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Wynn CEO Matt Maddox eyes what’s next after Encore Boston Harbor

EVERETT, Mass. — With the opening of Encore Boston Harbor in the rear-view mirror, Wynn Resorts Ltd. executives can turn their attention to what’s next for the Las Vegas-based casino operator.

CEO Matt Maddox said he is eyeing more urban development opportunities, plans for Wynn Las Vegas and strengthening the company’s international footprint.

During a press conference Maddox hinted the successful opening of Encore Boston Harbor — and it’s still too early to determine its financial success — could lead to a new era of development strategy for the company.

“The ability to have a cooperative city, a mayor with vision and lots of land to develop in a metroplex with over 5 million people is a new beginning for Wynn Resorts,” Maddox said in an interview.

The company is looking at the availability of potential casino licenses in Chicago and New York, he said.

The New York Gaming Commission approved rules and regulations June 11 for allowing sports betting, while Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill Friday that dramatically expands that state’s gaming industry, in part by allowing up to six new casinos, including one in Chicago.

“As these types of opportunities come up, we think Encore Boston Harbor is a great example of a public-private partnership to really drive home great things for both the community and the company,” Maddox said.

Union Gaming analyst John DeCree said a casino in Chicago or New York would be consistent with Wynn Resorts’ recent strategy in Boston.

“I think multi-billion developments in major gateway casinos was part of Wynn’s plan when they won the Boston license, and it’s a great way to grow the brand,” DeCree told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

At the same time, large projects are nearing completion at Wynn Las Vegas. “We’re opening our new golf course and our new convention center, three new restaurants and a new nightclub in the next nine months,” Maddox said. “So Wynn Las Vegas is going to get a nice refresh of new product, and I think that’ll be really exciting. The convention center is 400,000 square feet. Our golf course we’ve worked on with (designer Tom) Fazio is going to be better than it was. And we’re bringing in some new, interesting concepts on the restaurant side.”

No new Strip resort yet

Maddox said there are still no “immediate” plans for the 38 acres of Las Vegas Strip land west of Wynn Las Vegas. The company purchased the land in 2017, under the leadership of former Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn, for $336 million. He also had plans for a lagoon that would host water sports by day and nightly parades of decorated floats and fireworks, as well as a new hotel tower on the main campus.

The land across the street remains dormant, and Maddox said it will stay that way for the time being.

“We are in active discussion and ideation,” he said. “In Las Vegas, what comes next can’t be what we’ve had, and I think it’s going to take awhile for us to really understand what is the next great project, but we’re certainly in that process. That’s the fun stuff.”

In the meantime, the company is in the midst of a refresh of its first project in Macau, on the downtown-area peninsula, and it is expanding next to Wynn Palace on the Cotai Strip.

Wynn Resorts owns 7 acres adjacent to Wynn Palace and has announced plans to build a 1,300-room tower.

Maddox, a 17-year Wynn Resorts employee in his second year as CEO, wouldn’t say which of the company’s properties appealed to him most.

“I think they’re each unique,” he said. “This one (Encore Boston Harbor) certainly is different because we’re not in a resort town. We’re in a city. It’s had its own challenges and its own rewards by doing a lot of things we’ve never done before. It’s almost like having a child. You never forget the day you opened one of these and the challenges and the love that you feel.”

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

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