BOSTON (WGGB/WSHM/AP) -- MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts issued a joint statement Friday, indicating that they have discussed a potential sale of Wynn's Encore Boston Harbor resort-casino.
The $2 billion project in Everett is scheduled to open next month and in the statement, the companies said that their talks would not impact that opening and that the conversations are "very preliminary."
It would be a complicated deal for MGM as current gaming commission rules say that companies can not have more than one gaming license in the state.
The full statement - from MGM and Wynn - appears below:
“Over the past several weeks, we have engaged in conversations around the potential sale of Encore Boston Harbor. They are very preliminary and of the nature that publicly traded corporations like ours often engage in, and in fact when opportunities such as this are presented, we are required to explore. We cannot say today where these conversations will lead, however we can reaffirm our commitment to the communities where we operate today.
“The people of Springfield and Everett welcomed us into their neighborhoods. We know that is a privilege and we take it seriously. Our conversations will not impact the jobs at our facilities and will not impact the opening of Encore Boston Harbor. Regardless of where this leads us, we will ensure that our commitments will be met, and that those who welcomed us into their communities will not be disappointed.”
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is reacting to the news, saying in a statement:
"MGM Resorts International President Bill Hornbuckle reached out to me late yesterday evening to indicate that Wynn Encore had reached out to MGM wanting to speak with them and again, this is all speculative. Bill reassured me of MGM’s commitment to Springfield and that if anything was to be entertained, and/or occurred, that myself and the Mass Gaming Commission would have a big and ultimate say in what might or might not happen. The biggest take here is that Bill reassured me of their commitment to the City of Springfield and I will always continue to stand and fight for what is best for our City of Springfield. This is preliminary and conjecture at this time. We had a very good and mutually respectful conversation.”
State gambling regulators last month levied a $35 million fine on Wynn Resorts but let Wynn keep its casino license after finding executives failed to disclose allegations of sexual misconduct against company founder Steve Wynn.
It also levied another $500,000 fine on new CEO Matthew Maddox.
In its investigation, Massachusetts Gaming Commission focused on how long Wynn officials were aware of the allegations against Steve Wynn and how they responded, rather than the truth behind the claims.
Steve Wynn, who resigned as CEO last year, has denied the allegations.
After the fine was announced, Wynn Resorts issued a statement saying "our company is now focused on a successful launch of Encore Boston Harbor."
The fine was the biggest imposed by any state casino regulatory agency, commission staff and industry experts said. The Nevada Gaming Commission in February levied a $20 million fine on Wynn Resorts that was the largest imposed at the time, they said.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which regulates casino gambling, had no immediate comment on the talks between the two companies.
Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in a statement the agency said its written decision following the Wynn investigation stands.
"The deadline for fine payment and notice of appeal is May 31. The MGC continues to focus its efforts on the significant amount of regulatory preparations required before Encore's opening," Driscoll said in the emailed statement.
The 2011 state law that authorized up to three resort casinos in Massachusetts prohibits companies from holding more than one casino license, so MGM would not be permitted to operate both the Springfield and Boston Harbor facilities.
The law does contemplate the possibility of a license transfer and provides guidance for how one might occur, but such a process would likely be complicated and perhaps lengthy, according to gambling regulators.
As host communities for the casinos, Springfield and Everett would also likely have a say in any negotiations surrounding new licensees for the casino.
MGM's Springfield casino, hotel, entertainment and shopping complex opened last August near the Connecticut state line and reported one million visitors in its first six weeks — generating more than $36 million in gambling revenues, translating to about $9 million in tax revenues for the state, which collects 25 percent of casino gambling revenues.
As of March, the state had collected about $42 million in taxes from the casino.
Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.