Meetings & Information


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Casino Tax Rate Promise Shrinks To 39 Percent

This might be called "Same Old, Same Old."

To get your attention, gain a foothold, stroke some egos and flimflam the public, the predators promise anything and everything. Then they dicker, whine, complain, or simply file bankruptcy.

Casino Tax Rate Promise Shrinks To 39 Percent

Precisely as GSCAEG has warned for the past two years, promised casino tax rates are about to be cut from 49 to 39 percent. While his new gambling bill remains under wraps, Senator Lou D'Allesandro spilled the beans at a Saturday pitch meeting in
Lancaster. This will mean much lower gambling revenue for the state.

Millennium Gaming, the Las Vegas company eyeing a Salem race track casino, played out this same bait-and-switch on taxes in Pennsylvania. Complaining to the legislature about lower-taxed gambling competitors in West Virginia, Millennium
asked for a tax rate reduction on table games at their Pittsburgh-area casino. Earlier this month, the legislature caved and legalized table games at a tax rate of 16 percent, dropping to 14 percent in two years.

Casino tax rates in Connecticut are 25 percent. The rate most recently proposed for Massachusetts is 27 percent. The average U.S. casino tax rate is
22 percent.

"You can bet that even the promised 39 percent rate will not hold in New Hampshire," said Jim Rubens, Chair of Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling.

Opening the door to casinos will make New Hampshire dependent on a perpetually declining revenue source. "To balance future budgets, the state will be forced to legalize more casinos and more slot machines in more locations - in or near every community in our state," said Rubens.

Steve Norton, who posts innocuous sounding comments defending his predatory business and failing to disclose his interests, posted the following on an unrelated article --

You mention Centaur, which is not in Bankruptcy, but has been unable to pay interest due. But you fail to mention the extraordinary up front fee to Indiana of $250 million for 2,000 slots and a tax that averages nearly 50%. A similar problem has been experienced by Twin Rivers in Rhode Island, where the high tax rate has put them in bankruptcy, with no up front fees, in spite of slot revenues exceeding $400 million annually.

The reply:

You agreed to that up front fee. You agreed to pay the tax based on rosy projections.

Now, you are claiming an inability to compete with Riverboats that existed prior to your agreement?

Please notice that Mr. Norton introduced the subject of increased crime in defense of his business and wrote:

Granted crime has increased in Atlantic City, but FBI statistics are based on permanent population, and a city with less than 40,000 citizens, entertaining something like 35 million visitors, and 30,000 to 40,000 casino and support employees commuting daily from other South Jersey cities, has a lot more people at risk than the FBI recognizes. So those persons in Atlantic City are much less likely to be involved in criminal activity, than pre casino AC.

If one follows this nonsensical statement, even though, let's say breaking and entering into homes has quadrupled, as a resident of Atlantic City, you're less likely to be a victim because of the influx of people. This is a common statement used by the industry to dismiss the increased crime.
If Mr. Norton's edifice is erected in New Bedford, property owners will pay the cost of that increased crime.

Mr. Norton was invited to support an independent cost benefit analysis that would allow him to produce supporting evidence of his claims.

That's not what he wants.

This industry thrives by lurking in the shadows, eschews public discussion and thrives on back room deals.

It's time for transparency and open, public discussions.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Elkinson back in Massachusetts

Of attempts by prosecutors to block communications with his wife, Richard Elkinson's public defender said:

....the two had had a happy marriage until now.

Kinda takes your breath away when you realize he spent $29 million cheating people.

The Mississippi casino remains unnamed. Curious!

"Because I Said so!"

Slots to Save Tracks!

Oh, My goodness!

Where have we heard that refrain?

From House Speaker Robert "Because I Said So" DeLeo!

Would someone please explain those recent election results to the Speaker?

Or maybe send him a link to United to Stops Slots in Massachusetts?

Maybe we can send him to Kentucky where his flawed rhetoric would fit right in --

The [slot] revenue would also tremendously help an ailing horse racing industry. The racing industry in Kentucky is storied, but has come under some difficult economic times as the economy in the US has slipped. The tracks have been pushing for new ways to help them stay financially viable.

Why does this flawed logic even make sense?

Only 3% of Massachusetts voters support slots at tracks. They get IT.

Mr. Speaker, please support an independent cost benefit analysis.
And, Mr. Speaker: No more Casino KoolAid for you!

No previous criminal record

The gambling industry has spent a lot of money to convince you that gambling is simply innocent entertainment.

Most of us can visit a slot parlor, feed the machines and leave.

A small percentage, estimated at 10% by Harrah's, but higher according to other studies, simply can't.

Those players are then targeted, marketed and promoted by the industry.

Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, appearing on PBS Frontline in 1997, said:

"I don't agree with the premise or the concept that it's entertainment...

The public, being so uneducated, doesn't realize how vulnerable they really are to what we call 'the heat' - the heat being you start out very lightly, very small, very conservatively, and then you lose your control....

It's the only industry that I'm aware of in the world where the player really has virtually no chance."

Winner Takes All, Christina Binkley, page 186.

Each time an article appears about someone who naively believed it was 'simply entertainment,' and no one warned them about the addiction hazards, where are the warning signs? where are the odds posted? where is there any consumer protection?

Most of these people are law abiding citizens who become consumed.

Gambling addiction has the highest rate of suicide or suicide attempts of all addictions.

How pathetic are we that we justify sacrificing of neighbors on a false pretext?

Former House of Assembly bureaucrat Bill Murray pleads guilty

Murray, 55, has no previous criminal record and Coady said there was a strong likelihood he would not be before the courts again.

... Murray had a significant gambling addiction.

At one point, he was pumping $500 a day into video lottery machines, an estimated $180,000 a year.

After the spending scandal became public, Murray tried to kill himself and was admitted to the Waterford Hospital.

... it's hard to put an exact dollar amount on how much Murray profited from his crimes between 1999 and 2006 because while some transactions were fraudulent, others may have been legitimate.

... estimates it was about $400,000.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Race to the Bottom

So sad!

The race to the bottom leads states to continuously expanded predatory gambling in a foolish frenzy to accomplish naught, except market saturation and destroy local businesses.

Magical dollars will fall from the sky like Manna from Heaven?

Discretionary spending has its limits.

From a regular reader:

The pie continues to get smaller as the race continues to the bottom.

By the time a Massachusetts based casino opened its doors, the market will have been super saturated. Just as we have seen in the golf markets where in the early ‘90’s, there was a new golf course opening every day of the year somewhere in the United States. Now, the figures are in the minus.

Due to the market being saturated, golf courses are being plowed up and turned into residential and commercial properties all over the country. This is what happens to industries that are based on discretionary spending. There is only so much to spend and far too many places to spend it! A per cent of revenues agreement could easily turn into a percentage of nothing. However, the impact costs don’t easily go away!

Maryland Joining W.Va. Competitors

The legalized gambling bandwagon can hold only so many passengers. West Virginians, once in the driver's seat, are having to move over and make room for more states.

Last week a report to the Maryland legislature provided more reason for worry about our state's reliance on revenue from gambling.

