Audit: Plainridge Park didn’t hit hiring goals, gaming commission didn’t keep track

90% of workers were supposed to be from Plainville area, but only 36% were from that region

BOSTON (WWLP) – The state’s only legal gaming facility is falling short of its goal for local hiring, and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is not taking proper action on the issue, State Auditor Suzanne Bump says.

Continuing Coverage: Casino gaming in Massachusetts

Bump’s office issued a report on the MGC Monday, which criticized the board for not ensuring that Plainridge Park Casino hit its benchmarks for hiring. Under their license, Plainridge Park is required to hire 90% of its workforce from the host community of Plainville, and the surrounding towns of Foxborough, Mansfield, North Attleborough, and Wrentham. Bump says that Plainridge had indicated that they would meet these goals by February of 2015, but as of June of that year, only 36% of their employees were from those towns, and only 77% of its workers lived in Massachusetts at all.

Additionally, Bump says that Plainridge claimed that 14% of its workers were members of ethnic minority groups (above the required minimum of 10%,) but they did not provide details to prove it. Further, the audit claims that the MGC had not taken any action to ensure Plainridge was hitting its workforce goals, even though the board was capable of doing so.

Bump is recommending that the MGC set new target dates for Plainridge, and strengthen their processes to monitor the gaming facility’s progress.

“Gaming was established in Massachusetts to create jobs and economic benefits for local communities, and our state as a whole. Not only is Plainridge Casino falling far short of the job creation promises made to the people of the state, but the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has not taken action to ensure they meet their commitments,” Bump said. “The Commission must take steps to ensure that these facilities produce the economic and job creation benefits that residents of the Commonwealth expect.”

The MGC responded to the audit point-by point, saying that the commission is “deeply committed to workforce development and diversity, and as such continuously monitors licensees’ progress in this area.” They said that they do have “strict internal controls” to monitor the issue of hiring.

“While PPC (Plainridge) has not achieved its ambitious 90% goal of local workforce hiring, MGC is pleased that 65% of current employees come from a 20 mile radius and 77% are Mass residents,” the MGC statement reads.

Additionally, the MGC says that they have created an “Internal Audit, Risk Assessment, and Compliance Group” to strengthen their internal controls.

The audit further faulted the MGC for not ensuring Plainridge was in compliance with the reporting of winnings in excess of $1,200. Bump says that a technological failure prevented some $65,000 in winnings from being remitted for delinquent taxes and child support payments.

The MGC says that that issue has been resolved, and money has been restored to the satisfaction of both the casino and the Department of Revenue.