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Massachusetts Gaming Commission

What is the Commission’s mission?

The mission of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is to create and maintain a fair, transparent, and participatory process for implementing the expanded gaming law passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor in November, 2011.

The Commission strives to ensure that its decision-making and regulatory systems engender the confidence of the public and participants, and that they provide the greatest possible economic development benefits and revenues to the people of the Commonwealth, reduce to the maximum extent possible the potentially negative or unintended consequences of expanded gaming, and allow an appropriate return on investment for gaming providers that assures the operation of casino-resorts of the highest quality.

What are the Commission’s responsibilities?

The Commission is responsible for developing and managing the process to select, license, oversee, and regulate all expanded gaming facilities in the Commonwealth.  To accomplish this, the Commission must build an administrative infrastructure; hire staff; retain appropriate legal and gaming advisors; draft and adopt strict ethics rules to govern the conduct of commissioners and staff; develop the criteria upon which casino proposals are selected; select the proposals that best serve the public interest; and regulate casino operators to help them maintain their financial stability, minimize negative consequences, assure the integrity of the gaming system, and return revenues to the Commonwealth.

The Commission’s regulatory responsibilities are supported in part by a Division of Gaming Enforcement within the Office of the Attorney General and enforcement units within the Massachusetts State Police and the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

Who regulates casinos?

The law provides for the establishment of The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, an independent Commission made up of five members who serve full time. The chairman is appointed by the Governor; one member is appointed by the Attorney General (whose appointee must have a background in criminal investigations and law enforcement); and one member is chosen by the State Treasurer (whose appointee must be proficient in corporate finance and securities). The remaining two commissioners are appointed by a majority vote of the same three constitutional officers.
The four appointees to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission are:

The terms and salaries of the commissioners are set by law. The commissioners serve staggered terms or until their successor is appointed; commissioners may be reappointed but no commissioner may serve longer than ten years. The chair’s salary is set at $150,000 per year; the salary of the remaining commissioners at $112,500.

What facilities are licensed and regulated by the Gaming Commission?

The law gives the Gaming Commission the power to permit up to three full resort-casinos, one each in Eastern Massachusetts (Region A: Suffolk, Middlesex, Essex, Norfolk and Worcester counties); Western Massachusetts (Region B: Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties); and Southeastern Massachusetts (Region C: Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable, Nantucket and Dukes counties.)

MGC_Map_small

The law also permits licensing of a single slots facility, not pegged to any particular region.

  • The Commission awarded the slots-parlor license to Penn National Gaming on February 28, 2014. Plainridge Park Casino opened to the public on June 24, 2015.
  • The Commission awarded the resort-casino license in Region A to Wynn MA, LLC on September 17, 2014. Encore Boston Harbor opened to the public on June 23, 2019.
  • The Commission awarded the resort-casino license in Region B to MGM Springfield on June 13, 2014. MGM Springfield opened to the public on August 24, 2018.
  • The Commission voted against awarding a commercial resort-casino license in Region C.

What was the timetable for licensing and building casinos?

For a more detailed review of the overall schedule of activity leading up to the award of the available gaming licenses, please visit the Timeline page.

What was the application process for casino developers?

First, an applicant worked with local officials of the host community to negotiate and agree upon the terms of a site-specific proposal. The applicant was required to negotiate with neighboring communities to ensure that the proposal took into consideration and mitigated the impact that such a development would have on neighboring communities. The site-specific proposal needed to be approved by the host community through a town referendum or, if in a large city, a referendum of the voters who reside in the particular ward.

The applicant then had to respond to a Request for Proposals, issued by the Gaming Commission, for the particular region into which the host community falls.

The applicant had to meet the criteria set forth in the RFP, which included but was not limited to: financial capacity to build and sustain a successful operation; job creation information including a commitment to workforce diversity; mitigation measures to soften any negative impact on local businesses and tourism enterprise; and mitigation measures to reduce the impact of crime, gambling addiction, and other inevitable but unintended consequences.

All applicants and their financial backers also had to undergo an examination of their qualifications, their experience in the gaming industry, and thorough background checks.

What fees and investments were required of casino developers?

The process described below is only for use by the general public to get a broad idea of the process. All interested parties should rely on chapter 194 and the Commission’s RFP for clear direction in the application process.

Each developer licensed to operate a resort casino is required to pay the Commonwealth a one-time licensing fee of not less than $85 million.  They are also required to invest a minimum of not less than $500 million in their gaming establishment. The Gaming Commission is authorized to set the actual fee and the actual minimum investment for each region as part of its request for proposals. Resort-casinos will be taxed at a rate of 25 percent of gross gaming revenue.

