Meetings & Information


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Millenium deceives ....

Kudos to New Hampshire's Rep. Steve Vaillancourt for refusing to accept Millenium's fictitious promises about generous wages.
When Predatory Gambling interests "sell their product," they promise anything.
Few lawmakers take the time to do the research, as this elected official has done to disprove the sales pitch.

Millennium principal deceives Manchester lawmakers

By Rep. Steve Vaillancourt

At last Thursday night's dinner meeting with 18 Manchester-area state representatives at the Back Room, Millennium principal William Wortman asserted the average salary for the 1,000 jobs his group would create at the Rockingham Park racino would be $43,000 to $44,000.

Realizing the vast majority of racino employees are either janitors (someone has to clean the toilets), waitresses (someone has to serve the food and beverages), or cashiers (someone has to cash out all those vouchers), I was totally surprised by the number and asked Mr. Wortman if in fact he had said $43,000 to $44,000. He reiterated the claim.

Rep. Pat Long received guarantees that his Ward 3 constituents would be able to apply for the jobs. Long asked if the $43,000 to $44,000 included benefits. Wortman replied that it did not.

I left the meeting doing a few calculations (as I am wont to do). Add in benefits (we use a 50 percent markup for state purposes) and you're talking more than $60,000 per employee.

This just can't be, I thought. So I sought neutral data, and sure enough, it is not true. Legislative research supplied me with data (maybe slightly outdated but not by all that much) that "the average annual salary of a racino employee is less than $14,000." Thus, not only was Wortman wrong in the information he provided to state reps, he was off by a factor of three. The number he gave us, in an obvious attempt to make his proposal look better than it is, was three times greater than the truth.

All right, I thought, a few thousand here or there, I can accept that, but this is not acceptable. The reputation of a lobbyist (and certainly the principal of Millennium must be considered a super lobbyist) hangs on the accuracy of the data he or she provides. Once a lobbyist loses his reputation, he has lost his good name, his sacred honor.

After listening to everything Wortman said (and eating the stuffed chicken), I was impressed with most of his data and arguments. He lost it all with the one misstatement about wages. Just to be sure legislative research was not off; I just checked the Bureau of Labor Statistics data. This is for the gaming industry in general, and since I assume dealers would make more than janitors, waitresses, and cashiers, I assume the numbers for racinos are lower than these.

The median wage in the industry is $10.92 per hour; the mean is $13.39 per hour. You do the math. Assuming a 40 hour week, that comes out to $22,700 a year for mean or $27,852 for average. The average salary for a casino supervisor is $41,160, less than Wortman would have us believe is what the new Rock would be paying the average employee.

As an elected official, I find this discrepancy (whether intentional deception or simply incompetence) beyond astounding! You know what they say, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Shame on Millennium's William Wortman, and I for one, won't be fooled by him again, no matter how good the food (just kidding; it wasn't even very good).

Steve Vaillancourt represents Hillsborough County District 15, the city of Manchester Ward 8.


If you haven't taken the time to review this page and the testimony included, it's worth the time for the wide ranging issues that were raised --

The following are links to written and/or oral testimony
representative of that given in opposition, out of concern,
and in favor of an independent/impartial cost benefit
analysis of expanded gambling as submitted to
the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Economic
Development and Emerging Technologies, October 29,

Friday, November 27, 2009

Big Default!

This bears watching.

Dubai's problems rattle markets

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Just a year after the global downturn derailed Dubai's explosive growth, the city is now so swamped in debt that it's asking for a six-month reprieve on paying its bills — causing a drop on world markets yesterday and raising questions about Dubai's reputation as a magnet for international investment.

The fallout came swiftly and was felt globally after Wednesday's statement that Dubai's main development engine, Dubai World, would ask creditors for a "standstill" on paying back its $60 billion debt until at least May. The company's real estate arm, Nakheel — whose projects include the palm-shaped island in the Gulf — shoulders the bulk of money due to banks, investment houses and outside development contractors.

In total, the state-backed networks nicknamed Dubai Inc. are $80 billion in the red and the emirate needed a bailout earlier this year from its oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Markets took the news badly — with the Dubai woes and the continued fall of the U.S. dollar giving investors twin worries. Dubai's move raised concerns about debt across the Gulf Region. Prices to insure debt from Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain all rose by double-digit percentages Thursday, according to data from CMA DataVision.

In Europe, the FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and the CAC-40 in France opened sharply lower. Earlier in Asia, the Shanghai index sank 119.19 points, or 3.6 percent, in the biggest one-day fall since Aug. 31. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.8 percent to 22,210.41.

Wall Street was closed for the Thanksgiving holiday and most markets in the Middle East were silent because of a major Islamic feast.

"Dubai's standstill announcement ... was vague and it remains difficult to discern whether the call for a standstill will be voluntary," said a statement from the Eurasia Group, a Washington-based research group that assesses political and financial risk for foreign investors interested in Dubai.

"If it is not, Dubai World will be going into default and that will have more serious negative repercussions for Dubai's sovereign debt, Dubai World and market confidence in the UAE in general," the statement added.

Dubai became the Gulf's biggest credit crunch victim a year ago. But its ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, had continually dismissed concerns over the city-state's liquidity and claims it overreached during the good times.

When asked about the debt, he confidently assured reporters in a rare meeting two months ago that "we are all right" and "we are not worried."

Low Wage, Low Skilled Casino Jobs

The Labour group also argued that the casino
could create much needed jobs for young
people in the borough.

Oh? Where have we heard this fantasy before?
On Beacon Hill?

[Cllr Arnold] “I really don’t think that is an
ambition that we want for our children.

“Casino work is low skilled and low paid, that’s

not my ambition for Thurrock.”

The Tories argued that allowing casinos would
encourage people desperate for cash in a
recession, to gamble and get into serious debt.

Deputy leader of the council cllr Amanda Arnold
said: “I don’t think it’s right to encourage
people to gamble, at a time of financial
desperation, because they really can’t see a
way out.”

These are some of the many reasons United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts raised to oppose predatory gambling.
In the end, the council voted NOT to allow a casino.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ravenous Lawmakers....

Massachusetts might well be substituted for each mention of Pennsylvania in the editorial below, except that Massachusetts will bear the Big Dig Legacy for decades to come.
If the camel is an animal created by committee, what does Beacon Hill create? Predatory Gambling designed to enrich the few, exploit the least of us, increase crime and impoverish us all.
The consequences will weigh us down when lawmakers are out of office and collecting fat pension.
Fiscal responsibility dictates that an impartial cost benefit analysis is the reasonable path.


This may turn out to be one of the final frontiers in terms of potential tax-revenue sources for Pennsylvania and other states: Marijuana, grown for medical use.

You can't do that here now. That doesn't mean it won't happen. We can well imagine the arguments, the warnings of the slippery slope.

We argued loudly against the institution of casino gambling, for what good that ultimately did.

There is no moral argument that can stand against the weight of a monetary one when made to a politician. If the thought process holds that the politician stands to gain some campaign war chest dollars from support of a moneymaking cause, there's not much a moral (money-less) argument is going to do.

Granted, there will be some politicians who will fight the moral battle. There were those that fought casino gambling. The casinos are here. They're going to be expanded, all in the name of increased tax revenue to the state.

The legislation to allow table games in Pennsylvania didn't pass—yet. However, it was viewed as the linchpin of budget-balancing, and the weight of the argument for tax revenue and the job creation aspects of the legislation make it all but a sure thing. It's going to happen. Rail against it as you will. We've railed considerably.

Casinos and their minders can make all the arguments they'd like about the reasons casinos are here and the benefits therefrom, but the bottom line reason they exist in Pennsylvania is because they provide another revenue stream for a desperately greedy state government.
There's been a legal opinion reached recently that the state of Colorado can tax dispensers of medical marijuana. The race to collect the taxes is of almost cartoonish proportions, and The Denver Post, in an editorial of its own, has asked the state government (in more diplomatic terms) to slow down, stop hyperventilating and at least figure out how the industry fits into the state's tax structure before scratching for cash like chickens hunting gravel.

Why worry about mechanics? There's money in them there hills! Dig it!

In the face of such desperate lust for new cash channels to be cut, can anyone realistically believe that such a system won't also come to Pennsylvania? It's money, remember. Tax money. Money to spend. Irresistible.

