10/16/2014 3:35PM

Suffolk workers sue Massachusetts Gaming Commission


The unionized employees of the soon-to-be-shuttered Suffolk Downs are headed to the courtroom.

On Thursday, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, local 103, which represents 145 Suffolk employees, filed suit in Boston, arguing the Massachusetts Gaming Commission broke the law when it awarded the lone Boston-area casino license to Wynn Resorts instead of to Suffolk’s gaming partner, Mohegan Sun, on Sept. 16.

In the aftermath of the gaming commission’s decision, the track’s owners announced live racing would come to a permanent end at the conclusion of the current meet and that the building would be closed for simulcasting by year’s end. Seasonal employees were let go when the meet ended Oct. 4, and full-time employees were notified in writing they will be laid off effective Nov. 20.

Joining the lawsuit is the city of Revere, Mass., where the proposed $1.3 billion Mohegan Sun casino would have been located in its entirety on the grounds of the track also straddling East Boston.

The plaintiffs, who are accusing the commissioners of giving Wynn preferential treatment, among other matters, requested the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s decision be vacated, as well as “any other relief the court deems just.”

Wynn Resorts’ winning proposal is for a $1.6 billion casino development in the city of Everett, Mass., and it is to be located only two miles from the Suffolk Downs stable gate.

Last week, Suffolk Downs’ attorneys filed a letter with the gaming commission imploring commissioners to reconsider their decision. At a public hearing, the commission reaffirmed the suitability of Wynn to hold a gaming license and took Suffolk’s letter under review.

Meanwhile, the New England affiliate of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association filed a “placeholder” application for live-racing dates at Suffolk in 2015 with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and is in the process of structuring a deal to lease the track that would be economically viable for Suffolk’s ownership.

The gaming commission must grant or dismiss the application by Nov. 15.

The legal action and dates application will be rendered moot if a statewide ballot initiative to repeal the law authorizing expanded gambling in Massachusetts passes Nov. 4.