Meetings & Information


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Antione Walker to Idaho

Antoine Walker may sign with Idaho of D-League today

UPDATE 4:33 pm: All you hard-core NBA fans in Idaho — both of you — are in luck, because the Antoine Walker comeback parade is headed your way. Walker will be part of the Idaho Stampede, according to Marc Stein at ESPN.

10: 07 am: We’ve talked before of former Celtic and scoring machine Antoine Walker wanting to make an NBA comeback. Mostly for the money, because his former gambling addiction led to some serious debts. We also told you about how he tried to make a comeback starting in the Puerto Rican league last year, but that flamed out. About him working out (and by all reports looking in decent shape) but not getting a camp invite this fall.

Samuel McMaster stole thousands and gambled it

Investor must assess gambling habit
Samuel McMaster stole thousands and gambled it

Reporter: David Romero
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Samuel McMaster, Jr. pled guilty in August for stealing money from elderly investors. He listed his profession as a professional gambler, now the judge wants him to be evaluated for a gambling addiction.

Part of the plea agreement, McMaster was ordered to pay restitution to his victims. To help raise the money, McMaster was allowed to attend poker tournaments out of state.

On Monday, Judge Ross Sanchez changed that, he told McMaster he could not leave the state without permission. Pre-trial services expressed concerns over where McMaster was going on these out of state trips. They also said McMaster has not paid any restitution to the victims.

McMaster, a former insurance agent and stock broker pled guilty to charges of stealing nearly half a million dollars from about thirty elderly people and gambling it away.
McMaster wanted to speak in court today, but the judge and his attorney advised against it.

McMaster is awaiting sentencing and faces up to 12 years in prison. As he left the courtroom, he said he has never been nor will he ever be a professional gambler.

McMaster must have the gambling addiction evaluation done within a week. He's scheduled back before Judge Sanchez in January.

2 Men sentenced for leaving kids at Parx

Two men sentenced for leaving children in cars outside Parx

Paul Vargas won't be in church next month for his son's First Holy Communion.
Vargas, 34, will instead be in the Bucks County prison.

He was sent there Monday by a judge who said the Bensalem man had gambled away his chance to be at his son's special day.

"You have given up your right to attend," Bucks County Court Judge Albert J. Cepparulo told him, "by virtue of your crimes in this case."

On Aug. 25, Vargas had left the boy and his 7-year-old brother alone at night in his SUV outside Bensalem's Parx Casino. He was playing blackjack inside when other patrons spotted the boys and a pit bull puppy in the vehicle and called security.

It was one of nine such incidents reported at the casino from June 15 through Oct. 11, and one of the first two to be resolved in court Monday.

Cepparulo sentenced Vargas to 90 days of probation for disorderly conduct and 90 days in jail for driving with a suspended license and having a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.02 percent. In an unrelated case, he slapped on a further two to 23 months in prison for heroin possession.

But it was the casino lapse that seemed to frost the judge the most.

"Do you understand the absolute stupidity of allowing your child to be left alone these days?" Cepparulo asked incredulously.

"I'm stupid. I understand that," Vargas said.

"I don't think you truly understand that bad things happen to kids when they're left alone like that," the judge said.

When Vargas asked not to be jailed until after his son's Dec. 12 communion, Cepparulo refused.

Assistant District Attorney Blake Jackman said that because the boys had been alone for no more than 15 minutes, it would have been hard to prove the harsher charge of endangering the welfare of a child, so charges were reduced to disorderly conduct.

Also sentenced Monday was Alexander Salter Jr., 60, of Trenton. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for leaving his 12-year-old grandson in his car at Parx for about a half-hour on the afternoon of Sept. 2.

Salter, a mechanic, had gone to the lot to look at a car. When the person he had arranged to meet was late, he decided to kill time in the casino, leaving his cell phone with the boy.

Cepparulo was more forgiving of Salter, who arrived in court dressed in shirt and tie, bib overalls, and a sport coat. The judge sentenced him to 90 days of probation and 25 hours of community service.

Cepparulo suggested that Salter might serve those hours at Parx, possibly helping the casino keep other children from being left alone.

Salter said that he had raised nine children of his own.

"Yeah, I think you might be qualified," the judge said. "In fact, I know you are."

Monday, November 29, 2010

P.T. Barnum is credited with saying ....

There's a sucker born every minute

Maybe Moody's and the capital markets are figuring out that the supply is not limitless.

Moody's Doubts AC Casino Reforms Will Work
Moody's doubts whether proposed Atlantic City casino changes will work to end slide

A key corporate credit ratings firm doubts that changing Atlantic City's gambling rules, including allowing smaller casinos and betting on sports and via the Internet, would help end the city's four-year slump.

Moody's Investors Service said in a report issued Monday that the proposed changes could send money "in one pocket, out the other" because gamblers aren't ready to spend more and the changes aren't likely to interest more consumers in gambling.

New Jersey lawmakers are proposing the changes to try to breathe new life into the nation's second-largest gambling market. But Moody's says Internet and sports betting will likely set off "a casino arms race" with Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland, which would likely allow them as well.

"The measures carry mostly negative credit implications that will effectively move revenues from one bottom line to the next without necessarily expanding them," the credit agency wrote in its report.

A state senator shepherding many of the changes through the state legislature called the report "a familiar refrain."

"I don't think we can sit here and do nothing," said Sen. James Whelan, the Democratic former mayor of Atlantic City. "My experience in most of a lifetime in Atlantic City has been that you need new product.

"If you do nothing, we'll continue to see a 25 percent slide over the next two years," he said. "Instead, we have an opportunity to attract back the market segment that we've lost."

Instead of invigorating Atlantic City's gambling market by adding new investment, allowing casinos with as few as 200 hotel rooms will cannibalize existing casinos like the Borgata, Harrah's and the Trump casinos, the rating company said.

"If the proposals survive legal challenges, we do not believe neighboring states would sit still," Moody's said. "New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland are likely to embark on a casino arms race, moving to legalize both sports betting and Internet gambling as a way to protect operators such as Yonkers Racing Corp. in New York, and Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority in Pennsylvania.

"We do not believe Internet gambling and sports betting will grow the overall market because consumers will continue to feel pressure from economic forces such as high unemployment for quite some time," the report read. "We expect revenue would go in one pocket and out the other as gaming companies use different forms of gambling to vie for the same customer base."

The smaller casinos bill has passed both houses of the legislature and is awaiting action by Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who has called for greater state control over Atlantic City's casino district. Other proposals need action by one or more branches of the legislature.

Atlantic City is in the fourth year of a revenue slump brought on by the nationwide economic downturn and by casinos opening in neighboring Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware.

Trading in stock of the nation's largest publicly held casino companies was quiet Monday. Shares of Las Vegas Sands rose 44 cents to close at $50.50, MGM Resorts International fell 3 cents to $12.26 and Wynn Resorts shares edged up 14 cents to $102.23.

Head-butting at Foxwoods

Gamblers brawl over slot machine, one bites the other

Ledyard - A Massachusetts man allegedly bit a Manchester man on the nose early Saturday during an argument over a $100 slot machine in the high-stakes gaming area of MGM Grand at Foxwoods, police said.

The argument started about 1:15 a.m. Saturday when John I. Whittaker, 50, of Manchester, was playing two slot machines at once and 50-year-old Thomas C. McDonald, of Hanover, Mass., took over one of the machines, according to the Casino Unit of the state police.

Whittaker allegedly head-butted McDonald, who in turn bit Whittaker on the nose. Whittaker was treated at the scene for the bite wound and charged with second-degree breach of peace, police said.

McDonald was charged with third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace.

Hanover man charged with biting in dispute over a slot machine

A 50-year-old man from Hanover is back home after posting $500 bail following his arrest on charges he bit another man's nose in a fight over a $100 slot machine at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods casino in Mashantucket, Conn.

The Day of New London reports that Thomas C. McDonald took over one of two slot machines that John I. Whittaker, 50, of Manchester,Conn., was using early Saturday morning.

Whittaker allegedly head-butted McDonald and McDonald bit Whittaker.