We think it will come sooner rather than later. Table games this year provided an out for the Legislature, injecting cash into what should be a soul searching, line-by-line combing of every expenditure and every revenue source in the state. Our budget structure, our methods of taxation, are a mess. We need a full redo, and there aren't nearly enough legislators who have the stomach for such a thing, especially since it might involve the shrinking of the Legislature, both its budget and its membership.

Thus, there is certain to be another budget crisis next year, and the acrimony is likely to be even higher than it was this past season, since almost everyone involved in the debate will be up for re-election (in the case of the Legislature and quite a bit of the Senate), and gubernatorial candidates posing for voters for the November election will also be catcalling from the sidelines to make their points and gather their votes.

Another temporary bandage will be needed. Something medically necessary, say. Enter marijuana.

If it can happen elsewhere, it can happen here. Forget about why it's being grown and used. Forget about the moral relativity. We might soon be forced to forget the fact that it was ever illegal for anyone—if a limited revenue source is good, an unlimited one is even better. Can the politicians survive the voter anger? If so, then just focus on the potential tax dollars and the campaign cash. That'll make enough of an argument to get the vote of most politicians.
As to what's best for the people, that's not even up for consideration.
—Lebanon Daily News

Corruption in sports betting

Former Kings official banned for betting on games

Jack Mai, the former assistant director of scouting for the Kings, was banned by the league for "betting small amounts of money" on Kings and NBA games, the Kings announced today.

Mai was fired by the Kings in early 2009 for reasons that remain unclear, although it had long been speculated that his close ties with Chinese basketball officials were becoming an increasing concern to the league and the Kings organization.

The Kings said in a statement: "Today we were informed by the NBA that it has concluded its investigation with respect to the activities of one of our former employees, Jack Mai. The investigation revealed that Mr. Mai participated in improper wagering activities while a member of this organization. Mr. Mai�s employment with the Kings was terminated in January 2009. Mr. Mai has now been disqualified from further association with the NBA or any of its teams. We take this matter very seriously, and we fully cooperated with the NBA�s investigation."

Mai, who in reality had very little influence in Kings personnel matters, was hired by Geoff Petrie eight years ago on the recommendation of Kings special assistant Pete Carril. He was rarely seen at Arco Arena.

Yahoo!Sports reported that business partners of Mai tipped off the league about his betting activities. Teams can no longer hire Mai nor use his services as a consultant.

Addicted to gambling revenue

Of all the pathetic government statistics that promote predatory gambling as fiscal policy, this is pretty gruesome --

...Statistics Canada studies over the last few years found the average adult Albertan spent $890 annually on gambling, far more than any other province and the national average of $524.

Albertans are gambling less, drinking more: Stats Can

EDMONTON — The economic slump saw people gamble substantially less in Alberta last fiscal year — still spending a mind-boggling $25 billion on VLTs, slots, and the like — although booze sales were "recession proof" and actually increased during the downturn to about $2 billion.

The eye-popping numbers from the 2008-09 fiscal year have opposition members of the legislature arguing the provincial government is addicted to gambling revenue, and has sparked more questions about the number of gaming machines in Alberta and a proliferation of casinos.

On the booze front, wine and spirits continued to increase in popularity compared to beer, although suds sales in draught and bottle still dwarf all other kinds of alcohol. Wine sales, though, have increased more than one-third in the last four years.

While Albertans certainly like their liquor, they also enjoy rolling the dice.

But total gambling revenues in Alberta dropped about five per cent last year to $25 billion, down from $26.3 billion the previous year, according to an Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission report released Tuesday.

"It's a reflection of the downturn and also the age of our VLTs," explained provincial Solicitor General Fred Lindsay, noting many video lottery terminals are getting old and have outdated technology that's no longer appealing to regular gamblers.

Of the $25 billion in total gaming revenues collected last fiscal year, about $15.5 billion came from slot machines, $8.9 billion from VLTs and the rest from electronic bingo and lottery ticket sales. About $22.8 billion was paid back out in prizes.

The largest drop in gambling revenue came from the aging VLTs, which saw a 16 per cent drop in 2008-09 compared to the roughly $10.5 billion the previous year.

Government policy dictates Alberta can have no more than 6,000 VLTs in the province. Last year, there were 5,964, a slight drop from previous years.

The popularity of one-armed bandits — slot machines — gained at VLTs' expense. The number of slot machines grew about seven per cent to 12,680, while revenue increased by more than $360 million.

The number of casinos in the province grew to 24 last year — a 50 per cent increase from just four years earlier.

All told, gambling revenues in Alberta have soared nearly 70 per cent over the past eight years (up from nearly $15 billion in 2001).

Indeed, Statistics Canada studies over the last few years found the average adult Albertan spent $890 annually on gambling, far more than any other province and the national average of $524.

Liquor popularity, meanwhile, increased both in volume and sales. More than $2 billion was spent on booze last fiscal year, up more than $50 million from the previous year. More than 343 million litres of booze was consumed in total, including about 271 million litres of beer, 31 million litres of wine and 25 million litres of spirits.

"It seems like liquor is recession-proof. Whether the economy is good or the economy is bad, it didn't seem to affect it," Lindsay said.

Gambling, however, seems to be a different story, although the numbers are still hard to fathom.

While the minister recognizes Albertans enjoy trying lady luck, he said the total dollars spent on gaming are "not something to be worried about." Gambling revenues have traditionally reflected a young population and high wages in the province, he said.

The sliding revenue is impacting Alberta community groups and charitable organizations. The government's share of the gambling dollars — which is transferred to the Alberta Lottery Fund and disbursed to groups — sank more than $100 million last year to about $1.5 billion.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

RI: They own you!

Once legalized, predatory gambling necessitates that the state becomes promoter and stakeholder in the success of the ever expanding endeavor. As in the case of Rhode Island, the predators dictate the terms.

R.I. Senate panel opens hearing on Twin River
By Katherine Gregg

Journal State House Bureau
PROVIDENCE — In 2004, the promoters of the proposed West Warwick casino offered the state a $100-million up-front payment for an exclusive license to operate Rhode Island’s first 24-hour casino, with blackjack, roulette and other draws that were unavailable at that time.
Voters ultimately said no to the proposed Harrah’s-backed West Warwick casino.
But now, another gambling license worth upward of $100 million annually to whoever acquires the right to run the bankrupt, 24-hour Twin River track-and-slot parlor is in play, and a state Senate committee is asking questions:

Why isn’t the state putting this license out to bid? Why is it ceding the ownership decision to Twin River’s lenders, who include many of the big-time New York banks and financial houses, including the Merrill Lynch Capital Corp., Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Wachovia, Morgan Stanley, BlackRock Inc. and The Carlyle Group? Who is looking out for Rhode Island’s taxpayers?

There were no clear answers, but the beginning of a high-stakes legal and political debate at the State House on Tuesday. A key Senate committee summoned the heads of the state Lottery, and the state Departments of Revenue and Business Regulation to the State House for the first in a series of hearings that spun off this declaration by Sen. Frank Ciccone, D-Providence: “This license is an asset of the state and should revert to the state.”

A lawyer representing the Carcieri administration in the bankruptcy proceedings told the lawmakers that nothing precludes them from giving the lenders the opportunity to put the license up for bid after the sprawling Lincoln gambling hall emerges from bankruptcy. Lawyer Shelley C. Chapman said she could not speak for the lenders, but “I can’t imagine they would be opposed.”

But later, she acknowledged her answer was premised on the lenders auctioning Twin River — and its gambling license — for the highest price they could get for themselves, not the state.
“That’s business,” she said. “What if a beautiful facility opens in Massachusetts 35 miles away, and things go South. They are taking the equity risk; they are entitled to the gain,” she argued.

The Gambling Arms Race will be used repeatedly by surrounding states until we insist on an impartial cost benefit analysis and refuse to subsidize wealthy casino investors, just as New Hampshire has done.

Ciccone disagreed, and the jousting began.

THE GAMBLING HALL is home to more than 4,750 video-slot machines — including an armada of virtual roulette and Blackjack machines — placed there by the state Lottery, under terms where the state keeps roughly 61 cents out of every dollar a losing player leaves behind.
During the year that ended on June 30, that translated into $242.3 million for the state, $110.3 for Twin River’s owners, $27.7 for the machine providers, another $9.9 million for the Providence-based GTECH as the central-system operator, $5.7 million for the Town of Lincoln and $674,130 for the Narragansett Indian Tribe, which has no role in Twin River’s operation or ownership.

