Meetings & Information


Friday, December 31, 2010

Whitlams to play anti-pokie anthem

Whitlams to play anti-pokie anthem

Whitlams front man Tim Freedman loves to perform in Canberra, despite the city's undisputed title of gaming machine capital of Australia.

The singer-songwriter penned the smash hit Blow Up The Pokies in response to a friend's gambling addiction and says the Federal Government is finally moving in the right direction.

Fans of the band will be treated to two 45-minute sets featuring a medley of the band's best known songs, including the anti-gambling anthem, tonight at the main stage in Civic Square.Freedman said the band would time the last song of the last set to segue seamlessly into a fireworks display.

He was surprised to learn the ACT beat NSW for the highest number of poker machines per capita. The ACT has 5155 gaming machines operating across the territory, meaning there is one pokie for every 68 people, putting the ACT well ahead of the Australian average of one machine for every 110 people.

''The clubs jumping up and down about gamblers presetting their gambling limits is ridiculous,'' he said.

''I agree with the new proposals, in that they are not affecting the recreational gambler.

''I personally don't think they are going far enough, but at least they are going in the right direction.''

But Freedman is dismissive of his anti-poker machine message.

''I just wrote the song. I haven't been involved in the front line battle like [Senator] Nick Xenophon, he's done the hard yards I just wrote a few rhyming couplets about 12 years ago.''

Note to Palmer, MA: Check the financial insolvency of your partner

The Mohegan Tribe has fanciful dreams of a Slot Barn in Palmer, Massachusetts that seem to be dashed by their financial implosion.

Surely, the capital markets, recently devastated by 'casino capitalism' will be anxious to loan more $$$$, especially after Moody's Lowers Mohegan Tribal Authority To Highly Speculative.

Maybe someone could share this with perennial Slot Barn Cheerleader, Paul Burns.

Financial solvency must be a significant consideration for Beacon Hill.

From SEC Filing
[worth reading in its entirety]

Risks Related to Our Business

Town of Montville Agreement

In June 1994, the Tribe entered into an agreement with the Town of Montville, or the Town, under which the Tribe agreed to pay the Town $500,000 annually to minimize the impact of Tribe’s reservation being held in trust on the Town. The Tribe has assigned its rights and obligations under the agreement to us.

[Included to call your attention to one of the reasons Mohegan Sun is immensely profitable. When you don't pay your fair share of taxes or contribute adequately to your host community, of course, it enhances profitability. That's one of the problems with Indian Casinos across the country.]

We currently have and will continue to have a significant amount of indebtedness. As of September 30, 2010, our debt totaled $1.64 billion. As of September 30, 2010, $527.0 million was drawn on the bank credit facility. Inclusive of letters of credit which reduce borrowing availability, and after taking into account restrictive financial covenants under the bank credit facility, line of credit and note indentures, we had approximately $31.4 million of borrowing capacity under the bank credit facility as of September 30, 2010.

Our substantial indebtedness could have significant adverse effects on our business. Such adverse effects include, but are not limited to, the following:

• make it more difficult for us to satisfy our debt service obligations;
• increase our vulnerability to adverse economic, industry and competitive conditions;
• require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flows from operations to payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flows to fund working capital, capital expenditures and other general operating requirements;
• limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the gaming industry, which may place us at a disadvantage compared to our competitors with stronger liquidity positions, thereby hurting our results of operations and ability to meet our debt service obligations with respect to our outstanding indebtedness;
• restrict us from exploring business opportunities;
• place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt; and
• limit, along with the financial and other restrictive covenants in our outstanding indebtedness, the ability to borrow additional funds for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, debt service requirements, execution of our business strategy or other general operating requirements on satisfactory terms or at all.

Cowlitz not worried despite casino backer's growing debt
Mohegan tribe owes $2.1 billion

In its annual filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, thought to be the muscle in the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s plans to build a casino in Clark County, paints a picture of a company straining to handle its debt.

That load totals $2.1 billion, according to the filing, which was posted online Thursday by the SEC.

The gaming authority reported $1.64 billion in debt and other obligations to total $2.1 billion; $1.2 billion of that debt is due in one to three years.

On Dec. 23, the Bureau of Indian Affairs announced that it had approved the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s application to take 152 The gaming authority reported $1.64 billion in debt and other obligations to total $2.1 billion; $1.2 billion of that debt is due in one to three years.

On Dec. 23, the Bureau of Indian Affairs announced that it had approved the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s application to take 152 acres near La Center into trust to establish a reservation and operate a casino.

The tribe filed the application in 2002.

Cowlitz Chairman William Iyall, who said last week that the $510 million casino-hotel complex would be built in phases, said Thursday that the Mohegan’s debt would not be a deal breaker.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority is the gambling arm of the Mohegan Tribe, and operates the Mohegan Sun in southeastern Connecticut and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains Township, Pa. In addition to partnering in 2004 with developer and Cowlitz Tribe member David Barnett to form Salishan-Mohegan, LLC, the Mohegan group also has been working on plans to manage casinos in Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

The Mohegan’s 160-page SEC filing addresses the BIA’s approval of the Cowlitz trust application.

The Mohegans are the majority partner in the company that would manage the casino for seven years in exchange for 24 percent of net revenues.

It ended its summary of the Cowlitz project on a cautionary note.

“We can provide no assurance that these conditions will be satisfied or that the necessary financing for the development of the proposed casino will be obtained.”

The Mohegans listed declining revenue — net income dropped from $149 million in fiscal year 2008 to $9.7 million in fiscal year 2010 — and increasing competition from other gaming operations as key areas of concern.

As for risks, the Mohegans wrote that “our substantial indebtedness could adversely affect our financial condition.”

The group currently has approximately $31 million of borrowing capacity.

The debt, among other things, “could restrict us from exploring business opportunities.”

The Mohegans, which must report their financial status to the federal government because its debt is traded publicly,
[otherwise, this information would be unavailable to you] wrote that in light of the “uncertainty” about the Cowlitz project, it has written off $9.4 million, or approximately one-third of its investment.

Massachusetts Implications

Bay Mills, seemingly far from the Massachusetts quagmire, clearly defines "Reservation Shopping."

In their application for recognition, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe included solely the Town of Mashpee.

The Tribe lacks historical ties (as defined by statute) to either Middleboro or Fall River, yet blinded by the Casino Glitter of 3 Slot Barns, many ignore history, facts and statutes.

Little Traverse, Michigan state lawsuits seek Bay Mills casino shut down
Bay Mills ‘off reservation’ casino draws legal heat
By Gale Courey Toensing, Today staff

VANDERBILT, Mich. – When the Bay Mills Indian Community opened a new casino on off reservation land without state or federal approvals in early November, five Indian nations in Michigan issued a statement condemning the action. Now one of the five tribes – the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians – has filed a federal lawsuit, asking the court to shut down the Bay Mills casino immediately.

“The lawsuit seeks to uphold the integrity and viability of Indian gaming on a national level,” Little Traverse Bay Chairman Ken Harrington said. “If the Vanderbilt casino is allowed to remain open, it will set a dangerous precedent that would allow Indian tribes to unilaterally establish off-reservation casinos without the input or approval of surrounding tribal, local, state or federal governments. There are huge implications riding on the outcome of this lawsuit.”

Little Traverse’s lawsuit is bolstered by support from members of Congress and the federal government who have both weighed in with opposition to the Vanderbilt Casino. Additionally, the State of Michigan filed a similar lawsuit against Bay Mills.

Little Traverse filed its lawsuit Dec. 22 in the U.S. District court for the Western district of Michigan.
The complaint asserts that Bay Mills has violated various provisions of the tribal-state compact and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, including requirements that gaming is to be conducted on Indian land acquired before October 1988; land that is held in trust by the federal government or approved under a regulatory exception; that the land is restricted from alienation and that an Indian tribe exercises governmental power over the land.

The State of Michigan filed a similar lawsuit a day earlier, charging Bay Mills with two counts of violations of the tribal-state gaming compact, which was signed Aug. 20, 1993 by former Gov. John Engler, and one count of violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act by conducting Class III gaming on property that is not “Indian lands.”
The state suit asks the court to shut down the casino permanently.

