weather icon Clear

Encore Boston Harbor opening won’t be a fireworks-lit extravaganza

The opening of a new megaresort in Las Vegas often makes people think, “Glitz! VIPs! Fireworks!”

Except for the occasional soft opening, most big casino debuts over the years have been in the evening and have involved people lining up for blocks well before the doors open. They hope to be a part of history by being among the first to play a slot machine or a hand of blackjack in a brand-new, squeaky-clean facility.

Things will be a little bit different next week when the doors open for the first time at Encore Boston Harbor, Wynn Resorts Ltd.’s $2.6 billion entry into the New England gaming market.

No evening-hour, fireworks-lit extravaganza there. Encore will open at 10 a.m. on a Sunday, presumably when most of the descendants of the Puritans are in church.

Encore executives acknowledged last week that the timing of the opening was by design. They fully expect a rush of gamblers to jam the resort, and, considering most will be unfamiliar with the ingress and egress of the place, they don’t want patrons to have to compete with normal weekday commuter traffic to get to it or make suburban Boston rush hour worse.

Anticipating a crowd queue hours before the doors open, the 10 a.m. startup was chosen so that people who do wait outside won’t be doing so during the heat of the day. Snack and water stands are planned.

Massachusetts gaming regulation is much different from how resorts are treated in Nevada. While members of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission ask questions about all the details of a resort opening, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission requires full reports and must sign off on everything about the resort, including all the nongaming amenities.

For example, Encore will be required to market Massachusetts tourism within its building as a condition of its license. Wynn Resorts will be required to have space for and to implement GameSense, a responsible gaming program developed by the British Columbia Lottery Corp. and adopted by the Massachusetts commission for all licensees. MGM Resorts International embraced it for its MGM Springfield casino, which opened in August, and liked it well enough to implement it at all its domestic properties.

One of the reasons Massachusetts focuses so much attention on its licensees is that a commercial casino license in the state is a rare privilege. Once Encore opens, only three commercial casinos will exist in the state, including a slot-machine parlor operated by Penn National Gaming at the Plainridge Park Race Track in central Massachusetts. (There is also one tribal casino.) Three geographically controlled integrated resorts are authorized in the state’s Expanded Gaming Act of 2011: MGM Springfield in the west, Encore in the east and another site that could be identified in the southeast portion of the state. Companies are limited to owning one casino each.

That’s obviously a big difference from Clark County, which has 215 nonrestricted licensees — 170 that generate more than $1 million in revenue and 44 of them on the Strip. Several companies have multiple properties here.

While the Strip sometimes isn’t the easiest place to get around, the concern in Boston is that key roads and highways leading to Encore also are important commuter routes.

Encore has the bonus of being on Boston Harbor, and boat access is one of the transportation options for the resort. But one of the entrances to the harbor passes beneath a drawbridge. A big boat bringing patrons to the casino would stall road traffic as the bridge is raised and lowered.

Encore officials said they’re spending more than $1 million on advertising just to educate the people about various transportation options. That campaign begins in earnest this week.

Branded shuttle buses and motor coaches will move people from remote parking lots to the resort, mirroring a strategy successfully used at MGM Springfield 10 months ago. Encore President Robert DeSalvio said last week the shuttles would stay in place for as long as necessary to mitigate traffic problems.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Live music and EDM dominate the night on day 2 of A’Le’Innstock
After sunset bands rocked the crowds at A’Le’Innstock in Rachel, Nevada on the second night of the event.
iPhone 11 Release
Local Las Vegas long time Apple product consumer shares her excitement for the new iPhone 11 release Downtown Summerlin. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lihi Levin talks about a mobil app Dropit - VIDEO
Lihi Levin, regional manager at Dropit Shopping, talks about a mobil app Dropit. The app lets customers leave their shopping bags at a store then have them delivered the same day to their home or hotel so they can shop without carrying multiple bags all day. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
North Las Vegas company prepares for Mars - VIDEO
Robert Bigelow and his Bigelow Aerospace manufacturing facility played host to eight NASA astronauts and 60 engineers this week getting to know the company’s B330 autonomous, expandable space station. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas developer talks about a new apartment complex called “the yoU”
Frank Marretti lll, founder of G2 Capital Development, talks about his new apartment complex called “the yoU” near UNLV. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Steel cables will hoist roof at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
Stainless steel cables are being put into place at Allegiant Stadium to begin the process of putting the roof on the 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas. Stadium Chief Operating Officer Don Webb explains how the cables will be used to get the roof put on the future home of the Raiders and UNLV football. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The last remaining Sigma Derby game in Las Vegas
Derek Stevens, owner of the D Las Vegas, talks about the last remaining Sigma Derby horse racing game in Las Vegas inside his casino floor. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich Review
Janine Blake of Las Vegas gives her review of the new Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich at the restaurant’s location on west Bonanza Road on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019,
SuperZoo 2019 takes over Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas
SuperZoo 2019 show for pet retailers brought pet products of all description to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MSG Sphere at The Venetian to cost $1.2B plus
Scheduled to open in 2021, it is expected to be busier than Madison Square Garden in New York. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Favorite products from SuperZoo 2019
Some of the fun and interesting pet products on display at the SuperZoo in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Convention Day 3
The fashion trade show MAGIC, held Monday through Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Las Vegas - Day One
The biannual MAGIC convention show opened Monday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant celebrates naming deal with tailgate party
Allegiant Air employees celebrate with a tailgate party after the company’s naming deal with the Raiders for the new Las Vegas stadium.
Nevada's sportsbook operators welcome competition
Sportsbook operators from near and far are looking to get into in the established Nevada market, experts say. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a first look of MSG Sphere construction in Las Vegas
Representatives of The Madison Square Garden Company give the first glimpse of progress Tuesday of the under-construction MSG Sphere — a first-of-its-kind performance venue with high-tech audio and visual capabilities.
There's a new place to play board games in Las Vegas
Matt Smiciklas, co-owner of Boarding School Games, talks about the new Las Vegas business that he co-owns with Emily Labejof. Dedicated tabletop gamers can choose from more than 500 games to play for free in-store. The doors open to the public Saturday, July 20, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Renovations at the STRAT
Analysts say the $140 million renovation project at The STRAT, formerly the known as the Stratosphere, could help the hotel-casino compete with the evolving north side of the Las Vegas Strip. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
SLS Las Vegas will become Sahara Las Vegas
Owner Alex Meruelo announced during a special event at the SLS Las Vegas that the hotel-casino will become Sahara Las Vegas in its next iteration. Meruelo said $150 million dollars will be spent to renovate the current property. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Aircraft hinge maker moves to "business friendly" Nevada
Doug Silva, president of Aircraft Hinge, Inc. in Las Vegas, makes every type of hinge for every type of airplane. Silva talks about his company and why he moved it to Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto