High Hand:Encore, Cambridge College Opens Door on New Dealer School with 167 Students in First Class

High Hand:Encore, Cambridge College Opens Door on New Dealer School with 167 Students in First Class

When Chelsea’s Bob Fortunato found a closed sign on the front of Wonderland Dog Track in 2010, it was a hard road ahead for he and his family, and the end of a career in the pari-mutuel industry.

Now, however, as one of students in the first class of the Greater Boston Casino Gaming Career Institute – a partnership between Cambridge College in Charlestown and Encore Boston Harbor – Fortunato might once again be joining the gaming and wagering industry.

On Monday, the first day of the so-called ‘Dealer School,’ Fortunato was one of 167 students who have enrolled in the first-ever session of classes to learn how to professionally deal Blackjack and poker games, potentially for the Encore casino that is only a short drive away from the school in Charlestown.

“It’s a new experience for me and a process that could lead to a good job,” he said. “I was at Wonderland Greyhound Park for a long time before it closed. Since then, I’ve worked several jobs doing a lot of different things. This is a great opportunity for me to start a new career.”

A new career is something he didn’t think he and his family, which operated Fortune Kennels, would ever have to do.

“It was tough,” he said. “At Wonderland, I had worked there for 12 years as a greyhound trainer. My family worked there and my family was in the business for 40 years. For me, it’s a great opportunity to be a dealer, and I’m very excited to be involved on the sports betting end of it if that comes to the state.”

Fortunato said he reached out to the Wynn organization from the start, and was in their network. He saw advertisements for the school and heard about it also in an e-mail and jumped on the opportunity.

“I looked into it and decided to go for it,” he said.

He was not alone on Monday, as 166 other students entered their first day of classes along with executives from Wynn and Cambridge College.

Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox was on hand Monday with Cambridge College President Deborah Jackson to open the doors on the area’s inaugural class of prospective dealers for the Encore Boston Harbor casino.

“Today is the first day and we have more than 100 people kicking it off today,” said Maddox before cutting the ceremonial ribbon. “We believe in investing in the communities around us. That’s what makes a successful enterprise – when you invest in your community and the people that work for you.”

He was joined by state delegation members State Rep. Dan Ryan and State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, who gave their blessing to the new operation.

Fortunato joined about 50 members of the new class that chatted with Maddox and the media before starting their first day of class in the afternoon session of dealer school.

Cambridge College President Jackson said the Dealer School was a great addition to their curriculum and fell in line with the mission of helping adults find training for good-paying careers. Cambridge College recently moved its entire school into the Hood Park office complex, and was in a great place to be able to expand and utilize space for the Dealer School.

She said they had 1,900 applications for the school initially.

“This has been a long time in the making,” she said. “We have been working on it for about a year. As is the case with all good outcomes, it is the building of great relationships that gets you there.”

She also credited Cambridge College personnel Phil Page and Mark Rotondo with getting the school off the ground successfully.

Encore President Bob DeSalvio said it was the realization of a commitment to the people of Massachusetts – particularly those around the casino – to train and employ them in good-paying jobs.

“This is a big step towards our commitment to train those in the community to work at Encore Boston Harbor,” he said.

The Greater Boston Gaming Career Institute, as the Dealer School is officially known, welcomed more than 165 local students to its Bet On U program, which was created by Cambridge College in collaboration with Encore Boston Harbor. The institute was formed under the leadership of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

The Bet On U program is designed to train qualified, employment-ready gaming professionals who are interested in starting exciting new careers as one of the more than 1,100 full- and part-time dealers at Encore Boston Harbor when the resort opens in June of 2019.

“The dealers who will be working at Encore Boston Harbor when we open our doors will have more than just jobs, they will have well-paying careers,” said Maddox. “Many of the top executives in our company started as dealers; we hope students from this course will progress the very same way. It’s always been our belief that true success comes from investing in your employees, and the communities where we live and work in.”

‘Mastering Blackjack’ and ‘Perfecting Poker’ are the first two games being taught at the institute. Students can prepare for a career as a blackjack dealer in nine weeks or a poker dealer in 14 weeks, with classes available at various times on weekdays and all day on weekends. Each class is taught by professional casino dealers using the latest tables and gaming equipment.

