Hustle up Gaming Commission

No decision yet on the opening of a Wynn Resorts casino in Everett

It may be time for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to make up its mind about the suitability of Wynn Resorts to open a casino in Everett because the uncertainty is starting to take a toll.

Wynn CEO Matt Maddox hosted a conference call with financial analysts on Tuesday after the release of the company’s first quarter earnings report. Maddox didn’t mention the firm’s  Massachusetts situation in his opening statement, but it was the first question from the analysts. They wanted to know what was going on.

Maddox said he still loves the Greater Boston market, but he issued an ominous warning. “If there was any risk due to heightened rhetoric that there could be any contagion from Massachusetts into our $30 billion company in Las Vegas and Macau, we will have to take a hard look at what’s best to protect our shareholders and our value,” he said.

The analysts also wanted to know if the rumors were true that the Gaming Commission would wrap up its investigation early this summer. “It’s in the summer,” Maddox said. “I wouldn’t want to speculate early or mid.”

On Wednesday, during a grilling on CNBC, Maddox struck a more upbeat tone on Massachusetts, discounting talk that he might sell the Everett casino. “Boston’s not up for sale,” he said.

At a time when Wynn Resorts is trying to put a lot of distance between the company and Steve Wynn (a Gaming Commission hearing on that issue is scheduled for Friday), Maddox indicated he still talks to his mentor on occasion. “I don’t really talk to him much anymore,” he said. “He has distanced himself from the company.”

Meanwhile, the unsettled status of the Everett casino is having reverberations in Springfield, where MGM is preparing to open its casino this summer. MGM says it is committed to Springfield, but there has been a lot of speculation that Wynn Resorts might sell its facility to MGM, which would require MGM to unload its casino to someone else.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Boston Globe columnist Thomas Farragher said the rumor mill in Springfield is spinning like a roulette wheel. And former Springfield mayor Michael Albano insisted in an op-ed in CommonWealth that MGM has no heart for the city.

“The Massachusetts Gaming Commission should deny any MGM request to sell the Springfield license and purchase Wynn Boston Harbor,” Albano wrote. “The Massachusetts legislation never intended for a bait and switch, or trade-up strategy by casino operators. Springfield, and western Massachusetts, should not be the sacrificial lamb for MGM.”