International edition
April 19, 2019

In Wynn's pending license suitability case

Suffolk Downs won’t renew casino license bid if Commission rules against Wynn

Suffolk Downs won’t renew casino license bid if Commission rules against Wynn
"We’re not a player if it opens back up. We’re not interested," said Suffolk Downs CEO Chip Tuttle.
United States | 03/19/2019

The company's CEO said Monday Suffolk Downs won’t renew its bid for a casino license if the Massachusetts Gaming Commission rules against Wynn Resorts in its pending license suitability investigation.

"That ship has sailed," said Suffolk Downs CEO Chip Tuttle told the Boston Herald yesterday. "We’re not a player if it opens back up. We’re not interested," he added, even though Suffolk has sued for damages.

Last Friday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission indicated in heavily redacted minutes of closed-door meetings that it had “critical” information regarding the Wynn Resorts suitability case, which could play a role in determining whether Wynn can keep the license. The commission opened the probe after sexual misconduct allegations emerged against former casino magnate Steve Wynn. Wynn has denied the allegations.

The minutes showed the commission has a 2014 U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint that was filed against Steve Wynn months before the casino license was granted.

In a Feb. 20 executive session, Loretta Lillios, the deputy director of the commission’s Investigators and Enforcement Bureau, is cited as saying: "The 2014 EEOC matter is a crucial piece of evidence from her perspective both in terms of the evidence itself and the timing. Without the 2014 EEOC matter the Commission may not have fair and accurate information to review Wynn Resorts’ suitability. In her view the resolution preserved the Commission’s access to all of the crucial items obtained during the investigation."

Tuttle said he believes “Wynn Resorts took affirmative steps to withhold information.”

In a $1 billion lawsuit filed in September, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, the former owner of Suffolk Downs, accused Wynn Resorts of conspiring to fix the application process to locate a casino near Boston.

Tuttle said the lawsuit is simply “an effort to collect damages.” He said the casino license application process was “tainted” and that Wynn Resorts was “not suitable” from the start.

Attempts to reach a spokesman for Wynn Resorts were unsuccessful.

Attorneys for Wynn Resorts have filed a series of motions to dismiss the lawsuit, declaring it, “devoid of any allegations of legal consequence.”

Gaming industry observers told the Herald on Monday the commission’s “critical” interest in the EEOC case doesn’t automatically indicate the Wynn license is in trouble.

“The commission is trying to make sure they’ve looked at everything,” said Clyde Barrow, a casino expert and professor at the University of Texas. “The real issue is, does the company and its new faces have procedures and policies in place.”

Paul DeBole, a casino expert at Lasell College, agreed.

“What happened in Vegas will factor, but it’s important to remember that Boston is not Las Vegas,” DeBole said. “The Gaming Commission likes to be thorough, so they could just be dotting I’s and crossing T’s.”

The Encore Casino, owned by Wynn Resorts, is scheduled to open in June in Everett, should its license be upheld. Monday, the company held another job fair to hire casino workers.

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