Gaming Commission Plans Regulation Change for Casino Referendums

A regulation that could allow some potential casino host communities in Massachusetts to approve proposed casinos ahead of the state’s gaming commission’s schedule was released for public comment Thursday by the commission. Cities and towns that planned to hold public referendums in June will be impacted.

Casino companies vying for one of three licenses in the state submitted applications to the commission in January. Now the commission is conducting background checks of each company – that will determine which companies will be deemed suitable to move forward. Under the expanded gambling act, casino host communities will then negotiate agreements with casino operators, and hold referendums on those agreements. But some communities, like Springfield, have moved faster than the gaming commission, and planned to hold referendums on June 25th – the same day as the special U.S. senate election. The commission took issue with that plan – but put forward a new option that would require the “governing body” of a city or town to formally tell the commission that moving ahead of schedule is in the best interest of the community. The commission has posted the proposal for public comment for one week, then will put it to a vote on April 18th. That gives host communities a brief window to determine their plan of action. Host community agreements would need to finalized by April 25th for a June 25th vote.