Encore Boston Harbor Opening Led to ‘Modest’ Impact on Crime, Despite Arrests

Posted on: May 10, 2020, 05:59h. 

Last updated on: May 11, 2020, 08:23h.

The Everett, Massachusetts region saw only a modest impact on crime from Encore Boston Harbor over its first full six months of operation, according to a recent analysis released by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC).

Encore Local Crime Impact
Massachusetts state police and local departments provided data for a new study on the impact Encore Boston Harbor has had on the region’s crime. (Image: Boston Globe)

Police made over 100 arrests, often late at night, at the casino during the half year. The venue was shuttered in March by the coronavirus pandemic.

In February, one Massachusetts state trooper suffered a concussion and two other officers were injured during two separate arrests of violent guests at the Encore. Radio station WBZ reported that many troopers were injured when arresting patrons at the casino earlier this year.

But the commission study claims the gaming venue’s overall effect on the region’s crime is proportionate for a casino of that size and guest capacity. Encore Boston Harbor saw close to 3 million visitors during the six months after its opening last June.

The study looks at police data from Everett, as well as nearby towns and cities, including Boston, Chelsea, Lynn, Malden, Melrose, Revere, and Somerville. The Massachusetts state police also provided incident statistics.

Christopher Bruce, a past president of the Massachusetts Association of Crime Analysts, conducted the research. He based it on data between July and December 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.

There was a modest increase in violent, property, and total crime, as well as total calls for the Everett Police Department, which may be linked to the casino,” Bruce said in a statement released by the Gaming Commission.

During its first six months, Encore was the site of 124 arrests, the study said. Some 506 guests were ordered removed from the venue and some people were given a summons to appear in local court.

Violence, Property Crime, Drunk Driving Data Reviewed

If reviewing only incidents at the casino, there was a 5 percent jump in violent crime, a 5.1 percent increase in property crime, and a 6 percent rise in total crime, the report said. Calls for police service in Everett climbed 4.1 percent.

Also, an increase in drunk driving accidents in Everett first appeared to relate to the casino, with most of the incidents along Broadway Street, located near the gaming venue. But further review showed involved drivers were mostly coming from surrounding communities, the commission statement said.

There were additional traffic complaints in neighborhoods to the north and east of Encore Boston Harbor, the statement adds. They are possibly related to casino guests parking on local streets when the garage is full.

“The MGC commends the continued cooperative spirit consistently demonstrated by our partners in state and local law enforcement, including casino civilian security personnel. Our shared objective is to ensure a safe and secure casino environment, collaboratively identifying and implementing effective, data-driven strategies to identify and mitigate public safety concerns inside the casino and surrounding community,” Gaming Commission Member Eileen O’Brien said in the commission statement.

Statistics Not Alarming

When asked for comment on the data, the Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College who studies New England gambling trends, told Casino.org, “If you could consider the amount of visitors, those statistics are not alarming.”

The Encore Boston Harbor “is still a win-situation for the city of Everett and the state,” McGowan said. “Now, whether there was an increase in bankruptcies and divorces around the Boston area was not addressed. So, the total social cost needs to be addressed.”

McGowan further recommends when and how police officers are deployed in connection with the casino “should be analyzed. It appears that later at night, Encore had the most trouble. So, that might be the logical time to hire more state and local police.”