Caesars Entertainment’s beef with Massachusetts Gaming Commission chair Stephen Crosby is far from finished. The casino operator is pointing to Crosby’s relationship with a local landowner as a key reason the Nevada-based company received unflattering reviews in its suitability background check.
In a transcript from a February 26 hearing reviewed by the Boston Herald, Caesars attorney Joan Lukey was quoted telling a judge that Paul Lohnes, the guy who owns the Everett property on which Wynn Resorts has proposed building its own casino, “invested or loaned” in Crosby’s publishing company back in 1983, “saving it and Mr. Crosby from financial ruin”. Unfortunately, the investment never amounted to anything and the company was eventually sold in 1990 due to “limited success”.
Caesars claims it knows a lot of what happened regarding Lohnes’ failed investment in Crosby’s company in the 80’s, saying that the facts “would be relevant to this court”, even as it admitted that records from those transactions have been lost. Caesars claimed that Lohnes wasn’t able to “recoup his investment, neither was he entitled to any recoupment according to the terms of his loan”. So after Lohnes did Crosby’s company a solid only to see his generosity go to waste, the latter felt indebted to his buddy, even if an MGC report indicated that the two have had limited contact since 1990, meeting no more than 10 times in social events over the past 23 years.
Caesars’ strategy is to paint Crosby as a man who wants to return the favor to Lohnes by siding with Wynn Resorts’ Everett casino proposal. Former state Inspector General Gregory Sullivan told the Herald that “if Caesars could demonstrate that there’s an unpaid obligation outstanding by Crosby to Lohnes, then that would be strong evidence of the fact that there was a conflict. Lohnes’ loan and/or his ownership interest would represent the quid, and the awarding of the casino would be the quo.”
Earlier this year, Caesars accused Crosby of personally ringing up Wynn Resorts chairman Steve Wynn back in October to urge Wynn to continue vying for that casino license in the state. According to Caesars, the call was made after Wynn publicly stated that he was considering withdrawing his Boston bid after getting grilled about the legitimacy of his businesses in Macau.