Meetings & Information


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Another Gambling Victim

State sponsored gambling is designed to create addicts. When 90% of revenues come from 10% of patrons, a figure the predatory industry never disputes, addiction is defined.

The common pattern of prosecutions is of previously law-abiding citizens who are victims of a flawed public policy that relies on a "Something for Nothing Scheme' to provide revenue at great public expense.

When will we learn?

Banking adviser from Rhyl 'stole to gamble'

A personal banking adviser was guilty of a "gross breach of trust" stealing thousands of pounds from customers' accounts.

David Collins, of Rhyl, Denbighshire, used the cash to feed his gambling addiction, Mold Crown Court was told.

One 93-year-old client lost £50,000, while several other elderly people were also victims.

Collins, 20, admitted eight charges of fraud and theft, and was sentenced to 21 months youth custody.

He asked for 11 further offences to be taken into consideration.

The court was told Collins had even stolen thousands of pounds from his own father's investments without him knowing.

You also stooped as low to commit crime against your own father

The judge, Mr Recorder Nic Parry
His employer, Abbey National bank, has refunded all customers and has stood the total loss of Collins' fraud against the bank, said to be £86,000.

The judge, Mr Recorder Nic Parry, said Collins was guilty of a breach of trust and had gone to some lengths to conceal his dishonesty.

"You abused the trust of your employer, but far more seriously you abused the trust of ordinary people, who no doubt had worked hard to save their monies," he said.

"You also stooped as low to commit crime against your own father."

He said several victims were elderly and had looked to Collins for guidance.

The defendant, in his position as an adviser, was able to sell and submit applications for accounts and credit cards, and process transactions by computer.

Position of trust

The court heard how Collins forged his father's signature and asked for a £11,255 withdrawal, followed by a second sum of £7,500, which was paid into an account he had opened.

Collins also transferred a total of £50,000 from the account of a 93-year-old customer, using the details of a colleague at the bank to make one of the transfers.

Prosecutor David Mainstone said that while the total loss to the bank had been £86,000, it was alleged Collins' total criminal benefit had been in the region of £126,000.

This was disputed by the defence and a financial hearing will be held next month.

Tony Rose, defending, said that his client appreciated that he had been in a high position of trust.

He took from accounts, intending to pay the money back, to fund what developed into a gambling addiction.

"He ended up robbing Peter to pay Paul and it got completely out of control," said Mr Rose.


Governor Riley's Task Force Issues Information from Mobile County

Information below from Governor Riley's Press Office:

Successful Task Force Operation in Mobile County Yields Illegal Slots, Servers

Action serves to preserve justice and equity under the law, Tyson says

MOBILE - On Thursday, an investigation by the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling determined that illegal slot machines were in play at a new casino in the Mobile County town of Chickasaw. That evening, John Tyson, Jr., Mobile County District Attorney and Commander of the Task Force, took action to close the facility and seize the illegal machines.

Authorities entered the building at approximately 7:00 p.m. and seized 25 devices that fit squarely within the definition of illegal slot machines under Alabama law. Managers of the facility cooperated with authorities and turned over to police computer servers and cash in use at the casino. This law enforcement operation was completed without incident and with the cooperation of Chickasaw police officers at the scene.

Tyson said the Task Force is working to make sure Alabama's laws against illegal gambling are equally and uniformly enforced. Municipalities and citizens alike must abide by the law, Tyson said, or else society would become disorderly and unfair.

"It simply would be unfair to allow one community to operate an illegal gambling facility while other municipalities - dozens of them - are faithfully obeying the law," Tyson said. "How can we ask some citizens to abide by the law while others blatantly and shamelessly defy it? How can we expect young people to understand and respect our laws if public officials endorse and promote lawless behavior?

"It's not fair to legitimate non-profits that operate actual charitable bingo if a few organizations are allowed to break the law by using illegal slot machines. Those illegal operations siphon off a huge percentage of proceeds that otherwise would be going to legitimate, legal charities and other legal businesses."

The closure of this facility and the seizure of machines should reassure communities in Mobile County and throughout the state that crime will not be tolerated, Tyson said.

"The best way to deter criminal activity is to consistently and fairly enforce criminal law," he said. "There can't be special breaks for certain people. As sworn defenders and enforcers of the law, we simply cannot pick and choose who has to obey the law and who doesn't. Criminal behavior is, ultimately, an illegal advantage that benefits a few who are willing to risk breaking the law to earn a profit. We must ensure equality of opportunity for law-abiding citizens, businesses and communities with consistent, fair application of law.

"Any community that is being enticed by organized gambling to set up a casino or that is currently seeing these establishments crop up in their back yard would be wise to carefully read Alabama's law against slot machines and see just how clear it is. They would also be wise to know that we will enforce it."

Under Section 13A-12-27 of the Alabama Code of Laws, possession and operation of a gambling device, and specifically a slot machine, is illegal in Alabama. That statute states:

"(a) A person commits the crime of possession of a gambling device if with knowledge of the character thereof he manufactures, sells, transports, places or possesses, or conducts or negotiates any transaction affecting or designed to affect ownership, custody or use of:

(1) A slot machine; or

(2) Any other gambling device, with the intention that it be used in the advancement of unlawful gambling activity.

(b) Possession of a gambling device is a Class A misdemeanor."

A slot machine is defined by Section 13A-12-20(10) of the Alabama Code of Laws as a gambling device that accepts cash or credit and dispenses prizes based on a game of chance, not skill. This definition states:

"SLOT MACHINE. A device that, as a result of the insertion of a coin or other object, operates, either completely automatically or with the aid of some physical act by the player, in such a manner that, depending upon elements of chance, it may eject something of value. A device so constructed or readily adaptable or convertible to such use is no less a slot machine because it is not in working order or because some mechanical act of manipulation or repair is required to accomplish its adaptation, conversion or workability. Nor is it any less a slot machine because apart from its use or adaptability as such it may also sell or deliver something of value on a basis other than chance."

Florida: Simple Math and Flawed Public Policy

Editorial: New Florida gambling is a bad bet-and it’s not even close
Executive Editor
Florida Baptist Witness

As legislators consider gambling expansion to balance Florida’s budget in tough times, they ought to keep in mind a simple mathematical formula: 3-1.

That’s not the odds that lawmakers will approve or vote down gambling expansion. Three-to-one is the ratio of government spending needed to address the social ills created by every additional dollar of casino gambling revenue.

Even Tallahassee politicians who didn’t succeed at math during their school days should realize new gambling is not a solution to what ails the Sunshine State.

New gambling is a sucker’s bet, but seemingly easy money is luring legislators once again, including some with previously sterling anti-gambling reputations.

Rep. Ellyn Bodanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, and Rep. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, have recently endorsed new casinos in light of the seemingly insurmountable fiscal realities and the losing battle with the Seminole Indian casinos.

Any legislator seriously contemplating more gambling in Florida should be asked if she or he has carefully considered the groundbreaking research of Earl Grinols. His book, Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits (Cambridge, 2004), evaluates casino gambling revenues and the social costs it produces.

His conclusion? The social costs to government resulting from casino gambling is three dollars for every dollar gained.

Grinols, distinguished professor of economics at Baylor University, assiduously asserts his research is independent, not funded by either side of the debate. Further, he notes, “I have no moral objections to gambling.”

MGM Mirage: More Casino Capitalism Casinos

MGM Mirage, Lenders Agree to Extend $3.6B in Debt
Casino operator MGM Mirage, lenders agree to extend maturity on $3.6B in debt

Casino operator MGM Mirage said Friday it has reached an agreement with lenders to extend the deadline for repaying about $3.6 billion of its debt to February 2014.

The move gives the Las Vegas company a bit more leeway as gamblers visit casinos less often and spend less on each trip. It has nearly $13 billion in outstanding debt.

MGM Mirage owns the most casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and is the world's second-largest gambling company by revenue after Harrah's Entertainment.

The company said the move requires MGM Mirage to repay $820 million to lenders that have agreed to the extension on the $3.6 billion. By October 2011, it must pay another $2.1 billion to lenders that do not agree to an extension.

"This amendment underscores the tremendous confidence our bank group has in our company," MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren said in a statement. "The transaction provides us with additional long-term financial flexibility and reflects our continued commitment to strengthen our financial position."

MGM Mirage said last week that it lost $433.9 million, or 98 cents per share, during its fiscal fourth quarter, compared with a loss of $1.15 billion a year earlier.

Company executives have said fixing MGM Mirage's balance sheet is a top priority. Before the amendment, $5.55 billion in loans were scheduled to mature in October next year.

Casino industry analyst Bill Lerner of Union Gaming Group called the amendment "critically important" for MGM Mirage, because it would have had a hard time paying lenders back by 2011 without the market recovering in Las Vegas.

