place work like the juggernaut it was supposed to be is the task at hand.


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