New Massachusetts Gaming Commission Interim Director Confirmed

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is set to undergo a change in leadership later this week.

Todd Grossman, the current general counsel, has been unanimously approved by the MGC to assume the role of interim executive director. That’s after two candidates were interviewed on Monday.

This decision comes as the current executive director, Karen Wells, prepares to step down from her position on July 14th.

Grossman, who has been general counsel to the MGC since August 2020, brings a wealth of experience to the role.

Prior to his current position, he served as assistant general counsel at the MGC from 2012 to 2019, and as commissioner of the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission from 2010 to 2012.

The MGC has had a busy year in 2023, launching sports betting on January 31. Since then, it has become one of the biggest markets in the country, regularly posting $500 million in total handle among operators.

It has also been hard at work introducing new regulations on betting logos at stadiums, and chastising Boston-founded Barstool Sports for the language used in its promotions.

Grossman “A Steady Hand”

New interim Executive Director Grossman’s extensive career history also includes time as deputy general counsel to the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety, and as an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County.

His appointment was met with praise from the MGC commissioners, who highlighted his track record working with all facets of gaming.

MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein commended Grossman for his work as general counsel during the launch of online sports betting in Massachusetts.

Grossman himself emphasized the importance of his experience in the organization for ensuring a smooth transition and continued growth for the MGC.

“This position is not for the faint of heart,” he said. “I offer that steady hand who won’t get shaken by any big issue that comes our way. I can offer you a steady hand.”

In an interesting twist, the MGC has decided to split the responsibilities of the executive director role.

While Grossman will handle legal and administrative matters, Dr. Alexandra Lightbown, the second candidate interviewed for the interim position, will oversee racing matters.

This decision was made unanimously by the commissioners.

Looking Back at Karen Wells’ Tenure

Karen Wells, the outgoing executive director, has had a significant impact on the MGC during her tenure.

She joined the commission in 2013 as the director of its Investigations and Enforcement Bureau and served multiple stints as interim executive director before assuming the role full-time in September 2020.

Under Wells’ leadership, the MGC navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the launch of sports wagering in Massachusetts. The departure is said to be on good terms, as expressed in statements when Wells announced the end of her tenure last month.

“Together, this team created the infrastructure for a new state agency, opened three casinos, weathered a pandemic, and launched the new legal sports wagering industry,” Wells said.

“Today, the agency’s core responsibilities are operating smoothly, and I have every confidence our team will continue the great work we have done together over the years.”

Judd-Stein also praised the outgoing executive director and her efforts in the role.

“Karen is the model of a leader, and her influence can be seen in everything the MGC does … Her strategic abilities and steady presence enabled the MGC to stand up a sports wagering industry committed to consumer protections in a timely fashion,” she said.

Looking Ahead

The time line for hiring a permanent replacement has not been issued. But with sports betting, casinos, and lottery all taking up space on the MGC’s agenda, it should aim for swift action.

Grossman is expected to provide steady leadership during this transition period, ensuring that the MGC continues to operate smoothly and effectively.

When Wells took on the role of director in 2020, it was after working as interim director – so it’s highly possible Grossman could eventually be in for the full time position.

Massachusetts is already one of the biggest sports betting markets in the US each month, despite only launching at the beginning of the year. It pulled in the third-highest handle in March 2023, which was a record-breaking month in markets across many states.  

Related: The best online sportsbooks in Massachusetts

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