Gaming Panel Awards Greater Boston Casino License To Wynn
Gambling regulators in Massachusetts have voted to award the state’s most lucrative casino license to Wynn Resorts. It is the third casino license issued in Massachusetts, where voters in less than two months will decide if Las Vegas-style gambling will remain legal.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted 3-1 Tuesday to approve Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn’s plan to build a $1.6 billion resort casino on the site of a former chemical company plant in the city of Everett.
Acting chairman James McHugh cast the only vote against the Wynn project. Wynn got the nod from the other commissioners based on the strength of the project’s finances, the number of jobs it would create and the impact on the greater Boston area’s economy.
Wynn won out over a rival proposal from Mohegan Sun, which had hoped to receive a license to build a casino at Suffolk Downs racetrack in Revere. The Connecticut-based company has now lost two efforts to enter the Massachusetts casino market. A Mohegan Sun casino project in Palmer was rejected by the town’s voters last year.
Wynn projects its casino will have 3,287 full- time jobs with an annual payroll of $186.4 million. Mohegan Sun’s estimated employment and payroll were smaller. That made a difference to Commissioner Gayle Cameron.
"Good paying jobs is absolutely part of this process," declared Cameron.
Commissioner Enrique Zuniga said the Wynn casino would produce more gambling revenue for the state.
"The one who I believe can fair better in a competitive market because they have done it elsewhere and retain market share through the ups and downs because of their focus on the customer experience is Wynn."
Acting chairman McHugh said it was a difficult choice. He said he believed the Wynn project had a high risk of not getting built because of problems with traffic and environmental permitting.
" Those concerns are still with me," McHugh said at a press conference after the vote.
Before awarding the license to Wynn, the commission insisted the company agree to a plan to reduce traffic through a notorious Boston bottleneck—Sullivan Square.
Wynn Vice President Kim Sinatra said the company would increase from $42 million to $76 million the amount it will pay to mitigate the casino’s impact on traffic, and would pay penalties up to $2 million a year if traffic reduction goals are not met.
" Frankly, it is not in our interest to invest $1.6 billion and be left with a transportation surrounding that does not work," Sinatra told commissioners
Wynn also agreed to redesign the 27-story hotel tower at the casino complex, which McHugh had criticized as “generic.”
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said the project has strong support among the people in his small city.
" People got what they wanted. Imagine being a taxpayer in Massachusetts and getting what you wanted. Government worked today and I thank the commission."
DeMaria said he hopes to make peace with municipal officials in surrounding communities, most notably Boston, who opposed the Wynn casino project.
The gaming commission in June awarded a resort casino license to MGM to build an $800 million casino in downtown Springfield. The regulators have also assigned a license to Penn National Gaming for a slots machine parlor at a harness racetrack in southeastern Massachusetts.
The fate of all the casino projects rests in the hands of Massachusetts voters, who will decide a referendum in November that would repeal the state’s 2011 gaming law.