In 2011, Massachusetts passed a law barring any person with a conviction for a felony, theft, fraud, or perjury in the last 10 years from working in any position at the state’s casinos. With a new casino slated to open in Springfield in 2018, casino giant MGM is pushing for a repeal of or exception/amendment to the law.
The 2011 law does not distinguish between the different types of duties and therefore bars all convicted felons from any position, even those completely unrelated to gambling and off the casino floor. MGM, along with corrections officials, criminal justice reform advocates, and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, urged the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to grant leniency at the new casino. They argued that employees working off the floor, such as in the kitchens and restaurants, hotels, and alternative attractions, should not be held to the same standard as those directly involved with gambling activities.
Not a Simple Change
Even if the Massachusetts Gaming Commission wanted to allow MGM to hire people with criminal records in other parts of the business, no one is quite certain they have the authority to make such a decision. Commissioner Gayle Cameron said the commission’s hands are tied, stating “We’re talking about a law.”
However, it seems MGM may have a better case from the angle of Massachusetts’ “ban the box” jurisdiction, barring employees from asking about criminal convictions on job applications. Whether the company will file a formal lawsuit is up in the air as of yet. They are planning on hiring 3,000 employees to work at the casino and they expect 35% of them will be existing Springfield residents.