By Brendan Clogston
Mohegan Sun is willing to step in should Wynn Resorts be found unsuitable for a Massachusetts gaming license later this month, but they might not be welcome in the city, according to Mayor Carlo DeMaria.
Mohegan Sun announced last week that it would be willing to buy Wynn’s Encore Boston Harbor property should the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) strip the company’s license. “If that determination finds Wynn Resorts unsuitable to hold a gaming license in Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun is prepared to participate in a process that would assign that license to another operator – and enter into negotiations with the appropriate parties to acquire the facility under construction in Everett,” the company said in a statement. “Mohegan Sun has always believed it is the best choice as gaming operator and license holder for a Region A resort casino, and will be committed to opening the Everett facility in a timely manner should it get the opportunity.”
The company has communicated its intentions to the MGC and surrounding communities, and has agreed to honor the existing Surrounding Community Agreements.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria has rebuffed Mohegan’s overtures; however, saying that he would not accept “anything less” than the kind of operation that had been promised by Wynn Resorts. “Mohegan Sun is not welcome to operate a casino in the City of Everett,” said DeMaria. “We made a deal with Wynn Resorts to operate a 5-star international destination resort and I will never accept anything less – certainly not a gaming parlor that would be used to protect their interests in Connecticut at the expense of our community and residents. Wynn Resorts’ partnership with Everett and the Commonwealth runs far deeper than a building with slot machines.”
The city has claimed that its Host Community Agreement with Wynn Resorts allows it to veto any sale of the Everett resort.
Encore officials have not officially commented on Mohegan’s statement, but their spokespeople have remained bullish on their chances, frequently stating their certainty that the casino will open on schedule in July 2019.
Though construction of the $2.5 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino project is nearing completion, the MGC is still finalizing an investigation into its parent company, Wynn Resorts, and its founder and former CEO, Steve Wynn. That investigation is attempting to determine just how much its current leadership knew, and when it knew, about the allegations of a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct by Wynn – including a $7 million payment made to a manicurist who has accused Wynn of pressuring her into sex – which had been withheld from the MGC during their initial suitability investigation into the company.
Depending on the investigation’s findings, the MGC could fine the developer, do nothing or go so far as to strip its license.
Mohegan Sun has filed a number of lawsuits against Wynn Resorts and the MGC, alleging that it had been unfairly passed over for the sole Eastern Massachusetts gaming license.