Posted on: December 12, 2022, 10:59h. 

Last updated on: December 12, 2022, 11:43h.

Encore Boston Harbor is seeking state and local approval to expand its resort footprint across Broadway in Everett, Mass. But the nightclub, poker room, and sportsbook blueprint initially pitched by the Las Vegas-based casino giant continues to enlarge, as the project scope now entails two entirely new hotels.

Encore Boston Harbor casino Wynn Massachusetts
A rendering of the latest Encore Boston Harbor expansion plan. The casino operated by Wynn Resorts is seeking state and local approval to enlarge its footprint across the street to what’s currently vacant parking lots. (Image: Wynn Resorts)

Encore operator Wynn Resorts wants to develop 13 acres of paved parking lots that the company owns across the street from its integrated resort into an entertainment destination. While its first pitch included only a poker room, WynnBet Sportsbook, and 1,000-person “Memoire” nightclub, Wynn’s latest expansion plan has ballooned to approximately 1.8 million square feet of indoor space.

Wynn is now proposing two hotels with ballrooms with a combined 800 guestrooms, multiple restaurants, a 200-seat comedy club, a roof deck day club, and a theater capable of accommodating 980 guests. That’s in addition to the indoor nightclub, poker room, and sportsbook.

Wynn’s expansion goals are coming to light after the casino company recently filed the project plans with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). For gambling to be permitted on the east side of Broadway, the MGC must sign off on such operations.

The casino must also gain local approvals from the Everett City Council and Everett Planning Board. Those endorsements have already been received.

State Concerns

Wynn Resorts told the state that the first phase of the expansion, should the state allow it, would include the sportsbook, poker room, and nightclub. The hotels and other amenities would come later.

The new nightlife and gaming area would be connected to the main casino via a pedestrian bridge over Broadway. The expansion would also offer a parking garage on the east side of Broadway with roughly 2,100 parking spaces.

State gaming commissioners in November expressed concerns that the 2013 local host agreement — strongly supported by Everett voters and that designated the former Monsanto chemical plant site as a zone where commercial gambling could operate — didn’t allow for gambling on the other side of Broadway.

The “project site plan” the voters ratified nearly a decade ago identified the casino as being located west of Broadway between the MBTA Mystic River train track, south to the Mystic River, and north to Mystic Street/Horizon Way.

Wynn attorneys believe the local referendum allows the casino to expand its gaming operations to adjacent property in Everett, so long as it’s operated by Wynn. The MGC plans to continue its discussions on the expanded gaming petition next year.

Theater Backlash

Along with the gaming concerns, Encore Boston Harbor’s expansion ambitions have generated some criticism among Boston’s theater community. Massachusetts lawmakers included language barring a casino resort from operating a theater venue on their premises that seats more than 1,000 attendees. This was done in the 2011 Expanded Gaming Act in an effort to preserve Boston’s Theater District and the community arts across the commonwealth.

By proposing a 980-seat theater venue, some believe Wynn officials are acting only in the company’s — not the community’s — best interest.

“They’re blatantly trying to hurt other theaters,” Bill Blumenreich, who owns the historic Wilbur Theater downtown, said of Wynn’s plans to The Boston Globe. “It’s all about their bottom line.”