Maryland is set to become a competitor against West Virginia in legalized video slot machines, a move that may have prompted approval of table gambling at the Charles Town, W.Va. casino. That racetrack became the last of four in the state to implement a full-scale casino.

But last week, Free State lawmakers were told by a special commission that they, too, should consider table gambling. While the panel stopped short of urging that lawmakers approve table gambling, it reminded them that other states have taken the step.

West Virginia no longer is the only regional provider of table gambling. It has been approved for Ohio and Pennsylvania, too.

While the Mountain State held a near-monopoly on some forms of gambling for several years, that has come to an end. Competition from Pennsylvania already has affected the two racetracks in our area. As noted above, it is entirely possible that a third track will be hurt badly by legalized gambling in Maryland. Once the slot machines begin humming there - and if table gambling is approved - the Charles Town track's revenue will suffer.

For years we have urged West Virginia legislators to begin planning for the day when competition from other states cut deeply into government revenue from legalized gambling. That already has begun - and it will get worse, quickly.

We realize there is no easy solution to loss of gambling revenue for the state - and for localities such as ours - that have come to depend on the money. But the longer state officials put off addressing the problem, the more difficult it will be to handle.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Gambling addicts losing it all

Gambling addicts losing it all

TASMANIANS are stealing food, nappies and even baby formula as they struggle to cope with gambling addiction.

A shocking new study has found that half of all Tasmanian gambling addicts who committed a crime as a result of their habit were first-time offenders who held senior management positions or positions of trust.

In the past five years, 41 people have appeared in the Tasmanian Supreme Court charged over gambling-related thefts involving $6.8 million.

The largest theft was $4.5 million and the smallest $539.

The cost to the Tasmanian taxpayer to jail the offenders was $3.8 million, or an average of $263 a person a day.

Four cases before the courts also involved drug trafficking in an effort to fund the gambling addiction. Six of the cases involved violent crimes.

Anglicare Tasmania yesterday released the findings of its new report, Nothing Left To Lose, which calls for better consumer protection and new sentencing options for Tasmania's growing number of gambling addicts.

Report author Margie Law said there was a clear link between crime and problem gambling.

Ms Law said gambling was clearly causing ordinary people to do things they would not ordinarily do.

In half the cases between 2004 and 2009, the offender had no previous convictions and had become caught in a gambling web.

"In all 21 cases involving first offenders, the crime was not violent and prior to their conviction the majority of these people were employed and often held positions of trust," Ms Law said.

"Many of them were under stress from work and family pressures and turned to gambling as a form of relief. What they got instead was escalating debt and a prison sentence."

One of the most notable convictions was that of Tasmanian Crown prosecutor Michael Shirley who stole $200,000 in cash, seized mostly from drug dealers, to feed his addiction to Keno.

Mr Shirley was jailed in 2008 and is eligible for parole in March.

The study found that 28 men and 13 women were jailed for gambling-related crimes. Six offenders had dependent children who were most likely forced into foster care as a result of the parents' imprisonment.

Ms Law said the lack of information surrounding crimes linked to gambling needed to be improved by courts to get a true snapshot of the problem.

"The paper does not argue that crimes should not be punished but until public policy truly protects people from an activity that can cause such devastating harm, public policy is tricking people into thinking that gambling is a harmless activity," she said.

"The gambling industry knows how to market its products to encourage people to gamble and keep on gambling."

Federal Group spokesman Brendan Blomeley said new measures had already been introduced to deal with problem gambling as a result of a State Government review.

The Federal Group holds the monopoly on poker machines and casinos in Tasmania.

Treasurer Michael Aird said it would be pre-emptive to legislate for a $1-a-spin bet limit before the Productivity Commission finalised its report late next month.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Harrah's Swindle Flu

Of the Swindle Flu -- that MSM ignores --

This is the same casino where a patron was electrocuted and survived with permanent injuries.

Gambling Risk: Electrocution?

NC casino cleans slots every 2 hours to beat virus

CHEROKEE, N.C. -- Workers are cleaning slot machines with bleach every two hours as a North Carolina casino battles a virus that has sickened nearly 250 people.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Friday that Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Hotel is wiping down its 3,300 slot machines with a bleach and water mix around the clock. The outbreak since Jan. 12 has caused intestinal troubles including vomiting and diarrhea.
Door knobs, escalator handrails and restrooms are being sanitized hourly.

Casino spokesman Charles Pringle says the culprit is a norovirus that is sometimes a problem on cruise ships and at schools.

State epidemiologist David Bergmire-Sweat says relatively few of the casino's 7,500 daily visitors have gotten sick.

Uniting against casinos

Uniting against casinos
Towns join forces to address impact

Western suburbs started planning last week to join forces to address concerns about casinos.

Known for their rigid independence and fierce sovereignty, Massachusetts communities are usually suspicious of regionalization. But the possibility of a resort-style casino in Milford, or Marlborough, has communities thinking there is power in numbers.

“If I were even to support some expanded gambling bill, I believe it’s critical there be some regional acceptance. It has to go beyond just the host community,’’ said state Senator Karen Spilka, a Democrat from Ashland, who, as Senate chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, held Beacon Hill hearings this fall on multiple bills that would expand gambling. “It will have regional impacts. There has to be regional acceptance and regional mitigation as well.’’

Residents and officials from several towns, including Natick, Wellesley, Ashland, Hopkinton, Holliston, Milford, and Framingham, gathered at the Ashland Public Library on Wednesday for “Regional Casino Contingency Planning: Collaborative Preparation for a Potential Gaming Destination in 495/MetroWest,’’ the meeting organized by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the 495/MetroWest Partnership, and other groups.

Participants talked about strategy with two Monson residents who have been successful in harnessing their region’s powerbrokers to air concerns about a possible casino in their area, and also got an update from Spilka on the state’s view of expanded gaming.

“The House is working on a bill now,’’ she said. “That will maybe come out in February or March. There will be a hearing on the bill, I assume. The House will take it up and then it will come to the Senate. . . . I honestly don’t know at this point what will be in it.’’

The Legislature could legalize resort casinos, with a limit on the numbers for either the entire state or for particular regions, said Spilka. There are also bills for “racinos,’’ she said, which would allow slot machines at racetracks.

She emphasized that although the governor, speaker of the House, and Senate president have all voiced support for casinos, no one really knows yet what the mood is in the rest of the Legislature.

Spilka said that because the Legislature is in the second year of a two-year session, everything has to be resolved by July 31, or the entire process starts over in the next session.

The Western Massachusetts Casino Task Force has already organized 15 towns, which together submitted a list of 23 concerns to legislators that organizers hope will figure into any final law.

Edward Harrison, chairman of the task force and a Monson selectman, said the effort began in 2007 after Mohegan Sun, a giant casino in Uncasville, Conn., optioned some land in nearby Palmer.

Harrison’s task force wants to establish a regional mitigation fund so that surrounding towns can be compensated for any negative effects from casinos. He urged the audience to talk to their legislators, because once legislation is passed, there probably won’t be much chance for amendments.

“We probably only have one bite at the apple,’’ said Harrison.

Among the 23 concerns, the task force asks that enrollment costs for new students who are children of casino workers be paid from tax and license revenues.

A regional ballot vote is also requested so that approval of a new casino would include not only the host community but also neighboring communities.

