Sunday, October 31, 2010
Pro-gambling interests have spent about $5.6 million so far during the 2010 campaign season, including nearly $1.5 million since July, a Birmingham News analysis of campaign finance reports shows.
Casino owners and other gambling-related interests have sent the money through 134 political action committees, including 29 created since June, disclosure forms show. A complete tally will not be available until the end of January, when final disclosures are filed.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which owns three Alabama casinos, contributed nearly $1.4 million between June 29 and Oct. 26, disclosures show.
In the last year, the Poarch tribe has sent $2.8 million to 90 PACs, disclosure reports show.
Some of the pro-gambling cash can be traced to candidate contributions. Some indirectly supported candidates through payments to political consultants and advertising companies. Some even went to get-out-the-vote efforts.
But most of the gambling-related money has been sent from PAC to PAC, often combined with non-gambling money to obscure the source of contributions to executive, legislative and judicial branch campaigns.
"It helps camouflage the ultimate source of the funds, and makes it harder to trace," said William Stewart, an expert on Alabama politics and professor emeritus of political science at the University of Alabama.
Contributing money through dozens of PACs also "dilutes the impression that you're buying a candidate's loyalties," Stewart said. "If the money comes from a lot of different sources ... it does not seem like they're trying to buy an election."
Gambling, especially games billed as electronic bingo, has been a hot topic in Alabama politics.
Major electronic bingo operations have been shut down under pressure from Gov. Bob Riley's task force on illegal gambling. The effort has led to lawsuits and court appeals over whether the bingo machines are legal.
Only the Poarch casinos, which operate under federal authority, have remained open. Riley, who leaves office in January, has said he also wants those bingo games shut down.
An effort failed during the 2010 legislative session to pass pro-bingo bills, amid a federal investigation.
Earlier this month 11 people, including casino operators, lobbyists and state senators, were indicted in what federal prosecutors say was a scheme to buy votes for the gambling bill through bribes, including campaign contributions.
The 11 defendants have pleaded not guilty. A 12th person, a former lobbyist, has admitted to federal charges in the case.
One of the indicted lobbyists, Jarrod Massey, recently shut down nine PACs he formed in September 2009. They were funded by Massey's lobbying firm, whose clients include Ronnie Gilley.
Gilley, who also was indicted in the federal case, owns a controlling interest in the Country Crossing resort, which closed its casino in early 2010 to avoid a raid by the governor's task force.
Milton McGregor, a gambling magnate who also was charged in the federal indictment, sent about $1.9 million to 50 PACs in late 2009. No records of later donations could be found in disclosures.
Two PACs funded by Greenetrack in Eutaw, whose electronic bingo operation was shut down in early July, had nearly $300,000 in reserve after the primary, disclosures show.
One of them, JP PAC, has spent nearly $112,000 since late September, including a $50,000 donation to the state Democratic Party.
State Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, who helped lead protests when the governor's task force raided Greenetrack in July, also got two donations totaling $42,000 from JP PAC.
JP and HL PACs still have some $188,000 in Greenetrack money, disclosures filed Wednesday show.
Most of the new money from gambling interests since the primary has been contributed by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, disclosures show.
"They have a near-monopoly now," Stewart said. "They like things the way they are. They don't want efforts made to interfere with their operations."
New PACs sprouted up to handle the Poarch money.
Montgomery lobbyist John Teague, who started 21 new PACs in December 2009 to handle contributions from gambling interests, joined lobbyist James A. Gray to form three more in July.
The sole donations to those three new PACs was $49,500 from the Poarch tribe. That money was sent to another Teague PAC, disclosures show.
Since the primary, the Poarch tribe has sent more than $560,000 to PACs run by Teague, disclosures show. Teague's PACs sent about one-fourth of that money to Huntsville-based Tennessee Valley Citizens for Economic Development.
The Huntsville PAC pooled the money with cash from other sources, then spent nearly $790,000 on political advertising, consulting and polling in one month starting Aug. 17, reports show.
The Poarch tribe is one of James A. Gray's lobbying clients, state records show. Gray, along with Montgomery lobbyist Phillip S. Gray, formed 15 new PACs in June, state records show.
Those PACs got nearly $248,000 from the Poarch tribe, 98 percent of the money the committees have received, disclosures show.
Some of the money from the Grays' PACs went to legislative candidates. But most went to other PACs or was spent for get-out-the vote efforts, reports show.
David Driscoll of Huntsville formed 11 new PACs in September, which got their sole funding, $162,000, from the Poarch tribe, reports show.
That money was passed on to PACs run by Teague and Tennessee Valley Citizens for Economic Development PAC.
Three other PACs run by Driscoll got $175,000 from the Poarch tribe in September and October.
They passed the money on to other PACs that contributed to Democratic candidates, including Ron Sparks, whose candidacy for governor includes a pro-gambling platform.
Stewart said the amount of gambling money spent for candidates and political campaigns during this election does not surprise him.
"It shows how much money they are making and are willing to share with those that are friendly to their cause," he said.
Rejecting Massachusetts’ Looming Low Road to Casinos
The prospects of what some are calling 15,000 permanent jobs and $355 million in annual state revenues to be derived by extending gambling are salivated over now because the lens people are looking through is only shaped to see money and jobs in the midst of one of the nation’s worst economies; they do not see casinos as lasting institutions that will be with us dotting the landscape forevermore.
Are people so uncultured to not be able to see casinos as institutions in society, which by being sanctioned claim legitimacy from now on for generations to come? Should a child grow up to think of Massachusetts as a place where they once visited a casino, rather than how at one point they took a field trip there to Old Sturbridge Village or Plimoth Plantation?
To know that Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest and indeed the highest educated state in the country and it is still racing to “get in the game” alongside such competitors as Rhode Island and Connecticut can make anyone truly sick. Rhode Island and Connecticut were settled by peoples originally from the Massachusetts Colony. Why should Massachusetts settle its economic troubles by trodding down the paths of others?
The “shot heard ‘round the world”, the most significant event in Massachusetts history, defines Massachusetts eternally as the birthplace of America and concurrently the birthplace of modern democracy. It follows that Massachusetts set its own course and did not follow the lead of the other colonies in seeking independence from Britain’s tyranny.
The coining of the phrase “shot heard ‘round the world” was done by Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the most influential American philosophers who founded Transcendentalism and offered Thoreau his land to build his camp on near the shores of Walden Pond in Concord. Emerson and Thoreau are among the most relevant political philosophers on the world stage and are two figures who would aggressively oppose casinos in their beloved Commonwealth.
To those who would banter and bray that casinos would create thousands of good-paying jobs, Thoreau would retort, “Most men would feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall, and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now.” This quote in fact comes from Thoreau’s essay “Life without Principle”. It informs us that we cannot make work just to make work.
To those that side with resort casinos and all of those “good jobs” that they would bring—namely bar tending, bar waitressing, gaming cashiering—is there any one among you who would vouch for the dignity of such jobs? Senate President Murray? Senate President Pro Tem Rosenberg? Governor Patrick? On Senator Rosenberg’s website’s homepage there is one of his quotes staring you in the eye: “The best way to win someone’s trust is to tell the truth; clearly, forcefully, directly.”
Thoreau writes further in “Life without Principle”: “The aim of the laborer should be, not to get his living, to get ‘a good job,’ but to perform well a certain work; and, even in a pecuniary sense, it would be economy for a town to pay it laborers so well that they would not feel that they were working for low ends, as for a livelihood merely, but for scientific, or even moral ends.” Work at a casino will precisely be working for low ends.
In 2008, the Massachusetts House strongly rejected casinos, voting against them 108-46. This past April the House supported casinos 120-37. This proves that a question of morality, philosophy, and principle is answered only on the whims of the current state of the economy and on the fact that the government of Rhode Island is making money that Massachusetts is losing out on.
Casinos came to Las Vegas’ barren land and gave it life and lights, as its wasteland had nothing to offer; yet, casinos will come to Massachusetts cultured lands and will bring to them only death. How will the historical treasures that line the quaint New England towns of Massachusetts feel in the company of glinting resort casinos just down the road? They surely will not be the same.
