Stephen Crosby out as MGC chairman

Resignation Of Top Regulator Deals Massachusetts Gaming Industry A Blow

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In a shock announcement on Wednesday, Stephen Crosby tendered his resignation as chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Citing accusations of historical bias and prejudging the outcome of the ongoing Wynn Resorts suitability investigation, Crosby announced his departure in a letter to his fellow commissioners.

“With a profound sense of sadness, regret—and yes, frustration—I am resigning as Chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, in order to give you the best possible opportunity to do your work without distraction. And I leave the leadership of this organization in the very capable hands of your four Commissioners.”

What’s next for the MGC?

Here’s more from Crosby on the lingering accusations that caused him to resign:

“On September 17, 2018, I received a letter from a lawyer for Steve Wynn insisting that I had already made up my mind against Steve Wynn regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct. On September 25, 2018, our counsel received a letter from counsel to Mohegan Sun, which has sued the Commission over the award of the Region A license to Wynn, insisting that I had already made up my mind in favor of Wynn Resorts in the suitability investigations … 

“It was about four years ago that the Gaming Commission was battered by lawsuits and accusations of bias in the matter of the Region A licensing process. I was often at the center of these lawsuits and accusations.”

Crosby was the MGC’s first and only chairman, having been appointed to the position by Gov. Deval Patrick in December 2011. His term was set to expire in 2019.

The MGC will now move forward with four commissioners. Commissioner Gayle Cameron will serve as interim chair until a permanent replacement is appointed.

Crosby’s legacy as MGC Chair

Crosby’s list of accomplishments is long and distinguished. After a crash course in gambling, he pretty much built the MGC from the ground up. Today, the agency is widely considered one of the best and most transparent gaming commissions in the country.

Crosby oversaw the largest research project in gaming history, commissioned numerous white papers, and sat on the special commission that explored online gambling and fantasy sports.

During his tenure, the MGC oversaw the licensing process of casinos and the approvals of Plainridge Casino and MGM Springfield. The new Encore Boston Harbor is slated to open in June, too.

But Crosby’s real legacy was his overall vision and his willingness to challenge the status quo. He will be remembered as one of the people who helped usher the casino industry into the 21st century.

A friend of responsible gaming

Crosby was a staunch advocate of legalized online gambling and fluid regulatory policies to deal with emerging technologies. He held no preconceived notions about how gambling should be regulated, as evidenced in his skepticism of ‘this-is-the-way-it’s-done’ arguments.

One of the results of that skepticism was the implementation of two responsible gaming pilot programs: GameSense and PlayMyWay. The MGC required these programs despite industry protests that the programs would hurt their bottom line.

GameSense has been a rousing success, so much so that MGM is planning nationwide adoption. That would never have happened if Crosby and the MGC didn’t challenge the common knowledge of the gaming industry.

The former chairman ran through these and other accomplishments in his resignation letter, and rightly so:

“We have done extraordinary work at the Gaming Commission, under the most daunting of circumstances. We have launched a mixed-use development project in Springfield, anchored by the casino, that has the potential to dramatically regenerate the economy of that rising post-industrial city. We built a casino in Plainville that has repatriated tens of millions of dollars of out-of-state spending, and employed nearly 150 unemployed or underemployed residents. Our research agenda is unprecedented globally, and will provide a comprehensive picture of all of the social and economic consequences—good or bad—of the introduction of casinos. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion, internally and with our licensees, has surpassed all previous standards of a diverse casino construction workforce, has created hundreds of millions of dollars for women, minority and veteran-owned businesses—and has been central to a statewide initiative to provide women opportunities in the construction trades.

“Our partnership with the Department of Public Health to design and implement the most creative and effective programs to prevent, ameliorate and treat problem gaming is the only partnership of its kind in the United States. Our own responsible gaming strategies inside the casino—GameSense, PlayMyWay, and engaged Voluntary Self-Exclusion—have made Massachusetts the envy of responsible gaming activists around the world.”

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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