By Sarah Birnbaum | Thursday, October 20, 2011
Oct. 20, 2011
BOSTON — State Treasurer Steve Grossman has called for an investigation into a state lottery game called Cash WinFall after a handful of gamblers exploited a flaw and raked in millions.
Grossman, who oversees the state lottery, has asked the state Inspector General to launch a review into Cash WinFall.
“There’s no presumption of wrongdoing, but there have been enough questions and stories” to merit an investigation, Grossman said, adding that “the integrity of the lottery is my most important concern.”
The Boston Globe reported this past summer that a group of tech-savvy gamblers found a loophole in the Cash WinFall game: If they bought more than $100,000 in tickets at times when the jackpot went over $2 million, they were almost assured of making a hefty profit.
One gambler, an MIT graduate with a degree in computer science, bought $1.4 million in tickets over four days and won $2.5 million. The Globe reported that allegedly state authorities knew about the loophole for years but did nothing about it — and might even have encouraged the behavior because it was good for lottery sales.
Grossman said he has changed the rules of the game so the scheme won’t work anymore. Going forward, no lottery agent will be allowed to sell more than $5,000 worth of tickets in a single day, and “we’ve reduced the amount of cash windfall tickets they can sell to $25,000,” he said.
The Inspector General’s report is expected within the next couple of months.
By Toni Waterman | Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Oct. 19, 2011
BOSTON — While the House and Senate have both approved casino gambling bills, state lawmakers have yet to hammer out the details or get a final bill to Governor Deval Patrick. But that hasn’t stopped Mohegan Sun from advancing on the small town of Palmer in Western Massachusetts.
Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority CEO Mitchell Etess told “Greater Boston” guest host Jared Bowen on October 19 that the expansion has been in the works for years. In 2007, the Mohegan Tribe bought a 150-acre parcel of land just off the Mass. Pike.
“We’ve had a storefront in the town of Palmer since 2009,” Etess said. “We’ve had seven community conversations, three open houses at our facility and many, many, many meetings . . . trying to show people we’re transparent and we want to be part of the community.”
The tribe’s plans call for a $600 million resort featuring retail stores, entertainment venues, a casino and a 600-room luxury hotel. The tribe says the new casino would create some 1,200 temporary construction jobs and 3,000 permanent positions — though that’s far fewer than the Mohegan Sun flagship in Connecticut, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this weekend.
The final gambling bill is expected to hit the governor’s desk by the end of the month. If Patrick signs the bill, the tribe is ready to break ground soon after.
“As a company, it’s our job to continue to grow and to expand. And Mass. is one of the next good opportunities [for] expanding gaming,” Etess said.
By Sarah Birnbaum | Monday, October 17, 2011
Oct. 17, 2011
BOSTON — Massachusetts state politics the week of Oct. 17 brings a first look at redistricting, and continued progress on the casino gambling bill.
State lawmakers are waiting with bated breath for the redistricting committee to reveal the first draft of the new electoral map. The co-chairmen of the redistricting committee say they’re only focusing on state House and Senate districts right now. The more contentious issue of how to eliminate one of the state's 10 seats in the U.S. Congress will wait for at least another week. Still, the political careers of numerous state senators and representatives could hang in the balance. One priority of the committee is to create more majority-minority districts in the House, particularly in the city of Lawrence, where the Hispanic population has grown by more than 30% over the past decade.
The committee’s decision won’t be final. The new map must still go to both the House and Senate for a final vote and be approved by Governor Deval Patrick.
Casino gambling continues its path through the State House. The Speaker of the House and Senate President will likely appoint a six-member conference committee this week, to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Both versions authorize three resort casinos in three different regions of the state and one slot parlor. Sen. Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst, the Senate’s point person on gambling, hopes to have a final bill on the governor’s desk by Thanksgiving.
By Sarah Birnbaum | Thursday, July 28, 2011
July 28, 2011
BOSTON — Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is shifting his tone on casinos.
Just a few weeks ago, the governor seemed lukewarm on the prospect of bringing resort casinos to the state, saying it was no longer one of his top priorities. But during a an appearance on radio station WTKK this morning, he said he is now willing to go along with a bill to license three resort casinos and one slot parlor at the racetracks.
“If it helps get a deal, I would accept one slot parlor that is competitively built anywhere in the commonwealth, and I’ve been clear about that with the leadership, and I think that is a framework for an agreement on those principles,” Patrick said.
A gambling deal fell apart last year in the eleventh hour of the legislative session, when Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo and Patrick refused to compromise on the number of slot parlors at the race tracks.
But on the radio this morning, Patrick sounded confident that he, the speaker, and Senate President Therese Murray would reach a compromise this year.
“I think everybody knows that we’re past the point of debate — ‘we,’ meaning just the three of us, and in many respects the Legislature — but past the point where there is or is not going to be expanded gaming,” Patrick said. “We’re talking about how.”
House and Senate leaders have said they plan to push for passage of casino legislation in September.