Since legislation was passed three years ago, to allow Las Vegas style gambling in Massachusetts, various parties have been vying for licenses. The single slot parlor license was awarded to Penn National Gaming for Plainville. In the awarding of the casino licenses controversy has surrounded the Chairman of Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Stephen Crosby.

Problems with Caesars Entertainment

Former Dean of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, Crosby was accused of bias by Caesars Entertainment in a lawsuit referring to the non-disclosure of his links with Paul Lohnes. Lohnes had an interest in the Wynn Resorts project, which was in competition with Caesars for the Greater Boston casino license.

Caesars was excluded from consideration following background checks by the commission and went on to question Crosby’s relationship with Lohnes. Lohnes is co-owner of Suffolk Downs where the Wynn project Everett Casino was going to be based. He has both a friendship and business links with Crosby, the two having been former business partners.

The Latest Controversy

Controversy reared its head again when Crosby attended a party at Suffolk Downs on Saturday 3 May 2014. The venue is the subject of one of the latest projects vying for the Greater Boston license. The private event, which was attended by several lobbyists and politicians, was held to mark the start of the 140th Kentucky Derby. There was an open bar and food was provided for those attending.

Crosby’s attendance at the party led to criticism from Governor Deval Patrick; one of the few interferences the Governor has made since he forged ahead with his battle to legalize gambling in 2011. The artwork at the party was interesting to say the least, with impressions of the proposed Mohegan Sun casino project which would be situated close to the land where the track is situated.

The Way Forward

Crosby has stated that the other commissioners had no doubt about his ability to remain impartial but the criticisms were proving to be a distraction to the decision making process; one that could not continue. This being the case, although Crosby denies any bias in the license consideration process, he has recused himself from it. He remains in his position as Chairman but Commissioner Jim McHugh will take the role for the entirety of the Eastern Massachusetts license award considerations only.

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