The cost for each game is $700 with 50 fully-funded scholarships from Encore Boston Harbor available for eligible local residents who require financial assistance. Half of the scholarships will be awarded to women. Students must be 18 years or older to apply to the Institute and work as a dealer in Massachusetts.

The second semester of the Greater Boston Gaming Career Institute will start in January of 2019, with applications being accepted now. The institute is located at  HYPERLINK “https://maps.google.com/?q=510+Rutherford+Avenue&entry=gmail&source=g” 510 Rutherford Avenue in Charlestown at the Hood Executive Park, less than two miles from the Encore Boston Harbor Resort and easily accessible via the MBTA’s Orange Line.

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Bet on U:First ‘Dealer School’ for Encore Casino Begins Classes Next Month

Bet on U:First ‘Dealer School’ for Encore Casino Begins Classes Next Month

Now that the Encore casino tower has come into full view of Everett, it’s time to learn how to deal a good hand.

Encore Boston Harbor, Cambridge College in Charlestown and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) announced this week that they will begin the first session of ‘Dealer School’ at Cambridge College in early September, focusing on teaching dealer basics, Blackjack games and Poker games. In coming years, they will also offer training on other games such as roulette and craps.

The collaboration is known as the Greater Boston Gaming Career Institute and is long in the making, debuting now as Encore begins ramping up for the hiring of 1,100 dealers to fill out its gaming staff. Hirings will take place next spring, and it is expected that two full sessions of the Dealer School will be completed by the Encore opening on June 24, 2019.

Classes will start on Sept. 17, and the cost is $700. However, residents of Everett, Malden, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea and Medford will have the opportunity to win scholarships that will make it free. The deadline to submit applications for scholarships is Sept. 10.

“We have been talking with Cambridge College for a number of months about this and it has worked out well,” said John. “The space is 2,500 sq. ft. and it will hold about 80 students per classroom. They will have three sessions per day.”

The sessions will run Monday to Thursday, with sessions at 8 a.m. to noon; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. A student is expected to stay in their time slot once they start.

The Blackjack training will last nine weeks and the poker training will last 14 weeks.

There will also be a weekend session that only offers Blackjack training all day Saturday and Sunday for nine weeks.

Doug Williams, vice president of table games, Gary Hager, director of poker operations, and John all said that the Dealer School is a great opportunity to be ready when Encore ramps up to hire gaming staff next year. If one does get hired, it can mean a starting salary of $60,000 for a full-time job, plus benefits.

“This could be transformational for certain people,” said John. “In a matter of months for a 16-hour commitment and flexible times, you can begin a new career that starts at $60,000 for full-time work. It’s a chance for you to earn good money and have a career for the rest of your life. This isn’t for someone who likes to play cards and wants to do something fun. This is for someone really looking to make a career change.”

Said Williams, “It’s also a good avenue for someone who isn’t going to college or doesn’t want to go to college now. It’s a career you can take with you for the rest of your life. There aren’t many instances in a major metropolitan area where a new industry just pops up and you can get in on it.”

Added Hager, “When these kinds of jobs open up on the strip in Las Vegas, they don’t stay open long. These are good opportunities and this is getting in on the ground floor here.”

Those enrolled in the school will practice hands-on training, being taught by five former Encore dealers who will teach them all aspects of how to deal and oversee a good game. More than that, they will teach them the basics of being a dealer. That includes how to let people enjoy themselves and how to show off a good personality that will enhance the customer experience.

Basic requirements are that one have an 8th grade level of math competency; be 18 or older; be willing to work weekends, holidays and off hours; and have a great personality.

“The personality is very important,” said Williams. “We hear all the time it’s not whether a customer wins or loses that determines whether they had a great time, but it’s the interaction they have with the dealer. They may enjoy themselves more because you are they’re preferred dealer or you become their lucky dealer. You can go a long way here with a winning personality.”

John said, however, there is no guarantee that anyone who completes the Dealer School would be hired, but they would have preferred status.