Whittaker was charged with second-degree breach of peace and McDonald was charged with third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Always the sleazy "Abramoff" connection

The most recent Beacon Hill Folly into Gambling was preceded by the Jack Amramoff's sleazy deals, government for sale at bargain basement prices and a whole mindset filled with policies that disadvantage American workers.
These comments seemed pretty interesting and make some interesting connections --
Controversial Americans For Tax Reform Pledge

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. Grover Norquist group American for Tax Reform and the United State Commerce both oppose the Employee Free Choice Act.
“Chamber president Thomas Donohue has turned the organization into a key ally of the Bush-era corporate agenda that has empowered Big Business at the expense of workers. The Chamber has made opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act its top priority.”

Alliance for Worker Freedom is an arm of American for Tax Reform. American for Tax Reform is a group that seeks to limit the federal government’s ability to protect workers and consumers and ensure economic fairness.

“We’re going to crush labor as a political entity.” –Grover Norquist, founder and president of ATR

American Tax Reform is a group that opposes all taxes and promotes limited government. Grover Norquist, President has a questionable history with this group. ATR group calls themself a 501 (c)(4) group. This means they are a non-profit lobbyist organization in which all donations made to the group are considered tax-deductible but wait a second the The Americans for Tax Reform Foundation is a 501(c)(3). Supposedly under 501(c)(3).

The ATR Foundation is used for research and educational organization, and all contributions to the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation are tax-deductible as allowed by federal laws.
Americans for Tax Reform’s mission statement: “ATR opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle. We believe in a system in which taxes are simpler, fairer, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today. The government’s power to control one’s life derives from its power to tax. We believe that power should be minimized… ATR serves as a national clearinghouse for the grassroots taxpayers’ movement by working with approximately 800 state and county level groups.”

Would you be surprised that I could find very little on the American Tax Reform Foundation. Well I did find a complaint: Norquist used either or both ATR and ATR Foundation as commercial enterprises by laundering money derived from Indian casino clients of former lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff. The casinos made contributions to ATR, which then skimmed a fee off the top before passing the money on to former Christian activist Ralph Reed and other anti-gambling activists. In this way, Norquist, Reed and Abramoff were able to disguise the fact that the money used to fund anti-gambling activities was generated through Indian gambling. The point of the anti-gambling campaigns was to prevent competition to the Indian casinos.

Americans For Tax Reform Pledge, Which Requires Signers To
Vote Against Tax Increases. [Americans For Tax Reform, Accessed 10/8/10]
2010 Vote To Close Tax Loopholes For Companies That Ship Jobs Overseas Seen
As Violation Of Pledge. Signers of ATR’s Pledge are Committed to Supporting
Tax Breaks for Companies Outsourcing American Jobs. Americans for Tax
Reform has stated that it is a violation of their pledge to support ending
tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas. [Americans for Tax
Reform, 8/9/10; Washington Post, 8/5/10; Washington Post, 6/9/10]
2007 Vote To Close Tax Loopholes For Countries Shipping Jobs Overseas Seen
As Violation Of The Pledge
. In 2007, the Americans for Tax Reform issued a
legislative alert making it clear to their pledge signers that if they voted
to remove a tax loophole taken by companies that ship jobs overseas it would
be “a clear and unambiguous violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.”
[ATR Legislative Alert, 7/25/07]

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers
112th Congressional List

235 Representatives and 41 Senators

(click the link to review the list)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tourism minister proposes relaxing slot machine laws

Tourism minister proposes relaxing slot machine laws

The Government has announced plans to further weaken gambling laws in a bid to prop up failing slot machine arcades and bingo halls.

The proposals were announced by the Minister for Tourism and Heritage, John Penrose.

Critics say gambling disproportionately affects the poor and can lead to serious addiction.

John Penrose, who is the Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare, announced a consultation to consider two possible changes to the Gambling Act 2005 applying to ‘adults-only’ (B3) slot machines.

The consultation, which will close on 25th January 2011, proposes to increase the maximum stake limit from £1 to £2, and permit a modest increase in the number of slot machines in adult-only arcades and bingo clubs.

Mr Penrose said: “I want to ensure these businesses remain competitive in these tough economic times. I believe increasing the stake to £2 and reviewing machine entitlements will provide the boost needed by operators and manufacturers, but public protection must remain paramount.”

The last time the gambling laws were liberalised was by the Gambling Act 2005. Since then charities that help gambling addicts have seen an increase in cases.

GamCare reported a 21 per cent increase in enquiries in 2008, with 51,000 people contacting the charity.

At the time of the Gambling Act 2005 The Christian Institute and others warned that weakening the law would lead to an increase in problem gambling.

Last October a mother told the BBC how her life was destroyed by quick-fire betting machines that she calls the ‘heroin’ of gambling.

Speaking anonymously, she said fixed odds betting machines, known as FOBs, were a real problem for her. They are like a casino and a fruit machine rolled into one.

She was sent to prison for shoplifting offences that she had committed to fund her habit and her children were taken into care.

“The machines are the killer”, the mother said.

Rules limiting their use were watered down when the Government passed the Gambling Act 2005.

Macau: More regulations

Macau --

More gaming regulations

Lawmaker Ho Ion Sang questioned the secretary about the plans to relocate slot machine establishments from residential areas and to raise the casino age limit to 21.
Ho said the number of slot machines and the revenue have jumped at least four-fold since 2005, and retired people and housewives are prone to getting addicted to slot machine gambling.

The secretary clarified that the plans were not put on hold, disclosing that the two draft laws have already entered the legislative process, with the one relating to slot machine venue relocation currently being deliberated in the Executive Council.

Lawmaker Melinda Chan Mei Yi suggested prohibiting casinos from sending promotional text messages to Macau residents and the operations of casino courtesy buses. Tam said they can be taken into consideration but did not comment further.

In response to a number of lawmakers’ concerns about the labour shortage problem among the local small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), Tam encouraged SMEs to hire more skilled workers, in addition to unskilled imported labour, to help expand the business and assure sustainable development.

He denied that the Government has given priority to gaming operators or other large-scale enterprises in the approval of migrant workers.

“The number of imported labour, including those working in the construction sites, hired by the six gaming operators is about 14,000, less than 20 percent of the total employees,” he added.

The recent Policy Address announced that the Government will review the Labour Relations Law and the Imported Labour Law in 2011.

The secretary said the Standing Committee for the Coordination of Social Affairs and the special Imported Labour Law working group will be responsible to study the implementation of the two laws and make suggestions for their revision. However, no further details were disclosed.

The inflows of hot money was another issue that concerned the lawmakers. The secretary stressed that the Government will keep a close eye on the situation

GAMING BEHIND BARS: Prison casino is history

GAMING BEHIND BARS: Prison casino is history

Inmates operated 'Bullpen' gambling hall for 35 years

Before receiving a gaming license, an applicant must undergo a thorough investigation by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. They routinely are rejected if they have a criminal history or have associated with unsavory characters.

So then, how did inmates -- every one of them a convicted criminal -- at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City operate their own casino for 35 years?

Yep, blackjack, craps, poker, gin rummy, even sports betting were available as recreational activities for the inmates at the state's maximum security prisons between 1932 and 1967.

Inmates operated the "Bullpen," a stone building converted into a casino, on the grounds of the 140-year-old state prison in Carson City. Sometimes the local Kiwanis Club and state agency heads even stopped by the prison casino to drop a few coins.

For most of those years, the Nevada State Prison was the state's only prison, even housing death row.

Former Mustang Ranch owner Joe Conforte, now a fugitive living in Brazil, even ran some of the games when he was a prison inmate there in 1962.

"It was a different time," said Dennis Neilander, chairman of the Gaming Control Board. "They thought it would keep them out of trouble. It wouldn't happen today."

Neilander said that before 1959, gaming control largely fell on county sheriffs. Nevada also had a long history of tolerating gambling even before it became the first state to legaIize gaming in 1931.

Inmates will gamble, regardless of whether it is legal or illegal, and prison gambling did keep them out of trouble, said Carl Osborne, a Las Vegas bus driver who has accumulated a collection of Nevada State Prison tokens, called "brass" by the inmates.

"I think the games would have been more than honest, because cheating inmates would be scared of the consequences," Osborne said.

"If someone got caught cheating, they might have to be transferred out of state for their own safety. You wouldn't have been very safe there."

Obsorne, 61, served a short stretch in the Nevada State Prison in the early 1990s and got to know some of the older inmates. Even during his time in prison, sports betting was rampant.