Now, earnings levels are comfortably ahead of where lenders need them to be, Lerner said.

"We estimate the company will exceed these levels by nearly 50 percent at both December 2010 and 2011 without the benefit of a strong recovery," he said.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Nevada: Where the streets are paved with Fool's Gold

Nevada's dependence on gambling defined its existence and the colossal failure of the state to accomplish anything beyond placing at the bottom of every list of negative statistics.

Excerpts below -- worth reading in their entirety --

Nevada in Budget Squeeze

Nevada's $887 million deficit is puny compared with California's $20 billion hole.

But in a state that operates one of the leanest budgets in the nation, that amounts to a 22% shortfall, a gap that has some worried that the state might fall further behind in such areas as education and health care, where it already lags behind other states. Others sense an opening to chart a new course in small government.

Limited government is as much part of the folklore of Nevada as cowboys and mobsters. Shortly before Nevada became a state, mining companies—then the dominant industry—ensured a tax cap for themselves in the constitution. The state has never had a personal income tax, and voters enshrined that ban in the constitution in the 1980s. The state legislature meets in regular session only for a few months every two years.

Nevada has been hit hard by both the foreclosure crisis and a sharp drop in gambling and tourism spending. The unemployment rate was nearly 13% in December, up from 8.4% a year earlier. Housing prices dropped 25% in the third quarter of 2009 from a year earlier, when they were already down 26%.

In Nevada, many believe that because state revenue is so dependent on casinos, its recovery could lag. Already legislators are expected to confront an additional $3 billion budget deficit next year because funds from short-term tax increases and federal money won't be available.

Democratic lawmakers often blame the low spending for the state's ranking on what they call the bottom of all the good lists and the top of all the bad lists. Nevada has among the highest number of uninsured children and suicide rates and among the lowest reading scores and college degrees per capita.

The Evidence Is There For All To See

We haven't finished paying for Casino Capitalism that caused a global implosion and we're supposed to support an industry that profits only because it creates addiction and degrades its patrons? Not!
Communities with slot parlors by any name, whether it's a slot parlor, racino, casinos or the impressive sounding "Destination Resort" bring increased crime, increased bankruptcies, family destruction, diminished local small businesses, and all the negatives communities shun. The evidence is there for all to see. What more do we need?
No one wants them in their backyards, including Mr. Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr.:

Here is Frank's elitist quote:
"If someone were to come along and tell me that they want to put a casino in Virginia where I live, I would probably work very, very hard against it, so as the saying goes..not in my back yard."
Rev. Shawn Merithew said it pretty well --

ALABAMA VOICES: Weigh human costs
By Shawn Merithew

It is not often that I decide to ascend my soapbox to deal with issues that are being debated in the halls of our secular government. My first and greatest reason for this is that proclaiming salvation in Christ is the biblical method of changing society for the better. Although this is the primary way believers are to engage our culture, there is still value in letting our distinctively Christian voices be heard on moral issues that the Bible directly addresses.

That is why we should let our voices be heard on the issue of gambling. Gambling is an industry in America that victimizes families and poor people in the name of entertainment and tax revenue. It fosters an addiction based upon human greed where the promise of quick, abundant wealth is continually communicated and only very rarely fulfilled.

In fact, as it regards the particular issue here in Alabama, addiction counselors have called video slot machines the crack cocaine of the gambling industry because they are so addictive.

Gambling is bad economic policy. Gambling is a form of regressive taxation that is unaccountable to voters. Studies have shown that the poor and uneducated tend to gamble at a higher rate and with a much greater proportion of their income than the middle class, the rich, and the well-educated.

Studies have proven that when casinos open, other local businesses suffer and often close as both discretionary and necessary income is funneled into gaming and profits are sent out of state.

According to John Warren Kindt, in his statement before Congress in 1994, "For every one dollar of revenue generated by gambling, taxpayers lose three dollars in increased criminal justice costs, social welfare expenses, regulatory costs, and increased infrastructure expenditures." In the current economy, the ratio is closer to five dollars lost for every dollar of revenue.

Gambling increases crime. The Department of Justice and the National Institute for Justice have found significant links between gambling, crime and drug use.

A 2004 study by E. L. Grinols at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that counties with casinos had notably higher crime rates than non-casino counties. A University of Nebraska study by John Jejkal in 2000 concluded that problem gambling is as much a risk factor for domestic violence as alcohol abuse.

Gambling destroys homes and families and children. SMR Research Corp. has called gambling "the single fastest-growing driver of bankruptcy." Gambling-related bankruptcies in metro Detroit increased by as much as 40-fold within 18 months of the opening of Casino Windsor, just across the Detroit River.

Three years after casinos were legalized in the small town of Deadwood, S.D., felony crimes had increased by 40 percent, child abuse had increased by 42 percent, and domestic violence assaults had risen 80 percent. In Indiana, a review of the state's gaming commission records revealed that 72 children were found abandoned on casino premises during a 14-month period.

Gambling ruins marriages and lives. In the National Gambling Impact Study, done at the University of Chicago in 1999, they found that the lifetime divorce rate for problem gamblers was 39.5 percent and for pathological gamblers it was 53.5 percent; for non-gamblers, it was only 18.2 percent.

Dr. Rachel Volberg, president of Gemini Research, has noted, "Suicide attempts among pathological gamblers are higher than for any other addiction and second only to suicide attempt rates among individuals with major affective disorders, schizophrenia, and a few major hereditary disorders."

It is these facts that many of our state legislators are ignoring as they push for this constitutional amendment in favor of gambling. I attended the public hearing at the State House on Feb. 9, and I was honestly surprised at how little attention is being given to the human consequences of gambling as this matter is being recklessly forced upon the good people of Alabama. As evidenced by the facts above, when gambling is legalized in a community or state, an ever-growing tide of human wreckage ensues and the economic situation of the populace worsens.

I share the concern to bring jobs to our state in this down economy, but what service have we done to the people of Alabama if we knowingly increase crime, knowingly depress local businesses, and knowingly destroy thousands and thousands of families to gain a few hundred jobs?

It seems that our legislators simply don't care about their constituents. When it comes to counseling the addicts, mending the marriages, caring for the children, and helping the poor reassemble the pieces of their lives, it will be pastors like me who are left to clean up their mess.

Our politicians will be far removed from the wreckage, sitting in their ivory towers in the state capital, fighting over how to spend the revenue they have gleaned from ruined lives.

Rev. Shawn Merithew is pastor of Morningview Baptist Church in Montgomery.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Another innocent victim

Cronin gets 27 months for taking Cafaro loan

AKRON — Ex-Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Maureen A. Cronin was sentenced today to 27 months in a federal prison, convicted of two felony counts of honest-services mail fraud. It is the maximum sentence she could have received.

She also is sentenced to three months’ supervised release when she gets out of prison.

She and her lawyer, J. Gerald Ingram, blamed her problems on the loss of her mother and lifelong companion within one year, which led to alcohol and gambling addictions.

Cronin, 56, of Canfield Road in Youngstown, had pleaded guilty Dec. 15, 2009, to the two felony counts in front of U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi, who sentenced the former jurist today. No reporting date to prison has been determined.

Cronin was convicted of taking and concealing an $18,000 no-interest cash “loan,” with no collateral or payment schedule, from Flora Cafaro, the judge said.

Ingram said Cronin took the loan from the senior executive of a business that had more than 50 civil lawsuits before her, to pay off her gambling debts.

The judge gave her the maximum sentence saying that Cronin “betrayed the public she served.”

Cronin failed to report the loan as required on state financial-disclosure statement in 2006 and 2007, which she filed by mail, prosecutors say.

Another innocent victim

From the ABA Journal --

Criminal Justice
Lawyer Accused of Stealing $2.4M from Corporate Client, Gambling It Away

A Milwaukee lawyer has been charged with embezzling more than $2.4 million from a corporate client and losing most of it at a casino.

Lawyer Thomas Koch, 46, was charged with embezzling the money from Dallas company Affiliated Computer Services over the course of five years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Koch’s lawyer, Steve Kohn, said his client no longer practices law and is in treatment for a gambling addiction. "He couldn't stop himself," Kohn said told the Journal Sentinel. "That's the sad truth here."

Affiliated Computer Service does work for medical insurers. It hired Koch to make sure insurance clients were pursuing lawsuits to recover costs for injuries where possible, the story says. In 2007, a new litigation manager pressed Koch for updates, and when he did not reply, discovered that about 270 of 360 open claims had been settled. None of the proceeds had been forwarded to ACS,
prosecutors say.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods: Fail to Stop Addicts

Gambling interests recently presented their fairy tale version of protecting the public from gambling addiction in the Commonwealth, pretending to care.

