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Encore Boston Harbor casino gets approval to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. to ‘active gamblers’

The Encore Boston Harbor casino will be allowed to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. but only to people who are “actively gambling,” giving the Everett property the latest closing time of any nightspot in Eastern Massachusetts.
The Encore Boston Harbor casino will be allowed to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. but only to people who are “actively gambling,” giving the Everett property the latest closing time of any nightspot in Eastern Massachusetts.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File 2019/Globe Staff

The Encore Boston Harbor casino will be allowed to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. but only to people who are “actively gambling,” giving the Everett property the latest closing time of any nightspot in Eastern Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved the liquor license for the casino during its meeting Wednesday as regulators and the Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts prepare for the opening of the $2.6 billion hotel/restaurant/casino and its 5,800 jobs.

The casino is set to open its doors at 10 a.m. June 23.

The casino still will be required to maintain the statewide bar closing time of 2 a.m. at bars in restaurants and other entertainment venues inside the property. The first drink can be poured at 8 a.m., the commission decided.

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In a 4-1 vote, the majority agreed to let the casino provide complimentary drinks until 4 a.m. for gamblers still placing bets on the casino floor.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who opposed the later shutdown to serving of alcohol, grudgingly accepted the commission’s decision.

“I am not surprised,” he said. “It seems like they are supporting everything the casino asks for. . . . That’s fine. There’s nothing we can do about it.”

Walsh said he hopes that the casino will be vigorous during those two hours preventing people from getting behind the wheel — and then driving through Everett into Boston while drunk.

“I just want them to be very careful,’’ he said. “I just hope they enforce the law.”

Brian Kyes, Chelsea Police chief and president of the Massachusetts Major City Police Chiefs, said “the obvious concern” was “the potential dangerous impact it could have on our roadways for those that have either been overserved or who may become impaired for other reasons and then make the ill -informed decision to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.”

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“We don’t feel that public safety should be compromised for those that choose to participate in gaming activities until the early morning hours,” he said in a statement.

Commissioner Eileen O’Brien voted against the 4 a.m. last call, saying she wished the issue would have been raised long before the casino’s fast-approaching opening date, State House News reported.

A similar 4 a.m. extension is in place for MGM Resorts’ Springfield casino, the Globe has reported.

State Police Detective Lieutenant Brian Connors, an investigator who works with the Gaming Commission, said his team has not seen major issues with alcohol service between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. in Springfield.

“The short answer is we haven’t had a significant period of issues with that service. That being said, that night shift is our busiest shift and it certainly does lengthen the night for people,” he said. “But I wouldn’t directly attribute any of the issues we’re dealing with on a consistent basis to that 2 to 4 service.”

Commissioners expressed concern that early morning revelers would find their way to Everett and its later closing time, but a commission staffer said there have been only three incidents at the Springfield casino where late arrivers were served alcohol, and casino management quickly brought an end to it.

The vote for the late last call comes after Wynn and MGM both publicly announced they were no longer actively negotiating the sale of Encore Boston Harbor to MGM.

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Material from State House News Service was used in this report. John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.