For the slots-parlor, the licensee is required to pay a one-time fee of not less than $25 million; the required investment is not less than $125 million and the licensee will be taxed at 49 percent of gross gaming revenue.

What does the expanded gaming law say about Native American casinos?

The Expanded Gaming Act provided a window until July 31, 2012 for the Governor to negotiate and the Legislature to approve a “compact” with one or more Indian tribes for the right to operate a casino in Southeastern Massachusetts.

On July 30, 2012, with the approval of the Legislature, the Governor signed a compact with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. The Compact was returned to the Governor’s Office from the U.S. Department of Interior and was renegotiated.

On March 20, 2013, Governor Deval Patrick and Chairman Cedric Cromwell announced that a gaming Compact between the Commonwealth and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe had been signed. This compact has since been approved by the U.S. Department of Interior.

On September 18, 2015, the United States Department of the Interior approved the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s application for land-in-trust, including 151 acres in Taunton approved for gaming use.

On March 15, 2016, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe presented the Massachusetts Gaming Commission with plans regarding First Light Casino and Resort in Taunton.

On April 5, 2016, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe broke ground on the First Light Casino and Resort in Taunton.

On July 28, 2016, in the case Littlefield et al. vs. United States Department of Interior, a judge in U.S. District Court ruled that the Department of Interior did not have the authority to approve the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s application for land-in-trust.

At a time deemed appropriate, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will engage in a public discussion to further our review of what course of action will be in the short and long-term best interests of Southeastern Mass. and the Commonwealth.

How will the Commission keep the public informed of and involved in the regulatory process?

The Commission is committed to going about its work in as transparent and open a process as is feasible.  To involve and hear from the public in the most effective and meaningful ways, the Commission holds frequent open meetings often available via live stream on the Commission’s website. In addition, the Commission maintains accessible meeting minutes and holds hearings statewide to seek public input and ideas and to hear concerns.

In our effort to increase transparency, the Commission has implemented various ways for our constituents to easily locate important information and to also stay up-to-date with the Commission’s latest news. We welcome and encourage the public to visit our website at massgaming.com or send your feedback and inquiries to mgccomments@massgaming.gov. Community members are also invited to connect and share with us on Twitter (@MassGamingComm), or Facebook (www.facebook.com/MAGamingComm).

What regulations govern charitable gaming?

The current regulatory framework currently divides oversight of charitable gaming between the office of the Attorney General, the Lottery and local authorities.

G.l. c. 10, §§ 37, 38 gives the Lottery exclusive regulatory authority over beano games and charitable game tickets.

There are four forms of charitable gambling: beano (bingo), charitable gaming tickets, raffles, and bazaars (Casino or Las Vegas nights used as fund raisers).

Qualified organizations desiring to host a beano game must obtain a license from lottery and the approval of the local mayor and city council or selectman or, in the case of Boston, the Licensing Board.

Beano

The largest in terms of wagers is beano, also known as bingo. In 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, people wagered approximately $38.8 million at 199 beano games held in the Commonwealth. Despite its large market share, the number of beano games has been in steady decline over the years.

Charitable Gaming Tickets

The second form, closely allied with beano, is charitable gaming tickets. These tickets are distributed by the Massachusetts Lottery (Lottery) and sold, almost exclusively, at beano games. The tickets typically sell for $1 and are called “pull tabs” because they have tabs on one side which, when opened, show whether or not the ticket-holder has won a cash prize. Like scratch tickets, the cash prizes can be collected instantly from the ticket vendor at the beano game. In 2011, sale of charitable gaming tickets produced gross revenues of $15.7 million, $4.7 million of which was retained by the charities.

Raffles

Raffles are the third form of charitable gaming. They usually consist of a wide variety of events in which individuals purchase tickets to participate in a blind drawing in which some of the ticket holders will receive a prize. During 2011, raffles grossed $19.6 million, $11.3 million of which was retained by the charities.

Bazaars

Finally, charitable organizations sometimes use bazaars, the statutory name for the “casino or “Las Vegas” nights, for fundraising. Bazaars grossed $1.4 million in 2011, $578,000 of which was retained by the sponsoring charities. The sponsors of the charitable gambling events are organizations that use the proceeds to support their charitable endeavors, including but not limited to churches, veterans groups, civic organizations, and youth groups. In many cases, the charitable gambling revenue generates the bulk of the funding available to the organization for carrying out their charitable works.

Regulations for Charitable Gaming can be found in the two following locations:

Casino and Slots-Parlor Development

Where were the casinos built?

