Wynn Wins – At Least for the Time Being

The Boston-area license has been granted in Massachusetts. Steve Wynn won out over Mohegan Sun in a hotly contested competition for the license. The gaming commission said it thought Wynn had a better proposal and was more able to finance and bring to market its proposal. The commission may be right, but regardless of right and wrong, the decision is highly contentious. The mayor of Boston is not satisfied, but it is not clear yet whether he will use his position to bargain for a better deal for his city, sue the commission for making the wrong decision or come out against gaming and campaign to support the gaming repeal referendum that will be on the November ballot.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh once again blasted the state gambling commission Thursday, this time accusing the board’s acting chairman of bias against the city and claiming that the panel has illegally manipulated the casino licensing process. Walsh called for the people who selected the commissioners — Governor Deval Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and Treasurer Steve Grossman — to step in and take action against the board, which is in the middle of deliberations over granting the Greater Boston resort casino license. Mark Arsenault, 9-12-14

Mohegan Sun has also protested for obvious reasons, claiming Wynn was given an unfair advantage. It is not clear what Mohegan Sun will do next. It might sue the commission as Caesars did or it might join the repeal campaign. Joining in the repeal efforts would be an act of sour grapes, but it could have an important influence on the election with its money and a narrative of unfair regulation. Given that Caesars made the same claim, it could sway some swing voters. But that will not help the parent company, which analysts say is in financial trouble in the wake of the loss of the Massachusetts license. The two Connecticut Indian casinos each applied for a Massachusetts license. They hoped to compensate for the business they will lose to casinos in the Bay State, but both failed. The failure clearly indicates troubled times ahead for Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

Mohegan Sun objected late Tuesday night to the way the Massachusetts Gaming Commission awarded a casino license to Wynn Resorts, asserting that the commissioners gave Wynn an unfair advantage by allowing the company to increase its traffic mitigation offer at the last moment. The increase won over a swing vote on the commission and helped Wynn land the license. The commission brushed aside Mohegan Sun’s objection. Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine, 9-18-14

There is one more highly dissatisfied party, the owners of Suffolk Downs. Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun were to partner in a casino at Suffolk Downs if they had received the license. Suffolk had originally partnered with Caesars, but switched to Mohegan Sun when the gaming commission said it did not think Caesars could be found suitable due to some unsavory associations. All along, Suffolk Downs has claimed it had to be able to operate a casino if it were to survive. The management of the racetrack did not waste any time demonstrating it meant business. The day after the license was awarded to Wynn Suffolk Downs sent a notice to its employees that it would be ceasing operations at the end of the year.

Suffolk Downs is sending out notifications to employees that it will not seek a racing license for 2015 after the current season ends on Sept. 29, meaning layoffs for hundreds of direct employees and vendor workers, as well as loss of income for hundreds more horsemen who derive their income from closing track…The state Gaming Commission’s decision yesterday to license a Wynn casino in Everett over a Mohegan Sun casino at Suffolk Downs. Suffolk Downs has maintained it is not financially viable without a casino. Tuttle said the track hasn’t turned a profit since 2006. Jack Encarnacao, Boston Herald, 9-18-14

It is less than two months before the voters of Massachusetts decide whether to repeal or retain casino gaming. Six months ago, it seemed unlikely that such a repeal effort would succeed, but today the picture is less clear. Whichever company received the license there was sure to be some backlash. But the decision to award the license to Wynn may be the most controversial. It might be the best choice, but it appears to be cold-hearted and biased toward glitz, glitter and golden promises when viewed through the prism of an existing institution. Suffolk Downs has operated for 80 years. It houses 700 horses and employees 1,100 people. It is not the only racing location in the state. Plainridge is a harness racetrack located in Plainville, Massachusetts and it did receive a license. Without slot machines the owner had vowed to turn the track into a shopping center and parking lot. And that may well be the fate of Suffolk Downs. No other state has created as much drama and controversy as Massachusetts and in just a few weeks we will be treated to yet another.

A casino-funded group hoping to defeat November’s ballot question to repeal the state casino law says it will debate its opponents. The Committee to Protect Mass Jobs, which is financed by MGM Resorts and Penn National Gaming, said Wednesday it is “committed to participating in a vigorous debate” on the question…Repeal the Casino Deal called for a series of “independent, media-sponsored” debates between the group’s chairman, leading state lawmakers and executives from Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming. Associated Press 9-18-14

It would make a great play or Broadway musical, maybe even an opera. The Phantom of the License, I can hear it now. Can’t you?


1 Response to “Wynn Wins – At Least for the Time Being”

  1. 1 CASINO Trackback on February 10, 2015 at 7:32 pm

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