Posted on: Mar 15, 2022 09:33 am.

Last updated on: March 15, 2022 06:13.

Plans for a proposed entertainment complex across the harbor from Encore Boston recently received a tentative conditional okay from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). However, the commissioners listed seven conditions that must be met for development to proceed in Everett, Mass.

Include Boston Harbor
The harbor at Encore Boston, pictured above. Operator Wynn Resorts plans to build an entertainment complex across from the gambling site. (Image: Agoda)

Wynn Resorts, which operates the $2.6 billion gaming property, plans to add an auditorium, restaurants, pedestrian bridge and parking garage in the proposed East of Broadway Development Project.

The MGC conditions relate, among other things, to the permitted number of seats in the auditorium and the safety of the pedestrian bridge and the parking garage. Other terms deal with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review process and when future plans must be submitted to the MGC, according to the State House News Service, a Massachusetts news agency.

In addition to final MGC approval, the proposal requires approval from local Everett officials. You also need MEPA approval.

The plan now includes 20,000 square feet of restaurants, a 999-seat event venue, a 2,200-space parking garage and a 400-foot pedestrian bridge connecting the complex to the casino. Two hotels and a brewery could be added later and would also need MGC approval.

Positive response to MGC decision

Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College who closely follows gambling trends in New England, said the commission’s decision was expected.

The Commission fully recognizes that the City of Everett will ultimately have the final say in the development of this site.” McGowan to “The city clearly wants Wynn to develop it.”

A representative from Encore appeared to agree to the terms.

“We agree to all of the terms set forth in this meeting,” Jacqui Krum, Encore Boston Harbor’s senior vice president and general counsel, recently told MGC, the news report said. “We will be before you again shortly with plans.”

Wynn Resorts Chief Communications Officer, Michael Weaver, added in a statement to, “We are pleased with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s decision regarding our proposed development of the Lower Broadway entertainment district and understand the conditions associated with the approval were asked.”

Not MGC Jurisdiction

At recent MGC meetings, Wynn Resorts officials said plans for the entertainment complex did not fall under the MGC’s jurisdiction. Many future uses of the complex’s buildings will be operated by third parties.

Encore Casino opened in 2019. There are some concerns about its impact.

Previously, independent theaters near Everett were concerned about entertainment competition from the casino or the proposed entertainment complex. They say it could affect their bottom line.

The gambling house has already sold tickets to well-attended entertainment events, which were attended by many in the audience. More performances will follow when the East of Broadway project is built across from the casino. A casino like the Encore could subsidize the cost of tickets for performances based on its gaming revenue, officials from the other theaters said. The smaller theaters don’t have that option, reported WGBH, a local TV station.

Ballroom performances OK for larger audiences

But last week MGC General Counsel Todd Grossman said that under state law, casino operators can’t build entertainment venues that seat 1,000 to 3,500 people, according to The Salem News, a local newspaper.

But the regulations don’t prevent hosting live shows for between 1,000 and 3,500 spectators in a venue like a casino ballroom, he adds. Apparently the casino could use temporary seating for a performance like this.