Bay Mills opened the Vanderbilt Casino, the tribe’s third gaming facility, Nov. 3. The casino is located on 47 acres of land the tribe purchased in fee simple in August. The new casino has around 40 slot machines. Days after Bay Mills announced its opening, the tribe announced plans to expand the facility.

The tribe operates two casinos in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on reservation land and has a state compact relating to gaming on that land, but the casino in Vanderbilt is located in a more densely populated and, therefore, more lucrative area.

The Vanderbilt Casino is in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula, about 170 miles north of Lansing. The casino was opened without state or federal approvals on non-trust land. Bay Mills Chairman Jeff Parker presented a unique argument for why the casino was “legal.” Parker said on the tribe’s website that the casino is located on “qualified Indian lands,” because the land was purchased with money received under the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act.

Parker could not be reached for comment.

Little Traverse and its coalition partners, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, and Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe called on the National Indian Gaming Commission, [] the Justice and Interior departments to work quickly with state officials to close the new casino.

Michigan congressional representatives and the federal agencies responded within weeks.

On Dec. 17, U.S. representatives Mike Rodgers, R-Mich., and Carolyn Kilpatrick, D-Mich., wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and NIGC Chairwoman Tracie Stevens expressing their “deep concern with the continued operation of an off reservation casino.”

The legislators asked the agency heads to act quickly to determine whether or not the Vanderbilt land is eligible for gaming and, if not, to shut down the casino.

The answers came a few days later.

On Dec. 21, Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins issued a legal opinion detailing the reasons why the Vanderbilt Casino is not operating on “Indian lands” as defined by the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act or IGRA.

“I do not believe that even a liberal construction of the Michigan Indian Lands Claims Settlement Act can support the tribe’s position that its land trust purchases in fee simple automatically become restricted fee lands under the definition of Indian lands set forth in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act,” Tompkins wrote, concluding that the land is not eligible for gaming.

The NIGC responded to the Interior with a memorandum saying the Vanderbilt Casino is not operating on Indian land that is eligible for gaming and, therefore, does not come under NIGC jurisdiction.

“Further, when the commission obtains information that may indicate a violation of federal, state or tribal statutes, it is obligated to turn that information over to the appropriate law enforcement officials,” NIGC’s Associate General Counsel Michael Gross wrote.

Harrington was elated by the federal opinions.

“The federal and state legal opinions shred to pieces the bogus legal arguments put forth by Bay Mills. Therefore, the only acceptable action is for the Michigan State Police to move in, shut down the illegal casino, and confiscate the illegal gambling devices,” he said.

If allowed to continue to operate, the Vanderbilt Casino located 37 miles from the Little Traverse Odawa Casino would have a “devastating impact” on the Little Traverse government to provide services for its citizens, Harrington said. Furthermore, Harrington said, Bay Mills has said it plans to open more casinos on off-reservation lands near population centers.

“It’s a perversion of federal law to try and identify Indian gaming sites based solely on market location,” Harrington said. “We are tribal governments, not corporations. Reservation shopping threatens the integrity of Indian gaming here in Michigan and around the country.”

Minnesota: Fighting for crumbs

The hypocrisy of the author is noted as recognizing the adverse impact of competition, although the arguments presented are valid.

Indian Casinos fail to pay taxes, creating their own impacts, subsidized by taxpayers and property owners. Maybe the Tribe, being 'civic-minded,' can contribute to the budget deficit.

Even more concerning, the authorization of privately owned racinos would open the door to unlimited gambling expansion. Once states get a taste of gambling revenues, they’ll want more. There is not a single state in the U.S. that hasn’t continued to expand gambling beyond its first venture. Racinos lead to slots in the bars; slots in the bars lead to state-owned casinos; casinos start with slots and then add table games, roulette and craps. It never ends. There’s never enough money for legislators to spend.

Despite this runaway expansion, virtually every state with gambling is facing huge budget shortfalls. In Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Nevada and Missouri, states that relied on gambling to balance the books, lawmakers and government leaders are finding they bet on the wrong form of economic stimulus.

Native view: Gaming expansion won’t erase state shortfall
The Minnesota Legislature will convene Jan. 4, facing one of the largest budget shortfalls in the state’s history. Gov.-elect Mark Dayton and a handful of legislators have indicated they will propose expanded gambling as a solution to Minnesota’s budget woes.

Unfortunately, this so-called solution may do more harm than good.

Expansion supporters have been promoting racinos at the state’s two racetracks for several years. Both Canterbury Park in Shakopee and Running Aces Harness Track in Anoka County would compete head-to-head with existing tribal casinos.

Despite perceptions to the contrary, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s casinos, Mystic Lake and Little Six, are not immune to competition. A racino at Canterbury Park could cost Scott County’s largest employer nearly 30 percent of its business, leading to employee layoffs, benefit reductions and cuts in philanthropic giving.

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is even more vulnerable to a racino at Running Aces Harness Track. Mille Lacs officials have projected losses of 40 percent to 50 percent at their casinos in Onamia and Hinckley. Again, losses of this magnitude could mean the elimination of as many as 800 jobs. This would be a huge blow to Mille Lacs and Pine counties, where the tribe is again the largest employer.

At best, the racinos will only transfer jobs from rural Minnesota to the metro area for no net job gain. Since these job shifts will be permanent, the result will be a net loss for rural communities.

Many people have asked me how the racinos would affect our casino, Fortune Bay, located way up north on Lake Vermilion. They don’t realize how much of our business comes from the Twin Cities. Currently, people who want to gamble in the Twin Cities must drive to Mystic Lake. If they had another option in the north metro, many would stop there and never make it all the way to Fortune Bay.

Racino supporters also fail to recognize that reduced business at our northern casinos translates into economic hardship for the hospitality industry in our region. Why would legislators or our new governor consider anything potentially harmful to northern Minnesota’s resorts, restaurants and lodging facilities that rely on tourism for survival?

Even more concerning, the authorization of privately owned racinos would open the door to unlimited gambling expansion. Once states get a taste of gambling revenues, they’ll want more. There is not a single state in the U.S. that hasn’t continued to expand gambling beyond its first venture. Racinos lead to slots in the bars; slots in the bars lead to state-owned casinos; casinos start with slots and then add table games, roulette and craps. It never ends. There’s never enough money for legislators to spend.

Despite this runaway expansion, virtually every state with gambling is facing huge budget shortfalls. In Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Nevada and Missouri, states that relied on gambling to balance the books, lawmakers and government leaders are finding they bet on the wrong form of economic stimulus.

I can’t help but wonder why some Minnesota legislators have decided that the solution to the state’s budget problem must come at the expense of tribal members and employees. Minnesota has more than 4 million residents. Shouldn’t all of us be asked to share the pain?

Expanding gambling will not generate meaningful new money for Minnesota. Instead, the racinos will merely take $100 million out of rural Minnesota and divert it to two privately owned businesses and the black hole of state government. In this case, the shell game puts the burden squarely on the backs of Minnesota’s 55,000 tribal members and 12,000 tribal employees. That’s an average contribution of nearly $1,500 from each of those 67,000 people.

Perhaps the state should just ask for donations from civic-minded citizens. If each Minnesotan contributed $25, the Legislature would have its $100 million — and tribes wouldn’t face the loss of their economic resources yet again.

Kevin Leecy is chairman of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians and chairman of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council. He wrote this exclusively for publication by the News Tribune

Many reasons why casino gambling is harmful

Many reasons why casino gambling is harmful

I am in agreement with the letter by Daniel Tilbury opposing casino gambling at Hampton Beach for six reasons:

First: It invites organized crime.

Second: It is so addictive that people would rather soil themselves than leave the tables. They gamble away their homes and all their monies, including their retirements, so that they are forced to work until they die and never enjoy the fruits of their labor neither lifelong or weekly to live on.

Third: Casinos lower property values.

Fourth: It promises jobs that are never delivered because all the significant jobs are filled by imported help.