“Honestly, we don’t know if they will definitely be hired by Encore,” he said. “It’s the first time we’re doing this. Obviously though, if you get through the program, you’ll have preferential status and you’ll be the first person we look to when we’re hiring.”

The full information about scholarships and enrollment in the Dealer School can be found at www.BetOnU.com.

Once again, classes for the first session start on Sept. 17.

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And They’re NOT Off:Horse Racing, Simulcasting is Suspended as Legislature Fails to Act

And They’re NOT Off:Horse Racing, Simulcasting is Suspended as Legislature Fails to Act

Live racing and simulcasting have been suspended at Suffolk Downs and all other horse tracks and betting facilities in the state due to the fact that the State Legislature did not act to renew the Simulcast Bill before the end of its formal session at midnight on July 31.

The renewal has been routine for several years.

The news came out of Beacon Hill early Wednesday morning that horseracing and simulcasting had suddenly become illegal in Massachusetts overnight. It seemed like fantasy, but soon the news was solidified.

In order for horse tracks like Suffolk Downs to operate live racing and simulcasting, the annual bill has to be renewed by the House and Senate by July 31. The Legislature did not do that this year.

There were few comments from legislators on the matter, but Suffolk Downs had its placard off Wednesday morning, a placard that usually advertises simulcast betting on Saratoga races for that day.

Later in the morning, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) put out a letter of direction to Suffolk Downs, Plainridge Park and Raynham Taunton Greyhound Park.

The letter said that the Commonwealth’s legislation for live racing and simulcasting had expired on July 31 at midnight and no action had been taken to renew or replace it.

“As of today, there is not statutory authorization for live horse racing or simulcasting in the Commonwealth,” read the letter. “Please be advised that until further notice from the Gaming Commission, simulcasting in all forms under any license at your facilities is suspended. Further, live racing at Suffolk Downs and Plainridge Park is also suspended until further notice.”

The MGC added the item as an emergency agenda item for its meeting today, Aug. 2, in Springfield.

The news complicated things tremendously for Suffolk Downs, which had planned and proceeded with a weekend of live racing for Aug. 4 and 5. That event is now in great doubt as there is no law allowing live racing in the state.

Reportedly, many of the horses and support personnel had already begun the trek up to Massachusetts from other states for the live races.

Many were left to ask why it had happened without warning.

There were no official comments on Wednesday from the Legislature, but numerous sources near the situation indicated it revolved around a growing rift between the leadership of the House and Senate.

It was believed by those sources that when a very important priority item for the Senate leadership didn’t pass the House – the gender equity bill – then the Senate in turn blocked the action on the renewal of the Simulcasting Bill.

One course of action to fix the matter is to address it during an informal session this week. However, during an informal session, rather than with a roll call vote of everyone, only one objection to any matter by any member can kill it under the rules of the body. That makes restoring the bill even more difficult, especially if there is a political rift between the two houses.

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Horse Racing, Simulcasting Suspended as Legislature Fails to Act

Horse Racing, Simulcasting Suspended as Legislature Fails to Act

Live racing and simulcasting has been suspended at Suffolk Downs and all other horse tracks and betting facilities in the state due to the fact that the State Legislature did not act to renew the Simulcast Bill before the end of its formal session at midnight on July 31.

The renewal has been routine for several years.

The news came out of Beacon Hill early Wednesday morning that horseracing and simulcasting had suddenly become illegal in Massachusetts overnight. It seemed like fantasy, but soon the news was solidified.

In order for horse tracks like Suffolk Downs to operate live racing and simulcasting, the annual bill has to be renewed by the House and Senate by July 31. The Legislature did not do that this year.

There were few comments from legislators on the matter, but Suffolk Downs had its placard off Wednesday morning, a placard that usually advertises simulcast betting on Saratoga races for that day.

Later in the morning, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) put out a letter of direction to Suffolk Downs, Plainridge Park and Raynham Taunton Greyhound Park.

The letter said that the Commonwealth’s legislation for live racing and simulcasting had expired on July 31 at midnight and no action had been taken to renew or replace it.

“As of today, there is not statutory authorization for live horse racing or simulcasting in the Commonwealth,” read the letter. “Please be advised that until further notice from the Gaming Commission, simulcasting in all forms under any license at your facilities is suspended. Further, live racing at Suffolk Downs and Plainridge Park is also suspended until further notice.”

