Wynn Boston groundbreaking by July; Mashpee Wampanoag pimp Taunton casino

wynn-boston-harbor-casino-massachusettsCasino operator Wynn Resorts unveiled the design of its new Massachusetts project on Tuesday, complete with name change, an increased budget and a construction starting date.

Wynn boss Steve Wynn (pictured) summoned reporters to his company’s local office in Medford on Tuesday to survey a 3D model of the new project, which will now be known as Wynn Boston Harbor, replacing its old working title of Wynn Everett.

Wynn also announced that the project will likely break ground on July 1, reversing course from the company’s announcement a few weeks ago that the project was “effectively on hold” until it could resolve an environmental challenge by the mayor of neighboring Somerville.

Wynn now says he expects the courts to dismiss the legal “irritation” based on his belief that the suit raised “noting substantive.” Wynn insisted that his company was “done paying” local officials and not so obliquely referenced the company’s long legal tiff with Boston’s mayor, saying “if somebody had a hemorrhoid, we had to mitigate it.”

Wynn says Wynn Boston Harbor will likely open by early 2019 and will cost around $2b, up from the earlier $1.7b budget. As for the name change, Wynn said the fact that the casino site isn’t actually on Boston Harbor didn’t matter, as it was “connected to it with the [Mystic] river.”

Wynn also dismissed the prospect of competition from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s proposed casino in Taunton, saying he’d faced far greater competitive pressures in gaming jurisdictions like Las Vegas and Macau. Wynn said he wished the tribe well but otherwise he “could care less about Taunton.”

Speaking of Taunton, Tuesday saw the Mashpee Wampanoag unveil their casino plans to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), which has postponed its decision on whether to award a casino license for the Brockton region until it resolves questions about the tribe’s ambitions.

The tribe has teamed with Malaysian casino operator Genting on a project to be built on an industrial park ground in Taunton, 30 miles south of Boston. The land was placed into trust by the federal government on behalf of the tribe this year, an act that has been challenged by Rush Street Gaming subsidiary Massachusetts Gaming and Entertainment, which wants to win the Brockton license.

The tribe says its First Light Resort and Casino would be built in four phases, with work on phase one scheduled to begin on April 5. Assuming that schedule is met, the first phase could open by next summer, with the other phases completed by 2022.

The finished resort – the cost of which has been variously estimated at $500m to $1b – plans to boast 3k slots, 150 gaming tables and 40 poker tables, 900 hotel rooms, a 33k-square-foot ballroom, retail, dining and nightclub options as well as a water park.

Mashpee Wampanoag chairman Cedric Cromwell wasn’t short of confidence in expressing his tribe’s faith in the project, saying the state’s other casino operators were “going to have a lot of problems” competing with the First Light venue. Cromwell suggested the other operators would need to “come together and figure out when they are going to close down.”

The tribe has promised to pay the state 17% of First Light’s gross gambling revenue, but only on the condition that the Brockton project doesn’t go forward. Asked how much the tribe would owe the state if the MGC approved a Brockton casino, Taunton mayor Thomas Hoye said: “Zero.”