Gaming Commission Hearings into Suitability for Encore begins

By Josh Resnek

M a s s a c h u s e t t s  g a m i n g commissioners have begun the arduous courtroom like task of considering Wynn Resorts suitability to hold the casino license for the Boston area.

Those hearings began Tuesday and will be continuing until Thursday.

The outcome of these hearings is of gargantuan importance to the City of Everett and to everyone in a position of responsibility, starting with the mayor.

It is the mayor who brought Steve Wynn to Everett. The question of suitability, and more than that, of what was concealed during the vetting process comes less than three months before Wynn is set to open its $2.5 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino complex in Everett.

It is more than a year after Wynn founder and former CEO Steve Wynn resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations. One case led to a $7.5 million settlement.

The big question – what if the commission strips Wynn Resorts of its gaming license?

Would the process start all over again?

Would the Greater Boston casino remain in Everett – where billions have been spent – and where the city’s financial future is hanging in the balance?

What happens to the host agreement and the $30 million payment in lieu of taxes the city is supposed to get when the doors open if the doors don’t open?

What happens to the host agreement? If the host agreement is broken, does it allow the city to tax the casino and hotel assemblage – the land and the structures?

Does the city go broke immediately as many justifiably fear?

The commissioners decision, expected sometime after the hearings have ended, will be written and then made public. No time limit has been placed on how this will be done except to say the commission understands that time is of the essence.

There is no precedent for any of this. It is all questions with no answers until the commission rules.

If it rules against Wynn Resorts would the project be sold to another casino operator?

The commission is trying to prove and to establish as fact the exact depths of the fraud and lying perpetrated upon it and exactly what was concealed during the suitability process when applicants were supposed to bare their souls to commission investigators. Improprieties were supposed to be revealed.

Everyone needed to be found to be squeaky clean in order to receive a suitability designation… and a gaming license.

The commission wants to learn why Wynn Resorts withhold information when the commission was trying to determine suitability.

Evidence will be presented that shows Wynn Resorts was in a contest with Suffolk Downs to capture a license and that Wynn Resorts officials lied to the commission time and again in order to achieve the license.

Suffolk Downs was considered the favorite back then. Suffolk Downs has since filed a multibillion lawsuit against Wynn Resorts now making its way through the Federal court system in Boston.

Is anything known about the commissioner’s thinking at this time?

According to a report on Boston’s WBUR radio by Steve Brown, the commission has some options.

Brown spoke with Commission Executive Director Ed Bedrosian. Bedrosian was succinct.

So the commission can make determinations on suitability, which include “still suitable” “not suitable” or “suitable with some type of conditions” or something like that, but I’m not speculating on the outcome of course.

The commission can revisit the issue of suitability, Brown reported.

The hearings end Thursday.

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