Steve Wynn: ‘I’ve Had Enough of Mayor Walsh’
Steve Wynn is tired of the back-and-forth over his planned $1.7 billion casino in Everett, but it is not deterring him from continuing with the project.
“The chances of us leaving are zero,” said Wynn to the Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi on Tuesday.
Wynn told Vennochi in a phone interview that he thinks Walsh is irresponsible and someone he can’t negotiate with.
Walsh and Wynn have been at odds since before the Las Vegas casino billionaire was awarded the lone eastern Massachusetts gaming license. The roots of the disagreement can be traced to Boston not being designated as a host community for the project, a move that denied the city a lucrative compensation package from Wynn and the opportunity for residents of Charlestown a vote on the project. The city was eventually stripped of its surrounding community status after it stubbornly refused to engage with Wynn and the commission.
Wynn told Vennochi that there was no way he would allow for Boston to be designated as a host community and open up the Everett casino project to a vote in Charlestown. Any vote in Charlestown on the casino would likely kill the project as the neighborhood voted 70-30 to repeal the state gaming law in an unsuccessful statewide referendum that sought to strike the law. Wynn said that a conversation with Walsh about the possibility of Charlestown voting did not go well.
“I’m told you want the citizens of Charlestown to vote. . . . That will happen over my dead body.” According to Wynn, the mayor replied, “ ‘Then we have nothing to talk about.’ And he hung up.”
As the discussions between the two sides disintegrated, the legal wrangling heated up with Walsh suing the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for their decision to award Wynn the license. Their lawsuit was just part of their approach though. The city has been chastised by state and federal officials for the allegations and the language in their lawsuits. One judge accused the city of using the lawsuit process as a public relations tool, while US Attorney Carmen Ortiz called it “vicious” and full of untrue rumors.
While the city has moved their fight to the courts, their licensing and permitting arms have been less than helpful to Wynn as they try to move forward with their project on the outskirts of Sullivan Square. Even Attorney General Maura Healey, a casino gambling opponent and Charlestown resident, weighed in on the Sullivan Square issue when she asked MassDOT to delay the issuance of permits for the project.
Wynn said that he finds the approach by the city ridiculous and that he is still considering the option of suing the city for defamation. He thinks the city is trying to tarnish his name by saying he was aware of the shady past of Charles Lightbody and his associates involved in the land deal for the where there Everett casino will go.
All of this comes in the aftermath of Walsh saying during an interview on WGBH that Wynn offered the city a “nine figure” sum to just go away. Walsh said he was not interested in the money because this is about the people of Charlestown, something he has repeated as this dispute has dragged on. Wynn officials denied that such an offer was made by Wynn.