Encore says 999 seats available for fight night
Number is one less than gaming law restriction
ENCORE BOSTON HARBOR says only 999 tickets are being sold to a mixed martial arts event being held next week in its grand ballroom, which would mean the fight night is in compliance with a state law restricting the number of seats the Everett casino can make available.
Theater operators have been raising concerns that Encore was in violation of a state law restricting event seating to less than 1,000 or more than 3,500 seats. The law was designed to protect medium-size theaters from casino competitors capable of using gambling revenues to subsidize their entertainment offerings.
Citing a number of concerts held prior to COVID and Ticketmaster seating diagrams showing more than 1,500 seats available for the Combat Zone Mixed Martial Arts event on March 17, local theater operators urged the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to fine Encore and reaffirm the policy on seat restrictions. The commission declined to weigh in at a meeting last week, awaiting input from Encore.
An Encore spokeswoman told CommonWealth in an email that only 999 seats are being made available for the mixed martial arts show.
Theater owners who raised concerns about the event said they welcomed Encore Boston Harbor’s apparent admission that the law restricting event seating at casinos applied to events at the casino’s Picasso ballroom.
Kenneth Krause, the treasurer of the Friends of Chevalier Theatre in Medford, said he was gratified to see that Encore now recognizes that the state law covers events held inside its grand ballroom.
“It seems clear that Encore Boston Harbor now acknowledges that the gaming regulations governing the number of permissible seats at its live entertainment events applies to those held in its Picasso Ballroom,” said Krause. “Going forward, Encore Boston Harbor coming into compliance with the regulations will help ensure that municipal, nonprofit, and independent live entertainment venues like Chevalier Theatre can remain competitive, which was the intention of the language in the law.”The legality of the Encore events is coming under scrutiny at the same time Wynn Resorts is proposing a new development across the street from the casino with hotels, an entertainment venue, a parking garage, and bars and restaurants. The Gaming Commission is expected to decide later this month whether it should regulate the new development as an extension of the existing casino, or whether the project should be free from the commission’s purview.
Wynn Resorts officials have argued that the new development should not be placed under the jurisdiction of the Gaming Commission, but Wynn officials in Boston and in Las Vegas have offered conflicting viewpoints on whether the project will stand alone or is intended to augment the casino operations across the street.