The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) said they would proceed as normal with plans for the Wynn Boston Harbor resort casino, but described the situation as “awkward” and said that Wynn was moving forward with the project “at its own risk” – meaning that losing the Region A gaming license is a possibility.
The situation came at the MGC’s monthly meeting on March 29 in Boston, where Wynn appeared for their first quarterly update since CEO Steve Wynn resigned under sexual misconduct allegations in February. The dual nature of the program for Wynn – and the reason for the awkwardness – is that the MGC is running a no holds barred investigation into the company right now, while at the same time proceeding with matters as if nothing has happened.
It is the reason for the ‘at risk’ designation now given to the project.
Wynn Boston Harbor president Bob DeSalvio said they made the decision to proceed at their own risk and they are not worried about it at all.
“It doesn’t (worry us) whatsoever,” he said. “We certainly understand we are always under review with regards to licensing with the Gaming Commission. As far as the local workforce goes, we are moving forward – all systems go.”
He also explained that there are two investigations going on right now, the MGC one and one from the Wynn Board of Directors. He said they need to let both play out right now.
“The best thing we can do now is let those play out,” he said, noting that they won’t put any timelines on it. “They have significant work to do. They will be thorough.”
Further questioned by members of the media about Wynn’s suitability to hold a license in Massachusetts, DeSalvio said he believed they were suitable.
“We are an excellent gaming company operating at a very high level in Las Vegas and Macau. Next June, we’ll be operating in the Commonwealth,” he said. “Our 25,000 team members do an outstanding job every day…We feel we are very much suitable.”
MGC Chair Steve Crosby said Wynn has made the decision to proceed, and right now their license is still viable – but he said there are investigations that are ongoing.
“We’re simply awaiting the outcome; that’s where it now stands,” he said.
“There are two things happening here,” he continued. “This is the biggest single-phased development in the history of Massachusetts. It’s a $2.4 billion project in Everett. It’s critical for Everett and communities around it…From a workforce perspective, we need to remember this can hurt a lot of people’s lives and lots of money that’s been invested. In parallel, we have to do a thorough no holds barred investigation…We will bring the results of that forward and talk about it in front of everyone.”
He also stated the Wynn project is at its own risk.
“Wynn is making the decision to proceed,” he said. “There is an investigation going on and they will be doing this at their risk. That the decision they made and that’s fine with us.”
The discussion of being ‘at risk’ came at the outset of Thursday’s meeting, when MGC Executive Director Ed Bedrosian Jr. set the tone and addressed the awkwardness of the situation.
He said the investigation is ongoing and that he hopes they can have the results to the MGC by summer. He said that right now there are MGC investigators in Las Vegas making inquiries.
“It’s an awkward situation, but the matter from now on must continue on parallel tracks,” he said.
“As a practical matter, Wynn Resorts is proceeding on the project on an at-risk basis,” he said.
- Crosby chastises Wynn on sexual harassment
MGC Chair Steve Crosby had a word of warning for the Wynn group during and after the meeting on Thursday as the company discussed hiring and employee matters, but skirted by any discussion of sexual harassment training.
“To not bring attention to sexual harassment and women in the workplace during that discussion seemed to be a fairly substantial missing piece for the protection of employees,” he said. “It seemed to be a pretty big missing piece, particularly for people from Wynn Resorts.”
The discussion came during the report on employment, diversity employment goals and the new employment practices being put in place in preparation for a “mass hire” in early 2019.
Wynn officials said they are in the process of modifying their policies and will report back soon.
- New commissioner to come soon
Commissioner Lloyd MacDonald has left the MGC as a commissioner, and Attorney General Maura Healey has appointed Eileen O’Brien to the vacant post.
O’Brien will begin her seating on the MGC this week.
O’Brien, a Newton resident, served in various positions within the Special Investigations and Narcotics Division at the AG’s Office, including chief of the division from April 2004 to July 2008.