After reading a lead story in the January 29, 2014 issue of the Boston Globe, 'In race to build casinos, lawyers, lobbyists winning big', I deduced that I am in the wrong trade. Double-down, I want to be a lobbyist with a law degree. Reportedly, some $16 million dollars to date (2007 – 2013) has been paid to lawyers and lobbyists to help shepherd the Gaming proposition and process in Massachusetts, and we are still several years away from opening casinos in the state. I need to refashion my shingle!
These professionals have earned the money. Watching the process unfold as three casinos and one slot parlor licensee prospects follow legislation and the dicta of the Casino Commission has been a whirlwind of intrigue, community outreach and disappointment for many who wished to parlay the gaming scene. As it stands for casinos, we have one candidate (MGM) for the Western part of the state, two vying for the franchise in the Boston area (Mohigan Sun and Wynn) and a still cloudy picture for the Southeastern portion of Massachusetts. Massachusetts communities have been quite resolute in evaluating the business and benefit of gaming. They are not anti-gaming, per se; they just do not want a casino palace in their backyard. It has been a hard sell!
We in hospitality can understand the root definition of a lobbyist, as most of us have a lobby or foyer in our business. It is a gathering place, a transit from one point to another, a place to do business, an opportunity to “touch”, to influence. Hopefully, we have good cell reception, access to WiFi and an alcove or two for a private conversation. “Frankie, let’s meet at the Boylston Street entrance and talk about the latest on Revere”.
There is so much money at stake. As we are down to mostly finalists, the pressure will intensify, more data submitted, more community leaders wringing their hands in anticipation, and casino operators continuing to tidy up their prospects. As the article in the Globe concluded, “Beacon Hill brought us casinos to create jobs and pump life into the economy. We just weren’t told that lobbyists and lawyers would be first in line”. I am not surprised! Now, to print those new business cards.
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog 'A Guy Walks In'. LRA is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability. We have built a range of quality assurance, mystery shopping, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so.
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