The MGC added the item as an emergency agenda item for its meeting today, Aug. 2, in Springfield.

The news complicated things tremendously for Suffolk Downs, which had planned and proceeded with a weekend of live racing for Aug. 4 and 5. That event is now in great doubt as there is no law allowing live racing in the state.

Reportedly, many of the horses and support personnel had already begun the trek up to Massachusetts from other states for the live races.

Many were left to ask why it had happened without warning.

There were no official comments on Wednesday from the Legislature, but numerous sources near the situation indicated it revolved around a growing rift between the leadership of the House and Senate.

It was believed by those sources that when a very important priority item for the Senate leadership didn’t pass the House – the gender equity bill – then the Senate in turn blocked the action on the renewal of the Simulcasting Bill.

One course of action to fix the matter is to address it during an informal session this week. However, during an informal session, rather than with a roll call vote of everyone, only one objection to any matter by any member can kill it under the rules of the body. That makes restoring the bill even more difficult, especially if there is a political rift between the two houses.

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Re-Branding of Wynn Boston Harbor Tower Under ‘Serious Consideration’

Re-Branding of Wynn Boston Harbor Tower Under ‘Serious Consideration’

The Wynn Boston Harbor tower hasn’t even reached the top floor, and already the name on the top is under serious reconsideration following the exit of the company’s founder Steve Wynn regarding sexual misconduct allegations.

Responding to comments from Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey, Wynn Boston Harbor president Bob DeSalvio said they are seriously considering changing the name to not include ‘Wynn.’

“We are at this time considering a re-brand of the project and we’ll have an announcement on that at a later date,” said DeSalvio following the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) meeting on March 29.

He said he didn’t have a time frame, though, and it isn’t expected to be announced this week.

“It’s something we are actively considering right now,” he said.

The name change has seemingly been coming for several weeks, but the local Wynn team and the Las Vegas team had all been silent on the issue.

In comments to the Boston Globe in February following his ascension to CEO of the company, Matt Maddox indicated that a sudden re-brand of the company worldwide would be very difficult. He said that while most American customers associate the company with Steve Wynn, many of the Asian customers associate the brand simply with five-star luxury. Changing a well-known name, he said, cannot happen overnight.

The local thinking has been quite different, though, as the project has not been completed. Though the name has contained ‘Wynn’ for the last two years, nothing has yet been affixed to the building – making a change much easier here than elsewhere in the company’s existing portfolio of properties.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) Chair Steve Crosby said he didn’t have a strong opinion on the matter, but said Wynn would do what it best for its business.

“For the record, I’m agnostic on that,” he said. “It’s the first I’ve heard they’re doing that. At the moment, it’s a decision for them to make.”

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MGC:Wynn Boston Harbor Proceeding with Project ‘At Risk’

MGC:Wynn Boston Harbor Proceeding with Project ‘At Risk’

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) said they would proceed as normal with plans for the Wynn Boston Harbor resort casino, but described the situation as “awkward” and said that Wynn was moving forward with the project “at its own risk” – meaning that losing the Region A gaming license is a possibility.

The situation came at the MGC’s monthly meeting on March 29 in Boston, where Wynn appeared for their first quarterly update since CEO Steve Wynn resigned under sexual misconduct allegations in February. The dual nature of the program for Wynn – and the reason for the awkwardness – is that the MGC is running a no holds barred investigation into the company right now, while at the same time proceeding with matters as if nothing has happened.

It is the reason for the ‘at risk’ designation now given to the project.

Wynn Boston Harbor president Bob DeSalvio said they made the decision to proceed at their own risk and they are not worried about it at all.

“It doesn’t (worry us) whatsoever,” he said. “We certainly understand we are always under review with regards to licensing with the Gaming Commission. As far as the local workforce goes, we are moving forward – all systems go.”

He also explained that there are two investigations going on right now, the MGC one and one from the Wynn Board of Directors. He said they need to let both play out right now.

“The best thing we can do now is let those play out,” he said, noting that they won’t put any timelines on it. “They have significant work to do. They will be thorough.”

