Stephen Crosby To Run Massachusetts Gaming Commission

Governor Deval Patrick announced his choice to run the Massachusetts Gaming Commission yesterday, tabbing longtime Massachusetts political hand Stephen Crosby. The selection of Crosby, who’s worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations here, seemed to be designed to head off allegations of political cronyism. Most recently, he’s served as dean of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston, but before that, Crosby was secretary of administration and finance for Governor Paul Celucci, chief of staff for Governor Jane Swift, the co-chair of Patrick’s budget and finance transition team, and founder and CEO of CCI/Crosby Publishing.

Whew! Is that an insider or what?! Still, the selection won high marks from many pols yesterday, as folks all over noted Crosby’s reputation for honesty and integrity. For all that experience, though, there’s one field in which Crosby has notably little: gaming.

Because the state’s casino law requires the commissioners to be Massachusetts residents, it all but guaranteed that nobody on the commission would have any real knowledge of the casino industry. Certainly Crosby doesn’t. According to David Schwartz, the director of the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, there are two sides to this coin.

“If you choose people who know the business, the charge is that the commission has been sold out and it’s been captured by the industry,” he told me yesterday. “If you have people who don’t have industry experience, then basically it’s a bunch of novices. They don’t know anything about the business.”

People can, however, educate themselves. “I don’t think there’s anything that tricky about the casino business that you couldn’t absorb it after studying it pretty intensely,” Schwartz said.

So there you go, Mr. Crosby. Time to hit the books.