By JOSH RESNEK
When the Encore Boston Harbor Casino and Hotel opened to great fanfare in June, 2019, the hopes and dreams and all the business acumen the Wynn Resorts crew could muster led us to believe this was going to be an unprecedented success.
It has been a success but a success with qualifications.
It has not risen to what it was supposed to be.
The hotel remains less than half full during busy weekends. It is not open Monday through Thursday. Casino revenues appear to have topped. Growth is a question mark as executives look forward into a future they cannot predict.
There is rising demand but this is juxtaposed against changing trends in the casino world.
Such a situation was unimaginable just three years ago.
Today, it is a fact of life, and expensive one for the Wynn Corporation.
Steve Wynn, the defrocked billionaire gaming guru envisioned the Encore as an international playhouse attracting thousands of foreigners coming into Boston to gamble away small fortunes while staying in five star rooms and suites at the hotel.
It was to have been a draw for the rich and the famous who love to gamble and who love to be seen.
This never materialized.
Wynn Corporation spent $2.6 billion, or some monstrous amount of money near to that, to build the place and to fit it out and to open it more than three years ago.
Since that time, the place has sputtered through a series of start-up fits.
Several leaders of the sprawling complex have come and gone.
The Pandemic battered the business. Obviously, this is no fault of the Wynn Corporation.
However, the rapidly changing consumer marketplace is impacting Encore in Everett in ways Steve Wynn never imagined when he came to Boston to carve out a piece of his business legacy here.
Bottom line, Encore Boston Harbor has not yet found its place in the broader Massachusetts, Greater Boston marketplace.
In fact, it might never find its place as Steve Wynn had envisioned.
What Steve Wynn overlooked or underestimated is Greater Boston’s constitutional inability to accept casino gaming as part of our culture.
Tourists flock to Boston to walk the Freedom Trail, to taste of the North End’s treats, and to bring their families to for a ride on the Swan Boats in Boston Common.
The general trek of visitors to Boston has not yet led them to Encore in Everett.
Casino executives now understand this might never come to be.
The hotel is magnificent, if you like that type of gawdy bronze phallic symbol standing out like a sore thumb in what is essentially a highly industrialized local geography.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s crowning achievement has not lived up to its billing.
The casino attracts a less than a five star crowd to its Las Vegas looking mass of buildings and richly planted grounds.
A somewhat tawdry group of patrons dressed in Celtics or Bruin shirts and sneakers plod their way into the casino at all hours of the day and night.
There is no glitter. Not many high rollers. Not much excitement like that expected by Steve Wynn when he conceived the place.
Encore’s enduring miracle is the bringing back of 33 of the most polluted acres of former industrial land in Massachusetts.
Located where the Monsanto plant once stood, the building of the casino there highlights the magnificence of the reclamation that has taken place.
What does the future hold?
If Wynn executives knew for sure, they wouldn’t be working so hard for the casino to find its place in Greater Boston after three years of operations.
The Encore will never want for customers coming to gamble.
This is a guarantee because human nature is what it is. People love to gamble.
Steve Wynn’s $2.6 billion roll of the dice has not added up to the towering success he had believed it would be. Uncertainties about the economy, changing consumer taste, tourism to Boston down drastically, the convention business out of business for right now, are all impacting Encore in Everett.
The future remains bright but uncertain.