By Brian Wolfel
United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts (USS Mass) opposes the legalization of expanded predatory gambling, slots/casinos in the Commonwealth. A strong contingency in the southeastern region has been pushing back against the false statements that a Middleboro casino was, “inevitable” for over three years. They were certainly right as the Wampanoag’s have announced that they have gone gambling-site shopping with their foreign investors, to the non-tribal lands of Fall River. The Middleboro fiasco was never a “done deal”, it may have been a colossal “dumb deal” as it was crafted by myopic local officials, muscled by labor, pledged by felon representatives of the tribe and thrust down the throats of voters in the midst of the summer heat, but it was never, “ inevitable”.
The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) enables federally recognized tribes to develop and operate tax-free gambling facilities to the level of what is legal in the state where their tribal lands exist. Currently, there are no lands that have been placed into trust for a tribe in Massachusetts and slots/casinos are not legal. The one and only way to insure that tax-free foreign backed corporations do not profit from the Massachusetts taxpayers is to not legalize slots/casinos.
The abuse of IGRA, which was created as economic opportunity for Native American tribes, abounds with billionaire foreign and domestic investors using the tribes as the “front men” for them to expand their power and wealth. How do they amass wealth? They capture wealth through the systematic expansion and addiction of gamblers, particularly from the proliferation of manipulative electronically programmed slot machines.
People are angry that politicians allowed and facilitated the out-sourcing of jobs from the Commonwealth and the US to other countries, over the past three decades. People are angry that we have an astronomical national debt that is owed to other countries. People are angry at bailing out billionaires and corporations. Now, it appears that some politicians in Massachusetts want to allow foreign investors to set-up facilities that drain local economies, negatively impact families and create extensive cost burdens upon municipalities and taxpayers. These same politicians have failed their basic fiduciary responsibilities by not performing a comprehensive cost analysis of the legislation that has been put forth.
Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) and Governor Patrick have the power and responsibility to kill the Speaker’s Special Interest Gambling bill and not legalize slots/casinos. There is nothing to stop the tribal entities interested in Middleboro, Fall River, Palmer and other sites from changing their minds-yet again, and petitioning Congress for the right to establish sovereign tax-free facilities that are exempt from environmental impact studies, regulations and the laws of the Commonwealth. Legalizing one slot machine is legalizing one too many.
That's the public discussion we should be having.
Dodd Helps Casino Earning $1.3B Get $54M in Taxpayer Money
Retiring Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., helped a casino that earned $1.3 billion last year hit a $54 million jackpot in federal money.
The Mohegan tribe, owners of the Mohegan Sun -- one of the largest casinos in the country -- has secured a $54 million loan funded with stimulus through Dodd's help.
Chuck Bunnell, a tribe spokesman and former aide to Dodd who has donated around $9,000 to the senator's coffers in recent years, told the Hartford Courant that the money will put more than 100 people back to work on a stalled project.
"Throughout his career, Sen. Dodd and the entire Connecticut delegation have worked tirelessly to secure jobs and economic prosperity for the state of Connecticut," a Dodd spokesman said in a statement to the Hartford Courant. "That is why he supported the economic recovery package, as well as the Mohegan Tribe's loan application, because it will create and preserve local jobs."
Of the $54 million to the Mohegan tribe, $31.5 million will be used to construct an educational center and $22.2 million to build a community center, according to the Agriculture Department.
The money is part of a $167.8 million loan from the Agriculture Department rural development program for 145 investments in 37 states.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a written statement that the projects "not only provide needed infrastructure in rural communities, they contribute to the Obama administration's continued efforts to turn the economy around and create quality jobs."
"The Recovery Act is working," Vilsack said. "These projects, and others like them, are contributing to fully restore the American economy while improving the quality of life in towns and small cities throughout the country."
The building will house the tribe's library, archives, tribal court, health and human services, Bunnell said.
"It has nothing to do with the casino," he said.
Bunnell told the newspaper that the tribe initially bankrolled the project from its own coffers, most of it stemming from the casino operation. But after the recession hit, tightening the credit markets, the tribe applied for the federal loan last year for the $75 million project that was scaled down from its initial price tag of $90 million, Bunnell said.
"What it will do is it will put back to work the people who lost their jobs when we stopped the project," he told the newspaper.
Bunnell said more than 100 construction workers, mostly union carpenters, plumbers, sheet metal workers and others, were laid off when the tribe stopped constructions in early 2009, after nearly two years.
Bunnell said the loans must be repaid and the interest rate is expected to be around 3 percent.
By Scott Harshbarger and Kathleen Conley Norbut
Massachusetts is steeped in history and tradition, founded on the premise of promoting the common good for the community. Together, we have retained the historic fabric of our great state and moved forward with long-term, sustainable economic growth — from life sciences and health care to higher education and information technology.
The passage of legislation to legalize slots and casinos in Massachusetts will usher in a culture that will inexorably alter the landscape of our great Commonwealth. While it may bring desperately needed jobs and revenue, it will also bring increased corruption and crime, unexpected and unnecessary costs to taxpayers, damage small businesses at a perilous time. It is shameful the Legislature is considering all this without analyzing the costs and benefits.
Not only will legalizing slots and casinos in Massachusetts hurt our children and families, but they have been proven to increase corruption, crime and addiction. Massachusetts taxpayers and voters have had enough of corruption to allow it to be ignored in such important legislation.
When casinos come to town, crime goes up. Just look at states like Connecticut and New Jersey. Crime, including political corruption and embezzlement along with other crimes, increases 8 to 10 percent after a casino is built, and continues to increase after that. Local communities have to pick up the tab.
Problem gambling leads to distressed families, child neglect, suicide and bankruptcy. Domestic violence rates go up, as do foreclosures. “Convenience gambling,” closer to home as is envisioned in Massachusetts, creates more problem gamblers. Even proponents of expanded gambling freely admit that the number of problem gamblers grows as people have easier access to government-promoted slots.
Casino proponents promise increased revenues, jobs and benefits. But they are unwilling to even study the scores of hidden costs which will very quickly eat away at any benefits the state sees — costs that will be passed on to taxpayers.
Take another look at Connecticut, which has higher taxes and more significant fiscal problems than Massachusetts — despite the promise of vast riches. Casinos haven’t helped Connecticut and, rather, have hindered the economic development of host communities and neighboring areas. Connecticut’s sales tax hasn’t gone away, property taxes haven’t gone down and the state hasn’t been to balance its budget. Connecticut’s elected leaders proposed solution to their economic problems is more gambling.
The influx of casinos and slot machines to Massachusetts requires a dramatic and comprehensive regulatory enforcement regime, a new and costly government bureaucracy to audit, regulate, inspect and oversee casinos — to the tune of $20 million to 50 million, or greater.
Due to the predatory, addictive nature of casinos, Massachusetts can expect a 50 percent increase in the number of problem gamblers in Massachusetts if we expanded gambling.
According to the California Attorney General’s office, problem and pathological gamblers cost California $1 billion per year, while officials in Indiana, after an exhaustive review, estimated the cost of serving each problem gambler at $2,500 per year. This would add up to well over $750 million in costs for Massachusetts.
Expanded gambling poses a grave threat to small businesses and Massachusetts’ thriving tourism industry.
Casinos will hurt our local restaurants, hotels and entertainment businesses. Money that would otherwise be spent at locally-owned, small businesses will instead be spent at chain restaurants in casinos and lost on casino floors, where we know the owners will make huge profits.
Our elected officials clearly haven’t done their homework or analyzed how casinos and slots will negatively impact our Commonwealth. At a time when voter confidence in government is at an all-time low, it is wrong for legislators to rush through a complex, legislative process without thorough analysis.
The taxpaying citizens of Massachusetts deserve a full cost-benefit analysis of this legislation before it is approved or signed into law. If a data-driven study were done, the evidence is clear: Massachusetts should say no to casinos and slots and all the costs that come with them.
Scott Harshbarger is senior counsel at Proskauer and former Massachusetts Attorney General; Norbut is a former Selectman in Monson and president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts.
The Boston Globe’s Jenifer McKim today reports that Robert Goodman, an expert on casino gambling, believes a proposed casino and slot-machine emporium at Suffolk Downs would harm local businesses.
“No serious economic impact analysis has been done in Massachusetts,” Goodman tells McKim. “More money is going to be sucked out of the local economy.”
But aren’t casinos supposed to be good for the economy?
In fact, the negative effect described by Goodman is so well-known that Glenn Marshall, the disgraced former chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, reportedly promised business owners in Middleborough that he would give them money to offset the harm that would be done by the casino the tribe had proposed for that town. (The tribe recently dropped the long-dormant Middleborough scheme in favor of a site in Fall River.)
