Boston Suing Gaming Commission Over Everett Casino

Posted on: January 7, 2015, 12:59h. 

Last updated on: January 7, 2015, 01:00h.

Boston lawsuit Wynn casino Everett
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is suing the state gaming commission in an effort to block the proposed Wynn Resorts casino in Everett. (Image: Huffington Post)

The city of Boston has filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in the hopes of scuttling the proposed Wynn Resorts casino in Everett.

The suit, which makes several claims against the state gaming commission, was filed in Suffolk Superior Court this week.

Lawsuit Accuses Commission of Bias Against Boston

According to the lawsuit, filed by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, the commission has been biased against the city throughout the process of awarding the Greater Boston casino license, which has stripped the city of its rights under Massachusetts’ casino laws.

“The commission has ignored the facts, conducted an improper proceeding, and rendered a decision that is legally and factually defective,” the lawsuit states.

In the 75-page lawsuit, the city outlines several reasons why they believe the Wynn Resorts project should either be cancelled or at least subjected to more votes by host communities.

Legality of Land Deal Questioned

Walsh’s lawsuit says that Wynn Resorts should have been disqualified from the bidding process because of irregularities in the sale of the land that the planned casino would be built on.

It’s alleged that at least one of the former landowners of that property was convicted felon Charles Lightbody, and that he may have still had a financial interest in the sale to Wynn, which would be a violation of state law.

That argument has also been used by other parties that have sued over the Wynn casino, including the city of Somerville, which said that at the very least Wynn should be forced to find new land to build on.

Walsh Wants Host Community Status for Charlestown

Walsh is also arguing that Boston should be considered a host community for the Everett casino. At the very least, he says, that designation should be extended to the neighborhood of Charlestown, which would allow residents there to have a binding vote over whether or not to allow the Wynn casino to be built.

“With Boston providing the sole access point to the casino site, the vast majority of patrons would be required to drive through Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square in Charlestown – an area that already faces severe traffic congestion,” Walsh said. “To protect the people of Boston and to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods it is clear to us that this is the best and only way to move forward – for Charlestown, for the city of Boston, and for the entire Commonwealth.”

The Wynn Resorts proposal won the Greater Boston casino license after a contentious battle against a competing plan by Mohegan Sun, which wanted to build a resort on the Revere side of the Suffolk Downs racetrack.

In September, the state gambling commission chose to award the only regional license to Wynn.

That didn’t sit well with the city of Boston, which had reached a surrounding community agreement with the Mohegan Sun project but failed to do the same with Wynn Resorts.

While negotiations have been ongoing, and Wynn reportedly offered to provide up to $1 million in compensation to Boston this week, Mayor Walsh has said that these offers are still far too low.

Commission spokesperson Elaine Driscoll said that the gaming commission has addressed Walsh’s concerns in a “public and transparent manner,” and that it feels that its decision making was objective and fair.

“The commission continues to believe that our resolution was appropriate but also fully understand that parties who are disappointed in our decisions may want to test that belief thought litigation,” Driscoll said.