Further questioned by members of the media about Wynn’s suitability to hold a license in Massachusetts, DeSalvio said he believed they were suitable.

“We are an excellent gaming company operating at a very high level in Las Vegas and Macau. Next June, we’ll be operating in the Commonwealth,” he said. “Our 25,000 team members do an outstanding job every day…We feel we are very much suitable.”

MGC Chair Steve Crosby said Wynn has made the decision to proceed, and right now their license is still viable – but he said there are investigations that are ongoing.

“We’re simply awaiting the outcome; that’s where it now stands,” he said.

“There are two things happening here,” he continued. “This is the biggest single-phased development in the history of Massachusetts. It’s a $2.4 billion project in Everett. It’s critical for Everett and communities around it…From a workforce perspective, we need to remember this can hurt a lot of people’s lives and lots of money that’s been invested. In parallel, we have to do a thorough no holds barred investigation…We will bring the results of that forward and talk about it in front of everyone.”

He also stated the Wynn project is at its own risk.

“Wynn is making the decision to proceed,” he said. “There is an investigation going on and they will be doing this at their risk. That the decision they made and that’s fine with us.”

The discussion of being ‘at risk’ came at the outset of Thursday’s meeting, when MGC Executive Director Ed Bedrosian Jr. set the tone and addressed the awkwardness of the situation.

He said the investigation is ongoing and that he hopes they can have the results to the MGC by summer. He said that right now there are MGC investigators in Las Vegas making inquiries.

“It’s an awkward situation, but the matter from now on must continue on parallel tracks,” he said.

“As a practical matter, Wynn Resorts is proceeding on the project on an at-risk basis,” he said.

  • Crosby chastises Wynn on sexual harassment

MGC Chair Steve Crosby had a word of warning for the Wynn group during and after the meeting on Thursday as the company discussed hiring and employee matters, but skirted by any discussion of sexual harassment training.

“To not bring attention to sexual harassment and women in the workplace during that discussion seemed to be a fairly substantial missing piece for the protection of employees,” he said. “It seemed to be a pretty big missing piece, particularly for people from Wynn Resorts.”

The discussion came during the report on employment, diversity employment goals and the new employment practices being put in place in preparation for a “mass hire” in early 2019.

Wynn officials said they are in the process of modifying their policies and will report back soon.

  • New commissioner to come soon

Commissioner Lloyd MacDonald has left the MGC as a commissioner, and Attorney General Maura Healey has appointed Eileen O’Brien to the vacant post.

O’Brien will begin her seating on the MGC this week.

O’Brien, a Newton resident, served in various positions within the Special Investigations and Narcotics Division at the AG’s Office, including chief of the division from April 2004 to July 2008.

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MGC says Wynn Organization Did Not Inform Them of Settlement

MGC says Wynn Organization Did Not Inform Them of Settlement

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on Wednesday, Jan. 31, held a special hearing into the allegations against Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn – a Massachusetts gaming licensee – and said they were not told of the 2005 private settlement, while at the same time urging fairness and speed in the investigation.

The one-hour hearing was unique in that it was one of about three government-level hearings now going on internationally, with others now underway in Nevada and Macau (China). Another is going on privately within the Wynn organizations by a Special Committee of the Board of Directors.

Chair Steve Crosby led off the meeting by saying that the MGC’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) would not rush to judgment or impugn anyone.

“Before we begin, I’d like to reiterate that we have a shared sense of urgency about this serious matter, but careful diligence must be a top priority,” he said. “The stakes are enormous and many lives are involved— from the lives of the women allegedly abused, to the lives of men and women in Everett now building the project, to the senior executives and board members of Wynn Resorts. We will get this right and we will get it right as quickly as we can.”

He finished the meeting by saying he wants a very open investigation so the people know what happened.

“The people of Massachusetts have the right to know what the hell happened here with no punches pulled,” he said. “Having to hold back things ifs something this Commissioner will not look favorably on.”

The MGC announced last Friday after the allegations surfaced that they would initiate an investigation in their IEB division. On Wednesday, the first volley of that investigation was launched.

