Beyond Turning Back, Everett Casino Has to Continue

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission says it’s launching a “review” of Steve Wynn who is under intense scrutiny after the Wall Street Journal published a report detailing allegations of sexual abuse against him by dozens of women. It’s unclear what could result from such a review but it’s clear the $2.4 billion casino in Everett is beyond the point of turning back. Construction should continue unfettered.

The Wynn Boston Harbor resort and casino in Everett as seen from the Assembly Row in Somerville as construction continues on the Everett project. Boston Herald staff photo by Christopher Evans

 

The accusations against Wynn are damning and reminds people of the Harvey Weinstein case. He is accused of exposing himself to Wynn employees and forcing them into sex. The conduct is alleged to have occurred over decades.

For his part, Wynn has denied the charges and links them to a rather nasty divorce. “The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous. We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation,” Wynn said in a statement.

Casino magnate Steve Wynn (L) and President Trump.

 

The speed with which the enforcement arm of the state gaming commission reacted was remarkable. Within hours of the WSJ story posting on line, the commission issued a statement on it. “The commission is now aware of and is taking very seriously the troubling allegations,” Elaine Driscoll, the gaming commission’s spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The suitability and integrity of our gaming licensees is of the utmost importance, and ensuring that suitability is an active and ongoing process…Consequently, the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau will conduct a regulatory review of this matter to determine the appropriate next steps.”

So, what “next steps” might the commission take? It doesn’t conduct criminal probes but it does require the “suitability” of its license holders. Under Massachusetts law, character, reputation, and integrity are all elements of “suitability” to hold a license, according to the Boston Globe. Wynn passed such a standard in 2014.

Rendering of Wynn Boston Harbor located in Everett, Mass. The $2.4 million project is scheduled to open next year.

 

Meanwhile, there’s movement on the political front. Some Democrats say any Republican candidate who received money from Wynn—a major GOP donor—should give it back. The call is similar to what Republicans demand of Democrats and Harvey Weinstein. Wynn’s involvement with the Republican party is deeper. He is the national party chair.

 

If the state gaming commission finds the allegations against Wynn are valid, the question becomes what remedies does it have? It certainly cannot—and should not—simply stop construction. We’re are way past that point. Could the commission require Wynn to surrender or sell the license? Theoretically, yes. But that could turn into a decade-long legal case.

In any event, the #metoo movement has now engulfed Steve Wynn and by extension, his Everett casino and the city itself.

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