Meetings & Information


Monday, February 28, 2011

Highest debt ratios in Gambling Industry


Below are the top five companies in the Casinos & Gaming industry as measured by their Debt to EBITDA ratio.

The measure of a debt's pay-back period is Debt/EBITDA. The longer the payback period, the greater the risk. This metric ignores all tax expenses even though a good portion are cash payments and gets paid first.

MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGM) has a Debt/EBITDA ratio of 12.81x based on total debt of $12.6 billion.

Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD) has a Debt/EBITDA ratio of 8.66x based on total debt of $3.2 billion.

Pinnacle Entertainment (NYSE:PNK) has a Debt/EBITDA ratio of 7.42x based on total debt of $1.2 billion.

Isle of Capri Casinos (NASDAQ:ISLE) has a Debt/EBITDA ratio of 7.34x based on total debt of $1.3 billion.

Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS) has a Debt/EBITDA ratio of 7.28x based on total debt of $1.5 billion.

SmarTrend is monitoring the recent change of momentum in Pinnacle Entertainment. Please refer to our Company Overview for the results of our proprietary technical indicators that have been scanning shares of Pinnacle Entertainment in search of a potential trend change.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Drunks still responsible for debts

In spite of proclamations of "We'll get it right!" Beacon Hill included 24/7/365 Free Alcohol in the grossly flawed legislation passed last year, as well as loan provisions. Such a deal for the Industry that dictated the terms! Get 'em drunk and then get 'em to sign on the dotted line!

Ind. court says man must pay back casino

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Court of Appeals says a Kentucky man who borrowed $75,000 from an Indiana casino and lost it gambling must pay the money back despite his claim that he was drunk.

The court said it wasn't deciding whether a casino was obligated to deny a loan to someone who was drunk. It said Jimmy Vance didn't prove that he didn't understand what he was doing after consuming seven whiskeys over about four hours.

The Times of Munster reports Vance had argued that he was drunk and could not be held responsible for the casino loans, called markers.

Court records show that employees at Caesars Indiana, now Horseshoe Southern Indiana, said Vance's speech and motor skills weren't impaired.

Rhode Island Judge's Foxwoods Gamblilng Addiction

The Providence Journal published an interesting list of crime and corruption that included the item below:

Some major cases investigated by Financial Crimes Unit

John F. Lallo Former traffic court judge for the Administrative Adjudication Court who was ultimately prosecuted in federal court for bankruptcy fraud. Sentenced to six months of home confinement and ordered to pay $41,000 toward creditors and $8,000 toward the cost of his prosecution. Lallo was also found by the Commission on Judicial Tenure & Discipline to have violated the code of ethics for lying on his bankruptcy petition and for leaving work during business hours on 66 days to go gambling at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Feeding the hungry beast

Feeding the hungry beast

There is a growing evidence that our addiction to gambling, particularly on poker machines, is no accident, reports Colin Kruger.

POKER machines have long been portrayed as a social problem; part of an industry preying on the vulnerable and mathematically challenged. And Australia has 200,000-odd such problems.

But recent testimony before the Joint Senate Select committee on Gambling Reform has given credence to a growing body of opinion that the humble pokie really is the "crack cocaine of gambling".

There is increasing recognition that the addiction is real, and it is challenging the understanding of problem gambling worldwide.

Advertisement: Story continues below The fifth revision of the American Psychiatric Association's highly influ- ential Diagnostic and Statistical Manual has recommended that pathological gambling be recognised as a behavioural addiction rather than an "impulse control disorder".

It is the first time this category of addiction would be recognised, and there is a push to have it reclassified in Australia as well.

Malcolm Battersby, a professor of psychiatry at Flinders University in Adelaide and an internationally recognised expert in problem gambling,

told the inquiry that traditionally, gamblers were thought to be disadvantaged people who were simply vulnerable to problems such as addiction.

"But what really was not understood was that the machine design specifically facilitates people becoming addicted to the machine – and you can say this about other forms of gambling – in exactly the way that a person becomes addicted to heroin or alcohol," he says.

"There is now a lot of biological evidence from brain scans, PET scans, genetic studies and so forth that show that pathological gamblers have similar profiles to other addictions in their brain chemistry, brain reactivity and so forth."

By some measures, about 15 per cent of people who play poker machines regularly are problem gamblers and account for 40 per cent of the $12 billion Australians lost in the machines in 2009 alone.

