Blog Goodwin Gaming June 14, 2013

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Discusses Launch of Phase 2 Application Process

On June 13, 2013, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) held its 69th public meeting. Highlights from the meeting included:

Future Appointment of Project Manager

Members of the Commission discussed the anticipated hiring of a Project Manager. Executive Director Rick Day explained that the Project Manager’s responsibilities would include screening candidates with environmental and/or traffic expertise, and helping to move gaming developments forward. Commissioner Enrique Zuniga advised that whoever assumed the role should possess construction experience. He further suggested that in addition to the Project Manager, the Commission could appoint a steering committee that would help oversee future projects.

2014 Budget

Mr. Zuniga discussed the projected costs and expenses for fiscal year 2014. The 2014 budget was designed to display a balance which culminates in April 2014, the time by which the Commission anticipates having granted initial licenses and received an influx of revenue.

Explaining the 2014 Budget warranted discussion of the 2013 financials. In fiscal year 2013, the Commission used only $3 million of its “Rainy Day” Fund. Moreover, the Commission came in under budget for 2013, having spent approximately $5.6 million of the $6.7 million it projected in expenditures.

Appointment of Director of Research and Problem Gambling

Members of the Commission welcomed Mark Vander Linden who will assume his role as Director of Research and Problem Gambling at the end of this month. Mr. Vander Linden comes to the Commission from Iowa, where he served as President of the Association of Problem Gaming Service Administrators and as the Executive Officer of the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Office of Gambling Treatment and Prevention. Mr. Vander Linden will help write Massachusetts’ gaming rules and promote compliance with the Commonwealth’s progressive mandate of protection of problem gamblers.

Legal Report

MGC lawyers Catherine Blue and Todd Grossman discussed further developments in the applications for Phase 2 of the license bidding process (RFA-2) for Regions A and B.

Commissioner McHugh highlighted key features of the application, which include:

  • Electronic availability
  • Ability to segregate sensitive and non-sensitive material
  • Facilitation of immediate public access to information not protected by a public records law exemption

Citing past logistical problems that occurred by allowing applicants to redact portions of documents during the RFA-1 applications, administrators have made it possible for RFA-2 applicants to identify confidential information that is exempt from public record disclosure. The Commission expects each application to include information that would invoke the public record statutory exemption (G.L. c. 4, §7(a)) and/or the blueprint/security exemption (G.L. c. 4, §7(n)), citing those two exemptions as the only ones likely to be cited by applicants.

Applicants can ensure exempt information is protected from public disclosure by following two steps. First, all application questions that may elicit responses subject to the public records exemptions will feature a “yes” or “no” confidentiality check-box. Applicants should check “yes” if he/she agrees with the assessment that the response is exempt. Second, applicants should include the word “Confidential” in the label of each individual document attached to the application during the electronic filing stage.

The RFA-2 applications will also grant applicants the opportunity to give an overview to each of their answers. After each question, applicants can provide further explanation for their plans using a free form answer/overview box. Each of these responses will become publically available with the application, regardless of whether the answer itself is marked confidential.

The Commission expects to release the official RFA-2 Application for Regions A and B on Monday, June 17, 2013.  Region A and B applicants can begin submitting RFA-2 applications on October 4, 2013. The deadline to submit those RFA-2 applications is Dec. 31, 2013 by 2 p.m.