Gaming Commission Needs to Step It Up [OPINION]
The $2.6 billion Wynn Encore Boston Harbor is close to completion and is promising to employ some 5,000 people when—or rather if—it ever opens. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been playing cheeky political games with Wynn Resorts since allegations of sexual misconduct emerged several years ago against founder Steve Wynn.
After a three-day hearing on whether to allow Wynn to keep its casino license, keep it with restrictions or lose it altogether, the powerful five-member commission is expected to begin what could be lengthy deliberations today.
Steve Wynn has walked away from the company he founded so as not to jeopardize the Boston area project, but the Commission suggests that Wynn Resorts may not have done enough to address the situation and questions whether the company remains suitable to hold the license.
The entire move to legalize gaming in Massachusetts has been a sham from day one. The legislation that legalized casino gaming and a slot parlor was rigged to keep southeastern Massachusetts from getting a license. And our legislative delegation voted for it anyway. Go figure that one out. I hear it's because the Patrick Administration threatened to squash South Coast Rail if they didn't. Whew! Good thing we caved on that, huh?
The Expanded Gaming Act was enacted in 2011. It called for three resort casinos and one slots parlor. A slots parlor opened at Plainridge Park Casino in June 2015, and the MGM Resort Casino opened in Springfield in 2018. The Gaming Commission has refused to grant a license in southeastern Massachusetts and is now playing games with Wynn in Boston. In that time, Rhode Island has developed a nice little casino industry.
People want casino gaming. The Gaming Commission needs to knock off the games and allow Wynn Resorts to open as scheduled with no further restrictions. The Commission must also get about the business of issuing a full commercial casino license for southeastern Massachusetts without further delay.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.