With that much money at stake, Ciccone urged a Senate inquiry into “the possible options of the state, in the event that the license is revoked, to reissue the license in accordance with a bidding process, or to a better location in the state, or on more desirable terms,” and, in the interim, “the right of the state to approve or disapprove the next owner or manager.”

His questions prompted Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, chairwoman of the existing Senate Committee on Constitutional and Regulatory Issues, to call Tuesday’s hearing, which she called the first in a series.

Chapman told the lawmakers that federal bankruptcy law prohibits the state from exercising the right, spelled out in a July 2005 contract with Twin River’s current owners, to revoke their right to operate the video-slots that are their big money-makers.

She also discouraged the lawmakers from entertaining thoughts about putting Twin River’s operating license out to bid while the case is still moving through bankruptcy court, under terms where the 50 banks and investment houses that hold Twin River’s debt will probably end up owning it, after writing off $290 million of the $590 million in defaulted loans.

TWIN RIVER is owned by a subsidiary of BLB Investors, a holding company made up of the principals in Kerzner International, Starwood Capital Group and Waterford Group LLC.
In response to queries from Ciccone and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Daniel DaPonte, she acknowledged the “consensual” bankruptcy agreement endorsed by the state, the lenders and the current owners relies heavily on the legislature — which was not party to the negotiations — agreeing to change state law. The agreement hinges, in part, on the lawmakers uncoupling the video-slot play from a requirement that Twin River run at least 125 greyhound races each year.

Ciccone — who waged a losing fight during the last legislative session to preserve dog racing — said “that’s a big ‘if’ right now.”

Before signing off on any such agreement, he said, the lawmakers might want to pin down the value of the gambling license. “The license as kind of a standalone piece of paper doesn’t mean very much, uncoupled from the facility,” Chapman said.

But Ciccone disagreed, suggesting the state “can assign [it] anywhere we want it to be, and the quote — bond holders — your lenders, these 50 different bankers have a piece of property that would be worth nothing.”

Chapman said: “That’s correct, however, [you’d] have to build that facility again, and to be honest you are not going to find someone to come in with another $800 million to build a facility.”

Ciccone: “We’ve never tested the waters have we?”

State's Casinos: Lean Days For Golden Geese?

When a business model is based on the shakey foundation of exploiting 10% of patrons to produce 90% of profits, designed to create addiction, filled with myths, it is destined to impoverish us all and fail.

CASINO DEFAULT • This state revenue stream was never meant to be permanent

Foxwoods Resort Casino's warning that it couldn't make a full interest payment due last week on a $500 million note was a cold-water shower for those who think Connecticut can always count on gaming to pour a stream of money into the state treasury.

It's hard to imagine Foxwoods, with its impressive resort campus, unable to make a full debt payment on schedule, so huge has the American Indian gaming and entertainment enterprise in southeastern Connecticut become in the past decade and a half.

But the gaming industry nationwide is showing recession-related stress: A number of casinos have defaulted on debt or gone into bankruptcy. The decline last month of slot machine revenue at Foxwoods and nearby Mohegan Sun is symptomatic of industry troubles as Americans react to the recession by cutting back on such pastimes as casinos.

The decline in casino slot revenue has implications for the state budget, of course, because the state gets a percentage of the take above a base amount. This is like bonus money: It should not be regarded as dependable, always-increasing income.

Further stress on Connecticut's casinos — and the state's treasury — will occur if casinos open in next-door Massachusetts.

This is the Gambling Arms Race.

Doubt about future gaming revenue is one more reason to curtail state government spending.

And from Gladys --

Now wait just one minute...

Doesn't Connecticut host two of the World's largest casinos? And isn't that

where all of our State's gambling dollars - the one's we're supposed to re-

capture with expanding gambling - are supposedly ending up? So ok,

maybe Senator Rosenberg can explain how the State of Connecticut could

possibly be in such a hole with all that money that that they'd actually

consider legalizing 24/7 drinking at two of the world's largest casinos?


And does that mean Massachusetts would go down that road too?


And where, exactly, does that road end?

--"Six Degrees of Suffolk Downs"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bottoming Out: The Logic of Loss

The Las Vegas Sun offered an interesting 3 part series of articles that includes impressive graphics.

The pull of a drug, a push to the brink
When the jackpot hits, “It feels like you’re getting high.” And when it doesn’t? “You want to crucify yourself.”

Illness theory gaining ground for gambling addiction
The mere sight of a slot machine can trigger a chemical response in the gambling addict’s brain in the same way the thought of cocaine stimulates a drug addict.

Could the game be partly to blame for addiction?

Schüll [Natasha Dow Schüll, a cultural anthropologist at MIT who has spent years interviewing gamblers...] , whose book documenting machine gambling and compulsive behavior, “Addiction By Design,” will be published next year, says machines play more of a role in the addiction process than the industry would care to admit.

“This isn’t like buying shoes,” she said. “These are potent and powerful devices that are effective in shifting your inner mood and state.”

People with gambling problems told Schüll of “zoning out” in front of a machine and gambling for gambling’s sake rather than for reasons that make sense to casual gamblers and are cited by manufacturers, such as the pleasure of winning something, however small, or the anticipation of a big jackpot.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pom Poms to Palmer's Casino Cheerleader, Paul Burns!

Pom Poms are due for the Prime Palmer Casino Cheerleader, Paul Burns, for totally ignoring the financial insolvency of the partners and the reality of the impacts!
Would a Palmer resident please deliver them?
Changing economics tarnish success story of Pequot, Mohegan casinos

Construction equipment is scattered about, but work on the facility stopped months ago.
It's a stark and unmistakable symbol of the financial crisis within Connecticut's multibillion-dollar Indian gaming empire.

After making and spending billions over the last decade, the Mohegans and their nearby neighbors, the Mashantucket Pequot Indians, are teetering on the brink of a financial meltdown.

Expansion plans have been canceled, employees have been laid off, credit ratings are in free fall, and bankers and bond holders are knocking on the door. In a sign of just how bad it has become, the Pequots last week defaulted on a Wall Street bond, signaling to creditors the tribe cannot meet its obligations.

All of this adds up to a toxic mix of problems that only a few years ago would have been unthinkable for two tribes with economic engines that once seemed geared for never-ending growth.

The Pequots in 1992 turned to Kien Huat Realty, a family-owned construction and development firm that made its fortune in Malaysian government projects. The deal provided $235 million to build the first version of Foxwoods.

The Mohegan Sun came on line a few years later under an arrangement with South African casino mogul Solomon Kerzner and his partner Len Wolman, a Mystic hotel chain owner and fellow South African.

The Pequot and Mohegan casinos quickly surpassed expectations. Foxwoods grew into the world's largest casino, featuring thousands of hotel rooms, dozens of restaurants and seven gambling areas. The Sun grew to 3.1 million square feet, offering three casinos, assorted hotels and other features.

Public records show in 1993, the year Foxwoods opened its doors, the casino earned $81 million from slot machines. By 2005, the slot take had swelled to $818 million.
The Sun earned $227 million in slot revenue in 1997, its first year of operation. Slot revenue ballooned to $916 million by 2007.

The Pequots bought the Lake of Isles Golf Course in North Stonington and the Spa at Norwich Inn, built a $200 million museum dedicated to Eastern Indians and invested in a Philadelphia casino plan.

The Mohegans purchased the Pocono Downs race track in Pennsylvania and added a casino. They proposed a $1 billion casino in Palmer, Mass., bought a golf course in Connecticut and a WNBA basketball team, and struck several deals with other tribes to build casinos outside Connecticut.

The building and buying mirrored what was happening nationally. The Native American gaming industry took off like wildfire, moving from a handful of bingo parlors and card rooms in the early 1990s to a $27 billion industry in 2008.

Reports filed by the Mohegans with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission show the tribe's net income dropped 11 percent in 2009; gaming revenue fell 8 percent; gross slot revenue was down 5 percent; and non-gaming revenue dropped 16 percent.

The Mohegan's interest expenses rose 19 percent compared with 2008, according to financial statements.

At the Sun, the revenue drop had a very visible impact. The Mohegans launched an $800 million expansion, but it was cut short. Although a third casino opened in mid-2008, at a cost of $113 million, the rest of the project, another hotel, parking garage and other features, was suspended because of lack of money.

Casino capitalism failed on a global scale. What makes Paul Burns think it will work in Palmer?

