A Boston Globe editorial is calling for an end to delays on the Encore Boston Harbor casino project.
Wynn Resorts is moving full steam ahead with the $2.6 billion project, currently under construction in Everett, Mass. It still plans to open the casino this June. However, local gaming authorities are still busy questioning Wynn Resorts’ suitability as a Massachusetts casino operator.
In January, the Wall Street Journal reported a series of sexual harassment allegations against founder and CEO Steve Wynn. He has since stepped down.
In the meantime, Wynn Resorts has tried to distance the Everett project from the controversy, replacing longstanding board members and changing its name from Wynn Boston Harbor to Encore Boston Harbor.
A question of Wynn Resorts’ suitability
However, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission decided to conduct its own investigation into the allegations. And in particular, if Wynn Resorts kept information from it while it was determining Wynn Resorts’ suitability as a casino license holder the first time.
The commission planned to deal with a final report from its Investigations and Enforcement Bureau in December. However, Steve Wynn sued to block the public release of the report, and a Nevada judge granted him a temporary injunction. The commission’s legal team will appear before the judge in an effort to get that lifted next week.
However, Boston Globe editorial writer Colette A.M. Phillips all but said there’s no point. In her New Year’s Day editorial headlined “It’s time to end delays on Encore,” which published in the Boston Globe, Phillips essentially says the project should be allowed to move forward with or without the results of the commission’s investigation. It reads:
“The (Commission) has been looking into the allegations at Wynn Resorts to determine who knew what and when about their CEO’s actions before finalizing its approval for Encore. These are important questions, and anyone associated with protecting that kind of behavior should have no role whatsoever in Wynn Resorts or Encore.
“But here’s the thing: All of those people are already gone. The board has been replaced. Senior management has been replaced. Wynn himself has not only left Encore’s parent company but is suing the business that still bears his name. The only senior person still at Wynn is its since-elevated CEO, who has said he did not know about the allegations.”
A moot point
According to Phillips, the investigation is moot, since it is only “investigating people who no longer work at Wynn Resorts.” Plus, Phillips says the only people being hurt by it are those who will potentially work at the casino resort. Additional strain goes to the City of Everett, which she says is in desperate need of an economic boost.
As a bit of an aside, Phillips applauds Encore’s Workforce Development Plan. The plan commits to hiring 50 percent women and 40 percent minorities. Plus, it provides for even the most basic training and education and gives preference to former Suffolk Downs employees.
However, Phillips also says it’s those benefiting from this plan are being hurt by project delays.
The future of Encore Boston Harbor
Phillips says, for Massachusetts at least, it’s simply time to move forward into the future:
“The ugly alleged behavior of Wynn Resorts’ former CEO and those who enabled it can’t be undone. But instead of ignoring what transpired, the company has owned what happened – and offered up a new and more compelling future. We should embrace that future.
“The Encore plan could be a model for large employers across the Commonwealth. Blocking the resort’s path forward or letting it die a slow death in endless litigation would be tantamount to wasting thousands of career opportunities for those who need them most. These opportunities don’t come around for communities of color that often. Approving Encore is the right thing to do for our communities and a good bet for our state.”