Carlo DeMaria Supports Wynn Resorts’ Role in Boston Casino

Encore Boston Harbor License Decision

Officials and experts would have residents believe it is Encore Boston Harbor or bust, but Wynn Resorts would simply sell the resort if it lost its license.

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria gave his official backing to the $2.4 billion Encore Boston Harbor, despite an ongoing investigation by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission into the casino’s licensing. Mayor DeMaria said embattled Wynn Resorts is set to take Everett “to the next level”, so he gave Encore Boston Harbor his full-throated endorsement.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission continues its investigation and could issue a report soon — perhaps as early as next month. That could spell doom for the Boston suburb of Everett, where the casino is located.

In an interview with the Boston Herald, Carlo DeMaria said the loss of the Encore Boston Harbor would be a disaster for his city. The mayor said, “It would be a detriment to the city. It would take the wind out of our sails. This takes us to the next level.”

A careful reading of events shows that the question of the casino’s opening and Everett’s prosperity might not be at stake. Instead, the coming decision has more to do whether Wynn Resorts owns the casino now known as Encore Boston Harbor. If Wynn’s license is stripped away, then Wynn sells the casino to another operator, who opens the casino sometime in 2019.

“It’s Life or Death”

That is not the story being told by those who support Encore Boston Harbor in its current state. Proponents of Wynn Resorts portray the coming decision as a matter of Wynn Resorts-or-bust. In their rhetoric, the MGC’s decision entails the economic future of Everett itself.

Rev. Richard McGowan, a gaming expert at Boston College, agrees with the local mayor. McGowan told the Herald, if the license is pulled on a $2 billion development, “Then, guess what, there goes Everett. For Everett, it’s life or death.”

Wynn Resorts faced the investigation after founder and former chief executive Steve Wynn had to step down in February 2018 amidst a sexual misconduct scandal. The Wall Street Journal published a report in January this year in which 150 current and former Wynn Resorts workers were interviewed. Many alleged misconduct by Steve Wynn, including Wynn Resorts salon workers who claimed they were harassed by their CEO.

Wynn Resorts’ Scandal Troubles

The WSJ report led to a deluge of allegations against Steve Wynn, including coverage in British tabloids and charges in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the previous editorial staff buried 1998 sexual harassment charges against Wynn. In the #MeToo era, the charges were too much for the 76-year old Steve Wynn, who had to step down and sell his 12 million shares in the company he founded in 2002.

That was not enough for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Steve Wynn’s estranged former wife, Elaine Wynn, charged that the Wynn Resorts board of directors were handpicked cronies of Steve Wynn and they should not be allowed to control the company’s future. Elaine Wynn could not be dismissed, as she was the top shareholder in the company.

Purge of the Wynn Board

In May 2018, Elaine Wynn began a campaign to purge the board of directors of Steve Wynn allies. Already, new CEO Matt Maddox had brought in four new outside directors with impeccable credentials. Despite that fact, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced in May 2018 it would conduct its own investigation into Wynn Resorts.

The probe did not focus on Steve Wynn alone. Instead, the MGC planned to investigate 13 Wynn executives, including Matt Maddox, for their behavior vis a vis Steve Wynn the past 10 years. The upcoming report is based upon findings in that probe.

Encore Boston Harbor’s Grand Opening

Encore Boston Harbor is set to open in June 2019, but the $2.4 billion resort’s opening is at risk so long as the MGC probe remains open. That is why Carlo DeMaria said, “I am begging and pleading to the Gaming Commission: This is the company that can fulfill the promise made to the residents of the city of Everett.”

The Everett mayor said of Wynn Resorts, “They’re an intricate part of the business community in the city of Everett, and the commission needs to weigh that.”

Wynn’s Future in Boston Harbor

The issue at stake is not really whether Encore Boston Harbor will open for business or not. The question is whether Wynn Resorts will own the resort and put its brand on it. If the Gaming Commission stripped Wynn Resorts of its license, that might delay the grand opening, but would not mean the casino would never open.

Instead, Wynn Resorts would sell the resort to another gaming company — perhaps at a reduced price (or perhaps not) — and that casino company would open the Everett casino under a different name. Rumors have swirled since last spring that Wynn Resorts would sell the Boston-area development to avoid regulatory probes.

Thus, Mayor Carlo DeMaria is not asking for the casino in his city to be saved, but for the city of Everett’s business relationship with Wynn Resorts. The two have been in talks with one another for the past 4 to 5 years and have developed a business relationship in that time. A careful wording of DeMaria’s quote would focus on the statement on Wynn Resorts, “They’re an intricate part of the business community in the city of Everett.”

When Carlo DeMaria says the decisions in the coming weeks are a “matter of life and death“, he’s talking about Wynn’s role in the area. The casino is going to open in 2019, whether it is owned by Wynn Resorts or not.