That's not casino glitter, Paul. It's the on-coming train wreck of predatory gambling with insolvent partners.

Please join us in calling for an impartial cost benefit analysis.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Crown defers Cannery deal

Crown Defers Deal For U.S. Casinos

James Packer's Australian gaming empire postpones the completion of its deal to acquire U.S. Cannery Casino Resorts.

Since a casino boss is probably better than anyone at gauging odds, James Packer's decision to pay $370 million upfront to postpone for up to two years and to rewrite the deal that his firm, Crown, signed to buy into Cannery Casino Resorts of the United States can be seen as a calculated gamble that the gaming sector may bottom out in the interim.

In its original plan to expand into Las Vegas and western Pennsylvania, Crown , Australia’s largest casino operator, in December 2007 agreed to spend $1.75 billion to acquire Cannery Casino Resorts. (See "Crown Bets $1.8B On Las Vegas's Cannery Casino.") The privately held Cannery Casino Resorts currently owns and operates two casino-hotel complexes in North Las Vegas, as well as the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Pittsburgh. The deal would have provided a way for Packer, who owns 38% of Crown, to move closer to achieving his ambition of building up a global casino empire through acquisitions in the United States, Canada and Europe.

However, Packer’s expansion plans have been thwarted by the global credit crunch and slowdown. Crown warned last month that the earnings generated by Cannery will be up to 30% lower than previously anticipated. Regulatory snags have dogged the deal as well.

Crown announced Friday that it would break the original agreement for a termination fee of $50 million. At the same time, it agreed to pay $320 million for nonparticipating shares that can be converted into a 24.5% stake. Crown was granted an option for two years to complete its purchase of the company's remaining shares for $1.4 billion.

The new accord also would allow Crown to pull the plug, wiping out the initial investment, by paying an additional termination fee of $200 million and investing $40 million for a 4.1% nonvoting stake in Cannery, if the Australian suitor failed to receive the necessary official approvals in the United States within 60 days. In other words, Crown would have to pay a total of $290 million to withdraw its acquisition.

The revised deal, which reduces Crown's potential exposure to downside risk, got preliminary support from the company’s investors. Shares of Crown closed 70 Australian cents (46 cents), or 13.5%, higher, at 5.90 Australian dollars ($3.86), on Friday after the announcement.

The new agreement as well will end a potential lawsuit between the Packer family and Millennium Gaming, the major shareholder in Cannery Casino Resorts, with a 58% holding. Millennium Gaming last month threatened to sue Gretel Packer, James Packer's sister, over her alleged lack of cooperativeness in the license application, which it maintained was endangering the deal.

Crown’s acquisition of Cannery Casino Resorts needed approval from regulatory authorities in Nevada and Pennsylvania. The Nevada Gaming Commission greenlighted the deal in late January, whereas the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has yet to give it the nod. Gretel Packer, who is also a shareholder of Crown, suddenly wanted to withdraw from the probity process being conducted by the Pennsylvania regulator last month, citing privacy concerns. Yet, it has not escaped notice that these concerns were expressed after the U.S. casino market took a deep plunge amid the recessionary climate. Crown posted a net loss of 409.7 million Australian dollars ($268.1 million) for the six months ending in December on write-downs of its U.S., Canadian and U.K. businesses.


From our friends in the Granite State --

Is Millennium Concealing Intentions To Sell A Rock Casino License?

Adam Krause in today's
Fosters quotes Millennium co-owner Bill Wortman as saying he has no intention to "flip" a New Hampshire casino license.

Mr. Wortman's claims are belied by the facts. Millennium entered into a deal in 2007 to sell its casino operations to
Crown, an Australian gambling conglomerate, a deal that fell apart in March, 2009.


Of even greater concern than Mr. Wortman's shady intentions regarding a flip is that - if the Crown sale had consummated - Rockingham could have fallen into the hands of a casino operator with a history of concealed relationships with Australian elected officials.

Because of its
"very high risk of default" rating by Moody's, Millennium may not be able to get promised construction financing for a Rockingham casino and may be intending to sell a potential casino license there to an as-yet unidentified gambling company. It makes me queasy knowing that the state might be forced into bed with another Crown.

Job Claims

Millennium is also singing sweet but misleading songs about jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the
2008 median wage for gambling industry jobs at $10.92 per hour, meaning the about half of these jobs pay less than $10.92. This means lots of near-minimum-wage employees imported from out of state, putting even more pressure on local school budgets, affordable housing inventories, public transportation, and social welfare budgets.

Question for Bill Wortman Tonight

Question for Bill Wortman tonight (Thursday) at 6:00 pm as he wines and dines legislators at the Puritan Back Room in Manchester:

You said last night in Exeter that you will not sell a Rockingham casino license. How are we to believe that, given that you agreed to sell all your existing casinos to the Australian gambling conglomerate, Crown, a deal that fell apart in March of this year only because Crown hit the financial rocks?

Underage Gambling

2008 -

September 30th, 2008
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

Casino Operator Fined By PGCB For Underage Gambling Violation

Board also suspends or revokes seven employee licenses and awards two local law enforcement grants

HARRISBURG: The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today assessed Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association d/b/a Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Court a fine of $5,000 for permitting an underage person to play slot machines.
The fine stems from a July 20, 2008 incident where a 20 year old entered the gaming floor and played slot machines for about 25 minutes before casino security personnel requested identification and found the person to be underage. At the time of the incident, Penn National permitted individuals 18 and older to be on the gaming floor but not play slot machines. This matter, however, has caused Penn National to alter their policy and ban all patrons under the age of 21 from being on the gaming floor. This similar policy is now in effect at all 7 operating casinos in Pennsylvania.
The Board also today suspended or revoked five non-gaming employee registrations and suspended or revoked two gaming employee permits where circumstances rendered the holder ineligible, unqualified or unsuitable to hold the registration under the standards and requirements of the Gaming Act.

Fast forward -- 2009 -- Hollywood Casino fined $24K for underage gambling

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Racecourse has been fined $24,000 for allowing underage gambling on three occasions this past summer.
Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, which operates the casino in Grantville, Dauphin County, agreed to the civil penalties assessed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for three violations in July and August.
A 20-year-old man used a slot machine for about an hour and 20 minutes in July; and in August, a 19-year-old man used a slot machine for about 20 minutes, and on a different day, an 18-year-old woman was betting for more than two hours.
The Gaming Control Board said it has levied $211,500 in fines for six occasions of allowing underage gambling or allowing minors on the gaming floor.
Pennsylvania law bars anyone under 18 from being on a gaming floor, and no one under 21 is allowed to use slot machines. - Roslyn Rudolph

Terry Watanabe


LAS VEGAS, NV – A multimillionaire gambler is suing a casino over plying him with alcohol and drugs to keep him playing!

Terry Watanabe is the former owner of the Oriental Trading Company, an import/export business he sold in 2000. Since then he has touted himself as a professional philanthropist.

However, Watanabe’s penchant for gambling got the best of him, as he says he lost more than $100 million at Harrah’s, a Las Vegas casino!

But Watanabe is claiming the company coerced him into compulsive gambling. By 2006, Harrah offered to move him into their Caesars Palace, as well as 15 percent cash back on monthly table losses of $500,000 or greater, and $12,500 transportation reimbursement and a $3 million line of credit! He also claims that the casino promised to wait 60 days before cashing any markers he lost.

By the end of 2007, as his losses became unmanageable, Harrah’s not only increased his credit limit, but provided him with an unending supply of alcohol and pain killers.

Watanabe says he began gambling for multiple days in a row, “with little interruption of sleep…Harrah’s executives and employees knew or should have known…that Watanabe was rapidly running out of money.” He was often so inebriated and sleep deprived “that at times he became unconscious at his private gaming tables or slot machines.”

Watanabe is filing his lawsuit because Harrah’s is trying to claim $14.75 million he wrote in bad checks. It is unclear how much Watanabe is suing for, with charges including fraud, breach of contract, conspiracy and negligence, but considering Watanabe claims he bet more than $825 million in 2007 alone, it is likely to be significant.

Telegraph reports ---

Las Vegas gambler sues Caesars Palace claiming casino plied him with drugs

A Las Vegas gambler who lost $112 million (£67 million) in a year, is suing the owner of Caesars Palace, claiming casino staff "milked" him by plying him with alcohol and prescription drugs.

Terry Watanabe, 52, says he lived and gambled "non-stop" at Caesars Palace for six months in 2007, spending a fortune on roulette and slot machines.