Other points seek to mitigate social and public health costs, infrastructure expenses, and environmental impact.

The task force also wants a cost-benefit analysis. Spilka said it appears that the House and Senate have already agreed to an updated study since the governor’s study predates the recession.

Kathleen Conley Norbut, a founding member of the task force and president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, fielded a question on education costs. She said the task force learned from the Connecticut experience, where surrounding towns had to expand English language programs in their schools.

Another important lesson, she said, is that towns have to understand the approval process just as the casino developers do. State environmental regulations, for example, could be triggered when no one expects it.

“We also found that the process is not necessarily a smooth decision-making process,’’ said Norbut.

Dennis Giombetti, a Framingham selectman who moderated the meeting, said the next step is for regional groups to write their own letters to the Legislature.

“I think the casino issue needs to be discussed from a regional perspective,’’ he said before the meeting. “Obviously the host community will have some jurisdiction, but the actual casino will have a major regional impact.’’

Follow the leader

The pathetic saga of the Something for Nothing scheme of Richard Elkinson, common con man and gambling addict continues to unravel, along with the names of those who directed investors to him.

If Jay Fialkow and Jeffrey P. Ross failed to conduct even basic due diligence in this case and failed to notice that they never received earnings statements, is it any wonder Fialkow supported the Fools' Gold of Mashpee Wampanoag Casino Capitalism?

... Jay L. Fialkow was a prominent and politically connected Boston lawyer. He was an assistant attorney general, worked on privatization issues for Governor William Weld and efforts by the Wampanoag tribe to build a casino.

Ross and Fialkow ... said they and their Newton advisory firm, Ross Fialkow Capital Partners, merely introduced people to Elkinson - and only 17 of them at that. Investors were responsible for their own due diligence....

Oh? Kinda like a dating service?

Ross and Fialkow earned $319,000 in commissions from Elkinson...

The first agent to raise money for Elkinson was Richard N. Silverman. He met Elkinson some 20 years ago....

At his house in Framingham, Elkinson showed him an embroidering machine in his garage, Silverman said.

Putting a machine in the garage of a home you don't even own ensures credibility and investments?

“It was the first loan I ever made in my life,’’ Silverman said.
Silverman, now 86, said he introduced 25 to 30 investors to Elkinson. He quit in 2005...

without putting anyone of those 25 to 30 friends or authorities on notice?

Elkinson was arrested at a[n unnamed] Mississippi casino early this month

Failure to conduct the proper due diligence, allows well respected leaders and otherwise smart people to support Ponzi Schemes such as this. Let's not fall for it.

It's time to insist that the Commonwealth conduct an independent cost benefit analysis before enacting any legislation to expand gambling.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another Victim Embezzles

Roulette Addict Embezzles Hundreds of Thousands of Pounds

An accounts assistant was just sentenced to two years in jail for gambling away about vast amounts of his clients’ money. Bryan Kettle became addicted to online roulette and used the money of several companies he worked for, to bankroll his habit. In sum, he paid bookmakers £120,000 for roulette games.

This large sum of money was stolen over a period of four and a half years, beginning in 2003. His gambling addiction was believed to have started in 2002. Overall, Kettle has spent about £160,000 on online roulette games and lost £50,000. The companies he embezzled money from included Marmions Restaurant, Border Bingo Clubs and an unnamed third party. Kettle was able to successfully steal cash because he had access to pre-signed checks. Thus far, Bryan Kettle has paid back £40,000 from the sale of his home. No word on whether or not, he will be forced to pay back more of the stolen money.

Another Victim of Predatory Gambling

Kathy Cleveland served as the district's secretary. Years after Thompson left his office with the district, Kathy Cleveland pleaded guilty to at least $120,000 in bank fraud after she altered her ex-husband's time sheets and invoices to inflate his pay and funnel the extra money toward her gambling addiction.


Another Victim of Predators: Gambling Addict Embezzles $262K

Convicted tax collector to update court on repayment plan

RICHMOND — The former tax collector who bilked the Richmond-Carolina Fire District out of more than $262,000 to support her gambling addiction will appear in Providence County Superior Court Feb. 2 for an update on her repayment schedule. The update was rescheduled from Tuesday.

Jerilyn J. Majeika of South Kingstown pleaded no no contest in July 2009 to unlawful appropriation over $1,000, in exchange for the state dismissing another charge of forgery and counterfeiting. She was sentenced to 10 years of probation and ordered to pay restitution.

Majeika admitted to taking $262,514.55 over an 18-month period, starting in September 2004, and forging a signature of a member of the fire district’s board of directors on a $9,000 check.

The missing money affected 2004 and 2005 tax collections, and an approximate $25,000 federal grant for the installation of an emergency generator in December 2005, the state police said at the time of Majeika’s arrest.

The fire district’s board of directors fired Majeika in July 2006 after they found that she had opened an unauthorized bank account in her name to channel the money. They launched an internal investigation and fired Majeika the next day. Majeika had worked as the district’s tax collector since 1999. She made $13,500 a year in her elected position, the only paid position in the volunteer fire district. Shortly after, they hired new tax collector Jennifer Berke.

In 2006, Majeika had repaid $180,000 and had planned to make full restitution by the end of September 2006 by refinancing her South Kingstown home. But Tuesday, according to the court clerk, Majeika had an outstanding balance of $30,000. Her last payment was $2,500, on Oct. 27.

Brad Philbrick, chairman of the fire district’s board of directors, said that an insurance policy covered $50,000 of the stolen funds, leaving Majeika responsible for the remaining $30,000. He said the district received its first reimbursement check last month.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pandora's Box

Flawed public policy is flawed public policy wherever it exists. At least some folks get it --

...there will simply be new methods of gambling explored every time a spending crisis hits the state.

Rolling the dice

A weird thing happened on the way to table games in Pennsylvania.

People are already wondering if it’s the right way to go.

And that includes the governor. Yep, Ed Rendell. The guy who has been one of the biggest proponents of expansion of legalized gambling in Pennsylvnia.

Last week the Pennsylvania Legislature finally got around to passing the bill paving the way for poker, roulette and craps to be added to slots at the state’s new gambling parlors, including Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack.

They’ve been kicking it around since last summer. The state needed the $250 million boost – including an initial influx of cash before the games even start from the license fees casinos would pay – to close a budget gap. It took more than 100 days past the July 1 deadline for the state budget to hammer out a spending plan. Then it took another three months for our representatives to agree on legislation to usher in the table games era.

You would think Rendell would consider this a victory. Instead he reacted as if he’d just gulped down a spoonful of castor oil. Rendell went so far as to sign the legislation Friday in private, without the usual public fanfare such an event would spark.

Rendell made it clear he wanted to have all the state’s casinos up and running before considering expansion to table games. But the state’s financial crisis pretty much made that a moot point.

Other legislators also took some potshots at the bill.

State Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160, said the bill failed to deliver enough in the way of property tax relief.

Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166, as he usually does, made the argument that gambling is not the way the state should be solving its financial woes.

By the way, don’t expect to show up at Harrah’s and sit at a table to play poker this weekend. State gambling officials say it likely will be six to nine months to get the games up and running.

