Legal

Suffolk Downs Owner Again Suing Wynn Resorts Over Boston Casino License

The owner of the Suffolk Downs horse racetrack in Massachusetts is once again suing Wynn Resorts.

The owners of the Suffolk Downs racecourse says the bidding of Encore Boston Harbor cost its company more than half of a billion dollars in damages. (Image: The New York Times)

Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC is the former owner of the historic horse racecourse in East Boston near Boston Logan International Airport. It says it’s owed financial damages for Wynn Resorts’ successful winning of the state’s Region A casino license. The horse racetrack operator says Wynn violated state laws by failing to disclose information to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) that could have rendered the casino company unsuitable for licensure.

Suffolk and Wynn Resorts were the two bidders for the lone Region A casino license, which consists of Suffolk, Middlesex, Essex, Norfolk, and Worcester counties.

Suffolk partnered with Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, the casino unit of the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut, to present the state with a $1.1 billion integrated resort proposal. The MGC ultimately went with Wynn, which opened its $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor in June of 2019.

Suffolk Downs hosted such famous thoroughbreds as Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, John Henry, Cigar, and Skip Away. Sterling Suffolk has since sold most of the racetrack land to a firm that plans to redevelop the property. But simulcasting remains open Wednesday through Sunday.

Federal Challenge Tossed

This isn’t the first time Suffolk Downs has sued Wynn Resorts. US District Judge Patti Saris dismissed a similar lawsuit last year. She ruled that the horse racetrack owner failed to support claims that Wynn officials acted wrongly in convincing land owners in Everett to sell the vacant property to the casino company. Encore Boston isn’t actually in Boston, but across the Mystic River in Everett.

While Saris dismissed the lawsuit, she said Suffolk provided enough evidence that Wynn possibly engaged in such activities banned under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. But because there was no clear path to reverse the MGC decision and award the Region A license to Suffolk, Saris terminated the lawsuit.

Wynn MA [Massachusetts] has already secured the License and opened the Encore Boston Harbor casino at the Everett Site. Given these facts, the Court does not find that there is (or ever was) a realistic prospect that the association-in-fact enterprise will continue to operate into the future or that it is likely to conduct further racketeering activity,” Saris ruled.

She added that Wynn’s “allegedly illicit activities are within the larger Wynn organization (i.e., Macau and Nevada), and do not establish that Wynn MA’s regular way of conducting business carries a risk of an encore of future racketeering activity.”

Case Continues

Filed in the Massachusetts Superior Court, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse alleges that, along with potential RICO violations, Wynn Resorts knowingly withheld information regarding its founder and former chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s alleged sexual misconduct.

The allegations against the billionaire came to light long after the MGC awarded Wynn Resorts the coveted Region A license. But Suffolk attorneys say senior Wynn leadership knew of the decades of alleged wrongdoing by their boss and lied to the state gaming agency.

The MGC found Steve Wynn to be a man of “integrity, honesty, good character, and reputation.” In April of 2019, following a long and in-depth investigation, the MGC fined Wynn Resorts a record $35.5 million for “numerous violations” in relation to its bidding.

Sterling Suffolk says Wynn Resorts’ actions cost it more than $500 million in damages. The company is seeking a jury trial in the Superior Court.

Devin O'Connor

Gaming Legislation, Politics, Casino Business, Entertainment----Devin O’Connor’s passion for politics and background in the world of pop culture television give him insight into the gaming industry backstories that often drive news these days. After graduating from Penn State University with a theater arts degree, he worked at MTV Networks/Viacom from 2005 to 2010 as a writer and producer, where his credits included Total Request Live, New Year's Eve specials, and a special featuring poker superstar Daniel Negreanu. He later moved on to the HGTV/DIY Network, where he created, wrote, and produced three series specials: That's So House Hunters, That's So 80s, and That's So 90s. Devin came on board with Casino.org in 2014. He lives in Pennsylvania, and is an avid marathoner, having completed 15 races to date. Email: devin.oconnor@casino.org

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