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State regulators take up Encore oversight following big bash in crowded suite

The casino says it's put measures in place to make sure COVID-19 safety rules aren't violated again.

In addition to the crowded party in a hotel suite that violated COVID-19 safety regulations, there have been two violent incidents connected to Encore Boston Harbor this month.
In addition to the crowded party in a hotel suite that violated COVID-19 safety regulations, there have been two violent incidents connected to Encore Boston Harbor this month.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission plans to discuss oversight of Encore Boston Harbor on Thursday as it meets for the first time since a large party in a hotel suite drew a State Police response and spurred the Everett casino to tighten its COVID-19 safety measures.

The party early in the morning of Aug. 16 drew about 100 people, according to State Police. Under state standards aimed at controlling the coronavirus pandemic, indoor gatherings are limited to 25. Encore has said it broke up the gathering as soon as staff became aware that it was happening, and that it has since made changes to ensure such an episode does not happen again.

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Gaming Commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein will make a statement about the commission’s oversight and the casino when the panel begins its scheduled meeting for this week, according to a news release from the commission.

Encore said it will issue a $3,000 fine to anyone who has more than four people in a hotel room or eight people in a two-bedroom suite. Other measures include stepped up security patrols and aggressive monitoring of the supplies ― such as alcoholic beverages ― being brought up to rooms.

“The safety and well-being of our guests and employees are paramount,” Encore spokesman Eric Kraus said in a statement. “These enhanced measures will help ensure our registered guests are enjoying themselves in a safe and responsible environment.”

The raucous party wasn’t the only trouble at the casino this month ― two violent incidents connected to guests have taken place. On Aug. 16, the same night as the party,, a man was shot after leaving the casino. On Aug. 20, a 30-year-old Natick man was arrested and charged with stabbing another patron.

Previous research released by the gambling commission concluded that, at least in its first six months, the casino led to an increase in crime in Everett. But researchers found that those figures were “not notably high given the sheer number of people that Encore hosts” on what was formerly a contaminated industrial site closed to the public (and thus ostensibly crime-free). Encore opened in June 2019.

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Encore is seeking to minimize any safety problems as it tries to build momentum during the pandemic, which has severely hurt the gambling industry in Massachusetts. The state’s three casinos were closed for nearly four months at the height of the outbreak and are still operating at reduced capacity, with limited table games and fewer amenities.


Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @andyrosen.