A Message from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to Potential Host & Surrounding Communities
We are writing to advise you of two items that were recently added to this web site that may be of interest to you. We also note that the Commission continues to solicit comments on its proposed Phase 2 regulations, which can be found here. The Commission plans to incorporate the language from the emergency regulation on the timing of referendums described below in these Phase 2 regulations.
Timing of a Category 1 (resort casino) or Category 2 (slots) License Referendum
Pursuant to the Gaming Act, host communities may not hold a referendum until after a host community agreement is executed and an applicant makes a request that the community schedule the referendum. Also pursuant to the Gaming Act, the host community shall hold the referendum between sixty to ninety days after such request.
On April 22, 2013, the Commission promulgated an emergency regulation that prohibits the holding of a voter referendum on a gaming facility prior to the commission’s determination of suitability of the gaming applicant. The emergency regulation provides an exception under which communities may hold a referendum in advance of the Commission’s suitability determination. In order to utilize the exemption, the following requirements need to be met:
a) the Governing Body of the community (the city manager and city council, the mayor and the city council, or in towns the board of selectmen) must approve the holding of the referendum prior to the Commission’s determination of suitability;
b) the Governing Body’s approval of holding the referendum prior to the commission’s determination of suitability must occur before the gaming applicant requests the host community to schedule the referendum;
c) the community must conduct a public education campaign prior to the referendum to explain, among other things, that the Commission will not permit the gaming applicant or its principal operating officers or investors to proceed with the application unless it determines that they are suitable to operate a gaming facility in Massachusetts;
d) the public education campaign shall include a notice that shall be mailed to likely voting households, that meets minimum content requirements, and that is approved by the Commission; and
e) the community shall file with the Commission a description of the public education campaign to be conducted before the date of the referendum.
While the Commission’s emergency regulation prohibits the referendum from occurring prior to the date an applicant is deemed qualified by the Commission pursuant to the RFA-1 process unless the exception is utilized, the Commission does not prohibit the scheduling of the referendum before such applicant is deemed qualified. Host communities are urged to contact the Commission to determine when it expects to conclude its investigations for determinations of suitability.
Contact MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau
Any community representative with information pertaining to the suitability of a gaming applicant, may submit an email to MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau.