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The owners of Wynn Resorts are discussing the possibility of selling their Encore Boston Harbor resort and casino in Everett to their competitor, MGM Resorts. Reporter Craig LeMoult has been covering the state's casino landscape. He spoke with WGBH Radio’s Judie Yuill. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Judie Yuill: Why would Wynn Resorts be interested in selling?
Craig LeMoult: It's a great question. They just survived this whole investigation into their handling, or their mishandling, of sexual misconduct allegations against the company's founder, Steve Wynn, that included several days of adjudicatory hearings. In the end, the Gaming Commission fined the company $35 million, but allowed Wynn to hold onto this lucrative gaming license, and the company was set to open that casino in Everett next month. I mean, they were at the finish line.
I talked to Paul Debole, a professor at Lasell College who studies this stuff, and he pointed out that Wynn Resorts is still facing a couple of lawsuits connected to that Everett casino — one from Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, and another from Mohegan Sun. It is tough to tell why they would do this. In their joint statement today, though. the companies said this kind of conversation happens all the time, and they're publicly traded corporations, so they actually have to consider these sorts of opportunities when they're presented to them. So that's what they're doing.
Yuill: But MGM just opened a casino in Springfield last summer.
LeMoult: Exactly. And state law says that no company can hold two gaming licenses. So if they were to buy the one in Everett, they would have to sell their Springfield casino.
Again, I talked to Paul Debole of Lasell College about this and why MGM would want to do that. “I think MGM would rather have what's going to make it any money,” Debole said. “And we've seen the numbers that have been coming out of Springfield that have been shockingly low. I mean, depressingly low. You know, they had a nice bump in revenue a couple months ago, but now they're back to the same $200 per machine per day amount that is just not very good, from a long term survivability standpoint.”
And Boston is just a bigger market, so it's a far more lucrative casino property than Springfield is. So this really could set off a whole reshuffling of casino ownership in the region.
Yuill: Right. But what would this mean for Springfield?
LeMoult: So this statement today reaffirmed the company's commitments to both Everett and Springfield and said, “Those who welcomed us into their communities will not be disappointed.” You know, MGM would have to sell the casino. It's really just pure speculation at this point, but I think there's a chance Mohegan Sun, which operates a tribal casino in Connecticut, might be interested in it. They've been involved in starting a joint venture with Foxwoods, another casino in Connecticut, to open a new Connecticut casino with the purpose of stopping Connecticut gamblers from going right up Route 91 to Springfield and losing their gambling money in Massachusetts instead of Connecticut.
Mohegan Sun had already actually expressed an interest in buying the Encore casino in Everett. And again, this is pure speculation, but if they can't get their hands on that Everett one, maybe they drop their plans for another Connecticut casino and decide to come to Springfield.
Yuill: What about the timing of the opening of the Everett casino?
LeMoult: The statement says all of these conversations will not affect that. So it still should be opening next month.
Yuill: That is WGBH Radio's Craig LeMoult, speaking with us about the news that Wynn Resorts is in talks to potentially sell its Everett casino to a competitor, MGM. This is WGBH’s All Things Considered.