July 2, 2012

Update: Massachusetts Gaming Commission Holds Weekly Meeting

On July 2, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission convened another public meeting, which was attended by members of Goodwin Procter’s Gaming, Gambling & Sweepstakes Practice. Chairman Crosby participated remotely and Commissioner McHugh chaired the meeting. This week’s highlights included:

Executive Director

  • Commissioner Zuniga submitted a memorandum with his recommendations for selecting an executive search firm. Commissioners Zuniga and Cameron and Communications Director Elaine Driscoll interviewed the four candidates and ranked them. JuriStaff ranked the highest (New Leadership Group came in second). The Commission unanimously selected JuriStaff to conduct the Executive Director search. The Commission also voted to prequalify New Leadership Group and Isaacson, Miller for any future needs. The memorandum regarding the search and interview results may be found in the Commissioner Packet.
  • The Commission discussed how the hiring process should proceed. Commissioner McHugh suggested creating a subcommittee that would interview all applicants recommended by JuriStaff. Commissioners Cameron and Stebbins worried, however, that the public meeting requirement would discourage potential applicants that are concerned about losing their current employment if interviews are made public. Chairman Crosby suggested that, while JuriStaff begins finding applicants, the Commission speak with Anderson & Kreiger about how best to interview applicants while addressing privacy concerns.

Internal Policies

  • Commissioner Zuniga informed the Commission the entire employee manual should be ready for a vote at the next meeting.

Project Management

  • Commissioner Zuniga submitted his recommendations for project management consultants to create the scheduling software. His memorandum may be found in the Commissioner Packet. After evaluating all the proposals, he found PMA Consultants, a midsized national firm out of Boston, to be the best choice. The Commission voted to give PMA Consultants the contract.

Racing Division

  • Commissioner Cameron has begun overseeing adjudications related to the racing division. She submitted one order to the Commission for approval. She also informed the Commission that the racing consultant, Ann Allman, should be ready to provide recommendations to the Commission within the next couple of weeks.

Project Work Plan

  • Kathleen O’Toole spoke on behalf of Spectrum Gaming and Michael & Carroll. She said the consultants have been meeting with various state law enforcement agencies to discuss enforcement and investigation protocols. She said they are also speaking with the Office of Administration and Finance to discuss the Commission’s organizational structure.
  • Ms. O’Toole informed that Commission that Michael & Carroll is making progress on the regulations. The regulations fall into two categories: administration and RFA Phase I. After the Commission reviews the proposed regulations, it will take approximately three weeks to finalize them. Once that is done, the Commission will submit the regulations for public comment.

Community and Developer Outreach

  • The Commission discussed the Protocol for Prospective Gaming Developer's Interactions with Massachusetts State Agencies included within the Commissioner Packet. Prior to becoming an applicant, prospective developers will have the opportunity to have one meeting with representatives from as many state agencies as the developer requests. After becoming an applicant, developers may have as many meetings with as many agencies as necessary for completion of their license applications.
  • There was some disagreement as to when a developer becomes an applicant and pays the $400,000 application fee. Some commissioners think the “applicant” designation and fee should apply on picking up the RFA Phase I form, while others think it should apply on return of the completed application. Commissioner Zuniga pointed out that it is currently a moot point as the Commission has no controls in place for accepting money. The Commission will discuss this further with the consultants and lawyers.
  • Chairman Crosby submitted a memorandum, included in the Commissioner Packet, describing the role he envisions for the community ombudsman. The ombudsman’s role will be to help communities and developers cut through red tape to get answers to pressing questions. Also, the ombudsman will be responsible for implementing the Protocol in coordinating the meetings between the developers and various state agencies. The Commission must still decide if this role will be filled by a full-time employee, a borrowed state employee or a consultant.
  • Commissioner McHugh compiled a report, found in the Commissioner Packet, that will give guidance to communities on the tentative timeline and process for casino approval. Notably, he anticipates that the RFA Phase I will happen in October or November.
  • Chairman Crosby voiced displeasure over a perception reported in the Boston Globe that Suffolk Downs will receive the license for the Eastern Region. He advocated that the Commission make a public statement that no prospective applicant is guaranteed a license and that the Commission will encourage competition. Risking further backlash, Chairman Crosby said that if the proposals for a region are not adequate, a given region may risk missing out on a casino.

Research Agenda

  • The Commission plans to fund a significant research project on the effects the casino industry will have on the state. As it will be a large-scale project, the Commission is considering small grants so potential researchers may spend time putting together thorough proposals.

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Those interested in learning more about Goodwin Procter’s gaming and gambling expertise and practice, and/or the items outlined above, should contact David Apfel or Bob Crawford, co-chairs of Goodwin Procter’s Gaming, Gambling & Sweepstakes Practice.