Mass. Gaming Chair Weighs In On Daily Fantasy Sports, Recent Casino Developments

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Massachusetts Gambling Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby listens to testimony during a gambling commission meeting. (Stephan Savoia/AP)
Massachusetts Gambling Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby listens to testimony during a gambling commission meeting. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

With the possibility for increased competition from a proposed casino in Connecticut, the downsizing of MGM's planned casino in Springfield, and the ongoing discussions about the regulation of daily online fantasy sports, it's been a busy few weeks for the state Gaming Commission.

The commission's chair, Stephen Crosby, joined WBUR's Morning Edition to discuss these developments.

Interview Highlights

On role the commission might play in the controversy surrounding daily fantasy sports websites:

We were actually asked, by the speaker of the House, by the president of the Senate and the governor of the commonwealth to give some advice. We have had a tremendous amount of experience on the issues involved with introducing a new gambling industry to the commonwealth. Thinking through the issues and whether or not entities like a DraftKings should be licensed. If they should be licensed, what should be the criteria? How should an industry like this be regulated? How do you deal with problem gambling? These are all issues that we have been wrestling with now for three and a half years. So I think we can give advice.

Now we are not a decision maker. The decision makers are the governor and the Legislature. But I do believe that we can give some constructive advice.

On whether he thinks fantasy sports betting is gambling:

Frankly, I don't think the real question is whether under today's law fantasy sports are legal, technically or not. I think the real question is: Does the commonwealth of Massachusetts want fantasy sports to be legal?

On news that MGM's wants to reduce the size of its Springfield casino project:

One of the things that we have to do is try to follow the lead of our host communities as best we can — assuming it's consistent with our own law. So in this case we will watch to see what Springfield says about these changes and if they're OK with the changes then we will be predisposed to be OK with them also. If they are not, the same thing is true. We do have the authority to prohibit those changes if we want to.

On competition from a Connecticut casino:

Whether it was simply a vast increase in their advertising, or a big increase in their incentives, you knew there was going to be a competitive response [to Massachusetts opening casinos].

Furthermore, the casino in Connecticut is a long way from happening. There's a court case that suggests that this may not be fair, may not be legitimate under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

This segment aired on October 23, 2015.

Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.


Shannon Dooling Investigative Reporter
Shannon Dooling was an investigative reporter at WBUR, focused on stories about immigration and criminal justice.



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