Don’t have time to read every Greater Boston casino story? Just catch up with this one. We’ve anticipated your questions and provided some bite-sized answers.
What is the extremely abbreviated background on the current brouhaha over the Wynn Resorts casino?
For nearly a year, investigators for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission have been looking into allegations of sexual misconduct against Steve Wynn, the former CEO of Wynn Resorts, the company that holds the sole license to build a casino in the Boston area. Steve Wynn resigned shortly after the allegations were detailed last January in The Wall Street Journal. He denies any wrongdoing. The gaming commission wants to know a. What happened? and b. What did the company do — or fail to do — about the allegations? The gaming commission has the power to take away the license if it concludes that the company is unsuitable to hold it. Meanwhile, Wynn Resorts has continued building its $2.6 billion Everett resort, known as Encore Boston Harbor.
This has been going on for nearly a year? What’s the holdup?
Well, the commission’s staff had hoped to be done by last summer, but it wound up taking much longer. The investigation involved many interviews of Wynn Resorts employees, and the company supplied voluminous documents. Then, late last year when the job was nearly done, Steve Wynn sued the commission and Wynn Resorts and upset the timetable.
So what’s this lawsuit about?
Essentially, Steve Wynn alleges that certain documents the company turned over to investigators are protected by attorney-client privilege and should not have been shared. A Nevada judge recently put a temporary hold on the commission’s ability to release a public report that includes the disputed material. That case is ongoing. Commission lawyers said Thursday that they are waiting for the judge’s written order in the case before determining their next step.
Is there any time pressure on the commission’s review of Wynn Resorts’ suitability?
Smart question. In fact, the casino is nearly done and Wynn Resorts wants to open it in June. Opening a gambling resort of this scope is a massive undertaking for the company and regulators. Thousands of jobs have to be filled, for instance, and it is more difficult to do so with the investigation hanging over the project.
What is the commission going to do?
The commission planned to discuss its next move in a closed session Thursday. (The commissioners are generally a transparent group; state law permits them to hash out legal strategy in private.) One option, if they believe the disputed documents will not be available anytime soon, is simply to remove them from the investigators’ report and proceed without them. The disputed material is reportedly a small fraction of the complete record in the matter.
Not what I meant. What are they going to do with the license? Is this place going to open or what?
Nobody can say without seeing the report. Wynn Resorts continues to pour millions into the project, showing confidence that it has done enough to separate itself from Steve Wynn and his alleged misconduct. Revoking the license would hurt thousands of people — construction workers, vendors, potential employees — who had nothing to do with Steve Wynn. The commission would not do it lightly.
When I drive by on the highway, the casino looks pretty much done. What’s left to do?
Mostly interior work. Some landscaping is ongoing, as well as public road improvements the company is required to do. The company says the project is on schedule for a June opening.