In the meantime, casinos such as Harrah’s are already ramping up their preparations. Harrah’s boss Vince Donlevie says his facility likely will add 300 jobs to handle the new methods of gambling.

The state has opened Pandora’s Box when it comes to gambling. There’s now no way to put the genie back in the bottle. Instead, there will simply be new methods of gambling explored every time a spending crisis hits the state.

Can you say sports gambling?

Is Casino Gambling Good for Massachusetts?

Is Casino Gaming Good for Massachusetts?
Hear Both Sides of the Issue at

A Forum on
Casino Gaming

Moderated by State Senator Steven Baddour

January 28, 2010, 7:00 pm
Stevens Memorial Library
345 Main St., North Andover

State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein and State Senator Susan Tucker will present
brief arguments for and against legalizing casino-style gaming in Massachusetts. Those in
attendance will then have the opportunity to ask questions and offer their opinions to the
legislators. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about this topic and make your voice heard in
this important discussion of the issue.

Organized by the North Andover
Democratic Town Committee

Jan 20 Land Use Meeting

On 1/20/2010 the MetroWest Growth Management Committee, SWAP, and the I-495 MetroWest Partnership will be sponsoring a meeting from

5:00 – 7:00 PM

regarding the LAND USE issues relating to potential future Casino Developments in the Route I-495 area.

The meeting will be held at the Ashland Library.

What happens in New Bedford won't stay in New Bedford

YOUR VIEW: What happens in New Bedford won't stay in New Bedford

Richard Connor ("Will casino hurt city's arts sector?" Jan 6) raised salient points about the presence of a casino(s) in New Bedford stifling the current "hard-earned renaissance."

There are signs of emerging growth in the city ahead of the economic turnaround and the creation of a unique and special place based on New Bedford's rich history.

Local small businesses are the economic engine that drive job creation, and our leaders seem to have forgotten that economic principle. Each dollar spent in a local business multiplies because local employees go to the local mechanic, the local barber, the local restaurant.

A patron at Foxwoods summed up predatory gambling with this comment, quoted in a New York Times article Jan. 10: "
You know and I know that every inch of this place is a shell game to get people's money. I'd rather that we invest in something that provides real jobs and productivity, not more casinos. You just get the feeling that somewhere along the way, we took a wrong turn in this country."

The more I learned about the false glitter of casino gambling, the more I realized casino capitalism didn't work before and plunged us into a global disaster. It won't work now regardless of the packaging or promises.

Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama recently said, "Any scheme that will legalize slot machines under the pretext of generating new revenue is the biggest hustle in Alabama's history." Will Beacon Hill and our local leaders fall for this scheme?

What is particularly worrisome is that, regardless of the catchy refrain, what happens in New Bedford won't stay in New Bedford. Studies have indicated that gambling addiction, loss of local businesses, crime and increased costs affect communities within a 50-mile radius.

If you don't live within 50 miles of a slot parlor, you will bear the increased costs of crime, investigation, prosecution, court costs, incarceration, and increased social services costs for abandoned families, neglected children, and very sadly, suicides. (Of all addictions, gambling addiction has the highest rate of suicides.)

As a taxpayer, you will bear the cost of another bloated bureaucracy charged with regulating this monster.

Gov. Deval Patrick, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, the League of Women Voters and others have joined with United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts in calling for an independent cost/benefit analysis based on current economic conditions.

Please join with us insisting that our local elected officials and Beacon Hill base their decision regarding this issue on data-driven information and budgets.

Casino Opposition

After Ohio voters said NO to casino gambling 4 times, $50 million was spent to persuade them otherwise. Who would think their money was wasted?
This bears watching for the lessons to be learned.

Penn National was part of a $50 million campaign in this state to persuade voters to approve the casino.

WILLARD: Casino plan runs into opposition in Columbus

COLUMBUS: Just when you thought it was safe to walk back into the voting booth, be warned there is a movement afoot to ask you again to approve or reject a casino plan.

In November, after killing four previous attempts to amend the Ohio Constitution to allow casinos in this state, voters gave their blessing to build four gaming sites at specified locations in Cleveland, Toledo, Cincinnati and Columbus.

In the capital city, a group calling itself Stand Up Columbus (SUC) — obviously, no one vetted the acronym — has mounted a campaign to move the site from a spot in the Arena District, where the NHL Blue Jackets and the Clippers, the Indians' Triple-A farm club, play.

Nationwide Insurance, local residents, the Columbus Dispatch's owner and some other business groups with financial interests in the Arena District are not keen on the idea of Penn National Gaming erecting a casino in their neighborhood.

The problem facing SUC is that Penn National's site is in the Ohio Constitution, so to move the casino to another location, voters statewide will have to approve a new amendment.

Initially, the opposition wailed against the casino, stating that Franklin County voters rejected the plan by a 58-42 percent vote.

True, but this was a statewide vote for the Ohio Constitution and it passed. (Using the same logic, Ken Blackwell would be governor of Cincinnati.)

By mid-December, the city of Columbus announced about $750,000 in public dollars earmarked for environmental cleanup for the site would be withheld because the grant was approved when the land was supposed to be used for something other than gambling.

Penn National was part of a $50 million campaign in this state to persuade voters to approve the casino. The company will pay $50 million upfront for a license and has agreed to spend $250 million to build a complex that is expected to be worth $500 million the day it opens.

Does anyone in Columbus really believe Penn National-types were lying awake at night with the sweats over $750,000? SUC has to understand there is a new power in Columbus that makes the city's titans look like pikers.

On to Plan C.

SUC is now looking to work with Penn National to amend the Ohio Constitution to move the casino to some place other than the Arena District.

So far, four sites have been floated like trial balloons, and new ones are being talked about all the time.

The casino could be moved to the old minor league baseball stadium site on the city's near west side. The idea is being met with mixed reaction.

Suddenly, civic leaders are concerned about the economic well-being of the near west side. Just a few years ago, these residents begged the county not to move the Triple-A baseball stadium to the Arena District to avoid further economic devastation to their neighborhood.

SUC is also looking further west, where a Delphi Corp. plant closed in 2007 and eliminated more than 400 jobs, or the expansive and largely shuttered Westland Mall. Both are situated in a stretch of Columbus that you won't see in brochures touting the virtues of the city.

The fourth location isn't even in Franklin County.

The southern Delaware County site is near a former outdoor concert arena that was closed after neighbors fought for years against the noise and traffic the crowds and bands generated.

A number of Delaware County officials already have spoken against the idea.

In November, residents in that county rejected the casino issue by a 63-37 percent vote.

Think about that: SUC, comprised of many who recently decried the casino in Columbus because a majority of Franklin County voters rejected the plan, is now talking about moving its problem to an adjacent county that voted by a larger margin against the idea.

The SUC plan is to have something before voters statewide in May, which means the Ohio General Assembly would have to approve resolutions by early February with supermajority vote margins.

It will be interesting to see just how many lawmakers outside, and for that matter inside, Franklin County are interested in spending tax dollars to put another casino issue before voters.

State Sen. David Goodman, R-New Albany, and state Rep. Cheryl Grossman, R-Grove City, each had one co-sponsor when they introduced resolutions to amend the constitution to require a majority of a county's voters to approve gambling before a casino could be built there.

