Meetings & Information


Monday, June 27, 2016

Family of 91-year-old who lost almost $300K gambling oppose idea of new Greater Victoria casino

Family of 91-year-old who lost almost $300K gambling oppose idea of new Greater Victoria casino

The BC Lottery Corporation is considering putting a casino in Saanich or Victoria

By Gavin Fisher, CBC News Posted: Jun 26, 2016
The adult children of 91-year-old Elfriede Lippa (left) say she developed a gambling habit at a Victoria casino that caused her to lose close to $300,000.
The adult children of 91-year-old Elfriede Lippa (left) say 
she developed a gambling habit at a Victoria casino that 
caused her to lose close to $300,000. 
(Left image courtesy Tom Lippa/Right: Getty Images)
Tom Lippa says his elderly mother Elfriede was once "a vibrant woman" who was living in her own condo in Victoria and would visit his sister every day to walk her dog.
But unbeknown to Lippa and his sister, their mother, now 91, would go to the View Royal Casino after those walks with the dog, hiding a gambling problem that caused her to lose what they estimate to be close to $300,000 over a seven-year period.
"We can go back to some of her bank records and can see where she's withdrawn the money, like $200, 300, 500 all in one day," said Lippa, who added that his mother is now bankrupt and living in a care facility.
Lippa and his sister Sue Yacubowich are sharing their family's story because they are opposed to the possibility of a second casino coming to the Greater Victoria area.
But the B.C. Lottery Corporation, which is considering building a new casino in either Saanich or Victoria, say there are measures in place such as a voluntary self-exclusion program to help people whose gambling has become problematic.

At 85 years old, she remortgaged her condo

Lippa said he and his sister only learned of their mother's gambling habit after she developed dementia — and they are now trying to retrieve records from banks and credit card companies to figure out how much money she lost (Some of Elfriede's friends told the family that she went to the casino because she felt lonely).
View Royal
The View Royal Casino in Victoria where, according to her 
family, Elfriede Lippa gambled away hundreds of 
thousands of dollars.
He said at 85 years old she remortgaged her condo for about $140,000, and then went to additional banks to get even more money for her mortgage. She even took out a $200 payday loan when she was 90.
Lippa said he believes his mother became addicted to gambling, but is not sure when dementia set in and what role that may have had on her choices. But he said there are "no checks or balances" at casinos to prevent vulnerable people from indulging a problematic gambling habit.
"There's nothing there to protect the elderly. They use cards, they know how much they spend, they don't stop them," he said.

There are protective measures: Gaming Corp.

A spokesperson from the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which operates the View Royal Casino, said there are measures in place.
One of those is the BCLC voluntary self-exclusion program, in which people can choose to exclude themselves from a variety of gaming facilities, giving security staff the authority to remove them from the facility if need be.
"All of our staff as a pre-condition of employment are trained to identify red-flag behaviour," said Chuck Keeling, vice-president of stakeholder relations and responsible gaming.
He said that the types of behaviour that they look for are those who increase the frequency of their visits, increase the amount they gamble, and show high levels of distress while playing and after playing.
"So in this case of this gentleman's mother, if this individual was showing signs of at risk behaviour our staff are trained to identify that and to also intercept that to see if they need help."
Across the province, 13 per cent of those who participate in gambling are 65 years of age and older, while the average age is 49, said Angela Koulyras, spokesperson for the B.C. Lottery Corporation.
Atlantic City-Still Open
Across the province, 13 per cent of those who participate in 
gambling are 65 years of age and older, while the average 
age is 49, according to the BCLC. 
(AP Photo/Wayne Parry) (Wayne parry/The Associated Press)
However, she said the crown corporation knows from research that there are factors that could increase the risk of this population developing a problem with gambling.
"Because we recognize this is a very unique demographic, we launched a Game Sense for Seniors campaign last year to help people identify a problem with gambling," she said.
She said a marketplace assessment showed BCLC there was potential for revenue in the Greater Victoria region that wasn't being solely met by the View Royal Casino. The BCLC said a new facility would generate up to $2.5 million a year for the host local government.