According to a story by Alice Elwell in the Enterprise of Brockton in September 2007, Marshall had promised local business leaders that he would “help” if the casino harmed restaurants in town. Selectman Wayne Perkins was quoted as saying this would have taken the form of “comp points” — scrip given to casino visitors that could be used at Middleborough businesses, which in turn could trade them in for cash. (The original link seems to be broken, but I wrote about it at the time.)
A casino is a self-contained economic machine that sucks money out of customers who might otherwise spread it around at local businesses, a fact Marshall backhandedly acknowledged in promising “comp points.” It then funnels the cash to high-rolling investors — and, of course, to the state, which is why Beacon Hill is now on the verge of approving this monstrosity.
The Globe’s corporate cousin, the New York Times, editorialized on Monday:
Casinos are a magnet for tainted money and promote addiction,
crime and other ills….
The state’s politicians should also stop chasing gamblers. At a timeThe Globe editorial page, by contrast, has been consistently if cautiously pro-casino. Too bad. As the region’s dominant media player, the Globe could exercise some real leadership on this issue.
when casino revenue is slumping across the country, it doesn’t even
make economic sense. They need to make hard decisions on taxes
and spending, and focus on developing stable industries, improving
education and working their way to growth. If they keep holding
out for a false jackpot, everyone will lose.
Many states are turning to legalized gambling to help fill holes in their budgets. But gambling revenue is not a long-term fix for budget problems.
New England, settled by Puritans centuries ago, has gambling fever. Several states are grappling with efforts to expand gambling and harvest the resulting tax revenue.
The Massachusetts legislature is hammering out details of a bill to bring two or three resort-style casinos to the state to supplement its lottery and racetrack betting parlors. [This article was written as the Beacon Hill Conference Committee conducted its work behind closed doors to reach a grossly flawed 'compromise' of sorts.] In Maine, developers have already put down a deposit on a site for a casino, which is subject to voter approval in November. A similar initiative was just vetoed by Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) in Rhode Island, prompting talk of an override by the legislature.
While supporters of legalized gambling point to much-needed tax revenues and thousands of casino jobs, opponents are lining up against gambling expansions, and not just with moral arguments. They cite recent evidence that gambling revenues may be neither a quick fix nor a long-term solution for state budget gaps.
How does gambling generate money for states?
Lottery proceeds, taxes on gambling profits, and licensing fees for new facilities make up the bulk of gambling revenues for states. The tax rates tend to fall between 20 and 50 percent.
States allocate gambling proceeds in different ways, but common targets for the money include education, infrastructure, local government, and treatment of gambling disorders. [In other words, proponents employ whatever is needed to garner public support for the Predatory Gambling legislation.]
Lotteries, casinos, and combination racetrack-casinos (or "racinos") are the biggest sources of gambling revenue for states. Traditional betting on horse and dog races – parimutuel wagering – is also legal in 40 states, but its contribution to state revenues has fallen with its declining popularity.
How important is gambling revenue?
Gambling provides, on average, between 2 and 3 percent of states' revenue, excluding federal funding, according to the Rockefeller Institute, a New York think tank. Nevada relies on this revenue source the most, with 13.6 percent of its own-source funds coming from gambling in 2007.
Supporters of Massachusetts' gambling bill in the state Senate say the new casinos would generate as much as $355 million a year. By contrast, the budget gap that lawmakers closed with cuts this spring was about $300 million. Some money would arrive fairly quickly, too: Each new casino operation would pay a $75 million licensing fee to the state right away.
[As Senator Tucker rightly pointed out and her simple arithmetic is posted here: Casino Dollars Will Simply Pour In! Not! this is a loser! The Massachusetts Senate used taxpayers' hard-earned dollars for a report to justify their flawed figures.]
Besides money for states, are there other reasons to expand gambling?
For Massachusetts state Sen. Joan Menard (D) and others, casino jobs are a more important economic factor than tax revenue. She likens the potential influx of new jobs – as many as 15,000 for three Bay State casinos, according to another state senator – to a stimulus effort. "A resort casino is economic development," Senator Menard told The Boston Globe. "I have 10,000 people in a city of 96,000 looking for work." [Were Senator Menard honest with herself and her constituents, she knows the job figures are wildly exaggerated.]
What are the economic drawbacks of legalized gambling?
The moral argument against gambling has been around since the first wager. But there are also economic arguments against states expanding the practice and using it as a revenue source. A Rockefeller Institute study last year found that, over time, gambling revenues grow more slowly than the expenditures of the programs (such as education) that they fund. That means reliance on gambling revenues can worsen deficits.
There are more immediate drawbacks to gambling, which critics say disproportionately hurts the less-well-off. The vast sums spent on legalized gambling – more than $90 billion a year, or about nine times Hollywood's annual box office receipts – would galvanize the flagging economy if used more efficiently, says John Kindt, a business professor at the University of Illinois.
"That's lost consumer activity that's not buying food, clothing, cars, refrigerators, and so on," Mr. Kindt says. Because of economic multipliers – the effects of consumer spending flowing through the economy – every $100,000 spent in slot machines results in $300,000 in economic losses, Kindt claims.
Real estate property taxes in some communities are in excess of $20,000 per year because of poor fiscal policy.
Why does anyone believe this makes sense?
Gov. Chris Christie to make sure N.J. sports authority stays afloat
TRENTON — The Christie administration is tossing an emergency life line to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority in an effort to keep it temporarily afloat.
The state, in a special budget resolution, will guarantee that the financially strapped authority does not run out of cash. But officials said control over any additional spending will be placed under the direct oversight of the Division of Budget and Accounting.
Before any state money is appropriated, however, the authority must first go through the money it already has on hand — including an $18 million reserve fund.
The authority operates the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford — which includes the Meadowlands Racetrack and Izod Center arena — and Monmouth Park racetrack, and was seeking a $32.9 million operating subsidy from the state for 2010. It would have been in the red this year without a $15 million infusion in advance rent payments from the stalled Xanadu project, but that money is now gone.
Editorial : Town-tribe relations may need to add a kind of Bill of Rights
In December 2004, the state Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled that the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) is subject to local enforcement of zoning regulations with respect to the construction of a small shed on the so-called Cook Lands.
The dispute centered on the language of the 1983 settlement agreement between the town, the state, the tribe, and the non-resident taxpayers of what was then Gay Head. That agreement, which was at the heart of the lawsuit that consumed several years earlier in this decade, is the crux of the dispute that has arisen between Aquinnah and the tribe over the pathways to Lobsterville beach. It is that 1983 agreement that eventually led to federal recognition of the Wampanoag tribe, a sovereign entity.
The Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1987, which all parties signed, provides that the settlement lands “…shall be subject to all federal, state, and local laws, including town zoning laws, state and federal conservation laws and the regulations of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC)…” But there are other lands that are subject to the terms of that Settlement Act, including the pathways that the tribe recently blocked.
The Massachusetts court held, in part as follows, “We conclude that, with respect to its land use on the Cook Lands, the only land in dispute in this case, the Tribe waived its sovereign immunity, thus subjecting the Tribe and the Hatchery to the zoning enforcement action.”
In August of 2006, members of the Aquinnah Gay Head Community Association (AGHCA) reflected on the success of their lawsuit and looked forward to devoting the group’s energy and money into community endeavors and not lawsuits.
That legal battle with the tribe had cost the group approximately $280,000. It didn’t cost the town of Aquinnah much, but that was because, shamefully, the selectmen voted to withdraw from the long fight rather than defend the interests of their non-Indian constituents.
At the time, Lawrence Hohlt described the future work of the Community Association and his confidence that the “Intergovernmental agreement on cooperative land use and planning between the Wampanoag Indian tribe and the town of Aquinnah,” would provide a framework for future cooperation. For Mr. Hohlt and the members of the Community Association most involved with the lawsuit and the defense of an agreement signed in 1983, the view for the future, at least in 2004, was refreshing.
Today, which may be the future under discussion that August evening in 2004, the view is not so refreshing. The issue then between town and tribe was land use regulation. The issue now is defined access for non-members of the tribe over unquestioned Indian land to a state-owned shore. The town and members of the town’s non-Indian population believe the access was legally described in that 1983 agreement. The leadership of the tribe has not said what it believes, except it believes in a process for resolving disputes between two sovereign governments — tribe and town.
