John Henry inquired about buying Encore casino, which would've created massive conflict of interest for Boston Globe

Alex Reimer
May 24, 2019 - 12:31 pm

The Encore Boston Harbor hotel and casino is poised to become one of the most high-profile operations in the city when it opens next month. The gargantuan resort, which is owned and operated by Wynn Resorts, will boast 671 rooms and suites, 15 restaurants and bars, a 3,000-square foot gambling hall and the right to serve alcohol until 4:00 a.m. –– as long as patrons are “actively gambling.” Its existence promises to spur a wide swath of questions about the legalization of gambling and other business practices, never mind the expected traffic disruption it will bring to the already maddeningly congested Everett-Somerville area. 

And Red Sox principal owner John Henry was interesting in buying it, leading to a potential massive conflict of interest for his newspaper.

The Boston Globe reports Henry investigated purchasing the $2.6 billion resort last year, when Massachusetts regulators were reviewing Wynn Resort’s gambling license after founder Steve Wynn was ousted from the company amidst a sexual misconduct scandal. Massachusetts regulators eventually opted to fine Wynn Resorts $35 million after finding high-level members of the company helped cover-up Wynn’s reported misbehavior. 

“With the prospect of a ruling from the Gaming Commission creating more uncertainty, I was again approached locally about getting involved – this time by someone else who was worried about the state’s long-term interests,” Henry told the Globe. “So I went back to the group, spoke with a couple of more people, and we decided to reach out again to see if there was an interest at this point.”

Henry mentions Wynn Resorts probably made the right decision keeping the property, because the Massachusetts Gaming Commission ultimately ruled in its favor. The Globe, which deals with conflict of interest questions when it comes to covering Henry’s Red Sox, also dodged a bullet. The arrangement would’ve created an awkward situation, especially given the number of op-eds the paper has already run –– and will certainly run in the future –– about the project.

When asked about his involvement with the op-eds, Henry said he is hands-off, and also said he often disagrees with the stances his paper takes on legalized gambling.

While that may be true, the questions still would’ve lingered. Luckily for the Globe, it looks like the scenario will never come to fruition. 

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