A study involving workers at Crown Casino in Melbourne described problem gamblers – those who had been playing for more than 24 hours – in graphic detail.

"Hence, the urination on stools: it is a very common thing in casinos," says the study leader, Associate Professor Linda Hancock.

"Machines are designed around conditioning – simple as that," says Battersby. "They are designed to increase a behaviour – in this case, putting money in a machine."

Decades of research has shown that response to the conditioning will be that much stronger if you don't know when you will be rewarded and by how much.

Battersby describes the feeling of excitement when people first start using poker machines and win.

"The sympathetic nervous system is activated, your heart rate goes up, your breathing gets a little bit faster and maybe there is a little bit of sweat".

But after a while it becomes a very negative experience from which people get only temporary relief by playing further.

"What they do not realise is that it actually reinforces the urge for the next time they might have a gambling trigger. That is the oldest bit of psychology research in the world," Battersby says.

The state of arousal the gambler feels has been described by other experts as the most important reinforcer in frequent gambling behaviour.

For the modern poker machine industry it's pure gold and the industry has well-developed methods for mining this seam.

Seminal research by a Canadian problem gambling expert, Professor Kevin Harrigan, identifies nine different attributes that make poker machines more addictive through conditioning by reinforcement. They include the so-called "near-miss" and "losses disguised as wins".

Losses disguised as wins, or fake wins, refer to a situation where a gambler – playing multiple lines of bets in a single game – wins some of them, but loses money overall.

The parliamentary inquiry was told "fake win" features were severely restricted in Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory but not in NSW and Victoria, which account for the vast majority of Australia's poker machines.

A near miss is where a "play" on the machine comes up just short of a win – usually with one symbol out of place.

Harrigan found players get little arousal from small wins and losses disguised as wins, but get a "huge arousal" from near misses. It even influences their perception of whether they are on a winning or losing streak.

The modern poker machine enhances the arousal with all the multimedia tools in its kit.

"The idea is to create a sense of winning by pulsing all the human senses with sounds and animated symbols and paylines flashing," says a US manufacturer in another influential study on poker machine design.

The impact in Australia is magnified by the potency of the machines available in virtually every corner pub, which feature high bet limits as well as high, and volatile, payouts.

"Australian machines are all high-impact machines in social venues, which is almost unique in the world," says Dr Charles Livingstone of Monash University in Melbourne.

British regulators were so concerned that they limited the entire country to just 1000 "high-impact" machines. NSW has close to 100,000 such machines – half Australia's total.

Speed is cited as another toxic factor. The inquiry heard the modern pokie is capable of 350 bets in half an hour, potentially overwhelming a player's decision-making process.

Once again, it appears this is no accident.

This speed, and potential lack of cognitive engagement, appears to be a key factor in what makes poker machines so dangerous for problem gamblers compared to other forms of electronic gaming.

Another key distinction applying to pokies over other forms of gambling is that it is the only "game" where players do not really understand the rules, as they would with blackjack, for example.

While poker machines are designed to pay out 88 cents in every dollar gambled, the lengths to which this statistic can be manipulated by the machine's coding can make this rule almost meaningless.

"The players have no idea that the 88 cents applies to a thousand machines in over a year. They think it is for that machine for them that day," Battersby says.

Some in the sector argue the abuse of this so-called "leisure pursuit" is no more the fault of the gambling industry than obesity is the fault of the fast food industry.

"The product is safe, but some people have addictions, be they to fast food, drugs or a whole variety of other things," David Curry, an executive with the Woolworths pub and poker machine subsidiary ALH, told the inquiry.

"Are we saying a hamburger is safe? Hamburgers are safe if they are consumed in moderation, but they are not safe if you eat four or five a week and do not have a balanced diet," he said.

The South Australian Labor MP Nick Champion noted one crucial difference.

"A hamburger does not cost you your house, normally."

Woman stole from elderly to feed gambling addiction

Woman guilty of defrauding elderly Curve Lake First Nations women of thousands of dollars
Woman who stole to feed gambling addition sentenced to two years of probation
By FIONA ISAACSON/Examiner Court Writer

A 62-year-old Curve Lake woman who stole more than $13,000 from elderly residents "in her care and trust" was sentenced to two years of probation Friday.

Gloria Coppaway, who was the senior services co-ordinator at Curve Lake First Nation, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft under $5,000 and one count of theft over $5,000.

