High Rollers Are Fine but Resort Casino Needs Orange Line Riders to Thrive

Monday, September 14, 2015

On the sidewalks of Everett, I have heard it said that Steve Wynn is quietly planning to lure planeloads of nouveau riche from the People’s Republic of China to his new “Wynn Everett” casino on the banks of the Mystic River.

According to this theory, there are millionaires galore in China who’ve experienced the Wynn treatment at his fabulous casino in Macau and who’d be eager to combine a stay at the Everett pleasure dome, the long-planned resort casino for eastern Massachusetts, with an extended weekend of shopping, sight-seeing and culture mavening in Boston.  
“You watch!” a friend of mine says. “Wynn will be doing charter flights from China every other weekend.  He’ll have yachts picking up his most loyal Chinese customers at the Logan Airport dock and whisking them to the casino.  These high rollers will be dropping Franklins at the tables as soon as they recover from the flight.  And when they’re not betting in the casino or eating at Wynn’s restaurants and shopping at the high-end shops in his luxury hotel, he’ll be sending them in his fleet of limos to the best that Boston offers: restaurants, shows, art galleries, you name it.”

Little known facts that bolster this line of thought: (a) Macau is one of the world’s richest cities; (b) Macau is the most densely populated city in the world.
The China-Wynn Everett connection also makes sense, as my friend sees it, because of the affinity China’s movers and shakers already have to Boston.  “They have business connections here,” he says.  “They’ve invested money here.  They’re sending their kids to Harvard and MIT.”

He asks, “Can’t you see it?  If you’re a member of China’s wealthy elite and you’re a regular at Wynn Macau and your kid is at Harvard, you’re going to stay at Wynn Everett when you come to visit the kid.  Hell, you’ll want to visit more often because you’ll have the casino as your base camp.”
I’m the last person to say if this is a valid theory.  I don’t know gambling from gamboling.  I can’t tell the difference between international markets and the International Houses of Pancakes.

But, but, if you read the recent, required environmental impact report on Wynn Everett by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, you’ll see evidence that Wynn will be depending heavily on familiars from Massachusetts, rather than foreign nationals, for the success of his resort casino near Sullivan Square.
“The MBTA’s Orange Line is a key component of the project’s transportation strategy to maximize patron and employee use of non-automobile travel modes,” the report states.  “A significant proportion of patrons and employees are expected to travel on the Orange Line.”

Wynn is going to make an annual contribution of about $382,000 to pay for additional service on the Orange Line to accommodate his employees and customers, according to this report. A little more than a grand a day isn’t that encouraging to anyone who rides the T and knows how inadequate and outdated Orange Line service really is, but it ain’t pocket change either.
As I thought about how critical the Orange Line will be to Wynn Everett, my mind wandered back to my days as a Northeastern student riding the Blue Line (1968-73).  I grew up in Revere.  That was the line you rode if you had to get to Boston.  On many afternoons in the spring, if I had no afternoon classes and no hours at my on-campus work-study job, I’d head home, taking the Blue Line to the Revere Beach or Wonderland stations, where I’d catch an Everett Station bus to home.  (We lived off Park Ave., near the Revere-Everett line.)  

When the racing season was under way at Suffolk Downs, Blue Line trains would sometimes be filled in the early afternoons with horse fans heading to the track. I was always fascinated by how intently they studied their racing forms as the trains rattled their way out of the tunnel to the Suffolk Downs stop.  Most of them held sharpened pencils in their right hands and stared closely down at their pencil points as they marked their forms.  God, did they need their horses to come in.

It’s weirdly reassuring, in a deja vu all over again kind of way,  to think I’ll soon be spending time in the company of casino patrons on the Orange Line as I spent my college years with racetrack patrons on the Blue.  The gamblers who take the Orange Line to Wynn Everett in 2018 will be no more likely to rise from the ranks of the desperate-for-a-windfall than the gamblers I watched on the hard benches of the Blue Line in 1968.  Yet I shall find some inspiration in the example of their blind persistence. 


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