Office of the Ombudsman
The office of the Ombudsman is responsible for coordinating, communicating and facilitating interactions between all stakeholders: State Agencies, Applicants, Licensees, Host and Surrounding Communities, State and Local Officials, Community Groups, Divisions within the Commission and other interested parties. This office further coordinates and supports legislatively mandated Advisory Committees and sub-committees.
Grant Program, Involuntary Disbursements & Technical Assistance
The Office of the Ombudsman is a conduit to effectuate funding and negotiations among communities and applicants that so choose, or are not able to reach agreements among themselves.
The Gaming Act provides that applicants reimburse communities for expenses incurred in the course of studying mitigation and negotiating agreements with applicants. The Commission issued regulations that govern those activities (including petitions from Communities for involuntary disbursements). The Ombudsman’s office oversees these activities and makes recommendations to the Commission about instances when the parties do not reach agreements.
In fiscal year 2014, in accordance with 205 CMR 114.03(2) the Ombudsman’s office distributed thirty six grants for a total of $1,929,054 to surrounding and host communities through the Grant Program.
The Ombudsman’s office helped develop a statewide technical assistance program under which five regional planning agencies (RPA’s) assisted surrounding communities in their efforts to ascertain potential impacts including traffic and other factors to determine mitigation relating to the negotiation of surrounding community agreements.
The Ombudsman’s office continues to build relationships between the Commission, host communities, surrounding communities, and gaming applicants. The major activities of this office include:
- Educate communities, community officials and interest groups regarding the gaming act, the licensing process, policies, and Commission regulations.
- Work with communities to assist them in meeting deadlines and other requirements under the Commission regulations.
- Form and staff the Gaming Policy Advisory Commission.
- Compile and present reports to evaluate a community’s status as a surrounding community for review by the Commissioners.
- Maintain and update status reports on progress of the applicants and their surrounding communities for reports to the Commission.
- Assist and advise to the Commission regarding specific regulatory and policy matters.