EVERETT, Mass. (AP) — A brilliantly colored carousel sculpture made of tens of thousands of fake flowers and jewels greets visitors as they step into the opulent lobby of Encore Boston Harbor, the first casino to open in the Boston area and third in Massachusetts.
Twenty-six floors above, in the casino’s swooping, bronze-toned hotel tower, a pair of penthouse villas each boast butler service for a three-bedroom, 3½-bath spread totaling 5,800 square feet across two floors.
And within the casino proper, private gambling salons and high limit tables are perched on a mezzanine, looking down onto an expansive casino floor buzzing with slot machines and blackjack, roulette and craps tables.
Ahead of its much-anticipated Sunday opening, casino officials on Friday toured reporters through the $2.6 billion hotel, casino and entertainment complex in Everett, Massachusetts.
The 33-acre waterfront development, which involved environmental cleanup of a former chemical plant site, is one of the biggest private developments in state history.
It’s also been mired in controversy since Wynn Resorts won the lone state gambling license reserved for the wealthy and populous Boston area nearly five years ago.
New CEO Matthew Maddox, in an interview ahead of the tours, said the company believes the resort — the company’s first outside the gambling centers of Las Vegas and Macau — can be a template for the company’s future and possibly for the casino industry broadly.
He envisions the company continuing to extend its reach beyond the traditional gambling centers of Las Vegas and Macau to major metro areas like New York and Chicago. Maddox said that more than 30 states currently have gambling facilities, but that too many have been built far from major cities like Boston.
“This can be a great example of what’s to come, once other states see the potential for this,” he said. “This isn’t a local casino. This isn’t regional gambling. This is the first time a major city has a five-star, large-scale, integrated resort.”
Massachusetts’ two other casinos are MGM Springfield in the western corner of the state and the Plainridge Park slots parlor near the Rhode Island state line.
In the coming months, Maddox said Wynn Resorts will turn its attention to major expansions and overhauls of its flagship casinos in Las Vegas and Macau. Wynn is also among the casino companies looking to win a license to operate Japan, which recently legalized casino gambling.
“What I see going forward is building these kinds of resorts within the city fabric, not as something an hour and a half away,” he said of the Massachusetts casino. “This can be our calling card to other cities and destinations around the world, really.”
Maddox said the company is also moving past the scandal that nearly crippled it last year: the allegations of sexual misconduct against Steve Wynn, the company’s founder and namesake. Steve Wynn has denied the misconduct allegations, but resigned as CEO and sold off his company shares last year.
Maddox, a longtime confidante of the casino mogul, took over as CEO and oversaw the overhaul of its executive team, its board of directors and its sexual harassment and discrimination policies.
Casino regulators in Massachusetts and Nevada hit the company with more than $50 million in fines and other penalties this year after determining company officials had for years failed to investigate or act on allegations and complaints against Steve Wynn.
The company paid the fines to both states and is in the process of meeting the other mandates imposed by Massachusetts, Maddox said.
Among those are requirements that Maddox take training on leadership, communication and sensitivity. The state’s Gaming Commission will also appoint an independent monitor to track the progress of the company’s internal reforms.
“The controversy is behind us. The transition is finished,” Maddox said. “Our eyes are on the future.”
Follow Philip Marcelo at twitter.com/philmarcelo.