The plans for a proposed entertainment complex across from the Encore Boston Harbor were recently given a preliminary conditional okay by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). But the commissioners listed seven conditions that need to be met for the Everett, Mass. development to proceed.
Wynn Resorts, which operates the $2.6 billion gaming property, wants to build an auditorium, restaurants, pedestrian bridge, and parking garage at the proposed “East of Broadway Development Project.”
The MGC conditions relate to such factors as the number of seats allowed in the auditorium, as well as security for the pedestrian bridge and parking garage. Other conditions deal with the review process by the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), and when any future plans need to be submitted to the MGC, according to the State House News Service, a Massachusetts news agency.
In addition to the final MGC sign-off, the proposal requires approval from local officials in Everett. They also need a MEPA approval.
The plan now includes 20,000 square feet of restaurants, a 999-seat entertainment venue, a 2,200-space parking garage, and a 400-foot pedestrian bridge to connect the complex to the casino. Two hotels and a brewery may be added later and would also need MGC approval.
Positive Response to MGC Decision
The Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College who closely follows New England gambling tends, said the commission’s ruling was expected.
The commission is fully aware that the City of Everett will eventually have the final say on the development of this site,” McGowan told Casino.org. “Clearly, the city wants Wynn to develop it.”
A representative from the Encore appeared okay with the conditions.
“We are agreeable to all the conditions as set forth in this meeting,” Jacqui Krum, Encore Boston Harbor’s senior vice president and general counsel, recently told the MGC, the news report said. “We’ll be back in front of you shortly with plans.”
Michael Weaver, chief communications officer of Wynn Resorts, added in a statement to Casino.org.”We are pleased with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s decision regarding our planned development of the Lower Broadway entertainment district and understand the conditions that were made in conjunction with approval.”
In recent MGC meetings, Wynn Resorts representatives said the entertainment complex plans were not under MGC jurisdiction. Many future uses of the complex’s buildings will be operated by third parties.
The Encore casino opened in 2019. There are some concerns about its impact.
Previously, independent theaters located near Everett were concerned about entertainment competition from the casino or at the proposed entertainment complex. They say it could hurt their bottom line.
The gaming property has already sold tickets to well-attended entertainment events with many present in the audience. More performances are coming if the East of Broadway project is constructed across the street from the casino. A casino like the Encore could subsidize ticket prices for performances due to its gaming revenue, representatives from the other theaters said. The smaller theaters do not have that option, reported WGBH, a local TV station.
Ballroom Performances OK for Larger Audience
But last week, MGC General Counsel Todd Grossman said that under state law, casino operators cannot build entertainment venues with seating for between 1,000 and 3,500 people, according to The Salem News, a local newspaper.
But regulations do not prevent having live shows for between 1,000 and 3,500 audience members in a venue like a casino ballroom, he adds. Apparently, the casino could use temporary seating for such a performance.
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