The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has a new chair. However, it appears no closer to deciding the fate of the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino project currently under construction in Everett, Mass.
This week, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Cathy Judd-Stein, the governor’s deputy chief legal counsel, will succeed Stephen Crosby as head of the five-member Commission.
Crosby resigned in September 2018 surrounding allegations of a pro-Wynn Resorts bias in the awarding of its Massachusetts’ casino license and the handling of sexual misconduct allegations against its founder and former CEO Steve Wynn.
Cathy Judd-Stein takes over Feb. 4
Judd-Stein will take over as Commission chair on Feb. 4. It’s a date that will likely come before the Commission receives a report on its investigation into the allegations and if Wynn Resorts kept information from the Commission as it determined the company’s suitability as a casino license holder.
The allegations against Wynn were first reported in January 2018 by the Wall Street Journal.
Wynn Resorts has since tried to distance the Everett project from the controversy. Wynn Resorts changed the name from Wynn Boston Harbor to Encore Boston Harbor and Steve Wynn stepped down as CEO.
The allegations that Wynn Resorts kept information from the Commission surround the reporting of a $7.5 million settlement between Steve Wynn and a former Wynn Resorts manicurist who accused him of sexual assault.
The results of the Commission’s report will ultimately lead to a decision on whether Wynn Resorts should keep its license to operate Encore Boston Harbor or be forced to sell.
Steve Wynn sues
The Commission had planned to review the report and issue a decision in December. However, late last year, Steve Wynn sued to block the report’s release.
Wynn alleges certain documents contained in the report are protected by attorney-client privilege. A Nevada judge has placed a temporary hold on the release of the report. Commission lawyers waited for the judge’s written order in the case last week before asking that proceedings be moved to a Massachusetts court.
Boston-based law firm Anderson Kreiger is representing the Commission. Anderson Kreiger says the facts do not support Wynn’s allegations. Plus, it’s inappropriate for a Nevada court to be wielding power over a Massachusetts government agency.
Wynn Resorts is moving ahead with the final phase of construction and plans to open in June this year.
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The new Chairwoman’s impact on Encore
It remains to be seen if Judd-Stein taking over will have any impact on the project. The former general counsel for the Massachusetts Lottery is keeping any thoughts on the issue to herself.
In naming her the new chair, Gov. Baker called Judd-Stein a thorough and diligent lawyer. He also said she would be the kind of leader that will let truth rule:
“She will be the kind of person who will let the facts take her wherever they go.”