(Incidentally, that state-owned beach beyond the contested pathways is subject to public rights that have nothing to do with the townsfolk of Aquinnah. One hopes that the state and the town will have in mind the collateral interests of the rest of us as they chart a solution to this dispute.)
Our news report today has a hopeful gloss. The thrust is, we’ll all get together and work this out once the hot, hot summer has ended. Working these things out has in the past led to the courts working these things out, and while one hopes that will not be the case this time, one fears it will.
Generally, an agreement such as was concluded in 1983 would not be difficult for each side to abide by, but in this case the clear impression is that the Wampanoag side chafes at the elements of the agreement that intrude upon its changing and expanding sense of its tribe’s sovereignty. The result is a querulous posture toward the town of Aquinnah.
Continuing discussions are certainly required, but that 1983 pact may be in need of a Bill of Rights analog, to be negotiated forthwith. If the sharply differing Founders could hammer out a plain catalogue of enumerated and indelible rights, perhaps Aquinnah and the tribe can do the same. It may be the moment for serious representatives of both sides to meet with the goal of identifying and resolving issues embedded in the language of that 1983 agreement, issues whose actual working out, in ongoing practical terms, require thought-through protocols that will stand the test of time. At least, for some time.
Tribe Opens Lobsterville Path But Stresses Access Is Temporary
A sandy path to Lobsterville Beach in Aquinnah has been reopened to the public, halting, at least for now, a contentious land-use battle between the town and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).
In a letter to the Aquinnah selectmen dated Aug. 12, tribal council chairman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais confirmed that the path would be reopened.
“The tribal council will permit the town temporary foot access across the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) Trust Lands on a designated path leading from Clay Pit Road to Vineyard Sound. In order to facilitate this action, the tribe’s natural resources department staff will temporarily remove the brush barrier in order to clear the footpath for ease of access,” she wrote.
“It is officially reopened,” said selectman and board chairman Camille Rose yesterday. “[The tribe] removed the impediments. The people in town will now be able to use it.”
Ms. Rose also said the issues of ownership and land use relating to the path have not yet been settled, and that the tribe made it clear in their letter that they were allowing town residents to use the path on a temporary basis. “I have no idea [what that means].,” Ms. Rose said, adding: “It’s open. It’s not the best of all possible solutions, but it’s open.”
The issue was first brought to the attention of the selectmen late last month, after the tribe had roped off the path and blocked the entrance with a pile of brush. A series of meetings followed, where the selectmen said the town’s right to use the path was protected under a 1983 land claims settlement agreement signed by both the tribe and town.
The tribe was invited to discuss the issue with the selectmen, via a letter that was delivered the day before the meeting was scheduled. Tribal council members failed to show for the meeting.
Then last week, selectman Jim Newman attended two meetings of the tribal council to ask that the path be reopened. Town counsel Ronald H. Rappaport attended the second meeting, and reportedly brought along documents showing the town’s right to use the path. Both meetings were closed to the public.
At a selectmen’s meeting last week, Mr. Newman reported that his meeting with the tribe had been productive.
The letter from the tribe arrived last Friday, addressed to Mr. Newman. In an e-mail to the Gazette yesterday, Mr. Newman wrote: “This was an historic event for Aquinnah, and reinforced the need to deal with the tribe on a government-to-government level, in a respectful manner. A public circus-like meeting with the tribe is disrespectful, damaging and unproductive.”
Ms. Rose said yesterday that she is glad the issue has been resolved for the time being, and she hopes for improved dialogue with the tribe. “It’s been difficult and it’s a difficult time of year,” she said of the circumstances surrounding the closure. “I would hope that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again without our being able to sit down and discuss things in a reasonable way, and not take precipitous action . . . that causes bad feelings. It’s not necessary.”
Ms. Rose said she hopes the path issue will serve to make people think twice before taking action without first going through the necessary channels. “It’s this sort of thing that will make people more conscious of doing things like that without getting permission . . . whether it’s the town or the tribe or the state or anything,” she said.
But she also said there remains more to discuss with the tribe in the future. “The issue has not been settled, obviously, because [the letter] says that it’s opened temporarily,” she said.
Ms. Andrews-Maltais could not be reached for comment, and tribal natural resources director Bret Stearns had no comment yesterday.
Ms. Rose simply called it progress. “It has certainly progressed over the situation that existed before,” she said. “I think that it will make people in town more conscious of the fact that we actually share these things. We’re more conscious of the situation that we have here, with access to the beach, and how we should respect it,” she said.
by Megan Dooley
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
A few years ago the casino people promised us that if we would only approve casinos in Missouri, they would provide us romantic riverboats floating in the moonlight. Now we have glitzy landlocked casinos somewhere near a river.
They agreed to a $500-per-two-hour ($6,000-per-24- hour)loss limits if we would approve casinos. Once allowed in, they never relented until they got rid of the loss limits.
They promised us a lot more money to education. Bottom line, very little if any additional money has gone to Missouri education from our citizens losing money in the casinos.
The late U.S. Senator Paul Simon from Illinois saw what gambling expansion was doing in the country. On the floor of the U.S. Senate Senator Simon noted the recent suicide by a respected member of his mother's church, a lady who became addicted following innocent visits to the local casino. In that context, he spoke to his fellow Senators, saying: "What should not be ignored by Congress and the American people is that we have a problem on our hands." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 1, 1995)
This resulted in a federal gambling commission which in time recommended a slowdown or moratorium on casino expansion. The casinos didn't slow down ... except when the local citizens insisted on it ... before casinos would get established locally.
And in that same U.S. Senate speech, Senator Simon said further: "...political power propels the spread of gambling. In Illinois ... lobbyists for the gaming industry include 'a former governor, a former attorney general, two former U.S. attorneys, a former director of the state police, a prominent former judge, a former mayor of Chicago and at least seven former state legislators ...'" The lesson was clear. In that case, those public officials helpful to the casinos can expect a payoff, perceived by the public to be little more that delayed bribes.
The casino pattern for "getting their foot in the door" in a region includes baiting public officials with the promises of all kinds of big money if the next casino is permitted. Strapped for needing more money to pay for government, and supported by other groups reaping the short-term benefits, public servants too frequently fall for it. But the fact is that when casinos get established locally, they suck tens of millions out of the local economy (most of which goes out of state), money no longer available for legitimate products and services.
Public officials are often jubilant over the idea of casinos sapping every dollar they can from those same citizens whose welfare they are committed to protect. We saw it recently upon the license approval of the new "River City Casino" in St. Louis. It was anticipated to produce $200 million a year ... more than $500,000 a day ... in gambling losses of the people to River City. Public official and the casino people -- in an apparent "de facto" partnership celebrated together!
For years we have known from experience and from studies (such as in the St. Louis Law Journal, Winter, 1995, by Professor John Warren Kindt of the University of Illinois) that when gambling options increase in a region, so do the related problems: more compulsive gamblers, more crime, more thoughts of suicides by the inevitable numbers of area people who become addicted (with some actually committing suicides), more embezzlements, more corruption of public officials... I could go on.
Major media outlets in an area anticipate and experience big incomes from casinos advertising accounts. At the same time, the mountains of evidence regarding the negative results from localized casinos is typically under-researched and under-reported by those same media outlets.
Before casinos came to the St. Louis region, there were a couple of small Gamblers Anonymous chapters. Now in that same area there are more that 20 Gamblers Anomyous chapters.
A subtle and usually overlooked casino negative: many problem gamblers embezzle money from anybody else's cash they can access to steal the money. That stolen money is frequently identified by the ATM withdrawals of the thieves who visit the casinos. With casinos thus identified as receiving the stolen money, I asked one victim about the $200,000 embezzled from him and his wife, which destroyed their small business and nearly their lives. "How much of the identified stolen money did the casinos return to you?" The answer: "Not one penny!"
And since Missouri governmental agencies got their cut of the identified stolen money from the casinos, how much of the stolen money did government return to my friends, the victims. Same answer: "Not one Penny!"
Whoever thought we would need to look to President Putin of Russia as a wise example and role model. In recent years Putin and the Russian government closed more than 2,200 Russian casinos!
Let's hope that the Missouri Gaming Commission looks out for the best interests of the citizens of Missouri with an emphatic statement and decision: "No more new casinos in Missouri."
