Construction Plans for Wynn Resorts in Massachusetts Put on Hold

Encore Boston Harbor

Wynn Resorts has gone back to the drawing board concerning its plans for a new project in Massachusetts. The parent company originally planned to build a new resort across from its Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett, MA. Wynn is not the only casino developer to reconsider its construction plans in the Codfish State.

The project was supposed to begin construction later this year, with hopes of opening in 2024. However, Wynn Resorts announced the decision to reevaluate their plans earlier this year. The change of heart came after questions arose about the project’s connection to the Encore casino. If the project is determined to be part of the Encore casino’s “gaming establishment”, then it will be subject to regulation by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Officials from Wynn Resorts did not give a timetable for how long its review could take. The company also has other plans for the construction site to consider. If the resort is subject to MGC control, that could also affect future construction plans. An increase in COVID infections has also contributed to the delay in construction.

Original Wynn Resorts Plans

The MGC was set to begin reviewing plans for the project last week. However, on the day the review was scheduled to begin, Wynn Resorts pulled the plug so they could reconsider the project. The casino resort developer also operates a casino hotel in Las Vegas and two in Macau.

Encore Boston Harbor already features over 2,700 slot machines, 185 table games, and a hotel. There are also private poker rooms and event spaces available. Guests can also access onsite dining options and a spa. The expansion project aimed to add even more amenities for guests.

Wynn Resorts owns land across from the Encore casino. Previous plans included building a 1,800 seat entertainment venue. Officials also planned to build approximately 20,000 square feet of new restaurant space. There were also plans for a new parking structure that would add 2,200 parking spots. The original plans were designed as part of a larger goal of building a Lower Broadway entertainment district.

Why Construction Plans are on Hold

Officials from Wynn Resorts decided to pause the evaluation process to reassess their plans. The decision came after questions started to arise about the connection of the new project to the existing casino. It is not clear what direction Wynn Resorts plans to take the projection in going forward.

The decision to reassess the construction project could also be attributed to recent financial troubles at other Wynn Resorts casinos. Wynn’s casinos in Las Vegas are still trying to rebuild from losses from the pandemic. Wynn Resort Macau has also been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. However, recent licensing news has caused stock prices to increase.

Wynn’s other companies have also been struggling lately. For example, Wynn Finance was recently downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service. The decrease in Wynn’s rating is a result of concerns about the developer’s ability to recover from several ongoing issues abroad. Wynn will likely need to rely heavily on its US casinos to make up for the shortcomings of its foreign operations.

What’s Next for Encore?

With the evaluation process on hold, Encore and other Wynn officials will reassess their plans for the project. Officials from Encore have indicated to the MGC that they will resubmit their plans once they are finalized.

Our meetings with the Development team over these past few months have helped to shape the project throughout its design… of a Destination District in Everett’s Lower Broadway area,”
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria

Wynn will not be the only organization reworking the plans for the project. The casino resort developer has been working closely with Everett officials on the plans for the project. City and company officials are hopeful that the expansion will be the catalyst for transforming the area.

Massachusetts Gambling Laws

The commonwealth of Massachusetts adopted its Expanded Gaming Act in 2011, paving the way for land-based casinos. In the decade since then, a total of three brick-and-mortar casinos have opened. Now, legislators are debating whether to add sports betting to the list of gambling options in the state.

Gambling in Massachusetts is overseen by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). The MGC was created by the passing of the Expanded Gaming Act in 2011. Funding for the MGC is generated from the gaming industry’s profits. There is no funding from taxpayers.

On top of overseeing the gaming industry, the MGC also oversees several initiatives designed to promote responsible gambling. Some of the programs MGC has implemented include GameSense, a program that offers tips to players about healthy gaming habits. All three of the state’s casinos feature GameSense Info centers.

The MGC has also released PlayMyWay at the casino in Plainville, with plans to release it all the state’s casinos. PlayMyWay allows players to track the amount of money they spend on electronic gaming machines. Massachusetts also offers players the option of enrolling in the Voluntary Self-Exclusion program to help prevent harmful gambling habits.

Conclusion

The plans for a revitalized entertainment district in Everett, MA have been put on hold. Wynn Resorts announced last week that it is reassessing its construction plans. Wynn was supposed to submit plans for a new entertainment venue, restaurant, and parking garage last week. The project, which is to be constructed near Wynn’s Encore Boston Harbor casino, was supposed to begin construction later this year.

Now, plans for the site are being reevaluated due to concerns about the role of the MGC’s jurisdiction over the project. Wynn’s financial issues from its other casino resorts may have also played a part in the developer hitting the brakes. Regardless of the reason, it appears that city officials will be working closely with officials from Wynn and Encore to create the new plans.

We are pleased with the progress we’re making on designing a development plan that will act as a springboard to create a Lower Broadway Entertainment District. We continue to evolve that plan and will present it to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission at the appropriate time.” -Encore spokesperson

Wynn’s six-acre project was supposed to be finished in 2024. However, officials have not given a new timeline for when they plan to present a proposal to the MGC. In the meantime, legislators will have plenty on their plates to deal with. Massachusetts has yet to legalize sports betting, but that could change by the end of the year.  The ongoing pandemic has also presented issues for lawmakers trying to keep the commonwealth’s economy afloat.