Five: I heard a story that someone lost a humungous amount of money at the tables and blew his brains out. The manager cleared the room only long enough to do basic cleanup then let the gamblers back in with blood still on the carpet. When asked why they did not keep the room closed longer for respect for the dead, the management said that they wanted to let the people have fun. Greedy men. They just want money.

Sixth: The odds always favor the house, thus it is the only business that always fleeces the customer.

Mr. Anzalone, if you want to be responsible for all these things and can live with them on your conscience, I am sure that the people of Hampton don't want it in their town.

Why don't you take it where it wouldn't hurt anyone? How about Antarctica?

Robert Wylde


Trio cheats Meadows Racinos

Trial starts next week in slot machine thefts at Meadows

Two Swissvale men accused of swindling the Meadows Racetrack & Casino out of nearly $430,000 in fraudulent jackpots are set to stand trial next week after a third defendant pleaded guilty Wednesday.

Andre Michael Nestor, 39, and his roommate Kerry Laverde, 51, are each facing more than 650 felony counts of theft, receiving stolen property, criminal conspiracy, computer trespassing and other charges in what Washington County officials called one of the biggest casino heists ever.

Jury selection in their dual trial before Common Pleas Court Judge Janet Moschetta Bell is slated to begin Monday. Both men are free on $100,000 bail.

County District Attorney Steven Toprani accused the pair of masterminding a "sophisticated scheme" to exploit a software glitch in a slot machine causing it to generate false, double jackpots.

A third man charged in the theft, Patrick Loushil, 43, of Brookline, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of unsworn falsification and is expected to testify against the other men in exchange for probation. More than 300 criminal charges against him were dropped.

"He has cooperated from the beginning in return for a lesser sentence," said Mr. Loushil's lawyer, Christopher Blackwell.

According to casino and law enforcement officials, here is how the scheme worked:

Mr. Nestor, who told a judge last year that he had been jobless and living on Social Security disability income for 15 years, flaunted large amounts of cash to casino employees and cultivated an image as a so-called "high roller" during 14 visits to the North Strabane casino from June 2009 to August 2009.

Mr. Nestor played at only the most expensive slot machines in the casino, placing wagers of between $1 and $25 per credit in an area reserved for high-limit gamblers. On the main floor of the casino, most of the players patronize slot machines with bets ranging from 1 cent to 25 cents.

Mr. Laverde, a former Swissvale police officer, acted as Mr. Nestor's bodyguard, flashing his police badge to casino employees and hinting that he carried a weapon.

The pair, according to police, had knowledge of a software glitch in one of the high-bet slot machines. In order to expose the glitch, a special "double-up" feature had to be internally activated.

The men persuaded casino technicians to alter "soft" options on the machines, such as volume and screen brightness controls. Such perks aren't unusual for high-rollers, who can wager anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars in one day.

One employee, who was not criminally charged or accused of wrongdoing, agreed to enable the double-up feature on the machine with the glitch.

Normally, such a feature would allow a player to risk doubling his winnings or potentially losing them all. The double-up feature isn't usually enabled on the machines in part because it's unpopular with most gamblers, who are unwilling to risk large amounts of money.

With the double-up feature unlocked, the men allegedly entered a series of special keystrokes into the slot machine, making the screen display bogus jackpots which weren't being recorded in the machine's internal system.

If the machine had internally recorded such winnings, it likely would have sooner drawn the attention of casino officials, who monitor wins and losses.

Mr. Nestor and Mr. Laverde allegedly took turns cashing in their jackpots so as not to appear suspicious, and enlisted the support of Mr. Loushil, who agreed to cash in five jackpots for his friends, Mr. Blackwell said.

The trio cashed in winnings totaling $429,985.

The scheme eventually unraveled when a state gaming control board agent noticed the high payoffs and began an investigation.

Mr. Toprani obtained a grand jury indictment of the men in October 2009.

Casino vice president and general manager Sean Sullivan said the questionable machine had been removed and that steps had been taken to ensure that no other machine is vulnerable.

Mr. Toprani said he expected the trial to take a week or more.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What happens in Vegas.....may be a lot less

Las Vegas Casino Hit with Fine for Drug Sales

The Las Vegas Hard Rock hotel and casino paid $650,000 in total fines without admitting fault, as employees of the casino allegedly sold drugs and provided high-end customers with private restrooms for sex. Hotels, along with nightclubs all over Las Vegas, have been warned by the Nevada Gaming Control Board that such actions would result in stiff penalties.

It is reported that in 2006 and again in 2009 that the casino was issued warnings concerning excessive drinking and lewd acts, including public sex. After failure to adhere to the warnings, local law enforcement was sent in to investigate. Las Vegas Metro Police will receive $75,000 of the fines paid to cover the costs of the investigation against the Hard Rock Casino.

In the report, hotel employees and supervisors not only allowed the use of drugs, but also provided drugs to customers for money. In November 2009 an undercover narcotics officer was provided a private room for the use of smoking marijuana.

The report also stated that the Hard Rock took steps to correct the problem by firing executives and supervisors that took part in providing the drugs. The Hard Rock also drug tested all security personal and executives and that over 97% were reported drug-free.

While Las Vegas is known for a good time and believed to provide big spenders with whatever they desire, it has developed into a family-friendly destination. While we will never know exactly what goes on between casinos and the high-end clients that visit on a regular basis, it is clear after numerous arrests and crack downs that Vegas is trying to keep its image somewhat clean regarding law enforcement.

Pathological Gamblers More Likely to Commit Suicide

Pathological Gamblers More Likely to Commit Suicide

It would seem that pathological gamblers are putting only their money and livelihood at risk, but new research suggests that the problem is bigger than it seems. In fact, a recent Science Daily release shows that pathological gamblers are three times more likely to commit suicide than those who abstain from the betting scene.

A new inter-university study has shown these gamblers are also plagued by personality disorders. These findings indicate that there is a need for the development of improved targeted suicide prevention programs.

According to estimates from the World Health Organization, suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in the Western world. Of those who commit suicide every year, 5 percent are pathological gamblers. This statistic demands that researchers examine the difference between gamblers and non-gamblers.

In examining 122 suicides between 2006 and 2009, 49 of these were pathological gamblers. Data from coroner files were compiled while psychological autopsy interviews were completed with families and friends of the deceased.

Study findings indicate that those gamblers who commit suicide demonstrated twice as many specific personality disorders than suicide victims without a gambling addiction. Researchers suggest that personality disorders significantly increase the risk of suicide for compulsive gamblers.

They have identified three elements that generally exist for all pathological gamblers, which include depression, alcohol or drug consumption and a personality disorder. Psychiatric disorders can then in-tern interact with each other.

One example is an individual with depression may increase alcohol or drug consumption, which can lead to greater financial strain, which can then amplify the depression. This cycle is a dangerous one and increases the risk for the gambler.

Missouri's failures

Missouri, like many other states, embraced Slot Barns to solve its problems.

Mayor Henry Rediger apparently never considered the economic failures of Niagara or Atlantic City or Las Vegas. Not to worry! His failures will become apparent when he's out of office.

At least they're more honest than Beacon Hill about the job creation and revenue numbers --

lure of 450 new jobs, $20 million in state revenue

Casino coming to Cape

The news came Dec. 1 from the state capital. The Missouri Gaming Commission had selected Cape Girardeau over its big-city competition in St. Louis and Kansas City for the state's 13th -- and final -- gambling license. The announcement meant Isle of Capri could begin construction of its $125 million casino in a blighted area near the city's downtown.

The St. Louis-based Isle of Capri had already beaten other casino companies to build in Cape Girardeau over the course of the year. It also had competition from an oppositional group that worried about gambling addiction and increases in crime. Casino proponents also had to convince the city's voters, with 61 percent of those deciding Nov. 2 that the lure of 450 new jobs, $20 million in state revenue and a downtown business anchor outweighed any possible drawbacks.

Isle of Capri executives are busy with its development plans and hope to have construction underway this summer and the casino completed in 18 to 24 months. The development is expected to change the shape of the area, with several dilapidated homes slated to come down and a portion of Main Street realigned.

Mayor Harry Rediger, elected in April, called it "a game changer."