State Rep. Louis Blessing, R-Cincinnati, had no co-sponsors when he introduced his own resolution to move the Franklin County casino to another site.

As fascinating as the legislative watch will be, what would happen if the constitutional amendment would pass statewide, like last November, but somehow fail in Franklin County?

Even a novice gambler knows the odds are good that SUC suddenly would embrace the concept that the majority of 88 counties rules regardless of a vote in an individual county.

And at that point, Blackwell would be forced to abandon any plans he has to build a governor's mansion in Hamilton County.

Who we get into bed with

Blinded by the dazzle of the Holy Grail of predatory gambling, elected officials and our leaders that we depend upon to make informed decisions based on facts have failed us.
Steve Norton woos, strokes egos and flatters, writes innocuous comments and op-eds, pretending to save us from ourselves, even as he files bankruptcy elsewhere to preserve a gambling license and seeks to reduce taxes that he agreed to pay.
Twin Rivers renegotiated the terms of their agreement in bankruptcy court and overrides local control and objections.
Someone needs to point out to our leaders that the Holy Grail has two faces.
When Middleboro's leaders embraced a rushed and inadequate agreement, the information below was known and public. Who asked any questions?
Casino investor Strather has criminal past

Real estate developer Herb Strather raises his arms after the Mashpee Wampanoag gained federal recognition. The tribe investor was accused of bribery in 1977.File photo
By Stephanie Vosk
September 01, 2007
Gambling tycoon Sol Kerzner isn't the only Mashpee Wampanoag casino investor with a charge of bribery on his record.

Detroit casino developer Herb Strather, the tribe's first and most visible investor, was arrested on a bribery charge in 1977 for trying to buy off a police officer in Michigan, according to a 1997 report in the Detroit Free Press.

Strather bankrolled the Wampanoag's effort to gain federal recognition, which cost millions of dollars. In exchange, Strather has said he would be given a portion of the development rights on a Wampanoag casino.

In 1997, two years before Strather started giving money to the Mashpee tribe, Strather told the Detroit Free Press that he was pulled over after drinking to celebrate a big real estate deal in 1977, and had an outstanding ticket on his record. When Strather offered the policeman a pair of new shoes if he let him pay the ticket the next day, he was arrested.

Strather paid a $500 fine and did community service for the misdemeanor, the Free Press reported.

The Times could not reach Strather for comment yesterday. Scott Ferson, the Wampanoag's spokesman, said yesterday that tribal leaders are aware of an arrest on Strather's record, though not of the specifics.

Shortly after federal officials granted the Mashpee Wampanoag preliminary federal recognition in March 2006, Strather told the Times he had given the tribe approximately $15 million, about two-thirds of which financed the tribe's quest for federal recognition.

Last spring, after the tribe officially received federal recognition, the tribe announced that Kerzner and his partner Len Wolman had signed on as the lead investors for a resort casino. Strather has since faded into the background of the tribe's quest to build a casino.

Kerzner and Wolman were the prime investors for the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut and Twin River gaming facility in Rhode Island.

Wolman said recently that he had a business relationship with Strather in Detroit prior to becoming involved with the Wampanoag.

Applicants for Indian casino licenses are intensely scrutinized by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Others involved in the casino business, including investors, do not go through such stringent checks, if any, Ferson said.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council plans to establish a gaming authority which will apply for, and if granted, hold the license for a casino, he said. The tribe never intended for Strather to hold the license, according to Ferson.

It's the licensees who have to be clean, he said. Bureau of Indian Affairs officials do not allow anyone with a felony conviction to be involved in casino operations.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council has been in damage control mode for the past week following revelations that tribal council chairman Glenn Marshall was convicted of rape, a felony charge, in 1981. Marshall, 57, was also found to have lied about his military record when testifying before Congress. He resigned Monday.

"This is why the government has regulations on gaming," Ferson said of Marshall's conviction. "When the tribe applied for a license, that would have been known."

Kerzner, who was charged in 1986 of trying to bribe a South African government official in exchange for exclusive gaming rights, was never convicted. The charge was dismissed in 1997. He has since received at least one license from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to operate Mohegan Sun in Connecticut for a time. Kerzner has also secured commercial licenses in several states and abroad.

Strather, however, has had trouble getting a license.

In the 1990s, Atwater Entertainment, of which Strather was a founding partner, poured money into supporting a referendum question to allow casinos in Detroit. The grass-roots effort came after the Michigan governor ruled against allowing casinos in Detroit .

The referendum passed, and one of three licenses was subsequently given to Atwater for what would become the MotorCity Casino.

Nelson Westrin, former executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, told the Times in 2001 that state investigators place any investor holding more than a 1-percent interest in a casino through a thorough background check.

The Detroit News reported at the time that Strather and his partner had experienced financial difficulties over their 25-year business relationship. They paid taxes late, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development cited a real estate company they owned for several violations, the News reported.

Strather subsequently sold his interests in the casino, which opened in 1999.

John Page, deputy director of enforcement for the Michigan Gaming Control Board, would not release any details yesterday of Strather's involvement in Detroit casinos other than he was a license applicant and later sold his share.

$50 Million Settlement To Gambling Addicts

Our Friends to our north offered the following that raises additional issues that need to be considered by an independent cost benefit analysis committee --

Canadian Government Pays $50 Million Settlement To Gambling Addicts

Below are three breaking news stories on the settlement of a class action lawsuit by video slot machine gamblers against the Quebec Lottery Commission, which owns and operates the slot machines. The suit alleged that video slot machines cause addiction and financial and other harm to gamblers.

Two questions for backers of state-owned or state-licensed casinos:

1. Is sovereign immunity sufficient to provide certain protection for New Hampshire taxpayers from all liability for the costs of gambling addiction if the state were to legalize?

2. Do rosy-scenario revenue projections factor in risk of multi-billion dollar liability claims being successful?
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 2010 09:20:55 -0500
Loto-Quebec reaches settlement with gambling addicts
The Canadian Press Jan. 7 2010

MONTREAL - A former compulsive gambler who tried to commit suicide by jumping off a Montreal bridge in 2003, Did Belizaire says he'll never go back to playing video lottery terminals.

"I'm in a wheelchair because of that so it would be pathetic for me to get busy in the morning, get all dressed up and go and park myself in front of a machine," he said Thursday. "I'm really done with it."

The 43-year-old is now a paraplegic.

He was speaking after Quebec's lottery commission confirmed Thursday it had reached a tentative multimillion-dollar agreement to compensate thousands of addicted gamblers.

The out-of-court settlement of the class-action lawsuit has national implications because similar lawsuits are still underway in different provinces, including Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The deal, reportedly worth $50 million instead of the $500 million sought by the plaintiffs, stems from a lawsuit which was filed against the Quebec lottery commission in 2001 by gamblers addicted to VLTs.

Belizaire says when he first started playing VLTs more than 20 years ago he would put down $10 or $20, but through the years that turned into $100, $150 and even more.

"There's no way you can afford spending that money without the consequences that come with it," he said.

Belizaire eventually ended up having to borrow $1,000 from a loan shark with "$50 interest per day."