After an epic losing streak, he ran up gambling debts of around $15 million (£9 million) and was subsequently charged with theft, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

Mr Watanabe is countering the criminal charges with a civil suit in which he accuses Harrah's, the owners of Caesars Palace, of fraud, breach of contract, conspiracy and negligence.

He claims company executives manipulated him with a "secret intention" of siphoning off his wealth.

Harrah's, the world's largest gambling company by revenue, is adamant there was no wrong-doing.

A spokesman said: "We have a long-standing history of responsible and ethical practices.

"We're licensed in more jurisdictions than any other gaming company. We stand by our record."

Mr Watanabe is a Nebraska-based philanthropist and the former owner of Oriental Trading Co, a huge direct marketing company for novelties and party items.

He has also filed a complaint with the Nevada Gaming Control Board and says he staked a total of more than $825 million (£495 million) in 2007 at Caesars Palace and the Rio casino, also owned by Harrah's The complaint says: "Mr Watanabe was an obvious gambling addict and Caesars and Harrah's senior management made a conscious decision to exploit his well-known addiction."

Mr Watanabe alleges that casino employees provided him with prescription painkillers that, combined with an endless flow of alcohol, "rendered him utterly intoxicated and unfit to gamble."

His Los Angeles-based lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell, said the criminal prosecution against Mr Watanabe was "meritless."

He said: "Terry Watanabe is innocent of any crime and Harrah's owes him money."

Mr Watanabe was regarded as one of Las Vegas's "whales," a nickname for epic gamblers.

His lawyers claim his gambling at Caesars Palace and Rio accounted for around 20 per cent of revenue at both casinos in 2006 and 2007. He is currently on $1.5 million (£900,000) bail.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Foxwoods debt may pay for billionaire

Cape Cod Times reports --

LEDYARD, Conn — A billionaire's reported move to buy up some of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation's debt just might be a good opportunity — for the investor, a ratings analyst said this week.

Leon Black, who heads up Apollo Management L.P. of New York City, has been buying up the tribe's debt, the New York Post said Tuesday. Both the tribe and a spokeswoman for Apollo declined comment on the report.

The tribe owns Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods on Mashantucket tribal land in Ledyard.

At Standard & Poor's, Managing Director Craig Parmalee said Black's reported investment is unusual, because it doesn't come with the same expectations associated with a traditional potential bankruptcy. That's because the tribe is a sovereign nation, and cannot be displaced from running the casinos. However, the maneuver could yield rewards for Black, he said.

"Often, when an investor purchases debt of a company who has defaulted, it's some effort to have a controlling position in a bankruptcy," Parmalee said. "In the case of a tribal situation, that is not possible, because you have to be the tribe to operate Foxwoods casino. So, my guess is (Black) may just look at this at a good investment.

"And it might create an opportunity for him to generate a return on his investment."

The implications of Black's reported actions for the tribe or the casinos are not clear.

According to the Post, Apollo bought Harrah's, a commercial casino, last year along with two other private-equity firms.

On Tuesday, the tribe said it expects to default by Dec. 16 on the balance of a $21.25 million bond interest payment that had been due Monday. While the tribe emphasized the continued efforts to restructure more than $2 billion in debt won't affect the casinos, it has not said whether tribal government or payments to tribal members could be affected.

And according to one financial source, a default on 8.5 percent notes would not necessarily cause the tribe difficulty.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll: Follow Like Sheep?

In response to Salem's Mayor Kim Driscoll's orginal misguided cheerleading, To the Voters of Salem was posted to which she reccently responded with an email containing numerous factual errors, such as the overstated licensing fees and fictitious revenue projections.
When elected officials repeat verbatim the predators' rhetoric that is, at best, nonsensical, it seems we have elected a flock of sheep.



The following was sent to the Mayor in response to her misinformation --

Honorable Mayor Driscoll:

I appreciate your response and your sincerity, allow me to highlight some areas
that merit your reconsideration.

When Middleboro was confronted with a casino, the agreement was rushed through
without consideration of the impacts. No impartial studies were conducted and no
costs were assessed. No population projections were done. School impact costs,
presented by the Superintendent, consisted only of capital projects pending. Since
the public schools are at capacity, an increase in population will mandate new school construction.

Glenn Marshall, currently in federal prison, repeatedly stated that the increase in
vehicular traffic would be 50,000 cars daily. That increase in traffic alone necessitates increased public safety costs.

Questions and opposition were gaveled to silence, while proponents were allowed to
cheer and applaud and disrupt meetings.

To me, the refusal to allow balanced debate signaled that there were things some
want to remain hidden.

That tyranny propelled a number of us to investigate, research, read many tedious
reports and network with others who have endured the devastating impacts of
predatory gambling around the country.

I learned it was just like my friend, Gladys said, in the The Playbook .

To their credit, WMCAT has examined the costs and the Palmer Study Committee
proved that the impacts are beyond the capacity of a small town to absorb. The
cost of those impacts explains WHY gambling must continually expand.

Beyond the casino glitter and flashing lights is nothing but Fool's Gold.

United to Stop Slots in Mass, a non-profit coalition was formed on July 4th to
circulate the truth of predatory gambling. The organization enjoys volunteer
support from a wide range of organizations from all political spectrums,
including the League of Women Voters and the Massachusetts Family Institute.

The site represents a work in progress that is continually being updated, but I invite your review. There is a resource page that includes a large number of reports that are gradually being increased on a regular basis.

Casinos, slot parlors and racinos (race tracks with slots) are designed to keep
you in your seat feeding money into machines.

Slots are designed to addict.

Slots have been termed the "Crack Cocaine" of gambling because of their
addictive quality.

Every gimmick and technique is employed to keep you seated from free alcohol
to piping in oxygen.

Professor Grinols examined sales tax records to prove that travelers move
directly to the slots facility. They don't visit tourist destinations.

Slots by any name absorb discretionary income and prevent the local economic
multiplier necessary for job creation.

Professor Kindt has studied the issue widely and indicated that each slot
machine permanently removes one job from the local economy.

For each $1 in tax revenue, the cost is $3 to the taxpayer. The cost is not solely
for social costs caused by gambling addiction, but also due to enforcement,
investigation, prosecution, auditing, monitoring, incarceration.

Within a 50 mile radius, gambling addiction will at least double, as will crime.

The business model for casinos is 10% of players produce 90% of revenue.
The gimmicks are designed to keep those 10% in their seats while they
"play to extinction" - meaning until they have exhaused their cash, investments,
401Ks, re-mortgaged the house, maxed their credits cards, borrowed, stolen,

Children are abandoned in cars. Families are torn apart.

Because gambling addiction is unique, it has the lowest referral rate and the
highest suicide rate.

If we can reasonably expect a gambling addiction rate of 5%, shouldn't we
ask if we would allow a toy on the market that injured 5% of children? Or a
drug that harmed 5% of users?

This isn't solely a moral issue, but also one of economic costs.

Professor Goodman estimated that each gambling addict costs $10,000 per year.
He estimated the public safety costs at about $13,000 each.

Although AG Coakley "cautions caution," her 2 predecessors have spoken out
against expanded gambling, as has former State Treasurer Joe Malone,
former Governor Dukakis, and former candidate for Lt. Governor, Bob Massie.

The dollar figures you used were withdrawn immediately after they were
publicly pronounced and challenged as 'grossly overstated.'

The gambling proponents who testified at both Senator Spilka's June 2009 forum
and the October 29th "Gambling Hearing" ALL indicated that licensing fees are
determined by potential revenue.

The Billion Dollar Mammouth in Palmer is gradually shrinking in size, so that
current proposals are for a $500 million facility.

Since Mohegun Sun will be downgraded in financial markets, just as Foxwoods
was, capital markets will be unavailable.

The Middleboro Mega Monster has dwindled to a Bingo Parlor.

Tribal casinos have defaulted. Casinos have gone bankrupt, re-structured,
defaulted or been foreclosed.

Senator Pacheco included a $25 million licensing fee in his previous budget

A BSU study over + 20 years proved that low wage jobs were created and
local wages declined. Actual job creation was 1%.

In Steve Norton and Centaur and Another Bankruptcy, I wrote --

Mr. Norton promises "...few positions would require even a high school diploma."
In other words, you are guaranteed low wage, low skill, dead end jobs.
We need jobs we can be proud of, where there's an opportunity for advancement,
promotion, jobs with a future that provide hope.
Even Bernie Madoff gave people jobs, better paying than a casino job, with his phony prosperity capitalism is the same rouse.

