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Get a first look at Encore Boston Harbor, opening Sunday

Updated June 21, 2019 - 6:14 pm

EVERETT, Mass. — Just as it looks like a replica of Encore Las Vegas, the inside of Encore Boston Harbor also looks like a replica of its Las Vegas sister property.

Set to open Sunday around 10 a.m., local time, the $2.6 billion, 671-room casino resort is expected to transform New England’s tourism industry.

“If we didn’t know we were in Boston, we would have thought we were in Las Vegas or Macau,” Joseph Greff, an analyst with New York-based J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, said in a recent report to investors.

Massive crowds are expected to jam streets in the Boston suburb Sunday morning when Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria and other dignitaries cut a ribbon at the property to open the resort.

What’s inside

Encore Boston Harbor is a thorough Wynn design, from the inlaid floral tile design on the floors to the crest atop the roof of the bronze-colored glass tower.

“Wynn did a commendable job of making a large casino floor (3,158 slots, 143 table games, and 88 poker tables) feel intimate and neighborhoody and complemented it with a beautiful room product (standard rooms are 645 square feet) and a wide range of restaurants and food-and-beverage outlets (15 in total),” Greff said.

“Many of the same restaurants in Las Vegas are there (Sinatra, Rare – a version of SW, Fratelli, a version of Allegro, and Red8),” he said. “The spa product is another top version of Wynn and Encore Las Vegas, and the outdoor grounds are beautifully appointed to allow easy ingress and egress to the interior of various parts of the resort.”

Encore is expected to be a prominent new site for weddings once it opens.

Words from the CEO

In a press conference Friday at the resort, Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox and DeMaria made it clear they were already planning the company’s next potential move: the development of 11 acres across the street from the resort. Over the past four years, Wynn has acquired more than 82 parcels to secure the land and Maddox said the process now is to determine what is missing with Encore and to fill in the gaps.

“You learn as you go,” Maddox said, adding that the company is considering its area partners.

“Is it hotels? Is it arenas? What is it that needs to go here — and really take our time and work with the right people with the city to come up with a comprehensive master plan that will create one of the best entertainment districts in the Northeast.”

Maddox said an entertainment component may be in store, although the resort won’t be hurting in attracting big-name entertainers. Private performance events are scheduled in the property’s 37,000-square-foot ballroom with Earth, Wind and Fire and Paul Anka scheduled to perform at separate events, and a championship boxing match planned July 12 in the ballroom.

The company also has the option of entertaining guests in luxury boxes at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium and the TD Garden, venues which offer concert events as well as host Boston’s sports teams.

Maddox said he is now focused on integrating Encore Boston Harbor into the corporate portfolio and how it will figure into Wynn’s next foray of developing an integrated resort in Japan.

“It (Encore Boston Harbor) actually is a true part of Wynn Resorts’ strategy,” Maddox said. “This is one of the first integrated resorts in a major metropolitan area and it’s a calling card for other states and other jurisdictions globally to think about putting large-scale integrated resorts that can create real urban renewal and economic progress, which is why we have 25 journalists visiting us from Japan on the 25th (of June), so this is really quite strategic for our company.”

In the hour-long press conference, there was no mention of Steve Wynn or the year-long investigation that punctuated the relationship between the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and the company in the past year. Maddox also flatly declared that “Encore Boston Harbor is not for sale,” after Wynn Resorts Ltd. and MGM Resorts International acknowledged last month that they had discussions about a possible sale.

Photo ban

Wynn officials continued their efforts to whet the appetites of potential guests, prohibiting journalists from photographing the interior of the building, a longstanding Wynn Resorts pre-resort-opening policy.

The ban was lifted later in the day at some spots — the $28.2 million, 2,000-pound mirrored stainless-steel Popeye statue created by artist Jeff Koons, and the floral carousel designed by Preston Bailey.

Thousands of people already got an early look at the resort participating in three test play practice events authorized by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. After the last of the three practice events, Gaming Commissioner Eileen O’Brien, who observed the test nights and was delegated by fellow commissioners to issue opening approval, gave the final regulatory nod needed for Sunday’s public opening.

During the practice event, the commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau, the Information Technology Services Division and the Finance Division worked together to supervise gaming systems and procedures to ensure the integrity of the games, compliance with regulations and overall adherence to Massachusetts’ gaming standards. Winnings generated in the practice nights were donated to local charities.

“As Encore Boston Harbor prepares to open its doors, the MGC remains focused on ensuring that our policies and procedures protect the integrity of the industry and safeguard fair play for patrons,” O’Brien said.

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

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