Has Wynn’s luck run out?
The MA Gaming Commission has a tough hand to play
It was a good run for Wynn Resorts, the gambling behemoth that landed the big prize in the state’s casino sweepstakes when it was awarded the one license to run a casino (i.e., print money) in the Boston region.
But as the company moguls well know, luck is fickle thing. Indeed, their entire business model is run on the firm knowledge that patrons will ultimately experience net deficit of it. The question now: Could that immutable law become Wynn’s fate?
It turns out the company’s founder, Steve Wynn, had a penchant for grabbing more than just the losses of those flooding his many casinos. His Trump-like way with women led to a great fall, with the one-time casino king sent packing from the company that bears its name. Call it matter of cutting your losses.
The problem for Wynn Resorts is that Massachusetts established a very strict fitness and character provision in its gambling legislation, terms that caused a Wynn rival for the Boston license to be disqualified based on questions about a one-time business partner it had. With Steve Wynn now shown the door, the company is even signaling a willingness to consider airbrushing him entirely from the whole venture by removing the Wynn name from the $2 billion casino rising alongside the Mystic River in Everett.
But is it that simple? The Wall Street Journal, which first reported in January on allegations of Steve Wynn’s decades-long history of sexual harassment and assault, reported last week that Wynn’s escapades were well-known in — and enabled by — the company hierarchy. That’s a problem for the Everett casino, which state gambling commission chairman Steve Crosby has said the company is now building “on an at-risk basis.”Yanking the company’s license and forcing it to sell off its half-built gambling palace, where thousands of construction workers are now employed, would be a huge disruption. “It will be ugly, and costly, and hard,” writes Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham. “But the Gaming Commission must do it. Or else concede that its high standards no longer apply once shovels hit the ground.”
It seems inarguable that Wynn would not have received the license if the state commission knew then what it knows now. They have a tough hand to play.