Massachusetts: Encore Expansion Approved, Online Sports Betting to Begin Next Month

Posted on: February 9, 2023, 12:14h. 

Last updated on: October 13, 2023, 08:31h.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has given Wynn Resorts its blessing to expand gaming operations off of Encore Boston Harbor property’s original property.

Massachusetts sports betting Encore Boston Harbor
Light snow falls at Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Mass. The Massachusetts casino resort operated by Wynn Resorts wants to expand its operations to the east across Broadway. (Image: Wynn Resort)

With casino sports betting now legal and operational in the commonwealth, Encore Boston Harbor wants to expand its resort footprint to the other side of Broadway. The casino, which is in Everett on what was formerly a chemical manufacturing plant, plans to build a standalone sportsbook and poker room inside a newly constructed facility.

The expansion will also relocate the casino’s “Memoire” nightclub. A pedestrian bridge across Broadway will connect the new gaming space to the existing resort.

State gaming regulators questioned whether Everett’s 2013 local referendum that authorized the casino allows for the resort to expand off of its original project site. Local voters a decade ago said they supported allowing Wynn Resorts to build an integrated casino “… on Horizon Way off Lower Broadway in Everett, formerly known as the Monsanto Chemical Site.”

The five-person MGC voted 4-1 this week in favor of permitting Encore Boston Harbor to expand its gaming operations across the street. The commissioners agreed that the 2013 referendum should be interpreted to mean that commercial gaming is allowed in the general vicinity of the current casino.   

Commissioner Eileen O’Brien was the lone dissenter. While she said she welcomes expansion projects from the state’s three casinos, she questioned whether the will of the Everett people is being respected.

“What I am not satisfied with is any request that we say, ‘You can expand, but I still can’t tell you where the end of the expansion can go,” O’Brien said. “I still don’t know where the outer boundaries of this are. And I don’t think that what we’re doing is the end of the discussion because I feel like this is going to continue to happen.”

Larger Expansion

With the MGC’s approval, Wynn officials said the casino can begin finalizing its expansion plans. Along with the standalone gaming building, Encore Boston Harbor is mulling two new hotel towers.

Encore Boston Harbor currently has 671 guest rooms. In its full-year earnings report issued this week, Wynn Resorts said Encore Boston experienced a 91.4% occupancy rate last year.

With rooms often unavailable, Encore Boston in December floated the idea of adding about 800 hotel rooms with two new towers across Broadway. Since the hotels wouldn’t include gaming, that aspect of the expansion project doesn’t require MGC approval but still needs local government sign-offs.

Encore has also suggested in the expansion project a 200-seat comedy club, a roof day club that would be open during the warmer months, and an indoor theater capable of accommodating about 1,000 audience members.

In total, Wynn’s expansion in Massachusetts could run as much as 1.8 million additional square feet.

Online Sportsbook Launch

Massachusetts sports betting began at the state’s three casinos on January 31. The MGC is finalizing its online licenses in anticipation of soon allowing wagers to be made over the internet.

During the MGC’s meeting Thursday morning in Boston, commissioners said they’re targeting March 10 for online sportsbooks. The MGC has approved 11 sportsbooks to operate online in the commonwealth: WynnBet, BetMGM, Caesars, Barstool, Fanatics, DraftKings, FanDuel, Bally’s, PointsBet, Betway, and Betr.