Buying prison tokens has become something of a challenge for Osborne. They are becoming increasingly rare. Occasionally they appear for sale on eBay. His winning bids typically are in the $200 range for a single token.

When Warden Carl Hocker -- a transplant from the California prison system -- closed down the casino in April 1967, he also quickly sold off the brass, which came in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents, $1 and $5.

"I think gambling in prison is a degradation, and it's certainly not constructive," Hocker said, according to newspaper accounts. "We're trying to replace it with constructive, wholesome activities that will contribute to a decent, healthful state of mind."

Hocker's idea of wholesome activities were handicrafts, bridge, chess, pingpong, volleyball, shuffleboard and making bead necklaces.

But Howard Herz, a Gardnerville resident who is the state's foremost expert on gaming tokens, has written about the prison casino and found perhaps the real reason for the casino closure.

There had been a riot at the prison early in 1967, and several legislators had introduced a bill to close down the casino. Hocker was a veteran of San Quentin and a no-nonsense guy when it came to discipline.

Herz also pointed out the Bullpen wasn't an illegal casino, but one sanctioned by the state prison. The backgrounds of all gamblers had been checked.

"All of the gamblers had their fingerprints on file, and security was excellent," Herz wrote in Casino Chip and Token News in 2006.

The casino closure bill wasn't needed once Hocker took pre-emptive action and bulldozed the Bullpen.

State Archivist Jeff Kintop said surprisingly little was written in newspapers about the prison casino up to the time it was closed.

He said the thinking of most wardens was gaming would keep inmates out of trouble.

"I guess gambling is one of those necessary evils," Warden Jack Fogliani said when he came to the prison in the 1960s.

The thinking of legislators, according to Assemblyman Howard McKissick, R-Reno, was that gambling prevented "homosexual problems."

Frank Johnson, a Nevada State Journal columnist, contended in a funny January 1960 column that it was common for reporters somewhere around the country every few months to discover the prison casino and write how awful that was.

"It has been months since the press has been around to expose my gambling den," Warden Art Bernard said in Johnson's column. "I am getting lonely."

Bernard, it seems, was called on regularly to justify the prison casino.

He told one reporter in 1957 that it was impossible to prevent gambling by convicts and that the prison casino was supervised by prison guards.

"These guys are experts," Bernard said about the inmates who ran games. "You can be sure they allow no cheating whatever."

Profits went to the inmate welfare fund.

Herz said each inmate who operated a game needed to have enough money to bankroll the game and receive the warden's approval. He also had to pay a fee of $25 to $75 per game every six months.

"That was a lot of money back then," Herz said. "Any inmate that had money could play. They invited guests to come in and play."

Under Conforte, horse racing was added to the list of prison casino games. Sports betting was expanded to include all collegiate events.

That all would end when Gov. Paul Laxalt brought in Hocker as warden.

The old state prison itself could end up like the Bullpen in 2011. Gov. Jim Gibbons tried to close it twice in the last two years, only to be rebuffed by the Legislature and the Board of Prison Commissioners.

Gibbons contended closing the 703-inmate medium security prison would save money, although correctional officers challenged his estimates and contended there is no safer prison in Nevada.

Under Gibbons' plan, correctional officers would be transferred to other prisons, as would inmates.

With the state facing a $1 billion to $3 billion revenue deficit, closing the prison likely will be on the agenda for the next Legislature.

Osborne is a history buff. He thinks it was a mistake to close the prison casino. He also realizes that not many Nevadans are around today who remember the era of legal gaming in the state prison.

"Virtually no one realizes we had a casino in our prison," he said. "But it is in our history. It shouldn't be forgotten."

Off-Track Betting lets go of 1,300 workers....

Off-Track Betting lets go of 1,300 workers, says it will close 66 parlors if state can't reach deal

ALBANY - The city's Off-Track Betting issued pink slips to 1,300 employees Friday as efforts to extend a lifeline to the cash-strapped agency stalled during budget talks in Albany.

"We cannot reach a three-way agreement on it to keep them afloat," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), referring to talks with Gov. Paterson and the state Senate.

Without a rescue deal from the state, the struggling OTB says it will shutter its 66 betting parlors on April 11.

The agency has become a political football as lawmakers scramble to close a $9 billion budget gap.

Paterson is pushing to allow the city's OTB to defer up to $3.7 million in payments it owes while work continues on a reorganization plan.

But lawmakers balked.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, chairman of the Racing and Wagering Committee, blasted OTB management for "unconscionable delays" in providing accurate financial information.

The Legislature will miss its April 1 deadline for a 2010-2011 budget - and is working on a short-term stopgap.

The Assembly approved a spending extension Friday. The Senate delayed action until Monday after Westchester Dem Ruth Hassell-Thompson fell ill.

"We are very far away on spending reductions," said Larry Schwartz, secretary to the governor, about the budget talks.

Gov. Paterson's harebrained Catskills casino deal...

Gov. Paterson's harebrained Catskills casino deal has put development at Aqueduct in jeopardy

You wouldn't have thought it was possible, but Gov. Paterson's lamebrained deal to open a Catskills Indian-run casino has thrown the state's confused and jerry-rigged gambling policy into further chaos.

Paterson negotiated his pact with the Wisconsin-based Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohicans in complete secrecy with less than two months left in his lame-duck term.

Then he inked it with little notice, zero chance for the public, let alone affected parties, to weigh in and little concern for the consequences.

Those consequences could be dire - and not just for the future gambling addicts this place is likely to spawn.

It was only three months ago, remember, that Paterson and legislative leaders finalized their ill-conceived plan to build a video lottery parlor at Aqueduct in Queens.

The developer they picked, Genting New York, had proposed to plow big bucks into transforming the track into an entertainment destination. Faced with unanticipated competition from a full-fledged casino a stone's throw to the north, however, Genting says it might be forced to pull the plug - and leave the Aqueduct property underdeveloped for decades.

Meanwhile, Paterson's new casino could well put out of business another video slots parlor that's struggling in nearby Monticello.

These so-called racinos are no bargain in themselves. They wrongly divert state lottery proceeds from financing public education - as mandated by the state Constitution - and use them instead to subsidize a dying horse racing industry.

But the new casino, which would pay a smaller cut to the state, is hardly a better deal.

Plus, the arrival of the Stockbridge-Munsee might well provoke tribes that actually live in New York to demand their own payback parlors - and gradually transform the state into Las Vegas East.

Whether Paterson can bind the state to a casino deal without a signoff from the Legislature, and whether the feds will okay a casino for a tribe that left New York centuries ago and lacks any bona fide reservation in the state, is far from clear.

Did short-timer Paterson think any of this through? Not that you'd notice. Another fine mess he's gotten New York into.

Rapid City Authorities Wrapping Up Casino Crimes

Rapid City Authorities Wrapping Up Casino Crimes

Rapid City, South Dakota has recently been contending with a slew of crimes related to casinos. In six days time, four casinos had been robbed by men with blades, ranging from knives to a sword.

Two men have now been arrested in conjunction with these robberies. Further charges are expected, according to police, and other leads are being investigated.

On Monday the first arrest was made. Daniel Gillen, a 50 year old resident of Rapid City, apprehended. Joshua Bourne, 23, was then arrested on Wednesday in Box Elder, SD.

Bourne and GIllen have both been charged due to the first robbery, the robber of Joker’s Casino on November 14th.

The charges include first degree robbery, as well as two counts of conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree. Additionally, Bourne was charged with witness tampering.

Gillen has also been charged with charges related to the synthesis of methamphetamine.

According to the Chief of Police, Steve Allender, citizens should not try to be heroic. “These are thugs that need to be stopped. That’s all that matters today. We need citizens to keep their eyes open, to stay calm, and not be a hero. We don’t need anyone hurt trying to apprehend these guys. We’re working around the clock to take calls and act on the leads.”

Corruption and fraud

Pakistan's Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif to be charged under 104-year-old corruption law

The three Pakistanis at the centre of the spot-fixing scandal are likely to be charged under a 104-year-old corruption law after a landmark ruling by the Attorney General.

The Telegraph can disclose there is a “strong appetite” to prosecute Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, according to legal and police sources.

It comes after another cricketer accused of similar claims has been charged under the rarely-used corruption law, and for cheating under the new Gambling Act.

The Attorney General rubber-stamped the decision to prosecute former Essex seamer Mervyn Westfield for deliberately bowling badly during a one-day game against Durham. Sources said that it paved the way for charges against the Pakistan cricketers.

