The Mohegan Sun has been given the legal go-ahead to pursue a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission due to a Boston area casino license.
When it comes to casino licensing, tribal groups and commercial casino companies mean serious business. To be competitive, companies fight tooth and nail to be able to be given the opportunity for gaming licensing. It can be a tough and expensive fight to be given licensing approval, and operators tend to go all out in order to be considered. In Massachusetts, one gaming company feels they were treated unfairly when it came to competition for a Boston-area gaming license and they have now earned the right to file a lawsuit against the state Gaming Commission.
Mohegan Sun Vs Massachusetts Gaming Commission
In January of 2015, the Mohegan Sun operators, the Mohegan Tribe decided to sue the Massachusetts Gaming Commission due to the Commission giving the only Boston area casino license to Wynn Resorts. The Mohegan Tribe, who is based in Connecticut, had plans to create a casino at the Suffolk Downs racetrack, willing to spend $1.3 billion on the project. The tribe decided to sue the commission as they believed that Wynn was given preferential treatment during the application process.
This past Friday, the state Supreme Judicial Court decided to rule in favor of the Mohegan Tribe, stating that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission was in violation of the open meeting law of the state in making the decision for Wynn to be given licensing. The Court pointed out records of the commission which showed that the commissioners met in private to discuss the casino licensing for the Boston area which is not allowed and was in contradiction of the claims by the commission.
The Court discussed the violations of the open meeting law called for several penalties including nullifying any action that took place during the meeting. The lawsuit filed by the tribe will now go back to the Supreme Court for deliberation thanks to the recent court decision on the matter.
Kevin Brown is the Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe who stated that the decision affirms the belief that the licensing process was flawed and the decisions by the commission are not immune to further reviewing.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission did not sit quietly after the ruling was made. The commission released their own statement on the matter, commenting that they are fully confident that the licensing process was comprehensive, fair and highly transparent and the commission pledged to continue to vigorously defend the process while in trial court.
A spokesperson for the Wynn group stated that the setback will not impact the Wynn Boston Harbor and the company will continue with the project, which is expected to open in 2019. The company actually presented an update to the commission on the project last week and showed labor costs are over the estimated $2 billion and have now reached $2.4 billion. To compensate, the property will no longer have as many retail shops and will feature more dining options, bars and gaming machines.
It seems unlikely that the Wynn company will lose their licensing due to any legal outcomes of this case. However, it does beg the question as to if the Mohegan Tribe will be given any chance to create a gaming venue as well, perhaps in another area. Only time will tell what legal ramifications will take place if the tribe continues to be successful in their fight against the state gaming commission. Now the Supreme Court will be considering the case and should provide a ruling in the near future on the matter.