BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) - The Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced at a Tuesday meeting that it will write a letter accepting the findings of the State Ethics Commission, which found no conflict of interest in Springfield's decision to hire a consulting firm with ties to casino developers competing in the city.
"We're fundamentally accepting of the Ethics Commission decision," said Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby. "I think it would have been better if they requested an ethics opinion upfront …I hope they have learned as we have that this is just a really sensitive area and we just have to be really careful upfront."
The Ethics Commission did find there was an appearance of a conflict of interest. Consulting firm Shefsky and Froelich has previously worked for MGM, Penn National and Hard Rock International, three developers interested in Springfield. The Gaming Commission felt the appearance of conflict was cured because it was publicly identified.
"The cure happens by disclosing any kind of relationship publicly to the awarding authority, in this case Springfield, which they did," said Gaming Commissioner Enrique Zuniga.
The Gaming Commission also announced that it plans to issue a casino license no later than February 26, 2014. Industry experts say a casino could take up to three years to build, which means a Massachusetts casino may not open until 2017.