Scotland Yard detectives interviewed them in September on suspicion of defrauding bookmakers after a newspaper sting alleged they received orders from businessman Mazhar Majeed to deliberately bowl no-balls in the Lord’s Test against England.

Police are now pursuing a charge of “accepting or obtaining corrupt payments” contrary to their “employer’s affairs or considerations” under the 1906 Corruption Act. It was originally framed for those working in public office and carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.

In the News of the World sting, Majeed, an agent, received £150,000 from an undercover reporter. It is understood that detectives have recovered just £4,000 of the money.

Two files of evidence have been passed by police to the Crown Prosecution Service, whose lawyers are under pressure to make a decision on any charges ahead of the February’s World Cup, which is being held in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

They will now be able to refer to the precedent set by Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, in the Westfield case - making charges more likely.

Westfield was originally charged with conspiracy to defraud after an investigation into a match against Durham in September 2009.

His lawyers argued that the case was not legitimate because the accusations did not fit the law.

It was also difficult to establish a potential “victim” in the case because no legal bookmaker in Britain actually takes bets on the timing of specific no-balls or wides, At an Old Bailey hearing last month, David Durose, prosecuting, said that the matter had been referred to the Attorney General to approve “more suitable” charges.

The first charge is under the corruption law and the second count is cheating under the Gambling Act 2005.

The Telegraph has learnt that the chief legal adviser agreed to an indictment with two new charges.

A CPS spokesperson said: “The CPS has decided that Mervyn Westfield should be charged with corruptly accepting or obtaining a payment for himself and with assisting another to cheat at gambling. Both charges relate to bowling in a manner calculated and intended to allow the scoring of runs in a NatWest Pro40 cricket match.

“We will not proceed with the charge of conspiracy to defraud as we have decided that the two new charges better fit the facts of the case. There was no substantial legal argument on the previous charge and the decision to replace it with the new charges was taken by the CPS.”

Jockeys suspended for gambling addiction

Jockey who couldn't resist a punt gambles career away

USUALLY the punter ends up with an addiction to gambling.

A small percentage of those ploughing billions of dollars into the wagering and gaming markets are diagnosed with a problem.

Thoroughbred racing must have many of them, but a jockey?

The rules forbid them from betting, but it was revealed yesterday that the Melbourne Cup-winning rider Blake Shinn has a gambling addiction.

Its seriousness led the young jockey to phone his partner, Sydney's glamour rider Kathy O'Hara, on race days.

On one occasion O'Hara received a call in the Goulburn jockeys room. Shinn was not riding at the meeting but after their conversation he placed $4000 on O'Hara's short-priced favourite Glove. It won.

''There is a perception you are getting information from the jockeys' room,'' the chief steward of Racing NSW, Ray Murrihy, told Shinn at yesterday's betting inquiry. ''It's undesirable.''

Shinn had pointed out many times that O'Hara was the only jockey in the female riders' room. ''What is she going to do, talk to the walls?'' Shinn told the inquiry. ''She gets lonely in there, uses me as a mentor.''

The stunning revelations emerged yesterday when racing's police suspended Shinn from racing for 18 months.

Fellow rider Peter Robl received a 12-month disqualification.

Jockeys are allowed to bet on races in New Zealand but not in Australia. But the rule did not stop Shinn and to a lesser degree his good friend Robl.

In a six-week wagering spree Shinn, who won the Melbourne Cup two years ago on the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed, and Robl turned over $300,000 by betting on races, some of which they rode in. They also backed horses they were riding.

On one occasion Shinn, who can earn $350,000 annually, committed one of racing's greatest sins: he backed a horse to beat the mount he was riding in a race at Royal Randwick. He lost $2500 on that occasion.

On another occasion Shinn bet $1300 on his mount Venus's Choice, which paid $11.20 when it won at Gosford.

The pair shared the winnings of $10,000 bet on Aussie Crawl when it won a race at Muswellbrook. Neither rode in the race and the horse paid $1.60.

But the spree came to an end when Racing NSW stewards ran their list of licensed jockeys through the computerised accounts of betting houses.

The inquiry began with Shinn and Robl being interviewed at the Canterbury race meeting on September 29.

It was also revealed that Robl's wife Elaine and Shinn's mother Carol were party to the betting. Both had TAB accounts which were used by the jockeys.

Shinn, 23, admitted to the Racing NSW stewards' inquiry that the Robls knew little of his betting habits.

He was betting on race meetings everywhere.

Shinn was lured to Sydney from his Victorian base by the champion trainer Gai Waterhouse before he parted company with her last year.

Robl - whose contract to ride for Patinack Farm, owned by the mining tyro Nathan Tinkler, ended on Wednesday - cannot attend any racecourse in Australia while disqualified.

Both intend to appeal.

''Don't think racing can presume punters are fools and are going to fully support racing when this impacts on the integrity of racing,'' Mr Murrihy said yesterday. ''We strongly suggest this goes to the integrity of racing. The perception of racing is just as important as what the reality is.

''Betting of this scale we have not seen before.''

Shinn and Robl both left yesterday's inquiry without commenting.

Elaine Robl and Carol Shinn were also fined $7500 each by stewards for being a party to the jockeys breaching the Australian Rules of Racing.

Nebraska proposes coverage for gambling addiction

Neb. taking comments on behavioral health plan

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The state is taking comments on its strategic plan for Nebraska's behavioral health system.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Behavioral Health created the plan for 2011-2015 using input from an online survey of consumers, among other sources. The plan covers services for mental health, substance abuse and gambling addiction.

Gambling Addiction

Gambling Addiction Part 1, Medical Matters TV Show

Gambling Addiction Part 2, Medical Matters TV Show

Gambling Addiction Part 3, Medical Matters TV Show

Friday, November 26, 2010

Please Don't Go

Please Don't Go, Big John's Journey Back to Life by John Hartson

His story will inspire and give hope to recovering gamblers and cancer sufferers alike.

Gambling Addiction
John Hartson first started gambling at the age of 14, when getting a job as a glass collector (potman) in a club in his native Swansea. At the end of the week he would lose all his wages on the one armed bandit slot machines and even resorted to stealing small amounts from his mother’s purse to continue the habit.

His addiction escalated over the years to such an extent that winning a bet would give him the equivalent adrenaline rush to scoring a goal. Even at the time of his illness, he was still betting heavily even though he had convinced his family that it was all behind him.

Gambling Addiction

Gambling postman Mark Hernaman admits to stealing cash from mail

A POSTMAN with a gambling addiction could face prison for pilfering hundreds of pounds from customers' mail.

Mark Hernaman, 30, of Conrad Avenue, Canterbury, admitted five counts of stealing post at the Canterbury delivery office where he worked for four years.

Ellis Sareen, prosecuting, told Thanet magistrates on Friday how the father-of-five stole money and vouchers from post and then shredded what was left.

Hernaman owned up to taking more than £350 in cash and £70 in vouchers between January 1 and January 20 this year.

His deception was uncovered after the Post Office launched a surveillance operation following complaints from the public of missing mail.

Mr Sareen said investigating officers introduced four test items into the post as bait on June 22.

Hernaman was seen to open three of the packages, which contained cash, vouchers and a pair of headphones, and enter his home before finishing his round.

When he returned to the delivery office he was searched by investigating officers who found three Marks & Spencer vouchers on him.

Hernaman then agreed to have his home searched. Officers found the headphones and cash and a large quantity of shredded material. When interviewed, he admitted taking the three test packages along with other items.

Max Reeves, defending, said Hernaman had no previous convictions and considered himself to be "honest and trustworthy" but had got into debt gambling.

He was said to have become hooked on horse racing after enjoying a winning streak but ended up suffering "huge losses".

Mr Reeves said Hernaman's situation became more desperate in January, and he began taking mail to pay off his debts.

Chairman of the bench Anthony Hodges adjourned the case for a pre-sentence report. He told Hernaman his early guilty plea and circumstances would be taken into consideration but that the breach of trust was "so serious we must consider passing a custodial sentence".

