Encore Boston Harbor’s Expansion On the Way to Approval

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Wynn Resorts has gained the penultimate approval it needs for a planned expansion to its Encore Boston Harbor Casino in Massachusetts. The local Everett Planning Board granted validation for the extension project this week. That means the Las Vegas-based operator only needs a nod from the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office before it can begin the project.

This 142,000-square-foot expansion will focus on an upgraded poker room and sportsbook, gambling- wise. It will also feature a 979-seat theater, a nightclub, and two hotel buildings. The new spaces will be connected to the main casino via a pedestrian bridge.

The project, which will be constructed on a plot that previously hosted surface parking lots and industrial establishments, has sparked legal and environmental considerations from locals. However, it is now looking likely to go ahead.

Ahead of the expansion, Encore Boston Harbor is already the most popular of the three Massachusetts casino venues. So far in 2023, the $2.6 billion casino resort has been pulling in around $60 million a month for Wynn.

Legal and Environmental Hurdles

The project has navigated through various legal concerns regarding where gambling activities could be conducted.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) had to decide if the expansion could be considered part of the existing license for Encore Casino that was granted after a 2013 ballot referendum. In February, the commission allowed the developer to move forward with the project after a 4-1 vote.

Now that the local planning board has also approved the idea, getting the go-ahead from the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office (MEPA) is the final step for Wynn. It is currently considering the potential environmental impacts of the project, with a certification determination scheduled for October 16 following the conclusion of the comment period on October 10.

Wynn Resorts has also purchased another property in Everett. The company purchased Constellation Energy, an energy company located on a 45-acre property in Everett for $25 million as part of an auction.

The location, adjacent to the proposed extension and Encore Boston, forms another part of the developer’s vision for Everett’s waterfront. The aim is to ensure that future development in the area harmonizes with the existing investment at Encore Boston Harbor, the planned development on Lower Broadway, and the broad planning of the Lower Broadway District by the City of Everett.

Status and Investments

Encore Boston Harbor currently offers 2,700 slots, more than 180 table games. It is also prominent on the list of Massachusetts retail sportsbooks, with its own in-house branded WynnBet Sportsbook.

After spending $2.6 billion to open the casino in 2019, Wynn Resorts has now expressed that they are ready to invest another $1.7 billion into the venue over two phases.

The second phase of the expansion will be considerably larger, featuring two additional hotel towers with 800 guest rooms, supplementing the existing 671 hotel rooms at Encore.

The popular resort often sees more than 91% occupancy rate. If both phases are approved and built, Wynn anticipates the casino’s workforce would expand by about 800 permanent positions.

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