On August 28, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission convened another public meeting, its 24th, which was attended by a member of Goodwin Procter’s Gaming, Gambling & Sweepstakes Practice. This week’s highlights include:
Executive Director Search
- Commissioner Stebbins noted that JuriStaff is screening individuals for this position, many of whom are from out- of-state and may need to be enticed to move to Massachusetts. He has been talking with some of these individuals in introductory interviews and noted that they seem sincere in exploring the opportunity to come to Massachusetts. He has a few more introductory calls to make but thus far has been pleased with the candidates, though Chairman Crosby noted that JuriStaff has not fulfilled its objective to find a substantial number of diverse candidates.
- On-site visits with candidates should begin in mid-September.
Additional Hires: General Counsel, Staff Attorney, Deputy Director IEB
- The Commission is almost ready to post the General Counsel position and begin accepting applications with a deadline of around mid-October. Applicants should have at least 10-15 years’ experience in complex corporate and commercial matters in a firm or governmental agency. The initial vetting and ranking of candidates will be done by an outside firm.
- JuriStaff got about 170 applications for the Staff Attorney position and has narrowed them down to 10. Commissioners McHugh and Cameron will then speak to five or six candidates and make recommendations to the rest of the Commission as to whom to hire.
- Commissioner Cameron noted that they may be looking to hire a third attorney on a short-term basis to work in the area of regulatory compliance, particularly compliance with racing regulations. Commissioner Cameron has an individual in mind for the job who comes recommended by the New York Racing Board.
- There may be yet another legal position for a newly graduated law school student on a one-year fellowship type basis with duties including the minutes, regulatory compliance, legal research and keeping track of deadlines.
- The Director of Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) position will be posted soon. The ideal candidate should have at least 10 years’ management experience in complex criminal investigations and enforcement.
Discussion of MGC Internal Policies
- Commissioner Zuniga is working on updating these policies and should have them soon.
- As an initial matter, Commissioner Cameron detailed her decisions on some individual jockey hearings and matters. She then spoke about fines incurred by Suffolk Downs for failure to comply with EPA regulations which were recently made public. This has been an ongoing issue, and the commissioners will have to meet with EPA officials to handle the situation.
Director of Racing Search
- The Director of Racing position posting closes this week. Interviews are to begin Thursday, September 13. There have been nine applications.
Project Work Plan
Consultant Status Report: Review of consultant schedule and scope
- The Commissioners engaged in a discussion regarding the strategic plan outline. The strategic plan should be fully drafted by approximately September 10. In particular, discussion centered around the RFA Phase-2 process and in particular that the strategic plan needs to lay out the process to be used to write the criteria and make decisions for that process.
- In addition to the strategic plan, the gaming consultant team has been working on issues relating to the RFA Phase-1, such as finalizing application forms and completing the instructions to accompany the application packet. These forms will be submitted to the Commission next week for an informal comment period.
Technical and other assistance to communities: Ombudsman search update
- Commissioner Stebbins noted that interviews have wrapped up and they will soon conduct follow-up calls for the Ombudsman position. It is expected that by early September there will be a small group of finalists to present to Chairman Crosby.
Finance / Budget Update
- Commissioner Zuniga will be reporting the budget compared to actual expenditures in an upcoming meeting.
Public Education and Information
Community and/or Developer outreach/responses to requests for information
- Commissioner McHugh noted that any applicants applying in cities and towns with independent fire and water districts will need to negotiate directly with these districts to obtain services. The Town Manager of Palmer expressed concern as to whether the statute contemplated applicants having a contract with the host community instead and requested such a contract. McHugh told the Town Manager that the statute did not contemplate a fire/water contract with the host community. The Commission took the position that it will strongly encourage and will look favorably upon a host community that has all these pieces, including water and fire, in a single package (i.e. such that these negotiations had already taken place and been included in that package.)
- The commissioners discussed that from now on, official bodies or bidders who are interested in talking to the Commission or getting clarification about the application process should first fill out a form to clarify their position. The Commission is not interested in hearing advocacy positions at this point.
Discussion of Diversity/Inclusion Forum September 19
- The agenda will be posted shortly for comment.
G2E Conference – 9/30-10/4; individual itineraries
- Three Commissioners will likely attend this meeting, which will include panels such as iGaming, security and surveillance, advances in gaming technology, and globalization and the marketplace.
- The public health trust may fund the statutorily mandated research, which must study the socioeconomic impacts of gaming. Chairman Crosby noted that before the RFI is put out, it is a good idea to create an advisory group with representatives from groups including the Lottery and Human Health and Services as well as the public health trust. There will soon be a meeting to review the RFI.
- There will also be a gaming policy committee.
- The Commissioners spoke about recent news articles coming out of Springfield, presumably about the gambling expert hired to help Springfield assess as many as four casino proposals. It turns out that this person is a registered lobbyist in Illinois for two of the firms competing in Springfield, raising conflict of interest concerns.
- They highlighted this as a need for the process to stay as transparent as possible.
The next meeting will be on September 4 at 1 p.m., at the Division of Insurance, 1st Floor, Meeting Room E, 1000 Washington Street, Boston.
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Those interested in learning more about Goodwin Procter’s gaming and gambling expertise and practice, and/or the issues outlined above, should contact David Apfel or Bob Crawford, co-chairs of Goodwin Procter’s Gaming, Gambling & Sweepstakes Practice.