Rev. Dr. Harold H. Hendrick, Florissant, MO
Director of Public Affairs of Bott Radio Network and radio talk show host.
Ya gotta to love the inflammatory rhetoric! Armegeddon for Pete's sake?
In an effort to force Slot Barns into communities that don't want them, local control will be lost! Not the first time! All for the sake of the phony "Let's Save the Tracks!" a dead business.
Down the road, when patrons and revenue diminish further, the Gambling Vultures will argue that they're losing money by supporting racing. Not novel or new.
How about sensible sustainable development? How about a real conversation about sensible fiscal policy instead of community destruction?
Bill Would Override Local Authority To Stop Installation At Arlington
After an hour-long community forum on the dangers and economic pitfalls of allowing slots at Arlington Park some were still not convinced.
“I think we’re looking at financial Armageddon if the track closes,” said resident Rich Hedstrom.
The three-person panel failed to persuade Hedstrom that slot machines would damage the local economy. Hedstrom argued that other gambling communities, like Joliet and Elgin, have prospered because of economic activity around their casinos.
“I think we’re fools if we don’t,” Hedstrom said about allowing slot machines at the racetrack. [Who's the fool?]
The state senate is considering a bill that would allow racetracks to install up to 1,200 slot machines — the same number as a casino — in order to bolster horse racing, which has declined in recent years. The bill would circumvent municipalities’ home rule authority denying villages like Arlington Hts. the right to regulate or stop the installation of slots.
The meeting was held at the Arlington Hts. Historical Museum Monday night. The three member panel consisted of 50-year village resident Nancy Duel; John Kindt, University of Illinois professor of business and legal policy; and Chris Anderson, director of the Gambling Recovery Center in Evanston. Each of the speakers was opposed to slot machines at Arlington Park.
“This type of gambling actually shrinks the economy,” Kindt said, citing a U.S. Senate study. He said gambling takes money away from the consumer businesses that grow the economy, adding that the cost of gaming is $3-$4 for every dollar of benefit.
Anderson said casinos have spent the past two decades chipping away at regulations like the two-hour gaming limit Illinois once enforced on gamblers.
“What is literally being talked about here is putting a land-based casino in Arlington Hts.,” he said.
Duel mostly took issue with the proposed law’s preemption of home rule.
“The Arlington Hts. community has not been consulted and all the decisions will be made in Springfield,” she told the dozens of people who showed up.
She said she was skeptical of the track’s status as an economic engine for Arlington Hts. saying that the village earns only about 0.4% of its revenue from the track.
The panel reinforced its anti-slot stance during a question-and-answer period following their presentations.
Anderson pointed out that thousands of people with gambling problems have placed themselves on a list to be arrested if they step foot in a casino.
“What other business in the State of Illinois has anything, anything like that?” he said.
Several elected officials and candidates made appearances at the meeting. Mayor Arlene Mulder and trustees Joseph Farwell and Bert Rosenberg were there. However, Mulder said they could not comment on the meeting because they did not want to violate the Open Meeting Act, which states that three or more trustees talking village business is a meeting and requires prior public notice.
Also in attendance were 66th state senate district candidate David Harris, 53rd District candidate Linda Birnbaum, 53rd representative Sid Mathias, and Cook County 14th district candidate Jennifer Bishop Jenkins.
Notice in South Dakota, they're supporting their argument with the specious statement of "DOLLARS FLOODING ACROSS STATE BORDERS," much as they have in New England.
It seems South Dakotans aren't buying what the Snake Oil Salesmen are selling.
One wise resident had this to say:
"Being reactive isn't a good thought process," he says. "Changing state law to get back at something somebody else did doesn't seem a good way to go."
Isn't it odd that the Casino Vultures are concerned about dollars leaving the sate?
S.D. mood sour toward expansion of gambling in Argus Leader/ Kelo-TV poll
When Lyon County, Iowa, voters in 2008 approved a $120 million casino, golf course and resort for Larchwood, they set in motion South Dakota's reconsideration of its own relationship to gambling.
Now, with the Larchwood casino under construction and set to open next summer, the gambling expansion issue continues to loom over Sioux Falls and the state.
Results of an Argus Leader/KELO-TV poll show South Dakotans are resolutely clear that they do not want to see more casino gaming in the state, even though opponents of the Larchwood casino warn if it is allowed to prosper, it will take millions in video lottery revenue from South Dakota and create law enforcement and gambling addiction problems in Sioux Falls.
In the recent poll of 800 registered voters statewide, 63 percent said South Dakota should not expand casino gambling beyond Deadwood and the tribal casinos.
Twenty-eight percent said South Dakota should expand gambling, and 9 percent were undecided. Among 400 registered voters surveyed in Sioux Falls, 65 percent say they oppose building a competitor to the Larchwood-area casino in South Dakota. Only 16 percent support it; 19 percent were undecided.
Further, 63 percent said they have no plans to patronize the Larchwood development, 29 percent said they would and 8 percent were not sure.
The polls were conducted Oct. 20-22 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C. The statewide sampling has a plus or minus margin of error of 3.5 percent, and there is a 5 percent margin of error in the results of questions directed specifically toward Sioux Falls voters.
Sioux Falls Republicans most strongly opposed building a casino to compete with Grand Falls. Of Republicans polled, 74 percent turned thumbs down on that. Independents followed at 62 percent and Democrats at 56 percent.
Thirty percent of both Democrats and Republicans said they plan to visit the Larchwood casino; 25 percent of independents said they would.
Shift in attitudes since late 1980s
The dour attitude toward new gaming is in contrast to the mood in the state in the late 1980s when Deadwood sought to introduce gambling. Events that came together then to persuade voters to favor the proposal might no longer be aligned, says state Sen. Tom Nelson, R-Lead, a strong supporter of Deadwood gaming.
"It was just a snapshot in time that worked for Deadwood," he said.
Deadwood gaming proponents made the case for new revenue to restore a badly disintegrating historic downtown, and they were persuasive.
"We said to voters, 'This is our promise to you: If you allow us to have gambling, we will build the town back up,' " Nelson said.
When Deadwood gaming was approved, the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act had just been passed. Since then, more than 200 tribes nationwide have built casinos that do more than $14 billion in business annually. A provision of the act would allow tribal casinos to match the gambling of new nontribal casinos, and Nelson said that has led to South Dakota voters' disinterest in seeing new gambling in Sioux Falls.
The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe remains interested in joining with Sioux Falls in a casino venture, based on the Deadwood model, said Sam Allen, a tribal executive committee member and economic development official.
"What we would do is have a distribution and profit share equal to or better than what Deadwood pays the state of South Dakota and local government," Allen said. "We could really help Sioux Falls and the state with education funds, money for law enforcement, new roads, etc."
Allowing a tribe to build a large casino in Sioux Falls also would help redress a glaring inequality in the state's gaming industry, Allen added. The tribe is limited to 250 gaming machines at its Royal River Casino in Flandreau while Deadwood casino owners are approved for 360 or more, he said.
"You really can't blame the tribes for feeling it is all slanted and not in the tribes' favor at all."
Dim view of building to counter Iowa
Dale Tabbert, a poll participant from Lennox, is among those taking a dim view of gambling expansion. Between video lottery, Deadwood and the tribal casinos, "I think the majority of the state has opportunities to gamble," he said.
"It seems to me you are not more than 150 miles from a reservation casino now. If it is expanded, that would make it more available, and that is not what I want to see happen."
Tabbert said the Larchwood-area casino's planned reliance on Sioux Falls for patrons without providing revenue to South Dakota increases his disinterest.
"I'm not that large of a gambler by any means. But that's more reason not to go there," he said.
Mark Blow of Harrisburg, like Tabbert, is opposed to expanding casino gambling in South Dakota. Blow also said changing the state law to allow a casino to be built in Sioux Falls to blunt the effect of the Larchwood casino is a poor idea.
"Being reactive isn't a good thought process," he says. "Changing state law to get back at something somebody else did doesn't seem a good way to go."
Poll Shows Casino Idea Unpopular
In the upcoming Tuesday voting in South Dakota it appears there will be little support for casino expansion.
South Dakota was one of the first states in the US to approve casino gambling, becoming the third state to do so in 1989. Since then many other states have not only done the same they have outstripped South Dakota in the casino industry.
A recent poll was held to see if South Dakota residents would like to change their position in the national casino industry, and the results came as a blow to those who would see the state expand its casinos.
