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Largely Positive Reaction For Newly Named Gaming Commission Head02:36
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Stephen Crosby speaks as Gov. Deval Patrick looks on during a State House news conference Tuesday. (AP)
Stephen Crosby speaks as Gov. Deval Patrick looks on during a State House news conference Tuesday. (AP)

Gov. Deval Patrick has named the head of the state’s new gambling commission. Stephen Crosby is taking a two-year leave of absence from his position as dean of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston. He'll chair the influential group, with the power to give the stamp of approval to three resort casino developments in Massachusetts and one slot parlor.

Crosby, 66, is bald in the front with freckles, and in the back has short, gray hair. His fingers drummed nervously on the podium as he stood before the cameras and said he’s not much of a gambling man.

"I've had an occasional scratch ticket. I've gone with my stepdaughter and family to casinos in Cripple Creek, Colo. And beyond that, no," he said.

But Crosby will now be the state’s chief gambling commissioner, the head of a five-member body that will make or break casino development plans, has influence over thousands of jobs, and will inevitably change the character of a few select cities and towns in Massachusetts.

"My job, and eventually the job of the commission, is first and foremost to maximize the public good and minimize the unintended consequences," he said.

And Crosby promised to conduct his work as gaming commission chair with integrity and transparency.

Those were some of the qualities Patrick said he was looking for. Crosby was a businessman before serving in two Republican state administrations as secretary of administration and finance. Crosby also served on Patrick’s transition team. The Democrat said Crosby is right for the job.

"In each of these experiences I have known him to listen to all views patiently, to call things exactly as he sees them, and to explain them with care," Patrick said.

The initial reaction to the appointment has been largely positive. Former Democratic Attorney General and casino opponent Scott Harshbarger called Crosby an inspired choice.

"Steve has tremendously strong credentials, impressive experience in the public and private sectors. I know, as a professional, he’s smart, tough and honest," Harshbarger said.

But others voiced concern.

"There’s going to be major temptation," said Laura Everett, who heads of the Massachusetts Council of Churches.

Everett said corruption is always a danger when a handful of people have so much say over so many dollars.

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This program aired on December 14, 2011.

Curt Nickisch Twitter Business & Technology Reporter
Curt Nickisch was formerly WBUR's business and technology reporter.

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