The Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on Friday ruled that a multi-party lawsuit that challenges Wynn Resorts’ gambling license near Boston Harbor can move forward. However, only the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority – not the City of Revere, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, nor a coalition of Revere residents – have legal standing to pursue the case. That decision upheld an earlier lower court ruling.
The high court action sends the case, based on alleged open meeting law violations, back to the lower court. The suit contends that deliberations that should have been available to public scrutiny occurred behind closed doors. Those deliberations may have been material in the 2014 Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s (MGC) decision to award the highly coveted license to Wynn Resorts over the Mohegan in a fierce competition that has seen several lawsuits appear in its wake.
Mohegan Sun had sought the lucrative license to build a casino resort at Suffolk Downs, on the border of Revere and East Boston. However, the five-member MGC awarded the license to Wynn Resorts’ Wynn Boston Harbor, in the city of Everett. The company has committed nearly $2.5 billion to the project so far.
The high court suggested in its ruling that if open meeting law violations did occur those actions could result in civil penalties, but more importantly could make certain actions of the commission null and void.
According to a report in the Boston Herald, counsel for the plaintiff, Kenneth Leonetti, said: “The Supreme Judicial Court has recognized the importance of having judicial oversight over a process that, in our view, was unfair,” said the attorney for Mohegan. “I think it’s gratifying that the court has said Mohegan will have its day in court.”
Michael Weaver, speaking for Wynn Resorts said in a statement: “The recent decision has no impact on our construction.” He added, “We are on schedule and pleased with our construction progress.”
It is unclear at the time of this publication if the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority will pursue its case. In order to prevail, they may need to prove that the Gaming Commission’s decision to grant the license to Wynn was “arbitrary and capricious.”
The Mohegan gaming authority is currently in the process of trying to win approval for a new casino in Connecticut in association with former rivals the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, who run Foxwoods casino.