MGC, Encore Indicate They Are Behind in Planning for “Big Opening”

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) indicated they were behind in planning for the logistics of the big opening for Encore Boston Harbor – perhaps signaling that if things aren’t ironed out very soon, the big opening could be a difficult day for residents just trying to get around the Town.

MGC Commissioner Ed Bedrosian Jr. told the Commission on Thursday, Jan. 10, during a regular meeting that they were behind in planning for the Encore opening, that is as compared to their work on the opening of MGM Springfield last August.

The issue was brought to the table by Commissioner Enrique Zuniga, who noted that they had begun significant planning by January for MGM Springfield’s August opening.

“We did have a good discussion last meeting about MGM Springfield about how things had gone (with the opening), and the clear insight from that was that advanced planning and teamwork were critical to the smooth opening,” he said. “I think it’s very relevant that we do that. In fact, I went back and looked at some of the meetings we had a year ago. At that time, we were doing advanced planning for an opening in August.”

Bedrosian said they are behind, but he believes experience will help them work through issues faster.

“You are right,” he said. “At a senior staff level we are probably slightly behind where we were with MGM. We started things with them a little earlier. The offset to that is the context of MGM was we were opening our first Category 1 property and the learning curve was a lot higher. We’ve now smoothed off that learning curve so I am confident that if we do engage with our learned staff, we will be in good shape. But it is something that needs to happen quickly.”

Bedrosian said the MGC has been operating on parallel tracks with the investigation and the normal regulation – which includes the opening plans – and that the time has come for senior staff to get involved in the opening logistics.

“I hope you took from that presentation (last month) that the ability to have a smooth opening resulted from a lot of preparation and staff effort,” he said. “Earlier staff had been working with Encore on preparations, not dissimilar to what we did in Springfield. The time has come for issues that require both senior staff and Commission attention to be properly prepared for an anticipated opening.” The opening day, and the days afterward, are expected to bring thousands and thousands of people through Charlestown to the site, just over the Alford Street Bridge from Charlestown. A failure by Encore and the MGC to be prepared for that opening could stifle and shut down Charlestown for days.

Gov. Baker appoints Winchester woman to chair MGC

Gov. Charlie Baker appointed Cathy M. Judd-Stein on Tuesday as the new Chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC).

Judd-Stein, who has served as Deputy Chief Legal Counsel in the governor’s office since 2015, has served as a legal advisor to five Massachusetts Governors, Executive Director of Governor Patrick’s Judicial Nominating Commission, and General Counsel for the Massachusetts State Treasury.

Judd-Stein replaces Steve Crosby, who resigned suddenly last fall from the MGC after many years as its leader.

“Cathy’s experience in state government and incredible diligence and attention to detail for every task she takes on are some of the many attributes that qualify her to be the Chair of the Gaming Commission,” said Baker. “We thank Cathy for her contributions to our administration and look forward to her taking on this critically important position with the Commission. I also thank Gayle Cameron for serving as interim chair since late September.”

Said Judd-Stein, “I am honored to have served Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito these last four years. I thank them for giving me this opportunity to continue working at the intersection of complex, important public and private sector issues and I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.”   Judd-Stein lives in Winchester, and has served as a legal advisor to five governors, including Baker. She and her husband are the parents of three adult children.

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