Sweeping Oversight of Casinos given to New Commission
When a new gambling bill was signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick, administrative supervision over the three planned casinos and one slots parlor will immediately shift from state lawmakers to the still unnamed five-member commission, whose members will make over $100,000 annually.
Top legislators said that they intentionally set out to grant the commission as much latitude as possible to police the new industry.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a Democrat from Winthrop and a strong supporter of expanded gambling, said, “You have to have someone to give the authority to, to make those difficult … decisions.”
He also said, “I think it’s best left for an independent commission to take a look at who’s qualified to have one of these facilities, to make sure that the people who are operating them have not only the fiscal management to do so, but they pass all of the necessary qualifications.”
The law grants the commission sweeping powers to approve or deny casino license applications, examine financial reports, hire and fire commission employees, carry out investigations, seize slot machines and other gambling equipment, issue subpoenas, and function as trustees for gambling-related trust funds.
The commission will also have to authority to levy and collect fees, assessments, and fines associated with the casinos and assist the governor in negotiating a deal with federally recognized Indian tribes. Full-time commissioners, in return, will receive six-figure salaries.
Under the new legislation, the commission’s chairman will receive $150,000 compensation, or equal to that of a state secretary of administration and finance. The remaining four commissioners will each receive $112,500.
Patrick, who earns around $140,000 as governor, is expected to sign the bill into law as early as Tuesday.