Massachusetts Gaming Commission hires its executive director from within

Karen Wells had been in the job on an interim basis since January

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Thursday hired Karen Wells, who had been the regulatory body’s director of investigations, as executive director.

Wells had been serving as interim executive director since January, when former director Ed Bedrosian left for a job in the private sector. Wells will oversee a staff of nearly 100 people, with an annual budget of $39.7 million.

While the five members of the commission are full-time state employees who make the big-picture decisions about the shape of the state’s gambling industry, Wells and her staff are responsible for enforcing regulations, investigating any concerns, and developing recommendations that carry significant weight with the panel.

As interim director, Wells oversaw a four-month shutdown and the tentative reopening of the three casinos in Massachusetts. The commission has a busy period ahead, as the gambling industry looks for ways to regain its footing amid a pandemic that still threatens the hospitality industry.

Wells will be the commission’s third permanent executive director (she also held the interim role before Bedrosian was hired) and the first woman in the job. She will be paid $185,000, the same as her predecessor.

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