Wynn Blasts Mohegan Sun’s Boston Casino Project in Hearing
Steve Wynn, the billionaire founder of Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN), criticized a plan by rival Mohegan Sun for a Boston-area casino, saying the tribe would steer business to its home state of Connecticut.
Connecticut has no tax on table games such as blackjack, Wynn said, while Massachusetts will have a 25 percent tax rate.
“What do you think they’re going to do when it comes time to move a big customer, pay 25 percent to Massachusetts, or shovel them off to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut where they pay nothing,” said Wynn at a webcast hearing held by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission yesterday in which the two companies presented their competing proposals.
Wynn and Mohegan Sun, a unit of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority in Uncasville, Connecticut, are vying for what would be the sole casino license in the Boston area. The commission is expected to pick a winner in May.
Mohegan wants to build a casino resort adjacent to the Suffolk Downs horse-racing track in the Boston suburb of Revere. Mohegan Chief Executive Officer Mitchell Etess said yesterday his plan will include easy access to public transportation and save the track, which has lost money as a horse racing-only facility.
The $1.3 billion project is being financed by New York-based hedge fund Brigade Capital Management LLC. Revere is holding a referendum on the proposal on Feb. 25.
Mohegan Sun is required as part of its financing agreement to use its database of customers in New England and Massachusetts to market the property, according to a spokesman.
“We will build a remarkable destination in Revere,” Mohegan Sun said in an e-mailed statement after the hearing. It said its plan will “produce the most revenue, and create thousands of employment and business opportunities for the region.”
Wynn said he plans to build a higher-end hotel than Mohegan Sun and that his rival’s proposal to have separate operators for its casino, retail and hotel businesses would also be a “coordination nightmare.”
Retail brands including Chanel, Gucci and Giorgio Armani are ready to lease space in Wynn’s proposed $1.6 billion resort, which would be located on the site of a former Monsanto Co. chemical plant in Everett, a Boston suburb, Wynn said. Wynn Resorts’ project is also superior because it’s not reliant on external funding, Wynn said.
A Wynn casino in Boston is Mohegan Sun’s “worst nightmare,” he said.
Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby closed the hearing yesterday saying the panel would “do everything within our power to evaluate these proposals carefully.”
Wynn Resorts’ shares fell 1.7 percent to $205.26 at the close in New York.
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