Victoria mayor says city is not 'the morals police'

Speaking to On the Island earlier in June, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she finds the conversation about whether or not casinos should be allowed because of gambling addictions to be "really tiresome."
"I don't know when local governments started getting into — or why we would want to get into — being the morals police," Helps said.
"There are bars in downtown Victoria and some people have addictions to alcohol and some people just go and have a beer, so I really strongly feel that it's not our role as a local government to regulate morality.
"Casinos don't create addictions."
Lippa, who is still trying to figure out how much his elderly mother lost through gambling, doesn't buy that explanation.
"To say that they have no responsibility is like feeding a person behind the bar a bunch of drinks and letting them drive home. It's absolutely disgusting. You do have a responsibility."
With files from CBC's On the Island

To hear the full interview with Tom Lippa listen to the audio labelled: Bankrupt senior's son warns against casino expansion
To hear the full interview with the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation VP Chuck Keeling listen to the audio labelled: Gaming corp says casinos not taking advantage of seniors
To hear the full interview with Lisa Helps listen to the audio labelled: Should Victoria's Crystal Gardens become a casino?

Friday, June 24, 2016

It’s Not Just a Penny Slot Machine: Gambling Addiction in Seniors

It’s Not Just a Penny Slot Machine: Gambling Addiction in Seniors

Posted On 22 Jun 2016

On a recent trip to the coast, a friend and I stopped into a casino for a quick break from our travels. When I walked in the door I was startled by the noise and my eyes were immediately drawn to the rows of flashing screens on the glittering slot machines. As I looked around, I noticed that the majority of the other patrons were senior citizens. This surprised me, because seniors are generally known for being cautious and frugal with their hard earned savings.
The experience led me to ask: Why are senior citizens risking their money in a game of chance? Why are there so many seniors in casinos?
Learn more about gambling amongst seniors, as well as what to do if your parent develops a gambling addiction later in life.

Gambling and Seniors

Casinos have changed alot over the last 20 years and are drawing seniors in by offering personalized discounts, free transportation and an environment that is very easy for those with disabilities to navigate.
Many casinos offer mobility devices such as scooters or wheelchairs and some even offer oxygen for their older clients. Seniors receive mail from the casinos on their birthdays or “we have missed you” cards if they have gone longer than usual between visits. Slot machines have evolved from a simple screen of rolling numbers to full sensory experiences including animation, flashing lights and vibrating chairs which draw attention to a win and not so incidentally to the senior sitting at the machine.
All of these perks add to the allure of gambling, and it can be easy for a parent to develop a need for the excitement and sense of belonging that casinos offer.
You may think that your parent is too cautious or rational to be caught in the gambling trap but the reasons for seniors playing slots in casinos or other games of chance are as varied and individualized as the seniors themselves. Some seniors are hoping for the “big win” to supplement their meager retirement savings, some seniors are distracting themselves from physical ailments and losses and some become addicted to gambling because of underlying health issues. For some seniors, out of character gambling may be an early symptom of dementia or other cognitive issues. Seniors who are on certain dopamine antagonist medications for Parkinson’s Disease and other movement disorders may be at risk for behaviors such as compulsive gambling.

