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Encore Boston Harbor has opening date in June

Wynn Resorts Ltd. will open the doors to Encore Boston Harbor on June 23.

After three years of construction, a sexual harassment scandal that rocked the company, a record fine from regulators and on-again-off-again overtures to sell the $2.6 billion resort in Everett, Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Wednesday affirmed a construction schedule that pinpoints the public opening to 10 a.m., June 23, a Sunday morning.

The company had eyeballed the date since early this year, but earlier this month cast some doubt on it when Wynn CEO Matt Maddox told investors on the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call that the opening could possibly be pushed back.

“I don’t know if the opening date will be June 23 or a week or two later, but we’re going to make sure that it’s flawless and clearly the regulatory complexity we’ve been through has been a challenge,” Maddox said in the May 9 earnings call. “So we’re now doubling back and the team on the ground there is terrific. We are ready to open. We may give ourselves another week, we may not, but the property there looks great.”

In Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners verified that all safety and security systems have been checked by inspectors or are on the calendar for review. Commissioners also approved exemptions for licensing for some service employees and approved a controversial extension of hours for alcohol service at 23 food and beverage outlets at the casino.

Massachusetts law prohibits alcohol sales after 2 a.m., but Wynn requested and received an extension to 4 a.m. for beverage service to active gamblers. A similar extension was approved prior to the opening of MGM Springfield last year.

Commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein also weighed in on recent reports that Wynn and MGM Resorts International were in talks to sell the Boston Harbor property to MGM. The two Las Vegas companies verified the discussions Friday, but on Monday, both reported they had ended.

Judd-Stein said the commission had been notified of the conversations and was prepared to act if a request for a license transfer came its way.

“To be clear, at no time was there a proposed transaction pending before the commission; however, like many, we were, of course, closely monitoring developments,” she said at the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting. “And, our focus appropriately remains on the regulatory preparations needed to open Encore Boston Harbor by June 23.”

Judd-Stein said despite the many challenges to bring the project to fruition, “the fact remains that Massachusetts and the City of Everett is home to a nearly complete, world-class $2.6 billion development that has dramatically transformed the waterfront; a land that was previously dormant, desolate and contaminated, which upon issuance of a certificate of operation, will soon be a place of employment for more than 5,000 people.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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