Gaming Commission Says Wynn Resort Had No Role in Lightbody Scandal


James McHugh Says Wynn Resorts “Clearly” Had No Knowledge of Lightbody’s Role in the Land Deal

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman James McHugh said Wynn Resorts “clearly” had no role in the wrongdoing of three men associated with the land deal involving the Mystic River casino awarded last month to Steve Wynn’s company. McHugh told press Thursday he was confident that Steve Wynn or executives at his gaming company had no knowledge that Charles Lightbody, a convicted felon, was involved in the land deal. McHugh’s statement came at a Thursday joint press briefing by the state police and gaming commission’s investigators.

The Gaming Commission chairman also said that the three men (Charles Lightbody, Anthony Gattineri, and Dustin DeNunzio) will have no ongoing role in the $1.6 billion casino development in the city of Everett. The three men are accused of concealing from Steve Wynn and Massachusetts state regulators the fact Charles Lightbody stood to profit from the sale of the 28 acre parcel of land in Everett where the Wynn Resorts casino will be built. Because Charles Lightbody is a convicted felon, state regulations should have banned such a land deal.

Lightbody and 2 Others Charged with Wire Fraud

The three men have been charged with several state and federal criminal charges, including wire fraud. Charles Lightbody is thought to have ties to organized crime, while it is well-known that he served time in prison for crimes often associated with organized crime.

Last month, Wynn Resorts was awarded the lone Boston-area casino license after a three-year licensing process. Wynn’s $1.6 billion plan beat a joint proposal between Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs that would have put a $1.1 billion casino in Revere. The land, which is found along a stretch of the Mystic River in Everett, is still not fully in the possession of Wynn Resorts. That situation opened the door for one of Wynn’s rivals to ask for a reevaluation of the process.

Suffolk Downs Asks for Review

Suffolk Downs executives have asked the Gaming Commission to reconsider the decision to grant Steve Wynn his casino license, in light of the arrests of Charles Lightbody, Anthony Gattineri, and Dustin DeNunzio. Because of the arrests of the three men, it is unlikely that Wynn will be able to acquire the land within the commission’s 60-day window. In a submission to the gaming commission, Suffolk Downs said it had “grave doubts” such a purchase could be made in the proper time frame, which would give the commission the legal right to withdraw its license.

Federal prosecutors already have said they plan to seize profits the three men have made in the casino land deal, which once was the site of a chemical plant. Wynn Resorts Ltd. signed an option on the land in December 2012. Since then, Wynn has been paying $100,000 a month to FBT Everett Realty LLC for the right to buy the land for $35 million. In response to the filing by Suffolk Downs, Wynn released a statement saying the deal has been thoroughly vetted by Massachusetts regulators.

Wynn Releases Statement

The Wynn statement read, “Indictments of other individuals have absolutely no impact (on) our contractual ability to obtain control of the land and to move our project forward on schedule.

McHugh Announces Review

James McHugh said the letter from Suffolk Downs is currently being reviewed. He added that Wynn Resorts would give its first statement to the commission in a few weeks. McHugh further added, “We’ll have a better chance to see how that plays out then.

By that time, the referendum on whether the Boston-area license can be offered or not will have passed. In 2011, Massachusetts voters passed a referendum approving a casino licensing process. During the 2014 midterms, a second referendum will take place to see whether the licensing is repealed. Regulators may be hoping to nurse the issue until the election is over, because controversy of any kind could tip the balance in the favor of casino opponents. The timing of the arrests, after the announcement of the Wynn Resorts license, has been questioned by some.

Wynn Resorts Casino Licensing Process

This is not the first time the Wynn Resorts project has faced controversy. After Caesars Entertainment lost in an earlier round of bidding, the Las Vegas gaming company sued Gaming Commission Chairman James McHugh for conflict of interests. For a year, McHugh did not reveal that he had a prior business partnership 20 years ago with some of those who stood to gain if Wynn Resorts gained the license. The lawsuit eventually was dismissed by a judge, but it left doubts whether the process was entirely fair. After the suit was filed, McHugh recused himself from further rounds of decision making.

Chairman McHugh is not the only one to say Wynn Resorts showed no wrongdoing in the Lightbody case. In the federal indictment on the three men, documents show that the Wynn executives were dismayed to learn about Lightbody’s role in FBT Everett Realty.