November 29, 2012

Las Vegas mogul looks at new Massachusetts site for casino

After Foxborough falls through, Steve Wynn shifts his focus to Everett for a possible resort.

The Associated Press

EVERETT, Mass. – Las Vegas gambling mogul Steve Wynn, rebuffed in his earlier effort to develop a resort casino near the home of the New England Patriots, returned to Massachusetts on Wednesday to visit a new potential site along the banks of the Mystic River.

Carlo DeMaria, Steve Wynn, Andrea Hissom
click image to enlarge

Casino mogul Steve Wynn and his wife, Andrea Hissom, leave City Hall Wednesday in Everett, Mass., where Wynn may apply to build a gambling resort.

The Associated Press

"We hope to go further with this process and maybe become part of the community in Everett, if the folks who live here think it's a good idea," Wynn said at a news conference with the city's mayor, Carlo DeMaria, Jr.

The prospective location of the resort hotel and casino is a 37-acre industrial parcel that was once home to a Monsanto Chemical Co. plant, but is now largely vacant.

No formal proposal was made and Wynn replied "hopefully," when asked if he would meet a Jan. 15 deadline set by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for preliminary casino applications, accompanied by a $400,000 non-refundable application fee.

In May, Wynn, whose prominent Las Vegas properties include the Bellagio, The Mirage and Treasure Island, had earlier sought to develop a resort casino in Foxborough on land owned by Robert Kraft, owner of the NFL's Patriots. He abandoned those plans after it became clear that public opinion in the town was sharply divided on the casino and selectmen declined to enter into negotiations.

"Here we have an entirely different kind of setup," Wynn said of Everett, a working-class city of about 41,000 residents just north of Boston.

Wynn noted that unlike the Foxborough proposal, the site in Everett would not be located in the immediate vicinity of any homes.

If the plan were to move forward, Wynn would be in competition for the sole eastern Massachusetts casino license with Suffolk Downs and Caesar's Entertainment, which has proposed a $1 billion resort at the East Boston horse track. The state's year-old gambling law allows for up to three resort casinos in different areas.

Asked what would make his plan superior to the one being offered by Suffolk Downs, Wynn replied: "The developer." He later acknowledged that his answer was self-serving, but cited his track record in establishing world-class resorts.

"In my business, the development makes the destination," he said. "The kinds of facilities we build become destinations unto themselves."

Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer for Suffolk Downs, said in a statement that the 77-year-old track was steadfast in its commitment to seeking a casino license and would be a "superior site" because of strong community support and proximity to Logan International Airport.

Suffolk Downs also has strong support from two of the state's most powerful politicians, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

 

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