Concert violations at Encore ballroom alleged
Officials from rival theater urge regulators to fine casino
THEATERS LOCATED near Encore Boston Harbor in Everett are alleging the casino has been violating state law by selling seats to large concerts and events inside its grand ballroom.
The theaters are basing the claim on a provision in the state gaming law that says “a gaming licensee shall only be permitted to build a live entertainment venue that has less than 1,000 seats or more than 3,500 seats.” The provision was designed to protect medium-size theaters from casinos that can sell entertainment at a loss in an effort to attract more patrons.
Encore didn’t build a “live entertainment venue” with 1,000 to 3,500 seats, but it does occasionally use its Picasso Ballroom for ticketed events where between 1,000 and 3,500 seats are sold.
According to written testimony submitted to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the musical group the B-52s performed in the ballroom on October 31, 2019; the a cappella group Straight No Chaser performed in the ballroom on December 20, 2019; comedian Wayne Brady performed on January 19, 2020; and the band the Dropkick Murphys performed on March 20, 2020. For each show, between 1,000 and 3,500 seats were sold.
No shows were held in the ballroom during the pandemic, but they are about to resume again. A mixed martial arts event called Combat Zone 75 is scheduled for March 17 with 1,200 seats for sale plus two large general admission areas where patrons can purchase standing-room-only tickets.
At a public hearing of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission earlier this week, an attorney representing Medford and the booking agent for the 1,800-seat Chevalier Theater urged the commissioners to levy a fine against Encore Boston Harbor “that will deter the casino from its continual efforts to flout the law’s prohibition on building an entertainment venue with 1,000 to 3,500 seats.”
Daniel Rabinovitz, the attorney, also argued that Encore’s past violations are an indicator of its future behavior at a proposed entertainment complex the company wants to build across the street from the casino.
Gaming Commissioner Bradley Hill said at the hearing that he thought the alleged concert violations at Encore were a separate matter from the question of whether the proposed new entertainment complex across the street from the casino should be regulated by the Gaming Commission.
The gaming commissioners indicated they would investigate the concerts at the Picasso Ballroom separately from their investigation into whether the new facility across the street from Encore should come under the regulation of the Gaming Commission. The new facility will feature an entertainment venue with up to 999 seats, a figure that was revised downward from 1,800 when questions were raised about the legality of an 1,800-seat auditorium
A spokesman for Wynn Resorts did not respond to a request for comment on the alleged concert violations.