As the Massachusetts Gaming Commission considers the suitability of Wynn Resorts to hold a casino license on Monday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker said the appearance of conflict for Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby is enough that he should recuse himself from the process.
Crosby recused himself from a vote on the land-option agreement between Steve Wynn and the owners of the site in Everett where Wynn wants to build a casino, but has said he will participate in all other licensing decisions.
Despite Crosby’s prior business relationship with Paul Lohnes, one of the Everett land owners, Crosby said last week, "I've thought this through very carefully and at this stage in the game I'm positive I can be objective and I believe that fair and reasonable people will look at my actions over the last year and half, but more importantly look at what I do over the next few days and months and weeks as this process unfolds."
Baker, during an interview on Herald Radio, said it’s debatable whether Crosby has an ethical obligation to step aside, but said the appearance is enough to warrant a recusal.
“I think he should remove himself from any of the decision making on a casino license in Eastern Massachusetts,” Baker said, suggesting Crosby could continue to run the meetings and organize the licensing process but abstain from voting.
Baker also said he not moved much from his 2010 position that Massachusetts should have started with one casino to see if it works, before moving to license up to three casinos. The GOP candidate said he worried about the “collateral damage” expanded gambling will have on the Lottery and retailers competing for “discretionary dollars.” “If it works, terrific. There’s no law that says you can’t do more,” Baker said.
– M. Murphy/SHNS