Somewhat of a revelation was when IEB Director Karen Wells said Wynn Resorts or Steve Wynn never told anyone in 2013 about the $7.5 million settlement associated with the recent allegation of sexual harassment by a Wynn hotel manicurist in Las Vegas.

“I corroborated that information with counsel for Wynn Resorts who confirmed that there was in-fact a settlement and that it was not disclosed to investigators upon advice of counsel,” said Wells. “She also confirmed that the settlement itself was not part of any court action or litigation and that no lawsuit was filed at any time.  There were no court documents filed that could have been identified in the course of the investigation.  This was a private agreement and steps were taken to keep it from the public domain. The circumstances around this $7.5M settlement and the decision not to disclose it to investigators remain a critical element of this review.”

For the commissioners, there was a sense of seriousness, but also one of attentiveness. No one wanted to engage in something unfair to Wynn or anyone else.

“The single most important thing at this stage is to get control of the facts by figuring them out as quickly as possible,” said Commissioner Lloyd MacDonald. “I urge you to be scrupulously diligent and work with speed, thoroughness and objectivity. That will be key.”

Wells said she had no idea how long the investigation would take as they have just embarked on it.

“It’s hard to give a timeline because once you start conducting interviews, it could lead you in many different directions,” she said.

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MGC,Wynn and Others Watching Federal Sports Betting Case Closely

MGC,Wynn and Others Watching Federal Sports Betting Case Closely

By Seth Daniel

As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs the merits of legalizing sports betting nationwide, eyes in the region and at the state Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) can’t help but focus on that decision as well.

Were the court to side with those pushing to legalize sports betting nationwide – as it currently only exists legally as a grandfathered provision in Las Vegas – it could mean billions of dollars in added gaming revenues to the Wynn Boston Harbor casino when it opens in 2019.

While plans are already in place for the typical table games and slot machines at the casino, expanding it to include sports betting would mean an opportunity for the City, state and Wynn to capitalize on an even larger gaming market.

The American Gaming Association (AGA), a trade organization that represents all gaming entities, estimates that $150 billion is wagered on sports illegally every year, and often postulates that such illegal betting on the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four events have become commonplace – making the prohibition almost a joke in their opinion.

Last summer, the AGA estimated that Massachusetts could gain $682 million in economic output, $133 million in added tax revenue and an additional 3,261 new  jobs if sports betting were allowed as part of the expanded gaming act.

For Wynn, it would simply mean an expansion of their existing, and very popular, sports and racing book in Las Vegas.

After oral arguments on Dec. 4 at the high court in Washington, D.C., Wynn officials said they remain interested in the case.

“We at Wynn Boston Harbor are watching the court case with interest,” said Bob DeSalvio, president of Wynn Boston Harbor. “Our industry supports legalized and regulated sports betting but the ultimate decision rests with the courts, state and federal lawmakers and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.”

The MGC will deliberated precisely on the matter last week at their monthly meeting Thursday, Dec. 7. Spokesperson Elaine Driscoll said there hasn’t been much discussion of the issue by the Commission aside from a short mention in a paper drafted last year on Daily Fantasy Sports. The Supreme Court case, however, is expected to have discussion before the Commission this week.

“We are following any developments closely,” said Driscoll. “The Commission has not taken an official position on this topic. I do anticipate it will be raised at the Commission meeting on Thursday. Part of that conversation will be a report on the arguments before the Supreme Court, as the Commission decides next steps.”

Following the meeting, the MGC did call for a White Paper to be researched and drafted on the possibility of legalized sports betting in the Commonwealth.

For the AGA, President Geoff Freeman said after the arguments that he was encouraged by the questions and will await to see the courts ruling in the months to come.

“It was a positive day for the millions of Americans seeking to legally wager on sporting events,” he said on the afternoon of Dec. 4. “While we can’t predict the intentions of Supreme Court Justices, we can accurately predict the demise of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection of 1992 (PASPA). The justices of the Court expressed deep interest in the role of the federal government – a role that we believe has created a thriving illegal market that has driven trillions of dollars to offshore websites and corner bookies. States and tribal sovereign nations have proven to be effective regulators of gaming and today’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court moved them one giant step closer to offering a new product that Americans demand.”

