Former Suffolk Downs owners say Wynn Resorts unqualified because of faulty background investigation
By JOSH RESNEK
Right now, two major lawsuits are making their way through the legal justice system here in Massachusetts by parties who feel aggrieved by the casino licensing process.
The newest suit entered in Superior Court last week, by Suffolk Sterling, the former owner of the Suffolk Downs Race Track, alleges that they are owed $500 million in damages due to the bidding allowed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on behalf of Wynn Resorts.
The allegations include assertions that Sterling Suffolk lost at least $500 million with the MGC’s faulty investigation into Steve Wynn’s background.
By awarding the license to Wynn Resorts after Steve Wynn resigned, a mistake was made in determining Wynn Resorts the qualified party, and act which eliminated Suffolk Sterling from being considered the same.
Suffolk Sterling steadfastly believes it was the qualified party.
The former horse racetrack operator says Wynn violated state laws by failing to disclose information to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) that could have rendered the casino company unsuitable for licensure.
This isn’t the first time Suffolk Downs has sued Wynn Resorts. US District Judge Patti Saris dismissed a similar lawsuit last year. She ruled that the horse racetrack owner failed to support claims that Wynn officials acted wrongly in convincing landowners in Everett to sell the vacant property to the casino company. Encore Boston isn’t actually in Boston, but across the Mystic River in Everett.
While Saris dismissed the lawsuit, she said Suffolk provided enough evidence that Wynn possibly engaged in such activities banned under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. But because there was no clear path to reverse the MGC decision and award the Region A license to Suffolk, Saris terminated the lawsuit.
“Wynn MA [Massachusetts] has already secured the License and opened the Encore Boston Harbor casino at the Everett Site. Given these facts, the Court does not find that there is (or ever was) a realistic prospect that the association-in-fact enterprise will continue to operate into the future or that it is likely to conduct further racketeering activity,” Saris ruled. She added that Wynn’s “allegedly illicit activities are within the larger Wynn organization (i.e., Macau and Nevada), and do not establish that Wynn MA’s regular way of conducting business carries a risk of an encore of future racketeering activity.”
Filed in the Massachusetts Superior Court, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse alleges that, along with potential RICO violations, Wynn Resorts knowingly withheld information regarding its founder and former chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s alleged sexual misconduct.
The allegations against the billionaire came to light long after the MGC awarded Wynn Resorts the coveted Region A license. But Suffolk attorneys say senior Wynn leadership knew of the decades of alleged wrongdoing by their boss and lied to the state gaming agency.
The MGC found Steve Wynn to be a man of “integrity, honesty, good character, and reputation.” In April of 2019, following a long and in-depth investigation, the MGC fined Wynn Resorts a record $35.5 million for “numerous violations” in relation to its bidding.
This writer and Walter Pavlo, writers of the book “Encore,” coming out in the spring of 2021, allege that the MGC’s investigation was folly, that millions were spent and not a thing about Steve Wynn discovered. The book details with annotations how a collision between the State Police, the FBI, and the MGC investigators led to a cover-up that benefitted Wynn Re- sorts. In addition, Resnek and Pavlo allege that Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria played a major role in covering up details of Wynn’s involvement and may have collected a kickback for his part in bringing the casino to Everett.
Sterling Suffolk questions the efficacy as well as the legality of awarding the license to Wynn Resorts, but only after forcing Wynn Resorts to pay a $35 million fine to gain the license.
Other litigants are now negotiating a separate lawsuit filed by former Everett landowners Anthony Gattineri, and others, seeking a return of about $20 million they say they are owed by Wynn Resorts for being forced to cut the price of the land by the MGC.
Sterling Suffolk is seeking a jury trial in the Superior Court.