The poll, commissioned by the Argus Leader and KELO-TV, asked 800 voters if they want casino expansion, with sixty-three percent saying no.
Martin Velky, a casino expansion supporter, expressed one major reason the results were a disappointment: "Iowa is expanding gambling, and so are several other states in our area.
If voters do not realize the importance of bringing more casinos to South Dakota, the economy could get worse. The jobs and revenue new casinos would bring is essential in the state."
In their rush to cram through legislation at midnight on the Fourth of July, Pennsylvania lawmakers, anxious to reward wealthy investors and suck discretionary income from the poor ignored the experiences of other states, just as Beacon Hill has done.
Slot Barns exist and profit by creating ADDICTION.
And so it is with the rash of children (and animals) being placed in jeopardy, being left in vehicles.
Recall the rash of child abandonment cases at Parx, an experienced Gambling Vulture fully familiar with this issue and public officials ignorant of the threat --
Parx: children abandonment cases begin in court
Since mid-June, 13 children - ranging from 15 months to 15 years - have been left in vehicles outside the Bensalem casino by their adult caretakers, police say.
From: Smack into the face of addiction
But officials in Bucks County say that while planning for the 2006 opening of Parx Casino in Bensalem, they never anticipated this. [Even though due diligence would have revealed this.]
"One thing that we never expected was for people to leave their kids inside their cars while they went inside to gamble," said Fred Harran, Bensalem's public safety director.
"Of all the problems we thought about that were going to happen, this is one thing that was probably inconceivable," State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R., Bucks) said at a noon news conference Thursday in Bensalem.
Added State Sen. Robert M. Tomlinson (R., Bucks): "We were all shocked when we first heard of these incidents."
They shouldn't have been, some experts and gambling critics say.
"They didn't do their research," said Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, a national nonprofit child-safety organization. "There is plenty out there about the fact that kids are left alone in cars at casinos."
"It's amazing to me that legislators are surprised at this stuff," said Paul Boni, a Philadelphia lawyer who has represented anti-casino groups. "You are looking smack into the face of the addiction.
"They are surprised because they haven't thought about it and haven't looked into the issue."
Photo courtesy of:
EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT UNION BUSTING CLUB
One must wonder where Pennsylvania lawmakers mandated the Casino Vultures to patrol their parking facilities. What culpability do they have? This was inside a parking garage and reported by a passerby.
Parents In Jail For Leaving Children Alone While At Casino
PITTSBURGH -- A mother and father were arrested for leaving their three children inside a car while they went gambling.
Police said the children, ages 10, 3 and 10 months, were alone in the parking garge [sic] for about 45 minutes before a concerned passer-by found the kids and alerted casino security.
Lounla Xayathep 54, and Phayvong Peaungvong-Pak 38, are residents of New Eagle but were born in the country of Laos. They will each face three charges of endangering the welfare of children.
The incident occurred at about 3 p.m. Saturday at the Rivers Casino on the North Shore. Both are in jail awaiting an arraignment.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Unlike the Fall River Herald News that ignores the complex fiscal mismanagement of the City in favor of Mayoral photo ops, this paper has done its homework.
The comment below is what it's all about. COSTS
When will Beacon Hill and elected officials conduct their due diligence?
For instance, since Indian tribes do not pay taxes, how will the county and the township cover the government costs that will inevitably result from the development of the casino complex?
Local officials shouldn’t rush to embrace scheme for casino
Use of the word scheme in the headline — instead of proposal — with regard to a casino being touted by James A. Traficant Jr., former area congressman and a convicted felon, reflects our belief that the idea is nothing more than a house of cards. It won’t come to fruition because it’s based on a faulty premise: That an Indian tribe not indigenous to Ohio will somehow secure permission from the state and federal governments to build the gambling establishment in Mahoning County.
Given that, county commissioners Anthony Traficanti and John McNally and the trustees in Jackson Township are absolutely right in not succumbing to pressure from Traficant to quickly approve his scheme. The notion that the transfer of ownership of 20-plus acres of land in North Jackson to two Indian nations for $1 somehow proves commitment and credibility is vintage Traficant.
His bullying tactics show that his seven years and one month in the federal penitentiary failed to teach him humility. He came out of prison just as he went in, an arrogant, egotistical individual who was not swayed by his conviction by a federal jury of 10 criminal charges, including racketeering, bribery and tax evasion. In a nutshell, he used his public position as congressman from the 17th District for personal gain.
Now, he wants the area to embrace his half-baked scheme for a casino, hotel, convention center and a bank, and is demanding support from elected officials. Traficant has formed Traficant Co. LLC, with his wife, Patricia, as the business agent, and claims to have facilitated the land transfer from Athena D. Bialik and John A. Papadopoulos to Winston Mason, a trustee of Itana (Indigenous Tribal Affiliates of Native America) of Utah and Munsee Delaware Indian Nation in Cambridge, Ohio. That’s window dressing, nothing to be taken seriously.
It would be an entirely different proposition had Traficant first found a legally solid solution to what remains a major impediment to Indian casinos in Ohio
As Ted Hart, a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, noted, only federally-recognized tribes can apply for a federal gaming license, and there are no federally recognized tribes in Ohio.
Traficant is pushing the idea that if the county commissioners and the Jackson Township trustees pass resolutions in support of his scheme, he and his associates, the Itana and the Munsee, would be able to use that support to petition the federal government for tribal recognition.
Slew of issues
But as commissioners Traficanti and McNally — their colleague David Ludt, who will be leaving office in December, is backing Traficant’s idea — and the Jackson Township trustees correctly pointed out, there are a slew of other issues that need to be addressed.
For instance, since Indian tribes do not pay taxes, how will the county and the township cover the government costs that will inevitably result from the development of the casino complex?
Traficant, who is on Tuesday’s ballot as an independent candidate for 17th District congressman, is not going to steam roller responsible elected officials.
His scheme lacks credibility — just as he does.
Christians, shopkeepers and residents of London’s Chinatown have joined forces against the proliferation of betting shops and slot machine arcades that have opened in the area.
There are more than 60 gaming shops in the London borough of Westminster, where Chinatown lies. Around half of the gaming shops are located in Chinatown.
Locals have come together under the banner of the Westminster Citizens group – the local branch of London Citizens - to protest the prevalence of gambling shops in their community.
The group says the betting shops are causing serious levels of gambling addiction and debt among those who live and work in the area.
They are lobbying Westminster City Council to cap the number of gaming shops in the borough and have submitted a formal objection against an application from bookmakers Betfred for new premises on Gerrard Street, the main street in China Town.
They were out in force outside Westminster City Hall on Thursday to protest against any more gambling licences.
Nikki Lee, of London Citizens, said: “Enough is enough. This proliferation of casinos has become a social ill that is leading to a breakdown in many marriages and serious debt.”
The problem has become so serious that the Christian Gambling Rehabilitation Centre has been set up in Soho to help people recover from their gambling addictions.
Mrs Lee said: “We don’t want Soho to become a gambling quarter. Chinatown is much more than a cluster of betting shops. We represent all that is diverse and dynamic about London.”
Jennifer Hogg, who is campaigning against gambling on behalf of the Evangelical Alliance, warns that the rise in betting shops is being seen right across the UK.
She believes the problem lies in licensing and planning loopholes that tie the hands of local authorities.
“Every betting shop or arcade is a mini-casino containing high-stake gaming machines,” she said.
“Now we are witnessing clusters of bookies and arcades in poorer areas.
“Because of legal loopholes, councils have no power to curb gambling expansion and can’t use their local knowledge to protect communities from overcrowding by gambling venues.
“This is harming people in our most deprived areas.”
Beacon Hill was asked to require that monthly loss statements be mailed to patrons. It was defeated.
Loss limits were not included in Beacon Hill's legislation. Why inconvenience the Industry?
Beacon Hill supported 24/7/365 free alcohol (well...except for, was it 20 minutes?) and approved of Slot Barns offering loans.
House Members genuflected to Speaker DeLeo's Fairy Tale and promises of chairmenships. And the Senate followed like sheep.
This is the human cost.
"Casinos" don't exist without Addiction.
Randi Matthews at sentencing: 'I'm sorry'
HERKIMER — The wife of a former Fairfield town supervisor said simply, “I’m sorry,” as she was sentenced to state prison Friday after previously pleading guilty to stealing nearly $378,000 in town funds to fuel a gambling addiction.