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Illinois Lawmakers, don't marry the pig

Illinois Lawmakers, don't marry the pig

Almost 15 years ago, the state's attorney in Peoria County began speaking publicly about patterns of theft linked to the East Peoria riverboat casino. With regular succession, the faces of Girl Scout troop leaders, trusted school secretaries and local librarians appeared alongside armed robbers and drug dealers in the newspaper's crime section. Suffering from gambling addiction, the educated, white-collar crowd began stealing to support their bad habits.

Back then, riverboats were relatively new tools designed to spur economic development in blighted communities. They were, in fact, riverboats - attractive, multistory vessels that cruised Illinois waterways with paddle wheels and old-fashioned trimmings. Patrons could sip cocktails on the ship deck, visit the captain or spin the roulette wheel.

The revenue generated helped beautify downtown areas while offering depleted tourism coffers a booster shot.

That all changed.

Just as anti-gambling groups predicted in the early 1990s, casino operators have continued to push for less regulation and more saturation. Riverboats no longer churn along Illinois waterways; land-based casinos were more profitable because gamblers could walk aboard anytime. So out went the prerequisite for water.

Investment in the local community is no longer the "sell."

Rather, the state needs the money to pay its bills. Gambling is an easier political "sell" than increasing taxes. And so, like gerbils in an exercise wheel, lawmakers once again are building a top-heavy, something-for-everyone gambling bill that is sure to fizzle under its enormity.

The bill lawmakers are considering for next week's veto session includes four new casinos, slots at racetracks and the possibility of a casino in Chicago. There are a few new adornments this year, including slot machines at Chicago's two airports, but the pig hasn't morphed into anything other than an older, fatter pig. She's been down this road before.

For the most part, social arguments against expanded gambling don't resonate as they once did. The gambling addicts - the librarians, secretaries and reverends - no longer make the front page when they're caught stealing from kids and old people. Lawmakers, instead, are focused on the financial carrot to the state when wrestling with how to vote on an expanded gambling proposal.

Bottom line, it's wrong.

Setting aside the social arguments, state government should not increase its reliance on gamblers' losses in order to fund schools, prisons and health care for the poor - the state's three biggest financial strains.

It's quite absurd, actually, that the basic debate over government funding gets lost in the politics of how many gaming positions would be suitable and which towns should play host and what do the racetrack owners want this time around?

What about what we want from our government?

Hundreds of communities statewide expressed their distaste for expanding gambling by proactively banning the very video gambling machines that lawmakers approved in 2009. Mayors, citizen groups, church organizations and taxpayers sent a message to their local officials: We don't want more gambling.

And yet, lawmakers in Springfield - apparently oblivious to the message - unveiled a proposal for the biggest expansion of gambling this state has seen in 20 years.

The state needs revenue, no question. Even with the surgical spending cuts that groups such as the Civic Federation and others have outlined, state government is too far down the hole and only digging deeper.

We need some form of a tax increase. That is, after all, how we fund government in a civilized society, not by turning Illinois into Las Vegas.

Just in the past few days, the General Assembly has shown an appetite for fiscal sensibility in re-examining the state's Medicaid program and workers compensation laws. The effort to reform two outdated, inefficient, cost-laden systems started in the state Senate and spread to the House.

That's the right path to take. More, please.

Marrying the pig? Wrong.

AFL Star David Schwarz: Gambling, Mafia Warnings

AFL Star David Schwarz: Gambling, Mafia Warnings

Readers, punters, politicians, casino millionaires, billionaires, tourism operators, one and all. We know that only a small percentage of people develop a gambling problem, where it starts to become a real problem and negative in their lives. As a public service and in the spirit of being fair and balanced in our coverage of gaming and gambling we offer the story on an Aussie sporting champion who survived his problem, and today he shares it with us. Media Man and Gambling911 with the news you need to know, not necessarily what you want to hear...

AFL footy star David Schwarz knows what it's like to battle with a gambling addiction.

His addition has been compared to the one that Brendan "Punter Fev" Fevola once was known for.

He gambled the better part of $4 million bucks over a decade while playing with the Melbourne Demons AFL team between 1991 and 2001.

In a revealing and candid speech at a gambler's help launch at Victoria's Latrobe Community Health Service last Monday, Schwarz disclosed he made it out of his gambling addition only because of the help of other people.

Schwarz lived in Morwell and Traralgon as a child before moving to Beechworth and then Sunbury.

He's good memories of growing up are overshadowed by bad. When he was 8 years old he said he saw his father shot dead in front of him, leaving the family with gambling debts of almost $40,000, then the value of 3 houses in the town.

When he was 14 he placed his first bet and scored a winner, pocketing about $50.

Schwarz said when he told his mother how he got the money he "saw the fear in her eyes straight away".

The only days of the year he didn't gamble were Christmas Day and Good Friday, because the betting companies were closed.

When the AFL hit the "boom time" in the 1990s Schwarz said his income jumped from about $30,000 a year to $1.28 million for a 4 year deal.

"Most people would think 'I can set myself up for life here', I thought 'I can do some damage at the track'," Schwarz said.

His gambling spiralled out of control and the rising footy star blew his earnings and the equity on his Camberwell home, and his personal and work relationships began to suffer greatly.

"I was hanging out with d**kheads in the Mafia...all of a sudden I'm the person who's letting my team one trusts me," he said.

"(But) I don't care, I'm punting, that's my life."

He told the group that punters made selfish choices and lied to family and friends.

Schwarz said he didn't believe the gaming industry was "evil", but some punters were vulnerable to becoming problem gamblers and those people needed to be protected.

Average electronic gaming machine expenditure in the Latrobe Valley is about $4 million a month. You read correctly.

Latrobe Community Health community support executive director Anne-Maree Kaser said the Venue Support Workers program helped gaming venue staff identify and respond to people showing signs of problem gambling behaviours.

Two Venue Support Workers are now in Gippsland working with gaming venues and gambler's help organisations to support responsible gambling practices and environments.

Hat's off to Schwarz, gaming companies and community support groups doing the right thing.

If gambling is becoming a problem for you please seek assistance.

Gambling takes another victim

Gambling takes another victim

More and more evidence is surfacing about the deadly cost gambling places on Oklahoma families and pocketbooks.

Roger Q. Melson, Jr., of Edmond was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Oklahoma County after pleading guilty to 174 felony counts of embezzlement. Melson was the director of audits at the Commissioners of the Land Office – a position of trust. Over a five-year period, Melson stole royalty payments worth more than $1 million to maintain his gambling addiction at Oklahoma casinos.

Prosecutors wanted to give him 20 years. Friends and family argued for probation for Melson, who was working as a janitor at a Baptist church for about $10 an hour following his arrest.

He stole from an agency that supports schools, colleges and universities. He worked there as an auditor for more than 20 years.

On Jan. 28, a judge will determine how much he owes in restitution. He has already forfeited his state retirement – more than $125,000 – and $23,000 he had left over from his theft.

So, now another nonviolent criminal goes to prison. His family must live without him and his income and he and his wife face retirement without anything but Social Security.

Melson said he went to casinos “to escape.” He was given 50 years of probation (essentially a life sentence). He asked the judge for probation with prison on the weekends so he could counsel others with gambling addiction. The judge said no.
Melson’s despair over his gambling addiction was so great that he purchased a gun so that if the shame became unbearable, he could take his own life.

Gambling is a sin. It is bad for people. It is bad for a state and a culture. It invites crime. It is wrong.

As long as Oklahoma permits legalized gambling, our people will pay the price.

Gambling Ring Defrauded Casino

Four suspects in casino cheating ring arraigned in New London

New London, Conn. — Four Korean nationals who are suspects in an international casino cheating syndicate and arrested by state police detectives at Foxwoods Resort Casino were arraigned today in a New London courtroom.

Two of the four, 60-year-old Young Su Gy and 34-year-old Wookyung Kim, were charged at the casino on Monday with numerous felonies as part of a three-month long cheating investigation. Authorities said the cheating at baccarat was achieved with the use of an electronic device and occurred on numerous dates between Sept. 8 ad Oct. 20.

State Prosecutor Peter McShane said suspects in the scheme to defraud the casino stole between $750,000 and $1 million.

Judge Kevin McMahon stepped out from behind his bench today to get closer to a phone where a Korean interpreter translated the court proceedings over a speaker. He said the two are implicated in crimes in Atlantic City, Las Vegas and elsewhere outside the United States. Gy, he said, is accused of being the ringleader of the group and is accused of stealing $447,000 alone from Foxwoods. He is charged with 16 counts cheating, 16 counts possession of a cheating device, seven counts first-degree larceny and three counts third-degree larceny.