The excerpt from report below may be found in its entirety on the Resource page of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts --
GAMBLING IN CONNECTICUT: Analyzing the Economic and Social Impacts
Spectrum Gaming Final Report for the State of Connecticut June 2009

In meeting with families of pathological gamblers, one theme was apparent: The two Connecticut casinos should have known, based on personal information players supplied, that some gamblers were gambling way over their means.

Former PGS Director Chris Armentano said Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have always been reluctant to suggest to a problem gambler that he or she should stop and seek counseling. ―In all my years as director, I never recall it happening,‖ he said.
One of the cases that could have presumably resulted in a SAR-C report involved the former Ledyard tax collector, Yvonne Bell. She had an annual salary of less than $60,000. She took cash payments from taxpayers, and then adjusted payment records to conceal the thefts. She stole more than $300,000 but ―all told, including her own money, the town‘s and her substantial winnings, she lost more than $2 million at the two Indian casinos‖ from 1997 to 2000.253

Page 148

More women struggle with gambling addiction

More women struggle with gambling addiction

Lynda Gardner stole hundreds of thousands of dollars so she could feed her gambling habit.
She isn’t alone among women in getting hooked on the lure of a casino. The problem gambling gap between men and women is closing rapidly, according to Marvin Steinberg, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling.

In 1999, women made up a third of the problem gamblers who called the council help line. By 2004, the percentage grew to 38 percent. In the most recent study of 2008 calls, 44 percent came from women.

Casinos and online gambling are leveling the playing field, Steinberg said. Women often have issues with slot machines and bingo, Steinberg said. Women are almost three times more likely to have a problem with slots than men, the 2008 study said. The pattern mimics other addictions.

“We thought there were more male alcoholics, but we now know that’s not true,” he said.

Like Gardner, some women resort to crime. A New Hampshire school teacher has been charged with robbing a series of banks last fall, one of them in Connecticut. Police say after she hit a Plainfield bank, she ended up at Mohegan Sun.

“I evaluated another woman compulsive gambler and saw a picture of her with no mask taken by a camera as she was in the process of robbing a bank,” Steinberg said. “She had no prayer of getting away with this. It’s amazing what people do when all they think about is the next time they gamble.”

In the 2008 study, women committed fraud more often than men. In the past, women convicted of crimes got a break from judges, Steinberg said.

“The courts thought only women can take care of children,” he said. “Now they are as likely to incarcerate a woman as a man.”

Follow the money

Follow the money

OHIO voters may get yet another opportunity this November to determine the extent of legalized gambling in the state. Whatever your position on the merits of allowing Ohio horse-racing tracks to install electronic slot machines, you deserve to know who is bankrolling the campaigns for and against a proposed referendum on the issue.

So it's appropriate that Secretary of State (and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate) Jennifer Brunner is investigating where is getting its money. The group is the prime mover behind an effort to win repeal by voters of a state law that authorizes Ohio's seven racetracks - including Toledo's Raceway Park - to operate as many as 17,500 video lottery terminals for the state Lottery Commission.

The law, which the General Assembly approved and Gov. Ted Strickland signed last year, is in abeyance because of a legal dispute over whether it requires action by voters.

Advocates say the law could raise substantial new revenue for a state that badly needs it. Opponents say Ohio doesn't need more state-approved gambling.

Critics suggest is a front for gambling interests that seek to discourage competition. The group has declined to discuss its funding sources.

The campaign finance report filed last year by said the group had raised $1.55 million. All that money, Ms. Brunner says, came from just one source: an obscure nonprofit company called New Models, of suburban Washington.
The report did not identify donors to the latter company, whose president is a former finance director of the Republican National Committee. He also was a campaign adviser and fund-raiser for former secretary of state Kenneth Blackwell when the Republican official ran for Ohio governor in 2006. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports New Models sponsored "robocalls" to Pennsylvania voters aimed at discrediting Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Secretary Brunner is subpoenaing both entities to obtain records and depositions from their leaders. insists it has obeyed all campaign finance laws and dismisses Ms. Brunner's investigation as a "fishing expedition."

In light of voters' approval last year of the construction of four casinos in Ohio, including one in Toledo, asking voters to review the slot-machine legislation can't hurt. Knowing the identities and motivations of the key activists and donors on both sides of the issue will help voters make better-informed decisions. Ms. Brunner's review is a proper and useful exercise of her official duties.

Aqueduct: Flake Flogged

Flock flogs Rev. Flake for rolling dice on Aqueduct slots

Some perplexed parishioners of the politically connected Rev. Floyd Flake -- who's leading the Aqueduct Entertainment Group's effort to install some 4,500 video slot machines at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens -- are wondering if their spiritual leader has made a deal with the devil by bringing gambling into their community.

"I don't think the reverend should be involved in something like that," said Jeff Jones, 58. "It goes against God's rules. People go from gambling to committing crimes."

Flake was involved with the Aqueduct bidding process, which has been mired in allegations of political cronyism and part of a federal probe.

Some members of The Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York, which Flake heads, are unhappy with his role in the consortium that won the controversial bidding process to revamp Aqueduct.

"There are a few people who feel uncomfortable with his investment [with AEG] and its mostly the older members," said church member Gary Fulmore, 55.

Despite some dissent, Fulmore said the congregation "still supports him."

Meanwhile, sources said yesterday that state investigators have contacted the losing bidders in the ongoing Aqueduct probe.

State Inspector General Joseph Fisch is looking at whether the selection of AEG -- which was awarded the 30-year franchise by Gov. Paterson in concert with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson -- was corrupt.

"We have been contacted by the Inspector General's Office. They made it clear they were calling about Aqueduct," said Eric Schippers, spokesman for rival bidder Penn National.

Gambling Expansion

Initial restictions established to limit addictive behavior are gradually eroded over time in spite of promises. It's in the Gambling Playbook --

Gaming facility asks for ATM back

Chances Gaming Entertainment wants to reinstall an automated teller that had to be removed when the business added slot machines.

The bingo and slots facility has applied to have its restrictive covenant removed. That request will go to City council Tuesday with a staff recommendation that there be a public hearing on the issue.

The covenant was put on in 2004 when Chances first applied to install 50 slot machines to its Halston Avenue operation.

Then-councillor Terry Lake asked that the automated teller machine be removed and a restrictive covenant put on the property that barred an ATM from being in the building.

He did so with the idea that it would prevent gamblers from depleting their bank accounts while playing slots. They would at least have to leave the building if they needed more cash.

In 2008, Chances added another 25 slots to its mix, although owners Pat and Gary Hart had requested approval for an unspecified number of machines.

Council set the limit of 25 additional slots, putting a total of 75 machines allowed at Chances.

At both times, the City’s Social Planning Council opposed the applications, citing concerns about gambling addictions.

Illegal Slots Stored in Alabama

Why would illegal machines be stored in a warehouse in a state where they are illegal if the intent were not to use them?

'Slot' Machines Forced Out of Warehouse

BIRMINGHAM (WNCF) - The governor’s gambling task force went after a new facility Thursday – a warehouse.

The force’s commander, John Tyson, said agents asked the manager of a Birmingham warehouse to remove 300 bingo machines being stored there.

The machines were then taken by Synergy Inc., the owner of the warehouse, to Florida. Tyson claims the machines were illegal “slot”-style machines.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mohegan Sun: Low Wage Jobs and Hotbedding #3

Affordable housing, low wage jobs and foreign workers, taken from the CT DOR Report --

The statewide affordability issue has been very much felt in New London County, where the price of a home is unreachable for the more than 80 percent of casino employees who earn less than the required $79,900 a year needed to qualify for a mortgage to purchase a home at the 2007 median sales price of $255,500.314 The only groups of casino employees who meet or exceed the threshold are senior management and directors.
The affordability problem has hampered the ability of casinos to fill positions. They sometimes recruit workers from overseas – students from Eastern Europe in the summer and from South America in the winter who often rent rooms in homes near the casinos.315

The lack of affordable housing has created, in large part, a substandard housing problem in southeastern Connecticut. Area housing officials such as Vernon Vessey of Montville acknowledge they have been waging an unsuccessful battle to curb illegal conversions of single-family homes into rooming houses.328

