A budget bill signed into law last week could open up jobs in the casino industry for thousands of Massachusetts residents who have had trouble with the law.
The bill amends a section in the original casino law that sought to prevent any criminal connection to the state’s new industry.
It disqualified any individual with a CORI, or criminal record, from working at a casino.
But it also banned those with criminal histories from working in non-gaming jobs, such as in hotels, restaurants or stores.
Steve Crosby, chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, says the amended law allows casinos, like MGM Springfield, to conduct their own background checks. And he says it gives the commission sole discretion to determine which jobs would be open to people with criminal records.
Steve Crosby, Commission Chairman: The job categories are everything like building janitors, waiters and waitresses, housemaids, doormen, parking garage facility managers, hotel desk clerks. We will now be going through all those jobs, and deciding which ones will be exempted completely from any registration.
Kari Njiiri, NEPR: How will the commission determine those?
Well, first of all, MGM is going to make a recommendation to us on which jobs they think should be exempted. And then we'll take a look at those, and there might be some discussion. For example: people who work in the accounting department of the hotel. They deal with the finances; they handle cash. You might decide that nobody should be able to work in the accounting department of the hotel if they have certain kinds of CORI records. That's one category that we might decide people should be automatically disqualified.
But the point is, we now have the discretion to determine. And I think it's safe to say most of the jobs we will eliminate the year registration process completely.
This does not apply to specific gaming categories, right?
No. If you're a gaming employee, like you're going to work on the gaming floor — slot machine tech guy, or security agent — those positions are still subject to the statutory automatic disqualification for 10 years, if you have a felony or certain misdemeanor convictions.
What do you think could be the potential effect of this change?
The hoped for effect, and I think this will be the effect, is that it will make available people with some kinds of CORI records — criminal records — that they can still have an opportunity to apply for and be considered for working in non-gaming positions.
It used to be that there was going to be no choice. If you were convicted of larceny for over $250 — if you had that on your record — you were going to automatically be disqualified from being a waitress in a hotel restaurant at the casino, or from being a parking garage attendant. That will no longer be the case.
This change applies to all the casinos in Massachusetts?
What happens now? What’s next in this process?
I guess next is for MGM to tell us which categories they think should be exempt, which job descriptions within the non-gaming cohort should be exempt. Our staff will look at that, and then we'll study it, and we'll decide which categories to entirely exempt from the registration.
This is potential good news for a lot of people, isn’t it?
Yeah, absolutely. An important part of the casino bill was to try to give employment opportunities to people that have a hard time getting jobs. And this has made a tremendous difference in making this possible.