Boston Expands Lawsuit Against Massachusetts Gaming Commission
Posted on: May 22, 2015, 01:00h.
Last updated on: May 22, 2015, 01:42h.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is not happy about the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s decision to award a casino to Wynn Resorts in Everett.
On Wednesday, that displeasure was expressed through an expanded version of the lawsuit the city had already filed against the state gaming commission, one that accuses the board of violating Massachusetts’ casino law and the commission’s own rules on how to award licenses to prospective casino operators.
According to a report by Andrea Estes of the Boston Globe, the new lawsuit claims that the commission broke rules on several occasions in an attempt to ensure that the Wynn project would be chosen over a Mohegan Sun-backed proposal at Suffolk Downs in Revere.
The city of Boston would have received $18 million per year from the Suffolk Downs casino thanks to an agreement negotiated between the city and the developers of that resort.
However, no such deal was made between the city and Wynn Resorts, meaning that the gaming commission’s decision to give the license to the Everett casino may have cost the city significant revenue.
Boston Alleges 16 Illegal Actions
The new version of the complaint is similar to the original lawsuit filed by the city of Boston back in January.
However, the new lawsuit is now 158 pages long and includes more than 80 exhibits that document what city officials say are 16 actions by the gambling commission that violate the law.
Perhaps the most high-profile allegation in the suit is that representatives of Wynn Resorts knew that criminals had owned the land they purchased on which they planned to build their casino.
Convicted felon Charles Lightbody is alleged to have continued to keep an ownership stake in the land until at least 2013, and he and two members of FBT Realty are under indictment for allegedly covering up that fact.
Because of those associations, the new lawsuit says, Wynn should have been disqualified from receiving a casino license.
Commission Denies Wrongdoing
Massachusetts Gaming Commission spokesperson Elaine Driscoll said that the board had not yet seen the newest version of the lawsuit, but that the allegations against the panel were unfounded.
“The commission made each license award based solely on a meticulous, objective, and highly transparent evaluation of each gaming proposal,” said Driscoll.
“We are confident that this complex licensing process was administered in a comprehensive and fair manner, although disappointing to interested parties seeking an alternative result.”
In the original lawsuit, filed in early January, Mayor Walsh asked a court to rule that Boston has the right to a binding vote on the development.
That would be the kind of oversight power Boston would have if it were to be considered a host community for the casino; at the moment, the gaming commission has considered Boston a surrounding community, which allows the city to have some rights in terms of being compensated for issues caused by the casino, but does not allow it to veto the project.
The Wynn casino in Everett has hit some stumbling blocks even without dealing with a lawsuit from Boston.
The Wynn attempted to buy land from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, but state officials are holding up that sale until an environmental review can be done, while the state Inspector General is also investigating whether the sale violated public bidding laws.
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