Lawsuit Challenging Wynn Boston Harbor’s License Can Proceed, Supreme Judicial Court Says

Posted on: March 13, 2017, 02:15h. 

Last updated on: March 13, 2017, 01:27h.

Wynn Boston Harbor is currently under construction, but a lawsuit challenging the validity of the resort’s gaming license and its issuance has been cleared to continue.

Wynn Boston Harbor Mohegan lawsuit Massachusetts
Mohegan Tribal Council Chairman Kevin Brown is suing Massachusetts over the issuance of Wynn Boston Harbor’s resort license. (Image:

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled late last week that a lawsuit brought on by the City of Revere, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Mohegan Sun can proceed in a lower court. The plaintiffs argue that the state’s Gaming Commission violated procedures in approving Wynn Resorts’ casino proposal in Everett, the “Region A” gambling license, back in 2014.

They argue the Massachusetts Gaming Commission violated “open meetings” law as the five-member panel deliberated whether to endorse Wynn’s bid or go with Mohegan Sun’s pitch. The latter’s would have built a casino at the Suffolk Downs horse racing track.

The track’s last regularly scheduled race took place in 2014. While Suffolk Downs has an East Boston address, part of the track is in Revere, as the city lines run across the field.

Mohegan Sun had proposed building a $1.3 billion resort at the facility. Revere officials and the tribal gaming group say the state’s Gaming Commission met privately on at least two occasions to discuss the bids, which would have violated the “open meetings” requirement.

“The Commission remains fully confident that this complex licensing process was executed in a manner that was comprehensive, fair, and highly transparent,” the Gaming Commission said in a statement. “We will continue to vigorously defend our process in trial court.”

Sun to Shine Another Day

Representatives for Wynn Boston Harbor say the lawsuit won’t affect its construction schedule. The $2.1 billion resort across the Mystic River north from Boston is expected to open in June of 2019.

The state’s Supreme Judicial Court decision is, however, a blow to the Gaming Commission.

A lower court had ruled that the City of Revere, named after the famous Revolutionary War patriot Paul Revere, didn’t have the legal right to challenge the Gaming Commission’s process. The Supreme Court agreed, but said Mohegan Sun does. The court also vetoed the electrical workers suit.

“Mohegan Sun had a legitimate expectation, backed up by substantial investments of resources in the application process, that the commission would follow the law in awarding the license that Mohegan Sun sought,” the court explained in its judgment.

The Gaming Commission must now make its case to the Massachusetts Superior Court, while tribal lawyers will attempt to paint a picture that the licensing process took place behind closed doors.

Mohegan vs. Massachusetts

The Mohegan people aren’t ready to fold on Boston and still want in on the Massachusetts gambling game. But to date, the Expanded Gaming Act passed in 2011 by the Bay State has been one gigantic headache for the Connecticut-based group.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority is justly concerned with the impact Massachusetts’ casinos will have on its Mohegan Sun resort in Connecticut. To combat the expected negative revenue result, Mohegan Sun, in conjunction with the Mashantucket tribe, is presently developing a plan to put a casino in East Windsor, just 13 miles south of MGM’s $950 million resort in Springfield.