A New Year’s Message from the Chair as the MGC Prepares for 2021
As 2020 nears its conclusion, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission would like to wish everyone a safe, healthy, and happy New Year.
When reflecting on the past year, we are struck by the enormous losses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on everyone’s daily lives. Despite the relentless and formidable challenges of 2020, however, I am incredibly proud of my colleagues at the MGC for continuing their hard work throughout an unprecedented nine-month stretch.
The entire MGC team played a pivotal role in the temporary closures of Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor in March, followed by the safe and sustainable reopening of each property in July. The MGC developed detailed gaming guidelines and protocols for each licensee to follow ahead of their respective returns, and worked tirelessly to ensure compliance as the pandemic continued to evolve throughout 2020.
I am thankful for the efforts and partnership of the Commonwealth’s three gaming licensees, as well as the local and state public health officials who have assisted in advising us to ensure a sustained reopening through this challenging period.
I would also like to share my appreciation for those out in the field, including Dr. Alexandra Lightbown and the MGC’s Division of Racing for their work during the 2020 racing season at Plainridge Park Casino; Gaming Agents Division Chief Bruce Band and his team, who work to preserve the integrity of gaming at each property and who managed the suspension and reopening of operations; and the members of the Gaming Enforcement Unit, who have put themselves at risk to enforce our health and safety guidelines for the benefit of casino staff and patrons.
In 2020, the Commission appointed Karen Wells as its new Executive Director, promoted Todd Grossman to the role of General Counsel, and also established a new Division of Community Affairs, led by Joe Delaney.
Meanwhile, the Commission renewed Plainridge Park Casino’s Category 2 gaming license for a second five-year term in September, serving as an important milestone for the property, the MGC, and the Commonwealth as a whole.
The MGC convened a working group on equity and inclusion in the workplace, with the goal of reviewing and implementing internal practices to ensure that implicit bias does not result in a disproportionate impact or effect on people or communities of color.
The Commission approved the award of approximately $6.7 million in Community Mitigation grants to several municipalities and other eligible entities across Massachusetts, increasing the overall total to approximately $23 million in grants since the program’s inception.
Our Division of Research and Responsible Gaming released the GameSense Impact Report, highlighting the efforts of GameSense Advisors at each of the Commonwealth’s three gaming establishments to promote safe levels of play and reduce the risk of gambling-related harm.
And, of course, we applaud the countless hours of work from our Information Technology Services Division, which allowed for a seamless transition from our offices around the Commonwealth to homes across the state.
As we head into 2021, the MGC will continue to regulate in a manner that is fair, transparent, and participatory as the Commonwealth’s gaming industry continues to mature. As always, we will remain committed to maximizing the gaming industry’s economic benefits, keeping unintended impacts to the minimum, and ensuring — to the best of our ability — the safety of everyone who sets foot in the state’s three casinos.
Thank you all for your cooperation and consideration throughout a difficult 2020, and we wish to extend our warmest wishes to you and yours for a safe, joyful and prosperous 2021.