Judd-Stein: Casinos haven’t asked for COVID relief

The chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission says the state’s three casinos have not asked for any financial breaks during the pandemic despite shutdowns, capacity restrictions, and curfews that have cut into their revenues.

The two casinos in Everett and Springfield and the slots parlor in Plainville were shut down March 14, reopened in early July, and have been facing limited hours and operating restrictions ever since. A 9:30 p.m. curfew is being lifted on Monday.

Cathy Judd-Stein, the chair of the commission, said on The Codcast that all three facilities during the pandemic cooperated fully with the agency and met all financial obligations to their host communities, their surrounding communities, and the state.

“When our three world-class licensees were selected, the commission kept in mind would these organizations have the bandwidth, the resources, the business strategies, the know-how to be able to weather an economic or industry crisis,” Judd-Stein said. “What we’re seeing is these three licensees have the resilience given how they have done during this period. They have made no requests that I know of of the state.”

In December, the latest month for which revenue numbers are available, the three casinos generated a total of $50 million in revenue, 60 percent of the amount they generated in December 2019. The three facilities have generated a total of $683 million in tax revenue since opening, with $158 million coming in the last year. 

Wynn Resorts, which operates the Encore casino in Everett, reported revenues at the facility were down 33 percent in the quarter ending September 30, and the company as a whole incurred a $758 million net loss. But the Everett facility fared reasonably well, reporting a record level of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

Judd-Stein previously worked as a legal counsel to Gov. Charlie Baker and other governors going back to Paul Cellucci. She also worked at the state Lottery and the treasurer’s office. She is not a gambling enthusiast (“I’m a little bit mystified by all of it,” she said) but sees herself filling two roles – regulator first and then partner to some degree.

“Our job is to provide regulatory oversight and to assure the public’s confidence in the integrity of the gaming industry. But we are also partners with our licensees in a way when they come to us for opportunities to ensure that they are positioning for success in Massachusetts,” she said. “We do want them to succeed. We do want the economic benefits maximized.”

One of Judd-Stein’s first challenges when she took over as chair of the agency in 2019 was deciding, with her fellow commissioners, whether Wynn Resorts deserved to hold on to its license after company founder Steve Wynn was accused of sexual misconduct involving two dozen women. The agency ultimately allowed Wynn to hang on to the license, but imposed a $35 million fine on the company, a $500,000 fine on CEO Matt Maddox, and also required Maddox to get management training.

The company and Maddox paid their fines and Judd-Stein confirmed the CEO did work with an executive coach. “In many ways I didn’t see that as punitive but actually something that should have occurred for a CEO of such a multi-faceted business at a time of crisis. We thought it was important for the board of directors to provide that for Mr. Maddox,” Judd-Stein said.

BRUCE MOHL

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

Kathleen Theoharides explains where she came up with the estimate that the Legislature’s 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, instead of the 45 percent favored by the administration, would cost state residents $6 billion.

Marijuana companies withdraw from trade association in protest over the group’s lawsuit over new delivery regulations.

Former House speaker Robert DeLeo lands a job as University Fellow for Public Life at Northeastern University.

Gov. Charlie Baker says he intends to implement the first year of the school funding formula.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak receives a $20,800 bonus for his work in 2019.

Opinion: Former transportation secretary James Aloisi weighs in on the change in leadership at the top of the Department of Transportation, saying we can’t follow but must lead. … Anthony Pangaro and Kenneth Kruckemeyer say Gov. Charlie Baker faces the same choice with the I-90 Allston interchange that former Frank Sargent did in 1972 with a plan to run an elevated I-95 through Boston neighborhoods. … James Brett, the head of the New England Council, outlines three priorities for the region in Congress.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

More than 115 lawmakers sign a letter urging Gov. Baker to move funeral home directors into phase 1 for vaccinations. (Salem News) But Baker has so far resisted those calls. (Telegram & Gazette

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Ryan Hamilton, a 23-year-old former city councilor who is still in college, is hired to a $70,000-a-year post in the Methuen mayor’s office, raising questions about his lack of experience. (Eagle-Tribune)

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch does a Q & A with the Patriot Ledger, reflecting on racial tensions, the pandemic, and the general upheaval the city has faced in the past year.

