Encore Boston Looking to Expand

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The Wynn resorts logo is seen at one of their hotels. (Photo by MIKE CLARKE / AFP)

A parcel of property across the street from the Encore Boston has been the proposed venue of an expansion for quite some time but getting through the bureaucratic red tape continues to delay the project. 

Whose Jurisdiction? 

When Wynn first floated the concept of an expansion the question arose as to whether the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) would have jurisdiction over an expansion whose focus was non-gaming. 

Last year, Joe Delaney, the Gaming Commission’s chief of community affairs, said, “Some issues came up with respect to whether it’s part of the gaming establishment or not — that has certain impacts on their development — as well as COVID and other things that they’re considering at this point in time.

So, Encore has indicated to us that they will come back to us once this evaluation is complete and they have essentially a final proposal to move ahead with, whether it’s this one or with some minor or some major changes.” 

The MGC finally agreed they had no jurisdiction over the mixed-use development Wynn Resorts has been planning across the street from their Encore Boston Harbor Hotel and Casino. However, the Commission did impose seven conditions that must be met before the project can move forward.  

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To complicate matters even further, the Commission has a four-part test that was conducted to determine if the Commission has jurisdiction over a gaming project. And while the first three criteria were met, the fourth was a bit of a jump ball. 

“The narrower question was whether part four of the four-part test, whether the commission has a regulatory interest in including all or parts of the proposed development as parts of the gaming establishment, would be essentially addressed by way of these conditions,” Todd Grossman, the commission’s general counsel, said Monday. “So that’s why these conditions are important.” 

As for the seven conditions that had to be met, the first two focused on the live entertainment venue that is planned while two more concerned the security plans for the parking garage and the footbridge that will connect the main property to the proposed expansion site across the street.

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Conditions No. 5 and No. 6 dealt with employees of the Encore being prohibited from entering the gaming-related areas as well as mandating that Wynn brings plans for any developments in the future to the Commission before they take it anywhere else. The last condition is that Encore begins its Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review process in the proposal.  

“We are agreeable to all the conditions as set forth in this meeting,” Jacqui Krum, Encore Boston Harbor’s senior vice president and general counsel, told the commission Monday. 

What’s Wynn Building? 

Phase one of the expansion project features a 400-foot pedestrian bridge connecting the casino and what will be a thousand-seat live entertainment venue, a 2,200-space parking garage, and 20,000 square feet allocated to restaurant space. But once the initial phase is completed, there are plans to build two more hotels along with a brewery or brewpub among other attractions.  

Michael Weaver, Wynn’s chief communications officer, said, “Business has been quite good at Encore Boston Harbor. We believe that now is the time to work on the expansion. It’s kind of the next phase of our company and how we think about growing our company footprint. The economy is at a point where it makes sense for us.” 

Tony Starr, an attorney at Mintz Levin who represents Wynn Resorts, told the commission last week that the development’s restaurants, retail outlets, and event space are intended to be leased out to third parties and that “extending the regulatory authority into these third party-operated venues across the street, we think, would deter some of the ancillary development that I believe the commission would like to see.” 

Bookmakers Review will continue to monitor this story and report any further developments as they happen.