"I'm very sorry for what I've done for not only my family but the people in my community," Coppaway told the court. (She continued speaking for a few more seconds but could not be heard from the court gallery).

Her lawyer Dick Boriss showed the court he had cheques covering the entire amount that was stolen from three elderly seniors.

“A gambling addiction is no different from any other addiction. It’s something you’ll probably have to struggle with for the rest of your life.”

Madam Justice Esther Rosenberg

Court heard Coppaway initially only intend to "borrow" the money for a gambling addiction but it "snowballed."

A family member alerted the Anishinabek Police Service in October about missing money. When Coppaway was questioned by police she immediately confessed to not only stealing from one family but two others, court heard.

The transactions were made in various ways. The total theft was $13,073. The victims were a 98-year-old woman who lost $200, an 83-year-old man who lost $4,000 and an 84-year-old woman who lost $8,873.

The thefts took place between September 2008 and October 2010.

The Crown wanted a six-month jail sentence because of the breach of trust and the length of time the thefts took place.

Coppaway's duties included managing the Curve Lake First Nation Senior Citizen Centre. She held the position for 11 years until she was charged last fall.

Madam Justice Esther Rosenberg acknowledged Coppaway stole from "very vulnerable individuals in her care and trust" and that it was a "substantial amount of money."

However, because of Coppaway's "positive and excellent" pre-sentence report, where she is described as a "honest and gentle person" and that she has given back to her community throughout her entire life, Rosenberg said she was satisfied a suspended sentence was appropriate.

Coppaway has been attending Fourcast Addiction Services for counselling.

"A gambling addiction is no different from any other addiction," Rosenberg said.

"It's something you'll probably have to struggle with for the rest of your life."

Boriss said Coppaway wanted to plead guilty as soon as possible.

"She feels terrible about this," Boriss said. "She was the go to person in the community when people had problems."

Coppaway must attend counselling for gambling and other issues as identified by her probation officer and must also sign an agreement, within 45 days, with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to stay out of all gambling facilities in the province.

A bettor’s tale of when gambling ruled

A bettor’s tale of when gambling ruled
By Harry Mark Petrakis

My addiction to gambling began when I was 16 and lasted until I was 24, two years into my marriage. I cannot be sure when I stumbled from pastime into addiction. Friends and I played hearts, pinochle and nickel-ante poker. One day in about 1940, Red, a year older than I was, my closest friend, took me for the first time to the local handbook, a shabby, cavernous room in an abandoned warehouse.

In the years that followed I spent endless hours in that dismal room among a flock of dreamers, pigeons of the scratch-sheet tip and sparrows of the 50-cents-across-the board parlay. There were times I felt it embracing me like a womb and, at other times searing me as if I were an anteroom of Hell.

As a race was called, men and women, clutching their tickets tightly, moved in a wave to stand beneath the loudspeaker announcing the race as if it were some mesmerizing diety. The finish of a race was met by a few cries of jubilation. More often there were curses or a forlorn shaking of heads. People stared at the winners like ghosts at a feast.

Red, who had been wagering on horses for years, led me through the dark labyrinth of gambling. He taught me to study blood lines and the rudiments of betting. With my parents thinking I was attending school, Red and I were intently reviewing the days’ entries in the Racing Form we had diligently studied for hours the night before.

I hadn’t realized how deeply Red was addicted until the day I left him my tickets for a half dozen parlays I had bet, linking horses so if one won there would be a larger sum riding on the others.

After making my bets, my habit was to go to the neighborhood library to read for a few hours and then, late in the day, return to the handbook to check my wagers.

That afternoon when I returned to the handbook, four of the five horses I had parlayed had won. With my eyesight blurring and my heartbeat racing, I confirmed the winners several times. When I left the handbook that day, my winnings totaled almost $500!

Red and I worked part time in a neighborhood liquor store and as I hurried to work I considered giving Red 10 percent for shepherding my bets and cashing my tickets. Deciding that was overly generous, I decided 5 percent would be a more judicious figure.

Red was serving a customer, and when he finished, I hurried him into the store’s back room crammed with boxes of wine and beer.

“Can you believe it!” I cried. “Four winners out of five! Unbelievable!”

His despairing face rejecting my jubilation, Red slowly removed his glasses.

“Hit me,” he said. “Hit me.”