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission issued the single slots-parlor license to Penn National Gaming, which operates Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission issued the Western Massachusetts resort-casino license to MGM Springfield, and the Eastern Massachusetts resort-casino license to Wynn MA, LLC for Encore Boston Harbor in Everett.

For more information on each gaming facility, please visit:

When did the casinos open?

Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville opened to the public June 24, 2015.

MGM Springfield opened to the public August 24, 2018.

Encore Boston Harbor opened to the public June 23, 2019.

Jobs and Opportunities

Where can I find information about jobs at Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor?

To find out about employment opportunities at Plainridge Park Casino, please click here.

To find out about employment opportunities at MGM Springfield, please click here.

To find out about employment opportunities at Encore Boston Harbor, please click here.

What types of jobs are generally available?

There is no shortage of hospitality careers in our gaming establishments. Additionally, casino opportunities are diverse, ranging from the general areas of: Banking; Customer Service/Administration; Food and Beverage Services; Housekeeping and Grounds; Maintenance and Facilities; Retail; Security; Slots/Table Games; Uniforms; and Warehouse.

To find out about employment opportunities at Plainridge Park Casino, please click here.

To find out about employment opportunities at MGM Springfield, please click here.

To find out about employment opportunities at Encore Boston Harbor, please click here.

What kinds of impacts did the construction of each property have?

The resources below will provide detailed information related to revenue, vendor/supplier spend, employment and all other impacts due to the construction of each casino property in Massachusetts:

– The Construction of Plainridge Park Casino: Spending, Employment and Economic Impacts

– The Construction of MGM Springfield: Spending, Employment and Economic Impacts

The Construction of Encore Boston Harbor: Spending, Employment and Economic Impacts

Built to Last: Best Practices for Diversity in the Construction Industry

Encore Boston Harbor’s Complete Construction Diversity Results

Additionally, MGC funded the Build A Life That Works campaign, which increases the number of women in the trades, and helped to build diversity on the casino projects.

Which skills are required to get these jobs? How can I get these skills?

Gaming professions attract a variety of people. Many get jobs working in casinos without any experience, yet all come with common qualities that make them effective employees including professionalism and excellent customer service skills.

For information about training programs that focus on specific technical skills, like the ability to handle cash, deal specialty table games, or perform culinary knife skills, contact your local MassHire Career Center for training providers in your area.

Are the casinos required to consider diversity in hiring?

Casino licensees actively seek to meet their own employee diversity goals required by law and maintain hiring goals for residents of their local and surrounding towns and cities. The Gaming Act requires licensees to create specific goals for hiring minority individuals, veterans and women:

MGM Springfield Diversity Plans

Design and Construction, Operations Phases

Plainridge Park Casino Diversity Plans

Design and Construction Phase

Operations Phase – Supplier

Operations Phase – Workforce

Encore Boston Harbor Diversity Plan

Design and Construction Phase

Operations Phase

Each casino reports its diversity hiring data and status of diversity goals quarterly to the Commission. To find Plainridge Park Casino’s quarterly reports, click here. To find MGM Springfield’s quarterly reports, click here. To find Encore Boston Harbor’s quarterly reports, click here.

In fact, the Gaming Act established job creation and the development of a diverse workforce as one of its primary objectives. In determining whether an applicant should receive a gaming license, the Commission evaluated how the applicant proposed to establish, fund and maintain human resource hiring and training practices that promote the development of a skilled and diverse workforce.

Each licensee enacts a Commission-approved workforce development plan that incorporates an affirmative action program of equal opportunity by which the applicant guarantees to provide equal employment opportunities to all employees qualified for licensure in all employment categories, including persons with disabilities, under the laws of Massachusetts.

Are job opportunities available if I have a high school education or GED?

Casino employers have indicated that a majority of the jobs require a maximum of a high school or GED level of education.

Licensing and Registration

What should I be thinking about as I complete the MGC licensing or registration process?

Always be truthful and complete in the licensing or registration application. The Investigations and Enforcement Bureau, which conducts background investigations, is a law enforcement agency. In the case of employees undergoing the MGC background check, the IEB may require information that an employer is not entitled to see. A licensing or registration application is not the same as a job application. Remember, one of the primary goals of the gaming law is to provide new employment opportunities for the citizens of the Commonwealth. If you have questions, you are encouraged to contact: mgclicensing@massgaming.gov

Would a sealed or juvenile record be considered for a licensing or registration determination?

An individual is not required to disclose the existence of a sealed record when filling out the MGC application or registration form, as a sealed record will not be considered by the MGC for purposes of making a determination on the individual’s overall suitability for licensure. An individual is required to disclose juvenile charges, which may be considered by the MGC in determining the individual’s overall suitability; however a juvenile finding of delinquency is not viewed by the MGC as a “conviction” and will not lead to automatic disqualification.

