United States-based casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd is in talks with rival MGM Resorts International over the potential sale of Encore Boston Harbor (pictured), the companies confirmed. The latter property, under development by Wynn Resorts, is scheduled to open next month.
“Over the past several weeks, we have engaged in conversations around the potential sale of Encore Boston Harbor,” the companies said in a joint statement following a Friday report on the negotiations carried by the Boston Globe newspaper.
The US$2.6-billion Encore Boston Harbor is in Everett, Massachusetts.
The joint statement from Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts added regarding the talks: “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.”
Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts stated the discussions would “not impact the jobs at our facilities and will not impact the opening of Encore Boston Harbor,” officially scheduled for end-June.
State gaming laws in Massachusetts ban the single ownership of more than one casino. MGM Resorts already owns MGM Springfield in that state, which opened in August.
Both Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts have operations in Macau. The companies are also each independently vying for a casino licence in Japan, as the country moves to push forward a domestic casino industry.
During a presentation to the Japan Gaming Congress on Tokyo on Friday, Chris Gordon, president of Wynn Resorts Development LLC – a Wynn Resorts subsidiary – spoke at length about Encore Boston Harbor. He highlighted the effort that had gone into an environmental clean-up of a brown field site as part of that project, and what he said would be the economic benefit of Encore Boston Harbor to its hinterland in terms of companies supplying it with goods and services.
Up until recently, Wynn Resorts had been focused on resolving regulatory reviews in two U.S. jurisdictions, Nevada and Massachusetts, where its operating licences were under examination. Gaming regulators in each jurisdiction found Wynn Resorts suitable to hold a licence, but they each imposed a hefty fine on the company related to the way the firm handled allegations of sexual misconduct involving alleged acts by the firm’s founder and former chairman and chief executive Steve Wynn against female staff members in the group.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission imposed a US$35 million fine on the firm, and a US$500,000 one personally on its chief executive Matt Maddox, placing licensing conditions in relation to its finding of his “suitability”.
In April, Wynn Resorts – the parent company of Macau-based casino firm Wynn Macau Ltd – said it had ended talks on a potential deal to acquire Australia-based gaming operator Crown Resorts Ltd. That followed what the company termed “premature disclosure of preliminary discussions” regarding a potential deal.
Crown Resorts had confirmed earlier that it had been approached by Wynn Resorts regarding a potential AUD10-billion (US$7.1-billion) takeover.
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”This [Encore Boston Harbor] isn’t a local casino. This isn’t regional gambling. This is the first time a major city has a five-star, large-scale, integrated resort”
Chief executive of Wynn Resorts