Massachusetts gaming regulators won’t be issuing the lone Boston-area casino license this week after all. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) was expected to announce whether Wynn Resorts or Mohegan Sun had won the coveted license by Friday (12) but this has now been pushed back. The MGC says it needs to give both applicants time to respond to fresh conditions the MGG wants to impose. The MGC will reconvene on Monday with the hope of reaching a verdict by next Wednesday (17).
Mohegan Sun is being asked to raise an additional $100m in capital to reduce its debt load before taking on a new mammoth construction project. The MGC also expressed an interest in Mohegan Sun clarifying its marketing agreement to ensure the company wouldn’t funnel Massachusetts high rollers to Mohegan Sun’s Foxwoods casino in Connecticut, where gaming taxes are lower.
The new conditions potentially facing Wynn’s project include payments to resolve expected traffic bottlenecks in the vicinity of its casino. Wynn was also told to make mitigation payments to Boston of $1m upfront, $2.6m annually and a pledge to buy $15m worth of goods and services per year from Boston-area merchants. The amount is basically what Wynn had already offered, so it won’t complain too loud. Last month, the MGC revoked Boston’s automatic ‘community status’ entitlement after Mayor Martin Walsh complained that Wynn’s best offer was less than the $20m annual cash payment promised by Mohegan Sun.
Earlier this week, reports had suggested Wynn’s proposed casino in Everett was garnering the edge over Mohegan Sun’s Revere casino plan, in part because Wynn’s project promised to bring in more economic activity from outside the Boston area. Wynn has projected that 23.6% of its casino visitors would opt to stay overnight at its hotel, a significant premium over Mohegan Sun’s estimate that just 3.3% of its visitors would be packing a suitcase.
Wynn also projected that $230m of its project’s annual revenue would come from beyond the eastern portion of the state. International visitors would account for $75m of this total. By comparison, Mohegan Sun expects just $40m of its casino revenue to come from outside eastern Massachusetts and most of that would come from other regions of the state or from Connecticut.
Whoever wins the Boston derby, their victory may be short-lived. In November, Massachusetts voters will decide whether to repeal the 2011 law that allowed the construction of three casinos and one slots hall in the state. Recent polls show the repeal isn’t likely to succeed, but as they say, that’s why they play the games.