I have a criminal record. Is it possible that I can work at a casino?

Yes, it is possible.

Most jobs at the Commonwealth’s casinos require either licensing or registration by the Gaming Commission.  Under the gaming law, a person’s criminal history is one factor that may be considered to determine suitability for licensure or registration, and in some instances, a felony record or certain other convictions involving fraud or theft disqualifies a person by law from working at the casino, at which time an individual has the opportunity to demonstrate rehabilitation.  However, due to a recent change in the law, many positions are now exempt from the licensing and registration requirements, and there are no automatic disqualifiers for individuals applying for exempt positions.  As a result, a larger number of individuals have been able to become successfully employed at the Commonwealth’s three casinos.  Decisions to exempt these positions at the three facilities followed extensive deliberations by the Commission at open public meetings after an evaluation of comments from the public and the specific security and operational needs of the three facilities.  The list of job categories at PPC, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor that are exempt from the requirement is available here. Anyone can apply for these jobs.

As is typical with many Massachusetts employers, the casino itself (not the Gaming Commission) will perform background checks on all its job candidates, as permitted under Massachusetts law. Employers have “standard” access to criminal history information. The Human Resources Department at the casino will inform you about the company’s background and drug test procedures.

(Read more about the levels of name-based criminal record check access).

So the bottom line is that almost a third of the jobs at the casino are available to all individuals, subject only to the particular requirements of casino management.

It is very important for you to be completely honest when completing the licensing and registration form. Being untruthful is grounds for disqualification.

For job positions that do require licensure or registration, how do I apply to MGC?

MGC is a governmental agency, and the process of applying for licensure or registration with MGC is entirely separate from the process of applying for a job with the casino. After you have been offered a job, casino Human Resources will assist you with getting the licensing or registration process started. You will need to fill out the licensing or registrations form, have your fingerprints and photograph taken, and potentially provide additional documentation. Gathering this information can, in some cases, take some time so it is best to understand all of the requirements in detail before starting. Your future employer’s Human Resources department, along with the MGC Division of Licensing are available to help. Additionally, you can find detailed information here.

Do I have to get licensed by, or register with, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to work at a casino?

Most job positions at the casino require the applicant to get licensed by, or register with MGC. As the result of a recent change in the gaming law that allows for increased eligibility, there are now some “exempt” positions (e.g. certain kitchen and restaurant, reception, maintenance, and office staff positions).

For a list of exempt positions, click here:

Human Resources at the casino will inform job applicants of the level of licensure or registration required.

Who needs to be licensed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission?

The Gaming Commission ensures the integrity of the gaming industry. To that end, all Gaming Employees and Key Gaming Employees working at Massachusetts casinos are required to be licensed or register with MGC. In addition, certain Gaming Service Employees (Non-Gaming) will be required to register.

Job applicants and vendors must submit the requisite forms based on the category for employment or opportunity. For more information on which category a prospective employee or vendor fits into, please visit the following pages: Employees | Vendors

What is a non-gaming vendor?

A non-gaming vendor is a business that offers to a gaming establishment or gaming licensee goods and/or services which are not directly related to gaming.

Some examples of non-gaming vendors include food purveyors, linen suppliers, garbage handlers, limousine service companies, and suppliers of alcoholic beverages.

Every non-gaming vendor must register with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission via the forms located here prior to conducting business with a gaming licensee in Massachusetts.

Non-gaming vendor applicants must meet the statutory requirements of good character, honesty, and integrity in order to become a registrant.

If I do business with more than one gaming establishment, do I have to register with the Commission more than once?

No, being registered with the Commission as a non-gaming vendor authorizes you to offer goods and/or services not directly related to gaming to all gaming establishments in Massachusetts.

I’m a registered vendor with the Commonwealth. Do I need to register to work with a casino?

Yes. All vendors seeking to do business with a gaming establishment must register with the Commission.

Do I need to register if I am a subcontractor to the General Contractor who is building the gaming establishment?

No. Subcontractors are not required to register, but will fill out information forms directly with the General Contractor.

Is there a threshold of gross sales that I am allowed as a non-gaming vendor registrant?

Yes. As a non-gaming vendor registrant, if your gross sales are over $250,000 in a twelve-month period with any one gaming licensee or your gross sales are over $100,000 in a three-month period with any one gaming licensee, you may be required to file an application for licensure as a gaming vendor secondary pursuant to 205 CMR 131.04(1)(b).

Responsible Gaming

What is PlayMyWay?

