Wynn Angered by Revere Slots Parlor Proposal

Posted on: September 19, 2016, 07:00h. 

Last updated on: October 12, 2016, 03:24h.

Steve Wynn’s troubles in Massachusetts continue as he seeks to expand his empire on the East Coast.

After a protracted and occasionally bad-tempered bidding war with Mohegan Sun, Wynn won the bid for the state’s final remaining casino license, defeating various municipal lawsuits in the process.

Wynn angered by Massachusetts slots parlor vote
Steve Wynn addresses the press in front of a model of the Wynn Boston Harbor. But will Massachusetts residents vote to authorize a slots parlor just three miles away? (Image: Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe)

Wynn Resorts is now getting down to the business of transforming a former chemical plant into a shiny new waterfront casino.

It’s no easy task; the plot of land has been contaminated with lead, arsenic and other pollutants for decades and the clean-up operation is expected to cost the company around $30 million.

It’s no surprise that a statewide ballot that would authorize a slots parlor in Revere, just three miles from where the $2.1 billion Wynn Boston Harbor is being built has exasperated the company.

Wynn Resorts claims that the proposal is a violation of the 2011 legislation that legalized casino gaming in the state and laid down strict quotas on the amount of casinos permitted in the state.

Wynn Says It’s “Not Fair”

There is strong support for the idea of a casino in Revere, where the historic Suffolk Downs racetrack is based. The racetrack partnered with Mohegan Sun for the casino proposal that went up against Wynn in the licensing bid, and many felt betrayed when it lost.

“It’s not fair to Wynn Resorts,” said Robert DeSalvio, senior VP of development at Wynn, told the Boston Globe this week. “We came into Massachusetts understanding there would be three casinos and one slots parlor under state law, not three casinos and two slots parlors. Someone shouldn’t come in now and circumvent the law.”

The need to safeguard Suffolk Downs and the thoroughbred horse racing industry was one of the primary motivations for the 2011 act that legalized casino gaming in Massachusetts.

Suffolk Downs was forced to close when Wynn won the license, and although it has since reopened for limited racing, it relies heavily on funding from the state.

“Slapdash Proposal”

None of this is Wynn’s fault, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, one of the architects of the 2011 bill, agrees that the new proposal is beyond the pale.

“I stand in opposition to Question 1 [the ballot],” DeLeo said. “When we crafted the law, my main focus was on boosting the economy and creating jobs. Key to that effort was creating an independent Gaming Commission which conducts thorough market analyses and then makes informed decisions.

“This slapdash proposal would upset the deliberate and delicate balance we worked so hard to create.”