Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Scheming to craft gaming legislation in Massachusetts

According to a report in the Boston Herald, Senator Stan Rosenberg, Therese Murray’s supposed “point person” on gaming legislation, claims that “only the big three” (Patrick, Murray and DeLeo) have been sitting at the table crafting enabling schemes for Massachusetts casinos so far.   And, with the recently announced delays, it appears that Patrick and Murray’s plans for special interest carve outs that benefit slot machine companies and Indian gaming interests may be running afoul with Speaker DeLeo who might just have the people’s interests at heart.

However, State House News Service’s Mike Norton noted that it was only after reports exposing his closed door meetings and broken promises not to meet with or accept money from casino and Indian gaming lobbyists that the Governor stated he was putting the responsibility for crafting gambling enabling legislation with DeLeo and legislature’s Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.  Whether hiding out or passing the buck, nobody should think this is over.

This delay only gives the Governor and Murray some leeway to continue their closed door meetings and time to get enough votes from committee members to get the deal they want for their special interest friends like Doug Rubin and Cedric Cromwell.   To whom on the Joint Committee and in the legislature do we think they’ll turn? 

While Deval Patrick and Therese Murray are tops on the campaign cash list from casino slots and Indian gaming special interest groups, the members of the legislative committee now “tasked” with crafting this legislation have some good candidates well primed by the same lobbyist money and we’ll have to watch them closely.  You see, combined they have taken over $60,000 from lobbyists seeking special carve outs for tribal preferences that offer no benefits to the people of Massachusetts.

Here they are ranked by casino slots and Indian gaming lobbyist contributions.  Follow the links on their names to chat with them on Facebook or e-mail them to see whose interests they’ll include when they present legislation to the House and Senate for debate this September:  Will they vote for maximum revenues for the state, continued local autonomy and jurisdiction for zoning and law enforcement or for the Wampanoag scheme to “crush the competition by not paying any taxes or licensing fees” and apparently now including housing, education, health services and other non-gaming activities on their new land-in-trust reservations.

Committee Member
Casino Lobbyist Campaign Cash
Petrolati, Thomas (D-Ludlow)
Spilka, Karen (D-Ashland)
Moore, Richard (D-Uxbridge)
Wagner, Joseph (D-Chicopee)
Joyce, Brian (D-Milton)


  1. Thanks for taking the time to post such an informative list.

    One name on your list raised particular concern.

    Attending the Senate Sham Debate, Senator Moore proposed an amendment:

    Mr. Richard T. Moore moves to amend the bill (Senate, No. 2495), in Section 13, in the proposed chapter 23K, section 13, by inserting at the end thereof the following new subsection:-

    (x) Any approved Native American tribe applying for selection pursuant to this chapter shall verify that it has recognized and acknowledged the financial investment or investment rights of any individual or entity which has made such investment to said tribe, its affiliates, its agents, or predecessor applicants of the tribe for the purpose of securing a gaming license for said tribe under its name or any subsidiary or affiliate since January 1, 2005.

    In other words, the Commonwealth would act as "Debt Collector" to ensure that any investors who supported the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe would be satisfied.

    Doesn't anyone have a problem with that?

  2. Well, a recent case involving another Indian Tribe in Duluth made it clear that such language was not enforceable and a violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. More evidence that the state will have ZERO rights or ability to gain any benefits from Indian gaming operations if the Wampanoag or any other tribe is granted federal lands in trust to run gaming operations.

    "A casino contract between the city of Duluth and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa violates gaming laws, according to a notice filed Tuesday by the National Indian Gaming Commission... Gaming Commission Chairwoman Tracie Stevens said the agreements violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act because they give the city of Duluth an unlawful proprietary interest in the Band’s gaming activity. Under the act, a Band must have sole responsibility for gaming activity, meaning no other entities can be involved." Further, "“The parties share in the profits, with the city assuming no risk, providing no services commensurate with the payments received and the city retains control over the gaming operation,” she wrote in the document. Because of those issues, and especially the compensation to the city of more than $75 million, she concluded the 1994 agreements violate a mandate that the Band retain the sole proprietary interest in and responsibility for the gaming activity." In fact, this report shows that the tribe was required to stop paying the city of Duluth or risk facing fines for violations of IGRA.

    With this precedent, any agreement struck by the Wampanoag and the state of Mass can be easily slipped out from once they get what they want.. and in fact, may be forced by the feds to not pay the State or any other localities any revenue sharing. I wonder if this would also extend to their disclosed and undisclosed financial backers? How will the Malaysian money men behind the Wampanoag's feel when the tribe stops payments on the tens of millions in "loans" they have with them?