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Encore Boston Harbor Upstages NY Casinos With Saratoga Race Course Deal

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Encore Boston Harbor’s marketing strategy is casting a wide net. The new Boston casino resort is making sure people throughout the northeast are aware of it through a New York Racing Association sponsorship.

A new partnership with the NYRA puts it front and center with likely patrons. While the story of how the deal went down is unknown, the potential benefits are clear.

Encore Boston Harbor’s NYRA sponsorship a coup of sorts

In a press release, the NYRA announced it had sold the naming rights to the second floor of the 1863 Club to Encore. The Saratoga Springs, New York, facility is a luxury offering by the NYRA.

Encore Boston Harbor also gets a presenting sponsorship of two races. It’s unknown what Encore paid to seal the deal.

It’s also unknown how many, if any, of the in-state casinos bid on the sponsorship. It’s possible that Encore had an inside track and none of them bothered.

It’s also possible that all four upstate casinos made offers and Encore simply offered more money. If that’s the case, the question becomes what made the deal so attractive?

To answer that question, a famous cliché becomes relevant. Follow the money.

1863 Club sponsorship a brand-awareness play

For Encore, making this deal was all about getting its name in front of potential visitors. The same people who are spending $75 for brunch and mimosas at the 1863 Club are the most likely to become regular visitors.

Given the newness of Encore, it’s important for its success to ensure the kind of people who spend $6,000 on renting a suite at a racetrack for two days know it’s open for business. Making the trip to Boston should be no issue for patrons of the 1863 Club.

For the NYRA and the 1863 Club, the money is nice but they likely could have gotten that from several other sources. Partnering with Encore could also help pull visitors from the Boston metro to its facility.

It’s likely a very expensive one, but at its simplest level, it’s a commercial for the 1863 Club and Encore. It’s also a show of confidence that its amenities are superior despite a key difference in offerings.

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Massachusetts sports betting stalled

New York’s four casinos started accepting legal wagers on sporting events last week as Massachusetts sports betting still remains in limbo. A bill to allow legal sports betting in Massachusetts does exist.

A committee hearing was just held on that bill, and it’s unknown how soon if ever it will see a vote. Despite the inability to match NY casinos in this regard, Encore is hoping it can attract 1863 Club visitors.

Encore could depend on the shiny-newness factor to entice people to make the four-hour drive to Boston rather than the hour drive to places like Schenectady, NY. It could also tout its waterfront park, open to the public.

Encore has partnered with the NYRA in a move that both brands hope will build synergy. It might be a missed opportunity for NY casinos, but that’s business.

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Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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