Boston Sues Gaming Commission to End Wynn Casino Development in Everett
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to end development on the planned Wynn Casino in Everett. Mayor Walsh’s filing asked a court to void the commission’s license approval for the Wynn Resorts project. The filing also asked the judge to declare that Boston has the right to hold a “binding vote” on the casino development.
It has been reported several times that Marty Walsh does not like Steve Wynn or has been cold to the head of Wynn Resorts. The day after the gaming commission granted a license to Wynn Resorts, its CEO spoke about his need to develop a rapport for Boston’s mayor, who just finished his first year in offense.
Marty Walsh’s Criticism
Throughout that year, Marty Walsh has been critical of the 5-member Gaming Commission, sometimes in personal language. The Boston Globe reports that the 75-page is full of “heated rhetoric against the panel”.
In the legal brief, Walsh accuses the Gaming Commission of deliberately breaking the law, while ignoring provisions of a 2011 law passed giving the commission the right to grant three Massachusetts gaming licenses.
Boston Was Ignored by Commission
In the lawsuit, Mayor Walsh accuses the commission of ignoring Boston’s concerns about its own rights under that casino law. He also called a 2014 hearing to discuss the matter as a “mock hearing”, which had a predetermined bias against the City of Boston.
In the brief, Walsh says, “The commissioner has ignored the facts, conducted an improper proceeding, and rendered a decision that is legally and factually defective.”
Revere and Somerville Also Sued
Earlier, the nearby cities of Revere and Somerville sued the Gaming Commission to stop the Wynn development. In their filings, those cities made many of the same arguments that Boston now does.
All three cities claim the Gaming Commission should have disqualified Wynn Resorts from participating in the licensing process, because of the suspicious that the development had to Everett land owners. One member of the real estate ownership group that sold Steve Wynn the property next to Mystic River was a convicted felon, who is thought to have ties to organized crime. Under the law, the gaming commission is supposed to vet those involved in profiting from state decisions.
Boston: The Sole Access Point
The suit also notes that Boston is the sole access point to the upcoming casino, so Boston should be able to hold a binding vote to determine whether its residents want a casino nearby. Previous votes to approve plans for other developers have gone against gaming interests, so a Boston-area vote might well block the Wynn Resorts plan.
Mayor Walsh suggests that a casino in Everett would cause massive traffic congestion in Boston, while providing few direct benefits for the city. The lawsuit’s statement on the binding vote read, “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.”
Filing to Protect the People of Boston
The filing went on to say, “To protect the people of Boston and to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods it is clear to us that this [lawsuit] is the best and only way to move forward–for Charlestown, for the city of Boston, and for the entire Commonwealth.”
These arguments were made in that fateful May 2014 public meeting in Boston, but the Gaming Commission dismissed the complaints, claiming they were not substantial. Elaine Driscoll, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, presented the panel’s own stance on the issue.
Gaming Commission Releases Statement
When asked about the issue by the Boston Globe, Driscoll said, “The commission believes that we have reviewed these issues thoroughly, objectively, and fairly, and that exhaustive review helped lead to the decision to award the Wynn license with appropriate conditions. 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 through litigation.“
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