BOSTON The state’s top gambling regulator personally urged a competitor for the sole eastern Massachusetts casino license to stay in the application process, according to an amended federal lawsuit filed by a company that says state officials treated it unfairly.
Caesars Entertainment’s amended lawsuit claims state gambling commission Chairman Stephen Crosby called Steve Wynn in October, after the casino mogul suggested he may not pursue a casino license in Massachusetts if the board intended to require local casino operators to follow Massachusetts law in other jurisdictions. Wynn and another Massachusetts applicant, MGM, run highly profitable casinos in Macau, China, where gambling regulations are significantly different than in the United States.
Crosby “took it upon himself to place a call to Wynn and to ask Wynn to remain in the Massachusetts license process,” according to the complaint.
Wynn said the lawsuit mischaracterized his communication with Crosby.
Wynn said in a statement to The Boston Globe that he had reached out to Crosby. When the chairman returned his call, he offered to pull out of the process over the Macau operations, Wynn said.
“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,” Wynn said.
Caesars had been a partner with Suffolk Downs for a $1 billion project in Revere, but the operator stepped aside in October, just as a report was to be issued that questioned the company’s suitability for a Massachusetts license. The report raised several concerns, including Caesar’s licensing deal with a hotel firm owned in part by a businessman allegedly tied to Russian mobsters.
Its original lawsuit said Crosby failed to disclose his personal relationship with one of the owners of the Everett land where Wynn has proposed his casino and that he treated Caesars unfairly during a background check.
Elaine Driscoll, spokeswoman for the gambling commission, said the lawsuit “is nothing more than the act of a disappointed party who withdrew” from the licensing process.
“The allegations remain baseless and we are confident that we will prevail,” she said.
The modified lawsuit also added a new defendant, Karen Wells, director of the gambling commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau. Caesars alleges she discriminated against the company in collaboration with Crosby.
The suit does not seek monetary awards from Wells but names Crosby in his official and individual capacity and asks for “further and different relief as may be just and appropriate.”