WIll Our Big Casino Bet Pay Off?

Opinion editorial by WBZ NewsRadio political analyst Jon Keller

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Encore on the Mystic casino in Everett opens to the public on Sunday, and I want to wish everyone involved good luck, even though I am not buying the silly “Boston Harbor” branding.

The Wynn corporation has taken a chronic negative – a badly-polluted eyesore of a site – and turned it into something very positive.

Those 5,000-plus jobs are very welcome, as is the projected $100 million plus in tax revenue the casino is expected to produce.

It’s long since been established that Massachusetts residents like to gamble, and the new facility will keep those dollars here rather than losing them to Connecticut and Rhode Island.

While I’ve never been a casino fan, I think that’s a good thing.

But amid all the hoopla and self-congratulation of the casino opening, let me just offer a small reality check.

Encore on the Mystic will be a smash hit at first, as other Wynn properties have been. But some industry observers fear that even as it takes a bite out of the casinos in neighboring states, it will also cannibalize the customer base in Springfield and Plainville.

The big-betting so-called whales from here and abroad who are such a big part of the Wynn business model may flock to Everett, or they may not; that cute water shuttle from the Seaport might not be much fun in January.

And don’t look now, but online and fantasy betting are coming on strong.

I hope the new casino is a big success.

But we’ll be watching to see how many of its promises will really come true.

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Jon Keller is a WBZ TV & Radio political analyst. Read more


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