Gaming Commission on two tracks with Wynn
Casino license still up in air as construction wraps up, opening nears
IT WAS AN ODD JUXTAPOSITION at Thursday’s meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, with commissioners one minute trying to figure out when they will be able to see a report on whether Wynn Resorts should be allowed to retain its casino license and the next minute praising the company for the progress of its construction work and its stellar minority hiring record.
The casino and hotel are on schedule to open June 23. Contracts awarded to companies headed by minorities, women, and veterans during the construction phase accounted for 18 percent of the total, well above the 11 percent target. Nearby road work is done or nearly done. Landscaping is taking shape. Wynn Resorts is hosting all sorts of community events and promising $10 million over the next four years to local charities. In short, it looks like the $2.6 billion project is nearing completion.
Yet it’s still not settled whether Wynn Resorts will retain the casino license it needs to open. Investigators working for the Gaming Commission have completed a report on Steve Wynn’s alleged sexual misconduct and the suitability of the company in the wake of his departure, but that report is stalled in a Las Vegas court where a judge has verbally ruled that some of the material in the report is protected from public disclosure. The judge’s written decision is expected soon, but it’s unclear how long this court fight is going to drag on. The gaming commissioners have not yet seen the report.
David Mackey, one of the attorneys, said he wanted to review the written decision before making that determination.
Outside the meeting, Zuniga declined to get into what ifs, but he indicated he doesn’t want to let the matter drag on and on. “That’s fundamentally the question I have for our lawyers,” he said. “What happens next?”
Edward Bedrosian Jr., the executive director of the Gaming Commission, suggested the agency could move ahead on two tracks – on the one hand investigating the suitability of the company to retain its license and on the other hand preparing for the opening of the casino and hotel.“Advance preparation does not in any way prejudge the outcome of the investigation,” Bedrosian said.
But as time keeps slipping by, it becomes more and more difficult to pull the Wynn Resorts casino license. There are theories on how the commission could pull the license and take control of the casino itself or force a sale to another casino operator, but both options are complex and fraught with dangers that could jeopardize the jobs of the thousands of workers at the facility and the many more jobs that are likely to feed off of casino work.