Judge skeptical of Boston’s casino challenge
Sanders wary of overruling Gaming Commission's policy decisions
BOSTON, REVERE, AND THE CASINO OPERATOR Mohegan Sun on Tuesday argued they should be allowed to continue their legal challenge to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s award of a Greater Boston casino license to Wynn Resorts, but Judge Janet Sanders seemed skeptical.
All three parties claim the process the Gaming Commission followed in awarding a license to Wynn for a $1.7 billion casino in Everett was corrupt and violated numerous laws, charges denied by the Gaming Commission. Boston , Revere, and Mohegan Sun want to pursue their claims in court, but the Gaming Commission countered that the three lawsuits were barred either by provisions of the state’s gaming law or by legal technicalities.
Boston’s attorney, Thomas Frongillo, argued fairly persuasively that the city’s claims shouldn’t be tossed because of legal technicalities, such as a 60-day statute of limitations on challenges. But he had a much harder time convincing Sanders that her court should start hearing challenges to decisions made by the Gaming Commission.
“We claim [the entrance road is] on the premises. It’s part of the land of the gaming establishment,” Frongillo said, noting that the casino could not survive without an entrance. “You need a way in and out. It’s like having a house without a door.”
Frongillo said Wynn’s casino will have a huge impact on the already traffic-clogged Sullivan Square in Charlestown. “We could have Schaefer Stadium redux here,” he said, referring to the name of the former football stadium in Foxborough that was known for notorious traffic jams after events.
But Sanders was wary of having her court second-guessing the decisions reached by the Gaming Commission, which typically acted after numerous public hearings. “The court should not be wading into these kinds of policy decisions,” she said, adding that deference should be given to the agency charged with interpreting the state gaming law.
David Mackey, an attorney representing the Gaming Commission, cited the gaming statute itself in urging Sanders to throw out a lawsuit brought by Mohegan Sun, which lost out to Wynn Resorts in the battle for a Greater Boston casino license. A section of the gaming statute says applicants for casino licenses “shall have no legal right or privilege to a gaming license and shall not be entitled to any further review if denied by the commission.”
Kenneth Leonetti, representing Mohegan Sun, said his client is not seeking a review of its license denial but of the process the commission followed in awarding the license to Wynn. “We had a right to expect a fair process,” he said.Revere’s attorney, James Cipoletta, said the gaming statute doesn’t bar his client from seeking redress in the courts because the community wasn’t an applicant for a license. But Mackey noted that Revere would have been the host community to the proposed Mohegan Sun casino and its lawsuit wouldn’t have been filed if Mohegan Sun hadn’t lost its license bid. He also noted that Mohegan Sun is paying Revere’s legal bills.
Sanders seemed to agree with Mackey’s argument. “It doesn’t really make a lot of common sense,” she said of the city’s arguments.