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Patrick chides gambling regulator for attending party

Governor Deval Patrick reprimanded the state’s top gambling regulator Wednesday for attending a private party at Suffolk Downs, calling it unwise for an official who will help decide whether a lucrative casino proposal at the track will win a license.

The Globe reported Wednesday that Stephen P. Crosby, Patrick’s handpicked chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, was among the politicians, lobbyists, and gamblers mingling last Saturday at a private party the track threw to mark opening day and the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby. An open bar was offered, as well as a buffet with shrimp, clams, and a carving station.

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The room also displayed artists’ renderings of the proposed Mohegan Sun casino project, planned for land just beyond the East Boston track.

Suffolk Downs has said that Crosby personally paid $400 to attend the party with other guests, including his wife, other relatives, and friends. The cost reflects a value assigned by Suffolk Downs of $50 per person.

“From what I can tell, with his having paid for the ticket, it was probably within the rules, but not a wise decision, in my view,” the governor told reporters. “I imagine that, based on some of the reaction to it, he’s going to be thinking twice in the future.”

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On Tuesday, the gambling commission’s spokeswoman, Elaine Driscoll, defended Crosby’s attendance at the party as important to support the racing industry. After the governor’s remarks Wednesday, she released a statement from Crosby expressing regret.

“I agree with Governor Patrick’s assessment,” the statement read. “Although fulfilling our responsibility as racing regulators and supporting the racing industry and our employees in this uncertain time is important, with the benefit of hindsight, I should have chosen a different forum for expressing my support.”

Michael Levenson can be reached at Michael.Levenson@
globe.com
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