He said that on Sept. 19, 2003, he stole $500 from the petty cash of a hotel where he was working as a concierge.

"My plan was to go to the casino, play, and make enough money to give to the loan sharks so I could breathe easier.

"(But) I lost everything, so when I walked out of the casino I did the equation and that was it. I had to end my life."

After his failed suicide attempt, he went into rehab and later joined EmJEU, a coalition that focuses on ethics at Loto-Quebec.

Belizaire notes the agreed-to settlement provides compensation only for between 1994 and 2002.

But he says many compulsive gamblers received therapy during that period from clinics that were not recognized by the government.

"The whole court thing has been done for nothing because it's a minority of people who will get money back."

Loto-Quebec spokesman Jean-Pierre Roy said some people will have to show proof they followed therapy during the 1990s.

Belizaire also complains the deal does not recognize that VLTs are the cause of gambling.

"They're saying that gambling in general is the cause of this, they're saying that a lottery ticket is the same as the machines," he said.

"But I don't know of anybody who tried to kill himself over a lottery ticket."

The plaintiffs say around 119,000 Quebec gamblers can trace their addiction to VLTs.

Sol Boxenbaum, a consumer advocate and another spokesman for EmJEU, says Loto-Quebec doesn't want a court judgment that might set a legal precedent.

He believes other jurisdictions have had their eyes on the Quebec case.

"Any time there's a lawsuit involving Loto-Quebec, or the Ontario Lottery Corporation or whoever, it's never a completed trial," said Boxenbaum.

"If you get a judgment then you have jurisprudence, (but) if you're getting a settlement it means you didn't win."

Boxenbaum also points out it's the provincial Health Department that will decide on the amount each person receives in compensation.

He's urging the claimants to reject the deal "because it's really not a fair settlement to anybody -- except their lawyers," who he says will get $2.7 million.

Loto-Quebec says details of the tentative agreement will be made public Jan. 16.

A hearing will then be held March 8 in Quebec City. Plaintiffs unhappy with the deal will get a chance to speak before a judge, who must then decide whether to approve the settlement.

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.

Loto-Quebec strikes tentative deal with addicted gamblers
Phil Couvrette, Canwest News Service
January 7, 2010

Groups that monitor the gambling industry were divided on Thursday after Loto-Quebec confirmed it reached a tentative multimillion-dollar settlement in a lawsuit involving thousands of compulsive gamblers.

With cases pending in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Ontario, the settlement has ramifications well beyond Quebec, said Sol Boxenbaum, a consumer advocate.
"The eyes of the world are on us and this is a very significant case," he said.

Jean-Pierre Roy of Loto-Quebec said on Thursday details about the Quebec agreement were limited as the settlement process is ongoing. He said a notice on the tentative out-of-court settlement would be published in Quebec newspapers on Jan. 16 with a hearing in Quebec City scheduled in March to determine whether the deal is accepted.

A group of pathological gamblers filed a class-action lawsuit in 2001 against the provincial lottery agency seeking compensation for addicts, estimated by the plaintiffs to number 119,000 in the province.

A lawyer and recovering gambler, Jean Brochu, filed the legal action claiming video lottery terminals (VLTs) are tied to pathological gambling. He also blamed the government agency for playing down the dangers of VLTs.

When the hearing began in 2008, a lawyer for Loto-Quebec said in his opening statement that no scientific study has proven that VLTs can cause addiction and added that the government is doing a lot to help problem gamblers deal with their addictions.

The plaintiffs want their addiction treatments and other fees reimbursed, for an average amount of $5,000, which would put the claim in the area of $700-million if every claim was accepted. But by some accounts, the deal could be worth much less, and closer to $50-million.

Mr. Roy said Loto-Quebec could not provide any amount of a possible deal in part because it did not know how many people would come forward with a claim.

"We can't indicate a definitive dollar amount because it's up to people who have undergone therapy from 1994 to 2002 to claim a reimbursement of therapy fees," a claim he said had to be filed with supporting document. "But we're talking about millions of dollars."

Reaction to the news of a settlement divided observers.

"I think it's a good idea to come to a settlement with that group. It's terrific news," said Monique Cantin of Gambling Health and Referral.

But Ms. Cantin added she wasn't entirely surprised by the news.

"Since 2001, Quebec's Health Ministry has been paying for the treatment for people suffering from compulsive gambling," she said.

Mr. Boxenbaum said an out-of-court settlement was to be expected, but called for claimants to reject the settlement.

"This settlement is completely unreasonable - it just gave everything to Loto-Quebec and $2,750,000 to the law firm," while the gamblers, he insisted, would get little.

"Each case will be decided on its individual merits by the government, not by an independent agency ... and it will only cover people who have received treatment up until 2002 and providing they have the receipts," he said. "In other words, very few people will benefit from this."

© 2010 The National Post Company. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited.


1/8/10 - Following a problem gambling class action involving 120 000 players and initiated in 2001, Loto-Quebec has agreed to a multi-million Canadian dollar settlement, reports the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

The provincial government of Quebec, which owns the lottery, has now agreed to reimburse the costs of addiction treatment between 1994 and 2002 to the plaintiffs. The money is to help gambling addicts who were not previously covered by Quebec health insurance. The province began covering the cost of therapy for problem gamblers in 2002.

The plaintiffs originally sought about Cdn$1 billion in damages, but have settled for around Cdn$50 million.

Former journalist Nelson Labrie, the first witness called to testify, told the judge he thought video lottery terminals were ridiculous until he couldnt stop playing them. He went on to describe how his addiction had cost him his home and more than $250 000.

Legal representative for the plaintiffs Roger Garneau said that his clients had succeeded in proving that VLTs are dangerous, but that experts were not able to prove that playing on video lottery terminals caused people to become addicted to gambling.

Not everyone was happy with the result. Agreeing to the settlement was a mistake, said gambling counsellor Sol Boxenbaum, a consultant on the case who felt that the lawsuit could have created a precedent that would have forced Loto-Qu├ębec to warn people about the dangers of VLTs.

"How did we give up on a point like that?" Boxenbaum asked. "[There] should have been no question about a settlement unless we get that warning put onto the machines."

Plaintiffs who disagree with the settlement will have an opportunity to state their cases when the agreement comes before a final court hearing on March 8 for ratification by a judge.

CBC reports that VLTs bring in more than one quarter of the provincial gaming corporation's Cdn$3.8-billion in annual revenues.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I was just wondering ....

..if anyone else noticed?

Richard Elkinson, the latest gambling addict who lived the high life by cheating others out of their hard-earned money, was arrested at an unnamed
casino in Biloxi last week by FBI agents
It doesn't change Elkinson's crime, but doesn't it make anyone wonder why MSM isn't reporting the casino name?
Who are we protecting? Predatory Gambling investors?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Slot Machines = Biggest Hustle in Alabama's History

Gov. Bob Riley --

"Any scheme that will legalize slot machine
under the pretext of generating new revenue
is the biggest hustle in Alabama's history," he

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"we took a wrong turn in this country"

From the NYT on Foxwoods' implosion --

The Foxwoods Resort Casino has 7,600 slot machines. Slot revenue fell to $709 million in the 2008-9 fiscal year, from $820 million in 2004-5.

