Wynn Resorts Appears To Have Upper Hand For Boston Casino License
Wynn Resorts appears to have a strong advantage over Mohegan Sun in the fierce competition for the Boston-area casino license, even as the Las Vegas gambling giant pushes back against some requirements state regulators are seeking to impose if it is to win the license.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which resumed deliberations Monday, has rated Wynn's $1.6 billion resort casino plan for a former chemical plant in Everett higher than Mohegan Sun's in a number of critical categories, including financing and economic development potential. The commission will hear comments from both casino operators Tuesday as it prepares to award the lucrative gambling license sometime this week.
Overall, Wynn's project has won high marks in the commission's months-long review largely on the strength of its financial balance sheet, its reputation as a premier gambling company and its vision of a luxury resort. Some of the commissioners have said they feel Wynn's plan to appeal to a wealthy international clientele and to leverage Boston's reputation as a tourist destination may be a better fit for what state lawmakers had envisioned when they passed legislation allowing for the opening of new casinos in 2011.
In contrast, Mohegan Sun's plan for the Suffolk Downs horse racing track in Revere has been dinged for being a comparatively less ambitious facility that's more focused on drawing Boston-area residents and not encroaching on the customer base of its Connecticut casino.
Still Wynn, in a letter released Monday, pushed back against the panel's request to consider redesigning it 27-story glass hotel tower, which commission members have judged as too generic.
``There is no doubt that a glass curtain wall allowing for floor to ceiling wall to wall glass that looks upon the Mystic River and the Boston skyline is the most attractive solution for the guest experience,'' it wrote.
The casino, in a follow-up email to the commission, said it will propose alternative designs, as the panel wants, a spokesman said.
In another key area, Wynn submitted a revised plan to pay more toward area traffic improvements, especially in congestion-prone Sullivan Square in nearby Boston. It's not clear, though, if those changes would be sufficient to allay regulators' concerns as they weigh imposing further demands on the company in the transportation arena.
In contrast, Mohegan Sun said in a letter to the commission that it has secured at least $100 million more in equity for its proposed casino at the Suffolk Downs horse racing track in Revere, as the commission requested last week. Commission members have voiced concerns that the project, which the casino company bills as costing $1.1 billion, is too highly leveraged and calls for a significant share of its spending to go toward non-construction costs such as financing.
Regulators also are concerned that Mohegan Sun declined to commit to marketing the proposed Revere casino in Connecticut, where its flagship casino is located. Instead, Mohegan Sun proposes expanding its marketing efforts to Maine and to allow patrons to redeem any gambling promotions from its other casino properties at the Revere resort.