Gambling Addiction: Costs California $1 Billion Per Year

New help available to those with problem gambling

Gambling addiction affects one out of 25 Californians. The financial toll of this is estimated to be nearly $1 billion each year.

Now there is help - and it's free.

The UCLA Gambling Studies Program and the California Office of Problem Gambling have teamed up to design, deliver and evaluate a statewide publicly funded treatment program.

The program consists of six treatment components ranging from outpatient and residential treatment to brief interventions and training for licensed health providers on treating problem gambling.

Although one component involves counseling at UCLA, there are plans to provide treatment by telephone and one-on-one in a health professional's office statewide.
"This is a collaborative effort between the state of California and a major research institution to develop evidence-based methods to address gambling addiction," said Dr. Timothy Fong, co-director of the Gambling Studies Program and a UCLA associate professor of psychiatry.

UCLA experts will be monitoring treatment "to see how it sticks" and continuing their research to better understand why some can easily walk away from a gaming table or machine and others become consumed by the gambling rush.

"No one asks to be has to do with

Although one component involves counseling at UCLA, there are plans to provide treatment by telephone and one-on-one in a health professional's office statewide.
"This is a collaborative effort between the state of California and a major research institution to develop evidence-based methods to address gambling addiction," said Dr. Timothy Fong, co-director of the Gambling Studies Program and a UCLA associate professor of psychiatry.

UCLA experts will be monitoring treatment "to see how it sticks" and continuing their research to better understand why some can easily walk away from a gaming table or machine and others become consumed by the gambling rush.

"No one asks to be has to do with

Although one component involves counseling at UCLA, there are plans to provide treatment by telephone and one-on-one in a health professional's office statewide.
"This is a collaborative effort between the state of California and a major research institution to develop evidence-based methods to address gambling addiction," said Dr. Timothy Fong, co-director of the Gambling Studies Program and a UCLA associate professor of psychiatry.

UCLA experts will be monitoring treatment "to see how it sticks" and continuing their research to better understand why some can easily walk away from a gaming table or machine and others become consumed by the gambling rush.

"No one asks to be has to do with neuro chemicals associated with pleasure and rewards," Fong said.

A component of this pilot program rolling out next year will involved training for family members, so they can better understand the dynamics of gambling addiction and be better able help the gambler with their illness.

While it may seem surprising that financially strapped California is rolling out a multi-million dollar gambling assistance program, the money is coming from the state's gambling industry, not the general fund, said Terry Sue Canale, deputy director, Office of Problem Gambling.

The UCLA/state program has trained about 300 counselors statewide and will probably train another 200 by mid-2011, said Gary Lange, a psychologist in Rancho Mirage who is one of the trainers.

"I think quitting gambling is more difficult than alcohol and more difficult than most drugs," Lange said. "The support system is important. Family support can double the chances of recovery."

A definitive study in 1999 found that people who live within 50 miles of a casino are twice as likely to develop a gambling problem, Lange said.

"People can wake up in the middle of the night and get to a casino," he said.

Soldier demoted jailed for theft

Soldier demoted jailed for theft

A former master corporal who stole more than $51,000 from the Canadian Forces to feed a video lottery gambling addiction has been demoted to private and jailed for 90 days.

Amanda Clark, 26, who was based at 17 Wing Detachment in Dundurn, Sask., pleaded guilty in May to stealing the money and was sentenced at a military court martial last month.

The court martial heard the thefts occurred while Clark was employed as an “orderly room sub-cashier” and was entrusted with $50,000 in public funds.

The losses surfaced in May 2009 when Clark was getting ready for a posting to the U.K.

Adjudicator Lieut.-Col. J-G Perron said the audit uncovered a number of financial irregularities accounting for more than $51,000 in missing money.

In an interview with her superiors, Clark admitted using more than $48,000 for personal use from December 2008 to April 2009.

The hearing was told that she withdrew from $200 to $1,000 daily to support her addiction.

Clark started gambling at video lottery terminals at the age of 19 and testified that it became a problem for her toward the end of 2007 or the beginning of 2008.

The hearing was told that Clark was arrested for driving while impaired in June this year and fined $1,200 and received a one-year driving ban.

Court heard Dundurn was a small detachment and officers are given more responsibilities at junior ranks than on other larger bases.

Students subsidized by the Canadian Forces were concerned since they relied on the funds for cash advances for the payment of university fees.

Dundurn is home to an ammunition depot, which is responsible for the storage and handling of military munitions, and is the only Canadian Forces site for the disposal of time-expired munitions.

Mount Airy reducing slot machines

Mount Airy reducing slot machines

HARRISBURG - Mount Airy Casino Resort has won approval from state gambling regulators to remove 150 slot machines from its gaming floor, a move reflecting concerns about an excess supply of slot machines in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The casino in Paradise Township initially petitioned to remove 300 slot machines, but scaled back the requested cut to 150 machines. The gaming control board voted to approve the request earlier this month. Mount Airy will be able to remove the slot machines after the gaming board's executive director approves a revised gaming floor plan.

The reduction will leave Mount Airy with 2,275 authorized slot machines. This action came as the gaming board weighs awarding the remaining resort casino license to one of four applicants, including Fernwood Hotel & Resort in Bushkill.

Mount Airy officials cite the addition of 3,000 slot machines to the region's gaming market with the May 2009 opening of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem and potential costs savings as reasons for the move. Mount Airy and Sands Bethlehem have overlapping markets in Monroe and Northampton counties, according to a presentation made by Mount Airy officials to the gaming board.

The proximity of Sands Bethlehem has led to a loss of market share for Mount Airy, thus requiring adjustments to the number of slot machines on the floor, Mount Airy officials told the board.

Another reason for the move is to make the gaming floor less crowded, said Mount Airy spokeswoman Wendy Wilson on Wednesday. "We just want to make sure there's more access and elbow room for our customers," she added.

Mount Airy officials made no mention in their presentation about the impact adding up to 250 slot machines to the region's gaming market if Fernwood is awarded a resort casino license.

Sands Bethlehem and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs have both filed objections to Fernwood's application, but not Mount Airy. At a recent gaming board hearing on Fernwood's application, Sands Bethlehem President Robert DiSalvio said that a casino at Fernwood would result in overlapping markets with his casino, Mohegan Sun and Mount Airy. Fernwood officials have said they want to target an underserved market in northern New Jersey and New York.

The gaming board's vote to approve a reduction of slot machines at Mount Airy is no reflection on how it may act on the resort license decision, said board spokesman Doug Harbach on Wednesday. Board members had to base their decision on the evidence presented to them regarding existing licenses, he added.

Pennsylvania casinos periodically seek adjustments to their slot machine complement, sometimes adding or subtracting machines. But Mount Airy's initial request for a 300-machine cut was considered a large one by industry standards, thus warranting a public hearing on the matter during the gaming board's Dec. 16 meeting, said board spokesman Richard McGarvey.

In giving approval to the smaller 150-machine cut, gaming board officials received assurances that Mount Airy has no plans to expand the number of table games offering poker and blackjack on its premises. That assurance from Mount Airy is considered important because casinos are barred from reducing their slot machines in order to add table games under the 2010 state law legalizing table games.

A Mount Airy representative, Atlantic City attorney Michael Sklar, told the gaming board that the slot machine reduction would have no impact on gross terminal revenue or lead to job layoffs.

Mount Airy owns the slot machines being taken off the floor and will use their parts to refurbish other slot machines in use. Mount Airy anticipates savings on capital replacement and operating costs with fewer machines.

Let's ship jobs overseas......

and then we'll need the low wage jobs offered by Slot Barns!