It was inevitable that with banks acting like casinos, casinos would act like banks, placing bets they couldn’t quite cover. At Foxwoods, it was the decision in 2006 to take on a boatload of debt to add the $700 million MGM Grand resort and casino to cement Foxwoods’ transition from bigger to biggest.

Some 700 employees were laid off a year ago. Even with the expansion, slot revenue fell by 13.5 percent to $709 million in the 2008-9 fiscal year from a high of $820 million in 2004-5. In November, the tribe announced it was paying only $14 million on a $21 million debt payment. With $2 billion in debt, it’s not getting easier any time soon.

Of the Gambling Arms Race --

The spread of gambling across the Northeast is leaving too many casinos chasing too few gamblers. And there’s more competition sure to come.

From a casino patron --

“You know and I know that every inch of this place is a shell game to get people’s money,” he said. “I’d rather that we invest in something that provides real jobs and productivity, not more casinos. You just get the feeling that somewhere along the way, we took a wrong turn in this country.”

With the battered economy and the saturated casino business, it’s going to be a long, long time before someone builds something as big as Foxwoods again.

Opposition is growing

With growing understanding of the impacts of predatory gambling comes growing opposition.
The following from our good friends up north --

Granite State Coalition
Against Expanded Gambling

Check out this UNH Survey Center poll released today on Mass voter preferences on slots casinos. (Note that the debate and level of voter awareness of the issue is more advanced than in New Hampshire, given Governor Patrick's past casino legalization proposal, which included slots at tracks which he now opposes.)

38% oppose all slots casinos
26% don't know or have no preference33% want resort casinos
3% want slots at tracks

Hey, Millennium, time to pack your bags.

And, New Hampshire candidates, recall the
November, 2009 UNH polling data showing that twice as many New Hampshire adults would be upset if casinos were legalized compared with those upset if they were not legalized.

Political risk ranking for New Hampshire candidates, riskiest to safest:

1. support slots at tracks
2. support any type of slots casino
3. oppose slots casinos

Monday, January 11, 2010

Golden Goose is dead

Casino revenue figures for 2009 expected to show worst decline ever

ATLANTIC CITY - Year-end revenue figures will be released today for the gaming industry - and they're not expected to be pretty.

This much is already known: Recession-ravaged 2009 will go down as the worst year ever for Atlantic City's casino hotels. It will also be the third straight year revenue has declined.

Revenue generated by slot machines and table games plunged 13.5 percent through the first 11 months of the year. December's results are expected to be similarly dismal, ensuring a double-digit annual revenue decline for the first time in the city's 31-year history of legalized gambling.

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission is scheduled to release the final figures for December and all of 2009 at 2 p.m. Check back here for updates on those figures.

More false promises

Between misguided lawmakers seeking easy solutions and a predatory industry promising Fools' Gold, this states the obvious ---

Casinos are self-contained. They do not generate broad-based economic activity in the surrounding community. Table games will ensure that the casinos expand their own amenities that compete with existing businesses.

An easy solution may have hard consequences

Gov. Ed Rendell has asserted through most of his tenure that the state government would not authorize the expansion of casino gambling until he leaves office - nearly up to the day last week when he signed a deeply flawed law authorizing table games at existing casinos.

Like debt-ridden gamblers, lawmakers and the governor themselves were desperately in need of new revenue when they decided to vastly expand gambling. They expect license fees and taxes to generate about $370 million in state income over two years. At the same time it will funnel a cut of new vigorish to some worthy enterprises, including $600,000 a year to the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton.

No consideration of heavy costs

But the costs likely will be greater if not as obvious.

Casinos are self-contained. They do not generate broad-based economic activity in the surrounding community. Table games will ensure that the casinos expand their own amenities that compete with existing businesses.

The law perversely skews even a rational vision for the state government's role in education and economic development. State Rep. Todd Eachus was virtually giddy, for example, that community colleges will establish training for croupiers and dealers. Is that the employment base that will carry the state forward, as the state government reduces funding to universities?

And this bill was written for the casino industry rather than for Pennsylvanians.

In their rush to fill a hole in the state budget, lawmakers did not rush even to correct gaping flaws in the original bill that created the gambling industry five years ago.

The law does not resolve law enforcement issues that have plagued the licensing and enforcement process since the outset.

It allows casinos to issue on-the-spot lines of credit to would-be gamblers who are short on cash or other forms of credit, promising an exponential increase in gambling addiction and the social dysfunction that goes with it.

So pervasive is the legislative kow-tow to the industry that it even allows two developing casinos in Philadelphia to skirt that city's anti-smoking law.

Path of least resistance

Rep. Mark Cohen of Philadelphia put it well when he said that adding table games is the "worst way to raise revenues other than the other worst ways."

That doesn't account for the good ways to raise revenue. No one expected Pennsylvania lawmakers to correct the state's budget problems through anything other than the easiest possible means.

There was little chance that they would close a state revenue loophole that enables corporations to skirt more than $300 million a year in tax payments by attributing income to operations in other states.

They deliberately did not impose a reasonable "severance" tax on natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale gas fields.

And they continued to hoard their own operating surplus of about $200 million, rather than returning it to the taxpayers, as the government has cut services and jobs. At the same time, they refused to move toward a smaller state Legislature, which would mitigate the need for revenue.

Lawmakers who have found an easy answer in gambling expansion promote a vision for Pennsylvania that is as illusory as the promise of gambling itself.

Boston Globe poll shows gambling opposition

Boston Globe poll shows opposition to predatory gambling --

As for expanded gambling, which Patrick and lawmakers are currently negotiating, 33 percent said they support creating resort casinos, while only 3 percent supported adding slot parlors at the state’s race trace track; 16 percent said they had no preference, and 38 percent said they don’t want expanded gambling in the state.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Richard Elkinson: Just another common addict

Richard Elkinson is just another common gambling addict, living high on $29 million of other people's money. Ahhh...Casino Capitalism at its best!

Federal officials declined to say how they found Elkinson in Mississippi, but an affidavit in the case said the FBI had first tracked him to the Wynn Las Vegas hotel on Dec. 22.

According to the FBI, Elkinson checked out of the Wynn Las Vegas hotel Dec. 22 and canceled a reservation at the Venetian, another Las Vegas hotel, on Dec. 23.

The affidavit, filed by FBI special agent Leo Fila, said Elkinson had conducted $3.7 million worth of individual transactions over $10,000 with casinos since 1998, such as exchanging money for chips. Elkinson allegedly told a business acquaintance he had $25,000 lines of credit at three Vegas casinos, according to the affidavit.

Elkinson conducted millions of dollars’ worth of large currency transactions at casinos over the past 12 years, according to prosecutors. They said he was arrested Tuesday at a casino in Biloxi, Miss., with a large amount of cash in his possession.

But Elkinson claimed to be indigent when he appeared before a judge in Mississippi and was given a public defender, who could not be reached for comment yesterday. Elkinson is sitting in a county jail awaiting another court appearance Monday.

