Business news rarely breaks on a Sunday, but one week ago, somebody missed that memo, and the gaming industry stood back and watched two of its major Las Vegas-based companies make headlines.
Wynn Resorts Ltd. had been gearing up to make the Sunday news cycle for months when it declared it was going to open the doors to Encore Boston Harbor on June 23. Meanwhile, after much speculation Reno-based Eldorado Resorts announced its pending acquisition of Caesars Entertainment Corp.
Many, myself included, thought a June 23 Encore Boston Harbor opening couldn’t be done, considering the regulatory quagmire Wynn was stuck in as recently as April. That’s when the Massachusetts Gaming Commission decided to let Wynn retain its license in Massachusetts but assessed a record $35.5 million in fines. The company’s suitability was in question after an investigation determined that former Wynn Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn and other executives failed to disclose a $7.5 million settlement payment in 2005 to a woman who said he forced her to have sex with him. Steve Wynn has denied harassing anyone.
No way the regulatory wheels could turn efficiently enough to pull off the type of opening Steve Wynn was known for — he’s been credited with remaking the face of Las Vegas at least three times, once at The Mirage, once at Bellagio and once at Wynn Las Vegas.
But it happened.
When people have asked what Encore Boston Harbor is like, I’ve told them that if you plopped me into the middle of anywhere in the resort and I didn’t know I was in Boston, I would swear I was at Wynn or Encore in Las Vegas.
There are plenty of similarities and a few differences between Wynn’s Las Vegas and Boston entries.
Similar: The art. It’s everywhere, and people were exploring it all on opening day.
Different: No smoking. Thanks to Massachusetts law, there is no smoking in the casino. People say it would be impossible for the Nevada Legislature to ban smoking in casinos here. But I’ve got to tell you … it was pretty nice.
Similar: The flowers. The Boston landscaping is just as lush and beautiful as it is in Las Vegas.
Different: The waterfront. Take it from a tried and true desert dweller — there’s nothing as exhilarating as a trip on the water on a warm summer day. Can’t vouch for what it’s going to be like in the dead of winter.
The other big Sunday gaming news story was the $17.3 billion pending acquisition of Caesars Entertainment by Reno-based Eldorado Resorts.
Those paying attention knew it was a distinct possibility that the smaller Eldorado, owned primarily by Reno’s Carano family, was going to make a play for the company and property synonymous with pre-Wynn, old-school luxurious gambling, home to big-time entertainers Celine Dion and Elton John and re-energized by Hollywood in “Rain Man” and “The Hangover.”
All of us saw it coming, but it still seemed surreal that the show is going to be run from Reno with the announcement that the company’s corporate headquarters would be moved there.
Many probably don’t recall it’s a homecoming for the company once known as Harrah’s, which was born in Reno in 1937.
There are still plenty of news cycles ahead for Eldorado and Caesars with the company’s plans to enter the Japan sweepstakes in doubt and the prospect of a Caesars-held Strip property being sold in the future.
Maybe the news will even break on a Sunday.