AG Healey Promises Strict Enforcement of Casino Law During Testimony at Gaming Commission
Testimony Highlights Consumer Protection Issues Including ATMs on Casino Floors, Credit Extensions and Debt Collection Practices
BOSTON – Promising to make gaming enforcement a priority of her administration, on the first day of her first term in office, Attorney General Maura Healey testified today before the Gaming Commission about her commitment to enforcing consumer protection laws, prosecuting related criminal activity, and ensuring that casinos uphold their commitments to host and surrounding communities.
“Expanded gaming presents unique challenges and we have to be ready soon,” AG Healey testified. “Our office is committed to using its full civil and criminal authority to ensure that the gambling industry is held to the many financial and legal commitments it has made to the people of Massachusetts.”
The casino industry has made significant commitments including the creation of thousands of jobs, development plans that are consistent with local communities, public safety improvements and in some cases the remediation of existing environmental hazards and traffic problems.
Additionally, in her testimony on the Commission’s proposed regulations, AG Healey emphasized significant consumer protection issues that her office is focusing on including:
- Variances: AG Healey believes that no casino should be allowed to deviate from important consumer protection regulations set forth in the gaming law, and that any other variance sought should be subjected to a full and transparent public process.
- ATM Machines: In light of significant ambiguity over whether existing law prohibits the placement of ATMs in casinos, AG Healey urged the commission to explore this issue with a standalone public process. Additionally, if existing law allows for ATMs in casinos, there should be a wide range of protections including caps on withdrawals, requiring that ATMs be placed a certain distance from the casino floor and prohibiting cash advances on credit cards.
- Credit Extension: The Attorney General’s Office has advocated for the Commission to adopt strong credit extension regulations. While encouraged by many of the provisions including the requirement that casinos conduct an “ability to pay” analysis, AG Healey stressed that additional regulations are needed. For example, any time a casino extends credit to a patron, it should analyze whether a patron can sustain a full credit loss. Additionally, patrons should receive advance notice of when the casino intends to deposit the check that secures the patron’s debt.
- Debt Collection: Debt collection regulations contain several important provisions including a prohibition on house liens to satisfy outstanding gaming debt. AG Healey highlighted several amendments including language explicitly preventing licensees from selling debt to collection agencies. This change will align with the casinos’ interest in carefully underwriting any credit extension.
AG Healey closed her testimony by highlighting her office’s efforts to prevent criminal abuse of the gaming industry, referencing several previous attempts in Massachusetts and across the country by individuals with ties to organized crime to illegally profit from the gaming business.
“My administration will commit significant resources to our Gaming Enforcement Division to investigate and prosecute any attempts by organized crime to infiltrate the gaming industry,” AG Healey said. “In this new era, the public must feel confident that no casinos will be brought online before meeting their commitments and following the law.”