Sharing of beds in shifts known as ―hotbeddingis a common practice among casino workers who earn low wages.329 One shift of workers returns to a home, only to be replaced by another. The term ―hotbedding‖ denotes that the bed, occupied on a constant basis, is always warm. Building inspectors say the illegal conversions first started after 9/11 when, according to the Asian American Federation of New York, nearly a quarter of Chinatown‘s 246 garment factories closed, putting nearly 8,000 Chinese Americans out of work. Many of them obtained jobs at the two Connecticut casinos, both of which were expanding. Some continue to commute back and forth from New York, but many others stay three-to-five nights a week in the region, renting out rooms. According to Foxwoods‘ Human Resources Department, more than 600 workers list a city in New York State as their residence; about two-thirds of them live in either Brooklyn or Manhattan.
The first brush with illegal conversions was in November 2001 when firefighters, responding to a small house fire, discovered 20 beds in a single-family house in Norwich. Makeshift screens separated mattresses lying on bare wood floors.330 State building codes require a means of egress that ―provides a continuous, unobstructed and undiminished path of exit travel from any occupied point in a building or structure‖ to allow for an emergency escape and rescue. Windows are supposed to be in each bedroom. Inspectors routinely discover code violations in homes illegally converted into boarding facilities. Vessey, the Montville housing official, relies mostly on complaints to investigate code violations. The complaints have lessened as more and more of a neighborhood becomes saturated with illegal conversions, according to Vessey. But on December 9, 2008, Vessey received a complaint from a longtime Uncasville resident, Vincent Radzwilowicz, who suspected that no permits were taken out for renovation work on a nearby single-family home. He was right. Vessey and the town‘s zoning officer inspected the home. Nothing could have prepared them for what they saw. Workers were converting a detached two-car garage into living units. They were building two floors. Each floor had two bedrooms and a kitchen. Workers installed electrical outlets without permits; none of the bedrooms had required smoke detectors and the ceiling heights were less than those required by state law.
Any doubts as to whether this home on Ridge Road was a rooming house were dashed by a sign attached to wall that read: ―Tenants do not touch the thermostat.‖331 Vessey then went from the garage to the house itself. He found six more bedrooms, all with locks on the doors, indicating that the bedrooms were being rent out as rooms to boarders. Another three or four bedrooms were in the basement. Like the rooms in the garage, none had smoke or carbon-monoxide detectors or proper emergency exits.

Page 204

Public officials such as Vessey fear that it is just a matter of time before a loss of life occurs. ―Here is a 1,800-square-foot home with as many as 10 bedrooms, and another two that were on the way,‖ he noted. ―If a fire broke out, it would be difficult for people to get out alive.‖ Radzwilowicz, a 45-year resident of Uncasville, said his neighborhood has undergone a significant change. ―You see people going in and out of homes all day and night. It is just not right. People are being warehoused.‖ Two days after the inspection, the landlord was ordered by Vessey to develop ―a plan of compliance to abate‖ the violations.
A day earlier, Norwich housing officials inspected a single-family home on West Thames Street after a health inspector relayed his concerns to city officials as he reviewed an application for a new septic system, which is affected by the number of bedrooms. The inspector noticed that the landlord carved up the house to add a number of bedrooms.332
Building officials found six bedrooms on the first floor and an attempt to add another two in the basement. Dining and living rooms were divided into several small bedrooms. All of the renovation work, including electrical, was done without permits. A heating technician told city housing officials that with the new rooms constructed, he believed there would not be enough airflow in the basement to allow the furnace to function properly. Carbon monoxide could build up. Inspectors report that the tenants were all casino workers.333 Inspectors found another illegal conversion at home near the one they had just cited. The same landlord owned this home as well.
As the inspectors left, the owner of the dwelling complained that she wasn‘t the only landlord operating rooming houses. She noted that the neighborhood is full of them.334 Landlords in Montville and Norwich, cited by housing officials in the two cases we reported, restored their properties to single-family homes, taking down walls and removing beds, according to building officials in both communities. But the issue, public officials acknowledge, is how long will it be before the homeowners illegally convert the homes again?
Holly Hill Drive in Montville is an area riddled with illegal conversions.335 Six years ago, a fire destroyed a home on the 100 block of the street. The owner had already installed several cubicles in the basement and was ripping up old carpeting when a torch ignited glue from the old carpeting. The one-story home was quickly enveloped in flames. Two occupants were slightly injured. Other cases include:
A home on Holly Hill Drive that was damaged by a stove fire. The fire marshal found four bedrooms and a bathroom that were built in a basement without permits.336
A three-bedroom home on Leffingwell Road in Montville that experienced a furnace backfire. Officials discovered four bedrooms in a basement without permits. A

Page 205

breezeway was converted to a sleeping room, and the living room was divided into two rooms for sleeping as well. Some of the sleeping rooms had three or more beds in them without any smoke detectors or rescue openings.337 Twenty tenants were in the house; most of them were casino workers. Only one spoke English. She explained that the tenants rented sleeping space from the owner, who lived out of state.338
A one-bedroom apartment in Norwich was discovered in June 2008 to have five students from the Ukraine living in it. It was condemned for electrical code violations. The students, casino workers, were brought here on visas. They were relocated at city expense into a new apartment.
One of the more bizarre cases of hotbedding occurred in late 2001, when a tenant complained to Montville Fire Marshal Ray Occhialini that he could not get enough bathroom time and, when he did, there was no running water. Occhialini found 15 people sleeping on towels sprawled across a hardwood floor. Through an interpreter, Occhialini discovered that the tenants worked at the casino, paid rent and sent back most of their wages to relatives living in New York City. Coincidentally, it turned out to be the same house that Vessey cited in December 2008. The owner was different; the problem the same.
The Norwich Department of Planning and Development has resorted to putting staff on overtime to investigate code violations. Building officials work roughly 60 hours a week. In FY 2006, the year the blight officer was hired, the number of code violations more than doubled to 1,170. Zoning complaints increased from 137 to 503 from 2002 to 2006.339 City officials attribute most of those increases to illegal rooming-house conversions.340 John Wong, president of New London County‘s Chinese American Cultural Association, said the unsafe housing problem is much worse than officials think. Wong believes that at least three-quarters of the homes in the Holly Hill Drive area in Montville are rooming houses. ―They have no idea how serious a problem this is,‖ Wong said. ―What we need to do is provide affordable housing for these casino workers.‖ There has also been some evidence of hotbedding and illegal conversions in New London. The Fire Marshal‘s office reported that a casino dealer illegally converted a number of apartment buildings into rooming houses. He then recruited casino workers as tenants. The city had to ask the state‘s Housing Prosecutor to file charges against the landlord.
Housing inspectors and fire marshals acknowledge that their record-keeping is not as meticulous as it should be. Inspectors say they do not inquire as to the employment status of the tenants. Often, they will simply demand that code violations be corrected. And if the landlord quickly does so, there sometimes is little, if any, description kept of the violations. For everyone they document, 10 go undocumented.341

Page 206

Norwich housing inspectors say they come across at least a half-dozen homes per month that have been improperly converted into illegal rooming houses. Montville inspectors put the figure there at least one a month. They often see tenants in casino uniforms.
Housing officials say landlords are getting smarter at beating the system. An increasing number disguise their renovations as storage rooms, music rooms or sewing rooms when, in fact, they are bedrooms. That way, they get around the requirement that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors be installed along with windows.342 Building official Vessey noted that the building code does not contain any regulations for determining the use of a room. He may have no choice but to approve plans for a Holly Hill home in which basement renovations call for four rooms and two bathrooms. ―I think it is a pretty solid bet that some of those rooms will become bedrooms, but that is not what the plans say right now,‖ Vessey said.
Under current law, building officials such as Vessey must receive a complaint or have first-hand knowledge of a violation before inspecting a single-family home.343 Judith Decine, the state‘s housing prosecutor, said she looks forward to the day when the state‘s Housing Code is amended to allow housing inspectors to investigate suspicions of overcrowding without a formal complaint. A housing task force recently completed a study that recommends the change when an absentee landlord owns the home. ―This is something that is really needed to address the problem of overcrowding in these homes,‖ Decine said. ―Now there is lack of authority that prevents an official from trying to avert a tragedy.‖
With so many people living in single-family dwellings, local officials fear a significant census undercount, which will affect the receipt of federal and state aid.344
Norwich officials pointed out, ―Many of the new residents have limited English language proficiency and engage in living practices that violate local zoning ordinances, making it likely that households would underreport the number of residents.‖345 The Census Bureau‘s American Community survey, released on December 9, 2008, reflects a near tripling of the number of Asians living in Norwich, but the estimate of 2,038 is still very low, according to city officials.

