Mark your calendars: Wynn Boston Harbor will open for play on June 3, 2019. Steve Wynn’s $2.1 billion casino resort received the approval of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) this week, the last step in what’s become a lengthy and tedious legal process.
The unanimous decision by the MGC allows Wynn to continue construction on the 3.3-million-square-foot casino and hotel complex located along the banks of the Mystic River in Everett.
MGC Chairman Stephen Crosby said of the vote, “This is a very exciting moment.” Wynn Boston Harbor, originally known as Wynn Everett before the resort company’s billionaire CEO changed the name, officially began construction in August.
“After three years and one of the most thorough licensing and environmental review processes in the history of Massachusetts, Wynn Boston Harbor has its license in hand,” Wynn Boston Harbor President Robert DeSalvio said last summer.
Steve Wynn’s Massachusetts casino was originally scheduled to open in 2018, but a series of legal challenges, most notably from Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone (D) on environmental concerns, delayed the project.
Curtatone appealed the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP approval of the casino, saying the resort’s impact on traffic and pollution would negatively affect his residents.
Wynn saw the appeal as nothing more than a money grab. To help offset additional infrastructure and law enforcement expenses expected to be incurred by the casino, Wynn is paying the City of Boston $2 million per year for the next 15 years, but only $650,000 annually to Somerville.
In July, the Massachusetts DEP issued its final verdict in favor of Wynn moving forward and granted an environmental license.
Wynn won the Region A casino bid from the MGC in 2014, meaning the development, licensing, and construction phases will total five years when the venue opens in 2019.
One Spot Left
Signed into law by then-Governor Deval Patrick (D) in 2011, the Massachusetts Expanded Gaming Act called for three destination resort casinos located in three geographically diverse regions. The Plainridge Park Casino, a slots, video poker, and virtual table games venue, was also approved.
Wynn Boston Harbor was awarded the region consisting of Suffolk, Middlesex, Norfolk, and Worcester counties. MGM Springfield snagged the Region B license, which entails the western portion of Massachusetts.
Region C, the southeastern part of the state, remains in limbo. MGC officials are waiting to see the legal outcome of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s wishes to build a $1 billion Indian casino in Taunton.
The Native American group is currently appealing to the US Department of the Interior (DOI) to reverse a Massachusetts district judge’s ruling. Earlier this month, District Judge William Young blocked the tribe from building on the land on grounds that the DOI erred in assigning the 151 acres as sovereign property in 2015.
The C region, home to the wealthy Cape Cod demographic, has attracted interest from multiple casino companies. But the inland towns leading to the Cape could certainly benefit from tax revenue generated from a casino.
“Once the legal landscape is clarified, I hope we all work diligently to respond to the economic need in that region,” MGC Commissioner Lloyd Macdonald recently said.