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Safe Bet

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December 5, 2013

It’s always a safe bet for any student to partake of the full slate of offerings during his or her college years. For one alumna, her time at Bridgewater allowed her to develop a host of skills, in and out of the classroom, that helped her career, making her today one of the leading players in guiding casino gaming in Massachusetts.

“What really helped me is the discipline that comes with being a student-athlete,” said Gayle Cameron, ’78, one of the state’s gaming commissioners, a panel charged with awarding three gaming licenses.

Ms. Cameron, 57, who played basketball, and was captain of the softball and volleyball teams at Bridgewater, graduated with a degree in health and physical education. She had thought about teaching. But it was a time when teaching jobs were scarce and women were in demand in law enforcement. A friend encouraged her to apply to become a state trooper. She says her time in athletics while at Bridgewater helped her succeed when she joined the New Jersey State Police.

“If you’re practicing two to three hours after classes and then you’re traveling to away games, you really have to have time-management skills in order to get through,” Ms. Cameron said. “That helped me tremendously in getting through a very difficult state police academy.”

In 1979, she became a road duty trooper in New Jersey, eventually becoming a detective assigned to casino gaming, at a time when Atlantic City was building a new casino a year.

“So I did the work that our Massachusetts State Troopers are doing right now, investigating the companies that have applied to be licensed here in the commonwealth,” she said.

During her time in Jersey, Ms. Cameron worked a number of cases involving attempts to infiltrate Atlantic City by the Philadelphia mob. She later rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and became deputy superintendent for statewide investigations, the second highest rank on the force.

When Massachusetts came calling, she had retired to Florida after 28 years on the force. Her role policing organized crime and casino gaming in New Jersey made her a natural fit as Massachusetts looked to expand gaming from horse racing and the state lottery to slots and casino gambling.

So the Weymouth native moved back home, first to Plymouth and then to Quincy.

Her latest role – and that of the other four commissioners – is a broad one: developing the mechanisms for overseeing casino gaming, evaluating and investigating applicants, and granting the three licenses. To date there have been 11 applicants. The panel has criminal investigative powers, backed by the Massachusetts State Police and the attorney general.

By January, the commission expects to issue the “slots license,” and it is targeting April for awarding the two licenses for resort casinos, she said.

Ms. Cameron said the commissions owe it to the citizens to be thorough. “We are looking to do this in a very safe and secure way … we’re looking for very clean companies to come in here to the commonwealth and do business,” she said.

Ms. Cameron recalls fondly her time at Bridgewater State and still maintains friendships. She recently attended a reunion with people from Bridgewater.

“That was my life,” she said, recalling her time attending classes and with great coaches and teachers. “I had some very good coaches who really did mentor me … Athletics teaches a person life skills, meaning, and how to get along with other people.”

In late October, the commissioner visited her alma mater to speak to a group of students from the honors book club. (Read the full story about the event.)

In addition to her bachelor of science degree from Bridgewater, Ms. Cameron earned a master’s from Seton Hall University and holds several law enforcement degrees. (Story by Steve Ide for University News)

Gayle Cameron