Pages 200-207

Mohegan Sun: Low Wage Jobs

The immensely profitable Mohegan Sun Casino, in hot pursuit of the little town of Palmer, MA, pays its host community, Montville the grand sum of $500,000 per year (the Agreement contains no escalation clause and no participation in slots revenue), less than previous real estate taxes for its property.
This report may be found on the Resource page of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts --
GAMBLING IN CONNECTICUT: Analyzing the Economic and Social Impacts
Spectrum Gaming Final Report for the State of Connecticut June 2009


School Superintendent David Erwin said the district has experienced a significant influx of Chinese-speaking students, forcing it to hire two full-time employees to develop an ESOL program. The district had just 54 Asian-American students in the 1993-1994 school year. In the 2006-2007 school year, it had 183. Erwin said that the district spends $3,000 to $5,000 a year to translate documents into Chinese. Recently, he noted the state sent a letter for distribution explaining the Husky Insurance program for children of indigent parents. ―It came in English and Spanish,‖ he noted. ―I sent it back asking them to pay for the brochures to be translated into Chinese.‖ Erwin said the cost of the ESOL program is more than $300,000. The only aid the district receives is an $18,000 state grant. The number of students eligible for free or reduced price meals has increased from less than 1 percent in the 1993-1994 school year to nearly 6 percent in the 2006-2007 school year.
Test scores in Montville have dropped in recent years. In 2006, the percentage of students that tested at or above the goal for eighth grade mathematics was 68 percent. In 2008, it dropped to just 50 percent. Reading dropped from 75 to 55 percent, and writing from 68 percent to 55 percent.367

Page 217 CT DOR Report

Sharks are really vegetarians

Casinos, racinos and slot parlors by any name derive 90% of their profits from 10% of patrons.

Their business model depends on creating gambling addicts who commit crimes, cost taxpayers money and degrade the communities in which they exist.

It has been called the most predatory industry to operate without restriction or oversight.

Slots have been designed and engineered to addict and have been called the "Crack Cocaine" of gambling, with no consumer protection.

...Mohegan Sun failed to adequately deal with an addicted gambler from Western Massachusetts who said he lost a net $450,000 mostly at the Connecticut casino over the course of a year.

Scott, 51, of Peru, refused to give his last name after speaking at the press conference about his addiction. Between 2007 and 2008, Scott said he would sometimes gamble 23 hours straight at the Mohegan Sun and often several days a week. “Nobody mentioned a thing about intervention,” Scott said. “They should have some sort of intervention.”

Don't laugh when proponents loudly proclaim --

....the Massachusetts Partnership for Responsible Gambling, an alliance that includes the Mohegan Sun, called for adequate money to be set aside for preventing, intervening and treating problem gambling.

Next, they're gonna tell you sharks are really vegetarians! Stop laughing. They think you'll believe them.

The Rat Race to the Bottom

From a regular reader and friend --


Sound familiar?

The expansion of legalized gambling is no longer a “Tale of Two Cities”. It has become a tale repeated in almost every state in the eastern US.

Gambling is not meeting the high expectations of revenue return. It also comes with the bad side affects of gambling addiction. And to put the cherry on the frosting, Congress is pushing the ultimate red button “legalizing on-line gambling” like it is as inevitable as death. And as we have seen, Barney Frank is leading the charge! And just how does that fill that void we constantly hear about “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”? Federal stimulus money to build casinos and racinos?

Knowing President Obama’s position (and I admire him for it) when it comes to discretionary family spending being responsibly used to save for your child’s college fun instead of blowing it in Las Vegas, I have a real hard time believing that he is going to knowingly direct federal spending towards the creation of more gambling venues or to mitigate their impacts. His disdain for this industry is almost as obvious as that to what we witnessed from Mayor Lang of New Bedford at our meeting with him, last week. The Mayor would take an auto production plant or some sort of technology related job creator any day of the week over anything that has to do with gambling. Here are two great leaders with optimistic and yet logical views towards our nation’s future.

If some out of touch politician thinks that he or she has found the silver bullet to ending their revenue shortfalls and jobs creation, then invite them to join the rat race that states like NJ, WVA, OH, Al, Pa have all gotten themselves into. Reminds me of the old joke about selling watermelons at below cost out of the back of trucks and the remedy to making profitable being suggested is “we just need to get us some more trucks”!

When I hear a politician use the lame excuse that “we have no other choice, I can’t see any other industry that we can attract to our region”, my response is, please put that on your next campaign slogan. Include in it that you the incumbent challenger are a real visionary.

Good luck with that!

More Sharks Than All The Oceans

ALABAMA VOICES: Bob Riley's position

When I listened to Attorney General King's speech the other day about the Task Force on Illegal Gambling, I was surprised and disappointed. It sounded more like a speech being given by an advocate for the casinos than by the attorney general of our state. While I respect his office, he didn't present the issues in a balanced or fair manner.

This notion that the law is unclear is absolutely wrong, yet he and some others go to great lengths to make it appear there is some sort of confusion. There should be no confusion because the law is clear and the Alabama Supreme Court has ruled.

First, the Supreme Court has defined in crystal-clear fashion what legal bingo is and what it is not. None of the so-called "electronic bingo" slot machines can meet those clear definitions. While I cannot disclose the details of undercover law enforcement operations, I can report that these dedicated law enforcement officers would not be pursuing this if the situation were not clear.

Second, Alabama law says that it is illegal to operate a slot machine or anything readily convertible to a slot machine. Under Alabama law, a slot machine is a machine that accepts money and then dispenses cash value prizes based upon any element of chance. Every one of these machines takes cash or credit and then dispenses cash prizes based at least in part on chance.

Finally, almost all of the constitutional amendments concerning bingo contain very clear restrictions that bingo games are to be operated by charities with very specific terms. For example, the Houston County amendment says that no one can get paid to help run the bingo games, yet Country Crossing says it was paying hundreds of people to do just that.

Law enforcement officers have a duty to stop crime when they see it, not wait for a court to tell them that obvious illegal activity is going on. In fact, it is the people breaking the law who hope we will wait. If you had a meth lab on your street, you wouldn't want the police to wait to arrest the people until they had gone through a lawsuit that could take years to finish.

When you break the law, you can expect to be arrested and your illegal materials seized right away. That is the way it works. It should not work any differently for rich and powerful casino bosses who break the law.

I also want to make perfectly clear that the law allows the task force to make arrests and seize machines without a warrant. To say otherwise is a complete distortion of the law. When a law enforcement officer sees a crime being committed, that officer is authorized to make an arrest and seize illegal materials without a warrant. Any lawyer who knows what he is talking about will tell you that is the law. So all this talk about warrantless searches is just a red herring.

As for the attorney general's suggestions, I certainly will think through them, but they are problematic for many reasons.

He suggests that we file civil lawsuits in four counties. Yet the Supreme Court's decision in the VictoryLand case says there is no jurisdiction for trial courts to hear that sort of case. And, as I mentioned above, I cannot accept the idea of filing civil lawsuits so that illegal criminal conduct can go on for months -- if not years -- while the lawsuits work their way through the system.

I also wonder why the attorney general is so interested in those four counties. Apparently he has no problem with the casinos that have been shut down or prevented from opening in Walker, Jefferson, St. Clair and Mobile counties and others. I don't see why the casinos in Macon, Houston, Lowndes and Greene counties are entitled to special treatment. That's not the way the rule of law works.

The attorney general also said that courts should determine whether casinos in Macon, Houston, and Lowndes counties should remain closed. Apparently, he has forgotten that those casinos closed voluntarily. Their operators shut them down to keep law enforcement officers from obtaining evidence of their crimes. Had we seized the equipment, they could already be in court right now litigating the legality of their machines. Instead, by closing their doors, they are avoiding such a ruling.

Finally, the attorney general suggested that the Task Force should announce it will not make any more raids against these illegal enterprises. I can certainly understand why the casino bosses would like to have that commitment from the task force, but that commitment will not be made. If our undercover law enforcement officers find evidence of criminal activity taking place, then those casinos can expect a visit from law enforcement.

The law does not permit slot machine gambling. And the rule of law must be enforced, no matter how much money is spent trying to convince people it should be ignored. Because of the rule of law, all of us -- regardless of our race, religion or anything else -- are equal. Men and women have fought, struggled and died to protect our right to be equal in the eyes of the law. As Alabamians, we know this better than most.

If we let casino bosses ignore the laws they don't like, then the law becomes whatever the casino bosses want it to be. And if constitutional officers of this state stand by and let that happen, Alabama will be swimming in a pool that has more sharks than all the oceans of the world.

Bob Riley is governor of Alabama.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

No Gambling Before Study

No gaming before study, advocates say
Patrick, others want independent study of gaming before Legislature votes

QUINCY — MIDDLEBORO – Authorizing casinos and slot machines at racetracks figures to be a tempting way to help fill the state’s estimated $3 billion budget gap next year. But anti-gaming advocates are sure that after a sober look at the facts, lawmakers will be able to resist the gamble.

Expanded gaming has been a perennial issue in the Statehouse, and gaming proponents are gearing up for anther session featuring bills authorizing resort-style casinos and 1,500 slot machines at racetracks like Raynham Park.

Gov. Deval Patrick, a proponent of resort casinos, has asked the Legislature for an independent cost-benefit analysis of expanding gaming in the state before lawmakers make any moves on the issue.

He is being supported by a wide coalition, such as anti-gaming groups like United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, and independent groups like the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.

