Encore Boston Harbor, the $2.6 billion luxury integrated resort that opened doors in the Greater Boston area this summer, is now offering free self-parking, property president Bob DeSalvio announced in a statement.
The new parking policy took effect on Friday and mandates free self-parking for all Encore Boston Harbor patrons seven days a week.
The reversed policy ended months of criticism towards the resort’s management for the previous parking fees that many gamblers and guests of the property considered a bit excessive. Encore Boston Harbor charged $22 for six hours and $42 for 24 hours for nearly 3,000 parking spots it offers to guests and visitors.
Encore Boston Harbor, the largest private development project in the history of Massachusetts, features 210,000 square feet of gaming space that is occupied by 3,000 slot machines and 240 table games, a hotel with 671 rooms and suites, a spa, high-end retail space, a number of dining and lounge facilities, and more than 50,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space.
The latest property in the portfolio of Las Vegas gaming and hospitality giant Wynn Resorts opened doors in late June as the second integrated resort with dedicated casino floor on the territory of Massachusetts. MGM Resorts International launched the state’s first commercial casino resort in August 2018 in the City of Springfield. Unlike Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield has been offering free parking for more than 3,400 parking spots since its first day of operation.
How Will Encore’s Free Parking Policy Affect Traffic in Greater Boston?
Commenting on their reversed parking policy, Encore Boston Harbor president Bob DeSalvio said Friday that “free self-parking is an amenity that is highly appreciated by all of our guests” and that “after a very successful weekday introduction, we are pleased to now offer free self-parking seven days a week to show how thankful we are to be Greater Boston’s hometown casino.”
While news about Encore Boston Harbor’s new parking policy pleased many, it brought to surface previous concerns about traffic in the area. It is yet to be seen whether free parking at the gambling resort would have an adverse effect on traffic.
Prior to implementing its new parking rules, Encore Boston Harbor encouraged its patrons not to drive to the property, but instead take the MBTA, shuttle buses run by the casino resort, or ride-sharing services. And guests of the hotel and gaming complex mostly took advantage of those alternative options, which imminently mitigated traffic.
Commenting on the concerns raised over traffic, a spokeswoman for Encore Boston Harbor said that they were not required by state gambling regulators to charge for parking and that they do not anticipate any impact to “midweek commuter traffic patterns” resulting from the new policy.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll also commented on Encore Boston Harbor’s decision to ditch fees for self-parking, saying that the property has “successfully instituted a series of transportation demand measures including shuffles, buses, and ferries.”
Ms. Driscoll added that the property is subject to “rigorous transportation monitoring” and that if gaming regulators spotted any deficiencies in the property’s effort to meet environmental goals, “additional measures could be contemplated such as parking pricing strategies.”
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