Rep. Tom Conroy reported that realistic gambling revenues equal lottery losses.
As you know, lottery revenues are returned to cities and towns at a rate of 25 cents
on the dollar. The slot revenue math is pennies on the dollar.

Rep. Conroy, in a recent presentation in Sudbury, explained that the State of
New Jersey employs 1500 state employees dedicated solely to casinos.
Their costs including pensions, benefits, training, office space, state owned
vehicles, gas and maintenance?

Only well funded lobbyists can reduce predatory gambling to soundbytes when
the opponents' arguments have filled volumes.

I would also call to your attention the Resolution passed at the Democratic
Convention --

Whereas the Democratic Party has a long and proud tradition of advocating for social justice, working for policies that promote the public health, and fighting to protect citizens from exploitive and predatory business practices;
And whereas modern slot machines use neuroscience-informed technology to mesmerize and entrap gamblers and to keep them playing until they have exhausted their resources ("playing to extinction");

And whereas medical research has documented the highly addictive nature of the brain's chemical reactions to slot machine stimulation;

And whereas licensing and promoting such addictive, predatory gambling technology for the purpose of raising State revenues goes against the aforementioned values and principles for which the Democratic Party has long stood, and is at odds with the ideals that underlie our Party's honorable and consistent struggle to end the deceptive and predatory lending, marketing, and pricing practices that have pushed so many families to the brink;

And whereas legalizing slot machines would erode participation in the Lottery and siphon away from local small businesses the discretionary spending on goods and services that they depend on;

And whereas the development of slot machine parlors would neither create significant new jobs, nor increase tourism in Massachusetts;

And whereas evidence from other states indicates that the long-term costs of gambling addiction -- increased substance abuse, increased crime, increased family discord and dysfunction -- outweigh the short term benefits of licenses and gambling revenues;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Massachusetts Democratic Party, as a matter of both principle and policy, opposes the legalization of slot machines and any similar efforts to promote addictive and predatory gambling as a means of raising public revenues.

From what I see, the only people who get rich from casinos are investors.

I respectfully request that you reconsider your support for predatory gambling
and join with me to call for an impartial cost benefit analysis, just as New
Hampshire has recently done.


Jessie Powell
Middleboro, MA

'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.' Margaret Mead
Middleboro Remembers

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gambling breeds corruption No kidding!

Expert: Gambling breeds corruption
Industry influence too great, he says

Allowing expanded gambling in New Hampshire will increase the risk of government corruption, an expert told the state Gaming Study Commission yesterday.

"There's a potential addiction of elected officials to money given to their campaigns by gaming officials," said James Browning, director of development for the advocacy group Common Cause in Pennsylvania at a press conference before the commission meeting.

Browning was one of three experts the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling brought to the commission to talk about the negative effects of gambling. The others were Earl Grinols, a Baylor University economist, and Kevin Harrigan, a professor at the University of Waterloo/Ontario who studies game design and slot machine addiction.

Browning said once a state allows gambling, there is no way to curb the industry's influence. "Once the gaming industry takes root, it grows deeper quickly because of a relationship with elected officials," he said.

In Maryland, Browning said he found people connected to the gambling industry giving campaign donations above the legal limits and setting up dummy corporations to give more money to officials. In Pennsylvania, he said, gambling passed through the legislature without a public hearing, then was upheld by the state Supreme Court. Gaming officials had given money to three of the state's justices, he said.

"The industry includes multibillion-dollar corporations with the ability to outspend local opposition 100 to 1," Browning said, with money going to ads, lobbying and campaign contributions.

Jim Rubens, chairman of the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling, cited one study by the National Institute of Money in State Politics that found that in eight referendums on gambling in 2008, the gambling industry spent 48 times more than the opposition.

"We're concerned politicians will be overwhelmed by one particular industry," Browning said.

A bill that would have allowed expanded gambling in New Hampshire, which was passed by the state Senate in June as part of the 2010 and 2011 budget, would have included a ban on political contributions from the gaming industry. Rich Killion, a spokesman for Millennium Gaming, which wants to bring video slot machines to Rockingham Park, said Millennium welcomed the ban.

"I find it insulting they allege that elected officials will be impacted by any industry," Killion said.

But Browning said when Pennsylvania tried to institute a ban on gaming industry contributions, the ban was thrown out in court, which ruled that limiting campaign contributions from a specific industry is limiting free speech.

The possibility of corruption has generally not played a large role in legislative discussions of gambling.

State Sen. Kathy Sgambati, a Tilton Democrat who voted in favor of expanded gambling, said this was the first she has heard of concern that gambling would lead to more government corruption.

"Clearly, people are limited in how much they can contribute," Sgambati said. "I have a hard time conceiving of the gambling industry controlling the legislators."

State Rep. Neal Kurk, a Weare Republican who opposed the expanded gambling bill, said he was not concerned with monetary corruption so much as with legislators and their family members being employed by the gambling industry, in the way many were the railroad industry in the 1930s through the 50s. Kurk said he also worries that a large percentage of general fund revenue would be contributed by a small number of companies, which would then have enormous leverage.

"A small number of individuals could have a disproportionately large impact and influence on the state Legislature," Kurk said.

In addition to the corruption argument, the coalition presented the study commission with 23 reasons why it opposes gambling, including increased gambling addictions, suicides and crime.

Grinols argued that the cost of gambling is greater than the benefits. "The money it takes in is predominantly from the local community," he said. He said between one-third and one-half of gambling revenue comes from "problem and pathological gamblers."

Harrigan focused on the design of the machines, which are weighted against players. He described slot machines as the "crack cocaine of gambling."

Killion said studies prove that 2 percent of the population has gambling addictions. At the commission meeting, commission members cited studies indicating that the number of people with gambling problems in New Hampshire could be closer to 1 percent.

Killion said the affect of gambling on crime in other areas across the country has been "marginal."

Millenium Feeds Again

Millenium salivates --

The way to a legislator’s heart is through his/her stomach.

If nothing else, the Las Vegas based Millenium Company, trying to foist a megamillion casino scheme on New Hampshire’s unsuspecting populace has learned that. Not content with the legislative luncheon it offered on veto day, Millenium is at it again, upping the ante this time (at least cuisine-wise) to feature dinner this Thursday night at the Back Room in Manchester (owned by Manchester Democrat Chair Chris Pappas’s daddy).

Will it be prime rib or chicken tenders?

Whichever, it will undoubtedly feature the Full Monty from Millenium”s head honcho supported by a lovely cast of spinners and dancers for our dining pleasure.

I suspect all the good ol highly paid boys (from Dan Callahan to George Roberts on down) will be there.

How do I know this?

At approximately 1:10 p.m. Monday, the phone rang. It was “Sara calling for Senator D’Allesandro” with an invitation from Millendium for the Back Room bonanza. Could I make?

“Probably,” I responded in my least offensive manner possible, but with my natural curiosity perked, I added, “Oh Sara, by the way, who’s paying for this? In fact, Sara, I suspect Senator D’Allesandro is certainly not paying you to make these calls and I assume you’re not doing it for free, so who’s paying you?”

(I really did have my congenial tone working overtime).

“You’re welcome to come, but I’m not answering any more questions,” was all Sara would say.

Hey, Las Vegas overlords, here’s some advise. Next time you assign someone to call Reps, instruct them to be up front about who’s paying for the calls…or else someone might post the attempt to hide it on a web site with copies sent to 424 other officials (that would be all other Reps plus Senators p-lus his Excellency).

I’ll be there, Thursday, 6 p.m. back room…put me down for the Chicken Fingers a la Sandler.

Sorry, Reps outside the Manchester area, but I assume you’ll get a similar invite soon…maybe at the Indian Head.

UPDATE–Moments after this was sent to the 424, a Rep came into my office (our office) noting that Sara had invited her to the Barley House. “Who is SaRa?” the Rep asked me.

That is indeed what inquiring minds want to know.


Democracy bought for a dinner: Private dinner, secret talks

Gambling firm holds talks with local reps
Private dinner meeting aims for 'intimate' info exchange

EXETER — State Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-Exeter, and representatives of Millennium Gaming are holding an invitation-only meeting tonight with Seacoast state representatives on expanding gambling in New Hampshire.

