Expansion should come with high price tag for Encore

(Photo by Joe Resnek)

By Josh Resnek

Two weeks ago we reported that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is studying development plans submitted by Encore intending to grow their gambling and entertainment venues with a complex across the street from the casino and hotel on Broadway.

Two weeks ago we predicted the MGC will pass Encore’s request with flying colors after a thorough vetting of the plans.

Any other decision would be incomprehensible for the rubber stamp MGC.

And why not?

Encore has been a good neighbor since arriving here.

The expansion of the casino has been discussed for quite a few months already. The plans have gone through a number of iterations.

Wynn Resorts’ newest vision for the company’s land across Broadway from its Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett includes a great deal of new development – two hotels with ballrooms, three parking garages, a theater, restaurants, clubs — 1.8 million square feet of development in all.

Of greatest interest and potential is the expansion of gambling from the casino to the new development which will include a poker room and sports-book facility.

The potential for the sports betting marketplace is over the top.

Even without sports betting, Encore’s sports center with its giant flat screens and seating has been standing room only on Saturday’s and Sundays. Monday night football is another big celebration at Encore.

Soccer has also dominated the room since the World Cup in Qatar.

Last week, the Everett Planning Board approved a site plan.

The city council Monday night voted for a required zoning change allowing for gambling to take place there.

Here is what Encore has told us: there will be a 2,100 space parking garage, a poker room, with a roof-deck, a “day club”, a 980 seat theater and of all things, a 200-seat comedy club.

Maybe the MGC could hold its hearings there.

Encore will build a pedestrian bridge over Broadway to connect the two venues.

This pedestrian venue is big medicine – exactly what is needed to connect the properties Encore owns across the street from the casino.

It will dramatically reduce traffic and at the same time, enhance safety considerations that are paramount.

All of this coincides with the MGC awarding Encore/Wynn the state’s first sports betting license.

If the MGC agrees, Encore will offer sports betting at the new venue and inside the main casino as well.

Wynn officials have said as many as 800 new employees would be hired for the new complex by Encore and by the managers of the entertainment and restaurant venues, Big Night, owned by entrepreneur Ed Kane.

Two new hotels are planned with a total of 800 rooms with ballrooms and restaurant and some retail space.

The city could conceivably take in an additional $14 million from Encore for the new properties in taxes, and room fees.

The mayor was quoted in the Boston Globe. story that all pf the above is keeping with Encore’s desire to make this part of the city a hospitatlity destination.

How much of an investment Wynn/Encore will be making in these new properties has not been enumerated but is expected to be in the high hundreds of millions of dollars in new construction.

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