Sterling Suffolk Files Lawsuit on Wynn Resorts over Encore Boston Harbor

Sterling Suffolk Lawsuit Wynn Resorts

Steve Wynn is named in the lawsuit, though he no longer is tied to Wynn Resorts or Encore Boston Harbor.

Sterling Suffolk Racecourse filed a lawsuit against Wynn Resorts Ltd. and its former CEO, Steve Wynn, on Monday alleging that the license application for the Encore Boston Harbor casino was rigged. The lawsuit accused Wynn Resorts of Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act violations and seeks over $1 billion in damages.

The company, which owns the closed Suffolk Downs racetrack in Boston, was the major rival for the Boston-area casino license. Suffolk Downs partnered with Mohegan Sun on a development plan for the city of Revere, while Wynn Resorts submitted a plan for the city of Everett.

Sterling Suffolk claims its Suffolk Downs complex would have increase in value had the Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved its casino plan.

After Wynn Resorts won the license, Sterling Suffolk shut down its Boston racecourse, which had been a fixture in the city for over 70 years.

Matthew Maddox Named in Lawsuit

The lawsuit names several others defendants. Current Wynn Resorts CEO Matthew Maddox is a defendant, as is former Wynn General Counsel Kim Sinatra. The realty company which sold the plot of Everett land to Wynn Resorts, FBT Everett Realty, and one of its owners, Paul Lohnes, is named in the lawsuit.

Steve Wynn, Paul Lohnes, and FBT Everett Realty declined to comment on the lawsuit. So did Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Wynn Resorts, on the other hand, released a statement on the suit.

Wynn Resorts Statement

In the statement, Wynn Resorts said, “This lawsuit was brought by Richard Fields, an unsuccessful applicant for the license awarded to Wynn Resorts. His claims are frivolous and clearly without foundation.”

Sterling Suffolk Racecourse alleges that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh endorsed the Revere casino site, which the lawsuit claims was superior to the Wynn Resorts casino plan. The suit alleges a variety of illegal violations by the Wynn Resorts team, including buying the Everett land from “La Cosa Nostra” — the Italian-American mob.

The reference to La Cosa Nostra stems from one of the owners of the Everett land having been to prison in Massachusetts and being rumored to be involved in organized crime. The owners of the land also included a man with financial and personal ties to Stephen Crosby, the chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Crosby eventually recused himself from decisions on the Boston-area casino, due to those ties.

Alleges Extortion, Campaign Finance Violations

The Sterling Suffolk lawsuit’s charges go well beyond that. The suit alleges that Wynn Resorts committed extortion to suppress voter turnout during a Suffolk County casino referendum. The lawsuit also claims Wynn Resorts made illegal campaign contributions during the application process, while lying about its knowledge of ties between FBT Everett and organized crime.

This is not the first lawsuit alleging Wynn Resorts received preferential treatment. After it lost in the first phase of the casino approval process, Caesars Entertainment filed a lawsuit claiming that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission had favored Wynn Resorts. The lawsuit eventually was tossed.

Boston Harbor Casino Plan

Wynn Resorts will be able to argue in court that its casino development plan would have created more temporary construction jobs and permanent casino jobs. Wynn also can argue that its $1.6 billion plan would have invested more money into the Boston area than the $900 million plan proposed by Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs.

After it won the casino license, the Wynn Resorts development plan swelled to $2.4 billion. Wynn received praise for its efforts to clean up the contaminated land sold to it by FTB Everett, as well as dredging the nearby Mystic River.

MGC Reviews Wynn’s License

Wynn Resorts initially won approval for its casino, though the project remains in limbo some months before Encore Boston Harbor’s grand opening. The complex originally was called Wynn Boston Harbor, but the “Wynn” name was removed from the complex because of Steve Wynn’s sexual misconduct scandal, which forced his resignation as CEO of the company he founded.

After the Steve Wynn scandal became a national story, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced it was placing the Boston casino’s license under review again. Many speculate that Wynn Resorts eventually will sell the Encore Boston Harbor property in order to avoid a full accounting of its conduct with the MGC. The Suffolk Downs lawsuit only complicated matters.