Gaming Commission spending, not on our dime

BOSTON (WWLP) – A report out on Friday accuses the Massachusetts Gaming Commission of lavish and unnecessary spending.

The 22News I-Team did some digging and discovered how much of this money actually comes out of the taxpayers pockets.   The answer – none at all.

Casino applicants and gaming revenue will pay for all of the gaming commission’s expenses.  Gaming Commission Spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll told 22News the commission is currently operating on a $15 million dollar loan from the State’s rainy day fund, which will be paid back in full once gaming licenses are issued.

The slots parlor license will be awarded on February 28th.  Within 30 days, the winner has to pay the state $25 million.  If MGM is awarded a license in Western Massachusetts, it will have 30 days to pay $85 million, which is the same amount for the Eastern Massachusetts casino license winner.

In fiscal years 2013 and 2014, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has spent $23.3 million dollars according to the state’s open checkbook website, which includes millions of dollars to investigate casino developers.

We compared that to another state agency, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners which has spent $57.8 million in that same time frame.  The Board of Library Commissioners supports, improves and promotes library services throughout the Commonwealth.

The Boston Business journal article did point out the commission spends around $1600 for catering each of it’s meetings and has spent $78,000 on parking.

Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby sent 22News this statement:

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission appreciates the importance of public scrutiny and fully expects to be held accountable by our various constituents.  It is important to note that not one penny of taxpayer dollars has been or ever will be spent on commission operations due to the fact that we are funded solely by the gaming applicants and licensees. However, as our agency continues to grow and mature we will strive to strengthen existing policies to ensure maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness. To help with that process, we will seek an independent review to assess best practices for travel, entertainment, investigatory and other expenses in comparable regulatory agencies across the country as we review and improve our standards.

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