The Success Of Encore Boston Harbor In Question As The MA Casino Opens

Written By Derek Helling on July 9, 2019 - Last Updated on January 31, 2023
Encore Boston Harbor finally opens

Encore Boston Harbor opens its doors in Massachusetts after months of drama. It’s not over yet, either, there might be more.

After months filled with legal hearings and an attempt to sell the property, the biggest question now is how the casino will fare in its new market.

Will Encore Boston Harbor be a hit?

There’s no doubt that Encore Boston Harbor has a lot of amenities. On top of the 15 bars and restaurants, the facility offers:

  • A walkable park
  • High-end spa
  • State-of-the-art event space

There’s also no doubt that Encore offers many gaming options. The $2.6 billion facility includes a 29-story tower with touting views of the Boston skyline.

Even so, whether Encore will meet revenue projections is uncertain.

Predecessors in the northeast, like MGM Springfield, failed to meet initial expectations according to University of Texas Rio Grande Valley professor, Clyde Barrow.

Encore’s ‘curtain’ almost lifted under a different name

Even if Encore doesn’t meet initial projections, however, it can still be profitable. That profitability is important because Encore nearly went through a major rebranding before it opened.

Wynn Resorts, the owner of Encore, was in talks with Caesars and MGM about purchasing the property up until just months before Encore opened. Wynn decided to keep the property because neither offer met expectations.

A big part of the reason Wynn looked to sell was that there were doubts it would continue to be licensed to operate the casino by the state.

MA Gaming Commission scrutinizes Wynn

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission held several hearings while Encore was being built. The purpose of the hearings was to determine whether Wynn would keep its license.

The process grew tenuous between the commission and Wynn Casinos. It looked as though allegations of sexual misconduct against former Wynn CEO Steve Wynn might derail his company’s application.

Wynn resigned and Matt Maddox, the company’s president, replaced him as CEO. The commission still had questions about Wynn Casino’s internal procedures, however.

Wynn sued his former company and the commission to block the release of documents detailing the accusations against him. The company alleged its due process rights were violated.

Wynn Casino keeps its license

Ultimately the commission did not revoke Wynn Casino’s license. It did charge the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau with monitoring Wynn Casino’s internal operations, however.

Maddox also had to complete training on issues surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace. Construction halted during the hearings, especially as the company sought a buyer for the casino.

That resulted in doubts the casino would open on time. The hearings concluded and construction ramped back up in enough time to hit the projection, however.

Now that Encore Boston Harbor is open, the questions include whether its high-end amenities will attract enough visitors to turn a profit. Whether Wynn will apply pressure to the state Legislature to legalize sports betting in MA is also worth watching.

Massachusetts casino patrons have a new option in their most populous city. The real indicator of its success will be where revenue sits in five years after the facility’s newness wears off. At that point, Encore’s place in Boston society will be clear.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. 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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