Caesars Files Update to Lawsuit Against Head of MA Gaming Commission
The deadline to submit casino license applications in the state of Massachusetts may have passed when the calendar flipped from 2013 to 2014, but Caesars Entertainment is clearly still smarting from its own failure to stay in the race there.
Update alleges untoward support of Wynn
The original lawsuit was filed last month in federal court, and alleges that Crosby favored a proposal by Wynn Resorts for the Boston area. Caesars Entertainment is suing Chairman Crosby both personally as well as in his position as the top gaming regulator in Massachusetts.
In the amended filings, Caesars Entertainment is further alleging that Crosby personally contacted Steve Wynn and asked him not to drop out of the running in the Bay State.
Not so, says Wynn, who explained that he contacted Crosby, not the other way around, this according to the Review-Journal article.
For much of 2013, an elevated amount of focus surrounded the casino licensing process in Massachusetts, which passed a law back in 2011 to allow for expansion of land-based casinos in the state.
Wynn, which in December was cleared in a routine background investigation, received particular focus from Massachusetts gaming regulators due to its business in the Asian gaming mecca of Macau. Wynn commented that the talks with Crosby centered on the Macau issue.
Steve Wynn maintains he initiated discussions with Crosby
“During that conversation, I offered to withdraw if the commission was uncomfortable with our operations in Macau,” Wynn was quoted as saying.
“This lawsuit and the misrepresentations included within it are a shameless, desperate attempt by Caesars to deflect attention from the serious issues raised in their investigation, including their current financial condition,” said Wynn, who denied that “any member of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission ever initiated contact with me and I have never been discouraged from withdrawing from the licensing process in Massachusetts.”
For its part, Caesars Entertainment wrote in its updated court filing, “Notwithstanding his statutory role as the unbiased overseer of the Massachusetts gaming license application process, Crosby, in the company of another commissioner, took it upon himself to place a call to Wynn and to ask Wynn to remain in the Massachusetts licensing process.”
Crosby personally linked to Everett land owner
Crosby has been discovered to have both a personal and business relationship with a part-owner of the piece of land in Everett on which Wynn plans to build his new $1.2 billion resort. The design is modeled on Wynn’s Macau property, a casino that has been largely credited with introducing Western-style casino resorts to Macau.
That landowner, Paul Lohnes, formerly served with Crosby in the National Guard and has been involved in a professional sense with Crosby as well.
Caesars was forced out of Massachusetts when its partner in an East Boston casino project, historic racetrack Suffolk Downs, asked the company to step aside due to the uncovering of possible criminal ties to one of its investors in a now-scrapped Nevada hotel redevelopment project.
Caesars had been planning to transform the old Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall on the Las Vegas Strip into a western outpost of the trendy New York hotel the Gansevoort.
After the loss of Caesars as its casino partner – and a loss in a public referendum held in early November – Suffolk Downs went on to form an alliance with Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun, whose Palmer casino plan was also rejected by local voters in November.
Because voters in Revere did approve the Suffolk Downs plan, Mohegan Sun and the racetrack are working to move the project over a short distance so that the new casino would be wholly located in Revere. That plan heads to another vote on February 25.
A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Elaine Driscoll, dismissed the accusations against Crosby and the board in a statement, writing, “This lawsuit is nothing more than the act of a disappointed party who withdrew from the lawful licensing process. The allegations remain baseless, and we are confident that we will prevail.”
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