Suffolk Downs, which lost a bid to host a casino last month, asked state regulators Wednesday to reconsider their choice of Wynn Resorts as the winner of the Greater Boston resort casino license, citing recent indictments against several sellers of the Everett property where Wynn wants to build.
Last month, the state gambling commission chose Wynn’s project over a Mohegan Sun proposal to build a casino in Revere on land owned by Suffolk Downs. Wynn Resorts won, in part, because the company proposed creating more jobs, paying higher wages, and investing more than twice as much in the physical building.
Within hours of the commission’s decision, Mohegan Sun asked for reconsideration, saying the commission’s decision-making process was defective and unfair.
The Suffolk Downs complaint letter — signed by Charles A. Baker III, secretary of Suffolk Downs — claimed the indictments and other issues make it “apparent that Wynn’s project cannot go forward” within the objectives of state law, which call for policies that promote integrity and public confidence in the casino licensing process.
“These provisions were crafted in order to prevent unscrupulous individuals from benefitting from the implementation of expanded gaming in the Commonwealth and to ensure that casino licensees do not conduct significant business with unscrupulous individuals,” Baker wrote.
Suffolk Downs’ chief operating officer Chip Tuttle said the track is “asking the commission to reexamine incurable defects in this process that prevent the Everett proposal from complying with the law.”
But former Everett city councilor Michael McLaughlin, a supporter of the Wynn project, said the Suffolk Downs complaints are just “an eleventh-hour tactic they’re trying to pull because they didn’t get what they want.”
“To deprive our community of the opportunity because they didn’t get it is sour grapes,” said McLaughlin.
The commission is due to get an update Thursday from its enforcement division on the indictments related to the land ownership.
Three men connected to the land where Wynn intends to build were named in state and federal indictments last week, alleging that they defrauded Wynn and lied to state regulators by trying to hide the fact that convicted felon Charles Lightbody had a stake in the land. Lightbody was among those indicted, as well as land owners Anthony Gattineri and Dustin DeNunzio.
After the indictments, the gambling commission affirmed that Wynn is a suitable operator and that the sellers would have no role in the operation of the casino.
The indictments were not a big surprise. In December, the commission confronted the possibility that the sellers may have had undisclosed partners with criminal records, based on the report of commission investigators. The commission at the time approved a plan by Wynn to slash the amount the company would pay for the land to market rate, based on an appraisal of the property, to prevent any undisclosed stakeholders from receiving a premium price for the land.
The Suffolk Downs complaints are “are all issues which have been thoroughly vetted in public,” Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver said in a statement. “We are thrilled to have been designated by the [commission] following their exhaustive process.”
The Suffolk Downs letter raised additional questions about access to the Wynn site and the appraisal Wynn used to set the price for the property.
“On behalf of our workers and the horsemen and women here, we felt an obligation to raise these issues to the Gaming Commission, especially in light of new information regarding the Everett land and the continuing questions around the suitability of individuals associated with that land,” Tuttle said in a statement.
Shortly after Wynn won the license, Suffolk Downs officials announced that the track would close. The last day of racing occurred last Saturday, but a group representing horse owners and trainers have said they will try to resume horse racing at Suffolk Downs next year.
The state casino law is facing a repeal vote next month, which, if passed, would ban the industry from the state.