Bill gives casinos all of the cards

Bill gives casinos all of the cards

By Paul Boni
This week, Pennsylvania lawmakers are poised to pass Senate Bill 711, which would allow the state's slots parlors to offer table games. But the bill has become more than a way to legalize blackjack and poker. It would also give casinos enhanced predatory tools to increase the ranks of the gambling addicts they rely on, as well as other favors. They include:

Easy credit. The bill would allow casinos to give quick and easy lines of credit to gamblers. This is a predatory tactic that would result in higher rates of gambling addiction, as well as more and more citizens' being pushed deep into debt. Banks should not be casinos, and casinos should not be banks.

Free casino junkets. The state Gaming Control Board currently allows casinos to pay so-called junket companies to offer free bus transportation to the casinos for people who are likely to gamble. In the words of the board's regulation, a junket is an arrangement "the purpose of which is to induce a person" to go to a casino and gamble.

Whether or not you think we all bear personal responsibility for our prosperity or suffering, no one has ever dared assert that government should actively induce people to gamble. This outrageous agency regulation is not authorized by law. That's why casino lobbyists have made sure S.B. 711 would legalize it.

"Essential" employees. In another tidbit tucked into the bill, all gaming board employees would be designated essential workers, protecting them from furloughs during budget impasses, so the casinos could stay open while state parks are closed.

Foxwoods extension. If Foxwoods is unable to open its proposed casino on the South Philadelphia waterfront before the statutory deadline, its license should be revoked. But S.B. 711 would empower the gaming board to give it an extra year to open at that location, which is extremely close to residential neighborhoods. Addiction rates increase significantly with proximity and convenience.

Political clout. Pro-casino politicians claim the bill would prohibit casino interests from making campaign contributions. But it wouldn't accomplish that at all. Some of the casinos' most important proponents - such as Philadelphia real estate mogul Ron Rubin - don't personally hold a casino license (although their family trusts do) and therefore would not be covered by the bill's restrictions.

There are many fundamental flaws in the current gambling law, including its provisions overriding local zoning laws; allowing the gaming board to keep confidential important information about the casinos and the companies behind them; and giving the state Supreme Court sole jurisdiction over appeals. S.B. 711 amends none of them.

Most of the gambling industry's profits come from a minority of gamblers who are addicted or out of control. However, Harrisburg politicians, rather than enacting commonsense consumer protections, are now poised to increase the industry's predatory powers.

Philadelphians should not blame faceless state lawmakers from outside the city for this. There are more than enough lawmakers from Philadelphia to block this bill and demand meaningful reform.

Paul Boni is an attorney representing Casino-Free Philadelphia (

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Candidate with some sense: 'Easy money' mirage bad bet

This candidate sure has some common sense and sensible plans that Beacon Hill might heed.

Of expanded gambling, this candidate says --

It is fool's gold, a lure of easy money that doesn't deliver, unless you are the owner of a casino or local "bingo" joint.

And who could disagree with this statement? --

Want a sure bet? We should focus our energies and invest our limited resources in recruiting stable, good paying jobs with established businesses, and encouraging existing companies to expand. Solid jobs with solid companies build solid communities. Everybody wins that way.

KAY IVEY: 'Easy money' mirage bad bet

Editor's note: The Advertiser has asked the candidates for governor in next year's election to submit four columns addressing major issues. The fourth series of columns is appearing in the reverse alphabetical order of the candidates' last names by political party, beginning with the Republican Party candidates. The topic for the fourth series of columns is gambling.
By Kay Ivey

Every Alabamian knows just how bad our state's financial situation is. Spending is out of control. Like gluttons at an all-you-can-eat buffet, too many lawmakers lack the discipline to push back their plate, and spending goes on as rampantly as ever.

All this at a time when state revenue is running dangerously low and very painful budget cuts are just around the corner. So, it is easy to understand why people want to find new sources for pumping money into our cash-strapped government. It seems like a simple idea: legalize gambling in Alabama, place a heavy tax on it, and then just sit back and watch as seemingly endless waves of "free" money fill the state coffers.

But that premise is flawed. Gambling itself is based on the idea of getting something for nothing. You put down a little money and hope to win a big cash prize in return. Ah, if it were only that easy! Simple math tells you there must be more losers than winners to make gambling profitable for the owners of the gambling operation. And there's the problem.

Using tax revenue from gambling as a funding mechanism is unpredictable at best, and unreliable at worst. A basic principle of public policy is to never fund an essential public service with an unstable source of funding. Just look at what's happening in Nevada right now.

For decades, the Silver State promoted itself as a gambler's paradise with Las Vegas as its Mecca. Millions of tourists came to visit, and billions of dollars changed hands in slot machines, at roulette wheels and over poker and blackjack tables. The state was right there, taking its share of the loot. And when times were good, it made it a good haul.

Then the current recession hit. And guess what? "Sin City" isn't quite as glitzy as it once was.

Gambling in Nevada has been on a steady losing streak lately. The Nevada Gaming Control Board reports that as of last October (the most current figures available at the time this column was written), casino year-over-year returns have declined for 22 straight months. Not so coincidentally, that was about the same time the recession started.

Regulators say the state collected $49.3 million in taxes based on October revenues. That's down 12.7 percent from the same month a year ago. That is in addition to millions of dollars Nevada has lost from its other non-gambling revenue sources, too.

Then there is the cost of the social problems that go hand-in glove with legalized gambling. Gambling proponents don't like to talk about them, but I assure you they are there. Consider this:

The average pathological gambler affects, directly or indirectly, eight other people, including family, friends, and co-workers. One-third of gambling addicts have been arrested, compared to only 5 percent of non-gamblers.

Gambling addiction seriously affects absenteeism and job productivity. More than 20 percent of problem gamblers in treatment have lost a job because of their gambling.

Gambling addicts are four times more likely to have poor mental health, and are four times more likely to attempt suicide than those without gambling problems.

If legalizing gambling raised the percent of gamblers in our state to the national average, 15,000 additional gambling addicts would be created, at a cost of more than $200 million per year in crime, lost productivity and costs for health and human services.

I agree with people who want to attract new jobs to their communities and who want to find new revenue sources for our state government. But you won't find the answer in legalized gambling. It is fool's gold, a lure of easy money that doesn't deliver, unless you are the owner of a casino or local "bingo" joint.

Want a sure bet? We should focus our energies and invest our limited resources in recruiting stable, good paying jobs with established businesses, and encouraging existing companies to expand. Solid jobs with solid companies build solid communities. Everybody wins that way.

Kay Ivey, currently state treasurer, is a Republican candidate for governor of Alabama.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Another Gambling Victim

Another innocent victim of casinos and slots designed to addict --

...49-year-old English teacher from Brookline, N.H, ...Gail Rasmussen, took at least $3,000 in total, and that 20 minutes after one of the robberies, she was spotted at Mohegan Sun Casino.

Rasmussen was arraigned Wednesday in connection to the Concord robbery, and ordered to undergo evaluation by Gamblers’ Anonymous. She was released on $500 cash bail. Rasmussen will probably also face charges in the robberies in Tyngsborough and Plainfield, Conn., officials said. She did not carry or threaten to use a weapon in the thefts, police said, and they believe she acted alone.

Her alleged robbery spree and apparent double life shocked local police, who said she had no criminal record and had lived in the town for years without any hint of trouble.