At issue in the case is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which has come up through the case Christie (as in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie) vs. NCAA. The state of New Jersey pushed the boundaries of sports betting in 2012 and tried to institute it within their state – only to be stopped by lawsuits from five sports leagues, including Major League Baseball. That case has wound itself through several federal jurisdictions until landing at the high court earlier this year.

The act was put in place following the fallout from the Pete Rose baseball betting scandal, which is often forgotten nowadays. At the time, it was a popular sentiment and seen as a necessary protection. However, as time has gone on, the public has clamored to the trend of betting on sports of all kinds – and most all of it done illegally.

When the act passed, both New Jersey and Nevada – the only jurisdictions that qualified for grandfathering – had the ability to continue with sports betting. Only Nevada proceeded, which is why today the only legal sports bets in the United States are in Nevada.

That is where Wynn keeps its blockbuster Race & Sports Book, an actual area of its casino in Las Vegas that the company has just renovated at great expense.

The new area at the Wynn Las Vegas resort offers 1,600 sw. ft. of wraparound LED televisions for viewing events, food, a bar, and personal viewing areas with all the comforts one demands. A smaller Race & Sports Book venue at Wynn Encore also exists there.

The Wynn Race & Sports Book also offers a mobile app for placing a wager in that jurisdiction on any horse race or sports contest without ever having to leave one’s seat if in the state of Nevada in the City of Las Vegas.

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House,Senate Pass Legislation to Help Open Up Casino Jobs

House,Senate Pass Legislation to Help Open Up Casino Jobs

By Seth Daniel

The State Legislature has approved a major change aimed at helping those with minor criminal records from the past not be barred from getting casino jobs statewide, and particularly at the Wynn Boston Harbor resort.

Earlier this year, it became apparent that the Expanding Gaming Law was very stringent, and was likely going to bar people with minor offenses from the past from getting jobs at the casino – including jobs in restaurants or housekeeping.

Many spoke out in an effort to reform the statute, and Speaker Bob DeLeo took up the cause – including it in the Supplemental Budget last week that passed both the House and Senate.

“At its heart, the gaming law is about providing jobs and improving the economy,” said DeLeo. “I wouldn’t want to see people – particularly those who are underemployed or unemployed – barred from working in a hotel or a restaurant, for example. I’m pleased that we made the change and look forward to seeing the Gaming Commission’s work on this time-sensitive matter.”

Mayor Carlo DeMaria

“My top priority is to ensure that Everett residents have the opportunity to succeed, have a career and raise a family right here in Everett,” said DeMaria. “We all know people who have made some mistakes in their past, but now deserve the opportunity to lead productive lives. The best way to do that is to provide them with a job. I commend the legislature for passing criminal justice reform for service employees and the gaming commission for supporting this measure. Otherwise restaurant workers, hotel housekeepers, and parking lot attendants would be barred from working in a hotel because of a minor conviction.”

The Gaming Law currently has the “automatic disqualifier” provision that prevents a non-gaming employee from working in a casino – even in hotel work, restaurant work and physical plant work – if they have a felony conviction in the past 10 years. In Massachusetts now, it takes 10 years before a person can seal such a felony record and not have it count against them for things like employment in the casinos. Additionally, in Massachusetts, many felonies have a very low threshold – such as larceny over $250.

The changed language is not as specific and puts more power in the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s (MGC) hands to vet potential employees. The language puts it at the MGC’s “discretion.”

“the Massachusetts Gaming Commission established pursuant to section 3 of said chapter 23K, may exempt certain gaming service employees by job position from the registration requirement at its discretion,” read the new language.

The language will have to be vetted by several agencies and then will go to the MGC for potential implementation.

The MGC has been in favor of such changes in letters sent to the Legislature this year, but chose not to comment for this story.

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The MS-13 Raids

The raids that took place last early Friday morning that resulted in 56 indictments of MS-13 gang members certainly should stop for the time being the crime and murders in the neighboring communities of Chelsea, East Boston and Everett that we have witnessed over the last several months. However, these arrests removed only about one-third of the known members of this gang. The arrests also have created a power vacuum that rival gangs will try to fill.

