An artist’s rendering of the proposed Everett casino.Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.
An artist's rendering of the proposed Everett casino.

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.

By Andy Metzger and Matt Murphy

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

BOSTON -- International casino mogul Steve Wynn assured the Gaming Commission on Monday that, from Macau to Everett, operating a responsible gaming facility takes "common sense," and with his 47 years in the business he said he would be a good choice for the lone casino license in eastern Massachusetts.

"You should pick someone that looks like fun to you," Wynn told the commission during a suitability hearing Monday.

The five-member commission held a hearing in Boston on Monday to determine Wynn's suitability to hold a casino license in Massachusetts. Background investigators recommended to the Gaming Commission that Wynn be found suitable on the condition that he explain his company's business practice in Macau, an administrative region in China and lucrative new frontier for gaming operators.

Wynn should know before Christmas whether he can proceed with the application process for the Eastern Massachusetts casino license. Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said commissioners would begin deliberations on Monday afternoon and Tuesday, and should release a written decision within a week to 10 days.

During a break in the hearing, Wynn told reporters that he hoped to build something deserving of Massachusetts and Everett. "This is a big investment for us here in Boston. This is not a box of slots. This is a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am fancy hotel," Wynn said, according to the Associated Press.

Wynn, who cautioned state commissioners earlier in the fall against aggressively trying to regulate his overseas enterprises through the Massachusetts licensing process, spent much of hearing discussing his operations in Macau. He described how he kept organized crime out of his Macau resort and shut down a $5 million line of credit for a compulsive gambler there.

"You've got a problem, and I don't want to be part of your problem," Wynn said he told the man, whom he referred to as Mr. W.

Wynn Macau opened in 2006, about five years after the semi-autonomous Chinese region opened up the region's gaming market. Up until 2001, the market had been completely controlled by Stanley Ho, according to the Gaming Commission's investigatory report.

"It has been widely acknowledged that in the 1980s, Asian organized crime groups known as triads became prominent in the junket operations of Stanley Ho's casino monopoly," the report stated, reporting "large-scale violence" between rival triads in the late 1990s. Wynn received one of three gaming "concessions" in 2002.

The report said the imprisonment and execution of triad members by the Chinese army around the turn of the millennium resulted in an "immediate and drastic drop in violent crime," and the report quoted Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A. G. Burnett as opining that the introduction of western gaming operations had a "cleansing effect" on Macau.

Describing the East Asian gambling mecca as "the squarest place I've ever been," Wynn also said the triad organizations are not "synonymous" with the Mafia, and noted his hiring of former FBI agents in security positions at his casinos to guard against unlawful activity.

In the past 13 years, Macau's revenues have increased from $2- to $3 billion to $45 billion, said Wynn, who described the growth as "the most historic expansion in the history of civilization."

The only other potential competitor for a casino in the east region of Massachusetts is Mohegan Sun's bid to develop part of Suffolk Downs in Revere. The gaming group must put its new proposal before Revere voters within the next two months. Revere voted yes and East Boston voted no in a November ballot referendum on the prospect of a Suffolk Downs casino straddling the city lines.

To proceed with its final application, which is due Dec. 31, Wynn will need to receive a positive suitability determination from the commission.

Crosby questioned Wynn during the hours-long hearing about the make-up of the proposed compliance committee that would oversee Wynn casino's adherence to state laws and regulations. Based on Wynn's proposal, the committee would be controlled by a majority of casino staff, not independent overseers.

Wynn said it has made sense for his company to use this model because compliance officers need to be engaged full-time in watching what goes on at the casino, and can't properly do the job if they're only invested part-time as an "outsider."

"The shenanigans and the jazz that goes on in a casino is unrelenting. There's too much money around," Wynn said. Crosby acknowledged that Wynn's compliance team at his other resorts "works well from all we can tell."

Wynn also explained the $135 million donation his company made to the University of Macau Development Foundation in support of the new Asia-Pacific Academy of Economics and Management, which came under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission before the S.E.C. decided not to pursue any enforcement action.

Wynn explained that the donation was an investment in the community that he considers to be good business practice, helping to make employees of the company proud to be associated with Wynn Resorts.