Wynn Resorts Confirms Talks to Sell Boston-Area Casino to MGM

Friday - 17/05/2019 17:09
Wynn Resorts has had talks to sell its Encore Boston Harbor resort and casino to rival MGM, the companies said; the project, seen in January, is set to open in Everett, Mass., next month. PHOTO: STEVEN SENNE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Wynn Resorts has had talks to sell its Encore Boston Harbor resort and casino to rival MGM, the companies said; the project, seen in January, is set to open in Everett, Mass., next month. PHOTO: STEVEN SENNE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Wynn Resorts and MGM said they have had conversations in recent weeks about a potential sale of the Everett, Mass., project

By Aisha Al-Muslim

Wynn Resorts Ltd. WYNN -4.63% and MGM Resorts International MGM -2.41% are in talks for Wynn to sell its Boston-area casino project to rival MGM.

Wynn Resorts and MGM have engaged in conversations in the past several weeks about the potential sale of Wynn’s Encore Boston Harbor property in Everett, Mass., the companies said Friday in a statement. The 671-room hotel and casino is slated to open in June.

The talks “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,” the companies said in a joint statement. “We cannot say today where these conversations will lead, however we can reaffirm our commitment to the communities where we operate today.”

The Boston Globe reported earlier Friday that the two casino giants were in recent discussions regarding a sale of the property. Wynn Resorts had been in early talks last year to sell the project to MGM, as Massachusetts regulators were investigating the company’s handling of sexual-misconduct allegations against its founder and former chief executive Steve Wynn.

Such a deal would be complicated in Massachusetts, where a 2011 law permitting Las Vegas-style gambling doesn’t allow casino operators to own more than one facility in the state. MGM opened a casino costing nearly a billion dollars in Springfield, Mass., last year. That resort casino is a major component of efforts to rejuvenate Massachusetts’ third-largest city.

One potential challenge for the Springfield location is that the city is near the Connecticut border, and the two Native American tribes that own casinos in Connecticut are planning to build another one north of Hartford to try keeping gamblers from driving up to Springfield. Boston, New England’s largest city, is a sought-after market that is further away from state borders in an increasingly casino-dense Northeast.

Wynn Resorts’s engagement in talks to sell the Encore Boston Harbor come after the company called off a potential deal with Australian gambling company Crown Resorts Ltd.

Last month, the Massachusetts gambling regulators allowed Wynn Resorts to retain its license and open a casino near Boston but fined it $35 million after an investigation found that executives had run a sophisticated coverup to protect Mr. Wynn from allegations by employees that he had engaged in sexual misconduct. The state also fined current Wynn Chief Executive Matt Maddox $500,000.

Mr. Wynn, who declined to be interviewed by Massachusetts investigators, issued a statement to them included in the report saying he had never had a nonconsensual relationship.

The Massachusetts investigation, and a separate investigation by regulators in Nevada, came after The Wall Street Journal reported last year about how company officials handled sexual-misconduct allegations against Mr. Wynn.

—Jon Kamp contributed to this article.

Write to Aisha Al-Muslim at aisha

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