The former owners of the Suffolk Downs racetrack site have always believed they were wronged by the state gaming commission when it awarded the casino license for Greater Boston to rival Wynn Resorts four years ago.
Now, they have put a staggering price on that decision: more than $1 billion.
That’s how much Sterling Suffolk Racecourse claims it is owed in a new lawsuit filed in Boston federal court against Wynn and the former owners of the Everett property where Wynn’s $2.5 billion casino is going up.
Instead of turning the 161-acre Suffolk Downs site into a casino run by Mohegan Sun, Sterling Suffolk sold the property to a Boston developer for $155 million last year. Not a small sum. But it’s nowhere close to the prize that Sterling Suffolk’s partners could have won if the track became a gambling resort. They also say they’re entitled to receive treble damages.
Most of the points raised in the suit aren’t new. The gaming commission’s vote spawned several other lawsuits, including one that is still pending between Mohegan and the commission. But this is the first time Sterling Suffolk has formally entered the litigation game over the issue.
Sterling Suffolk accuses the state gaming commission of improperly playing favorites with Wynn, and focuses intensely on chairman Steve Crosby’s ties to a former owner of the Everett site. However, the commission, which declined to comment, isn’t named as a plaintiff. (Wynn is the one with the deep pockets, of course, not the state agency.)
The track owners are making a racketeering claim, saying Wynn illegally corrupted the license application process, aided by former owners of the Everett property. Wynn, Sterling Suffolk says, deliberately misled the commission about the sketchy pasts of two former property owners, and acted to conceal former CEO Steve Wynn’s sexual misconduct.
The commission is wrapping up its own investigation into the misconduct claims against Steve Wynn, with a decision expected this fall. Steve Wynn has been exiled from the company, and his name won’t be on the Everett casino. The company hopes these and other steps will placate the regulators, and says the latest allegations from Richard Fields and his partners at Sterling Suffolk are “frivolous and clearly without foundation.”
Four years later, the commission must be eager to put this entire controversy behind it. But the Suffolk Downs lawsuit all but assures that’s not going to happen anytime soon.Jon Chesto can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.