Yet Another Lawsuit Threatens to Derail Connecticut’s Casino Competition in Boston

Connecticut’s two Indian tribes that operate the state’s two gambling casinos can rest a little bit easier: It appears the proposed Wynn Resorts casino just north of Boston may be tied up in court for quite a long time. A group of Massachusetts taxpayers has filed a lawsuit challenging a land acquisition by Wynn. It’s the latest legal action against the holder of the only Greater Boston casino license.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is already firing on all legal cylinders against the $1.75 billion project despite Wynn threatening to counter sue. The neighboring city of Somerville has filed suit as well.

The taxpayers group objects to the sale of a small parcel of the land owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) to Wynn for $6 million. Wynn Resorts wants to use the less-than-two acres of land as the main entrance to the resort casino in Everett, just north of Boston. The group contends that the MBTA violated state competitive bidding laws in negotiating the land sale.

Mayor Walsh is going all out in Boston’s legal action against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission alleging the commission violated its own rules in awarding the license to Wynn Resorts, operated by Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn. The Boston lawsuit also questions the land sale but goes further, contending the process was corrupt and rigged in favor of Wynn.

Wynn Resorts won the license over the Mohegans who operate Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. In all fairness, Walsh’s motives may go beyond objecting to the process. Boston had a deal in place with the Mohegans that would have brought in $18 million to the city every year. It could not reach a deal with Wynn.

In this past session of the Connecticut General Assembly, lawmakers passed and the governor signed into law a measure that laid out a process for a third casino in the state operated jointly by the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots who own Foxwoods in Connecticut.

Connecticut officials have been apoplectic about the eventual competition for jobs and casino dollars from Massachusetts . A $250 million slots resort in Plainfield, Mass. has already opened and its operators have publically pledged to poach gamblers that would otherwise go to Connecticut.

The resort casino under construction in Springfield by MGM has already pushed back its opening by a year while construction on I-91 is completed.

The casino license for Southeast Massachusetts has yet to be awarded and has cities like New Bedford chasing it. It too would have an impact on the Connecticut casinos.