As Wynn Resorts gets final approval to open casino, CEO Matt Maddox says, ‘Encore Boston Harbor is not for sale’
A month ago, the news of talks between Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International over a possible sale of Encore Boston Harbor set off a firestorm of questions from Massachusetts politicians and business analysts across the gaming industry.
On Friday, Wynn Resorts received its operating certificate to open the $2.6 billion Everett casino, CEO Matt Maddox quelled any lingering questions about a possible sale.
“Encore Boston Harbor is not for sale,” Maddox said during a news conference inside the resort, days before the June 23 opening. “It’s a key part of Wynn Resorts’ strategy.”
All eyes are on the Boston area as Wynn Resorts prepares to open Encore Boston Harbor Sunday morning. The company has faced a tough road to its opening — namely a drawn out suitability investigation a $35 million fine from Massachusetts regulators — is trying to mitigate its impact on an already congested metropolitan area.
“It’s a calling card for other states and other jurisdictions locally to think about large-scale integrative resorts that can create real urban renewal and economic progress,” Maddox said.
As Encore Boston Harbor prepares to open, traffic nightmares could present new transit opportunities
Wynn Resorts’ transportation plan and long-term proposals will be put to the test this summer, starting with the June 23 opening of Encore Boston Harbor.
Gaming analysts say the casino opening has gained attention worldwide not only because of the Wynn Resorts brand, but because the company will test how well the five-star casino and luxury resort can perform just outside of the United States’ oldest, densely populated city.
“They tried to do a very good job of looking at diff ways at how people get in and out of the property because of what they’re expecting, because it is an urban setting, because it is the only true integrated resort of its size,” said Brendan Bussmann, senior partner and director of government affairs at Global Market Advisors. “That’s what makes it unique.”
Gallery: Inside Encore Boston Harbor
Wynn Resorts transformed a wasteland contaminated by Monsanto into a clean waterfront with manicured lawn and the trademark high-rise overlooking the Mystic River.
The 210,000-square-foot casino has more than 3,100 slot machines, 231 table games as well as an 88-table poker room. The resort has 15 dining and lounge venues, a hotel with 671 guest rooms, a spa, a salon and other amenities.
Wynn Resorts executives and Everett officials touted the public-private partnership behind the improvements surrounding the casino, including the six-acre Harborwalk, pedestrian and bike paths and dock with water shuttle service.
Wynn Resorts spent months in limbo as Massachusetts regulators reviewed the company’s casino license after sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against founder Steve Wynn in January 2018. Wynn stepped down from the company, but regulatory investigators found the company had hid the allegations from state regulators.
In May, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission fined Wynn Resorts $35 million — the largest penalty against a casino — and fined CEO Matt Maddox $500,000, imposing conditions against the company if they wanted to retain the license. Wynn Resorts announced talks with MGM Resorts International, which runs MGM Springfield, over a possible sale of the Everett property while the company weighed whether to pay the fines and agree to the conditions.
The sale talks stirred a frenzy among politicians in Greater Boston and Western Massachusetts. Under Massachusetts regulatory law, no company can own or operate more than one casino. That means if MGM Resorts International bought the Everett property, it would need to sell MGM Springfield. Whoever bought either property would need to go through the suitability review and get cleared by the commission.
“You’ve had an extraordinary amount of unusual events happen prior to this,” Bussmann said of the opening. “That makes this opening interesting because of the history of not only the past month and a half, but really the last year.”
Rumors of sale talks between the two companies date back to spring 2018, but the May announcement was the first time both companies confirmed the talks. The talks were short-lived, and Wynn Resorts pressed on with the June 23 opening.
The Everett casino held three test nights on June 17, June 19 and June 20. Maddox said that the Thursday night play date alone drew more than 7,000 people.
Encore Boston Harbor President Robert DeSalvio thanked Massachusetts regulators for working with the company during the test nights.
“It was a thorough exercise,” he said,” and our team is ready, willing and able to open our doors.”
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June 22, 2019 at 09:56AM