Wynn antes up $1m to fight ballot question
Breaking down big donors to ballot campaigns
Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn isn’t someone you’d call wishy-washy, but lately he’s been changing his mind a lot.
He reluctantly agreed to redesign his proposed Everett casino hotel after Massachusetts officials insisted the initial design didn’t measure up. Then he agreed to up his traffic mitigation efforts after state officials said he didn’t have enough skin in the game. And now Wynn has donated more than $1 million to the group opposing casino repeal after previously saying he would stay out of the ballot fight.
In an interview in Las Vegas with CommonWealth last spring, Wynn said he didn’t think it was his place to sway a state’s voters one way or another on gambling. “When states have ballot measures, my take on this, after having had this job for 40-odd years, is that it’s inappropriate for us to work it,” he said. As recently as May, Wynn’s position hadn’t changed.
But now, after having won the Greater Boston casino license, Wynn is working it. State campaign finance reports indicate Wynn Resorts gave $1 million to the group opposing casino repeal on October 7 to go along with $3.3 million donated by MGM Resorts International, which wants to build a casino in Springfield, and $3.25 million from Penn National Gaming, which is building a slots parlor in Plainville. All told, the Vote No committee has raised $7.56 million.
All four questions on the November ballot are lopsided contests financially. Here’s a breakdown of the major donors on each side.
Question 1 would repeal the law indexing the gas tax to inflation. The Vote No campaign has raised nearly $1.7 million, far more than the $91,000 raised by the Vote Yes group.
The big supporters of gas tax indexing are the Construction Industries of Massachusetts Advancement Fund of Framingham ($200,000), Suffolk Construction ($100,000), the Utility Contractors Association of New England ($100,000), the Massachusetts Aggregate and Asphalt Pavement Association ($100,000), and Hostetter ($90,000).
The biggest donor to the Vote Yes campaign is the Liberty Initiative Fund of Woodbridge, Virginia, a group whose stated goal is to hold government accountable, fight crony capitalism, and protect individual liberties.
Question 2 would expand the reach of the bottle deposit law to noncarbonated beverage containers other than wine and milk. The Vote No group has raised nearly $8.8 million, while the Vote Yes side has raised just over $1 million.
The biggest supporters of the Vote Yes campaign are the Massachusetts Sierra Club ($493,000) and the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund ($365,000).
The Vote No campaign has received $6.3 million from the American Beverage Association and $300,000 from Stop & Shop Cos. of Quincy.
The Vote No side received $35,000 from the National Restaurant Association.