Could Wynn Resorts really consider quitting close to the end of its Boston marathon? By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports May 20, 2019 at 8:33 pm Imagine a top long-distance runner entering the Boston Marathon. He springs to the front of the pack, outpaces the best competition on the planet, manages to survive Newton’s Heartbreak Hill, the downward slope of “Cemetery Mile,” and pounds out 26 grueling miles through the city. With the finish line in sight, he can’t help but smile. Then the marathoner pauses, hails a cab bound for the airport, and just like that leaves Boston behind. Never happen, right? Encore Boston Harbor awaits its opening next month That, in essence, is what we are being led to believe might take place with Wynn Resorts’ shadowed and sparkling Encore Boston Harbor casino-hotel project in Everett. Wynn Resorts officials have been in talks with MGM Resorts International executives concerning a possible sale of the $2.6 billion project that’s slated to open to the public after a long and bruising licensing suitability investigation. Licensed at last, Wynn is somehow contemplating turning and running the wrong direction. Something smells like a pair of old Nikes. After winning the political battle to become a coveted developer of a casino property in prime proximity to the heart of Boston, the gaming company became embroiled in scandal associated with sexual harassment and assault allegations against Steve Wynn, its co-founder, chairman and CEO. The executive denied the allegations even as he back-pedaled in a sprint to remove himself from the company and sell off his stock. Then the real struggle began. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission and Nevada Gaming Control Board conducted separate investigations into the events chronicled in groundbreaking articles in The Wall Street Journal first published beginning in January 2018. The board of Wynn Resorts was ushered out the side door. An almost entirely new slate of officials filled the front office. Matt Maddox somehow survived the purge to move into the president’s role with longtime gaming industry veteran Phil Satre returning to the high-stakes game as chairman. The result of those investigations was devastating, but both regulatory bodies found ways to allow Wynn Resorts to move forward. The states’ hurt feelings were assuaged with a $20 million fine in Nevada and a $35 million fine in Massachusetts with another $500,000 fine levied against Maddox. That’s a lot of pain to go through in order to quit so close to the finish line. But that’s what we’re being told. The Boston Globe first reported Maddox met with MGM CEO Jim Murren in May for discussions described as “very preliminary,” according to a joint statement the companies released Friday. “Over the past several weeks, we have engaged in conversations around the potential sale of Encore Boston Harbor,” the statement reads. Massachusetts law only allows a license holder to operate one casino, so it would appear a purchase of the Encore project would necessitate the sale of MGM Springfield. The casino corporations in their statement allowed that officials didn’t know “where these conversations will lead.” The conversations have already led to a speculation on whether those completed investigations have received new information that might make trouble for Wynn Resorts before the new resort’s scheduled June 23 opening. There’s also talk that the company, which performed desperate backflips trying to please Massachusetts regulators, may have been unpleasantly surprised by the record-setting fine it was hit with. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Boston area officials are more than troubled by the sales talk – especially since they appear to have been kept well out of the loop. A lot of elected officials have put a lot of political stock into making the casino project sound like a good employer and corporate citizen. It’s also been a long time coming. The company won its casino license in 2014. It’s constructed a 671-room jewel with 210,000 square feet of casino space, more than a dozen restaurants and a long list of other amenities. It’s kept a lot of people waiting – at times holding their breath and it’s achingly close to completion. During a recent earnings call, Maddox announced the resort might open its doors two weeks later than previously planned. Maddox said the company wanted the opening to be “flawless,” which given all the circumstances might have been aiming a little high. At this point, stockholders and skeptics would probably be satisfied if Wynn Resorts just finished the damn race. Contact John L. Smith at email@example.com. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.