Stephen Crosby, who served as chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission since its inception and has overseen the implementation of casino gaming in the state, resigned from the commission Wednesday afternoon, effective immediately.
Crosby's departure comes as the commission prepares to make public the findings of its investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against former casino magnate Steve Wynn and the handling of those allegations by Wynn Resorts, and amid accusations of bias against Crosby.
"Just recently, I have twice been accused of prejudging the outcome of the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau's ongoing investigation regarding the suitability of Wynn Resorts," Crosby wrote in an email informing Gaming Commission staff of his immediate resignation.
He said attorneys for Steve Wynn accused him of having "had already made up my mind against Steve Wynn regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct" and that Mohegan Sun had insisted that he "had already made up my mind in favor of Wynn Resorts in the suitability investigations."
Crosby referred to lawsuits and threats of lawsuits against the commission four years ago, when he was at the center of accusations of bias in the commission's process that resulted in Wynn Resorts securing the Boston area casino license. He said he expects the commission's objectivity will be challenged, even if he were to recuse himself from the Wynn deliberations but remain on the commission.
"I simply cannot let my involvement in these critical deliberations be used by others to hamper the Commission’s ability to do its work, or to undermine the confidence of the public in that work," he wrote in the letter, which was sent to staff after 5 p.m. Wednesday. "There has never been a shred of truth or accuracy to any charge of bias, favoritism, corrupt practice, ethics violations, or prejudgment in my execution of this job."
Crosby had previously served as secretary of administration and finance, as chief of staff to Acting Gov. Jane Swift and as dean of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston. Gov. Deval Patrick tapped him as chair of the Gaming Commission in December 2011.
"With a profound sense of sadness, regret — and yes, frustration — I am resigning as Chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, in order to give you the best possible opportunity to do your work without distraction," Crosby wrote. "And I leave the leadership of this organization in the very capable hands of your four Commissioners."
A spokeswoman for the Gaming Commission said the meeting scheduled for Thursday morning will take place as planned. The commission is expected to discuss what comes next in its re-evaluation of Wynn's suitability to hold a casino license.
The commission since January has been reevaluating the circumstances surrounding its 2014 decision to award Wynn Resorts a casino license. Previously, the head of the commission's investigations bureau confirmed that Steve Wynn paid a private $7.5 million settlement to a manicurist to resolve a sexual harassment allegation that was not disclosed when Wynn Resorts sought and eventually received a casino license in Massachusetts.