Kim, facing numerous conspiracy charges, is accused of stealing more than $83,000 from Foxwoods.

Also in court today were Ingyu Park, 55, and Sun Jang, 63, Koreans who were picked up by state police detectives and held on a $500,000 bond on a felony warrant out of New Jersey. They are being held as fugitives from justice. Their arrest was linked to the cheating investigation and they are accused of cheating on multiple occasions at a mini-baccarat table at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.

Connecticut state police said the cheating investigation was conducted by state police casino unit detectives, Foxwoods Office of the Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security, Foxwoods surveillance and New Jersey state police casino unit.

State's Attorney: Gambling Ring Defrauded Casino
2 Appear In New London Superior Court

Members of an accused gambling ring have been charged with using tactics to defraud Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Investigators said the scope of the case may reach far beyond Connecticut.

New London court officials said up to $1 million in cash was taken by the group.

During Wednesday’s arraignment, a New London judge had to arrange for a Korean interpreter to be sworn in over the phone to arraign two of the four suspects.

Two others were indicted by Atlantic City authorities.

Federal agents also were in court Wednesday, and said the case could be the tip of the iceberg, stretching to casinos across the country and abroad.

Gy Young Su, 60, of Korea, appeared in court Wednesday, and according to the State’s Attorney’s Office, is considered to be the leader in an organized effort to defraud Foxwoods Resort Casino of up to $1 million.

Court authorities said Foxwoods is providing video surveillance evidence, showing Su and other associates using an electronic device slipped up a sleeve in playing a table game called Minibacc.

The state’s attorney said the scheme was to defraud the casino of $750,000 to $1 million. Su, who has no local ties, had his bond set at $500,000.

Also arraigned Wednesday was 34-year-old Wookyung Kim, also from Korea. Authorities said Kim has numerous prior felony gaming charges and that she allegedly took nearly $84,000 from Foxwoods.

The assistant state’s attorney said the federal investigation is ongoing and that two others are being extradited to Atlantic City to face similar gaming theft charges there.

Because of the ongoing investigation, warrants in the case have been sealed.

The suspects are due back in court on Monday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Boston Globe's Hack Job

In order to accomplish anything on Beacon Hill, it is necessary to stroke the ego of some ....sometimes less than the brightest...sometimes pretty dumb, if truth be told.

That's probably why the well paid LOBBYISTS are so well compensated - they can go home and gag on the requisite ego stroking - or maybe they lack the insight to recognize their folly. They adequately shovel the manure to feed over-inflated egos.

One wonders how some get into elected office without their districts being duly embarrassed.

In some cases, an electorate too lazy to follow the votes and performance of their officials explains all.

Clearly, the media is partially to blame for some pretty poor reporting.

In many cases, it's because qualified people simply don't run. (Take a hint!)

In many cases, some districts have pretty impressive elected officials who are willing to conduct their due diligence, arrive at informed decisions, make substantive comments and their election reflects a well informed and involved constituency.

When the scandal involving Matt Amorello made news, the Beacon Hill culture was conspicuously displayed for scrutiny.

Here was a Republican hack, under qualified for a bi-partisan mess, with an over-inflated ego that blinded him of reality his potential, appointed by an absentee Republican Governor who had to return to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts each time disaster struck.

That absentee Governor, running a Presidential campaign himself, mostly allowed state government to be run by mouthpieces, "Government by Press Release while out of state."

So the Commonwealth gets into one pickle after another by accepting sound bytes, political hacks, government determined by union support, government determined by special interests, government for sale to the highest bidder.

Then, the Boston Globe, sensing the blood in the water in an election year, does a little homework into a scandal they could have/should have highlighted in the intervening + 20 years, and scores a home run of sorts.

What's their game? Readership?
Resistance, resolve in report’s wake

Gambling Industry? Where was the uproar from the Globe? Where were the editorials about taxpayer dollars spent on BENEFITS Reports, while leadership refused to conduct an INDEPENDENT COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS? Did the Boston Globe ever comment on the Independent Report conducted in New Hampshire? Has the Boston Globe ever reported that the cost of each Gambling Addict created by Slot Barns in the Commonwealth exceeds $13,000 per year?

Gambling legislation paralyzed Beacon Hill for 18 months, while important legislation languished and the Globe became a cheerleader for the Industry.

Posted here: Alice's Rabbit Hole and Senator Menard:

I think it is wonderful that, in Joan Menard's last months in office, she finally concerned about getting people jobs, even though they aren't related to her:

University of Massachusetts, Menard Jennifer J., Director of Economic Develop, 37.50 hours, 2008 -$67,291.40, 2009 - $73,348.77

Trial Court Menard-Parece Jody M, Acting Clerk Magistrate, 37.50 hours, 2008 - $110,221.00, 20009 - $110,051.18

Lottery Commission, Preble Sean S, Field Technician MSLC, 40.00 hours, 2008- $48,418.80, 2009 - $49,477.67

That in no way defends the current scandal, but highlights that the problems are far more widespread than the Globe has presented. It also highlights how the Boston Globe has failed to properly serve, until election year arrives.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Grandiose dreams defy reality

Mohegan rolls 4Q loss on layoffs, project halt

The Mohegan Sun, one of Connecticut's two tribal casinos, landed in the red in the fiscal fourth quarter, the result of millions of dollars in layoff costs and expenses tied to its shelved casino expansion project.

The casino's operator, Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, reported Tuesday a loss for the three months ended Sept. 30 of $26.3 million. That compares to a $66.4 million profit in its fourth quarter in 2009.

Mohegan's revenues for the quarter were $408.6 million, a 3 percent increase from $396.7 million the same period last year.

For the year, Mohegan Sun eked out a $9.7 million profit, down 92 percent from income of $119.3 million in fiscal 2009.

Revenues for the year were $1.54 billion, a 2 percent drop from $1.57 billion last year.

The quarterly loss stemmed primarily from a $58.1 million impairment charge on Mohegan's halted expansion, known as Project Horizon.

Begun in 2007 with plans to add a 1,000-room hotel, a new casino and other amenities, work was suspended a year later after the recession bit hard into casino revenues.

In a statement Tuesday, the tribal authority said it didn't know when, if ever, Project Horizon will resume.

The authority also paid $9.9 million in severance charges during the fourth quarter as it eliminated 475 positions, the first layoffs in the casino's history. Over the course of the next fiscal year, the authority estimates the savings from the layoffs will be $30 million.

Despite the Project Horizon impairment charge, the suspension of that project kept the authority from sinking further into debt during the recession.

Mohegan Sun's total debt is $1.64 billion. While significant, it is smaller than rival Foxwoods resort casino's estimated $2 billion debt, resulting from its completed expansion project.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Disaster that is New York State

This summer, we did our own little 'man on the street' sampling of tourists we encountered in the Commonwealth and surveyed their impressions of the impacts Gambling had on their home states. Invariably, we encountered some not very kind expressions about the degradation caused to communities after grandiose promises from this Predatory Industry that preceded approval and construction.

We all know the glowing promises that never materialize - gazillions of construction workers will be employed, quadra-zillion new jobs will created that pay sky-high wages, the streets will be paved with gold, tax revenues will cover flawed fiscal policy, and it will all simply happen by magic.

You might consider what Bryant Simon had to say and the disaster that is Niagara Falls - that's New York State.

Growing up in New York State, I watched as OTB Parlors were opened in minority communities and watched the destruction, the increased crime, communities that spiralled downward. And all of it ignored because, after all, it was just poor people getting poorer.

One might be tempted to say "What is the Governor blind to the destruction caused by Gambling?" Unfortunately, he is. So, in the last few weeks of the Governor's disastrous reign, at least we can blame his figurative blindness on his literal lack of sight. Not much of an excuse for the legacy he leaves.

Moody's 'gets it.' It's OVER. There are only so many dollars you can suck from the poor and the gullible.

NY state strikes deal with tribe on casino land

(Reuters) - New York state agreed on Monday to give a swathe of land to a Wisconsin Native American tribe, which has plans for a major casino and resort complex near New York City.

The Stockbridge-Munsee tribe will give up their decades-long claim to 23,000-acres of land in New York and receive 330-acres of land 90 miles northwest of New York City.

