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Mass. gambling chief steps aside on Everett ruling

December 5, 2013

BOSTON (AP) — The head of the Massachusetts gambling commission said he was withdrawing from a crucial review of the land deal for a proposed casino in Everett because one of the site’s owners was a longtime friend and former business partner.

Stephen Crosby said he has known Paul Lohnes, co-owner of the 29-acre site, since they were in the National Guard in the 1970s and that they were business partners from 1983 to 1990.

If Wynn Resorts wins the right to develop the former Monsanto chemical site into a $1.3 billion casino, the land sale would potentially be worth millions of dollars to Lohnes.

“Although I believe I have met all the requisite legal and ethical standards so that I could be involved in the resolution to this land issue, and I have no doubt about my ability to be objective on the issue of the land option, it is due to my intense commitment to the integrity of the overall licensing process, that I have made the decision to not participate in this upcoming decision,” Crosby wrote in a statement posted on the commission’s website Thursday.

Wynn has requested a meeting to discuss concerns raised in a background check conducted by the commission’s investigative arm about Wynn’s option to purchase the land in Everett. Crosby said he would recuse himself from the Dec. 13 meeting, leaving it to the four other commissioners to resolve what he called an “important and sensitive issue.”

Wynn has proposed reducing the planned sale price from an estimated $70 million to prevent any potential windfall for secret investors, according to The Boston Globe.

Crosby has previously said that there was no indication Wynn had been aware of any secret investors at the time the land deal was negotiated.

Crosby indicated he would continue to participate in all other key decisions related to the awarding of the sole eastern Massachusetts resort casino license.

Wynn hopes to compete for that license, as does Mohegan Sun, which has proposed a casino in Revere on land owned by Suffolk Downs.

The racetrack originally planned a casino that would straddle East Boston and Revere, but turned to a Revere-only facility after East Boston residents rejected the original plan. The commission is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to allow the revised bid to go forward.

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Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com

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