Gambling Addiction in Seniors

Gambling addiction can be difficult to recognize, but if you feel your dad or mom may have a gambling issue, than ask yourself these questions about your parents:
  • Are they repeatedly asking for loans because they have lost their wallet, someone made a mistake in their bank account, etc.?
  • Are you seeing more doctor visits or hospitalizations?
  • Has your parent dropped other hobbies or recreational activities?
  • Have you noticed a change in hygiene or self-care?
  • Is there less food in their refrigerator or cupboard than is customary?
  • Is your parent receiving calls regarding past due utilities or other bills?
  • Is your parent showing poor decision making skills in other areas of their life?
Parents may not be willing to discuss gambling due to embarrassment at their inability to control their gambling, fears about losing respect of others, or worry that they will further lose their independence. Your parent may also not want to deal with the emotional and stressful issues which led to their behavior and deny that they have any sort of problem, gambling or otherwise. If your parent has cognitive issues – which cause lack of foresight – or no longer understand consequences, they may not even realize the significance of their financial losses.
Gambling is an even bigger financial issue for seniors than it is for younger gamblers simply because a senior isn’t going to have time to rebuild their retirement funds. Health issues can arise if a senior is gambling away money that should have been spent on medication or is spending too much time in a smoke-filled casino. Depression and shame are common with senior gamblers who feel they should be able to control their gambling or who are becoming alienated from family due to arguments about gambling.
If you recognize problem gambling symptoms in your parent, there are steps you can take to help them recover and still enjoy their retirement.
Treatment options for senior gamblers should take into account the emotional reasons behind their gambling. In case of seniors with cognitive issues or dementia, it may be beneficial to have a trusted family member or friend manage finances in addition to limiting the senior’s spending money.
There are many resources for seniors seeking help with problem gambling as well as information for their family members who are affected. The National Council on Problem Gambling has a list of programs and treatment options in the U.S. and the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario has a list of Canadian resources.
Has your family had any issues with gambling addiction in seniors? Share your experiences and stories with us in the comments below.

Vote no on 'predatory gambling' in Tiverton

  • Guest Opinion: Vote no on 'predatory gambling' in Tiverton

  • Here are 10 reasons to oppose the expansion of state-sponsored predatory gambling in Rhode Island.

    Federal Judge Sides With State In Casino Expansion Lawsuit

    Federal Judge Sides With State In Casino Expansion Lawsuit

    HARTFORD — A federal court judge sided Thursday with the state in a suit over the expansion of casino gambling in Connecticut, dismissing a complaint that a law excludes all but the operators of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun from opening a third casino.
    MGM Resorts International, the developer of a $950 million casino and entertainment complex in Springfield, challenged a state law that allowed the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans to seek a location off their reservations for a jointly-run, "satellite" casino. MGM argued the law violated constitutional rights of equal protection, excluding MGM and other commercial developers from competing for a piece of the Connecticut gaming market.
    In a 20-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Thompson said the law, enacted in 2015, does not favor the tribes "to the detriment of other entities against whom it may be competing, like MGM."
    "The act does not establish a process to be followed by everyone who wants to develop a proposal for and petition the General Assembly to authorize a casino gaming facility, nor does it provide that only the tribes can do so," Thompson wrote.



    caesars-bankruptcy-restructuring-voteCasino operator Caesars Entertainment has received court approval to allow creditors to vote on the proposed restructuring plan of the operator’s bankrupt main unit.
    On Wednesday, US Bankruptcy Judge Benjamin Goldgar set a Jan. 17, 2017 confirmation hearing for the planned restructuring of Caesars Entertainment Operating Co (CEOC), which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year.
    In issuing his ruling, Goldgar said there was “something poetic” about that January date, which comes two years and two days after CEOC filed its Chapter 11 paperwork, citing $18.4b in debts.
    Goldgar’s frustration with the length of this process was on full display on Wednesday, as he insisted the parties were “going to finish this now.” However, he also said he expects Caesars’ path to creditor harmony would be neither short nor simple.
    While the confirmation hearing is still seven months away, lawsuits filed by CEOC’s creditors in Delaware and New York could get underway by Aug. 29. Goldgar granted a temporary stay of the suits last week in a bid to allow Caesars more time in which to convince creditors to sign on to CEOC’s restructuring.
    On Wednesday, CEOC lawyers claimed they’d made “significant progress” in getting senior creditors to approve the restructuring, and a lawyer representing a group of senior bondholders said his clients were close to signing on the dotted line.
    The junior creditors who filed those Delaware and New York lawsuits are proving a tougher sell, as they’re the ones who’ve been asked to bear the brunt of the $10b that CEOC’s proposed restructuring would make disappear. They claim to be owed as much as $12.6b and think the extra $4b that the Caesars parent company has offered to contribute is an insult.
    The junior creditors have accused Caesars of stripping CEOC of its more profitable assets and shifting them to other Caesars’ divisions in order to shield them from creditors’ clutches. The creditors have also accused Caesars’ hedge fund owners of unlawfully absolving the parent company of responsibility to honor the debts of its main unit. The parent company has said it will have to join CEOC in bankruptcy court if it’s required to honor those debt obligations.

