BOSTON (CBS) – Gov. Patrick says Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby’s decision to attend a VIP party at Suffolk Downs last Saturday was “not a wise decision,” given that his hosts for the affair are competing for a commission casino license that Crosby will soon vote on.

That is an understatement.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Yes, Crosby paid for his ticket and is in general a man of principle, albeit one with an unfortunate taste for fancy parties and fancy expense-account meals. But this was the wrong time to be partying with an entity whose financial future you hold power over.

And the official excuse for his visit – that it was a show of support as part of Crosby’s official duties as part of the group that oversees horse racing here – is absurd.

He’s a regulator, not a cheerleader.

But with all that said, we can only hope that Crosby’s Derby Day at Suffolk included a peek at the grandstand, where valuable information relevant to the casino decision was on display in the form of nearly 15,000 paying customers who turned out at the track, the largest crowd there in five years.

People who were there told me they ran out of food because they weren’t expecting such a mob, which was, surprisingly enough, heavily made up of younger people, a rebuttal to the notion that horse racing has no appeal to anyone under 50.

Believe me, I have no horse in the casino field, if you’ll pardon the expression. Steve Wynn is one of the best casino operators in the business, and his Everett plan has its own merits.

But just the other day we were talking about how conventional casino revenues are slipping.

Could it be that the surprise turnout at Suffolk is a sign that a casino with racing might be a better economic bet for us, even without the shrimp?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.



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