On Monday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a budget that will increase the hours for serving alcohol at two planned casinos. These casinos will also be allowed to apply for licensing. The state law currently requires that businesses stop serving drinks by 2 am but with the signage of the budget, the casinos would be allowed to offer drinks two hours longer, until 4 am.
The provision was actually requested by the Wynn Boston Harbor, a new casino set to open by 2019. The provision would also apply to the MGM Springfield, another new casino resort that should open by next year.
While the Governor is on board, it seems certain members of Legislature are none too happy with the change. State Senator Stan Rosenberg has stated that he is opposed to the change in alcohol sales and has safety concerns as well as sees the move as unfair to bars and restaurants that would still have to stop serving liquor by 2am. Rosenberg also was irritated that the measure was added to the House version of the budget which allowed the change to be made without the inclusion of a public hearing.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is also not fond of the alcohol serving changes. According to an interview with Boston Herald Radio, Walsh stated that the new rule would see individuals who have already been out drinking leave the bars at 2 am and rush to the casinos to continue. The mayor is worried about Charlestown in particular as the new Wynn venue will be located in Everett and to get there from Boston, individuals would be traveling through Charlestown.
Wynn Resorts has argued that the change is a necessity as they need to be able to attract customers and meet the expectations of 24-hour alcohol service as compared to what is available in Las Vegas. The 4 am cutoff is seen as a compromise by Wynn.
MGM Springfield reportedly did not play a part in changing the law and has yet to decide if it will be applying the new alcohol sales exemption to their property.
Critics have stated that the new law will provide an unfair advantage to the casino resorts and will take away business from local restaurants and bars, venues that remain tied to the 2 am serving time.