A private agreement between Wynn Resorts and Anthony Gattineri, a minority owner of FBT Everett Realty, LLC, has been declared unenforceable by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. This deal was kept a secret from gaming authorities and would have awarded Gattineri an extra $19 million from the sale of the site that would later become Encore Boston Harbor. As a result, the court decided that it was against public policy to enforce this agreement.
Wynn Resorts’ Land Purchase Raises Controversy
The dispute began with Wynn Resorts’ attempt to get a Massachusetts casino license. The business agreed to pay $75 million for a piece of property in Everett and Boston as part of this endeavor. But the Massachusetts Gaming Commission limited the sale price to $35 million, which is the fair market value if the site wasn’t used for a casino, due to worries about possible links between FBT and a convicted criminal with ties to organized crime.
Anthony Gattineri, an investor in FBT, claimed that Wynn Resorts had made a secret oral deal promising him an extra $19 million; this arrangement was not documented and was not disclosed to the commission. This made some question the validity of the agreement. The court did stress, however, how important it is for public policy—as stated in the Expanded Gaming Act—to preserve the integrity and trust of the casino gaming licensing procedure. Any contract that deviates from the conditions allowed by the commission and isn’t disclosed to regulators is deemed unenforceable.
The site was purchased by FBT for about $8 million in 2009, when Massachusetts did not yet have legalized casino gaming. Big-box retail was taken into account in the site’s original planning. But these ideas changed in the late 2011 following the legalization of casino gaming in the state.
In a Supreme Judicial Court opinion, Justice Scott L. Kafker stressed how important it is to maintain public trust in the licensing procedure. The court’s ruling emphasized how important it is for transactions concerning casino licenses to be transparent and fully disclosed, especially where there may be connections to organized crime.
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