And there's always a "Jack Abramoff connection" as

New List of Your States Signers signed to Grover Norquist, Controversial Americans For Tax Reform Pledge

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. Grover Norquist group American for Tax Reform and the United State Commerce both oppose the Employee Free Choice Act.
“Chamber president Thomas Donohue has turned the organization into a key ally of the Bush-era corporate agenda that has empowered Big Business at the expense of workers. The Chamber has made opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act its top priority.”
Alliance for Worker Freedom is an arm of American for Tax Reform. American for Tax Reform is a group that seeks to limit the federal government’s ability to protect workers and consumers and ensure economic fairness.
“We’re going to crush labor as a political entity.” –Grover Norquist, founder and president of ATR
American Tax Reform is a group that opposes all taxes and promotes limited government. Grover Norquist, President has a questionable history with this group. ATR group calls themself a 501 (c)(4) group. This means they are a non-profit lobbyist organization in which all donations made to the group are considered tax-deductible but wait a second the The Americans for Tax Reform Foundation is a 501(c)(3). Supposedly under 501(c)(3).
The ATR Foundation is used for research and educational organization, and all contributions to the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation are tax-deductible as allowed by federal laws.
Americans for Tax Reform’s mission statement: “ATR opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle. We believe in a system in which taxes are simpler, fairer, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today. The government’s power to control one’s life derives from its power to tax. We believe that power should be minimized… ATR serves as a national clearinghouse for the grassroots taxpayers’ movement by working with approximately 800 state and county level groups.”
Would you be surprised that I could find very little on the American Tax Reform Foundation. Well I did find a complaint:
Norquist used either or both ATR and ATR Foundation as commercial enterprises by laundering money derived from Indian casino clients of former lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff. The casinos made contributions to ATR, which then skimmed a fee off the top before passing the money on to former Christian activist Ralph Reed and other anti-gambling activists. In this way, Norquist, Reed and Abramoff were able to disguise the fact that the money used to fund anti-gambling activities was generated through Indian gambling. The point of the anti-gambling campaigns was to prevent competition to the Indian casinos.

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

TAXPAYER PROTECTION PLEDGE*List does not include signers from states not yet reporting election results:
Previously the last update was on November 17, 2010 with the state of Mississippi and New York were still missing. As of December 15, those two states are listed on Grover Norquist’s tax pledge with also more individuals added onto different states.

The previous count was 1,187 Legislators as of Wednesday, November 17, 2010, and now as of December 15, 2010 that number has now increased to 1,285.

1,285 Legislators as of Wednesday, December 15, 2010
(Signers are listed alphabetically within respective chamber)

[Only Massachusetts listed here. Go to link for full list.]
1 Senator of 40
Robert Hedlund (S-Plym. &
17 House members of 160
Demetrius John Atsalis (Barnst.-2)
Fred “Jay” Barrows (Brist.-1)
Paul K. Frost (Worc.-7)
Susan Williams Gifford (Plym.-2)
Brad Hill (Essex-4)
Donald Humason (Hamp.-4)
Vinnie de Macedo (Plym.-1)
David Nangle (Middl.-17)
Elizabeth A. Poirier (Brist.-14)
Todd Smola (Hamp.-1)
Richard Ross (S-Norfolk, Bristol, &
Paul Adams (H-17 Essex)
Geoffrey Diehl (H-7 Plymouth)
Kim Ferguson (H-1 Worcester)
Steven Howitt (H-4 Bristol)
Randy Hunt (H-5 Barnstable)
Marc Lombardo (H-22 Middlesex)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Elected officials have failed casino employees

Elected officials have failed casino employees

To the editor:

The approval of the sale of Resorts Hotel Casino by the N.J. Casino Control Commission and the Division of Gaming Enforcement is much more than a transfer of ownership to Dennis Gomes and Morris Bailey. It is an approval that reinforces two major tenets: one, that these two state organizations will stand by and let casino operators do whatever they choose; and two, there are no elected officials anywhere in New Jersey that will stand up for casino employees.

They were silent when the Sands Casino Hotel closed and put 2,000-plus employees on the street, and they are silent again while the new management team at Resorts is cutting salaries and wages, probationing benefits, underemploying and letting staff go. After all, in an industry that is legally allowed to compromise their employees’ health for profits, it comes as no surprise that not one elected official (even in South Jersey) will come to the defense of casino employees amid the continued deterioration of casino employment.

Thirty years ago the Casino referendum was voter-approved to provide casino careers and employment for Atlantic City, the county and the state – not part-time employment with lowered wages and reduced benefits. Casino-hotels are like dominos: once one implements a practice or policy with no resistance or oversight, they all try to follow. This practice is flawed not only because it violates the spirit and intent of the Casino Act, but also because of the trickle-down effect on local businesses, real estate, unemployment, etc. that will keep our local economy in recession. The attitude of ‘At least they still have their jobs’ is nothing more than a cautionary prediction for an employment practice that would not stand in many other professions.

Even Sen. Jim Whelan has rationalized that in order to move forward, we have to make "concessions." Concessions like the reduction of casino employment from 45,000 in 2006 to 34,900 in 2010, a reduction of nearly 20 percent.

In its last 31 years, the casino industry in New Jersey has generated more than $17 billion in taxes and fees for New Jersey and Atlantic City. In the past 24 years, over $1.8 billion in investments and grants have been generated by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, entirely funded by the casinos. So, how many industries does southern New Jersey have?

Why won't one elected official exercise due diligence and stand as an advocate for the casino employee? Five straight years of casino layoffs should have been long enough to come up with some type of legislation or oversight committee that addresses and supports the needs of casino/hotel employees. Soon, please... very soon!

R. Vincent Saponara

Egg Harbor Township

Wisconsin: Don't bet on a Beloit casino

Don't bet on a Beloit casino

Beloit needs jobs. No question about that.

But a gambling casino isn't the answer.

State and federal officials should resist the latest pitch to build a casino in Beloit.

Wisconsin is already flush with gambling — 17 American Indian casinos, seven smaller tribal convenience stores with slot machines, a state-sanctioned lottery at most gas stations, groceries and liquor stores, and video poker machines in bars. (Wisconsin decriminalized five or fewer video poker machines per bar in 1999.)

Here in Madison, we also have the glorified DeJope Bingo Hall on the city's Southeast Side that voters overwhelmingly stopped from becoming a full-blown casino in a 2004 referendum.

American Indian casinos are legal and, for most people, relatively harmless fun.

But the more casinos Wisconsin has, the less of an attraction they become.

Casinos also tend to redistribute wealth, rather than build a local economy that can continue to expand, offer higher wages and develop the tax base.

The Ho-Chunk Nation, headquartered in Black River Falls, told the Beloit Daily News this week that the tribe is working to develop a casino in Beloit. The Ho-Chunk spent $4 million on 26 acres of land last year that had been the proposed site of a previous pitch for a casino by the St. Croix and Bad River Chippewa tribes, the newspaper reported.

The lure of casino jobs and a new revenue stream for local and state governments may sound enticing. But this is a bad bet for Rock County and Wisconsin.

The new casino would merely compete for the same dollars already being spent on gambling. And the state's cut of the casino's profit would be offset by smaller takes elsewhere.

Enough is enough.

Let's focus on expanding the good-paying jobs of the future instead of falling back on this same old wager that won't pay off.

When considering the success of Predatory Gambling as 'fiscal policy,' should we consider the fiscal health of states that have endorsed widespread gambling?

The information below is alarming -

From: Taxes, weather take glitter off golden years

As for fiscal health, six of the 10 worst states for retirees on's list were among those just identified by a Pew Center for States report as being in "fiscal peril."

The report, "Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril," showed that "some of the same pressures that have pushed California toward economic disaster are wreaking havoc in a number of other states, with potentially damaging consequences for the entire country."

Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin joined California as the 10 most troubled states, according to Pew's analysis.

Of note,'s Brady suggested that retirees and would-be retirees might want to avoid states in fiscal peril because these locales might be expected to face decreasing services and increasing taxation.

States with the greatest tax burdens after New Jersey were New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Hawaii, California, Ohio, Vermont, Wisconsin and Rhode Island, joined by the District of Columbia.

Las Vegas: Party over

Party over
The city’s troubles are part cyclical, part existential

AS MAYOR of Las Vegas for almost 12 years, Oscar Goodman has made it his mission to personify what he calls this “adult playland” in the desert. He prances through the casinos with scantily clad showgirls draped on each arm (although he is happily married). He claims to drink a bottle of gin every night (but “never before 5pm”). In his office he sits on a carved throne and gives visitors a symbolic gambling chip that depicts him, with his trademark Martini glass, as “the happiest mayor of the greatest city in the world”.

