The Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced Friday that it had found Wynn Resorts Ltd. suitable to hold a gambling license in the state, as its proposed Wynn Everett project moves one step closer to breaking ground.
The Las Vegas-based gaming company has proposed a $1.2 billion resort-casino in Everett on the site of a former Monsanto chemical plant. The project, built on 32 acres along the Mystic River, will include a 550-room hotel.
The final step in the approval process is the gaming commission signing off on the company’s site, design, finance and other key aspects of its proposal.
“We are certainly pleased with the decision of the commission and look forward to submitting our application next week,” Wynn Resorts said in a statement.
The commission posted its decision Friday on its website, about a week after the commission’s investigators deemed the company suitable.
“As a result of the comprehensive background investigation, a lengthy adjudicatory proceeding and an intensive deliberation conducted by the five-member gaming commission, the commission finds by a unanimous vote that (Wynn Resorts) has met its burden of proof and accordingly is issued a positive determination of suitability,” the commission said.
In its nine-page report, the commission said Wynn Resorts had adequately addressed concerns raised by gaming investigators about its casino business in Macau. Regulators also said the concerns about whether an undisclosed owner of the Everett parcel had a criminal background had been addressed.
“On the whole, it is clear … that the applicant has created a dynamic within its company that promotes strict regulatory compliance,” the commission said. The company also demonstrated “at the hearing that it engages in responsible business practices in Macau.”
Stephen Crosby, the commission’s chair, recused himself from the land deal vote because a former business partner is one of the co-owners of the property outside Boston, according to the Associated Press. But Crosby did participate in and sign the suitability decision.
Wynn Resorts operates Wynn Las Vegas and Encore on the Strip, along with Wynn Macau and Encore in China. The gaming company is also building a $4 billion resort on Macau’s Cotai Strip called Wynn Palace.
The company founded and controlled by Steve Wynn reported earnings of $182 million, or $1.79 per share, on revenue of $1.39 billion in the third quarter.
The finding makes the Everett proposal the second project in the state to clear the review process known as Phase 1. MGM Resorts International’s project in Springfield on Monday was the first casino to receive a finding of suitability.
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said he wasn’t surprised by the commission’s decision.
“From my first conversation with (Steve) Wynn and his team, I knew I was dealing with a leader in the industry and a great partner for the city of Everett,” DeMaria said in a statement. “Together, we will continue to lead the way in bringing a world-class project to the region and all the benefits that come with it.”
DeMaria said he was looking forward to the next phase of the application process. Know as Phase 2,the process is “site specific” and focuses on site, design, finance, operation, community mitigation and other attributes of the gaming facility itself.
Wynn Everett, along with the Mohegan Sun project at Suffolk Downs racetrack in Revere, is competing for the “Region A,” or Eastern Massachusetts, casino license. The state’s 2011 casino law allows for three regional resorts, according to the commission’s website.
Earlier this year, Wynn Resorts and Everett officials took the first step signing off on a referendum that called for the company to make $30 million in advance payments to Everett and more than $25 million in annual payments if the casino opens.
In June, 86 percent of the 6,157 eligible voters casting ballots approved the casino project. The final licenses should be awarded by the second quarter of 2014.
Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at email@example.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.