Stephen Crosby – the only person to serve as Chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) in the agency’s nearly seven-year history – unexpectedly announced his resignation last week.
In a letter dated September 26, Crosby informed the four remaining MGC commissioners that he had resigned his regulatory role, effective immediately:
“With a profound sense of sadness, regret – and yes, frustration – I am resigning as Chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, in order to give you the best possible opportunity to do your work without distraction.
And I leave the leadership of this organization in the very capable hands of your four Commissioners.”
Gayle Cameron has taken over as Interim Chair of the MGC, while Eileen O’Brien, Bruce Stebbins, and Enrique Zuniga round out the regulator’s roster.
In December of 2011 – shortly after signing a gambling expansion bill that called for the creation of the MGC – then Governor Deval Patrick appointed Crosby to serve as the agency’s first Chairman. The eight-year term was scheduled to expire in 2019, but Crosby’s sudden resignation led to Cameron becoming just the second person to ever lead Massachusetts’ top gaming regulator.
In his letter to fellow commissioners, Crosby pointed to a contentious ongoing investigation into the suitability of Wynn Resorts to hold a gaming license in the state.
Following the passage of 2011’s gambling expansion act, the MGC granted Wynn Resorts’ license application to build a $2.6 billion casino resort in the Boston suburb of Everett in 2014. But while construction on the Wynn Boston Harbor project moved forward, the company’s founder Steve Wynn found himself at the center of several credible sexual misconduct accusations in February of this year.
The 75-year old billionaire has since resigned as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts, and the Massachusetts casino has been renamed Encore Boston Harbor – but the MGC is currently examining the company’s suitability to hold a gaming license in the state.
In his resignation letter, Crosby recalled a series of accusations against his character made by both sides of the Wynn investigation:
“Just recently, I have twice been accused of prejudging the outcome of the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau’s ongoing investigation regarding the suitability of Wynn Resorts.
On September 17, 2018, I received a letter from a lawyer for Steve Wynn insisting that I had already made up my mind against Steve Wynn regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct.
On September 25, 2018, our counsel received a letter from counsel to Mohegan Sun, which has sued the Commission over the award of the Region A license to Wynn, insisting that I had already made up my mind in favor of Wynn Resorts in the suitability investigations.”
Crosby’s departure may have been linked to a brick and mortar gaming industry dispute, but his absence will have lasting effects on the future of online gaming in Massachusetts.
As one of the state’s strongest advocates for iGaming legalization and regulation, Crosby has long been on record calling for common sense regulations:
“There’s billions of dollars being gambled online now. The question is whether we in Massachusetts want to take it out of the shadows, regulate it, and take a piece of the action.”
“(iGaming) could become another modest but real economic engine.
“Whether online gaming will come to dominate the overall gaming industry remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a significant part of the industry. It’s already here.”
During his tenure, Crosby successfully implemented regulations on the daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry – which was pioneered by the Boston-based DraftKings.
DraftKings is currently expanding its Boston headquarters as the company expands into America’s newly legalized intrastate sports betting market.