Wynn Resorts to Discover Fate From Massachusetts Regulators Next Month

Posted on: August 23, 2018, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: August 23, 2018, 03:10h.

Wynn Resorts continues to build its $2.5 billion integrated casino complex outside Boston without formally knowing whether it will be permitted to operate gambling once it’s finished.

Wynn Resorts Encore Boston MGC
Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby says a decision will soon be reached on Wynn Resorts’ fitness to do business in the state. (Image: David Ryan/Boston Globe/Chris Christo/Boston Herald/Casino.org)

Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) Chairman Stephen Crosby said at a meeting that state investigators working on behalf of the agency will bring their analysis to a close in the weeks ahead. The five commissioners will then decide how to proceed based off the report.

At stake is determining if Wynn Resorts remains suitable to hold a casino license for Encore Boston Harbor in the wake of the company’s founder and former CEO becoming engulfed in a massive sexual misconduct scandal.

In January, allegations first came to light in The Wall Street Journal that billionaire Steve Wynn acted inappropriately with female employees over a period that spanned decades.

Wynn continues to deny the allegations, but resigned in February and sold his entire stake in the public company in March.

Disclosure Failure

Encore Boston Harbor, the renamed casino across the Mystic River in Everett, is expected to open in 2019. New CEO Matt Maddox has done his best to tell the MGC that the company is much larger than one man.

“Steve Wynn is not Wynn Resorts,” Maddox said in April. “This company is not about a man. It’s hasn’t been about a man for 18 years.”

But that man was the face and name of the organization, and the MGC must determine whether Wynn Resorts deliberately withheld a $7.5 million settlement payment Wynn made to a manicurist in 2005 after he allegedly forced her to have sex with him.

Crosby said in February the agency had no knowledge of the settlement in 2013 when it determined Wynn Resorts to be suitable to hold one of the three full-fledged commercial casino licenses authorized in the state’s 2011 Expanded Gaming Act. In its Suitability Decision, the MGC concluded, “The Commission, by unanimous vote, finds that the Applicant [Wynn] has satisfied its burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that it meets the standards for suitability.”

The chairman said after the sexual misconduct bombshell reports, “The people of Massachusetts have the right to know what the hell happened here.”

Future Unknown

The MGC has several options on the table once it receives the investigative findings. In addition to revoking Wynn Resorts’ license, the agency can suspend the permit and/or levy costly fines against the company.

Wynn Resorts said in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it recently wrapped up its own internal investigation into where the company went wrong in relation to the sexual transgression claims.

MGM Springfield, the $960 million integrated casino resort, opens this week. It becomes the second commercial gambling venue in Massachusetts following Plainridge Park, a slots-only facility.

The third and final integrated casino license earmarked for the southeastern counties of Bristol, Plymouth, Nantucket, Dukes, and Barnstable counties, remains. The MGC is awaiting final verdict on whether the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe will win its federal legal fight to build a $1 billion casino in Taunton.