Gov. Charlie Baker named one of his administration's top lawyers to head the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Tuesday as the panel weighs a key decision on whether Wynn Resorts should keep its license to operate a $2.5 billion casino under construction near Boston.
Cathy Judd-Stein, deputy chief legal counsel to the Republican governor, will succeed Stephen Crosby, who resigned as chairman of the five-member commission in September over concerns of bias in the state's inquiry into Wynn Resorts. The investigation involves the company's handling of sexual misconduct allegations against founder and former chief executive Steve Wynn, including whether information from about a $7.5 million settlement with one of Wynn's accusers was kept away from Massachusetts investigators during an initial background check conducted before the lucrative casino license was awarded.
The commission's report, originally expected last summer, has been slowed by several factors including a lawsuit Steve Wynn brought against Massachusetts regulators in a bid to keep details of the report from being made public.
Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez said after a hearing in Las Vegas earlier this month that documents collected by the commission should be kept secret, at least temporarily, while she decides whether the materials are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Cathy Judd-Stein Named New Head of Gaming Commission
The company last year removed Wynn's name from the hotel and casino _ slated to open this summer in Everett _ and rebranded it as Encore Boston Harbor.
Neither Judd-Stein, who will begin her new job Feb. 4, nor Baker would share their own views on the probe or offer predictions as to when it might conclude.
"She will be the kind of person who will let the facts take her wherever they go," said Baker of Judd-Stein, who has held several other state posts under both Republican and Democratic governors, including general counsel for the Massachusetts Lottery and executive director of the Judicial Nominating Commission.
Baker described Judd-Stein as a thorough and diligent lawyer with a record of pursuing to the ``bitter end'' some of the thorniest, most complex issues before the administration.
"She's just wicked smart," added Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
Also Tuesday, the commission reported that MGM Springfield, the state's first resort casino which opened in August, generated $21.6 million in gambling revenues in December, a modest uptick from November's $21.2 million. The president of the casino, Michael Mathis, attributed the improved numbers to the holiday season.
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Plainridge Park, a slot parlor near Rhode Island, generated $14 million in December, up from November's $12.8 million.
In addition to sorting out issues surrounding Wynn, Massachusetts regulators face other challenges from increased competition from regional casinos and the prospect of overseeing sports betting should it be legalized in some form by the Legislature.