SARATOGA SPRINGS --
The New York Racing Association has entered into a partnership with the newly opened Encore Boston Harbor, a gaming resort destination in Greater Boston.
Under the terms of a new partnership between the two, NYRA will be promoting the Encore casino through advertising and other marketing efforts at Saratoga Race Course in the 1863 Club, a brand-new three-story climate-controlled clubhouse that debuted last week at the track, aimed at providing a new luxury experience at the track.
Encore Boston Harbor is a new casino resort opened by national casino operator Wynn Resorts in Everett, Mass. With casino gambling now legal in Massachusetts, the $2.6 billion facility, also described as luxury-focused, opened just three weeks ago on the Mystic River waterfront, less than three miles from downtown Boston.
The Saratoga meet has always drawn racing fans from the Boston area -- less than four hours away -- and could draw more die-hard fans with the Massachusetts Bay Area's track, Suffolk Downs, having closed permanently on June 30, after an 84-year run.
"We're excited to partner with Encore Boston Harbor this summer at Saratoga Race Course. The luxury resort and casino is an ideal match for our new hospitality venue," NYRA CEO & President Dave O'Rourke said in a press release. "Wynn Resorts has a proven track record of providing the finest hotels, dining and gaming the casino industry has to offer. We look forward to welcoming racing fans to the second floor of the 1863 Club in partnership with Encore Boston Harbor."
In addition to its presence at the 1863 Club, Encore Boston Harbor will present two races during the Saratoga meet: the Saratoga Oaks on Friday, August 2, and the Forego on Saturday, August 24, as part of the Travers Day card.
However, Capital Region state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, a member of the Assembly's Racing and Wagering Committee, said NYRA's partnership with an out-of-state casino raises concerns.
"I'm very protective of (Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady), as you know, so when I hear something like that a red flag goes up," said Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam. "We are in regional competition, and it does go across state lines. We have to worry about things that like that, we need to protect our casinos that are here."
In response to criticism, NYRA cited its longstanding partnership to promote and market Saratoga Casino Hotel in Saratoga Springs and a similar promotional partnership with Rivers Casino in Schenectady
The second floor of the 1863 Club features a group event space which accommodates up to 100 guests. While the announcement was vague about details of the partnership, it appears Encore Boston Harbor will provide hospitality services for guests on that floor during this racing season, which runs Wednesdays through Sundays through Labor Day.
"Our relationship with Saratoga is promotional in its nature," said Rosie Salisbury, a spokeswoman for the Boston casino. "Encore Boston Harbor has branded signage throughout the second floor of the 1863 Club, including both the Founders Club and Legends Hall, as well as title recognition for the Grade 1 Forego on Travers Day and the newly inaugurated Saratoga Oaks on Whitney weekend, which is part of the all new Turf Triple series."
In a press release, Encore Boston Harbor President Robert DeSalvio expressed enthusiasm for showing people visiting Saratoga what the Boston casino can offer.
"There is a natural synergy between Encore Boston Harbor and Saratoga Race Course making this alignment a perfect partnership," DeSalvio said. "As a racing fan, I am personally excited to have the opportunity to bring Wynn Resorts' world-renowned hospitality to the brand new 1863 Club and showcase to Saratoga visitors what we are offering in Greater Boston."
Encore Boston Harbor will also partner with NYRA to present two handicapping contests during the 2019 summer season: the Saratoga Challenge on August 9 and the Fourstardave Challenge on August 10.
Encore Boston Harbor, which sits at the north end of Boston Harbor, describes itself as a $2.6 billion integrated luxury gaming resort destination featuring a 210,000-square-foot casino, 671 hotel rooms, a premium spa, specialty retail, 15 dining and lounge venues and a state-of-the-art ballroom and meeting spaces.
An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about the relationship between Encore Boston Harbor and the New York Racing Association. Under the terms of a new partnership between the two, NYRA will be promoting the Encore casino through advertising and other marketing efforts at Saratoga Race Course, but Encore will not be providing guest hospitality services like food and drink at the new 1863 Club, as implied in our original story.