Gambling regulators allow plans for Encore Boston Harbor expansion to advance

The proposal remains subject to further review.

Encore Boston Harbor in Everett on April 5, 2022.
Encore Boston Harbor in Everett on April 5, 2022. Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Wednesday paved the way for Encore Boston Harbor to advance its plans for expansion to a neighboring lot in Everett.

The state commission of gambling regulators decided in a 4-1 vote that interpretation of the 2013 referendum voters passed to let a casino operate in the city also legally allows for a licensed casino to operate in a location other than the waterfront property owned by Encore parent company Wynn Resorts, the State House News Service reports.

The ruling, therefore, allows Encore to pursue its plans to build a second sports betting parlor, a poker room, a relocated nightclub, a theater, a parking garage, and other amenities at a lot across Broadway from its current resort, which opened in 2019.


The expansion would be linked to the existing casino via a pedestrian walkway.

The 2013 city referendum received broad support from voters, with 5,320 in favor of the Encore project and 833 voting down the proposal, according to CommonWealth magazine.

At the crux of Wednesday’s decision was whether the question passed by voters was specific only to Encore’s current footprint. The ballot question was “Shall the City of Everett permit the operation of a gaming establishment licensed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to be located at the property located on Horizon Way (off ‘Lower Broadway’) in Everett, formerly known as the Monsanto Chemical Site?”

The commission made its decision largely on advice from its advisers and attorneys for both the casino and the City of Everett, both of which support the expansion plans, CommonWealth reports.

Attorneys for Wynn Resorts told the commission on Wednesday through land records and a 1921 city atlas, they learned Merrimac Chemical Company, the predecessor to Monsanto, owned the land on both sides of Broadway and that “it is clear that Monsanto and or its predecessors were historically active both to the west and east of the current Encore site,” according to the news service.


Commissioner Brad Hill also cited language in the casino’s agreement with the city stating how Everett could increase its impact fee if the casino expanded, the outlet reports.

That aspect of the contract indicated “they expected that there would be some type of expansion in that area, not specific to the location that they are currently in,” he said.

“If I was to think of the word casino, if I shut my eyes, and someone told me, ‘Well, there’s going to be an expansion at a casino.’ I would think most people — not all, but most people — would think, ‘Well, if there’s an expansion at a gaming facility, there’s probably going to be an expansion of gaming as well.’ I think that’s what they think. I’m almost sure they do,” Hill said.

“My father had a little clothing store in Ipswich,” he continued. “When he expanded his clothing operation, there was nobody in Ipswich that thought it was going to be anything other than clothing in that expansion. So I think most people in Everett who voted, I think they truly understood what they were voting for.”


With the commission’s vote, the project can now be considered for further review by the commission and other public entities.


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