“We’re being told that there might be a 50-mile impact on the roads and people and those things. We at least want to sit down at the table and study what those impacts might be,” said Wayne Sampson, a retired police chief and executive director of the police chiefs association.

If a casino were located in a larger city, local police might be able to absorb the increased demand on their services, Sampson said. But what about the smaller communities nearby?

“Depending on where you are in the state – we have many communities that don’t even have 24-hour operations – (a casino) would dramatically change the law enforcement impact on those communities.”

However, Louis Pacheco, chief of police in Raynham, said he doesn’t need a study to show that Raynham Park has been a benefit for his department.

“The track has always picked up the cost of any police force it uses. They pay us like a paid detail,” he said. “What hurts us is the Wal-Mart that generates 400 arrests each year for shoplifting and pays for no detail.”

Jessie Powell, a 60-year-old Middleboro resident involved in United to Stop Slots, said she sees the crime and other social problems in Atlantic City and Las Vegas and doesn’t want to risk bringing that to Massachusetts.

“If slot machines have been called the crack cocaine of gambling, how do you justify replacing live racing with slot machines (at Raynham Park)?” Powell asked.

“Let’s do a cost-benefit analysis and find out what it’s going to cost. Obviously, that means more public safety personnel, more investigators, more prosecutors, more court time and more prison space.”

Kathleen Conley Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots and former selectman from Monson, said the Legislature should not dismiss the study idea.

“I absolutely think it’s something that legislators must pay attention to. They’re hired and paid to do due diligence on every piece of legislation in front of them,” she said.

Setting aside bias concerns, Conley Norbut said that past gaming studies are useless for making projects in an economy still reeling from the worst recession in decades.

Who wins in the end is still an open question. For her part, Conley Norbut is optimistic.

“If the numbers were there for the votes, this would have happened a long time ago.”

Friday, February 19, 2010


Image from: Queens tenants at condo had to pay fees and fines to Mafia thugs

The Predators who promote the virtues of state-sponsored gambling addiction as a revenue source have said some pretty damn funny things, but Ozone Park as Destination Resort???

Now, that is funny!

The ensuing controversy is nothing more than predictable by New York standards.

Aqueduct --

After nine years, the long wait for a VLT casino at Aqueduct may be nearing an end.

"After an extensive review of the five remaining bids to operate the video lottery terminals at Aqueduct Racetrack, I have chosen and the (legislative) Leaders have agreed (upon) the organization that best fulfills our selection criteria," Governor Paterson said Friday in announcing Aqueduct Enter¬tainment Group (AEG) as the state’s choice.

Nothing is definite, however.

AEG still must meet sever¬al conditions, including forking over an additional $100 million for the licensing fee. In addition, everyone involved with the casino project must undergo a vetting process that will deny licenses to "anyone who has been convicted of a series of major or minor crimes over the past 15 years." (One or two crimes, or maybe even three, are evi¬dently okay.)

Who is AEG? According to its Web site, the organization’s partners include The Navegante Group, a major casino developer and operator; GreenStar Services Corporation; Turner Construction Company; Levine Builders; The Darman Group; Empowerment Development Corporation; Paulus, Sokolowski and Sartor Design; Siemens; and Clairvest Group Inc.

The selection of AEG has met with protests from losing bidders - one of which, Penn National Gaming, offered $100 million more than AEG - as well as charges of political and personal favoritism. No construction timetable has been announced. However, given the nature of this sort of project, the Aqueduct casino should be shovel-ready for at least one segment of the work force - lawyers.

AEG’s Web site provides site plans and sketches of what its "world class gaming and entertainment destination" will look like upon completion.

There will be bars and restaurants, stores, an entertainment center, conference rooms, a 300-room hotel and seven "neighborhoods of VLTs." For some reason, there also will be an "internal sustainable rainforest atrium."

What is difficult to find is any indication that all of this will be happening at a racetrack. One drawing does show the clubhouse as well as - on the drawing’s edge, seemingly added as an afterthought - thin, squiggly lines showing the approximate location of the turf track and a single dirt track. But where are the grandstand, walking ring and saddling area? Will people still be able to watch races from the apron?

But these are mere details. The important thing now is to get the slots up and humming, the busloads of eager electronic gamers shipped in from the suburbs, and funds from their losing plays distributed to a cash-poor state government and racing industry.

Actually, there is one other nod to horse racing included in AEG’s plans. Squeezed between two neighborhoods of VLTs on the third deck, occupying about as much floor space as the ground level of the internal sustainable rain¬forest atrium, will be the Aqueduct Racing Museum.

This is where the more curious and mobile of the slots players may learn about the "wonderful history of the Sport of Kings in New York." It is where they might view exhibits on such New York legends as Kelso, Buckpasser, Damascus, Dr. Fager and Forego, each of whom ran in more races at Aqueduct - 82 between them - than at any other track.

But all of these exploits took place a long time ago, back when the horses were all the Big A had to offer, before OTB, TVG and the NTRA, and decades before anyone envisioned Ozone Park as a destination resort.

New York Aqueduct Slots Contract Under Scrutiny

This installment of The Tribes In The Media is a New York Daily News article on federal officials probing into the selection of a group to build and run a slot parlor at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, N.Y. The Mohegans participated in two bidding processes but came up empty each time.

Feds galloping into probe of controversial Aqueduct racino deal

ALBANY - The feds are trying to get losing bidders in the Aqueduct racino deal to dish about the chaotic process that led to the selection of a politically tied group, the Daily News has learned.

One losing contender said the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office contacted his group this week - the latest twist in the mushrooming scandal.

"The guy said, 'We're contemplating a further inquiry into the racino bid process: If we go ahead with that, would you guys be willing to cooperate with us?'" the bidder disclosed.

"We said that it wasn't much of a process, but, yes, if you ask us to, of course we'd cooperate."

Prosecutors recently subpoenaed the state Lottery Division for documents related to the Aqueduct project bid process, although aides to Gov. Paterson insist the probe is unrelated to the racino deal.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office wouldn't confirm or deny the existence of an investigation into Aqueduct.

Outraged bidders who lost out to Aqueduct Entertainment Group describe a rudderless selection system that made a mockery of the whole deal.

Gov. Paterson picked AEG just days after one key investor,the politically influential Queens Rev. Floyd Flake, left open the possibility of endorsing state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for governor.

Paterson has insisted he was impartial.

State Inspector General Joseph Fisch has launched a separate probe into the tumultuous bidding process.

Fisch does not have criminal jurisdiction. His office has been in contact with the federal prosecutors to ensure they don't step over each other, sources said.

State documents released Tuesday show AEG changed key parts of its bid just days after a private consultant ranked the group as dead-last in anticipated revenues.

The consultant's report, delivered to Team Paterson on Sept.18, found that AEG's $2.9billion estimated cash haul by 2022-23 was the lowest offered by the six candidates.

Five days later, AEG revised its numbers so the group would rank first, with $3.6 billion in anticipated revenue.

"I'm not a great believer of coincidence and the timing ofthat strikes me as pretty transparent," groused James Featherstonhaugh, an investor with losing bidder Delaware North.

AEG officials insist they were unaware of the consultant's conclusions when they altered the bid.

Nevada: Desperate!

Nevada, where the streets are paved with casino gold is desperate to find new revenues and they simply can't propose expanded gambling to fund the gap. Pity!

The article and pdf are worth reading in their entirety.

STATE BUDGET CRISIS: Gibbons calls for special session, releases budget-cut plans

Governor offers two proposals for bringing new revenue

CARSON CITY -- Gov. Jim Gibbons brought to the table two ideas for generating $80 million in new revenue when he called on Tuesday a Feb. 23 special session of the Legislature to deal with an $887 million shortfall.

The governor proposed increasing revenues from the mining industry by $50 million and allowing a Chicago company to launch a camera-based auto insurance and registration verification program that would net the state $30 million.

By forcing most state employees to work four-day workweeks at 10 hours a day and take a 10-hour unpaid furlough day per month, laying off 227 workers and cutting spending statewide by 10 percent, Gibbons hopes to keep state government operating until the end of the fiscal year: June 30, 2011.

But it wasn't enough for Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, who condemned the governor's proclamation proposals as "irresponsible, mean-spirited and calculated to win re-election." He said the proposals would cut public school spending by more than $200 million, which he called unacceptable.

"We have a week to go before the special session, and the cuts to education would have a net effect of laying off thousands of teachers," Horsford said.

It helps to remember the Governor's history --

Nevada Governor Affair Allegations: Jim Gibbons Accused By Wife Of Affair With Former Playboy Model

RENO, Nev. — First lady Dawn Gibbons accuses Gov. Jim Gibbons in divorce papers of having extramarital affairs with a former Playboy magazine model and another woman to whom he sent hundreds of text messages last year. The Republican governor has been untruthful about his "infidelity" with the two women, his estranged wife says in a divorce filing, which was unsealed Monday by a court order in Washoe County Family Court.

