Wynn Resorts’ Encore Boston Harbor Fate May Come Down Wednesday

Posted on: April 30, 2019, 09:33h. 

Last updated on: April 30, 2019, 09:58h.

Encore Boston Harbor, Wynn Resorts’ $2.6 billion integrated casino resort in Everett, could see its fate determined as early as tomorrow by state gaming regulators.

Encore Boston Harbor Wynn Resorts MGC
Regulators in Massachusetts might rule that the Encore Boston Harbor name isn’t suitable for the state. (Image: Wynn Resorts/Twitter)

The five-member Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) wrapped three days of hearings earlier this month into the suitability of Wynn Resorts following the revelation of decades of alleged sexual misconduct by the company’s founder and former CEO.

We anticipate a written decision soon, but the exact timing is not yet known,” MGC spokesperson Elaine Driscoll said yesterday. The commission is scheduled to meet tomorrow at 10 am ET in Boston, and many believe the verdict will be handed down at that time.

The stakes are huge for the casino operator. Should the MGC determine that Wynn Resorts is no longer a suitable partner for license and revoke its gaming permit the company paid $85 million for, the future of the towering property across the Mystic River will hang in peril.

Once the ruling is issued, the MGC says Wynn will not be entitled to “any further review from the commission’s determination of suitability,” but an appellate court could consider the matter.

Guilt Not Important

The MGC Investigations and Enforcement Bureau conducted an in-depth review into whether Wynn Resorts executives purposely withheld knowledge of Steve Wynn’s alleged actions during its 2013 bidding for the Boston casino license.

The agency isn’t tasked with determining if the billionaire actually committed any wrongdoing – he maintains he did not – but if the company misled the state to win the coveted gaming permit. In its 199-page report, the bureau said certain executives, managers, and others in positions of authority were made aware of the allegations.

“The investigation also shows that certain executives, with the assistance of outside counsel, took measures to conceal allegations against Mr. Wynn that came to their attention,” the report stated. “Their efforts at secrecy made it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for gaming regulators to detect this potentially derogatory information through typical regulatory means, which rely heavily on robust self-disclosures.”

Final Stage

It’s been more than a year since The Wall Street Journal broke the news that Mr. Wynn allegedly took advantage of female workers over a period spanning several decades. The most damaging is a $7.5 million payment made in 2005 to a woman who claimed he raped her.

Mr. Wynn said he was the victim in that case. The billionaire believed the sex was consensual. “Along comes this gal who had a turn with me, obviously being advised on what to do. So, in this context, $7.5 million was not a significant number, and I paid it,” Wynn said in 2017 testimony in an unrelated case.

The MGC can do nothing and allow Wynn Resorts to open in June in the clear, impose a fine on the company, or revoke its casino license in what would be the worst-case scenario for the gaming giant.

Wynn Resorts has taken numerous steps to overhaul the company since February 2018. The board of directors has a new look, new policies have been put in place to combat sexual harassment, and executives told the MGC it’s willing to ban its namesake founder from entry to its properties around the world.