Casino notes: MGM seeks later ‘last call’

Three $1 million ferry boats ordered for Everett casino

THE MASSACHUSETTS GAMING COMMISSION is treading cautiously with a request from MGM Resorts to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. on the gambling floor of its soon-to-open Springfield casino.

MGM is attempting to take advantage of a change in state law approved last year that allows casinos, subject to the approval of the Gaming Commission, to continue serving alcohol two hours beyond the regular last call of 2 a.m. – but only on the gaming floor to active gamblers.

The commission on Thursday said it would take public comment on the proposal before deciding whether to approve the request. Staff made no recommendation to the commission, in part because of “the unique nature of the 4 a.m. request,” according to a memo to the commissioners.

The original state Gaming Act held casinos to the same last call requirements as other drinking establishments, which is typically 2 a.m. But an amendment pushed by the House Ways and Means Committee last year allowed the commission to extend last call until 4 a.m. for alcoholic drinks served on the gambling floor to active gamblers.

Stanley Rosenberg, a former state senator who was one of the drafters of the original gaming act, spoke out against the House provision when it first surfaced. He raised two concerns – that casinos should not be treated any differently than other establishments selling liquor and that tweaking the law to help casinos set a bad precedent.

“This is the yellow light, the caution light,” Rosenberg said in April 2017. “If you approve this, next month there’ll be another proposal and another one after that. This is an industry that, if you’re not careful, starts to run the table.”

Ferries ordered for Everett casino

Wynn Resorts is starting to build a small fleet of customized 41-foot yachts to ferry at least 1,500 visitors a day to its Everett casino, which is scheduled to open in 2019.

Three yachts, costing $1 million apiece, are being built by BostonBoatWorks in Charlestown. They feature leather seating, teak wood, and a “computerized gyro stabilizer” to allow smooth rides even in choppy water. The yachts are expected to seat 40 people.

Proposed interior of Wynn water shuttle.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

As part of a commitment to reduce traffic congestion near the casino, Wynn has promised to deliver about 6 percent of its patrons to the $2.5 billion facility via water shuttles. The boats are the first step in delivering on that promise, but the company will also have to decide what fare to charge for the rides. Company officials have not made a determination on fares yet.

The shuttles are expected to pick up passengers in the Seaport District and downtown before heading up the Mystic River to the Everett casino and hotel.

Robert DeSalvio, the president of Encore Boston Harbor, said he believes the water shuttle could transform the harbor into a commuter pathway delivering patrons to the casino in 20 minutes no matter what the weather. “We’re turning a normally stressful and frustrating commute into a luxurious and relaxing experience,” he said.