Wynn rolls dice on Las Vegas eateries, Encore stays closed

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A fisherman cast his line in the Mystic River in front of the Encore. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)

Mass Gaming Commission praises resort on new misconduct policies


In Las Vegas, a group of restaurants owned by Wynn Resorts is reopening this week with restrictions, a sure sign that some sense of normalcy is returning to the Strip.

Who and how many people will come to the restaurants are big questions as many of them cater to the millions of visitors that come to the desert for relaxation and fun.

Also, key are the business meetings and conventions held in Las Vegas which fill the restaurants with attendees, none of which will be happening any time soon – not at least until the end of the summer or later, according to reports in the Las Vegas Sun published this weekend.

Much of the news and the speculation is the same for Encore Boston Harbor in Everett which has been closed since mid-March.

Encore and MGC officials have been communicating but no date for reopening has yet been discussed or set.

In the meantime, the MGC gave Encore and Wynn officials a mostly glowing report as it evaluated the operator’s efforts and policies to limit sexual misconduct at the Encore property in Everett and throughout the company.

This came as a result of the law firm Miller & Chevalier’s 127-page report being reviewed by the MGC at last week’s meeting. Miller & Chevalier lawyers spent close to three hours detailing the results of its report on the monitoring of Wynn CEO Matt Maddox and his team.

That report and its finding are partly the result of the $35 MGC million fine Wynn Resorts was forced to pay to get its license and further stipulations for the company to change its culture which the MGC insisted upon.

The effort was intended to end the company’s complicity in covering up sexual misconduct allegations against founder and former chairman and CEO Steve Wynn.

To that end, a $500,000 penalty was levied against Maddox, along with the requirements that he and high-ranking executives be monitored by Miller & Chevalier at company expense. The year of monitoring resulted in a tab of $830,000, well above the original estimate of $575,000 to $775,000.

Upon agreeing to a monitoring program last year, Maddox appeared fine with it, saying that in the gaming business, someone is always watching, whether it’s customers, employees, or regulators.

The Miller & Chevalier monitoring submission wasn’t confined to Wynn’s efforts to prevent sexual harassment issues. It also included financial comments on the health of the Everett Encore property, noting that some executives are concerned about the venue’s slow start and the time it’s taking to fully ramp the property up.

Likewise, employees interviewed by the law firm are worried that the operator isn’t supporting Encore Boston Harbor the way it is its two Macau and two Las Vegas integrated resorts.

The property notched just eight full months of business before being shuttered in mid-March by the coronavirus pandemic. During that period, the company was earning about $50 million in gambling revenues per month. Before the casino opened, gambling analysts estimated that Encore would earn about $800 million a year or about $200 million less yearly than estimated when the casino closed down in March because of the virus.

Employees are concerned that Encore’s promise to pay them, which runs out at the end of May, will lead to layoffs, furloughing and to a much smaller staff. Massachusetts casinos remain closed, and while the MGC is reviewing plans to reopen those venues, the regulator extended the closure period three times. Industry observers are saying Bay State gaming properties will likely be the last to reopen in the US, as MGC isn’t giving a ballpark estimate as to when that will happen.

As part of its plans submitted to the MGC, Wynn said it will eliminate poker and only offer craps in the VIP area of the casino.

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