The first awareness of impending calamity seeped into my mind.

“Hit me,” Red pleaded. “Hit me.”

Finally, tears in his eyes, his voice trembling, he told me he had cashed in my tickets and then made a single bet followed by another. When he had lost $100, he became frantic at having to explain the loss to me and he kept betting, whirling from one track to another in a desperate effort to regain the money. In the end he lost it all.

I was heartbroken and barely listened to his tearful promising to share his weekly salary until the debt was repaid. I cannot recall whether he ever made any payment or how much of the debt he repaid.

The highlights of the year were in the summers when the Chicago tracks were running. Half a dozen other young sports would join Red and me riding the Illinois Central train to Washington Park. Our journey among equally cheerful passengers was raucous and buoyant, our motley group exuding the elation of drunks without having touched liquor. When we emerged from the train, the beaming sun and the excited crowds streaming alongside us added to our euphoria.

Seated high in our grandstand seats, we began a chorus of cheers and groans as the races ran. Between races, we intently studied the racing form and offered our counsel.

“Gila Water is a cinch in the 5th!”

“He’s even money!

“A winner is a winner!

“Favorites are for chumps!”

What each of us yearned for was to have a winning ticket on a horse no one else had bet.

At the end of the day we walked back to the train strangely content despite the money we had lost. The sheer thrill of wagering and watching trumped all other emotions.

Days such as that were the high point in those years, the camaraderie, the excitement, the enduring of numerous defeats in return for that triumphant moment when one of our horses crossed the finish line in first place.

But there were low points, as well. Pawning my brother’s suits, selling my sister’s books, stealing from the register of the store where I worked, all to nourish the gambling that had become the obsessive focus of my life.

I think the first step toward my deliverance began on one of the most terrible days in my life. My wife, who was then pregnant with our first son, and I owned and operated a small lunchroom. The first of the month had arrived and I lacked money to pay rent on the lunchroom as well as on our studio apartment in Kenwood.

Not for the first time, I went to my father, who however limited his own resources, never refused me help. I left his church office that day with $200, the monthly salary he received from his parish. With a few dollars of my own, returning to the lunchroom I stopped in the handbook to make a bet. When the horse lost in a photo finish, frustrated at how close I had come to victory, I dipped into the $200 to bet another horse. When I lost that $10, I was faced with the ordeal of having to explain to my wife the reduced amount. I bet desperately, again and again until, late in the afternoon, when the last races had been run, I had lost the full $200.

In despair, I returned to the lunchroom which by then was closed. When I entered and found my wife alone and crying, I realized the immensity of my transgression.

That day marked the beginning of my healing, the awareness that if I did not salvage my life I would become one of the lost souls I had seen in the handbook, men and women without any other allegiance except to those surges of excitement as they listened to the races being run.

At this point in time, reviewing the landscape of my life which along with life’s sorrows has also provided me peaks of ulfillment, I cannot dim the memory of those festive days when our ragtail group rode the train to Washington Park. The hours before us would be filled with a whirling suspense and excitement, and a promise of rdemption and glory each time another caravan of horses paraded slowly and majestically toward the gate.

Harry Mark Petrakis’ new book, Cavafy’s Stone and Other Village Tales, was published by Wicker Park Press in November.

Gambling Addict turns life around

Oisin: At peace with his past, content with his present, hopeful for his future
By Colm Keys

Oisin McConville surveys the landscape around him and declares himself to be in the best place he has ever been before.

After the turmoil of a gambling addiction that led to him racking up debts in excess of £100,000, he has turned his life around and come out on the other side with remarkable clarity of thinking and high self-esteem.

On all fronts he feels his life is moving along with perfect harmony. Four weeks ago he got married to Darina Markey and moved into a new house in a small village just outside Crossmaglen.

Work takes him to Newry on weekdays, and sometimes Belfast, where he is a counsellor in one of Sister Consilio's nationwide addiction clinics. There he provides service and help to those in need from across the province, drawing on his own experiences.

It's a far cry from the day he rustled up the last £8 in his car he could find in his car, having lost £10,000, and then drove home with the diesel light on his dashboard flickering menacingly.

McConville can talk frankly about the life he once endured as an addict. He can see it from a different perspective now, the perspective of a counsellor. A two-year course in Athy earned him a diploma that has led to what he does now.

The legacy of his admission to a serious gambling addiction three years ago is the contact many still make with him, and members of his family, seeking advice and direction.

