State officials say separate probes into the local casino industry have been dismissed

Industries Associated Press

Two investigations that cast a shadow over the launch of Massachusetts' gambling industry have been dismissed, state officials said Thursday.

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Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said the Ethics Commission won't take further action into whether he acted improperly during the competition for the Boston-area casino license.

State Attorney General Maura Healey's office, meanwhile, said it won't take any action on a letter from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe accusing gambling regulators of violating state law.

The revelations came as the gaming commission voted Thursday to issue a provisional "opening certificate" to Plainridge Park Casino, the Plainville, Mass., slot parlor that represents the first gambling destination to open since state lawmakers approved a casino law in 2011. The casino will have a test run June 22 ahead of a public opening June 24.

"Although it is profoundly discouraging to have my integrity or that of the process called into question, this development yet again substantiates our pledge to operate in a 'participatory, transparent and fair' manner," Crosby said in the email, regarding his ethics probe.

The state ethics commission declined to comment, citing "strict confidentiality restrictions" under law. Crosby declined to elaborate beyond his email.

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The Ethics Commission had been looking into allegations that Crosby continued to participate in the Boston-area license competition even after he recused himself from voting. Crosby is a friend and one-time business associate of Paul Lohnes, a part-owner of the waterfront land in Everett that Wynn Resorts wants to build a $1.7 billion casino.

With Crosby recusing, the remaining commission members picked Wynn over Mohegan Sun for the lucrative license.

Crosby's Thursday announcement followed one from Healey's office saying it won't take action on a letter the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe filed in the hopes of delaying the opening of Plainridge Park.

The tribe, which wants federal approval to open its own resort casino in nearby Taunton, said it's "exploring its options" following Healey's decision.

In a May letter, the tribe said the Gaming Commission violated state law, which bans slot parlors from offering familiar casino table games like blackjack and roulette. The tribe argues that ban extends to their electronic counterparts, which Plainridge Park intends to offer.

The commission issued a regulation last year permitting Plainridge Park to offer up to 1,500 "gaming positions" on 1,250 machines. State law caps the number of machines at 1,250 but appears to be silent on machines that allow multiple gamblers to bet simultaneously, like blackjack and roulette machines.