The effort to rid the streets of these criminals by law enforcement officials is not to be minimized. Positive alternative programs are needed quickly both to stop the recruitment of area youths into these gangs and possibly to turn present gang members away from gang life.

A few years back, Fr. Greg Boyle spoke at St. Cecilia’s Parish in the Back Bay about his work with gang members in the Los Angeles Community. Fr. Boyle told of his experiences with confronting the gang menace and trying to turn would-be recruits and gang members into productive and law-abiding citizens.

Fr. Boyle related how the major reason that gangs exist is that members of these gangs seek a family experience. He related how many gang members had an abusive or highly dysfunctional family life that drove them to join the gangs. He also related how after some of these gang members had children, some of the most hardened members hoped that their children would be able to find a life far different than being a gang member. As a result, Fr. Boyle started Homeboy Bakery that employed gang members and started to give them skills for the workplace. Eventually, the Bakery project worked and from this experiment, other industries were started to provide training and work experiences for members of rival gangs who were now working together. This program has been in existence for almost 30 years and the success rate keeps increasing.

Presently, as we mentioned last week, there are programs in these communities that seek to help get members out of the gangs. However, funding is always an issue and there are usually fewer financial resources than are needed.

For a regional solution, we urge our elected officials to allocate more resources, both manpower and financial, to start programs to help solve this problem. We do not know if anyone has talked to Fr. Boyle or his staff about their programs and what we can do in our community, but contact with Fr. Boyle might make a good starting point.

All the civic and financial progress that we have seen in these neighboring communities can easily be undone if citizens feel that it is not safe to walk the streets or send their children to local schools.

Law enforcement officials have dealt a major blow to the MS-13 gang, but without positive follow-up, the same problems will quickly reoccur. As mentioned, Fr. Boyle has been working on this problem for almost 30 years, but we need some positive policies in place now.

The Wynn and City of Boston Deal

The announcement last Thursday that Wynn Resorts and Mayor Walsh have reached a deal on mitigation should come as no surprise. Since the Boston lawsuits were dismissed last November, the legal options available to Mayor Walsh were dwindling. We congratulate Mayor Walsh for recognizing this reality and negotiating in getting some added benefits for Boston residents. Mr. Wynn is to be thanked for still negotiating and giving additional funds to Boston, when he probably did not have to do anymore concessions.

Both sides came away with something and this outcome is what is sought in all successful negotiations. No one was a big winner or loser at the expense of the other party.

For Charlestown residents what all this means is still not completely known. There is a million dollars that is being held in escrow by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that should divided among local organizations. We hope that as a community we can agree on the proper Charlestown authority to dispense these monies without a lot of rancor.

While most of the brown field clean-up at the Wynn Resort site is now done, we should turn our attention to areas of quality of life. Our issues of clean air and reducing traffic congestion are the same concerns that Steve Wynn has at his resort.

Mr. Wynn has always shown himself to be a good and responsible neighbor at all of his developments. We see no reason why he should change his method of operation now with the Everett proposal.

Wynn representatives have always been willing to talk, as seen by their community meetings last winter, but given the climate of the last year, everyone was far less willing to start serious talks. Now should be the time to start talking again.

Wynn should not be seen as someone with bottomless pockets. He has a business to run and stockholders to answer to. Wynn and Charlestown must now jointly deal with the expanded Assembly Square Mall that will send many more cars onto our overcrowded streets. We need to be reasonable in our requests and discussions. After all, Wynn and Charlestown want the same results – less traffic congestion and a better and greener environment.

Sal is the man

When Councilor Sal LaMattina was named vice chair of the Boston City Council Ways and Means Committee last month, little did we realize then that just maybe his appointment came in the nick of time for Charlestown.

The waste transfer station needs to bring some zoning changes before the City Council. However, these requests will first have to go before Councilor LaMattina’s committee.

We know that Councilor LaMattina will hear these requests and debate the pros and cons of the changes. Council President Michele Wu will also be a key participant in these discussions. But like so many requests that are heard, some make it out of committee and others just stay in committee.

We hope that this request will just stay in committee. But that is only our opinion.

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