He has become a beacon of hope for relatives of those in a similar place to where he once was himself.

Hospital employee stole to fund gambling addiction

Hospital employee charged in theft of sleep apnea devices
By Stan Maddux Times Correspondent

A worker at Indiana University Health LaPorte Hospital is accused of stealing dozens of sleep apnea machines and selling them to fund a gambling addiction.

Cheryl Pender was arraigned Friday in LaPorte Circuit Court where she faced a charge of felony theft.

Pender, 44, of 4561 N. U.S. 35, LaPorte, could face from a two- to eight-year sentence.

LaPorte police Detective Joe Ferguson began investigating after he was contacted by a supervisor with Clarian Health, the parent company of IU Health LaPorte Hospital, court documents state.

Hospital officials suspected Pender had been stealing equipment from the sleep apnea unit when continuous and bilevel positive airway pressure machines in storage at the hospital began turning up in April at Department of Veterans Affairs clinics in Oklahoma and North Carolina.

The manufacturer of the devices -- Phillips Respironics -- tracked them, and officials later found a discrepancy Jan. 11 in the inventory at the hospital, court records state.

Ferguson said the investigation also revealed that Pender had a key to the storage room where the units were kept.

Court documents show 29 CPAP machines and 10 BiPAP machines were unaccounted for by Pender, who allegedly admitted taking and selling the devices to a buyer in California.

Ferguson said he also talked with Rick Zastoupil, section coordinator in the sleep apnea unit.

Zastoupil said Pender admitted to him that she took the machines to fund a gambling addiction, court documents state.

She also told him ''she wasn't a bad person, but that she had a sickness when it came to gambling," according to court records.

A warrant was issued Feb. 15 for Pender's arrest.

She posted a $2,000 bond Thursday and appeared for her court hearing with her attorney Frank Jury II, of Valparaiso.

Judge Tom Alevizos set the case for trial Aug. 1.

All bets are off as minister tackles corruption in sport

Interesting article on the impact of illegal betting on sports from 'Down Under' [excerpt below]:

All bets are off as minister tackles corruption in sport
Glenda Korporaal

MARK Arbib boasts that his elevation to federal Sports Minister last September has had one great advantage. The self-confessed sports tragic, the son of an Italian-speaking Libyan migrant who spent winters kicking a soccer ball and summers at Nippers at North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club, has at last regained command of the television remote control at home.

"I now have a very good reason to watch more sport," says the Labor Party powerbroker who helped elevate Julia Gillard to the prime ministership last year. "I can say to my wife that it's essential that I watch Fox Sports to get all the results."

Viewing habits aside, Arbib has no doubt about what he sees as the "biggest threat to international sport since doping in the 80s": match fixing and illegal betting.

"When corruption in sport -- either through doping or match fixing -- becomes prevalent, then it threatens the whole existence of sport," the senator says.

Governments and sporting bodies combined forces in the 1980s and 90s to fight the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Now, with criminal groups expanding their influence in sports betting across the world, thereby encouraging sports people to throw games, bowl no-balls or bring about unexpected penalties in football matches, Arbib believes it is time for governments to unite to fight this new scourge.

Send Corrupt Official to Prison

Send Corrupt Official to Prison

A former West Virginia lottery inspector who was part of a ring involving illegal gambling and political corruption got off relatively lightly in federal court this week. We hope her crooked employer is not as lucky.

Carol Kitchen, of Chapmanville, was sentenced to five years' probation by U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. The crime for which she was sentenced and to which she had pleaded guilty was lying to federal investigators.

Her falsehood was in response to questions about whether she accepted bribes from former House of Delegates member Joseph Ferrell, D-Logan.

While Ferrell was in the Legislature, he also owned an "amusement company" in southern West Virginia. The company was engaged in a multi-state illegal gambling ring. Kitchen, then a state Lottery Commission employee, was being bribed to aid Ferrell with gambling machines.

Copenhaver gave Kitchen a break after learning she had helped federal investigators, perhaps providing them the information they needed to charge Ferrell. In addition, Kitchen lost her job and her state pension.

The U.S. Attorney's Office reportedly did not object to probation for Kitchen, noting she already had suffered substantially from her misdeeds. The judge agreed.

While we normally advocate harsh sentences for those involved in public corruption, Copenhaver appears to have good cause for not sending Kitchen to prison.

