The panel overseeing Massachusetts’ expanded gambling law today [Tuesday] began the first of several days of hearings to come up with a set of rules and regulations for implementing the measure. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission began addressing several policy questions raised by the new law, which allows up to three resort-style casinos and one slots parlor. Among them is the timing of host community agreements and voter referendums. Amid earlier concerns the city of Springfield’s casino selection process was moving ahead of the Commission’s timetable, the panel adopted a policy that the state’s process must be completed before allowing a host community to vote. James McHugh is a commissioner on the five-member body.
“Our work is to protect the public interest broadly in the implementation of this gaming legislation. And to allow elections to go forward with some kind of a potentially unqualified candidate is to create the possibility at least of an election process that is both illusory and a huge waste of public time, money and energy.”
Other questions the commission is tackling include defining “surrounding communities”, and whether it should make casino licensing decisions region-by-region or simultaneously for all regions. The panel is not expected to issue licenses before early 2014. The hearings, which are in addition to the Commission’s regular weekly meetings, continue through Friday.