Randi Matthews, 42, was sentenced by Herkimer County Court Judge Patrick Kirk to 4½ to 13½ years in prison, with credit for about six months of time served. She had pleaded guilty Oct. 8 to felony second-degree grand larceny.
Matthews also was ordered to repay $377,967.95 in funds stolen from the town. Without a specific payment schedule in place, however, it’s questionable whether the town will see those funds, defense attorney George Aney said.
“Just the interest on something like that at the legal rate would be prohibitive,” Aney said. “I think the town was entitled to that judgment because that’s what they were able to show …. But whether they collect it or not is very, very remote at best.”
Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter said it will be up to Fairfield town officials to file a civil case seeking payment of that judgment, and that they would have the ability to garnish Matthews’ future wages and seize any other significant forms of income until the debt was paid.
Carpenter also said he was “satisfied” with the sentence, which fell just short of the 15-year maximum applicable under law.
“This woman stole from her neighbors, her friends, hardworking people who pay taxes in the town of Fairfield, and it obviously caused a great hardship on the town,” he said.
Matthews previously acknowledged that she forged documents and tampered with public records in order to conceal thefts between May 2006 and November 2009. At the time, she was helping her husband, then-town Supervisor Frank Matthews, manage the town finances. She has said Frank Matthews knew nothing of the thefts.
Carpenter read a letter from a Fairfield resident during the sentencing, in which the woman expressed his displeasure with Randi Matthews’ actions.
The town, he said later, paraphrasing the letter, had “a proud history of 200 years, and now her name will forever be in the history books when it comes to the town of Fairfield.”
Aney said Matthews spent the stolen funds at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona to support a gambling addiction. He also said Friday that she likely is to take advantage of addiction treatment programs while incarcerated.
“She’ll take advantage of every type of program that they offer,” he said. “She’s that anxious to get her life back on track.”
An investigation into the thefts and whether anyone else was involved is ongoing, Carpenter said.
Putin voiced concern over the growing dependency of Russians on gaming. “It is a pity that casinos and slot machines are as addictive as alcohol in this country,” he said. In the opinion of Putin, the decision to form four gaming zones was civilized.
Four illegal casinos closed down in central Moscow
MOSCOW, October 29 (Itar-Tass) -- Four illegal casinos were closed down in Moscow last night, spokesman for the city police department’s economic crime division Filip Zolotnitsky told Itar-Tass.
About 200 police officers took part in the operation, he said.
“The police seized poker tables, roulettes and slot machines, as well as plenty of records confirming illegal operations. The casinos offered bars with expensive beverages and concerts by pop stars,” he said.
The owners of the casinos will be charged, Zolotnitsky said.
The first legal casino in the former Soviet Union opened at the Moscow Savoy Hotel with a special permission of the government in 1989. The casino designed by a Finnish company had only foreign clients. Another casino opened one year later for foreign and local clients. That casino was put on the Guinness Book of Records.
The first casino dealing in rubles opened in 1991 and gave rise to the gaming business. Moscow alone had about 200 casinos in the end of the 1990s. The first slot machine parlors opened in 1993, and the business boomed by 2002.
There were 800 parlors with 12,000 slot machines in Russia in 1998, and over 2,100 with 35,000 slot machines in the end of 2000. Most of them (20,000 or 63%) were installed in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and another 20% in twelve large regions – Stavropol and Krasnodar territories, Rostov, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Volgograd, Sverdlovsk, Leningrad, Perm and Novosibirsk regions, Udmurtia and Tatarstan.
Many gaming facilities, especially slot machine parlors, became semi-legal in the early 2000s. Slot machines were installed even at bus stops.
The first law limiting the gaming business in Russia was adopted in 2006. It specified the minimum space of a gaming facility, the minimal distance to schools, colleges, public and administrative buildings, and so on. Institutions, which failed to meet the requirements had to close down by July 1, 2007.
Then President Putin initiated the gaming industry law after the Interior Ministry had held a series of operations to check the financial, tax and sanitary-epidemiological status of gaming facilities in Moscow, which were allegedly linked to the Georgian mob.
Putin voiced concern over the growing dependency of Russians on gaming. “It is a pity that casinos and slot machines are as addictive as alcohol in this country,” he said. In the opinion of Putin, the decision to form four gaming zones was civilized.
The law said that gaming zones would be built on land lots belonging to federal or municipal authorities and not allocated for urban or rural development. The gaming community was supposed to lease the land lots from the federal government.
It is also possible to open gaming sites on territories allocated for urban and rural development. In that case licenses would be issued on coordination with local authorities.
The law set particular requirements for owners of gaming sites. They must be Russian private legal entities with net assets larger than 600 million rubles.
The law, which entered into force on January 1, 2007, tightened gaming industry requirements and all the gaming sites that failed to meet them closed down.
All Russian casinos and slot machine parlors operating outside the four gaming zones closed down on July 1, 2009.
The gaming zones will open in the Kaliningrad region, the Altai and Primorye territories and the Krasnodar territory.
Donors say they’re not guilty of charges
A Fort Dodge businessman and leaders of a Dubuque-based casino company pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that they illegally funneled donations to the re-election campaign of Gov. Chet Culver.
Steve Daniel pleaded not guilty to charges of making a campaign contribution in the name of another and willful failure to disclose a campaign contribution.
Daniel was the leader of Webster County Entertainment when the group was working with Peninsula Gaming LLC to create the Diamond Jo Fort Dodge. That casino plan was killed in May when the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission declined to issue the license needed to open the venue.
Phone calls seeking comment from Daniel and his attorney, Monty Fisher, of Fort Dodge, were not returned Friday.
In addition to Daniel, Brent Stevens, the chief executive officer of Peninsula; Jonathan Swain, Peninsula's chief operating officer; and Curt Beason, an attorney from Davenport who was advising the casino planners; entered not guilty pleas to campaign finance violations. Beason also pleaded not guilty to a charge of obstruction. He was the only one charged with that crime.
Also, not guilty pleas were entered for Webster County Entertainment and Peninsula Gaming. Both entities were charged with making a campaign contribution in the name of another and willful failure to disclose a campaign contribution.
Guy Cook, the Des Moines attorney representing Stevens, Swain and the casino company, had said earlier this month that his clients would plead not guilty.
''Peninsula Gaming and its company executives adhere to the highest standards of ethical compliance,'' he said on Oct.11.
Special Prosecutor Lawrence Scalise filed all the charges on Oct. 11 after probing $25,000 worth of donations made to Culver's re-election campaign late last year.
Those donations were made by Daniel and two of his associates in Webster County Entertainment, Jim Kesterson and Merrill Leffler Jr. Kesterson and Leffler, both of Fort Dodge, were not charged with any crimes.
The donations were made not long after Peninsula Gaming paid the three $25,000 as a consulting fee.
Because the not guilty pleas were filed, an arraignment scheduled for Monday in Polk County District Court will be canceled. A trial date hasn't been set.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Legislators set to bet on gambling expansion
Lame-duck session next month could see push for Chicago casino, more
State lawmakers are quietly exploring how to push through a major gambling expansion during next month's fall session, the political safety zone that will open and shut over a few weeks following Tuesday's election.
The details are evolving, but one version would put a land-based casino in Chicago and new riverboats in Lake County, the south suburbs and downstate Danville. Horse tracks would get video gambling to create "racinos," and existing riverboats would be allowed to expand. Supporters are dangling the prospect of more than $400 million upfront and hundreds of millions more as the casinos come online for a state that can't pay its bills.
Slipping through big-ticket items during lame-duck sessions is nothing new in Illinois. In the past, lawmakers have raised their pay, legalized off-track betting and cut a deal to rebuild Soldier Field into its current saucerlike shape. Legislators who aren't returning have little to lose in casting controversial votes, creating a deal-making atmosphere inside the Capitol.
Delaware’s Racinos Lobby For Table Tax Relief
Scott Van Voorhis
Delaware’s racinos are now faced with having to launch a protracted lobbying campaign in a bid to win relief from crushingly high state fees on table games that they contend have turned a reliable profit maker into a money loser.
The state’s three racinos will now have to take their case to the state Legislature after it reconvenes early next year, with Gov. Jack Markell having rebuffed pleas to cut millions in hefty annual table game license fees.
