EVERETT (CBS) – Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International are having discussions about the possible sale of Everett's Encore Boston Harbor casino, set to open next month.
Both companies confirmed the news, first reported by The Boston Globe, in a joint statement to WBZ-TV on Friday.
"Over the past several weeks, we have engaged in conversations around the potential sale of Encore Boston Harbor," the statement reads. "They are very preliminary and of the nature that publicly traded corporations like ours often engage in, and in fact when opportunities such as this are presented, we are required to explore. We cannot say today where these conversations will lead, however, we can reaffirm our commitment to the communities where we operate today."
"I was surprised, very surprised to hear that," said Wayne Matewsky, (D) At-Large Councilor, Everett. "We are looking forward to a grand opening of a five-star operation, and it's my understanding MGM is not five-star, they're three-star.
"It doesn't matter who owns the casino as long as it opens," said Reida Wright, of Everett.
The $2.6 billion Encore casino complex is supposed to open June 23, but Wynn's CEO said it may be delayed a week or two. The casino expects to attract 8 million visitors a year and employ 5,500 workers. MGM operates the casino in Springfield that opened last summer.
Wynn beat out a competing proposal from Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs in 2014, securing the only Boston-area casino license. But allegations of sexual misconduct against founder Steve Wynn have been a major problem for the company. State regulators fined Wynn Resorts $35 million for failing to disclose the allegations against the ex-CEO, while allowing the company to keep its casino license.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission indicated that news of a possible sale doesn't have any effect on the penalty levied against Wynn.
"The Commission's written decision stands. The deadline for fine payment and notice of appeal is May 31," commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll told WBZ-TV. "The MGC continues to focus its efforts on the significant amount of regulatory preparations required before Encore's opening."
The Globe notes that MGM is legally prevented from owning casinos in both Everett and Springfield, and both communities could object to a sale.
"Our conversations will not impact the jobs at our facilities and will not impact the opening of Encore Boston Harbor," the companies said. "Regardless of where this leads us, we will ensure that our commitments will be met, and that those who welcomed us into their communities will not be disappointed."
"I want to see this move forward in a positive way, but I'm disappointed if Encore hasn't even opened the doors and they're talking about selling it," said Matewsky.
Everett's mayor released a statement about the talks: "Neither Wynn nor the City shall transfer or assign its rights or obligations under this Agreement without prior written authorization of the other party."
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