The $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino resort promises to breathe new life into an industrial area in decline. The site of the new casino, which opens June 23, lies in an industrial zone home to a water and sewer agency, a subway repair yard, and a power plant.
The resort’s curved, bronze-colored structure mirrors the glitz and glamor of Wynn’s signature properties in Vegas and Macau, in stark contrast to the industrial zone nearby. Massachusetts leaders have high hopes that the industrial ashes of yesteryear can give rise to a casino Phoenix.
The Encore Boston Harbor imparts opulence and splendor to a former industrial region in decline, stamped with the typical casino tycoon style evident in Wynn’s dominant presence in Las Vegas and Macau. The megaresort group operates the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Las Vegas on the Vegas Strip, and the Wynn Macau, Encore at Wynn Macau, and Wynn Palace on the Cotai Strip in Macau.
Resort visitors will be ferried by luxurious water shuttles to the 5-star resort, with rooms starting at $650 per night. A giant carousel sculpture composed of 11,000 jewels and 83,000 flowers welcomes casino visitors at the entrance. The Encore Boston Harbor meeting rooms greet visitors with a $28 million statue of Popeye by artist Jeff Koons.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria holds high hopes for the region, hoping to abandon the industrial ghosts of the past in favor of a thriving waterfront resort town future. “We were ready for something like this,” DeMaria said, “Everett will no longer be that place where the scrap yards and the used car lots and the power plant are.”
The major part of the revival of the industrial port region is the massive environmental cleanup and renewal in the area. The cleanup of a 33-acre former chemical plant and its shoreline gave way to a 6-acre park with harbor walk and gardens. The $70-million project will pave the way for public access to the city’s waterfront for the first time in a century.
In addition to the efforts by the local authorities, Wynn Resorts has also purchased a number of houses and businesses surrounding the new resort—and destroyed them. The resort giant is already anticipating future redevelopment in the area surrounding their flagship casino, and if the Vegas Strip and Cotai Strip are any indicator of Wynn’s success, there could be a Boston Harbor Strip in the very near future.
Whales in the Harbor
The opulent, bespoke entertainment experience is the main pull of any Wynn resort. Spending millions on the décor and art bling is par for the course, and serves as a prime factor in predicting the draw. The resort group strives to provide a top tier experience worthy of the world’s highest rollers. One expert in the Northeast casino region analyzed the draw factor.
“Wynn is clearly banking on their ability to attract Asian ‘whales’ and other wealthy gamblers from around the world,” said Clyde Barrow, a political science professor at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. The Asian ‘whales’ are high rollers from China’s wealthiest classes who frequent Macau and Vegas for gambling tourism.
Regional Gaming Revenue
Sceptics suspect that the new resort won’t meet its revenue goals, citing the poor performance of Northeast region casino resorts over the past year. However, experts predict that the property will pull in around $600 million in gambling revenue the first year alone.
Wynn Resorts has invested in shuttles to bring in an estimated 8 million gamblers per year. As there are no public transport options in the area at the moment, the burden of the cost of transporting patrons lies on the resort giant. 25% of the resort’s yearly income will go to local governments in the form of taxes and gaming licensing fees.
But Wynn holds a virtual monopoly on gaming in the region, as the sole owner of a gambling license for an affluent and populous region. The only competition to the Encore Boston Harbor is more than an hour’s drive away.
In the wake of sexual misconduct allegations involving CEO Steve Wynn, the resort has paid $55 million in fines to authorities in Nevada and Massachusetts. Steve Wynn has since resigned his position as CEO, and Wynn Resorts pushes ahead with the business of building big money resorts all over the world.
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