Alas, much of this, like most things in Las Vegas, is purely show. This is not merely because the famous Strip of hotels and casinos that accounts for more than half of all gaming in the state is deliberately (for tax reasons) just outside the city limits, and thus beyond Mr Goodman’s remit. More important, few residents of Las Vegas would any longer agree that their city is either great or happy.

Nevada has America’s highest unemployment rate. In Las Vegas, unemployment has risen more this year even as it has flattened in the rest of the country; it peaked at 15.5% in September. Nevada also has America’s highest foreclosure rate. In Las Vegas more than 70% of homeowners with mortgages owe more to the bank than their houses are worth. This desert valley, which once represented the most extreme pleasures in American consumerism, now has the most severe hangover.

There are signs of recovery, but they lag those in the rest of the country. Whether house prices, visitor numbers or gambling revenues, “the numbers are bumping along the bottom”, increasing in some months and flattening again in others, says Stephen Brown, director of the Centre for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The question is whether there will ever be a complete recovery, or whether something more fundamental has changed, threatening the existence of places that rely directly or indirectly on gambling. (Nevada has no income tax, for example, financing its services largely from gaming and sales taxes paid mostly by tourists.) Mr Goodman, typically sunny, says “We’re heading back to where we were.” Others have their doubts. Las Vegas “needs easy money and easy virtue” to prosper, says Eric Herzik, a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. Well before the last boom the state was built on excess, and with Americans and foreigners (ie, most potential tourists) “down on excess, our whole model is now being questioned.”

Once the famous Comstock Lode ran out of silver in the 1880s, Nevada made legalised sin its new foundation. It started with prizefighting, illegal elsewhere in an era of bare-knuckle boxing. Then—in 1931, conveniently pre-empting the Great Depression—the state introduced the country’s laxest divorce laws to attract frustrated spouses. On the very same day it legalised gambling, which has been the mainstay of its economy ever since. It is supplemented by complementary industries, from prostitution (legal in the rural counties and allegedly available in Las Vegas) to gourmet cuisine.

Las Vegas also “thrived on irresponsibility” in a second, related, way, says Michael Green, a historian at the College of Southern Nevada. Just as the booming gambling and tourism industries provided new jobs, the parched but spacious valley provided new housing. Thus the population of Clark County, the area around Las Vegas, quadrupled between the 1980s and 2008 (before shrinking slightly in 2009), as people from southern California, in particular, fled overpriced houses and moved to Las Vegas. This caused one of the biggest construction booms and housing bubbles in the nation.

Then, in 2008, all these bubbles popped. Whether in or out of state, Americans, who had recently felt rich because of their inflated house values, suddenly felt poor and out of luck. They stopped coming or, if they came, sat for less time at the tables and gambled less. They became “gun-shy,” says David Schwartz, the director of the Centre for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Tourists are now returning, but in numbers too small and with mindsets too cautious to help Las Vegas much: they are spending less on each visit than before the bust. Two huge and glitzy casino-hotel complexes, both conceived before the bust, opened recently, adding yet more rooms to the city’s already dire overcapacity and forcing other hotel operators to discount even more. And yet, even though Las Vegas has become “a bargain”, as Mr Goodman says, many tourists who want to gamble increasingly ignore the city (and intimate airport pat-downs) altogether by patronising Mississippi river boats, Indian casinos or the internet.

Mr Goodman, who insists that the city’s only big problem is the term limits that are forcing him out of office next year, rejects all such pessimism. He wants people to be aware of the cultural offerings he has brought to the city, from classical music to a new mobster museum due to open soon (a lawyer, Mr Goodman once defended alleged mobsters in court and even starred in the film “Casino” in that role). He dreams, too, of attracting a big sports team. A new hospital has opened, and Mr Goodman predicts a boom in “medical tourism”, as boomers come for new hips while their families have fun on the Strip.

Las Vegas has never been much good at diversification. It is good at one thing, and for now the zeitgeist has turned against it. But one day flamboyant sin will be back to help Mr Goodman and his city out. Just not very quickly.

Missouri: Removal of sensible safeguards

As states that have become addicted to gambling revenues to replace sensible fiscal policies project their budget shortfalls, they enact measures to remove protections and sensible safeguards for 'patrons,' such as Missouri's removal a $500 loss limit over a two hour period.

And much like elsewhere, gambling revenues are attached to:


Now, who isn't in favor of EDUCATION FUNDING?
If you oppose predatory gambling, well, then you must be against the children? Right? Educators then become co-sponsors of Gambling Addiction.

Just taking a cursory glance at the Pew Center study --
From Stateline:

Nine states already spend more than a quarter of their overall budgets on Medicaid.... Missouri (38.4 percent) being #1.

Missouri meets just half of eight policy benchmarks aimed at addressing children’s dental health needs. Only about 28 percent of Medicaid-enrolled children received any dental service in 2007, the latest year for which data are available, falling short of the national average. A shortage of dental professionals makes it challenging for children in some areas of the state to access the care they need; all told, more than a million Missouri residents—nearly 18 percent of the state’s population—are unserved by dentists. In 2005, the state created a school-based fluoride varnish, screening and education program that has helped improve access to preventive services for children and is growing steadily. However, the state does not have a school-based sealant program.

Missouri. gambling revenues for schools falling short by $24 million
JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri schools could face a $24 million funding shortfall because tax revenues from casinos are falling short of projections.

Gaming Commission Executive Director Roger Stottlemyre warned the state's budget director of the funding gap in a letter sent just before Christmas and provided Wednesday to The Associated Press. Stottlemyre said casino proceeds for education were expected to be almost $372 million this year but instead will be $348 million.

"The slow economic recovery continues to severely impact the base gaming forecast," Stottlemyre said.

State officials faced a $54 million shortfall in casino revenue for education in last year's budget. Lawmakers approved $63 million in a supplemental budget that used general state funds to make up for gaps in revenue from casinos and several other taxes.

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering said Wednesday that Gov. Jay Nixon had not decided whether to seek funding to offset the casino revenue this year. To fill this year's funding gap, Luebbering said the state could use general funds or federal money designed to help states avoid budget cuts to K-12 education.

"We'll be looking at ways to fill that shortfall," Nixon spokesman Sam Murphey said.

Lawmakers return to the Capitol for their annual session next week.

The Missouri Gaming Commission projected an increase in casino revenues because of a 2008 law approved by voters that removed a unique state law capping losses at casinos. That law repealed Missouri's law limiting gambling losses to $500 over a two-hour period, capped licenses at 13 and increased gambling revenue taxes by 1 percentage point.

Stottlemyre said the economy is improving and that regulators expect casinos to generate more than $354 million for education in the 2012 budget year that starts July 1.

Officials have estimated that Missouri faces a roughly $500 million budget deficit next year.

Casino Culpability?

If a casino amasses more debt than it can reasonably expect to repay, frequently based on inflated revenue projections or poor business decisions, the casino can file bankruptcy, as many have and discharge their debts.

In the case of Foxwoods, and other Tribal Casinos, they simply stop paying because, after all, they're Sovereign.

Casino Tribes Default

Tribe Renegs on $50 Million Bond
And what of Steve Norton, whose company has filed bankruptcy in other states, but is salivating to enter the Massachusetts market?

It's with some sense of irony that Trump is insisting this Gambling Addict's debt should be nondishargeable after Trump has discharged debt how many times in bankruptcy court?
And what of the culpability of a casino accepting paper from someone who lacks the ability to easily repay the loan?

Morris admits gambling problem
Businessman claims addiction led to casino debt

Altoona businessman Gregory Morris admits he had a gambling problem when he amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to several Atlantic City casinos, court documents state.

Morris made the admission in a recent filing in his Chapter 11 bankruptcy case before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Western Pennsylvania. The Altoona businessman is attempting to keep his many enterprises afloat by working out a reorganization plan.

Morris said he suffers from a gambling addiction, "which constitutes a medical condition in which [he] suffers from an irresistible impulse to gamble," court documents state. Because of the condition, he was "medically and psychologically incapable of controlling his conduct and thus unable to form the requisite intention to defraud or deceive a casino."

