Casino Bill Ups Law Enforcement, But Critics Say It’s Not Enough
BOSTON — The newly unveiled measure to license up to three casinos and one slot parlor in Massachusetts includes provisions for increased law enforcement.
Supporters say the measure will help protect Massachusetts by giving law enforcement tools to fight crimes such as money laundering and cheating in games or tampering with casino machines.
“It’s all about the integrity,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Stanely Rosenberg. He is the main point-person on the legislation. “People are not going to come to these venues if they cannot trust that it’s an honest operation.”
The casino bill essentially has three law enforcement components: a special unit in the Attorney General’s Office to investigate gambling crimes; a requirement that State Police are on site each hour the casino is open; and a mandatory investigation into all employees linked to the gambling venues.
“The models that we have in the Massachusetts bill are pretty consistent with what you find across the standards across the country. They’re generally industry standards, and the costs are borne entirely by the industry,” Rosenberg said.
But the measure does not include giving Attorney General Martha Coakley wiretapping powers. A bill that would have done that stalled in the Legislature last year.
Former state Attorney General Scott Harshbarger has been a vocal opponent of licensing casinos and slot parlors in the state. He said the measures outlined in the legislation are a step in the right direction, but he wants more details.
“Do they have the actual power and ability to enforce aggressively so that we deter the potential for corruption, we deter the potential for improper influence here, rather than simply hope for the best?” he asked.
Among those powers is giving the attorney general wiretapping abilities to fight organized crime such as racketeering.
“You have to be sure that the regulatory enforcement piece is in place, not rush in to licensing establishments and then getting into enforcement,” Harshbarger said. “That is a recipe for disaster.”
A spokesman for Coakley’s office said they are reviewing the legislation.