More than 5,000 students and others connected to the Gardner public schools receive a pair of threatening, racist emails. (WBUR)

A report from the apartment listing site Zumper indicates Lynn is the sixth most expensive city in the state for one-bedroom apartments, following Brookline, Cambridge, Boston, Beverly, and Medford. Worcester has the most affordable one-bedrooms. (Daily Item)

Worcester city manager Ed Augustus describes his struggle with COVID-19. (MassLive)

West Springfield town councilors are unhappy with “inflammatory” language in the mayor’s anti-racism order. (MassLive)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts is lagging badly in getting residents vaccinated. (Boston Globe

Field hospitals like the one operating at the DCU Center in Worcester have become a vital part of the health care system’s capacity to deal with the current COVID-19 surge. (Boston Globe

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The House will transmit the article of impeachment it adopted today to the Senate, which plans to wait until early February to begin its trial of former president Donald Trump. (Washington Post

President Biden will reimpose a ban on many non-US citizens attempting to enter the country in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19 and contain new variants of the disease that have cropped up in several countries around the globe. (NPR)

The Washington Post Fact Checker feature has tallied its final count of false or misleading statements Trump made during his four years in office — 30,573, nearly of half of which came in his final year.  

The New York Times reported on Friday that Trump and a Justice Department lawyer were plotting in his final weeks in office the ouster of the acting attorney general as part of a last-ditch effort to advance his baseless claim that the election had been stolen from him.

ELECTIONS

Transit policy is likely to figure prominently in the race for Boston mayor — despite the fact that the MBTA is controlled by the state. (Boston Globe

A legal opinion from the City Council’s lawyer suggests Boston councilors who are running for mayor may not be able to vote on a home-rule petition to scrap a possible special election to fill the seat and wait until November to elect a new mayor. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Business leaders hope for relief under President Joe Biden but are wary of the potential for new taxes. (Eagle-Tribune)

Haverhill officials say the conversion of a clothing factory into an Amazon distribution warehouse illustrates the way the pandemic has changed commerce. (Gloucester Daily Times) The Silver City Galleria in Taunton is going to be torn down. (Taunton Gazette)

Late-night gyms are happy to be back in business this week, but late-night diners are continuing to struggle, as the state eliminates its overnight COVID-related curfew. (Telegram & Gazette)

Eugene Cassidy, the president of the Big E, who now heads a global fairgrounds organization, describes the devastation COVID-19 had on his industry. (MassLive)

The new owner of Friendly’s lays out his strategy for reinvigorating the chain, whose business has been shrinking for years, with new ice cream flavors and menu items. (MassLive)

EDUCATION

The digital divide, which makes it hard for some Boston Public Schools students to keep up with school, has persisted. (Boston Globe)

ARTS/CULTURE

The Massachusetts Cultural Council awards a $98,000 grant to the Northampton Community Music Center. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

TRANSPORTATION

More than 5,000 MBTA workers earned overtime pay last year. (Boston Herald) The T says the payouts were necessary to maintain service during an unprecedented year, but critics say it reflects management problems at the agency. (Boston Herald

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Massachusetts will decide this week whether to abide by a federal recommendation and impose a seasonal ban on lobstering, from February to May, in order to protect endangered right whales. (Gloucester Daily Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A Globe editorial says a review by Attorney General Maura Healey of a road rage incident involving Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins should be thorough, but also swift, since she is being considered by the Biden administration for the post of US attorney for Massachusetts. 

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s former tribal council chairman Cedric Cromwell has filed a motion to dismiss multiple charges brought against him from his federal indictment in November. (Cape Cod Times) 

Since 2015, police officers have shot 135 unarmed black me in the line of duty. NPR looks for patterns.

MEDIA

Kathleen Kingsbury, who won a Pulitzer Prize with the Boston Globe before heading off to the New York Times, is named editorial page editor of the Times

PASSINGS

The biographer of Henry “Hank” Aaron, sportswriter Howard Bryant, offers a poignant appreciation of the baseball giant, who died on Friday at age 86. (ESPN)