The casinos want U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffrey A. Deller to declare the gambling debts "nondischargeable." If approved by the judge, Morris would be required to repay the entire amount of money owed to the casinos rather than possibly paying only a portion as other debtors might be required to accept in the bankruptcy settlement.

Morris is not saying he doesn't owe the money to the casinos, his attorney, John P. Lacher of Pittsburgh, said Tuesday.

"[But] they shouldn't get any special relief," Lacher said.

Morris charges that the casinos, knowing of his addiction, "permitted, encouraged, aided, abetted, facilitated and enabled [Morris] to indulge in his addiction, all without regard to the potential adverse consequences not only to [his] business enterprises but to his family as well."

Morris owes more than $800,000 to casinos such as Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Marina, Trump Plaza, and Marina District Development as the Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa, the casinos claim.

The casinos exploit people they consider "high rollers," or people known to wager and lose large sums of money, by providing them "luxurious suites, sumptuous foods, abundant alcoholic beverages and attractive women," according to Morris' bankruptcy filing.

Morris maintained those gambling debts, which he at first called loans, have nothing to do with the real reason for his bankruptcy filings.

His business partners, including the estate of the late Joseph Ventura and Dr. Carroll Osgood and Osgood's wife, Diane, contended Morris wasn't communicating with them. They asked Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva to appoint a receiver.

When she named a receiver, Morris essentially transferred court proceedings to the bankruptcy court.

Morris has been emphatic that his business problems with his partners have nothing to do with his personal debts stemming from his gambling.

Morris continues to work out a plan to get new financing into his businesses and to obtain new partners, discussions which are ongoing, Lacher said.

Metamorphosis of Organized Crime

Korea`s 3rd generation of gangs

Las Vegas was built in the middle of a desert in 1946 when mafia boss Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel set up the casino-hotel Flamingo. Twenty-four crime families had 150,000 members in the 1960s, but a tougher crackdown and a more transparent social system drove them to start legitimate businesses and leave their traditional turf. In Japan, the yakuza are making inroads into entertainment such as performance planning and movie production, manufacturing and medical services instead of fighting.

In Korea, a gang leader cannot command the respect of younger members without money and will likely lose his or her position without financing. Since the early 1990s, when the Roh Tae-woo administration declared war on crime, gangs have refrained from fighting each other and focused on coexisting in the bigger business world, according to “Talking about Korean Gangs” author Cho Sung-sik.

Seoul prosecutors have discovered a group of gangsters, corporate raiders and money lenders that allegedly bilked a promising venture company three years after taking it over. Ten suspects have been prosecuted, including the 40-something gang leader. They are known to have embezzled money from the company they acquired, made false payments, committed accounting fraud, and inflicted financial losses of 60 billion won (53.3 million U.S. dollars) on investors. In the past, gangs used to target specific victims and had a limited scope of damage. In the 21st century, however, the mob damages a random majority and has a bigger scope, prosecutors say.

While the first generation of gangs before 2000 would stick to traditional mob areas such as the adult entertainment business and liquor sales, the second generation between 2000 and 2006 made inroads into the real estate market such as developers and the markets for apartments and commercial facilities. After 2006, the third generation entered the financial market by acquiring a company with no capital, embezzling corporate money, and manipulating stock prices as the real estate market slumped and the financial market went up. The nature of the first and third generations remains the same in that they are a societal evil that erodes social and economic order and the rule of law and harms the people. Prosecutors and police should thus do more to root out sophisticated economic crimes by the mafia.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cowlitz and the Mohegan Connection

Check out the categories on the right for information about the financial insolvency of the Mohegan Tribe, the recent layoffs, or the reluctance of capital markets to invest in Indian Casinos because of the number of defaults.

Cowlitz Casino Questions
Possible extended legal battles form only part of the lingering uncertainty.

The Cowlitz Tribe received the answer it wanted Thursday from the Bureau of Indian Affairs: Proceed with plans to establish a 152-acre reservation on Interstate 5 near La Center and build a mega-casino complex. But that green light from the Department of Interior answers just one question. Many questions remain, and until more answers are forthcoming, we see no cause for celebration by casino supporters or surrender by the project’s opponents. Among those questions:

What’s next in the legal battle? At least two sources insist this is far from a done deal. Tom Hunt, spokesman for the anti-casino group Citizens Against Reservation Shopping (Columbian publisher Scott Campbell is a member), said: “There will be protracted battles here.”

And Justin Martin, spokesman for the Grand Ronde tribe that operates Spirit Mountain Casino 60 miles southwest of Portland, made this comment in Friday’s Oregonian: “This is not a done deal by any stretch.” The Grand Ronde tribe has the clout — financial and otherwise — to continue protecting its status as the closest tribal casino to Portland. (The Cowlitz casino would be 15 miles from Portland.) A few years ago, Spirit Mountain overtook Multnomah Falls as the state’s leading tourist attraction.

Does the Cowlitz Tribe really need a tribal casino? Some statistics indicate otherwise. Tribal casinos, according to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, are intended to be “a means of promoting tribal economic development, self-sufficiency and strong tribal governments.” But according to the 2000 Census, median income of Cowlitz Tribe members ranked highest of all tribes in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, and 18th among 495 tribes nationwide. As we reported three years ago, that median income was about $43,654 per household, just shy of the statewide figure ($45,776.) The 2000 Census also showed the Cowlitz Tribe with a 3.8 percent unemployment rate, compared with what at the time was a statewide rate of 6.2 percent. State Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, on Thursday described the Cowlitz casino as “absolutely unnecessary. The Cowlitz Tribe, as a whole, is not an impoverished tribe.”

Even with Thursday’s green light, when could the Cowlitz Tribe dream become a reality, and how will they pay for it? The most optimistic projection lists two years for construction, with an opening in three years, but that won’t happen without financial support that is lacking at this point. The Cowlitz have partnered with the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut and the Paskenta Band of the Nomlaki Indians of California, but tribal casinos nationwide (especially the Mohegan’s) have been ravaged by financial difficulties during the recession. In July, when the CEO for the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority said the deal with the Cowlitz remained “very viable,” the authority was facing a $1.6 billion debt.

How will local municipalities, chambers of commerce and other groups respond to the latest news? Surely it troubles city councils in La Center, Woodland and Vancouver; plus chambers of commerce in Battle Ground and Vancouver — all of which have formally opposed the casino.

What’s next for La Center? Perhaps the city can benefit somewhat from nontribal economic development at the I-5 junction, but that’s long-term. Short-term, there’s a huge threat on the horizon for La Center’s cardrooms, which provide tax revenue that makes up three-fourths of the city’s general fund.

These lingering questions mean there won’t be any ribbon-cuttings at any local tribal casino anytime soon. And considering the net negative impact such a project would have on the local quality of life, the continued uncertainty is a good thing.

New Jersey: Desperate!

Following the yellow brick road to casino oblivion, New Jersey proposes to subsidize their racing industry with savings by reducing casino regulations.

Careful Governor! We know who's behind the curtain! And we know who your traveling companions are!

Fiscal mismanagement and poor public policy can't be concealed by New Jersey's Addiction to Gambling Revenues.

This says a great deal about New Jersey's problems that got them where they are failing to consider the costs and impacts of Casino Gambling ---

The 10 Worst States for Retirees

New Jersey, according to Brady's analysis, has the highest property taxes in the U.S., as well as the highest total tax burden of any state, as reported in a 2008 Tax Foundation report. Plus, New Jersey has serious pension-funding issues, Brady noted.

Casino deregulation / Don't belittle concerns

Several current and former lawmakers and regulators are warning about the pace and potential effects of a bill that radically changes New Jersey's casino regulatory structure.

Are they right? We don't know. But their calls for caution should be taken seriously - not airily dismissed as self-serving, as Gov. Chris Christie did recently.

At a Senate committee hearing this month, Casino Control Commission Chair Linda Kassekert - as well as former lawmakers and Casino Control Commission chairmen Steven Perskie and James Hurley - warned that the bill rolling back regulation was being rushed through the Legislature, with little understanding of the ramifications. Kassekert in particular warned that the new structure could jeopardize the integrity of the games, as well as the state's ability to ensure it gets its proper share of gaming revenue.