Casino MonteLago closing

LAKE LAS VEGAS: Casino MonteLago to close in March
Ritz-Carlton shutdown 'final straw'

Casino MonteLago, the only gaming location inside the upscale but bankrupt Lake Las Vegas, will close next month, burdened by a lack of visitation and the impending shutdown of the Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas in May.

The closure, which will take place March 14, will eliminate 177 jobs.

Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said the agency was officially notified Tuesday of the impending shutdown.

John Tipton, an attorney for the owners of Casino MonteLago, CIRI Lakeside Gaming, said the closure of the Ritz-Carlton "was the final straw" for the property.

The owners were seeking additional investors, but discussions with potential financial backers ended when the ownership of the Ritz-Carlton announced its planned shutdown on Feb. 8.

Tipton said the potential lenders saw little chance for Casino MonteLago's survival without the Ritz-Carlton.

"We had to immediately start exploring other alternatives, and this was the only alternative left to us," he said.

Employees were notified of the closure Tuesday morning and, under federal law, will be paid for 60 days even though the casino will close in a little more than four weeks.

Neilander said state gaming agents will work with Casino MonteLago on closure procedures.

Casino MonteLago, which opened in 2003, was small by Las Vegas standards, with just 40,000 square feet of gaming space. The casino had 635 slot machines, a dozen table games, and a race and sports book. It also had two restaurants.

Casino MonteLago, originally owned by an Alaskan Indian tribe, faced closure in 2007. An emergency meeting by Nevada gaming regulators saved the casino as management was allowed to keep the casino alive on a temporary basis until the ownership was officially licensed three months later.

"The ownership actually turned the corner, but then there were problems with the economy," Tipton said.

Casino MonteLago booked guests into the Ritz-Carlton, but with the luxury hotel closing, the casino lost a viable marketing tool.

The Ritz-Carlton closure will cause the job loss of 350 employees. The hotel chain is an independently operated division of Marriott International.

A second hotel, the 493-room nongaming Loews Lake Las Vegas, has no plans to close, a property spokeswoman said Tuesday. Jennifer Duffy said the booking pace for the hotel is ahead of last year's numbers.

"We're still promoting the destination as a place for outdoor adventure and corporate meetings," Duffy said.

Loews is on the opposite side of the 340-acre man-made lake that is the centerpiece of the 3,600-acre Lake Las Vegas resort community, located in Henderson about 20 miles from the Strip.

The MonteLago Village also continues to operate, according to a spokeswoman. Mandy McCary said the retail center, which does not have an ownership connection to the casino, is more than 90 percent occupied with tenants.

Two of the three golf courses have been shut down during the community's Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Lake Las Vegas has more than $700 million in liabilities.

The community has 1,700 residences, but Lake Las Vegas does not have a grocery store, and the nearest schools are in a working-class neighborhood of Henderson.

Green Valley Ranch Mismanagement

Greenspun affiliate sues Station Casinos
Green Valley Ranch mismanagement alleged

A longtime and normally profitable business partnership between two of Las Vegas' most prominent families has turned very ugly.

GCR Gaming, an affiliate of the Greenspun Corp., which owns and operates media, land development and gaming companies, filed a motion with bankruptcy court Thursday accusing Station Casinos, which is owned by the Fertitta family, of "wrongdoing" and of "flagrantly and continuously" breaching its "contractual and fiduciary duties" in their joint-venture partnership of the Green Valley Ranch Resort.

The filing alleges Station Casinos executives breached those duties, in part, by directing high-stakes gamblers at Green Valley Ranch to other casinos that were owned solely by Station Casinos.

Green Valley Ranch Resort is jointly owned by GCR Gaming and GV Ranch Station, an affiliate of Station Casinos.

Station Casinos said in a statement Thursday evening that "we are extremely disappointed the Greenspuns have joined the fray of out-of-the-money constituents seeking to bring meritless lawsuits in connection with our bankruptcy proceedings."

Station Casinos said the "threatened lawsuit is nothing more than a desperate attempt and improper attempt by the Greenspuns to gain leverage against Station in our ongoing restructuring discussions with Green Valley Ranch's creditors. We intend to vigorously contest the Greenspuns' baseless claims."

Marc Kasowitz, GCR Gaming's New York City-based attorney, said late Thursday that Station Casinos' actions left the Greenspuns with no choice but to file the lawsuit.

"This motion was filed not to gain leverage in any restructuring discussions or any bankruptcy proceedings," Kasowitz said. "That has nothing to do with why the motion was filed. The motion was filed because of these really egregious breaches of the operating agreement and of the fiduciary obligations that Station has engaged in. Their conduct left GCR with no choice but to file the motion, and we fully expect that we'll be able to obtain the remedies that we're seeking."

Thursday's filing comes a week after GV Ranch Station, which also manages the Henderson resort, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

GCR Gaming contends in the filing that its partner "improperly attempted to forestall the consequences of its wrongdoing through the bad-faith filing of its Chapter 11 petition."

The motion asks the bankruptcy court to remove the Station Casinos affiliate from the joint-venture partnership and allow the Greenspun affiliate to sue Station Casinos outside of bankruptcy court.

Station Casinos filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last July to reorganize its nearly $6 billion in debts. That bankruptcy did not include the Green Valley Ranch Resort venture.

The new filing includes a declaration by Greenspun Corp. Chairman and CEO Brian Greenspun in which he alleges Station Casinos "routinely and systematically diverted high-stakes gamblers" from the Green Valley Ranch Resorts to other properties wholly owned by Station.

In one instance, he said, Station Casinos tried to lure a player from Green Valley Ranch Resort to Red Rock Resort by offering tickets to an Ultimate Fighting Championship event.

The UFC is majority-owned by the Fertittas. Lorenzo Fertitta is chairman and CEO of the UFC and sits on Station Casinos' board as vice chairman.

Greenspun also accused Station Casinos of sabotaging Green Valley Ranch's marketing and promotional efforts to "undercut its ability to effectively compete" with Station's own properties.

Greenspun, who serves on the Green Valley Ranch Resort's executive board committee, said in the filing that he met with Station Casinos Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frank Fertitta III on Feb. 4 and Feb. 10 to discuss his accusations that Station Casinos was undercutting Green Valley Ranch Resort's operations.

Greenspun said Fertitta never disclosed during the Feb. 10 meeting that its GV Ranch Station affiliate already had filed bankruptcy.

After learning of the filing the next day, Greenspun called Station Casinos Chief Development Officer Scott Nielson to ask why he had not been told of the bankruptcy, according to the filing.

According to Greenspun, Nielson admitted "Fertitta had directed (GV Ranch Station) to file bankruptcy to 'protect himself' because (Greenspun) had 'been threatening to sue.'"

In the filing, Greenspun said the Feb. 4 meeting was to give Fertitta a chance to explain Station Casinos' actions before Greenspun began legal action to remove the gaming company as the resort's manager.

According to Greenspun, Fertitta denied the company had engaged in any misconduct and promised to fully disclose details about its actions.

"However, over the course of the following week, Mr. Fertitta and his representatives at Station refused to supply such information, notwithstanding my repeated requests," Greenspun's filing said.

With the Green Valley Ranch joint-venture, the Fertittas and the Greenspuns jointly own and operate Aliante Station, Barley's Casino & Brewing Company, The Greens and Wildfire Lanes and Casinos.

The Fertitta family owns nearly 24 percent of Station Casinos, which wholly owns several other local gaming properties including Sunset Station and Red Rock Resort.

Greenspun's filing said information about Station Casinos' "wrongdoing" came from a Feb. 1 affidavit by former Green Valley Ranch General Manager Timothy Wright. The filing said other parties have corroborated Wright's story. Wright was general manager from April 2008 until December , according to his social networking site, Linked In.

Wright said on his Web page that he "reduced marketing expenses 12 percent at the resort while improving visitation and win 3 percent by significantly improving direct mail gaming and hotel occupancy."

GV Ranch Station listed three creditors, all affiliates of Station Casinos. GV Ranch Station said the creditors are owed between $10 million and $50 million. It estimates its assets at $100 million to $500 million.

The property, which opened in December 2001, has more than $770 million in debt, including a $523 million loan maturing in 2014. It also has a $250 million loan due in 2014.

Las Vegas Casino Families Square Off in Station Bankruptcy

Two prominent Nevada casino-owning families, the Fertittas and the Greenspuns, are making like ultimate fighters in a bankruptcy-court showdown over their jointly owned casino.

