It’s finally here! The Encore Boston Harbor is opening its doors and they’re not closing. The highly anticipated and sometimes controversial casino is ready for business. The sparkly, gambling, hotel and entertainment complex, is bringing the energy and vibe of Las Vegas opulence just over the Boston city line into Everett, MA.
Glitz and glamour are taking over a mainly industrial waterfront, which is home to a subway train repair yard, a water and sewer agency facility and a power plant. The 33-acre waterfront development involved an environmental cleanup of a former chemical plant site and is one of the biggest private developments in state history. Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox said a total of 7,400 construction workers built the resort in less than three years. The 33-acre property also includes a hotel, a vibrant array of dining and nightlife options, boutique shops, conference rooms, a spa, a riverside park, and even an 11,000-jewel-embedded carousel. Encore Boston Harbor cost $2.6 billion and is bringing a level of luxury never before seen in the area!
There is certainly lots of excitement, but it didn’t come without controversy. The Wynn Resorts endured controversy in the year and a half leading up to the opening. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, the company was fined $35 million and CEO Matt Maddox, $500,000, for their failure to adequately respond to allegations of sexual harassment leveled against former Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn over several years. Steve Wynn has denied all harassment accusations but resigned in February 2018 and was fully divested from the company by April 2018. That said, the enthusiasm is back in fully swing.
Since it’s the first of its kind in the greater Boston area, there are lots of questions, precautions, travel and safety concerns to keep in mind. We’re looking at everything you need to know about the marvelously opulent Encore Boston with the help of The Boston Globe.
When does the casino open?
June 23rd at 10 a.m.
How many people are expected, and will it be crazy?
The Wynn Resorts says it has a detailed plan to deal with the opening, ranging from snack and water stands for people in line early to extra buses and boats for patrons, to lots of state and local police officers. Perhaps the biggest concern for the craziness, is traffic and congestion. In advance of opening day, police urged guests not to drive to the casino to avoid traffic backups. There are several options for shuttles by ground and boat. Encore officials expect it to draw 23,000 visitors on an average day and around 50,000 a day during peak weekends.
What are the casino’s hours?
All night. All day. Every day. The front door doesn’t even have a lock, according to Encore Boston Harbor’s president.
Is there parking?
For those who must drive, the casino does have a parking garage priced at $22 for six hours, and $42 for 24 hours, as well as a 700-space lot across the street. Officials also noted that there is no street parking in Everett — so don’t try it. But everyone is encouraged to take public transportation (and there are many options which we will get to later).
How big is Encore?
The $2.6 billion casino resort is 3.1 million square feet, has 671 hotel rooms and suites, and a 17-treatment-room spa.
How much will a night in the casino hotel cost?
It’s not cheap! A Friday and Saturday night in a “premier king” for a weekend in August could clock in at a total of $1,843 (with taxes and fees). But check frequently for updated rates!
Do I have to be 21 to go?
Yes and no. All ages are free to wander the resort, but you have to be 21 to go on the casino floor.
Is there poker?
Yes. There are 88 poker tables.
Are there slots?
Tons. 3,158 to be exact.
What kinds of table games do they have?
All the ones you’ve heard of and lots that you haven’t. Blackjack, Roulette, Casino War, Mini Baccarat, Pai-Gow Tiles, Let It Ride, Crazy Four Poker, Three Card Poker, and more, according to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Can I bet on the Pats or the Sox?
Not yet. It’s been more than a year since a Supreme Court decision legalized sports gambling beyond Nevada. But even as other states have moved quickly on the sports betting front, the Massachusetts Legislature is taking a bit more time.
Do I tip?
At the poker/blackjack/craps table: Yes. It’s nice to give the dealer a tip, but supervisors can’t take tips. Drink servers: Yes. $1 per drink is customary.
Are drinks free when I’m gambling?
How late will alcohol be served?
2 a.m. except for people who are actively gambling. They can be served until 4 a.m.
I’m concerned my friend or loved one has a gambling addiction — what should I do?
You can encourage them to sign up for the state’s voluntary self-exclusion program — more information here. They can sign a form that will prohibit them from the gaming floors of all Massachusetts casinos for the length of time they choose. The state Gaming Commission says someone who signs up will be escorted from the area if they show up. If they sneak on and win big, they won’t be able to collect any winnings and will forfeit whatever chips they have.
What about the money?
State lawmakers have projected Encore Boston Harbor would generate $540 million in casino revenue in its first year and about $98 million in tax revenue in the first fiscal year of operations. The Massachusetts gaming tax rate is nearly four times greater than Nevada’s at 25 percent. By law, that money will fund a variety of areas, from local aid to cities and towns to the state’s emergency savings fund.
Will Encore have Las Vegas-style shows?
No. Wynn Resorts executives say they have decided to partner with local cultural and sports organizations to provide entertainment for guests.
Can I smoke tobacco products there?
Not inside but there is a designated outdoor smoking area.
Marijuana is legal in Massachusetts. Can I consume pot at the casino?
No. No exceptions, the casino says.
Who owns and operates Encore?
Wynn Resorts, a publicly traded company that also owns and operates Wynn Las Vegas, Encore Las Vegas, and casinos in Macau.
Does the casino have a coffee shop?
There’s a Dunkin’ with a marble floor and an “eight-head cold beverage tap system that includes Nitro Cold Brew” right off of the casino.
How many jobs is the Encore bringing to the area?
The resort brings thousands of jobs to the state. Around 135,000 people applied for positions at Encore Boston Harbor and there are 5,000-plus employees.
What are some rules and precautions?
Visitors are being reminded of several security policies. Large backpacks are prohibited, as is outside food or drink. Weapons, marijuana, selfie sticks, and coolers are also not allowed at the casino.
