Caesars sues Massachusetts gaming commissioner, claiming bias

Renderings of the proposed Suffolk Downs Hotel and Casino. Credit: Suffolk Downs
Renderings of the proposed Suffolk Downs Hotel and Casino.
Credit: Suffolk Downs

Caesars Entertainment Corp is suing Massachusetts’ gaming commission chairman, claiming the review of its $1 billion casino development plan was biased because he had undisclosed ties to a landowner who favored another applicant.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston, the Las Vegas-based company challenged “the constitutionality, objectivity and fairness” of its treatment by Stephen Crosby, chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

The landowner, Paul Lohnes, is Crosby’s former business partner who stood to benefit from the awarding of a gambling license to another applicant, Caesars claimed, without directly naming the company.

Wynn Resorts Ltd is seeking a license in Everett where Lohnes was part owner of land for a proposed casino.

Caesars had been in the running for one of three casino licenses in the New England state until October, when it pulled out of a plan to develop a casino with the operator of Boston’s Suffolk Downs horse racing track. It cited the gaming commission review, which has not been made public, but denied any wrongdoing.

Caesars contended, without elaborating, that the commission was harsher on it than other applicants. MGM Resorts International had proposed a casino for a site in Springfield.

In papers filed in U.S. District Court, Caesars noted that Crosby and Lohnes served together in the National Guard in the 1970s, and were business partners from 1983 to 1990.

Its lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

The company cited local media reports that said the land in which Lohnes had a stake was bought for $8 million in 2009 and had a potential purchase price of $70 million, contingent on the awarding of a casino license to a rival, the documents said.

Crosby was aware of Lohnes’ interest in the property by the fall of 2012, Caesars charged, “but he did not publicly or otherwise disclose his past business or personal relationship with Lohnes at that time.” He disclosed it privately to the governor’s office, but said he could perform his official duties “objectively and fairly.”

In September, Crosby stepped in to resolve a conflict between Boston and the Everett applicant over whether the proposed casino site extended into the city, which would have required an agreement, “and in doing so cleared a potential obstacle,” Caesars said in the complaint.

The company, whose chief executive has described Boston as the future “second city” of North American gambling, said at the time that investigators from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission had raised concerns about its suitability for a state gaming license.

A spokeswoman for the gaming commission did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Massachusetts legalized casino gambling in 2011, and lawmakers carved the state into three districts, allotting one casino license to each. The state has yet to approve a casino plan, and voters in several cities and towns have rejected proposed developments.

Voters in East Boston last month rejected the proposal backed by Caesars, and a referendum in Palmer defeated a proposed casino that would have been in contention with MGM for the western Massachusetts license.

Another project backed by Wynn Resorts Ltd is seeking approval for a casino in Everett, just outside Boston.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission plans to award the licenses for resort casinos in April.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Local

New York-based Century 21 store coming to The…

The former Strawbridge & Clothier building will once again host a department store. City officials on Thursday announced New York-based Century 21 Department Stores will…

National

Electric Zoo tickets on sale Tuesday as festival…

Electric Zoo tickets go on sale Tuesday. The festival announced plans to amp up security after two attendees died last year from apparent drug overdoses.

Music

Championship of Collegiate a Cappella: Students who are…

Tickets to this Saturday’s International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella reportedly sold out within 11 hours of going on sale.

Music

M.I.A. talks 'Matangi,' divinity, spontaneity and holograms

"There’s pressure for me to become a theatrical production like 'Glee,' or something" says M.I.A., "It’s like, 'the pressure’s on, bitches.'"

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

NBA

Jason Collins named to Time's 100 Most Influential…

Jason Collins was named to the list after coming out as the first openly gay player to appear in an NBA game.

MLB

The return of Cole Hamels brings optimism

Cole Hamels’ quality start Wednesday was a nice change of pace from his recent season debuts.

MLB

Tony Gwynn Jr. a nice surprise for Phillies

Tony Gwynn Jr. has been a plus in every way for the Phillies.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

Food

Hai Street Kitchen opening in Rittenhouse May 22

Japanese cuisine will get a Chipotle-style twist at Hai Street Kitchen & Co., a new casual, quick-food restaurant opening near Rittenhouse Square on May 22.…

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.