Healey On Encore Casino: This Is An Industry That Makes Money Exploiting People
June 24, 2019
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on Monday continued her criticism of Wynn Resorts’ Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett, which opened on Sunday, citing traffic congestion and her displeasure with the casino's 4 a.m. liquor license.
Healey was a vocal critic of the initial ballot proposition that led to the two casinos currently operating in Massachusetts, and on Monday, doubled down on her dissatisfaction with the Encore’s opening.
“This is an industry that really makes its money through exploiting people's willingness to gamble,” Healey said in an interview with Boston Public Radio.
At the opening, Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein joined Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox in the festivities, and Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria proudly boasted that the city, “will no longer be the back door to the city of Boston.”
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Advocates like DeMaria have praised the placement of the Encore in Everett by pointing out that the company spent $70 million on environmental cleanup to transform its location from a contaminated former chemical plant dump into a venue that gives Everett residents access to the waterfront for the first time in decades.
Healey, however, said that behind the fanfare, Wynn Resorts has done little to help the city of Everett. She is concerned that the casino’s opening is going to overburden an already stressed transit system and contribute to the region's growing traffic crisis.
“Traffic and transportation is such a breakdown point across our state and certainly coming into and out of Boston, and really nothing has been done other than prettying up some areas with new pavement and painting some lines,” Healey said. “Nothing has been done to address the real transportation concerns that exist within that greater area.”
She also pilloried the MGC’s decision to grant a 4 a.m. liquor license to the casino, which is only applicable to those who are gambling. Healey said she could see no positive gain from the decision and that it was unfair to other businesses who are only allowed to serve alcohol until 2 a.m.
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“Why we’re giving that benefit to the casino and not our own public establishments, I don’t understand,” Healey said. “I [don’t] think it’s a good idea to actually condition that on the requirement that you can only drink as long as you’re gambling, which to me seems really perverse in terms of incentives there.”
Though she is not happy with the idea of Boston turning into a casino town, Healey said that having experienced two other casino openings in the state, she’s confident she and her team of attorneys are well suited to handle any issues that could arise from the casino’s opening.