BOSTON (SHNS) – For the last seven months, as it has managed the return to mostly pre-pandemic operations at the state’s casinos and slots parlor, the Gaming Commission has been shorthanded and there is no apparent timeline to get the regulatory body back to full strength.
Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg are responsible for jointly appointing someone with experience in professional gaming regulatory administration or gaming industry management to replace Bruce Stebbins on the Gaming Commission. The same three officials appointed Stebbins to a five-year term on the Cannabis Control Commission effective Jan. 1. Applications for the Gaming Commission seat were due to any one of the constitutional officers by Feb. 19.
Baker’s office told the News Service on Tuesday that Baker, Healey and Goldberg are still working on the appointment. None of the three offices answered whether the principals have interviewed candidates or if there is a target date to have the position filled. The lack of a fifth commissioner has not resulted in publicly obvious issues for the Gaming Commission since Stebbins left in January, but it has meant one fewer voice in discussions around COVID-19 safety restrictions at gaming centers and issues like how to divide money meant for the horse racing industry. No matter who is appointed as the fifth member of the Gaming Commission, that person will join a commission that is shifting gears from licensing and overseeing the construction of casinos to regulating an industry that has been legal here for almost a decade. If the Legislature legalizes sports betting, the Gaming Commission is expected to serve as that industry’s regulator as well