PlayMyWay, a simple way to personalize your play, is now available at Plainridge Park Casino. This new and innovative budgeting tool is an exclusive offer for mychoice Rewards ® members. And it’s entirely voluntary.

Enrolling in PlayMyWay is simple! Just insert your mychoice Rewards ® Card into a slot machine or other electronic gaming device. You’ll be given the option to enroll on the spot or to decline.

Once you’re enrolled, you’ll get automatic notifications after you approach 50%, 75%, and 100% of the budget you’ve set for daily, weekly, or monthly spending.

You can choose to stop at any point or keep playing.

You can also enroll, adjust your budget, or un-enroll in PlayMyWay from any game, at the GameSense Info Center, or at a GameSense Kiosk.

First-time enrollees in PlayMyWay also receive a one-time $5 food credit that can be used at any food vendor at Plainridge Park Casino.

What is Responsible Gaming?

Responsible gaming is the provision of gambling services in a way that seeks to minimize the harm to customers and the community associated with gambling.

What is MassGaming doing to promote responsible gaming?

Responsible gaming is the provision of gambling services in a way that seeks to minimize the harm to customers and the community associated with gambling.

GameSense

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has adopted GameSense, an innovative and comprehensive Responsible Gaming strategy, as part of its mission to encourage responsible play and mitigate problem gambling. GameSense combines recommendations on responsible gaming techniques with interactive tools and exhibits meant to engage patrons at Massachusetts casino gaming facilities and online at GameSenseMA.com.

Each gaming establishment is required by statute to provide on-site space (the GameSense Info Center) for player education. There, patrons can learn about myths associated with gambling, the odds of the games they are playing, take a break, and seek support from a GameSense Advisor. The Commission is working with casino operators to ensure that responsible gaming signage and information is available to direct patrons to the GameSense Info Center.

Voluntary Self-Exclusion

As required by statute, Voluntary Self-Exclusion is available to assist patrons who recognize they have experienced a loss of control over their gambling and wish to invoke external controls. The program enables participants to voluntarily exclude themselves from all Massachusetts gaming venues for a pre-determined length of time.

PlayMyWay

MassGaming has introduced PlayMyWay, a first-of-its-kind pilot budgeting program. PlayMyWay is a budgeting tool is designed to allow customers the ability to monitor the amount they spend on electronic gaming machines, and to support their decision to continue or stop play. A first-of-its-kind initiative, this pilot program is part of a comprehensive and innovative approach to responsible gaming strategies, with a particular focus on problem gambling prevention and customer protection practices.

What is Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling is characterized by gambling behavior which leads to a continuum of adverse consequences for the gambler, others, and the community.

What resources are there for those with a gambling problem?

Problem gambling is characterized by gambling behavior that leads to a continuum of adverse consequences for the gambler, others, and the community. If you or someone you know needs immediate help with a potential gambling problem, call the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health’s Helpline – 24 hours – at 1.800.426.1234.

What is Voluntary Self-Exclusion?

As required by statute, the Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program is available to assist patrons who recognize they have experienced a loss of control over their gambling and wish to invoke external controls. The program enables participants to voluntarily exclude themselves from all Massachusetts gaming venues for a pre-determined length of time. For more information on Voluntary Self-Exclusion, please click here.

What is the Research Agenda?

In June 2015, a research team from the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at UMass Amherst released a comprehensive report of findings from a large baseline population survey that assessed Massachusetts residents’ attitudes about gambling, gambling participation, and gambling-related problems. Nearly 10,000 Massachusetts residents completed the survey, making it the largest and most representative gambling survey ever conducted in the United States. To read more about the research study’s findings, visit SEIGMA.

With the casinos open, follow-up studies will be conducted to present a clear picture of the effect of gaming before and after the arrival of these facilities.

With this information, the Commission will be able to strategically plan and mitigate the negative impacts brought by gaming expansion.

What is the Public Health Trust Fund?

When fully endowed, a Public Health Trust Fund will have between $15 million and $20 million per year for services dedicated to addressing problems associated with gambling. These funds will be overseen jointly by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). The trust fund will be endowed by a portion of the gaming license fees.

Horse Racing

What is the Division of Racing?

The Division of Racing is responsible for regulating the state’s horse racing industry and implementing M.G.L. Chapters 128A and 128C.  As such, the Division is delegated the power to prescribe rules, regulations and conditions under which all horse racing meetings shall be conducted in the Commonwealth.

What testing does the Division of Racing conduct?

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission contracts with a state-of-the-art laboratory that is ISO-17025 accredited (an international standard) and also accredited by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. Blood and urine samples are collected by our dedicated team of veterinarians and their assistants. Sample testing is compliant with current TOBA/AGS Drug testing requirements.

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