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September 17, 2021

The Massachusetts commission intends to hold a hearing in the coming month

Encore Boston Harbor may be able to keep casino license

Encore Boston Harbor may be able to keep casino license
The stakes, ultimately, are whether the now-Wynn-less Wynn Resorts will keep its license and remain on track to open up its $2.4 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino on the banks of the Mystic River in Everett.
United States | 11/20/2018

With the $2.4 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino nearly complete the Massachusetts Gaming Commission may try to absolve Encore and blame mogul Steve Wynn for his deceptive application, industry watchers say.

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ldquo;They’ll put it all on Wynn,” casino expert Clyde Barrow predicted of the report’s pending release. “It’ll look bad for Wynn, and the commission will plead, ‘We didn’t know to look for it, and they withheld information.’ ”

That would allow them to maintain the costly status quo and avoid any responsibility for failing to detect his trail of sexual harassment issues, observers say.

According to Boston Herald, the commission intends to hold a hearing in the coming months on the report from an investigation of reported sexual harassment allegations involving numerous women — including a notorious $7.5 million settlement — and whether they were improperly kept from the Gaming Commission during the 2013 suitability investigation. The stakes, ultimately, are whether the now-Wynn-less Wynn Resorts will keep its license and remain on track to open up its $2.4 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino on the banks of the Mystic River in Everett. Rival Mohegan Sun, which lost its bid, has launched legal action.

One likely excuse: In 2013, years before the #MeToo movement took down a range of high-profile accused sexual predators, investigators weren’t focused on workplace sexual assault.

“They weren’t asking about that at all,” Barrow said. “Massachusetts did follow the process that I think would have been considered standard anywhere in the country.”

Paul Debole, a Lasell College professor who studies casinos, said, “If the public record doesn’t reveal anything, and if no one tells them, then there’s no real way for them to get a bead on it.”

The question then becomes whether Encore is complicit with Wynn and deserves to lose its license — leaving it holding a massive vacant resort complex in Everett.

“To what level was there nondisclosure?” Debole said.

The commission’s investigators also have focused on a 2014 mediation involving a former Wynn Resorts employee claiming wrongful termination who allegedly made an accusation against Steve Wynn. Court documents mention — but don’t detail — “an allegation about Mr. Wynn during the mediation that came out of left field.” Wynn, whose casino empire stretched from Las Vegas to Atlantic City to Macau, resigned after The Wall Street Journal reported in January that dozens of people accused the magnate of predatory sexual misconduct.

The commission may also have to take a hard look in the mirror, Boston College professor Rev. Richard McGowan said.

“They’re going to have to put a mea culpa on themselves,” McGowan said, though he said he expects the license to stay in place. “The report is going to say, ‘We wish we had done a better job initially.’ ”

An Encore spokesman and Gaming Commission members declined to comment.

“They’re probably going to come to the conclusion that yes, there was wrongdoing, yes, we probably wouldn’t have been found suitable if that’s what we were looking for, but they’ve also taken corrective action,” Barrow predicted.

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