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The chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has recused himself from all matters related to the awarding of the eastern Massachusetts casino license.
Chairman Stephen Crosby said Thursday that his impartiality has been questioned — "sometimes in good faith, sometimes in bad faith" -- and that it "has become a distraction."
"Frankly, neither I nor any of the Commissioners have any doubt about my ability to be impartial in the decision making process," Crosby said in a statement on the commission's website. "But the compounding of these issues has now gotten to the point where my participation in the decision making process has become a distraction and a potential threat to our critical appearance of total impartiality."
Crosby's move came a day after Gov. Deval Patrick said Crosby's decision to attend a party at Suffolk Downs to celebrate the Kentucky Derby and the opening of the racing season was probably "not a wise decision." Suffolk Downs and casino operator Mohegan Sun are bidding for the sole casino license in eastern Massachusetts on land in Revere.
The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that Crosby turned heads when he showed up at the party over the weekend, for which he paid $400 to attend with his wife and friends.
“From what I can tell, his having paid for the ticket and so forth, it was probably within the rules but not a wise decision, in my view and I think, I imagine, based on the some of the reaction to it he’ll be thinking twice in the future,” Patrick told reporters Wednesday.
It's not the first criticism Crosby has taken with the region's casino license process.
In December, Crosby stepped aside on reviewing a land deal for Wynn Resorts' potential casino in Everett, after it was disclosed that Crosby's former business partner is a site owner.
The potential conflict of interest was one of the reasons Caesars Entertainment, which previously had proposed a casino at Suffolk Downs, filed a lawsuit against Crosby.
With reporting by the WBUR Newsroom and State House News Service