Ahead of the planned June 23 opening of its Encore Boston Harbor integrated casino resort and Wynn Resorts Limited has reportedly opened negotiations that could see it sell the $2.6 million Massachusetts development to rival operator, MGM Resorts International.
According to a Friday report from the Boston Herald newspaper, the Las Vegas-headquartered pair began talks late last week at the instigation of Wynn and used a subsequent joint statement to describe these discussions as ‘very preliminary and of a nature that publicly-traded corporations like ours often engage in.’
Wynn Resorts Limited won a hotly contested race in November of 2014 to be awarded with a Massachusetts casino license before breaking ground on the 33-acre development for the northern Boston suburb of Everett some 21 months later following the conclusion of several legal challenges.
However, the future of the prospects of the 671-room Middlesex County venue were thrown into doubt early last year after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission revealed that it had launched an investigation into whether Wynn had failed to properly disclose a pre-award payment its former Chief Executive Officer, Steve Wynn, is said to have made in order to settle an accusation of sexual assault. This action could have led to the casino firm losing its license for the under-construction venue although it eventually settled the matter by agreeing to hand over a fine of $35 million.
The Boston Herald reported that any such Encore Boston Harbor transaction would require the approval of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and could force MGM Resorts International to sell its recently-opened $960 million MGM Springfield facility due to the fact that state gaming laws permit operators to hold only one casino license.
Reportedly read the joint statement…
“We cannot say today where these conversations will lead. However, we can reaffirm our commitment to the communities where we operate today. The people of Springfield and Everett welcomed us into their neighborhoods. We know that is a privilege and we take it seriously. Our conversations will not impact the jobs at our facilities and will not impact the opening of Encore Boston Harbor. Regardless of where this leads us, we will ensure that our commitments will be met and that those who welcomed us into their communities will not be disappointed.”
Elaine Driscoll from the Gaming Commission declined to comment on the possibility that the Boston-area integrated casino resort may be about to change hands but reaffirmed her organization’s commitment to collecting the $35 million fine from Wynn Resorts before a May 31 deadline.
According to Driscoll…
“The Massachusetts Gaming Commission continues to focus its efforts on the significant amount of regulatory preparations required before the opening of Encore Boston Harbor.”
For his part, Everett Mayor, Carlo DeMaria, told the newspaper that he was ‘not amused’ by the news of a possible Encore sale and could use a veto inserted into the property’s casino license to stall any such transaction. But, his counterpart in Springfield, Domenic Sarno, admitted to having received reassurances from the President for MGM Resorts, Bill Hornbuckle, during a Thursday telephone conversation.
“Bill reassured me of MGM Resorts International’s commitment to Springfield and that if anything was to be entertained and/or occurred that myself and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission would have a big and ultimate say in what might or might not happen.”
No re-run appetite:
Finally, the newspaper reported yesterday that Boston Mayor, Marty Walsh (pictured), is not keen on re-opening the licensing process should Wynn decide to offload its Boston Harbor facility. The 52-year-old Democrat proclaimed that it would not be ‘fair’ to offer firms that had lost out in the 2014 race, which had included the likes of Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, a second attempt at securing the sole eastern Massachusetts casino license.
“In fairness, you have a $2 billion building built in Everett [and] I don’t think you can do that. That wouldn’t be fair to the people of Everett and I don’t think it would be fair to this region. I wouldn’t want to start the process all over again, absolutely not.”