Massachusetts Politicians Want Commission to Release Report

Massachusetts Gaming Commmission Wynn Investigation

The $2.5 billion Encore Boston Harbor’s grand openin gis planned for June 2019.

Massachusetts lawmakers are unhappy with delays by the Gaming Commission on the Encore Boston Harbor licensing decision, which might not come until early next year. Legislators say the delay is going to cost their communities both jobs and tax revenues.

State Rep. Daniel J. Ryan (D-Chelsea), who represents the 2nd Suffolk District in the state House of Reprsentatives, is one of the lawmakers whose community will be affected. Based out of Chelsea, a community on the north bank of the Mystic River adjacent to Everett, said his constituents will be affected by the delay in licensing.

Representative Ryan said any further delays could put a June 2019 grand opening in jeopardy. Ryan said, “I want a casino open on June 24. How that’s going to happen, I don’t know. I’ve got to be a realist here.”

State Rep. Joe McGonagle (D-Everett) agrees with Daniel Ryan. McGonagle said, “I respect the Gaming Commission, but I want to see this suitability process over. My constituents, they want to go to work. That resort has become a game changer for the area.”

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Report

Originally, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission said the suitability report would be completed by August. Later, it announced the investigation would end in December, when a report would be forthcoming.

In between, MGC Chairman Stephen Crosby stepped down from his position leading the Massachusetts regulator. Crosby’s term was ending in April, but he stepped down 5 months early for undisclosed reason.

Steve Wynn Lawsuit vs. Gaming Commission

The delays are not entirely the commission’s fault. Last week, a Nevada judge blocked the publication of the report, which was the latest delay to its publication. Commissioners are unable to discuss the report legally until a further judge’s order.

A hearing was expected in Nevada on December 20. The suit which spurred the Nevada ruling was filed by Steve Wynn on November 8. Steve Wynn’s lawyers alleged that Wynn Resorts wrongfully released documents to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission which were protected by attorney-client privilege.

The filing stated Wynn Resorts gave away information “with total disregard for protecting the privileged communications of Mr. Wynn.”

At the time the lawsuit was filed, MGC spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said in a public statement, “It is our intention to bring this matter to a swift resolution. The [Investigations and Enforcement Bureau] remains focused on its preparations to soon present the Commission with the full extent of its findings.”

Nevada Court Case Affects Report

That was before this latest legal setback. With a court order stymieing the publication of the report or commissioners even discussing their findings publicly, the MGC has its hands tied until the judge’s next ruling.

The Everett casino, which originally was called Wynn Boston Harbor but later was renamed Encore Boston Harbor, is a $2.5 billion mega-resort expected to create 4,500 permanent jobs and massive tax revenues for the state, county, and local cities.

Steve Wynn Scandal

The question of licensing stems from sexual misconduct allegations against Steve Wynn, the former CEO and founder of Wynn Resorts. While Steve Wynn stepped down from a leadership position in February and divested himself of Wynn stock in March, the MGC investigators probed whether the board of directors knew of Steve Wynn’s alleged wrongdoing and helped to hide charges from the public.

To appease regulators and public opinion, a number of Wynn Resorts executives have stepped down over the past year. CEO Matt Maddox brought in four new board members with no connection to the previous leadership. Wynn President Maurice Wooden, the second such president this year, announced he would step down at the end of the year. Wooden had been accused of hiding Wynn’s alleged misconduct.

Wynn Resorts announced construction on the casino is on pace. Many experts suggest the question is not whether the casino will open for business, but whether Wynn Resorts will be the ownership group when it does. If Wynn’s license is stripped, it likely would sell the property to another interested casino group. Many would be interested, though the $2.5 billion price tag would limit the number of potential buyers.

Will Wynn Resorts Sell Everett Casino?

It also would force Wynn Resorts to have a fire sale of sorts, as buyout partners would know the casino was useless to Wynn Resorts. For Massachusetts officials, any sale could delay the grand opening — as casino purchases and gaming license processess take months to complete.

Whatever the case, State Rep. RoseLee Vincent (D-Revere) said she simply wants to see the casino open — period. Rep. Vincent said, “Whether the resort casino in Everett is operated by Wynn or another gaming entity, I would like to see this casino become a reality. This project is too far along the construction phase to not be completed in a timely manner.”