April 17, 2012
BOSTON — Massachusetts' newly formed gambling oversight board held its second meeting on Tuesday — and its members agreed that they need some expert advice.
The new board is still in its infancy. And the commissioners say they need some tutelage. None of the five commissioners has any experience in the gambling industry, so they’re hosting a daylong conference to teach them about shaping what will be a multi-billion-dollar addition to the state's economy, once the three casinos and one slots parlor the Legislature authorized are up and running.
Board chairman Steven Crosby said industry experts from New Jersey and Pennsylvania will fly in to teach the Commission about all the tasks ahead of them from seeking casino proposals to crafting regulations to enforcing the laws.
“Rather than have the Commissioners fly out to a whole different places and have a whole bunch of experts, we thought the experts should come in and talk to us,” he explained.
Commissioner James McHugh added that the cities and towns who are being courted by casino developers also needed help. "We’re starting to get questions from the people in the various cities and towns and the question is, how do we respond to those inquiries?” he said.
The law requires a local referendum before a casino can set up shop in any given town. Applicants are supposed to pay for the help the municipalities need to analyze a new proposal — but McHugh said towns don’t know how to access those funds.
The commissioners also discussed the fine line between providing help to cities and towns and the need to keep developers at arm's length.
An open educational forum is scheduled for May 3 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Members of the public can submit questions on mass.gov.