    Thursday, June 23, 2016

    Ralph Reed’s history with casino moguls

    Ralph Reed’s history with casino moguls

    Perpetually baby-faced Ralph Reed was once a rockstar of the religious right. He was known as the brains behind Pat Robertson, leveraging the influence — and the mailing list — compiled in Robertson’s 1988 presidential bid to make the Christian Coalition a major player in Republican politics and white evangelical spirituality in the early 1990s. He was a master of barbarians-at-the-gate fearmongering and fundraising, and of the sleazy “voter guide” push-polling that every religious right group has since tried to imitate.
    And he did it all with a smile and an Eddie-Haskell-ish look of feigned innocence, giving his ambitious power plays a sweet aftertaste, like a cup of coffee laced with antifreeze.
    Reed wasn’t the first religious right figure to mobilize “pro-life” evangelical voters in an attempt to prevent universal health care, but he was better at it than most, convincing millions of Christians in the early ’90s that denying health care to their uninsured neighbors was the best way to stop the Satanic baby-killers. Preventing the (Bill) Clinton administration from reforming health care became his greatest achievement — something he remains shamefully proud of.
    In the mid-1990s, the Christian Coalition got bogged down in an FEC investigation and Reed jumped the sinking ship to pursue a solo career, vanishing from the national spotlight. (For a while I thought he’d become an actor, with a recurring role as Agent Alex Krycek on The X-Files, but it turns out that wasn’t him. Actor Nicholas Lea is actually better-looking than Reed, and Krycek was merely a murderous, backstabbing double-agent, and so not quite as awful as a Christian Coalition activist. But still, the resemblance was unnerving.)
    Reed kicked around for a bit as a Republican consultant and lobbyist. He served as the GOP’s state party chief in Georgia and flopped miserably in a bid to win his party’s nomination for lieutenant governor there. So for a decade or so he was occasionally in the news, but never on the front page.
    That changed when multiple state and federal grand juries started handing out indictments against powerhouse Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff eventually pleaded guilty to three felonies and went to prison for a complicated stew of crimes that involved money laundering and something like extortion — and that wound up fleecing Indian tribes of more than $80 million.
    Basically, Abramoff was running a scam against tribes seeking to build or expand casinos on tribal lands. He’d get hired to lobby on the tribes’ behalf, then he’d get his partners to launch a noisy counter-lobbying effort to oppose Indian casinos, then turn around and force the tribe to pay him ever-larger sums to lobby against this opposition.
    Abramoff’s partner was none other than Ralph Reed, whose history as a religious right activist put him in a perfect position to rile up white evangelical church groups to oppose immoral casino gambling. He was savvy enough to make a big splash, attracting lots of headlines, while still not doing anything so politically effective that it would damage Abramoff’s ability to eventually come through for his clients/marks — for an ever-growing, very large price.
    In some accounts of this operation — for which Reed never faced any criminal charges — the level of extortion was far more explicit, with tribal groups asked to pay big bucks to make Reed’s “Christian” opposition to their planned casinos go away. It wasn’t too far removed from a blunt: “Nice casino you got planned here. Be a shame if anything happened to it.” But with the twist that instead of threatening to send goons with baseball bats and gasoline-soaked rags, the threat was that Reed would destroy the tribe’s plans by channeling the manufactured outrage of thousands of easily manipulated white Christians.
    Again, Reed was never charged or convicted of anything. He was an unindicted co-conspirator. But it’s hard not to be repulsed by his sleazy, duplicitous behavior, or by his transparent willingness to strike a pose of righteous indignation right up until the moment when someone paid him to stop doing so.
    Even Abramoff himself was skeeved out by his dealings with Ralph Reed. In an email exchange with his buddy Mike Scanlon, Abramoff described Reed as “a bad version of us.” They suspected Reed may have been skimming from their skim, and that he wasn’t doing all the lobbying they were paying him to do as part of their scheme to not do all the lobbying they were charging their clients to do. No honor among, etc.
