Encore Questioned About “Predatory Presenter” Practice At MGC Hearing

Encore Boston Harbor. (Photo By Jim Mahoney)

Can Encore Build A New Theater Across The Street

Leader Staff

When Encore was willing to pay an entertainment act, the B-52’s, three times what a smaller theater in Medford was able to offer recently, and the B-52’s chose the casino over the Medford theater, that play is called a “predatory presenter” move in the entertainment industry.

In such an environment, the casino not only has the edge over local venues, but such a situation allowed to exist, will put the smaller venues out of business.

Allowing Encore to build its planned new entertainment venue would perpetuate that situation as well as exacerbating it and give Encore an unfair advantage over smaller entertainment theaters and halls, according to Attorney Dan Rabinovitz.

Rabinovitz urged the Gaming Commissioners at Monday’s Zoom public hearing, that Encore has continually had concerts and entertainment events with thousands of seats sold in its ballroom at the casino – which, Rabinovitz insisted – is against the casino laws in force in Massachusetts.

Ironically, Rabinovitz was cautioned by an MGC commissioner that he was speaking about an issue not up for debate at this particular Zoom public meeting, as if to say, we can’t and shouldn’t be discussing this because it is not on the agenda.

The interaction revealed the complexities of overseeing Encore, a gaming giant taking in about $800 million a year and now wishing to expand across the street to increase the take while at the same time attempting to keep in force laws intended to save the smaller theaters.

“They’ve continually had concerts – a straight violation of the law,” Rabinovitz told the MGC. “The law is clear. It requires that a casino shall not build an entertainment venue with 1,000-3,500 seats. That’s a violation of the law,” he said.

The MGC chair agreed. This issue was not up for discussion at this time.

Interestingly, in new documents presented to the MGC on February 10, Encore said it would not exceed 999 seats at its planned new venue across the street if allowed.

Rabinovitz held firm. He repeated that Encore has already held numerous concerts and boxing in its ballroom, seating thousands and now wants an additional venue that would make it difficult for smaller venues to survive such an unfair advantage.

“Encore is not interested at all with complying with the restrictions. The law says you can’t do it (building a new entertainment venue across the street). It is very clear,” Rabinovitz insisted.

He made those statements at the public hearing, which was to allow the MGC to hear from the public about whether or not the commission should allow Encore to build a new entertainment center and parking garage across the street from the casino. “Ballroom events should not be allowed,” said Rabinovitz. He said the new venue should not be allowed.

Whether or not the MGC will allow Encore to build a new auditorium and parking garage across the seat from the casino when it is not allowed to own such a facility according to casino law, is the big question.

Whether or not smaller entertainment venues are allowed a level playing field by the MGC is what is ultimately at risk.

“The new planned theater is not part of the casino, therefore, it is not allowed under the law,” another speaker told the MGC.

The MGC has taken the matter under consideration.

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