But the deal now needs approval from the federal Department of Interior and faces opposition from environmental groups.

"This compact is a significant step toward revitalizing the economy of Sullivan County by building on its legacy as a tourist destination," New York Governor David Paterson said in a statement.
[Translation: Besides, I'll be out of office and really couldn't care.]

If approved, the 584,000-square-foot casino in the area known as the Catskills would compete with New Jersey's Atlantic City, two American Indian casinos in Connecticut and other, smaller gaming facilities in New York state. [Ah...compete with 2 CT Tribal Casinos that are broke? Foxwood defaulted. Atlantic City that is kaput? Do the Capital Markets have so little sense? SugarHouse just opened and revenues are declining.]

Paterson said the project will generate $1.3 billion in economic activity during the construction phase. Once built, the casino would pump an additional $900 million into the state per year, Paterson said. [Horse feathers!]

According to the National Indian Gaming Association, there are 558 federally recognized tribes in the United States of which 237 run 442 gaming operations in 28 states. Tribes have sovereignty and are subject to limited gaming regulations.

Gaming is an attractive source of revenue as many U.S. states struggle with high unemployment, diminished consumer and property sales taxes and other recession woes.

But revenue from all forms of legal gambling in the United States declined by 2.9 percent in fiscal 2009 from fiscal 2008, according to the Rockefeller Institute in Albany, New York.

"The days of, 'We'll just build something and we'll double the interest (in) gaming and twice as many people will gamble' -- I think those days are over," said Keith Foley, a senior vice president at Moody's Investors Services.

"Anything that cuts traffic and offers a good product will probably take away from somebody else," he said.

Rickb: Here's a novel idea!

How about let's consider an INDEPENDENT COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS like the one conducted in New Hampshire that Beacon Hill refused to conduct?

We could consider:

1. the infrastructure costs that taxpayers will be forced to bear
2. the cost of gambling addiction estimated at + $13,000 per year (that figure is somewhat outdated and maybe we should assess a more accurate cost)
3. as you know, a federal report determined that every $1 in revenue produced by the Gambling Industry, the cost to taxpayers is $3 (that figure is probably outdated as well and should be re-assessed)
4. the cost of cannibalization of local businesses, theatres, other entertainment venues that will be lost
5. the impacts of increased bankruptcies, increased embezzlements, increased crime and so on, including increased court costs, increased incarceration on an already overburdened system
6. let's have an honest discussion about DUIs - more drunks on the road as a consequence of 24/7/365 FREE ALCOHOL
(please don't use the argument that you would have the same problem with a local venue because lawsuits, insurance costs and local enforcement would rid a community of a local establishment that has created the damage of the 2 Connecticut slot parlors.)

That's a good beginning.

Footnote: This is in response to a poster here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New York State: Sucking out the last dollar to fund folly

New York State need only look around at other states that have progressive policies and wiser fiscal policies to comprehend their folly.

When New York State, in desperation, legalized OTBs, they blindly destroyed communities and ignored the consequences. I know. I watched.

Now, New York State entertains expanding that folly in all directions to preserve a dead industry, bail out failed OTB, renew its own corruption.

There is an end to revenues. You simply can't continue to suck communities dry while funding flawed policies and preserving dead industries such as racing.

Stay tuned for the worst of the worst in New York State.

Nobody by should be fooled by a veiled ploy

In just the last few weeks, the renaissance that has been experienced by the New York Racing and Agriculture Industries has been threatened by two extremely shortsighted and hopefully dead-on-arrival proposals.

The first, an attempt to prop-up the hopelessly flawed New York City Off Track Betting Corp. involves not just the forgiveness of tens of millions of dollars NYC OTB owes to the state's horsemen and breeders, but also calls for a reduction in the amount of live racing at Monticello Raceway.

Nobody in the state's legislature should be fooled by this veiled ploy to extend the 40 year run of a blatant patronage mill by needlessly eroding the very industries it is charged to support. In sum, the lawmakers in Albany should do with OTB's proposal exactly what the raceway judges do when they see the occasional lame horse; it should be scratched at the starting gate.

The second threat comes in the form of yet another pronouncement for the salvation of the Catskills via the construction of a Native American casino. While the numerous previous attempts have never gotten much past the press release stage, this most recent attempt is an insult to the intelligence of all New Yorkers.

Under the guise of a land claim settlement, certain government officials think they can sneak the casino by the public. Interestingly, while this operation would include not only slot machines but also table games, the tax rate would be quite small in relation to what the racinos and their horsemen presently pay to the State.

Worse yet, the competition from such an undertaxed operation would stifle the growth of, and investment in, the gaming and entertainment industries created under the carefully crafted video lottery terminal program; a program that is as closely regulated by the State as it is heavily taxed.

In sum, the citizens of Sullivan County and elsewhere should heed recent history and follow their instincts. While things assuredly need to get a lot better, they can and will get a lot worse if government allows schemes developed under the cover of darkness to destroy the economic progression that New York's racing, gaming and agriculture industries have brought to the table.

A run-amok OTB that consistently deadbeats the state and horseracing, maybe now coupled with a sweetheart casino deal, actually benefits no one. Is that what will help revitalize the mountains? I wouldn't bet on it with your money.

by Alan SCHWARTZ - (President of the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association, representing the hundreds of owners, trainers and drivers regularly competing at Monticello Raceway).

Atlantic City: High Times and Corruption

People always ask me about books that explain the impacts and effects of gambling and my favorites are offered. This book popped up and although I haven't read it, it's passed along in hopes that maybe someone will read it and offer some comments --

Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City

The true story that inspired the HBO series

Through most of the 20th century, Atlantic City was controlled by a powerful partnership of local politicians and racketeers. Funded by payoffs from gambling rooms, bars, and brothels, this corrupt alliance reached full bloom during the reign of Enoch “Nucky” Johnson—the second of three bosses to head the Republican machine that dominated city politics and society.

In Boardwalk Empire, Nucky Johnson, Louis “the Commodore” Kuehnle, Frank “Hap” Farley, and Atlantic City itself spring to life in all their garish splendor. Author Nelson Johnson traces “AC” from its birth as a quiet seaside health resort, through the notorious backroom politics and power struggles, to the city’s rebirth as an international entertainment and gambling mecca where anything goes.

Boardwalk Empire is the true story that inspired the epic HBO series starring Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, and Kelly Macdonald, with a pilot episode written by Terence Winter (The Sopranos) and directed by Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island).

Right Here, Right Now

Right Here, Right Now with Mara Dolan Guest: Kathleen Conley Norbut

"Give me the revenue and nobody will get hurt"

County wants part of revenue from Ganienkeh slot machines
Officials push for revenue from Ganienkeh Territory gaming

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County officials say it is time they get a cut of the revenue from slot machines on Ganienkeh Territory in Altona.

County Treasurer Joseph Giroux told legislators recently that the county should get part of the handle from the 110 slot machines they believe to be operating on properties at Ganienkeh Territory.

"We'd like to get part of the handle, and, if not, we'd like the state to have those machines removed," Giroux said.


Ganienkeh Mohawks say they don't think so.

"When are we going to get some revenue for the lands they stole—" Ganienkeh spokesman Tom Delaronde, said, referring to ancestral claims that Native Americans were pushed off their lands by settlers hundreds of years ago.


Mohawks at Akwesasne, some 90 miles west of Altona, have had an agreement with the state and St. Lawrence and Franklin counties to share part of the revenue generated from nearly 2,000 slot machines on the reservation since 2004.

The pact calls for Mohawks to have exclusivity on gaming operations in seven counties: Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Hamilton, Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Warren. The deal calls for the state, those counties and four towns — Bombay, Fort Covington, Brasher and Massena — to receive payments.

That agreement has come under scrutiny recently as Akwesasne Mohawks claim that by allowing the slot machines at Ganienkeh, the state violated the agreement.

Mohawks have since stopped paying the state its portion of the slot revenue but have continued to pay St. Lawrence and Franklin counties and the towns.


Delaronde said Ganienkeh Mohawks are not part of the Akwesasne tribal government and not involved with their dispute with the state.

"This is our land, our territory, it belongs to the people of the Mohawk Nation, and we will take care of our people," he said.


Giroux said the county is seeking slot revenue from the Ganienkeh slot machines in part because several properties in Altona off the Ganienkeh Territory have been purchased in recent years by Mohawks who have not paid taxes on the lands.

