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 said the change is the right thing to do so that those who might have made mistakes in the past can have an opportunity for jobs in the resort casino.
“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.