My, My………we have seen the influence of MGM on the Massachusetts legislature and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, now the other casino giant has gotten it’s way through the back door.
Let’s just say it, “Massachusetts looks to casino gambling as the golden goose, with MGM Springfield & Wynn Boston Harbor the two golden eggs for the states revenue woes.”
And why not? MGM & Wynn are both giants in the casino industry and very influential. They have been extremely successful in building some of the largest and most beautiful casino resorts in this country and around the world. What state wouldn’t want either of the two to set up house and add revenue to the state coffers?
What’s amazing is that Wynn Boston Harbor pushed to include Gov. Charlie Baker to include a 4 a.m. liquor license for casinos in the state budget. Baker signed off on a Budget that included the special license in an “Outside Area” of the budget. Voila! In a state without the ability to have a “happy hour” anywhere in the state – in a state full of Puritanical “Blue Laws” in its over 250 year history – Steve Wynn has changed a long standing liquor law in one year.
Extended Drinking Until 4:00 a.am for Casino Players
According to Seth Daniel of the Charlestown Patriot Bridge, “Local officials responded with some concerns, including Charlestown State Rep. Dan Ryan – who said this should be the beginning of a discussion with the communities around the casino, and not a “final verdict…….The 4 a.m. license in the budget does not yet mean Wynn is free and clear to get the extended license – which goes beyond the normal 2 a.m. closing by two hours, but requires anyone drinking in those hours to be actively playing a casino game. The budget item only allows the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) to grant such a casino license if it deems such a move appropriate.”
So, Wynn’s influence on Gov. Baker made it possible to drink until 4:00 a.m. as long as they are playing gambling.
This change is expected to help Wynn & MGM compete with the other mega resorts in New England. But Las Vegas, where you can walk to and fro at 4:00 (actually 24 hours) and not get in your car to leave is a totally different matter.
“Wynn Boston Harbor will attract tourists from across the country and around the world who are expecting a late-night resort experience,” said Bob DeSalvio, president of Wynn Boston Harbor. “This legislation allows us to deliver an enjoyable stay for guests while maximizing job creation and tax revenue to the Commonwealth. It’s important to note that the extended two-hour service is limited only to patrons who are actively playing on the casino floor and will not apply to any other restaurants and lounges located in our resort, in the City of Everett or in any of our surrounding communities.”
Opposition to this extension seems large.
- Senator Stan Rosenberg was adamant about the unfair advantage for the casinos. “…when you talk about entertainment venues and bars and restaurants, there is some impact of it being pulled from those main street venues to the casinos.”
- Steve Clark, the Director of Government Affairs for the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, said restaurants should also have the option of serving alcohol until 4 a.m. He said he fears that restaurants and bars could lose business to casinos, which will be able to serve alcohol (free of charge) for up to two hours after last call at most bars under the new law.
- Boston anti-casino activist Celeste Myers said, “You now have all these people drinking all but four hours a day, filtering into the neighborhood.”
- Brian Kyes, the police chief in neighboring Chelsea and president of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association said he understands the push for more casino tax revenue, but “at what expense?” “My concern is people drinking late leaving the casino floor and getting into a motor vehicle. My concern is for public safety.”
- Karen Locascio of Dorchester said the lack of public transportation is another drawback. “If you’re drinking at that time and you want to get home, we know the T’s not operating past two,” she said.
Future Questions Raised
How invested is Massachusetts to pleasing MGM & Wynn – and at what cost?
Will restaurants in Massachusetts be allowed the same extension of hours?
Will police departments now be forced in more expenditures for more officers, or be stretched thin to cover the added concern for drunk driving?
Will this be further discussed in legislation and by the MGC to 1) give individual towns control over implementation, 2) examine the effects of such a change?
Crazy Alcohol Laws in Massachusetts
In a state where: (according to boston.com “Weird Laws in Massachusetts” ) “It is illegal in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts to scare a pigeon” and “Tomatoes may not be used in the production of clam chowder,” where does Massachusetts stand on alcohol sales. Here are some crazy Mass. laws concerning drinking:
- Stores still can’t sell booze before 10am on Sundays. Even Champagne!
- Boston bartenders will frown at you if you try to order group refills. One person can’t get more than two drinks at once.
- As recently as 2000, there were a full twenty dry towns where drinking was not able to be bought.
- Massachusetts forbids businesses from promoting booze with happy hour promotions.
Which brings us full circle to the 4:00 a.m. extension. Let’s see how much influence Wynn & MGM actually have.