Encore gets seal of gaming commission approval

Official operating certificate granted days after casino launch

FOUR DAYS AFTER its grand opening, Greater Boston’s first casino won a conditional operating certificate on Thursday morning.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously to award the certificate that will enable Encore Boston Harbor to remain open around the clock for the foreseeable future, offering gamblers a range of 3,151 slot machines and 231 table games.

Eileen O’Brien, a member of the commission, was delegated to oversee test nights last week of casino operations, and gave the gambling facility temporary approval for Sunday’s opening.

The gaming regulators and staff of the Wynn Resorts property were in agreement that the opening of the casino in Everett has been smooth so far.

“Things are running well in there, and the counts are going well,” said Bruce Band, gaming agents division chief for the Gaming Commission. “All the teams seem to be running efficiently.”

The operation certificate is valid for the 15-year length of the casino license, according to the commission.

Bob DeSalvio, president of Encore Boston Harbor, said transportation – which had been a big question mark before the Sunday morning opening – has worked pretty well.

“This whole week it’s been relatively good,” said DeSalvio, who said the public has heeded Encore’s exhortations – backed by a $1 million ad campaign – to take public transit, or shuttles or boats provided by Encore rather than driving to the casino.  “People really did take advantage of the options. We had over a thousand people come by water on the first day,” DeSalvio said.

Commissioner Enrique Zuniga reported that he noticed a “remarkable amount” of bicycles parked in the casino’s employee bike parking area.

Encore, which had been expecting around 50,000 people to show up on opening day, hasn’t shared any headcounts, but the company reported that at noon on Sunday about 5,000 people were waiting in line to get in to the place.

Separately from the casino permitting, finalized just over 60 days ago, Gov. Charlie Baker said he expects to receive a report within 30 to 60 days about the area’s traffic congestion, which is an ongoing problem that was made more urgent by the derailment of an MBTA Red Line car two weeks ago. As time passes, officials will likely get a better handle on the impact the casino has had on transportation in the region.

The commission added a few conditions onto the certificate, requiring that Encore install additional panic alarms, cameras around bars, locks for a roulette wheel and other gambling equipment, and changes to the casino credit department location.

Jacqui Krum, an Encore executive, told the commission that the casino could bring itself into compliance with nearly all of those conditions within 90 days.

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Andy Metzger

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

The Gaming Commission also reported a few outstanding issues not directly related to the operating certificate. Encore is negotiating with “green power” providers to ensure that at least 10 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources, which would include the casino’s on-site solar panels, according to a status report presented to commissioners.

Encore is also due to build some improvements around nearby MBTA repair shops, provide letters of compliance from surrounding communities, and make payments – which may have already been completed – to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the city of Everett, according to the status report given to commissioners for Thursday’s meeting.