If Wynn Resorts wants to sell the massive casino it’s building on the banks of the Mystic River in Everett, it will need the blessing of Carlo DeMaria. And that may not come easy.
The Everett mayor said Monday that he’s “very disturbed” about the prospect of the project changing hands. DeMaria said he worries a new owner wouldn’t live up to the promises Wynn made – at the casino itself and in nearby neighborhoods – to secure its coveted license.
Everett’s agreement with Wynn gives the city the right to block a sale, he said.
“I believe I have veto power,” DeMaria said. “I will exercise those priorities if I have to.”
DeMaria’s concerns are the latest complication for the $2.4 billion Wynn Boston Harbor project, the future of which was thrown into question after state gaming officials launched an investigation into the company’s integrity and financial stability. That followed sexual harassment claims against the company’s namesake — and now former — CEO, Steve Wynn.
On Friday, Bloomberg reported the new CEO has had discussions about selling Wynn Boston Harbor, and the New York Post reported that MGM Resorts has proposed buying the entire Wynn company.
Wynn officials declined to comment, other than to deny the MGM report and to say the company’s on track for a June 2019 opening of the Everett complex.
“The project is moving full speed ahead,” spokesman Greg John said.
Any sale would need approval from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and Everett would have to allow a transfer of its home-city agreement to a new owner.
The Gaming Commission and DeMaria said they have heard nothing from Wynn corporate officials in Las Vegas.
But given the cloud of uncertainty around the company, a sale is a possibility, said Clyde Barrow, a University of Texas professor who follows the New England casino market. A new buyer would probably be stuck with the partially built casino and resort but might change its focus – perhaps from a glitzy destination aimed at out-of-town high-rollers to a more modest, locals-oriented property. It also could hire fewer employees than Wynn has promised to do.
In addition, Gaming Commission approval of a sale could take months, Barrow said, potentially slowing down construction.
“If I was Wynn, I’d sell as soon as possible,” he said. “The question is does a new owner continue with the current construction schedule?”
Monday, however, looked like any other workday at the construction site, which is off Broadway in Everett.
Tower cranes swung over the 27-story high-rise while workers in bucket trucks painted the sand-colored entryway. Pickups with union decals filled a huge parking lot and squeezed into side streets near the site, which swarms with about 1,500 construction workers every day.
Several workers heading home after a day on the job said they hadn’t been following the drama about Wynn’s suitability. The prospect of a sale — and any potential work stoppage — hasn’t come up much, they said. Last week’s death of a worker in an excavator accident was more on people’s minds, said electrician Renee Holland. “That’s a little more important,” she said.
“For me, I’m just going to work,” said electrician Bill Clark, who’s been working at the casino for six months and has several more to go. “I hope it keeps going.”
So does Mayor DeMaria.
Wynn spent tens of millions of dollars buying real estate for the casino – on top of $58 million for road improvements required under its gaming license — and it has long-term plans for hotels and other entertainment-related development. It has made a lot of promises about hiring and an environmental cleanup. DeMaria is concerned that a new owner wouldn’t honor those pacts and could have plans that don’t fit as well with what he’d like to see happen.
“There’s a grander vision here than just this casino,” he said. “We’re imagining a whole new district in the city of Everett that can generate a lot of great jobs. [Wynn] is the corporation that can do it. There’s no one else who can.”