November 28, 2023

Death By Meeting: The Massachusetts Gaming Commission


“It’s a terrible death to be talked to death.”   — Mark Twain


It is as if I know them: Judd-Stein, O’Brien, Skinner, Hill, and Maynard.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which seems to be trying very hard to get it right — no matter how long it takes.

Like so many gaming regulatory entities, one of its faults is that its membership is too heavily drawn from government and political ranks. But that is not necessarily their issue, and as I said, they seem to be working hard trying to get things right.

Eileen O’Brien generally is the most focused and seems to have a very good BS detector. Every commission needs an O’Brien. Bradford Hill has his moods. Cathy Judd-Stein is the most sociable. Nakisha Skinner is the most measured and organized. And I would guess Jordan Maynard will retire as a government lawyer — it seems to suit him.

Whenever an MGC meeting is announced, there is grumbling among the gaming content writers covering the space, for they know they will be tied up listening to the meeting for a long time. The MGC folks talk things over during their public meetings and then talk them over again. After that, they sometimes talk things over.

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What people need to understand is that this is a good thing. It is how the people’s business should be done. While trying at times, this system is so much better than the tightly scripted alternatives — or worse, waking up in the morning to find that all kinds of things were changed in the dark of night, and people can only speculate as to why.


I live not far from Philadelphia, and within that wonderful city stands Independence Hall. It is one of the most significant structures in the United States and is where the United States actually became united.  It is where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed.

Also within that building is an area where the U.S. Supreme Court used to meet.  Three large arches allow access to the area, but no doors exist.

The no-doors thing is important, for it demonstrates that no back-room deals will be tolerated and issues will be adjudicated before the people. This notion is now represented in our open meetings and sunshine laws. The use of the term sunshine law is generally attributed to Supreme Court Justice Louie Brandeis, who suggested: “Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant.”

When I was a California Gambling Control Commission member, I had a poster custom-made for me. It was a quote by the Roman poet Juvenal and stated in both Latin and English: “Who shall guard the guards themselves?”

The humble surroundings of your author (Photo: Richard Schuetz)

I think the poster asks one of the most important questions there is in regulation. This is why it adorned my California regulatory office and later my Bermuda regulatory office. It still is with me now.

“Who shall guard the guards themselves?”

When meetings are open to the public, and all can attend, that is an important piece of who guards the guards themselves. But people need to be there, and the word needs to get out.

So, all of you writers and reporters out there, when the MGC is busy debating and discussing gaming matters, and you are able to attend, it is a tremendously important thing. Your presence is helping ensure a better system, for the people’s business should be done before the people — and the people should know.

And you are right, the people’s business can sometimes get long and boring.


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