State gaming investigators today recommended that Wynn Resorts be found suitable to operate a casino in Massachusetts on the condition that the company explain its business practices in Macau, China.
The caveat about Macau is a similar condition to the one faced last week by MGM Resorts, which, like Wynn, operates in Macau, the most lucrative gambling market in the world. Massachusetts Gaming Commission investigators have raised concerns about the common use in Macau of “gaming promoters” who recruit customers and extend credit to players.
MGM Resorts is seeking to build a casino in Springfield, while Wynn wants to win the sole casino license available for the greater Boston area.
Wynn has proposed a $1.3 billion casino resort on the Mystic River waterfront in Everett. The only other potential competitor for the greater Boston casino license is Mohegan Sun, which has proposed a casino on about 40 acres of the Suffolk Downs racetrack property in Revere, near the Boston city line. The project faces a referendum vote in Revere, probably in February.
On Friday, the commission held a separate hearing about the Everett property amid concerns from investigators that secret partners with criminal histories may have a stake in the ownership of the parcel Wynn wants to buy for the casino.
The commission then voted 4-0 to approve a plan by Wynn to slash the price Wynn would pay for the land, to a market rate based on an extensive appraisal, so that no undisclosed partner would benefit from selling the land to a wealthy casino company, rather than to some other commercial developer.
Commission chairman Stephen Crosby recused himself from the review of the land deal on Friday, due to his former business association with one of the land owners in the Everett site.
Crosby is participating in the hearing on Wynn’s full background check.
Investigators found that Charles A. Lightbody, a felon with an alleged hidden interest in the land, has repeatedly bragged about his plans to conceal his stake in the property, according to transcripts of profanity-laced prison phone recordings released Friday.
The recordings were made during Lightbody’s conversations with Darin Bufalino, a longtime organized crime figure now serving a state prison sentence.