Encore Boston Harbor Earns State’s First Sports Betting License
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) recently approved the state’s first ever retail sports betting license. The license went to Encore Boston Harbor Casino. The casino bypassed the Plainridge Park Casino and the MGM Springfield Casino for licensing after the MGC delayed both votes due to concerns about the casinos’ operating partnerships.
Delays for Competitors
In Plainridge Park’s case, it was the relationship with Barstool Sports and owner Dave Portnoy. Portnoy’s gambling habits and advertising practices were recently called into question by a New York Times article that gave the MGC more than enough cause for pause.
For MGM Springfield, it was the partnership with BetMGM that delayed the vote. Springfield MGM’s retail application heavily referenced operating partner BetMGM and the company’s online sports betting services. So much so, MGC representatives unanimously decided to delay the retail vote until it votes on BetMGM’s online sports betting application next week.
“I’m not terribly pleased with the number of referrals to the BetMGM mobile betting application,” Commissioner Nakisha Skinner said. “Much of the information that would be necessary to completely and comprehensively consider the MGM Springfield application is essentially missing.”
The Difference for Encore Boston Harbor
Encore Boston Harbor representatives were able to avoid a similar fate by firmly establishing the casino as the license applicant.
“If the casino’s sportsbook ever ran afoul with any regulations or internal controls, it would stand behind its action, not cast responsibility to its vendors,” said Jacqui Krum, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Encore Boston Harbor.
Encore Boston Harbor’s application ensured it checked all the boxes to stand alone as a retail sports betting application, allowing the MGC to make a decision for the first time in three attempts.
“I didn’t feel like I could make a decision on yesterday’s application without also reviewing BetMGM’s application in entirety,” Skinner said. “Here, I do feel comfortable moving forward in making a determination despite not having the WynnBET application in front of me,” she said.
Related news: Encore Boston Harbor Sold For $1.7 Billion
Casino Expansion Plans
Encore Boston Harbor’s operating partner Wynn Resorts is eagerly moving forward with expansion plans to capitalize on the new license. Recently, casino operators filed for gambling rights for the company’s upcoming development adjacent to where the current main casino is located. Wynn had been in conversations with state representatives about the expansion, but the most recent plans are far different from previous communications.
What was supposed to be an additional entertainment venue for the casino has morphed into plans for a 1.8 million square foot megacomplex. It’s expected to include a two-story shopping center with restaurants, two hotels – one with nearly 500 rooms and the other with nearly 300 rooms – a 980-seat theater, and clubs. The most problematic additions to the new development plans, however, is the inclusion of a poker room and a sports betting space.
The expansion is facing legality concerns due to the 2013 local host agreement that seemingly limited the casino’s gambling facilities to the area it is located in now. Currently, the plans have the approval of the City of Everett’s Planning Board and City Council. The MGC will decide on the legality of the expansion in the coming weeks.