What are the casino and gaming details?
According to Boston.com and Doug Williams, the head of table games for Encore Boston Harbor, says the gaming floor includes precisely 3,158 slot machines — from the classic mechanical reel games to digital video machines. Slot machines take up the majority of the first floor below 40-foot-high ceilings and range from penny slots to $500 minimums. According to Encore’s website, the offerings include popular themed machines, including Monopoly, “Wheel of Fortune,” and “Game of Thrones.”
There are the table games: 143 in total ranging from blackjack to craps to baccarat to roulette to war. The first floor will have stadium gaming with terminals and $5 minimums for novice gamblers, as well as dealers willing to teach newcomers. Each table also includes phone chargers and complimentary drink service. Most first-floor tables will have at least $25 minimums during Encore’s first few weeks, due to the expected opening wave of guests. Tables on the second floor — which are more spread out and surrounded by big screen TVs — will usually have minimums starting around $100 and ranging up to $500. The poker room is also located on the second floor, equipped with 88 tables (including 11 high-limit tables) and buy-ins from $100 to $1,500, Williams says.
Finally, there are six private gambling rooms for the so-called high rollers, which Williams says require an average $1,000 minimum. According to Encore’s website, four of the rooms overlook the main casino floor. All of them are staffed by the “the most experienced dealers from around the U.S.” and a team of butlers.
Williams says that, due to Massachusetts state law, guests cannot take out credit card cash advances at the casino and tables will not accept checks. That means visitors should bring cash. Or they can take out money from Encore’s on-site ATMs.
What is there to do besides gamble?
According to Boston.com, Encore will have plenty of non-gambling entertainment options as well. The casino’s flagship nightclub, Memoire, will open next week with shows from Steve Aoki and DJ Diesel (Shaquille O’Neal) and is open to general audiences. Encore has also signed a partnership to host boxing matches beginning next month. Additionally, the resort features a six-acre waterfront park — also open 24/7 — that is linked to surrounding riverside paths; a hair salon with manicure, pedicure, and makeup services; a barbershop; and a collection of upscale clothing and beauty stores.
What’s the best way to get there? Probably the hottest topic of them all!
According to Boston.com, in preparation for its opening, Encore and Everett officials are urging guests to take public transportation options — and not drive — to the casino. They’re expecting up to 50,000 people to visit on their busiest days! Check out all the options and alternatives:
If you have to drive to the casino, there’s indoor parking available. It costs $22 for six hours, or $42 for 24 hours. There’s also valet parking — $29 for up to six hours, $49 for up to 24 hours. Nearby, the casino has a couple of off-site lots – a 700-space community lot across the street at 31 Mystic St. in Everett, the cost is to be determined, and the Rivergreen lot at 1 Rivergreen Drive in Everett — no cost for up to the first six hours and $5 for six to 24 hours; one of the casino’s shuttles runs for free to this lot.
Here are all of the other ways to get to the casino, whether it’s by rail, road, or water:
From within Boston:
- Take the Orange Line to the Wellington or Malden Center stops and then board the casino’s free shuttle. Visitors can also get off at Sullivan Station and then use bus routes 104, 105, or 109 to get to the casino.
- Take the Silver Line SL3 to Chelsea. A free shuttle will pick people up at the casino’s own bus stop next to Market Basket.
- Take the Blue Line from Wonderland and get off at the Aquarium stop. Encore has a ferry from Long Wharf. There’s also a ferry from the World Trade Center to the casino. They both cost $7 one-way. Passengers can also ride the ferry from the World Trade Center to Long Wharf, which costs $5.
- By bicycle, the casino says it has “ample bicycle parking,” as well as a BlueBikes dock.
- The Amtrak Downeaster runs to North Station. There, Encore’s transportation guide suggests taking the Orange Line to the Wellington stop. A free shuttle picks guests up there.
- By commuter rail, take the Lowell or Haverhill lines into Malden Station to pick up the Orange Line to the Wellington stop, where the free shuttle awaits.
- Take the Newburyport commuter rail line to Chelsea Station. From there, walk ½ mile to Encore’s shuttle bus stop in Chelsea next to the Market Basket.
South of Boston and Cape Cod:
- The casino is offering a “Rockland Premium Motor Coach,” one of three regional shuttles from Park and Ride locations, the guide says — it costs $14 for a round trip.
- The casino also suggests taking the commuter rail to the Orange Line to pick up the free shuttle — or driving to Quincy to pick up the T.
West of Boston:
- Encore is also offering a motor coach from Millbury. It costs $14 for a round trip.
- The commuter rail to the Orange Line to the free shuttle is another option.
New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont:
- Another motor coach is being offered by the casino with pick-up in Londonderry, New Hampshire. It costs $14 for a round trip.
- Take the Amtrak’s Downeaster train or the Newburyport commuter rail line to North Station and then take the Orange Line to the Wellington Stop for the free shuttle.
- Drive to Wonderland station and take the Blue Line to the Aquarium to board the casino’s ferry — or transfer to the Orange Line for the free shuttle.
- Use the Providence/Stoughton commuter rail line to Back Bay, then take the Orange Line to Wellington to use the casino’s free shuttle.
Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York
- If arriving at Back Bay Station, use the Orange Line to get to the casino’s free shuttle.
- If going to South Station, board the Red Line and then transfer to the Orange Line at Downtown Crossing to eventually access the free shuttle.
Logan International Airport:
- The casino suggests using the Blue Line, then picking up the Orange Line via State Street to Wellington for free shuttle access.
- There’s a Massport Route 66 shuttle bus to the Logan Dock. There, visitors can take a water taxi to the casino.
WOW!!! The Encore Boston is being called the first “true Vegas casino of the North East.” Will you be going to experience it?