In one corner is casino operator GCR Gaming LLC, which claimed in a court filing Thursday that Station Casinos Inc. steered high rollers to its wholly owned casinos. GCR is controlled by the Greenspuns, the family that also controls the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

In the other corner is Fertitta-owned Station Casinos, which is trying to restructure its crushing debt under bankruptcy-court protection. Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, the brothers who ...

Massachusetts Democratic Party Resolution Opposing Predatory Gambling

United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts distributed the letter below reminding Democratic Legislators of the Resolution passed at the Democratic Party Convention opposing predatory gambling --

We are writing to bring your attention to the Resolution to oppose predatory gambling that passed that the Democratic State Convention June 2009, cited below. A majority of delegates stood and approved a resolution to oppose legalization of slot machines and any similar efforts to promote addictive and predatory gambling as a means to raise state revenues. As a Democrat, we hope that you will honor and respect the wishes of the Party’s active and involved members that work hard to elect Democrat candidates to represent us by opposing the legalization of slot machines and any similar efforts to promote addictive and predatory gambling.

Proponents of corporate casinos, antiquated racetracks and predatory gambling have spent millions of dollars from out-of-state interests lobbying legislators. We are average citizens and taxpayers of the Commonwealth. We call on you as a Democrat to reject the gimmick of slot revenues for short-term revenues and long-term problems with increased crime, addiction, education, environmental and infrastructure impact.

Democrats proudly stand for long-term sustainable economic growth based upon sensible tax policy and equal citizenship, even, and especially during difficult economic times. The vast majority of revenues from corporate casinos and predatory gambling come from addicted players. We call on you to reject exploiting the weakness of one class of citizens for the alleged benefit of the majority.


Whereas the Democratic Party has a long and proud tradition of advocating for social justice, working for policies that promote the public health, and fighting to protect citizens from exploitative and predatory business practices;
And whereas modern slot machines use neuroscience-informed technology to mesmerize and entrap gamblers and to keep them playing until they have exhausted their resources ("playing to extinction");
And whereas medical research has documented the highly addictive nature of the brain's chemical reactions to slot machine stimulation;
And whereas licensing and promoting such addictive, predatory gambling technology for the purpose of raising State revenues goes against the aforementioned values and principles for which the Democratic Party has long stood, and is at odds with the ideals that underlie our Party's honorable and consistent struggle to end the deceptive and predatory lending, marketing, and pricing practices that have pushed so many families to the brink;
And whereas legalizing slot machines would erode participation in the Lottery and siphon away from local small businesses the discretionary spending on goods and services that they depend on;
And whereas the development of slot machine parlors would neither create significant new jobs, nor increase tourism in Massachusetts;
And whereas evidence from other states indicates that the long-term costs of gambling addiction -- increased substance abuse, increased crime, increased family discord and dysfunction -- outweigh the short term benefits of licenses and gambling revenues;

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

Another Casino Bankruptcy

Green Valley Ranch manager files for bankruptcy

The Green Valley Ranch casino-resort in Henderson.

Green Valley Ranch
2300 Paseo Verde Pkwy, Henderson
The Station Casinos Inc. subsidiary that invested in and manages Green Valley Ranch resort in Henderson filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday.

The Green Valley Ranch hotel-casino itself did not file for bankruptcy.

The filing was made by GV Ranch Station Inc. and listed assets of $100 million to $500 million against liabilities of $10 million to $50 million.

Station Casinos and several subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy reorganization last summer after the recession reduced revenue at Station's locals properties.

Since Station Casinos — parent of GV Ranch Station Inc. — is already operating under bankruptcy protection, Wednesday’s filing wasn’t expected to affect operations at the property.

"The filing of this entity is part of the overall Station Casinos reorganization," Station Casinos spokeswoman Lori Nelson said. "Green Valley Ranch Resort, the property itself, is not in bankruptcy. Therefore, there will be no impact to the property, team members, guests and vendors."

Nelson said the company would have no further comment on why the subsidiary filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Green Valley Ranch hotel-casino is a joint venture between Station Casinos and affiliates of The Greenspun Corporation.

The filing listed three unsecured creditors -- all associated with Station -- but didn’t say how much they were owed. They are Station Casinos Inc., Vista Holdings LLC and Green Valley Ranch Gaming LLC.

Station has disclosed in regulatory filings that in addition to its 50-percent ownership stake in the 496-room resort, it receives as the managing partner a management fee of 2 percent of the property's revenue and about 5 percent of its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

That’s the same arrangement Station has with The Greenspun Corporation for their Aliante Station joint-venture hotel-casino in North Las Vegas.

The Greenspun holdings also include the Las Vegas Sun and the District at Green Valley Ranch, an open-air shopping center east of the Green Valley Ranch hotel-casino at Interstate 215 and Green Valley Parkway

Government Sponsored Gambling

Powerball...What's Next?

I grew up in a neighborhood in Newark , New Jersey where gambling was part of every day life. Many of my relatives gambled. The guys gambled on games, and later, on horse racing, and many aunts gambled on “the number,” which was different in every neighborhood that was into gambling. I never actually knew anyone who won it, but it didn’t stop anyone from gambling.

Years later my Uncle Nick would take me to the Meadowlands when it opened. He loved the trotters, but I got into the thoroughbreds. Then, when the NJ Lottery kicked in, it put a lot of “neighborhood guys” out of business or at least, cramped their style. But, it seemed like there were more opportunities than ever before to pick that “number,” this time matching some ping pong balls that a government operated machine would spit out.

Gambling is very big business and I’m not just talking about Super Bowl betting. Right now, Powerball is really hot. Recently, the state kicked off its newest Lottery game, which has been a huge hit in just a few days. According to published reports, you basically have “a 1 in 195 million chance” of winning the Powerball grand prize, which could be millions and millions of dollars.

That’s all fine, except there are some pretty tough questions we should be asking ourselves about government sponsored gambling. When is enough enough? Where do we draw the line? How many more games of chance will the state sponsor? (Right now, it has six live drawings and countless games where you scratch off a card and hope for the best.)

Look, I’ve played the Lottery here and there, even though my game of choice skews toward Monmouth Park Race Track in the summer. But when you really take a look at the Lottery in terms of who is playing and who is spending most of the money on a 1 in a million chance of winning, can these folks really afford it? I know the state has a massive fiscal problem with a deficit even larger than our new Governor Chris Christie ever imagined. We’ve got to find new and creative ways to get this budget balanced and create some fiscal sanity in the state. But how right is it if the disproportionate number of people who buy Powerball tickets are either poor, one step away from being poor or on a very fixed income? I am talking about people who either lost their job, can’t find a job or are lucky enough to have a job even though it doesn’t pay nearly enough to support their family. I’m talking about seniors whose prescription drug costs are through the roof.

I’m not talking about somebody who spends just a buck here or there on lottery tickets, but rather guys who I’ve seen at the NJ Lottery kiosk spewing out 30, 40, 50 or even 60 combinations of numbers. And, that’s just the one time I see the guy. If someone who could barely eek out a living is spending $60 to $100 a week on the Lottery, shouldn’t that concern us just a little bit?

Research also tells us that those who play the most have the least education. Maybe they know that there is a 1 in a however many million chance they are going to win, but maybe they don’t. If they DO know, maybe they don’t care. But, the question becomes, what is the role of the State in all this? Is it enough that the government officially warns those who play the lottery that gambling could be addictive and offers assistance if someone feels they have a gambling problem? To me that’s more about covering your behind than really doing the right thing.

I know the Lottery is voluntary. No one puts a gun to anyone’s head and says you have to buy a Lottery ticket. But if it was wrong when local “wise guys” connected to organized crime in my old neighborhood were running numbers or taking bets on football games, what makes it so right if the government sponsors gambling? I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just asking whether our best rationale is the fact that we have a fiscal crisis in the state? Is the argument that the worse the crisis becomes, the more “creative” we have to get about bringing in new revenue?

Well, if that’s the case, where do we draw the line? Is it so crazy to think that, say, prostitution, if sponsored by the state, would become more socially acceptable as long as the government gets a nice hefty cut from those who run houses of prostitution? I’m not advocating prostitution; I’m just asking where the government draws the line. Cigarettes will kill you and the government doesn’t ban them, they just take a bigger and bigger cut from cigarette taxes. Does a particular act or behavior become less frowned upon as long as it brings big revenue into the state?

I say draw a line in the sand and do it fast when it comes to state sponsored gambling. I’m not a prude about this stuff by any means and, if it were legal, it would be highly likely that I would bet on the Super Bowl. But it’s not, so I won’t. (And if I did, would I admit it in print?) I just feel that our state leaders have to get a lot more sober and serious when it comes to identifying more productive, reasonable and sound ways of balancing our budget as opposed to doing it to a significant degree on the backs of those who could least afford it through more and more government sponsored “games of chance.”