Wynn ‘Flabbergasted’ as Caesars Exits Boston Over License
Steve Wynn, the billionaire founder of Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN), said he was “flabbergasted” when he heard Caesars (CZR) Entertainment Corp. pulled out of a casino project in Boston after a critical review by regulators.
Wynn, 71, who is pursuing a casino in nearby Everett, Massachusetts, said the licensing process in the state had left him with more questions than answers.
“In my 47 years of business in the gaming industry, this is probably one of the most challenging, complex situations that I’ve ever faced,” Wynn said yesterday on a conference call. “If I was in any other business, and I was willing to spend the kind of money, create the kind of jobs that these states have requested, we would have the red carpet rolled out for us. But if you’re in the gaming business, there’s sort of a crummy presumption that you might be unsavory.”
Massachusetts legalized casino gambling two years ago and is in the process of awarding three licenses for casino resorts. Caesars dropped out of a proposed $1 billion project on Oct. 18 after investigators for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission recommended that the company, the largest owner of casinos in the U.S., be denied a license, Caesars Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Loveman said in an Oct. 19 interview.
Without identifying which state had inquired, he said regulators asked one of his directors to prove he owned his car and another for his marriage license with his spouse of 56 years.
“For crying out loud, how ridiculous,” Wynn said on the call. “We had to pay for this crap by the hour.” He added: “Well, deal fatigue sets in at this point.”
Michael Sangalang, a spokesman for the Massachusetts commission, didn’t immediately respond to a telephone or e-mail request for comment after normal business hours.
Wynn has proposed a $1.2 billion resort on the Mystic River near Boston.
Wynn’s Las Vegas-based company yesterday reported third-quarter earnings that topped analysts’ estimates as gambling continues to boom in the Chinese enclave of Macau.
Profit rose to $1.84 a share, excluding items, Wynn said in a statement. That compared with analysts’ projections of $1.67, the average of 22 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue gained 7.1 percent to $1.39 billion, beating analysts’ forecasts of $1.37 billion.
Wynn fell 2.7 percent to $168.18 at the close in New York. The stock has gained 50 percent this year. Caesars’ shares have almost tripled over the same period.
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