Gaming Chairman: 'The Public Is Very Skeptical'

By WGBH News

Dec. 14, 2011

stephen crosby

Stephen Crosby, the state's first gaming commission chairman, said that Gov. Deval Patrick would prioritize economic development over revenue when siting the new casinos. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/AP)

BOSTON — One day after his appointment to the new, powerful state gaming commission, chairman Stephen Crosby said that upholding ethics was his top concern, promising to avoid “the appearance as well as the reality of impropriety.”
“I can’t be off having friendly chats with people who are interested in this on the side, even if they’re not about gaming,” he told WGBH News’ Bob Seay on Dec. 14. “The public is very skeptical and it just puts incredible pressure on us.”

Stephen Crosby talks with WGBH News' Bob Seay.

Despite the clamor about potential casinos in several locations around the state, Crosby called it “a lot of talk,” saying there were no proposals yet. In fact, a local vote is required before an operator can even present a formal proposal to the commission.
In Foxboro, that local approval is looking like an uphill climb for mogul Steve Wynn, who wants to open a new resort there. On Monday, residents got a letter from Wynn in which he tried to quell fears, promising the gaming area would be a small percentage of the overall resort. The letter also promised Foxboro residents first dibs on well-paid jobs with free daycare.  
Resident Paul Mortenson wasn’t convinced.
“While the letter talks about the casino really being just one small part of an overall resort, we know what that looks like in other casino towns — like Foxwoods,” he said on “Greater Boston” on Dec. 13. “So the fact that it might be 9 percent of the square footage overall of the proposed development, that really doesn’t do much for us because it comes with the whole baggage of other bad things that come with a casino.”
The resistance, Crosby said, isn’t limited to Foxboro. “That’s clearly been one of the issues people have been talking about from the beginning. There are positive consequences and there are clearly inherent negative consequences and yes, we would be concerned about… minimizing the negative and unintended consequences.”
The final call on where to site the state’s three casinos will be based on “not so much revenue generation as economic development and jobs generation,” Crosby said. “So when the time comes, those will be the priorities that the commission will be using to make these location decisions.”
He added that the southeast Massachusetts casino mandated by the bill will not necessarily go to the Wampanoag tribe.
By law, the commission must hold its first meeting by Mar. 21, 2012.

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