Bill Wortman, chief executive officer of Millennium Gaming and 20 percent owner of Rockingham Park race track in Salem, will treat Hassan and local representatives to dinner at The Exeter Inn.

Wortman said the gathering gives legislators an opportunity to learn more about Millennium Gaming, its operation and revenue estimates, and to participate in a question-and-answer session.

The meeting is closed to the press, Hassan said.

"I think it's important that we have a fact-based discussion on the issue. It's very hard in the midst of the busy legislative session, for people not on relative committees, to have much time for a question-and-answer session with opponents and proponents," Hassan said.

State Rep. Donna Schlachman, D-Exeter, said she is attending the session to learn more about expanding gambling in the state.

"I am still waiting for someone to show me how anything around gaming is of benefit to this state and how the positives outweigh the negatives," she said. "I am willing to go and do my best to keep an open mind."

The meeting is closed to the public in order to provide an intimate opportunity for the exchange of information, said Hassan and Jim Demers, a lobbyist for Millennium Gaming in Concord.

"We had not really thought about it any other way," Demers said. "We wanted to keep the groups small, intimate and easier for dialogue."

Millennium Gaming is a Nevada-based corporation that holds a majority interest in Cannery Casino Resorts, which owns and operates the Cannery Hotel and Casino and the Rampart Casino, both in Las Vegas.

Wortman has been in New Hampshire this week meeting with members of the Legislature and others to discuss the potential for expanded gambling in the state, Demers said. He has held sessions similar to the one tonight at The Exeter Inn with legislators in other regions of the state.

Jim Rubens, of Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling, expressed skepticism of the meetings.

"They are a friendly legislative nexus. There have typically been no one invited who is opposed to gambling, and they create the appearance of consensus where there is none," he said.

The meetings avoid the problems associated with expanding gambling in the state, Rubens said.

"The facts are that when you put a gambling machine in any kind of building, near where people live, the more people who live near it will gamble in it, and some fraction of those people will become addicted," he said. "All the people who are victims will be out all the pain, suffering and money and the gambling industry will not compensate any of those victims. Those costs are greater than what the state would get out of it. It is an economic loser for the state."

Millennium Gaming desires expanded gaming and lottery terminals at Rockingham Park, Demers said.

As part of last year's Senate budget negotiations, Hassan supported the proposal for limited expansion of gambling at Rockingham Park. Ultimately, the Senate rejected the proposal.

"I think every proposal has to be looked at on its merits and has to be looked at in light of what's happening nationally and in the industry economically, but I do think it's important to be thoughtful about it," she said.

Hassan said constituents are caught between a struggling economy and rising costs, but are also aware there are areas where the state needs to fund strong programs, like education.

Increasing gaming in the state could be a sensible way to increase revenue, Hassan said.

New Hampshire had an $11.8 million shortfall in revenues in October. Overall, in the first four months of the 2010 budget, the state is running $37.7 million or around 7 percent behind the budget plan approved by the Legislature in June.

"I think we should look at gaming as a source of funding, assuming its a clean industry, there are controls on it, and opportunities for treatment for problem gamblers," she said.

A hearing of the state Gaming Study Commission was held Tuesday. At the hearing three experts on social and economic costs of casino gambling shared information.

Baylor University economics professor Earl Grinols, James Browning of Common Cause Pennsylvania and slot machine expert Kevin Harrigan held a news conference with New Hampshire gambling opponents Tuesday afternoon before testifying before the commission.

Gov. John Lynch created the commission to conduct a comprehensive study of various models for expanding gambling. The commission is looking at the potential to produce state revenue by expanding gambling and the effect that would have on New Hampshire's quality of life.

No Press Allowed

From our friends up north, Granite State Coalition, this sounds Oh, soooo familiar, democracy denied, the press excluded.
Oh! Wait! It's in the Casino Playbook.

Casino cheerleaders CANNOT afford an open, public discussion.

That might reveal the flaws in their fictitious promises.

Don't confuse legislators with the facts!

No Press Allowed:
Millennium Hosts Private, Invite-Only Legislator Meetings

Tonight, Wednesday 11/18

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-Exeter) is lighting up the phones inviting selected legislators to the
Exeter Inn at 5:00 pm this evening to hear the nearly-bankrupt Millennium's free-money fantasy. No press is allowed. No uninvited persons are allowed. No persons representing anti-gambling groups are invited.

Tomorrow Night, Thursday 11/19

Senator Lou D'Allesandro (D-Manchester) is hosting a free, Millennium-paid dinner for selected legislators in the
Puritan Back Room in Manchester at 6:00 pm. No press is allowed. No persons holding anti-predatory gambling views are invited or allowed.

Potential questions for Millennium shills and lackeys:

· Why does
Moody's Investors Service rate your client's debt as "subject to very high default risk"?

· Why is Millennium crying poverty in Pennsylvania and asking the legislature to reduce its taxes on table games
to 20 percent? Will the company try the same bait-and-switch on the proposed 49 percent tax rate in New Hampshire?

· Does it bother you that the
Ontario government (Table 17) found that 60 percent of slots profits come from pathologically addicted gamblers for whom gambling is NOT voluntary?

· Why do
80 percent of Australians think introduction of slot casinos was a mistake and want them removed from their nation or communities?

Yesterday's Gam[bl]ing Study Commission Hearings

In case you didn't see press in the
Concord Monitor covering testimony to the Gam[bl]ing Study Commission, James Browning of Common Cause/Pennsylvania warned us of the probability that getting into bed with the gambling industry means that it will wind up running our legislature. This is what Common Cause found happens in every gambling state it has studied.

"Once the gaming industry takes root, it grows deeper quickly because of a relationship with elected officials," said Browning to the Monitor.

Said Rich Killion, paid Millennium lobbyist, to the Monitor: "I find it insulting they allege that elected officials will be impacted by any industry."

Then, Rich, if you are having no impact on the legislature (which would please us greatly), why is Millennium paying you to influence the legislature?

Our New Fact Summary

Check out our newly revised,
state-of-the-art summary of the facts about what slots casinos would be a net negative for New Hampshire.

VT: Lottery Role in Tax POlicy

From the Tax Foundation --

Testimony to Vermont Blue Ribbon Tax Structure Commission: The Role of the Lottery in Vermont’s Tax Policy

by Alicia Hansen

Thank you for inviting me to testify today.

First I'd like to explain why any discussion of tax reform merits an examination of the state lottery.

The lottery is an implicit tax, No state government labels lottery profits tax revenue, but they should. The lottery must be evaluated as a tax, and when we subject it to the tests of sound tax policy, it fails.

In 2008 lotteries generated over $60 billion in consumer spending. This translated to a profit for state coffers of over $17 billion. Slightly over half the money spent is returned to players as prizes. Part of the remainder covers operating costs-including vendor commissions, equipment, administration and advertising-and the rest is transferred to state coffers. States call their portion "profit" but it is actually implicit tax revenue.

Lottery proponents argue that a tax is a mandatory payment, and playing the lottery is voluntary, so lottery revenue cannot be tax revenue. But they're confusing the purchase of a product with the payment of the tax on the product. Purchasing a lottery ticket is voluntary, but the tax portion of the ticket price is not, just as a sales or excise tax is compulsory on a voluntary purchase of alcohol, clothing or books.

State-run lotteries fail the tests of sound tax policy in multiple ways: They are not economically neutral, they are not simple to administer, and they are not transparent. The tax system should be as clear and simple as possible; taxpayers should understand what is being taxed and what the rates are. The lottery tax, however, is hidden. The state creates a monopoly for itself and builds the tax into the price of the tickets, then advertises the lottery as a recreational activity rather than a revenue-raising activity.

In FY2008, the implicit tax rate on Vermont's lottery tickets was 28%.1 Can anyone imagine walking into a Vermont store and paying a 28% sales tax on a board game, iPod, video game or any other recreational item?

It's important now more than ever to examine the government's reliance on lottery tax revenue for two reasons: states' attempts to use lottery revenue to deal with state budget shortfalls and the simultaneous decrease in lottery revenue.

Although it initially seemed that lottery revenue was recession proof, revenue has now fallen slightly. According to a report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government,2 state revenues from all sources of authorized gambling fell 2.8 percent in FY2009, Lottery income, the largest source of state gambling revenue, fell 2.6 percent. Vermont's lottery profits (implicit tax revenue) dropped 7.7%.

