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Saturday, March 23, 2019

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Massachusetts law would exempt some casino staff from criminal screening

Massachusetts law would exempt some casino staff from criminal screening

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a proposal that would exempt some casino workers from undergoing the criminal background screening process prior to hire.

Officials declared their support of the exemption in October, adding the proposal to a state spending bill that also suggests a ban on bump stocks, a response to the October 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Passage would allow the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to free certain individuals employed by casino operators from the otherwise mandatory criminal history check. House Speaker Robert DeLeo said the new law would speed up the hiring process of workers not involved in the handling of casino revenue, including pastry chefs, uniform attendants and cocktail servers.

"What this has in mind is to make sure that those jobs that are not on the floor or involved any passing of money, that those folks would have that opportunity to get those jobs, said DeLeo. "For instance, whether it be in a parking lot, whether it be in a kitchen, whether it be in a hotel, or whatever it may be."

A 2011 Massachusetts law, which allows the state gambling commission to award up to three resort casino licenses and one slot parlor license, obliges operators to conduct background checks for every employee with access to money in a casino venue. However, lawmakers found the existing law too restrictive, and stated that it would have a negative impact on hiring as the $950 million MGM Springfield casino prepares for a 2018 grand opening. Proponents of the measure also pointed to job candidates unfairly disqualified from casino employment due to certain CORI offenses, which they said was not the intention of the 2011 law.

The proposal still must clear the state senate and receive the Governor Charlie Baker's signature before becoming law. With hiring ramping up at MGM Springfield, officials seek to fast-track the measure.

"The reason to try to get it done very quickly is that a lot of these facilities now are in the process of hiring and they felt that if we were to delay this any longer, then people would be in jeopardy of not being able to obtain those jobs even though they would be qualified," DeLeo said.

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