Several Winthrop residents had their first opportunity to meet James F, McHugh, a Commissioner from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Tuesday at a breakfast hosted by the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce.
It definitely was a worthwhile and very informative event. McHugh, a retired justice who has years of experience as an attorney, provided a thorough look at the entire casino application process. He personalized his speech to talk about Winthrop, which has been designated as a “surrounding community” for the $1 billion casino/resort complex that could be built at Suffolk Downs.
McHugh was professional, personable, and clearly well-versed in all issues related to this much-anticipated casino application process that is now unfolding. McHugh graciously took time to answer all questions from the audience and mingled with guests before and after his excellent presentation, even though he was due to be in Springfield for a Gaming Commission meeting later in the day. After hearing his talk, there can be no doubt that McHugh will be an asset to the Commission and his years of legal expertise will be valuable in this highly regulated industry.
We were pleased to see an excellent turnout of Council members, led by Council President Peter Gill and Councilors Linda Calla, Larry Powers, and Craig Mael as well as our Police Chief Terence Delehanty and Fire Chief Paul Flanagan.
In fact, Chief Delehanty offered a suggestion to Commissioner McHugh that McHugh said he would bring before the Gaming Commission. Delehanty wanted to know if the Commission would be reaching out to police departments in cities and towns adjacent to current host casino communities (such as Ledyard and Uncasville in Connecticut, for example) to ascertain their crime statistics in respect to a casino being situated in that area. Delehanty said if he had to travel to those communities, it would be a time-consuming task that would take him away from his primary responsibilities as the leader of the Winthrop Police Department. There is also the assumption that Winthrop would have to hire its own consultant to evaluate the public safety impact, compile a report, and present it to the Town Council Casino Committee. If the Gaming Commission heeds Delehanty’s suggestion, it’s possible that our police chief has potentially saved our town thousands of dollars in consulting fees and manpower for the department.
Overall, it was a great presentation by Commissioner McHugh, who we believe is symbolic of the excellent team that has been selected to this important body that will regulate the gaming and racing industry in our state for many years to come.