Gaming regulators say elected officials can gamble at casinos

State gaming leaders decided this week they don't see a problem with Springfield officials gambling at MGM.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts gaming regulators this week voted down a proposed rule that would have prohibited Springfield elected leaders from gambling at the MGM casino.

One of the gaming commissioners said cities and towns are perfectly capable of handling the issue on their own. But Commissioner Bruce Stebbins, who used to be a Springfield city councilor said it would have eliminated the opportunity for problems in the future.

Springfield’s elected officials and MGM will share revenue, and some voters told 22News they worry about the appearance of impropriety.

“You are someone we have voted into office and we placed our trust in you so you have a responsibility not only to do the right thing but to appear to do the right thing,” said Johnathan Elliot.

It’s a conversation you can expect will continue locally.

“Personally I won’t place a wager in the casino. I think it is inappropriate. I also think it’s inappropriate to accept campaign contributions from an agent of MGM Springfield,” said Springfield City Council President Michael Fenton.

Still, other Western Mass. voters expect the same integrity on and off the clock, and don’t see a problem with a local leader spending their own money at MGM.

“Anywhere they are they’ve got to behave in a way for people to respect them as citizens like anyone else and as civil servants,” said Robert Bonsall.

Council President Fenton added he doesn’t think it should be at the discretion of the elected official, and plans to discuss potential rules with fellow councilors and the public.

Springfield was the first city to pass an ordinance that would prevent a mayor or city councilor from working for MGM for at least five years after leaving their office.

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