Somerville Files Lawsuit Against Casino

Everett’s booming neighbor to the south, Somerville, has filed a four-count lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) for awarding the casino license to Wynn Resorts, and has asked the court to reverse the decision that gave Everett its casino project.

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone did not immediately return phone calls requesting comment for this story.

However, last Sunday Curtatone told the Boston Globe that his administration doesn’t believe in the expansion of gaming in the first place, and they believe the Wynn project with have a “detrimental effect on the quality of life in Somerville.”

The suit was filed in Suffolk Superior Court on Dec. 4 and is focused in on the MGC and not the City of Everett or Wynn Resorts.

A spokesman for Wynn said they would have no comment on the suit, as they are not a party to it.

The suit requests four actions.

They include, first, that a declaration be made that the MGC acted in contravention to the Massachusetts Constitution and the Gaming Law. Second, that an order be made to vacate and set aside the MGC decision in favor of Wynn. Third, it asks that a declaration be made that the MGC and its members’ allegedly unlawful actions leading up to and awarding the license be null and void. The fourth piece asks for relief from the court.

One count in the suit declares that the MGC’s regulations go beyond the Legislation, and that the Legislation goes beyond what’s allowed in the state Constitution. That allegation focused in on the barring of judicial review for the MGC’s licensing actions.

“This regulation is beyond the scope of the Commission’s authority, and in excess of the statutory grant of authority given the Commission by the Legislature,” it read.

Michael McLaughlin, a former Everett Councillor and a major local player in the ‘No On 3’ statewide ballot question, said Everett residents, nor its mayor, chose to challenge Somerville on its development of Assembly Row. He said the traffic going there has had an impact, and Everett has never seen mitigation for that.

“Neither the residents of Everett nor our elected officials chose to challenge Mayor Curtatone or the City of Somerville regarding this project,” he said. “In addition, we were never asked for our thoughts or provided any impact funding by the developer. In fact, just the opposite; we supported our neighbors. I personally know many Everett residents that shop and dine in Assembly Row on a daily basis. I only wish that the Somerville Mayor would have returned the same courtesy towards Everett’s new Wynn development. I truly believe Assembly Row has a greater potential to negatively impact the total area than the Wynn Everett project.”

Meanwhile, Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo said he was glad to see Somerville had the same feelings towards the process that Revere does. Revere, obviously, had the competing proposal with Mohegan Sun that lost out to Wynn. Revere has also filed suit against the MGC and that case is already in the system.

“I’m encouraged by the lawsuit filed by the city of Somerville,” said Rizzo this week. “They witnessed the same thing we did and that was the methodical disregard for the law and legislation that made up the Massachusetts Gaming Act.”

However, the MGC said it looked forward to a speedy resolution to the suit.

“The allegations of the complaint center on the land in Everett on which Wynn MA LLC plans to build its hotel and casino,” said MGC Spokesperson Elaine Driscoll. “Those allegations are similar to allegations made by others both in litigation and in other settings. The Commission continues to believe firmly that its approach to the land transaction was fully in keeping with its statutory and regulatory obligations and fully protected the public interest. We look forward to a prompt resolution of the complaint.”

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