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Wynn Resorts' Boston-Area Casino Might Again Be On The Market: Report

Massive Casino Still In Regulatory Jeopardy


Massachusetts gaming regulators are still mulling over Wynn Resorts’ 50-year license to operate its upcoming Encore Boston Harbor casino, according to reports. They could potentially yank it. Per the Motley Fool, the multi-billion-dollar casino could be back on the auction block.

The casino is currently under construction and is slated to open in mid-2019. As of late August, Wynn Resorts had spent about $1.4 billion of the $2.22 billion price tag.

According to the report, rivals MGM Resorts, Caesars and Penn National Gaming could be players for the casino. MGM recently opened a casino in Springfield, Mass. Penn National operates a slots parlor in the state called Plainridge Park Casino. Years ago, Caesars failed to win a bid for a Boston-area casino. It was a contentious battle between Wynn and the city of Boston over the sole license, which even included public spats between Boston’s mayor and now-disgraced Wynn Resorts founder Steve Wynn.

“New [Wynn] CEO Matt Maddox explored a sale of Encore Boston Harbor earlier this year, but couldn’t find a buyer at a price that was attractive to Wynn,” the report said. “With regulators considering the possibility of pulling Wynn’s gaming license, it’s not surprising a sale could be back on the table again. The latest rumors of a possible sale come via a website citing a person ‘close to the discussions.’”

The Bay State’s gambling commission is reviewing Wynn’s license thanks to sexual misconduct claims surfacing earlier this year against its founder. Mr. Wynn stepped away from the company and the name was changed from Wynn Boston Harbor to Encore Boston Harbor. The casino sits just outside Boston in the town of Everett.

“The Commission is now aware of and is taking very seriously the troubling allegations detailed in the Wall Street Journal article,” regulators said in a statement in February. “The suitability and integrity of our gaming licensees is of the utmost importance, and ensuring that suitability is an active and ongoing process."

Regulators have already determined that Wynn hid from them a $7.5 million settlement stemming from alleged sexual misconduct in 2005 with a former employee in Las Vegas.

Also pending is a lawsuit from Mohegan Sun, operator of a nearby casino in Connecticut, seeking to invalidate Wynn’s license. That suit claims favoritism on behalf of the state Gaming Commission. One of Mohegan Sun’s claims is that gaming regulators overlooked the criminal histories of two men who were once investors in the piece of land for Encore Boston Harbor.

Massachusetts eyed about $260 million in annual tax revenue when it granted approval for the Wynn project in 2014. About 4,000 people are slated to work there.

Wynn Resorts’ stock fell to a 52-week low on Thursday.

In 2011, Massachusetts authorized three Las Vegas-style casinos in the state. Seven years later, the state’s plans for a robust casino gambling industry are still in limbo.