Massachusetts Rep. Brad Hill has been appointed by Governor Charlie Baker to fill an open seat on the state’s five-person Gaming Commission that oversees state casinos and horse racing. He leaves his current position on Sept. 15.
A resident of Ipswich, Hill has represented the 4th Essex district in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, including Manchester and Essex, for 23 years and is currently the Republican first assistant minority leader. Previously, Hill served on the Hamilton Zoning Board of Appeals and on the Board of Selectmen in Ipswich. He also worked as a legislative staffer in the Massachusetts State Senate under Bruce Tarr.
A special election will be organized to replace his seat.
“I cannot tell you how humbled I have been to serve those years in the Massachusetts House of Representatives,” Hill said.
When Hill assumes his new job on Sept. 16, he will be part of the five-person board regulating the state’s expanded gaming and horse racing. Both have been legal since 2011.
Hill’s seat on the Gaming Commission is one of two determined by majority vote of Gov. Baker, Attorney General Maura Healy, and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg.
Hill has been no stranger to gaming regulation issues in Massachusetts. It’s “a subject matter that I love,” Hill said in an interview. He has been an active advocate for legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts for several years, specifically House Bill 4559 that has passed twice in the Massachusetts House since 2018 before stalling at the Senate. It has been a source of frustration for supporters like Hill, as they watch neighboring states benefit financially from Massachusetts residents who cross state lines and quickly place bets.
“Sadly, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and the state of New York are benefiting from Massachusetts betting, because it’s relatively easy for residents to just go across state lines and make bets by phone or computer,” said Hill.
Revenue from gaming in Massachusetts has surpassed expectations since it was legalized, especially during COVID. To date, Massachusetts has collected approximately $767 million in taxes and assessments from expanded gaming and horse betting, according to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s April 2021 report. These revenues are distributed to myriad areas, including local aid, education, transportation infrastructure, accelerated debt relief, economic development, among others.
Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem has indicated the Senate will vote on the House Bill 4559 later this year. (“The hope is the senate will adopt it,” said Hill.)
Hill is replacing commissioner Bruce Stebbins, who is exiting to serve on the Massachusetts Cannabis Commission.
"Brad Hill has been a dedicated public servant for over two decades and has years of experience working with the Massachusetts gaming community," Gov. Baker said. "I am confident that he will be well-suited to serve in this new role during a transformative time in the Commonwealth's gaming industry and am pleased to make this appointment."
"I am deeply grateful to the Governor, Treasurer and Attorney General for this incredible opportunity to continue supporting the Commonwealth, and am eager to begin this new chapter working alongside my fellow commissioners,” said Hill.
Hill said he won’t be idle in the weeks before his official departure. There are three Home Rule bills he wants to see through, impacting Wenham, Rowley and Ipswich. "I want to ensure that our local bills are completed and passed before I leave, and this will give me time to work with the leadership to get that done," he said.