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US – Caesars fights back over Massachusetts ruling

By - 17 December 2013

Having been forced from the race to land a casino licence in the Greater Boston region, Caesars Entertainment is now suing the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, claiming that its ruling that Caesars was not suitable for a casino licence breached its civil rights.

In October, the commission’s said Caesars would not be able to compete for the licence in Massachusetts, forcing it to severe a two year project to bring a US$1bn casino to a Boston racetrack in conjunction with Suffolk Downs. Last week however, the same commission recommended that MGM was a suitable developer for a $800m casino in downtown Springfield.

The decision to oust Caesars from the list of applicants leaves Wynn Resorts battling against Suffolk Downs and its new partner, the Mohegan Sun, for the license in Greater Boston.

Caesars is arguing that the commission held the company to a higher standard than MGM Resorts International.

The lawsuit stated: “There is no reasonable, non-discriminatory reason for the difference in the consideration and treatment by the Bureau and Commission of Plaintiff, on the one side, and other applicants, on the other side, nor have they provided any reasonable explanation as to why Plaintiffs have been held to a different and The detail behind the ruling against Caesars has not been made public although it is believed to focus on connections to a hotel group that had an investor with alleged ties to organised crime in Russia.

Caesars claims that in MGM’s review there was no mention of its troubles in New Jersey following concerns over its Macau partnership with Pansy Ho, whose father Stanley Ho was linked by New Jersey officials to organised crime in Macau.

MGM is however the only applicant still in the running for the Western Massachusetts license.

In the lawsuit, Caesars challenges the objectivity and fairness of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and its Chairman Stephen Crosby claiming there were conflicts in his failure to disclose in a timely way.

Mr. Crosby also abstained on a vote on the land deal involving Wynn due to a long-standing friendship and a former business connection with one of the land owners.

Elaine Driscoll, Communications Director for the commission, said however: “The lawsuit filed by Caesars is without merit. The Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB), comprised of seasoned investigators, acts independently to protect the public interest. The IEB is ultimately responsible for the report it presents to the Commission. The facts in that report are the basis for the IEB’s recommendation. Chairman Crosby had no role in the investigation, report or recommendations. As this is now pending litigation, neither Chairman Crosby nor the Commission will comment further on this matter.”

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