You gotta pay to play

February 17, 2012 8:57 am

Lawmakers talk a lot about the need for integrity and transparency in dealing with the gambling industry. But it is better to watch what they do rather than what they say.

In Pennsylvania, the passage of the gambling law and doling out of casino licenses was mostly an insider’s game played behind closed doors. A similar game is getting played in Massachusetts. 

A Boston law firm that just received a lucrative contract to negotiate a casino deal is hosting a reception to honor the state’s new gambling czar. The party came just one day after the Gov. Deval Patrick announced that Holland & Knight had received a $500,000 contract to advise the state on a possible casino deal with a Native American tribe, the Boston Herald reported.

Gambling czar, Stephen Crosby, said he saw nothing wrong with allowing the firm to pay for the reception at its law office “honoring” his new appointment as head of the state’s Gaming Commission. These guys never do. Crosby was heralded as a man of integrity and independence when he was appointed. Maybe he is. But if Crosby sees nothing wrong with having this firm throw a party in his honor than his moral compass needs adjusting.

Such schmoozing sends a bad message to taxpayers, especially when dealing with an industry like gambling which has long history of having a corrupting influence on lawmakers. This is just the beginning in Massachusetts. Just watch how the cards get dealt.