    The clear conclusion about Reed’s role in this is that his pious pose as a defender of “traditional morality” is a fraud. Here’s Alex Gibney in 2010, writing about “The Deceptions of Ralph Reed” for The Atlantic:
    Let’s say it plain: Ralph Reed is a fraud.
    … To recap, Ralph Reed worked for team Abramoff by mobilizing Christians opposed to gambling to shutter casinos. The only hitch: Reed was usually paid by other casinos who had a financial interest in eliminating their competitors. Therefore, Abramoff needed to find a way to make Reed comfortable, and to protect him against critics and the likely fury of his own Christian followers–who might have been upset if they had discovered that Reed was being paid by gamblers to do their bidding. The solution: Abramoff laundered the Indian casino payoffs to Reed by routing them through other organizations, including Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and a phony “think tank” in Rehoboth Beach, MD, run by a life guard and a yoga instructor who were friends of Abramoff’s pal, Mike Scanlon.
    … [Reed] was engaged in a kind of spiritual fraud: telling his supporters that he was opposed to gambling when, in fact, gambling was making him rich.
    Reed still denies that he knew that the millions of dollars paid from him came from casino profits. There are publicly available e-mails that prove that is not so.
    These days, Reed seems to be itching to get back into the spotlight and to re-establish his former role as a major player in Republican politics. For several years he’s been treading water for a bush-league outfit called the “Faith & Freedom Coalition” — one of those alleged “think tanks” that releases occasional press releases but doesn’t do much else besides give its staff enough of an appearance of institutional support to justify their occasional cable news appearances.
    But yesterday, Reed made a bid for a return to credibility by signing on as a member of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board.” Not just a plain, old advisory board, mind you, but an executive advisory board. Ooooh — executive!
    Like his fellow Trump advisors — excuse me, I mean executive advisors — James Dobson and Richard Land, Reed seems to be hoping that basking in the cantaloupe-hued reflected glow of Donald Trump’s media spotlight will restore him to the prominence of his long-ago glory days. Just look at how the words “evangelical executive” and “Ralph Reed” appear together in all those news stories about Trump’s little panel. Doesn’t that confirm that Reed must be, officially, a leader in the evangelical community?
    That strange logic apparently convinced some producer at National Public Radio, where Reed was invited as a guest today on Morning Edition to serve as a spokesman for evangelical ChristianityHe’s back, baby!
    But that may be the wrong way to look at this. This may just be a reprise of the same impulse that drove Reed to work with Jack Abramoff in the early 2000s. It seemed then, at first, that Reed was a wanna-be power-player who sought out Abramoff because the lobbyist was just the kind of Beltway kingmaker Reed aspired to be. But it turned out that Abramoff was running a scam and Reed teamed up with him because he wanted a piece of that action. Maybe that’s what’s drawing Reed to get involved with the Donald Trump campaign as well.
    Like Reed, Trump has a history of enriching himself by shutting down casinos. Now he’s running for president — sort of. The structure and finances of his campaign operation don’t look like those of any legitimate national campaign that anyone has ever seen. A big chunk of his campaign funds are going to his own businesses, his family members, and even himself. The rest, apparently, is being spent on hats — and on shadowy, no-one-can-figure-out-what-they-do operations like Draper Sterling (a fake agency named after a fictional agency). So maybe Ralph Reed, yet again, has sniffed out a lucrative new scam, figured out a role he could play in its operation, and signed up for his cut of the take.
    He made millions the last time around, while avoiding prison, so why shouldn’t he try it again?
    In any case, Ralph Reed’s enthusiastic support for Donald Trump proves that his former claims of moral opposition to casino gambling were a dishonest sham. But then we already knew that.