GAMING LANDSCAPE UNSETTLED AMID WYNN BOSTON SALE SPECULATION
By Colin A. Young
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, APRIL 13, 2018.....Before the roulette wheel starts spinning or the first legal blackjack hand is dealt, the gambling landscape in Massachusetts could be primed for a significant reshuffling.
As regulators in two states dive into issues at Wynn Resorts connected to namesake and now-former CEO Steve Wynn, the Wall Street Journal and others have reported that Wynn Resorts is in talks to sell its partially-built $2.5 billion Wynn Boston Harbor casino project on the banks of the Mystic River in Everett.
The WSJ reported Thursday that Wynn Resorts was in early stages of discussions with MGM Resorts International -- which already holds a Massachusetts casino license for its MGM Springfield project -- to transfer ownership of the Everett project.
The story gained legs just as gaming regulators in Massachusetts were outlining a more public phase of their proceedings concerning Steve Wynn.
In January the WSJ detailed an alleged "decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct" by Steve Wynn, prompting a Massachusetts Gaming Commission investigation of his and his company's previously approved suitability to hold a casino license. The commission agreed Thursday to hold a public meeting in the coming weeks to discuss whether Wynn, who has resigned and divested from his company, should still be held to the state's suitability standards.
Neither Wynn Boston nor Wynn Resorts responded Thursday to messages from the News Service inquiring about the reported sale talks.
In a statement issued by MGM Resorts International, the gambling empire did not shoot down reports that it has discussed a purchasing Wynn Boston Harbor but said it does "not comment on rumors or speculations around transactions."
"We remain fully committed to the opening and success of MGM Springfield," the company statement said.
Penn National Gaming, the company that owns and operates the state's slots parlor in Plainville, has not discussed a purchase of Wynn Boston Harbor, according to a source close to Penn National.
On Thursday, Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby told reporters that he had seen the news reports suggesting Wynn Resorts has been discussing a potential sale of its $2.5 billion resort casino project in Everett but said he has "no inside information on that at all."
"Nobody's talked about it to me, no," Crosby said.
If Wynn Resorts is to sell its casino project, it would set off an intense regulatory process at the Gaming Commission. If MGM Resorts International is the buyer, the regulatory process would be doubly complex because of state regulations that prohibit casino licensees from owning more than one gambling hall in the state.
Gaming Commission Executive Director Edward Bedrosian gave no indication Thursday that there could be a transaction involving the MGM Springfield, which is expected to be the state's first full-scale casino to open when it accepts bets in September.
Bedrosian said preparations for the MGM opening "consumes a lot of our time these days" and told the commission that he recently toured the "amazing construction progress" at the downtown Springfield site.
The Gaming Commission's next meeting -- scheduled for April 26 -- will be held in Springfield and commissioners will have a chance to tour the MGM construction site for themselves, Bedrosian said.
"You could be potentially making some substantive determinations at that meeting about the area of the gaming floor, the area of the gaming property, so this potential tour will be important to you," the executive director told commissioners Thursday.
The Springfield and Everett facilities are scheduled to be the first resort casinos to open under the state's 2011 expanded gaming law.
A spokesman for Mohegan Sun, which unsuccessfully sought to erect casinos first in Palmer and then in East Boston, declined comment on the developments.
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