Should Massachusetts Consider "Wynn Boston Harbor" a Win?

An argument has broken out at our Sunday night family dinner; a typical clash between my conservative aunt and my other liberal aunt. This disagreement differs from the typical topic of American politics, however, instead circling something much closer than D.C.: the current casino being built in Everett, Massachusetts. My liberal aunt boasts that she won't visit the casino because of the sexual assault allegations against their CEO, Stephen Wynn. My conservative aunt counters with the fact that Wynn has since stepped down from the company. My liberal aunt responds with a disapproving shake of her head as she puts down the bowl of potatoes she had been holding up like a shield. From my place at the table, I can see both sides of their arguments.

Photo Credit: Zimbio

The casino shouldn't continue to be built by a company lead by a sexual predator even if he has stepped down from the organization. However, since Wynn is no longer the CEO and the company has begun investigations into the allegations against him, many are choosing to continue to support the casino. These supporters emphasize the importance of the economic value that the casino will bring to the area. According to CNN Money, the financial value of the casino is too large for the construction to be abandoned altogether. Both the residents of Everett and the local economy are reliant on the jobs predicted for the casino, making it too valuable for the area to suddenly lose the business.

Those against the casino have been sharing their grievances since its proposal in 2014. Massachusetts' strict gaming laws extend further than just the property and placement of the casino, expanding into potential company owners and personnel. However, in the case of the Wynn Boston Harbor Casino, many believe that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) didn't do as extensive research into Wynn himself as they should have. 

Reports from the 2013 research conducted by the MGC stated that "the comprehensive investigation of Stephen Wynn... did not reveal any information that would preclude a finding that he possesses the requisite integrity, honesty, and good character that are statutorily mandated."  Those against the casino construction are outraged over the fact that the MGC originally found Wynn suspicious, yet failed to investigate the CEO further. Instead, the MGC continued to accept the Wynn Resort proposal.

Photo Credit: CBS News

In an attempt to appease those angered over the construction the MGC released a statement saying, "The suitability and integrity of our gaming licensees is of the utmost importance." In addition to making a statement, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission shared that they were reinvestigating Wynn and the allegations made against him. In an interview with WBUR, Professor Richard McGowan of Boston College, an expert in the field of gambling and tobacco says, "The primary thing [the MGC was] looking for [then] was...more about Mafia connections, underworld connections...not overall character."

In the interview, Professor McGowan points out that the original license to open the casino was given to Wynn Corporation, not Wynn himself, which poses a problem for the commission's current investigation. McGowan admits that "[the MGC] should have looked at other issues, but clearly they did not."

Many still believe that the responses of both the MGC and Wynn Resorts Ltd. are insufficient and are asking for the casino construction to completely cut ties with the Wynn Resort company. It is believed that the continued affiliation of the casino with Wynn Resorts Ltd., including the name of the casino, means that the company doesn't take the sexual assault allegations seriously. Those against the casino are fighting for it to be renamed and constructed by a different casino company.

The Proposed Wynn Boston Harbor Casino

Photo Credit: Commonwealth Magazine

Those in support of the casino have valid reasons as well. There are many who, like my conservative aunt, see the resignation of Stephen Wynn from Wynn Resorts Ltd. as enough and that the removal of his presence in the company warrants the continuation of the Wynn Boston Harbor construction.

The casino supporters worry that should the construction and ownership of the casino be taken over by another organization, there will be a loss in the projected jobs and economic value. According to MassLive.com, the Wynn Boston Harbor Casino is projected to bring more than 4,000 permanent jobs to the area as well as a $170 million payroll. The Everett community has been relying on these jobs since the beginning of construction in 2014 and is unwilling to allow the jobs to be eliminated by another company.

Many are still questioning what the presence of the 27-story resort with the name "Wynn" emblazoned on the side will represent for Boston and the surrounding communities. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Gina Sacaramella, the executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, talks about what having the Wynn name added to the Boston skyline would communicate to local rape survivors and represent for the city itself. Sacaramella says that we must change the name of the casino," because our community and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts should not get stuck with a monument of a man forced out of his job due to multiple allegations of sexual assault, and whose name now joins those of other high-profile offenders of sexual violence..."

Photo Credit: Fox News

Author of the Boston Globe article, Nestor Ramos, agrees, saying, "A renamed casino would be an eternal reminder that [Boston] and its people really do care about women and [won't] tolerate sexual misconduct."

 

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