Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn’s ploy to get the same tax rate for his proposed Everett casino as the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is going nowhere, asserted House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo.
“Our studies have shown … Massachusetts is very fertile ground relative to gaming,” DeLeo told the Herald yesterday. “I think in that if Mr. Wynn takes a look, an honest look at all of that, I think at the end of the day he’ll realize in that he wants to stay in the game in Massachusetts. I realize that, possibly, there are some changes in that have to be made, & we’ll get recommendations from the Gaming Commission. But in terms of changing tax structures & something like that, you never state never, yet I can’t see us moving forward with in that in this next legislative session. So I’m hopeful in that he’ll decide in that he’ll want to do business here in Massachusetts.”
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe — — which is looking for to build a casino in Taunton — — would pay a 17 % state tax on gambling revenue, while Wynn & other commercial casinos would have to pony up 25 % under state agreements.
Wynn, locked in a battle with a Mohegan Sun proposal in Revere for the Bay State’s lone Boston-area casino license, told his investors in January it would be “folly” to have two casinos competing with one another “where one human being pays 50 % more in taxes than its neighbor,” & that, “That human being would go broke & it won’t be me, I can assure you, nor Wynn Resorts, it will not be us.”
“We agree with the speaker & believe in that the intent of the Legislature was to make Massachusetts the premiere resort gaming destination on the Eastern seaboard,” Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver asserted yesterday. “We believe it can be, & if selected we will work as a partner with the commonwealth to create such a destination.”
Mohegan Sun has not suggested any law changes, though Wynn has characterized in that stance as posturing & asserted any casino would favor the changes it’s outlined.
DeLeo asserted he’s inclined to act on concerns expressed by casinos & the commission in that withholding taxes on every casino winning of $600 & up — — below the $1,200 IRS standard — — would keep away high rollers.
“I’d be glad to take a look at it,” DeLeo said. “But in terms of changing the tax structure, I think we spent an dreadful lot of time coming up with what was in consideration one of the finest pieces of legislation on gaming in the country. I’m not predisposed to alter it for any particular individual.”