The Encore Boston Harbor casino will donate $100,000 to help residents affected by last week’s gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley, officials said Monday.
Matt Maddox, CEO of Wynn Resorts, the Las Vegas gambling giant building the Everett project, announced the pledge at the opening of the Greater Boston Gaming Career Institute at Cambridge College in Charlestown, a program designed by the school and the company to train casino dealers.
“It felt like a good opportunity for us to continue to show how invested we are in the community,” Maddox said of the donation. “It was such a tragedy and it’s an area where we want to spend some resources trying to help people get jobs if they want to work with us, run job fairs, offer scholarships and also offer some financial assistance. We have people on our management team that were born and raised in the area ... it’s really close to home for a lot of our staff.”
The explosions killed one person and ignited dozens of building fires across Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.
Maddox said the company would also finance 25 scholarships for Greater Lawrence residents to the casino dealer school at Cambridge College.
The institute’s first classes are “Mastering Blackjack” and “Perfecting Poker.” Students can study to be a blackjack dealer in nine weeks or a poker dealer in 14 weeks, the company said in a statement. Tuition is $700 for each program.
The $2.5 billion Encore Boston Harbor will employ about 1,100 dealers. It is scheduled to open next June.
Cambridge College President Deborah C. Jackson said the dealer school demonstrates “our belief that it is never too late to pursue a credential, a degree, some certificate or acknowledgment that you have skills that are relevant and that are marketable.”
The opening of the school — with the fanfare of a press event and ribbon-cutting — can be seen as a sign that Wynn Resorts feels confident that an ongoing investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct against its former CEO will conclude that it responded appropriately and deserves to keep its casino license. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission launched its investigation after the allegations against Steve Wynn became public in a Wall Street Journal article in January.
Steve Wynn resigned from Wynn Resorts in February and sold all of his stock in the company. The company dropped Wynn’s name from the Everett project, renaming it after its existing Encore hotel brand.
“It’s a thorough investigation, as it should be,” Maddox said Monday. “Our company loves being here. We’re not for sale. Encore Boston Harbor is not for sale. We have over 137 people on staff now… going to 4,000 in six months. I was walking the site today. It’s extraordinary. There are 1,500 construction workers on site today. The place is really going to something very special… We’re here for the long haul.”