Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 2003-10

Advisory Opinion No. 2003-10
Advisory Opinion No. 2003-10

Application Of The Code Of Ethics To The Division Of Special
Revenue’s Policy Regarding Employee Participation In Gaming Activities

Susan G. Townsley, Executive Director of the Division of Special Revenue (the Division), has asked the State Ethics Commission for an advisory opinion regarding the propriety, under The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials, of the Division’s policy regulating its employees’ participation in gaming activities.

The policy, which was derived from Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-561 (The Division’s conflict of interests statute), contains the following principal restrictions:

Division employees are prohibited from purchasing parimutuel tickets at any off-track betting facility or racing facility located in Connecticut.

Division employees and members of their immediate families are prohibited from purchasing any lottery ticket issued by the Connecticut Lottery Corporation (CLC) and from being paid any prize on any CLC game.

Division employees are prohibited from participating in any gaming activity that takes place at either the Foxwoods or Mohegan Casino.  Division employees may, however, take part in non-gaming entertainment or bingo at either casino.  (Additionally, members of the Casino Section of the Division’s Gambling Regulation Unit are barred from any part of the Casinos’ gaming areas, except when performing their regulatory duties.)

No Division employee may solicit or accept any gratuity in any form for services rendered.

Staff of the Charitable Games Section of the Gaming Regulation Unit and the Charitable Games Accounting Section of the Integrity Assurance/Technical Services Unit are prohibited, other than in a regulatory role, from engaging or participating in any activity regarding bingo, sealed tickets, raffles, bazaars or Las Vegas Nights.  While other Division employees may participate in these activities, no Division employee may have a personal identification number, permit or registration issued by the Division.

No Division employee may be licensed or employed with any legalized gaming operation regulated by the Division.  Additionally, Division employees are prohibited from selling lottery tickets.  Furthermore, no Division employee may own stock in any business involved in gaming activities in Connecticut.

Finally, Division employees and members of their immediate families are prohibited from participating in any promotion or contest sponsored by a facility licensed by the Division.

For purposes of responding to this request for advice, it is necessary to separate the Division’s Policy into two components:  1.  those provisions which prohibit or restrict outside employment or investment; and 2. those provisions which prohibit or restrict gaming.

  • Included in this first category are the provisions which prohibit:  the acceptance of gratuities; the sale of lottery tickets; employment or licensure with a regulated entity; and stock ownership in a regulated gaming business.  Under 1-84(b) of the Ethics Code, no state employee may accept outside employment which will either impair independence of judgment as to official duties or require or induce disclosure of confidential information.  Additionally, under 1-84(c) of the Code, no state employee may use his public position or confidential information to obtain financial gain.  Clearly, all the financial dealings included in category one are proscribed, not only by the Division’s conflict of interest statute and Agency Policy, but also by these two provisions of the Ethics Code.

  • With regard to the Policy provisions in category two which prohibit or restrict gaming activities, the Commission has previously held that such gaming does not constitute outside employment for purposes of the Ethics Code.  See, Advisory Opinion No. 2000-17, 62 Conn. L.J. No. 6, p. 10F (8/8/00):  wherein the Commission held that gambling at the State’s casinos is not “outside employment” or “work that is compensated” as opposed to recreational activity, absent evidence the employee was a professional gambler.  See, also, Advisory Opinion No. 92-23, 54 CLJ No. 31, p. 3C (2/2/93).

In Advisory Opinion No. 2000-17, however, the Commission went on to state that: the Department of Consumer Protection (which has jurisdiction over the purchase, sale and distribution of alcohol at the Casinos)  … is not precluded by this Opinion from establishing additional personnel policies for its employees including a ban on recreational gambling should it decide that such a policy or policies are appropriate”.

In fact, the Ethics Code requires that “Each state agency, department, board and commission shall develop and implement, in cooperation with the State Ethics Commission, an ethics statement as it relates to the mission of the agency, department, board or commission.”  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-83(a)(2).

By statute, the Division of Special Revenue exercises comprehensive authority over the State’s legalized gaming.  See, Conn. Gen. Stat. Chapter 226.  Additionally, through Connecticut’s compacts with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes, the Division exercises regulatory authority over instate casino gaming.  Given this mission, the Division’s policies prohibiting or restricting agency employees’ gaming are, in the Commission’s opinion, entirely appropriate under 1-83(a)(2).

The Division’s Executive Director has finally asked whether it is legal and workable to apply certain of the Policy’s gaming prohibitions to the immediate family of Division employees (i.e.the bans on purchasing Connecticut Lottery tickets, being paid a Connecticut Lottery prize, or participating in any promotion or contest sponsored by a regulated facility).

Simply stated, it is beyond the State Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction to offer a formal opinion on what Division policies are workable.  It is, however, proper to note that extension of ethical restrictions to the immediate family of state employees is a well established mechanism for insuring comprehensive compliance with those restrictions.  See, e.g.,the Ethics Code’s financial disclosure requirements, open and public contracting procedures and lobbyist gift restriction.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-83(b), 1-84(i) and 1-84(j).

By order of the Commission,

Rosemary Giuliano
Chairperson

     

    Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:04:47 AM