Federal Court Dismisses Caesars Lawsuit

On February 13, 2015, US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit dismissed Caesars Entertainment Corporation’s lawsuit against Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman and Director Karen Wells of the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) based upon allegations arising out of the Eastern Mass gaming licensing process. The matter came to the First Circuit Court of Appeals upon Caesars’ appeal of the Federal District Court’s decision to dismiss all of Caesars’ claims against Chairman Crosby and IEB Director Wells in May, 2014.

After a review of both Caesars’ and the Commission’s arguments, the Court  found that Caesars did not have a protected property interest in its gaming license application nor an expectation of a benefit from its contract with Sterling Suffolk Racecourse under Massachusetts law or under c. 23K, the Expanded Gaming Statute.  The Court found that c. 23K “invests the Commission with apparently unlimited scope for discretionary judgment reflecting the commercial and social risks presented by casino operations.”  Since the Court held that Caesars had no protected property interest, the Court dismissed Caesars’ claims that the Commission violated Caesars’ right to procedural and substantive due process.  The Court further cited the broad discretionary authority granted to the Commission as the basis for dismissing Caesars’ equal protection claim.

“We are pleased that the court has ruled in favor of Chairman Crosby and IEB Director Wells and dismissed the claims brought by Caesars after its withdrawal from the Eastern Mass resort-casino licensing process.  Chairman Crosby and Director Wells, along with the Commission appreciate the Court’s careful consideration of the issues raised by the parties and the Court’s recognition of the broad discretion granted to the Commission by the Legislature.  The Commission looks forward to continuing to protect the interests of the Commonwealth and it citizens as expanded gaming is introduced to the Commonwealth,” said Commission spokesperson Elaine Driscoll.

To view First Circuit Court ruling, click here.

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