BOSTON Dec 12 Caesars Entertainment Corp is
suing Massachusetts' gaming commission chairman, claiming the
review of its $1 billion casino development plan was biased
because he had undisclosed ties to a landowner who favored
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston, the Las
Vegas-based company challenged "the constitutionality,
objectivity and fairness" of its treatment by Stephen Crosby,
chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
The landowner, Paul Lohnes, is Crosby's former business
partner who stood to benefit from the awarding of a gambling
license to another applicant, Caesars claimed, without directly
naming the company.
Wynn Resorts Ltd is seeking a license in Everett where
Lohnes was part owner of land for a proposed casino.
Caesars had been in the running for one of three casino
licenses in the New England state until October, when it pulled
out of a plan to develop a casino with the operator of Boston's
Suffolk Downs horse racing track. It cited the gaming commission
review, which has not been made public, but denied any
Caesars contended, without elaborating, that the commission
was harsher on it than other applicants. MGM Resorts
International casino had proposed a site in Springfield.
In papers filed in U.S. District Court, Caesars noted that
Crosby and Lohnes served together in the National Guard in the
1970s, and were business partners from 1983 to 1990.
Its lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.
The company cited local media reports that said the land in
which Lohnes had a stake was bought for $8 million in 2009 and
had a potential purchase price of $70 million, contingent on the
awarding of a casino license to a rival, the documents said.
Crosby was aware of Lohnes' interest in the property by the
fall of 2012, Caesars charged, "but he did not publicly or
otherwise disclose his past business or personal relationship
with Lohnes at that time." He disclosed it privately to the
governor's office, but said he could perform his official duties
"objectively and fairly."
In September, Crosby stepped in to resolve a conflict
between Boston and the Everett applicant over whether the
proposed casino site extended into the city, which would have
required an agreement, "and in doing so cleared a potential
obstacle," Caesars said in the complaint.
The company, whose chief executive has described Boston as
the future "second city" of North American gambling, said at the
time that investigators from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission
had raised concerns about its suitability for a state gaming
A spokeswoman for the gaming commission did not respond to
calls seeking comment.
Massachusetts legalized casino gambling in 2011, and
lawmakers carved the state into three districts, allotting one
casino license to each. The state has yet to approve a casino
plan, and voters in several cities and towns have rejected
Voters in East Boston last month rejected the proposal
backed by Caesars, and a referendum in Palmer, Massachusetts,
defeated a proposed casino that would have been in contention
with MGM for the western Massachusetts license.
Another project backed by Wynn Resorts Ltd is seeking
approval for a casino in Everett, just outside Boston.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission plans to award the
licenses for resort casinos in April.