Christie dismissed Kassekert as just "trying to protect her own turf." The bill would strip the CCC of most of its responsibilities and transfer those duties to the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Questioning Kassekert's motives is not only unfair, but it conveniently sidesteps the substantive issues she and others have raised.

New Jersey's casino regulations could very well use updating. But critics raise a good point when they say that the process on this deregulation bill has seemed flawed - that instead of careful deliberation about the potential effects of the regulatory reform, the process has seemed driven by a desire to find monetary savings both to help the city's struggling casinos and to fund an Atlantic City tourism district and marketing effort.

Yet because of concessions to racetrack interests, that money saved from deregulation - which has been estimated at $15 million to $25 million - is largely going to the horse-racing industry, not Atlantic City, for three years. That was an outrageous concession made to horse-racing interests in the tourism-district bill that passed the Senate last Monday.

Once regulations are loosened, they are difficult or impossible to tighten again. Ideally, the Legislature would pass the tourism-district bill quickly and hold the deregulation bill for a short time, allowing further study and a more careful and complete analysis of potential ramifications: the cost savings, the number of jobs lost, any problems encountered in other states with looser gambling regulations, for example.

But the climate in Trenton is far from ideal.

Christie says he wants Atlantic City reform passed as a package. In fact, he is even refusing to sign a bill that will allow boutique casinos in Atlantic City until the Legislature passes the deregulation and tourism-district bills - even though the boutique-casino bill was never a part of Christie's package of regulatory reform.

Holding that bill hostage may be good hardball politics, but it's bad policy for Atlantic City. The Hard Rock hotel chain says it's ready to start on a boutique hotel in the resort as soon as the bill is law. If the governor truly wants to help Atlantic City, he should sign the boutique-hotel bill now - and get a little momentum going in the resort as soon as possible.

l doesn't 'reform' casino regulations -- it destroys them

The enactment of the Casino Control Act, following the November 1976 passage of the constitutional amendment that legalized casinos, was the result of a thorough, 18-month public review. Now, without warning, it is doomsday for casino regulation in New Jersey.

In the package of major pending legislation to reinvigorate New Jersey's principal private gambling industries, horse racing and casinos, one bill stands out for its incoherent surrender of the New Jersey casino regulatory system.

Pennsylvania: Influence

Foxwoods' casino failure could cost Phila.

When Pennsylvania legalized gambling in 2004, legislators failed to think through what would happen if a license was revoked. In particular, the gaming act is silent on whether a casino operator should get a refund of the $50 million licensing fee for a slots parlor, said Doug Sherman, general counsel for the gaming board.

When Pennsylvania legalized gambling, they did so at midnight on the Fourth of July and neglected many other issues, more egregiously 'children left in vehicles.'

Schroder said that he thought [he thought? Imagine state policy being governed by guesses?] bids on the Foxwoods license should start at $50 million, and that letting the market decide a location would take some of the politics out of the process.

When the gaming board awarded Philadelphia's two licenses in December 2006, it was widely perceived that political connections had played a role in the selections. One license (Foxwoods) went to a group led by friends of Gov. Rendell, and the second (SugarHouse) was awarded to a project including onetime allies of then-State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, the Democratic power broker who spearheaded legalized gaming in Pennsylvania.

State Rep. Michael O'Brien, a Philadelphia Democrat who supports Schroder's bill, said he believed gaming in Philadelphia already had reached a saturation point, with Parx to the north in Bensalem, SugarHouse in the city, Harrah's Chester to the south, and a proposed smaller resort casino in Valley Forge to the west.

Do casinos cause crime?

Or do they just attract criminals?

Repeat Offender Arrested; Now he Faces Rape and Kidnapping Charges

A Reno man, already targeted by police for being a repeat offender, is now in custody on suspicion of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman on Wednesday.

Larry Sykes, 38, was arrested Friday morning at the Peppermill Casino Resort on numerous charges, including first degree kidnapping, battery and sexual assault.

His arrest comes after a women reported being kidnapped and assaulted on Wednesday at a residents on the 600 block of South Virginia Street.

Upon further investigation by detectives assigned to the Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Unit, Sykes was identified by witnesses to the crime.

The suspect was identified as, Larry Sykes a 38-year-old Reno resident, and a Target of the Northern Nevada Repeat Offender Program.

Patrol Officers, the Crime Suppression Team and Detectives assigned to ROP attempted to located and arrest Sykes and on the morning of December 24, 2010 Patrol Officers located Sykes at the Peppermill.

Sykes was arrested for 1st Degree Kidnapping, Battery with the Intent to Commit Sexual Assault, and Sexual Assault. His bail was raised to $100,000

"Bottoming Out: Gambling Addiction in Las Vegas"

Columbia announces annual duPont broadcast prizes

NEW YORK — A newspaper that put together a multimedia project on gambling addiction is among the winners of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for broadcast journalism, the first time a multimedia project from a print-based organization has won one of the prestigious awards.

"Bottoming Out: Gambling Addiction in Las Vegas" from the Las Vegas Sun was "a compelling and informative look at the human toll of compulsive gambling as well as the brain behavior and science of the gambling industry," jurors said.

The project included a video diary, a live internet chat about gambling addiction, and an interactive component about slot machines along with text stories.

The prize winning series can be seen here:

"Bottoming Out: Gambling Addiction in Las Vegas"

SCOTUS, as it pertains to Middleboro and Mashpee

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, dazzled by visions of 3 Slot Barns in Mashpee, Middleboro and Fall River failed to pay the Town of Middleboro the monies agreed to when their first investors disappeared.

Although the Town of Mashpee has an 'agreement' with the Tribe, approved by Town Meeting voters, that 'agreement' was never approved by Congress and, it is my understanding, it is unenforceable. At some future point, the Mashpee Wampanoags will pursue their land claims.

The SCOTUS decision in the Oneida case has the potential of impacting all 3 communities, potentially more in the future.
Beacon Hull, lulled by their misunderstanding of case law and lured by Casino KoolAid might take heed.

Stayed tuned for the outcome. Excerpt below, worth reading in its entirety.

Supreme Court to review Oneida reservation's existence

The U.S. Supreme Court has set a date to hear from attorneys for Madison and Oneida counties and the Oneida Indian Nation on whether the counties can foreclose on nation land.

Oral arguments have been scheduled for Feb. 23 in Washington, D.C. The two questions before the court will be:

• Does the tribe’s sovereign immunity prevent the counties from seizing the Oneidas’ land when they don’t pay property taxes?

• Does the Oneida Indian reservation still exist, or was it disbanded in an 1838 treaty?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Interesting Ploy!

In presenting arguments supporting Slot Barns, proponents carefully select the 'cause(s)' that will be enhanced.

In the case of Massachusetts, a great deal of telephone polling was conducted to determine "Destination Resort Casinos" was highly marketable, instead of the reality of the Slot Barns that will be constructed and Public Education was proclaimed the beneficiary, educators were among the first to endorse Predatory Gambling. Educators then become willing cheerleaders. After all, how could you oppose PUBLIC EDUCATION? A very successful ploy in Massachusetts.

In Illinois, NON-PROFITS - CHARITIES are the recipients which creates an interesting conundrum. Those services needed to provide services to the Gambling Addicted become more needed, creating an escalating downward spiral of co-dependency.

Officials: Casino Revenues Dropping

AURORA, Ill. (WBBM) – Illinois Gaming officials say casino revenues have fallen about 32 percent in three years.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Conway reports, Aurora and Elgin have seen lower tax revenue over the last few years, and Aurora city spokesman Kevin Stahr says the city has been forced to end capital improvement projects.

Nonprofit groups in Elgin that have funding linked to the local riverboat casino have seen less money. Officials blame about 20 percent of the drop in casino revenue on the statewide smoking ban. The rest is because of the economic downturn.

Elgin’s $26.8 million in casino proceeds in 2008 fell to $22.15 million the next year.

Maybe it's time for sensible fiscal policies and sustainable economic development.