Connecticut Casino Sues Ottawa Senators Owner

Canada and the United States are more than neighbors. They are intricately together in many ways. But the connection between Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut and Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is not something about which to brag.

Connecticut Actions

CBC revealed the lawsuit this past weekend, though it seems to have been filed on July 9.

Mohegan Sun, a casino located in Uncasville, Connecticut, sued Ottawa Senators owner Eugen Melnyk for close to $1 million. The case was filed in the New London Superior Court.

The allegation was that Melnyk spent time at the casino on the weekend of March 17, 2017, which was over the holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. He paid the casino with five bank drafts, which cumulatively totaled $900,000. The first four drafts were $200,000 each, and the fifth was $100,000. Three of those drafts were issued between 11:07pm and 11:57pm on March 19.

The drafts were then “dishonoured” by the Toronto-based bank, and the casino was not paid.

According to Mohegan Sun, Melnyk has since refused to forward another payment for the $900,000. So, the casino filed the lawsuit to obtain that sum, along with $15,000 extra for damages, costs, and interest associated with the delayed payments and court filings.

Melnyk has yet to respond to requests for a statement. His lawyer, Sheldon Plener, only responded to CBC that he expects a “swift result” to the case.

Flight Charter Airways Claim

If the Mohegan Sun lawsuit wasn’t enough, another hit to Melnyk came this week.

Flightpath Charter Airways claimed Melnyk owed $693,524.19 in unpaid fees for the operation, maintenance, and storage of a business jet belonging to Melnyk’s Clean Beauty Collective company. And they were holding a lien over the plane until the money was paid.

Melnyk had to face the debt in order to get his Bombardier Challenger business plane from Flightpath Charter Airways, which was in the process of selling the jet. The company needed money to pay creditors due to the unpaid debt of Melnyk.

A statement from Flightpath to CBC said, in part: “For months, he flew the aircraft, incurred, third party expenses, and demanded that we manage and operate the aircraft but failed to pay for insurance, NAV Canada, fuel, pilots, pilot training, maintenance, storage, and repair expenditures without explanation, and without justification.”

Melnyk went to court this week in an attempt to reclaim his plane. His attorneys said the amount of money was “incorrect and inflated.” However, his CBC company “voluntarily paid” the debt. That money remains in the court’s hands, though, until the judge issues a final ruling on the dispute.

Flightpath also alleged that Melnyk owned money to other companies, such as the Ottawa International Airport Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Who is Eugene Melnyk?

Many Canadians know Melnyk from his many business ventures in Canada. The one for which he may be most well known at this point in time is his ownership of the Ottawa Senators, the professional hockey team that is part of the National Hockey League (NHL). He bought the team and the stadium in which they competed in 2003.

Melnyk is a longtime businessman. In 1982, he founded a medical publishing company called Trimel Corporation. He sold that and founded Biovail Corporation, a specialty pharmaceutical company. Some of his other business ventures have included Bert’s Bar (locations in Ottawa and Barbados) and real estate transactions in Barbados.

He is also as a longtime philanthropist. He has partnered with charitable organizations from Ukraine to Canada that benefit children and the elderly, schools and medical centers.

The divorced man was born and raised in Toronto but now resides at least part of the year in Barbados. He also remains the current and sole owner, governor, and chairman of the Ottawa Senators.

No Stranger to Scandals

For one of the wealthiest people in Canada, Melnyk owes Mohegan what may seem like pocket change. The money shouldn’t be an issue.

But Melnyk has been involved in numerous scandals involving money.

The most significant one came about in 2007 when the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) threatened legal action against him. The agency alleged “treading and reporting ownership positions in Biovail securities. Melnyk subsequently left Biovail.

Less than one year later, the SEC actually sued Melnyk and Biovail for accounting fraud. The charges included Melnyk repeatedly overstating earnings and hiding losses to deceive investors and fraudulently show the company meeting earnings goals. Biovail ultimately settled the case for $10 million.

Upon the outcome of that case, the Ontario Securities Commission banned Melnyk from holding any senior roles at public companies in Canada for five years from 2011. The agency also issued a fine to Melnyk of $565,000.


Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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