Wynn Resorts Said to Discuss Boston-Area Casino Sale With MGM

(Bloomberg) -- Wynn Resorts Ltd., reeling from allegations of sexual misconduct by its founder, discussed a possible sale of its $2.5 billion casino under construction in the Boston area with MGM Resorts International, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

The talks were preliminary, according to the person, who asked not be named because the discussion was private. Michael Weaver, a spokesman for Wynn Resorts, declined to comment. Bloomberg News reported last week that Wynn’s new chief executive officer, Matt Maddox, was reaching out to other operators about a deal.

A sale of the casino could get Wynn Resorts out of a tricky spot. The company is facing claims that it overlooked years of sexual misconduct by 76-year-old Steve Wynn. Massachusetts regulators are investigating the allegations, and a public report is expected to be released in early summer. If the state were to find Wynn Resorts unsuitable to hold a gaming license, it could have repercussions for the company in markets like Nevada and Macau where it operates casinos, and in Japan, where it’s seeking one.

A deal with MGM would complicate what’s already been one of the most tumultuous gambling rollouts in U.S. history. Massachusetts approved casinos in 2011, and since then bidders and cities have been disqualified for various reasons. State law limits operators to one casino each, so MGM would have to divest its casino under construction in the western Massachusetts city of Springfield, which is scheduled to open later this year.

“We do not comment on rumors or speculations around transactions,” Debra DeShong, a spokeswoman for MGM, said in a statement. “We remain fully committed to the opening and success of MGM Springfield.”

Indian Tribes

Caesars Entertainment Corp. was considered a favorite to win the Boston-area license until it was disqualified by regulators due in part to its heavy debt load. Las Vegas Sands Corp. didn’t pursue a Massachusetts license earlier in the process and isn’t interested now, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Thursday that Wynn Resorts had discussed a sale with MGM.

One possibility is that MGM would sell its Springfield project to either of the two Indian tribes that operate casinos in Connecticut. Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are planning a casino north of Hartford, Connecticut, that could intercept potential customers bound for Springfield. A source close to MGM said there haven’t been any discussions with the tribes.

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