This desire on state's parts to fill coffers with gambling revenue could be a boon for the gambling industry as well, and the combination of desperate state treasurers and gambling companies both looking tor more money has led to a slew of new lottery proposals, products and marketing strategies, some of which I will describe.

More states are turning to video lottery terminals (VLTs), especially at state racetracks. VLTs are one type of lottery game that has not suffered during the recession. VLTs are more like casino games than traditional lotteries, and lottery critics often argue that they're more likely to cause gambling addictions. From a tax policy standpoint, they pose a transparency problem in that people who play VLTs may not even realize they're playing the lottery; when we think of playing the lottery, we think of buying a ticket, not playing slots at the track.

Another tactic that a few state lotteries have taken is attempting to allow players to place bets on the internet. In March 2005 the Georgia House—but not the Senate—passed a bill that would have allowed the lottery to create individual online accounts so players could pur­chase tickets on the agency's Web site. Two other states have since considered this plan.

Next are casino-style table games. The New York Lottery is permitting state-run casinos to add video roulette, craps and blackjack to the already extensive array of New York State Lottery products. It seems likely that this trend will continue in many other states, even though casino table games certainly do not seem like lottery games.

Lotteries are also focusing more than ever on marketing, and some are partnering with sports franchises to draw in more players. Maryland, for one, has partnered with the Baltimore Orioles and the Baltimore Ravens to promote bubble gum-scented scratch-off tickets, to sell lottery tickets at sporting events, and to offer season tickets as prizes.

One trend that's constantly in the media spotlight is that lottery jackpots are becoming larger. Not surprising, this has coincided with increasing ticket prices One dollar used to be the most common price for a ticket, but many states have recently increased the price of some of their instant tickets to $10, $20 or even $30. When the Michigan Lottery introduced a $50 ticket, it sold out after less than three days.

The most recent development is that Powerball and Mega Millions, once considered rival games, have joined forces, and states will now be able to offer both high-jackpot multistate games.

Finally, while this is not exactly a new development, there is more evidence of lotterys' regressivity, meaning that the lower-income players spend a disproportionate amount. In June the Indianapolis Star looked at Hoosier Lottery's sales data and public data and found evidence that the lower-income players spend a disproportionate amount on the state's lottery.3 They also found that lottery billboards were placed more often in lower-income neighborhoods. Lottery players throughout the country tend to have lower incomes and less educations, and state lottery agencies that are determined to rely on the lottery to handle budget crises will probably have to market heavily to this demographic.

To close I'd like to read a quote from the Feb. 2008 issue of International Gaming and Wagering Business (IGWB) magazine.4 The quote is a bit long but it will make the point that the methods used to raise huge amounts of lottery revenue currently and in the near future are probably not palatable to most principled lawmakers:

"The lottery industry is under tremendous pressure to continue to perform and provide ever-increasing revenues," said Maryland Lottery Director Buddy Roogow. "The environment in which we work is becoming increasingly competitive because of the internet, because of the explosion of casinos and racinos around the country, and because of the interactive games that are available ....

In light of Roogow's comments, lotteries can't rely on the same combination of lotto and numbers games that have served them well over the years. U.S. lottery sales this decade have been driven primarily by mega-jackpots in the multi-state lotto games, and by increasing price points, and payouts, for instant tickets. ...

Lotteries in Europe have generally not seen the rapid growth of instant ticket sales that American lotteries have seen, primarily because the price points and prize payouts haven't changed significantly, noted Matthew Mansfield, Vice President of Product Marketing and Design for GTECH Corp. . . .

Lotteries fortunate enough to have monitor games are reaping the benefits of a product category that is receiving a lot of attention from vendors. More than a dozen U.S. lotteries offer those games, which generally begins with keno and are often limited to social environments such as bars and clubs.

"Monitor games are probably right now the areas of great interest and development potential for the marketplace in the United States," said Mansfield. "It's clearly an opportunity to provide more visual entertainment for the players and diversity of game to choose from."

He envisioned a future where retail venues could offer monitor "walls" similar in concept to some of the instant ticket displays currently on the market. Multiple monitors would offer multiple games, and players would choose the games they want. ...

Currently on the market are versions of poker, horse and car racing, and more are in the works. ...

"We can now put virtually any game you can think of on a monitor," said Maryland's Roogow. "Monitor games are part of where the future lies for us. ... I think they allow us to penetrate the emerging market more effectively...young people who may go to bars and restaurants, places where they can congregate. "

"I think what' important for the future of distribution—getting where the customers are ...into more nontraditional outlets that in the past have been unapproachable," said [Louisiana Lottery Vice President of Marketing Bonny] Botts. "These include places like drugstores, big box retailers, even the corner Starbucks."


1. For an explanation of how the implicit tax rate is calculated, see Alicia Hansen, Tax Foundation Background Paper No. 54, "Gambling with Tax Policy: States' Growing Reliance on Lottery Tax Revenue" (June 2007), p. 22, available at

2. Lucy Dadayan, Nino Giguashvili, and Robert B. Ward, Rockefeller Institute Fiscal Features, "From a Bonanza to a Blue Chip? Gambling Revenue to the States," June 19, 2008, pp. 9 -12.

3. Lottery Post, "Study finds wealthy counties get most benefit from Indiana Lottery profits," June 11, 2009, available at

4. Patricia A. McQueen, "Lotteries tap new game concepts to boost sales, interest," International Gaming and Wagering Business 29 no. 2, (Feb. 2008), p. 30 - 35.

Attached Files
Testimony to Vermont Blue Ribbon Tax Structure Commission: The Role of the Lottery in Vermont’s Tax Policy, PDF, 23.6 KB
by Alicia Hansen

Foxwoods Defaults

Foxwoods fails to make full debt payment

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Foxwoods Resort Casino, one of the world's largest, has failed to make a full payment on its debt, leading to a default and another credit-rating downgrade as casinos around the country struggle amid the severe recession.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns Foxwoods, said it has paid $14.2 million of the $21.25 million semi-annual interest payment that was due Monday on $500 million in debt notes. The tribe said it does not anticipate paying the balance within a 30-day period, resulting in a default.

The tribe, which has been seeking to restructure billions of dollars in debt, said its efforts are "separate and distinct" from operations at Foxwoods and will not affect customers, employees, suppliers or business partners.

Foxwoods, which has about 10,000 employees, more than 7,000 slot and video poker machines and made more than $700 million in profits last year, is the most high-profile example of a tribe defaulting on its debt, said Megan Neuburger, director at Fitch Ratings. She said investors have long wondered what would happen if a tribe, which has national sovereignty, defaulted on its debt.

"This is definitely a precedent-setting situation," Neuburger said. "Certainly everyone in the investing community will be watching this to see what the outcome is."

Standard & Poors lowered its credit rating to D, its lowest rating. Lenders will be more hesitant to make loans to Foxwoods, said Craig Parmelee, S&P's managing director.

"The availability and cost of financing for Foxwoods in the future is in question," Parmelee said.

Foxwoods is one of several casinos across the country defaulting on its debt as consumers cut back on discretionary spending, Parmelee said. Among those, he said, are Buffalo Thunder and Inn of the Mountain Gods, both in New Mexico; and a Michigan casino owned by the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa.

Some commercial casinos not owned by American Indian tribes have gone into bankruptcy, he said.

Parmelee said he did not expect Foxwoods to close, however. Lenders can take possession of commercial casinos that default and sell them to third parties, but that option likely is not available when dealing with Native American tribes who operate as sovereign nations, he said.

The most likely scenario is a renegotiation of the debt, Parmelee said. That could mean some loan forgiveness, but lenders might question payments to tribal members and review the tribe's business plan, he said.

"I don't think shutting down the casino is the best route to meeting the goals of either party," Parmelee said.

Tribal officials said last month they had entered into a forbearance agreement with senior lenders that extends through Jan. 20. Such deals occur when a creditor gives up the right to immediate repayment of a loan by a debtor under certain conditions.

Foxwoods, along with Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, underwent expansions just before the economic downturn. But Mohegan Sun, operated by the Mohegan Tribe, has said that the casino is financially healthy.

"For those entities that took on additional debt to fund expansions, that certainly was a factor that contributed to many of the defaults across the gaming industry in the last two years," Parmelee said.

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun said this week that slot machine revenue dropped about 4 percent in October compared with the same month last year.

Parmelee said he expects the level of declines in slot revenue at casinos to lessen, but he does not expect any meaningful growth next year.