Crime

Encore Boston Harbor Patron Melee to Get Reviewed by Massachusetts Officials

Encore Boston Harbor was the scene of multiple fights and rowdiness around bar-closing time early Monday, which led to several arrests of patrons at the new Everett Massachusetts casino. The suspects will head to court and the evening’s details will get a review by state authorities.

Encore Boston Harbor was the scene of patron arrests on Monday after fights broke out. (Image: Mike Dwyer/The Associated Press)

The first of the altercations started as a “large crowd” of patrons was leaving Memoire, an upscale nightclub at the Encore, police said. Within an hour, two suspects were arrested and a third was taken into protective custody. A fourth person will get a summons to appear in local court.

In a statement released to Casino.org, police said that shortly after 2 a.m., “a large number of patrons” got into struggles. Numerous state and local police officers assisted casino security to break up the crowd, and State Police also sent a trained dog to the site.

Shani Mohamed Abo, 29, of Everett, was arrested on assault, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest charges. Police said he was “uncooperative and combative” with security staff and police officers.

At about 2:15 a.m., a second fight broke out in the hotel’s main lobby. Herby Charmant, 25, of Lynn, was arrested on charges of indecent assault and battery, assault and battery, lewd and lascivious behavior, and disorderly conduct.

He got into an argument with two women, and then allegedly pushed one of them and grabbed her cell phone and threw it across the lobby. He also allegedly inappropriately touched one of the women.

Then, at 2:23 a.m., a third fight erupted on the casino floor that involved another group of patrons. An unnamed 26-year-old Lynn man was given a summons to appear in court for assault and battery.

Also, at about 3 a.m., as police led several patrons out of the building, another man was taken into police protective custody. The unnamed 32-year-old Lynn patron was detained after he kept yelling and appeared “highly intoxicated,” authorities said.

Later, Encore Boston Harbor — a Wynn Resorts Ltd. casino — released a statement to Casino.org that said “Encore’s in-house security team, in collaboration with local police and the EBH [Encore Boston Harbor] state police unit, was able to quickly respond to and control the situation with no impact or disruption to other guests or operations.”

On Monday, Abo told WBZ-TV, he “was ransacked by a whole bunch of cops…. I just told the officer to leave me alone and get away from me.”

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission said in a statement on Tuesday its staff will “review … the facts and circumstances to assess Encore’s regulatory compliance with the required internal controls, policies and procedures,” related to the disturbances. This is standard protocol after such an incident, Elaine Driscoll, the commission’s director of communications, told Casino.org.

“The [commission’s] IEB [Investigations and Enforcement Bureau] also maintains an ongoing dialogue with Encore’s security personnel to ensure all necessary and appropriate measures are taken to prioritize a safe and secure environment for all patrons and employees,” Driscoll added.

Incidents Surprising

When asked for comment about the series of incidents, the Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College, who is also an expert on gambling in New England, told Casino.org that violent incidents at casinos and casino nightclubs are “a bit surprising, especially at an operation such as Encore that is reportedly going for the high-end rollers.”

“What is [also] surprising is that alcohol is only mentioned in two of the four incidents,” McGowan added after seeing the police statement to the media. “Casino patrons can become frustrated, especially if it is a long night of losing.”

He notes that the varied incidents “seem to have different causes.” Two disturbances appear to relate to alcohol, and two others likely involve disputes “over gambling.”

It appears that Encore is attracting a much more diverse population than Encore was envisioning,” he added. “Encore, like any business, is having growing pains.”

In the future, casino officials should ensure they have proper procedures in place. “Clearly, the casino needs to instruct the bartenders and servers to start cutting-off patrons,” McGowan said. “Second, the casino needs additional security.”

McGowan points out that the casino’s “management needs to send more observers to the floor to make sure that the gambling floor is attractive to its players.”

Arrests at Casino Opening

In June, two New York men were arrested on charges of cheating and conspiracy at the opening of Encore Boston Harbor. Another person was arrested for disorderly conduct, while still another was busted for trespassing during the opening. Back then, authorities also issued a summons to a patron for suspected possession of heroin.

There are recent disputes involving the new casino, too. Representatives from Suffolk Construction — the general contractor for Encore Boston Harbor — and subcontractors — continue to meet over claims of unpaid bills.

Ed Silverstein

Gaming Law, Tribal Gaming, Crime, Gaming Research----An award-winning journalist with credits ranging from the Associated Press to American Lawyer Media, Ed joined the Casino.org news team in 2019 with decades of legal reporting expertise under his belt. His past reporting and editing assignments include Cowles Business Media, Columbia University Press, the Connecticut Post, and Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc. Besides the law and its application to the gaming industry, Ed’s areas of expertise span business, courts, crime, politics, education, and state and local government. With an undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut (where he now lives), and master’s degrees from Harvard and Yale, Ed’s professional awards include recognition from the New England Press Association and New England AP News Executives. Email: ed.silverstein@casino.org

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Ed Silverstein