With the recent slew of casino application filings being submitted to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, following the passage of the Massachusetts Expanded Gaming Act in 2011, a new question has many on Boston’s Beacon Hill scratching their heads – can the contents of such filings be considered trade secrets?
The Gaming Commission’s standard casino application form includes a list of 47 filings that the Commission presumes applicants will want to keep confidential, but applicants can request that additional filings also be kept confidential. Recently, Wynn Resorts submitted an application to the Gaming Commission for a proposed casino in the Boston suburb of Everett, and requested that an additional 38 filings (constituting 77 pages total) be considered trade secrets protected from public disclosure. These filings include Wynn’s plans for how the proposed casino will fit the “Massachusetts brand,” its plans for staff training to identify gambling addicts, and the company’s plans to work with minority- and female-owned businesses.
That drew the disapproval of newly-inaugurated Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who expressed skepticism that the sealed portions of the application should be kept confidential. Walsh told the Boston Herald that Wynn’s lack of full disclosure was “alarming.” Nonetheless, Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver insisted that the filings include “sensitive financial and strategic company information,” thus requiring their protection as trade secrets.
Meanwhile, Mohegan Sun’s rival proposal to build a $1.3 billion “gambling resort” in neighboring Revere, which just this week won the approval of the city’s voters, only requested that two additional filings beyond the standard 47 be kept confidential. Mohegan Sun issued a public statement that it “believes openness is important in the licensing process, and our application allows not only the Gaming Commission but our host community, surrounding communities and the public to examine and understand our proposal.”
As the two companies square off for the sole casino license in eastern Massachusetts, Wynn’s broad invocation of its trade secrets protection may ultimately be its downfall.
Stay tuned for the resolution of this high stakes game.