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Wynn eyes sale of Encore casino – The Boston Globe

Wynn eyes sale of Encore casino – The Boston Globe
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17 May 2019 - 21:07


“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.”The casino’s exterior in February.(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File)The complications of such a transaction could be hard to surmount, given MGM’s ownership of a casino and hotel complex in Springfield and prohibitions against one company from holding two Massachusetts casino licenses.The $2.6 billion Encore hotel and casino is scheduled to open June 23, after eight years of salesmanship, design, competition, environmental cleanup, and construction. Along the way, there have been lawsuits, resignations, and one long investigation by state regulators into sexual misconduct accusations against Wynn Resorts’ founder and former CEO, Steve Wynn. Encore would be the first and, by law, the only Las Vegas-style casino in Greater Boston, the most lucrative casino market in the state.A garden under construction on the casino’s property in July 2018.(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File)Two people briefed on the talks said Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox and MGM CEO Jim Murren met in person in Las Vegas early this month, days after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission concluded 15 months of investigation and deliberation on how Wynn Resorts handled the accusations against its founder.MGM holds the sole resort casino license for Western Massachusetts, and last August opened the MGM Springfield resort. It was everything the Gaming Commission hoped it would be — a casino and entertainment center skillfully integrated into the city’s long-moribund downtown, providing thousands of jobs and new revenue to the city, neighboring municipalities, and the state.Under Massachusetts law, no company can hold more than one casino license, which would make an MGM play for Encore Boston Harbor a tricky bank shot, as the company would have to relinquish its Western Massachusetts license and presumably sell MGM Springfield, a project that took years to build, cost about $960 million, and so far has fallen short of projections in gambling revenue. MGM executives have said soft revenues will improve as they build their marketing machine and get to know their customer base.Any potential license transfer would also require the blessing of the gaming commission.Another potential complication could lie in the signed agreements between each company and its host community, and whether Springfield or Everett would object to a sale.Wynn Resorts won the Greater Boston license in 2014, beating a rival project in Revere by Suffolk Downs and its partner, Mohegan Sun.Construction on the casino in May 2018.(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File)In early 2018, with construction of the Everett resort proceeding on time and on budget, the future of the casino and the 5,500 jobs it promised were cast into doubt. It began with a devastating Wall Street Journal report in January 2018, which revealed sexual misconduct allegations against Steve Wynn, then the company’s chairman and CEO. Regulators in Las Vegas and Massachusetts launched investigations. The charismatic casino mogul — widely credited as the architect of modern Las Vegas — soon resigned, sold his Wynn Resorts stock, and moved off company property at the Wynn Las Vegas casino on the Vegas Strip.Maddox was elevated from company president to chief executive, and construction continued while investigators painstakingly tried to determine who knew about the accusations against Steve Wynn and what, if anything, they did about them.In early April, Massachusetts investigators revealed their findings, saying that certain former Wynn Resorts executives had helped cover up the allegations.Under Maddox, the company had removed executives who failed to take action on the allegations, and installed new policies and training that the company said would prevent any future complaint from going unaddressed.Members of the Gaming Commission pressed Maddox hard over three days of hearings in April, before finally saying on April 30 that Wynn Resorts would retain its casino license. The commission imposed a $35 million fine on the company as well as a number of new conditions on the license. Wynn Resorts has not yet said if it will appeal. Maddox said in an earnings call last week that the company did not believe the opening of the resort would be affected if it chose to appeal.“I don’t know if the opening date will be June 23 or a week or two later because we’re going to make sure it is flawless,” Maddox said on the earnings call. “We may give ourselves another week, we may not, but the property looks great.”Encore Boston Harbor hosted a job fair at the Hynes Convention Center in March.(Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/File 2019)Wynn Resorts has made thousands of job offers to fill out its workforce, and public anticipation for the opening has been ramping up. A Globe story May 6 reporting the full list of names and styles of the 15 bars and restaurants at the resort quickly shot up to become the most-read story on the Globe’s website.The hotel will have 671 hotel rooms in a bronze glass tower reminiscent of the company’s flagship Las Vegas casino; a ballroom and meeting space; spa; and a gambling floor with table games, a poker room, and more than 3,000 slot machines. Wynn Resorts has boasted that the Everett project is the largest single-phased private development in state history.Reports of a potential deal between MGM and Wynn Resorts have cropped up before, in the spring of 2018. Maddox dismissed those reports at the time.“Boston is not up for sale,” he said in an interview on CNBC in April 2018. “I like that market. I found the land. I pursued that deal. I entered the agreement with the host community five years ago. I liked that market then. I like that market today.”Mark Arsenault can be reached at mark.arsenault@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemark.Read More,

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