Delaware’s three racinos, Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington Raceway contend they are beset with a tax burden on table games that verges on the toxic - a $13.5m annual licensing fee on top of a nearly 30 percent tax rate, one of the highest on tables in the US.
As a result, barely six months after launching table games with much fanfare, Delaware’s racinos say they are now facing serious financial trouble.
Yet help could be long in coming, with Delaware racinos now caught in a quarrel with the Markell Administration after an unusually blunt rejection of their pleas by the governor.
“The politicians are saying ‘let’s go after the gambling tax, it’s a sin tax’,” said Frank Catania, president of New Jersey-based Catania Consulting Group.
“(But) you can’t keep a business open that is losing money,” Catania warned.
Dover Downs and Harrington say they are now losing money on a new offering that was supposed to bolster their bottom lines and put more money in state coffers as gambling competition mounts in neighboring Pennsylvania and Maryland.
The third, Delaware Park, has indicated its bottom line has also been dramatically squeezed.
Compounding matters, rising competition has already taken its toll on slot revenues, the mainstay of Delaware racinos. Slot revenue at Dover Downs has plunged by 18 percent since the recent opening of a competing slot complex in Maryland.
But the Markell Administration’s response has offered little encouragement to Delaware racinos as their losses mount, instead triggering an exchange of political fire between the two sides.
A spokesman for Markell, Brian Selander, told The News Journal that the racinos “knew there was competition coming from nearby states and they knew they would need to live with this agreement,” when they launched table games.
Meanwhile, with an array of social service programs facing devastating cuts, slashing millions in table fees is out of the question, the governor’s office maintains.
Selander could not be reached for comment by GamblingCompliance.
But Ed Sutor, chief executive of Dover Downs, challenged the remarks coming out of the Delaware governor’s office.
When racino executives and state officials were laying the regulatory groundwork for the launch of table games back in early 2009, there was a clear understanding that license fees were to be dropped based on certain market conditions occurring.
One of those was the entry of Pennsylvania into the table game market, which has since occurred. The discussions were recorded and captured in minutes of those meetings, Sutor contends.
“All through those meetings I was warning them that this was too high, this is too high, we are going to lose money,” Sutor said.
Meanwhile, the refusal to budge on the table games fees comes even as the Markell Administration insists that a $4m annual license levied on each racino for the right to offer sports betting also be kept in place, despite profitability issues with that new offering as well, Sutor noted.
A legal challenge by the National Football League severely limited Delaware’s once promising launch into sports betting, savaging revenue expectations.
“We are getting no mercy from this administration,” Sutor said.
Without support from the governor, Delaware racinos face the more difficult task of having to work around Markell and go directly to the Legislature.
With Delaware and other states now convulsed in 11th hour campaigning for the upcoming mid-term Congressional elections, there is little chance of getting anyone’s attention until January, when state lawmakers return to Wilmington for a new session, Sutor said.
But Delaware racinos will have a somewhat complicated case to make, explaining why table games have become a money loser when they appear to have bolstered casinos and racinos in other states.
Table games have helped keep Pennsylvania’s relatively new gambling industry growing since their launch last summer, and have also helped bolster bottom lines at West Virginia’s racinos.
Other states, including Maryland, New York, Maine and Rhode Island are considering or have considered adding table games in recent months.
Dover Downs’ Sutor contends the struggle table games are having in Delaware boils down to a dismal combination of extremely high state taxes and fees with a poor economy and rising competition.
The $13.5m annual license fee, combined with a 29.4 percent tax, chews up half the revenue table games generated at Dover Downs. Labor costs account for another 40 percent, with the racino having hired 400 new employees to staff its new array of games.
That leaves 10 percent to cover all other expenses, from complementary drinks, playing cards and dice to electricity and other utilities.
By comparison, Pennsylvania charged a one-time licensing fee of $15 million and an annual tax rate of 14 percent. Atlantic City has a straight gambling tax rate of 8.5 percent.
“It doesn’t come close to being a profitable situation,” Sutor said of Delaware’s table game taxes and fees.
Looking ahead, Sutor stopped short of threatening layoffs if the Legislature or Markell Administration won’t play ball and cut or suspend the $13.5m annual table game license fee.
But backed into a corner, Delaware racinos will have to look at their options.
One route would be to continue to take losses but also try to drive more business, a difficult task given the fierce competition for gambling dollars with Pennsylvania and now Maryland as well.
Another might be a hiring freeze that would let the payroll of table game workers drop through natural attrition as employees leave.
“Another alternative is to scale back,” Sutor said. “We just hired these folks. We don’t want to be like a yo-yo and say you are hired and now you are not. Maybe let attrition take place and let this thing take its natural course.”
Atlantic City's most profitable casino announced Tuesday that it was reducing its workforce by 3 percent, equivalent to about 200 employees.
The reduction comes as the Shore gambling mecca's casinos dig in for their slowest time of the year and as they continue to struggle from gambling competition from Pennsylvania.
Although the Borgata generated $52 million in total gambling revenues last month - the most among A.C.'s 11 casinos - the figure represented a 16.1 percent decline for the vertical, golden-hued casino from a year ago.
It was also the second largest decrease among the town's casinos. Only Resorts, which reported a 20.9 percent decline in year-over-year revenues, was higher.
The Borgata's parent company, Boyd Gaming Corp. of Las Vegas, reported Monday that Borgata's net revenue shrank to $207.7 million in the third quarter, or a nearly 7 percent decline from a year ago. Boyd is currently reviewing a bid from an interested buyer in MGM Resorts International's 50 percent stake in the Borgata. - Suzette Parmley
In regard to the article “Racinos ask for break,” let me say that the Delaware politicians, who voted to increase gambling, and the crybaby racino management deserve each other.
First, states' condoning gambling strictly for revenue purposes is sick in itself due to the fact that crime, prostitution, illegal drugs, families in the poorhouse, etc., increase due to gambling establishments, yet no one – not the state courts nor health insurance companies – wants to put as much funding and effort into mitigating the impact of the ill effects of gambling.
Shameless acceptance, all in the name of state revenue. Let the state bail out the racinos. They deserve each other.
Rising Sun, Md.
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Former Gov. Angus King is urging voters to reject an Election Day referendum calling for a casino in western Maine.
King, who has long advocated against casinos and slot machines, said casinos "sell dreams, and turn lives into nightmares" by leading to addiction, lost jobs, broken families and even suicide. His comments appeared Wednesday on the website of the anti-casino group, CasinosNo!
Black Bear Entertainment LLC is proposing to build a $165 million four-season resort and casino in the town of Oxford. Backers say the project would support thousands of jobs, pump millions of dollars into the economy and generate $60 million a year in tax revenues.
King said a casino won't create the jobs and revenues its promoters are promising, but will harm Maine's image.
An Olympia bank robbery suspect's luck ran out Wednesday outside the Lucky Dog Casino north of Shelton.
An Olympia bank robbery suspect's luck ran out Wednesday outside the Lucky Dog Casino north of Shelton.
Two Olympia police detectives arrested 22-year-old Bret A. Kenney about 2:45 p.m. in the parking lot after Kenney had been gambling inside the casino, located off U.S. Highway 101 in the Skokomish Nation, police Lt. Jim Costa said.
Kenney is suspected of robbing the KeyBank in the 700 block of Capitol Way about 10:45 a.m., Costa said.
Based on bank surveillance camera stills, Costa said, state Department of Corrections officials identified Kenney as the robber. The thief made no effort to hide his face, and it is plainly visible in one photo provided to The Olympian.
Detectives Sam Costello and Chris Johnstone got a description of a vehicle belonging to Kenney from the state Department of Licensing and were headed to his last known address in the Port Townsend area when Costello spotted Kenney’s car parked at the casino, Costa said.
The detectives arrested Kenney without incident. They said he had some of the cash stolen from the bank and the demand note used in the robbery, Costa said. No weapon was used during the holdup, he said.
Costello said police were obtaining a search warrant for Kenney’s car. They also will obtain surveillance footage from the casino to determine whether Kenney gambled away any money stolen during the bank robbery.
Costa called Costello’s recognizing Kenney’s car as the detectives sped north on 101 “dynamite police work.”
Costello said good fortune smiled on police.
“You can see the casino from the road,” he said. “I had a picture of (Kenney’s) car I had just looked at. So I knew exactly what I was looking for. I don’t know if it was good police work as much as a little bit of luck.”