Lawyer: Suffolk Downs 'blindsided' by Caesars problems

Suffolk Downs officials said today they were shocked to learn of the issues raised by a state investigation into operations at their proposed casino operator earlier this month - especially after learning state investigators had started asking questions about them several months earlier.

Meanwhile, officials said they are talking to a number of new possible casino operators, but can't guarantee they'll have one selected by next Tuesday's election, in which East Boston and Revere voters will decide whether to back the proposal. However, Suffolk official Charles Baker III told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that whoever they chose will be bound by the "host agreements" the racetrack has signed with the two cities. He added that Suffolk Downs will "do what it takes" to let officials in both cities vet whichever operator is hired.

Suffolk Downs dropped Caesars as operator of the proposed $1-billion project after learning state investigators had raised concerns about the involvement of Caesars with a company linked to the Russian mob, its apparent coddling of a man dropping millions in bets and its overall financial health.

Former state Attorney General Tom Reilly, working for Suffolk, said the fact Caesars never told Suffolk about the Russian-mob issue - which involves a company that had nothing to do with the Suffolk Downs bid - until several months after Massachusetts investigators began asking about it was "very troubling to me."

"Suffolk was totally in the dark as to this matter," he said. "Suffolk was blindsided by this."

Under questioning from a commission investigator, Baker said the track had learned a valuable lesson: Googling a potential operator is not enough to ensure it has no issues to worry about. Going forward, he said, track officials will do more in-depth investigations before selecting a new operator.

Suffolk Downs said it is working with Caesars to get Caesars to divest its 4% share in the proposed project.

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"Under questioning from a

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"Under questioning from a commission investigator, Baker said the track had learned a valuable lesson: Googling a potential operator is not enough to ensure it has no issues to worry about. Going forward, he said, track officials will do more in-depth investigations before selecting a new operator."

You have to be kidding me. With this much on the line the only vetting they did was googling? Mind-boggling.

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Yeah, it was interesting

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Baker was asked how they did due diligence and he kept talking about how they looked up Casears via the Internet and Lexis-Nexis.

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Seriously.

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This just can't be the first time someone's gone through the process of pushing their plan to open a casino forward. Detroit got 'em (Windsor had them across the river, so...), St. Louis got 'em (Illinois had them across the river, so ...) - not sure that a river was involved here, but sheesh.

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Perfect idea

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The city owns the land where the Bank of America Pavilion is in Southie. Move the concert venue to suffolk, sell the land in the seaport for a small fortune. Suffolk stays viable, city gets a better concert venue with its own T stop, development can begin on another mundane looking building. Use the $$ from sale to improve 1A and fund boardman st flyover. 495 gets a casino! Your welcome.

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Worth noting Suffolk Downs

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Worth noting Suffolk Downs has held concerts in the past. The Beatles in 1966 and Radiohead in 2001, at the very least. I'm sure there have been others.

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Willful Ignorance?

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Perhaps Suffolk Downs was only concerned with whatever was already publicly known about Caesars. Digging into all the dirt about most any gambling operator would probably reveal things they'd rather not want to know.

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Shocked?

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I believe the correct phrasing would be "Suffolk Downs officials said today they were shocked, shocked to learn of the issues raised by a state investigation…"

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