Alert May 29, 2012

Update: Massachusetts Gaming Commission Holds Weekly Meeting

On May 29, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission convened another public meeting. This week’s highlights included:

Administration

Executive Director Update

  • The Commission notified the two respondents to the RFP for a new Executive Director of its decision to cancel the current RFP and solicit additional bids due to lack of response. The Commission indicated that it posted the new RFP on its site Friday, May 26, and responses are due June 13. We were unable to locate the new RFP, however, and instead found only a separate Request for Responses from Executive Search Firms to locate candidates for the Executive Director position.

Technology Policy

  • The Commission voted to adopt a technology policy that establishes no expectation of privacy with regard to communications its employees make using state-issued devices. The policy allows for minimal, infrequent personal use of state-issued devices.

Other Hiring Needs

  • The Commission informally debated a hiring policy that has been reviewed by its counsel but is not yet ready for adoption. After significant discussion, the Commission agreed to compare model policies from various state agencies and distill a personnel policy and a hiring policy as soon as possible. The Commission will continue hiring in the meantime, but agreed that a formal policy will facilitate the large-scale hires required to fill the remaining vacant positions.
  • Although the Commission abandoned the idea of hiring an interim Executive Director in the wake of Stan McGee’s resignation, the commissioners agreed to search for a senior-level staffer to temporarily assume responsibility for the Commission’s organizational and administrative obligations. The position might eventually dissolve or its description might change when an Executive Director is hired. The commissioners approved a motion to designate Chairman Crosby as the hiring manager for the position.
  • The Commission will likely hire a summer intern to assist with organizational duties as well.

Racing Commission

Solidifying the Transition

  • The Commission hired Ann Allman as its racing consultant. Commissioner Cameron expects Ms. Allman’s initial report within 4–6 weeks.
  • Commissioner Cameron and Ms. Allman attended several meetings at the Office of Consumer Affairs Division of Professional Licensure (“DPL”) offices last week. The meetings elucidated historical perspectives on the State Racing Commission and provided an opportunity for the Commission to return authority to DPL to conduct day-to-day operations such as making standard lease payments. The Commission will retain management authority of the racing division.

Bazaars and Raffles

  • On July 31 the Commission will assume responsibility for bazaars and raffles under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 271, Section 7A. The Commission is preparing a report that it will present to the Legislature before that date.

Gaming Consultant / Legal Consultant

Work Plan

  • Chairman Crosby reiterated that the commissioners and the gaming consultants have signed off on the work plan, though the Commission has not yet received the signed contracts. The details of the work plan were not discussed at the meeting.  
  • The Commission’s gaming consultants and legal consultants will meet every Wednesday to discuss the status of their efforts. Their first meeting was May 30. They will issue a report to the Commission summarizing each meeting. The form of this report has not yet been decided.

Public Education and Information

Economic Development Forum

  • Commissioner Stebbins confirmed that the next public education forum will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on June 14 at Quinsigamond Community College. The forum will consist of two panels – one revolving around the studies that served as the impetus for the original expanded gaming bill and one providing additional viewpoints from policy-makers and academics that may not be covered during the first panel.

Community Mitigation / Compulsive Gambling Forums

  • The Community Mitigation Forum is still scheduled for June 18 in Framingham.
  • There will be a Massachusetts Partnership on Reasonable Gambling meeting June 19. The commissioners will likely attend the meeting and will be asking attendees – ranging from gaming industry representatives to Massachusetts residents – to collectively commit to high standards for people with gambling disorders at that time.
  • Commissioner Stebbins stated that he would attend the 2012 Massachusetts Problem Gambling Symposium Friday, June 1.
  • The Compulsive Gambling Forum is tentatively scheduled for June 25, potentially in Lynn or Salem.

Other Business

Research

  • Commissioner McHugh noted that the Commission needs to address Chapter 268A of the state ethics law, which prevents individuals from acting on a particular matter in which they have a personal or financial interest. The Commission agreed to prepare the disclosure forms required by the statute by next week’s meeting. Anderson & Kreiger, the law firm representing the Commission, and the commissioners themselves, will need to complete a disclosure form, and the commissioners will need to submit the form to their respective appointing authorities. 
  • Chairman Crosby indicated that the Ethics Commission provided some general guidance regarding ethical considerations associated with commissioners accepting public speaking engagements. In short, the Ethics Commission indicated that commissioners should probably not accept speaking engagements sponsored by those in the gaming business. Commissioners may, however, speak publicly in their official capacity about gaming issues as long as they accept or decline invitations in a fair and uniform way.
  • The Commission discussed preparing a research agenda that it can use to create its own baseline for determining the validity of studies done by applicants for licenses. The Commission agreed to begin seriously thinking about the best approach to commencing this initiative.  

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 5, at the Division of Insurance 1st Floor, Meeting Room E, 1000 Washington Street Boston, Mass. The agenda will be posted in advance on the Commission’s website.

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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.