The Mohawks, Giroux explained, claimed the lands purchased were to be part of Ganienkeh, which was created in 1977 by an agreement with the state.


The county foreclosed on nine parcels last year and regained title to the properties, including the new golf course off Rand Hill Road, but Mohawks continue to occupy the lands.

The county is also in the process of foreclosing on three more parcels.

The county has lost more than $200,000 in tax revenue from the disputed properties since the Mohawks purchased them.

"If we are not going to get revenue in taxes, then we should get it from the slots," Giroux said.

"Revenue is revenue."


Delaronde said the parcels in question belong to the Mohawks.

"This is not a one-person entity, it belongs to the people," he said.

Giroux said an agreement on slot revenue would also help the Mohawks, who aim to market their new golf course, which opened this past summer.

"They put a lot of money into that golf course; I am sure they want people to go to it."

Delaronde said the golf course is doing just fine.


Giroux is asking legislators to approve a resolution formally asking the state for assistance in collecting revenue from the slot machines in Altona.

Legislators will vote on the resolution at Tuesday's meeting.

County Legislators Keith Defayette (R-Area 6, Schuyler Falls) and Jackie Walker (R-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh) agreed with the idea of asking for some of the slot-machine revenue.

"We know it (slots) exists, they know it exists; we should ask for some of the handle," Defayette said.

Walker said it is not fair to other property owners who pay taxes to allow lands purchased by Ganienkeh Mohawks to go untaxed.

"The golf course is not paying taxes, and that's not fair either."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Beginning of the end for New Jersey

New Jersey voters opposed statewide Gambling and only supported a re-tread version that was limited to Atlantic City - on the pretext of 're-vitalizing' a poverty-stricken, falling down city.

Much like the arguments offered on Beacon Hill, it's okay if it's "over there some place" - Middleboro, Fall River, that other un-named western Massachusetts town. Let them deal with the increased crime, increased traffic, drunks on the road from 24/7 free alcohol. Just as long as it's 'not in my community.'

I listened, at a loss for words (a rare occurrence) as Senator "NIMBY" Hart wanted to exempt his community from the devastation caused by Slot Barns, that he proudly supported elsewhere.

And here we are, all these years later, with New Jersey addicted to Gambling Revenues and decades of wrong fiscal policies, giving Casinos a bailout and reducing regulations.

The Gambling Vultures, where ever they go, use whatever buzzwords the public willingly accepts to support their revenue extracting enterprise - public schools, care for the elderly, and so it goes.

This looks like the beginning of the end for New Jersey.

Senate bill would provide tax break for casinos

TRENTON — Atlantic City casinos will receive a tax break worth up to $25 million a year — at the expense of the PAAD and other programs — under a bill scheduled for a vote in the state Senate Monday, two analysts said.

The tax break, the analysts said, will reduce revenue that otherwise goes to pay for prescription drugs for low-income seniors — the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled program — and other social services, such as transportation for the elderly and disabled.

Klatzkin said the tax break would make Atlantic City casinos more competitive with casinos in nearby states that do not tax promotional items and thus are more able to entice customers to come.

"I'm sure the state has no financial problems at all, right?" Wortman said. "Why are they acquiescing to the casinos to eliminate that? I thought the Democrats and Republicans in the Statehouse were supposed to look out for the citizens, not the casinos."

Carl Zeitz, a former member of the Casino Control Commission, said that Pennsylvania taxes its casinos, in total, at more than half of their revenue, while New Jersey charges the 8 percent.

"It really comes down to one thing — convenience gambling," Zeitz said...

Bottoming Out

Bottoming Out Gambling Addiction in Las Vegas is worth re-visiting.

Casino owner says he worries about problem gamblers, opposes Internet gaming

Compulsive gambling is a tricky topic in a town where casino operators are considered economic engines and icons of ingenuity instead of unsavory merchants muddying the water between entertainment and highway robbery.

This makes casino owner John Woodrum something of an enigma. He worries about those customers who can’t resist the slots’ siren call.

Woodrum, 72, owns the Klondike Sunset, a neighborhood casino that depends on repeat visits from nearby residents, including people, he says, who are perpetually broke.

“Nothing bothers me as much as seeing people lose more than they can afford,” he says. “I’ve told people, ‘Why don’t you just walk away and let it go for a while?’ ” But they don’t.

And so Woodrum is conflicted. He runs a casino but worries about his poor customers losing money. Does he feel so strongly about this that he’d close his business and retire? Well, no. Because even if he did, there are plenty of other casinos in town. And yet, he has seen plenty of lives ruined by gambling from his perspective — one that many big casino executives don’t have.

And now there’s a new threat to gamblers, he says: Internet gambling. No way, no how should that be allowed, he says.

Of course he would say that, right? Internet gambling would hurt his business by allowing his customers to stay home and gamble.

Woodrum understands that people may not believe his more altruistic motive in fighting Internet gambling.

His casino career began inauspiciously. He planned to drive through Nevada from California in 1963 but ran out of gas in a casino parking lot with a few dollars in his pocket. He never left, working in casinos and getting married. He ended up owning the Klondike at the southern end of the Strip — a budget casino known for its Western-themed exterior that was torn down in 2006 to make way for redevelopment. His 43-year marriage has beaten the odds in a demanding business known to strain marriages and close relationships, and he has accepted the slim profit margins that come with small casinos such as his.

But harder to accept is the knowledge that people have lost homes and relationships to gambling’s pull.

When Woodrum talks about “gamblers,” he isn’t referring to the majority of Americans who gamble occasionally or for recreation. He means those who “will gamble every penny they’ve got” and leave nothing for the next generation.

And now comes online gambling to tease them, including the millions of Americans who play online poker for money although it is considered an illegal activity.

Many casino operators think legalized online gambling is inevitable, if only because of a natural tendency to push for regulating activities that have grown acceptable and widespread.

Driving to a casino to gamble is one thing, Woodrum says. “Allowing it for people every minute of every day (at home) and you’ve got a whole different animal on your hands.”

Although Woodrum’s view on Internet gambling smacks of protectionism, especially coming from a small casino that can’t compete against the giants and their increasingly international brands, Las Vegas attorney Jeff Silver understands where he is coming from.

“Given the Harvard MBA types that are seemingly revered in the gaming industry, Woodrum is definitely ‘old school,’ ” said Silver, a former casino executive and member of the Gaming Control Board who rooted out mob influence before Wall Street invested in casinos. “Statistics and surveys aside, his understanding of the ‘gambler’ and what motivates him is very astute.”

Online gambling legislation isn’t expected to pass for at least the next two years.

Woodrum doesn’t know what will happen if and when Internet gambling is legalized and regulated, but he’s resigned that it’s coming.

And he suspects it will usher in a new era where Web casinos — unlike today’s popular, although black-market online poker rooms — will become as promoted as major retail chains.

“More people are going to lose more money,” he says. “The big companies think if people gamble on a computer, they’ll want to go to (Las Vegas). Maybe they’re right. On the other hand, if you lose on the Internet you might have less money to spend at the other place.”

And about his customers who can ill afford to gamble? “I think it’ll be a little too tough for people to handle.”

Exhaustung the supply of suckers

When a business derives its profits by creating Gamblers and Gambling Addicts, sucking discretionary income from the local economy and ultimately destroying the lives and financial futures of families, the supply runs out - eventually, leaving in its wake crumbling cities, rampant crime, nothing you'd want to emulate.

Hence, the Casino Vultures are forced to look for continued expansion, smaller facilities (Slot Barns) and say whatever they have to in order to sell a bad product.

Maybe the capital markets have finally figured out that Casino Capitalism was just that.

Harrah's Entertainment cancels planned flotation
Harrah's Entertainment, the biggest casino company in the world, has pulled its plan for a $500m (£313m) flotation just a day after General Motors roared back on to the US stock market.

The company, which owns the London Clubs International chain in the UK and Caesars in the US, said it would now not be pursuing the flotation because of market conditions. The decision is a blow to private equity firms Apollo and TPG Capital who combined to buy Harrah's for $30bn in January 2008.

Harrah's, which posted a loss of $187.1m in the last quarter, had said that part of the money it planned to raise would be used to pay for the completion of a 660-room hotel tower in Las Vegas, as well as building casinos in Cincinnati and Cleveland.