BOSTON (SHNS) – Changes to the way alcohol is regulated in casinos are “on hold” while lawmakers contemplate a regulatory change that Gov. Maura Healey wants to see, according to the chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Lawmakers are seeking to shift the power to regulate the distribution of alcoholic beverages at gaming establishments, but not within actual gambling areas of those establishments, from the Gaming Commission to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. However, Healey last week returned the section of the state budget making the change with an amendment.
“I am concerned that this section begins, but does not complete, the important work of reviewing and fine-tuning alcohol enforcement authority in gaming establishments,” Healey wrote in her letter to the House and Senate about the amendment. “I note that the Expanded Gaming Act was signed into law in 2011, creating the category of gaming beverages licenses for the first time,” Healey continued.
“As gaming has grown and developed over the past decade, the structure for regulating these licenses is in need of review and may be in need of change. Therefore, I recommend that this section be amended to require the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to study alcohol regulation and enforcement in gaming establishments, including in restaurants and bars within gaming establishments but not in gaming areas. I also recommend that the Commissions review the effectiveness of their ongoing enforcement partnership.”
The governor recommended that the commissions report the findings of their study to the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure and the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies no later than April 1, 2024.
At a Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting on Thursday, MGC Chief Administrative Officer Grace Robinson said, “we’ll just have to wait and see what the Legislature does.” Commissioner Brad Hill said the Legislature “historically” addresses vetoes in September and October, but it could be as late as December 31 before the commission knows the final status of the measure and Healey’s amendment.