Ferrell is another story, however. He already has pleaded guilty to racketeering and tax fraud.

His crimes were extensive, involving illegal gambling, bribing public officials and, allegedly, vote buying. All this while serving seven terms in the House of Delegates.

Ferrell's sentencing has been set for May 2. We can think of no reason why the judge in his case should show any compassion whatsoever toward Ferrell.

To the contrary, the disgraced public official should receive a harsh sentence in keeping with the enormous betrayal of the public's trust of which he is guilty.

Illegal betting threatens to cripple sports

Illegal betting threatens to cripple sports
Jacques Rogge
President of the International Olympic Committee

As the leader of the global sports movement, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a moral and ethical obligation to protect the integrity of sport by combating cheating in all its forms.

For many years, we have waged a battle against the use of performance-enhancing drugs. We have come a long way in this fight and are proud of our accomplishments to date.

As our campaign against doping continues, we are also stepping up efforts to contain another scourge that increasingly threatens to undermine the credibility of sport: illegal and irregular betting.

As our latest step, we have set up on March 1 the first ever meeting between the sports movement, governments, public international organizations and sports betting operators to discuss ways to battle irregular and illegal sports betting. We are encouraged by the massive response and support we have received from the invitees, which include members of Interpol, the United Nations and governments as far away as China and Australia.

The potential for corruption is at an all-time high due in part to the advent of betting on the Internet and the anonymity, liquidity and sheer volume it encompasses. It can be argued that there are more temptations and pressure on athletes, coaches, officials and others to cheat for betting gains than at any other time in the past. What’s worse, this continues to go largely unregulated in many parts of the world.

The global community does not share a common definition of illegal and irregular gambling, despite sharing growing concerns about the issue and how to deal with it. We are looking forward to constructive discussions at our March meeting that we hope will eventually lead to a global definition and co-ordination of actions against irregular and illegal betting.

Illegal or irregular betting — which should not be confused with legal and regular betting offered by national lotteries and private entities, which is a major source of financing for sport — is potentially crippling. Each instance that comes to light undermines confidence in sport, which can lead to spectator apathy and drops in attendance, TV viewership and sponsorship. At its worst, it can deter people from participating in sport in the first place.

While illegal betting has yet to be detected at an Olympic Games, we are not naïve. We know the day will eventually come. We must be vigilant and ensure measures are in place to limit its effect and discourage any recurrence.

The IOC started tackling the problem in earnest in 2005. In many respects, our work is similar to what we initiated 20 years ago with doping. Our first task was to lead by example and to adapt our own rules in the face of this new threat, and also to raise awareness of the issue through measures such as educational programs, seminars, and the drafting and adoption of a list of recommendations aimed at unifying the approach of the entire sports movement. We have been proactive in our message and continue to push for dialogue with all parties wherever and whenever possible.

We are currently in the process of encouraging all our partners in the Olympic Movement to adopt rules that forbid betting on each sport. We initially called on the sports that had dealt with cases of match fixing to join us in taking a unified approach to the problem. Cricket, tennis and football have all done an admirable job in this department, but there remain many International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) that have no legislation in place to combat irregular and illegal betting. Without it, there are no grounds on which to punish the cheats.

The support of governments is also paramount. They are the ones with the authority to create a legal framework in which legal and regular betting can take place. They, and not the sports world, can also conduct investigative searches and initiate criminal proceedings. As it becomes increasingly obvious that large criminal networks are benefiting from illegal betting, we encourage governments, wherever possible, to put in place specific criminal legislation dealing with match-fixing and cheating in sport.

We have also begun monitoring betting activities on the Olympic Games. We have established a company called International Sports Monitoring (ISM), which will monitor the Olympic Games for suspicious betting activity, in conjunction with over 300 legal betting companies. When ISM detects abnormal betting activity, it contacts the IOC, and we work with the respective NOCs and IFs to determine if it is genuine or suspect. If it is suspect, we launch an inquiry and the betting companies transfer all the necessary information regarding the bet and the bettor to the IOC. Thankfully, we did not have to activate this system at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 or in Vancouver last year.

But a serious, concerted effort by all parties is needed to combat the problem, which is becoming increasingly difficult to detect as the cheaters are trending away from manipulating major sporting events or even the outcomes of matches. It is too risky. Instead, they focus on matches with less media attention and public scrutiny. You can have all sorts of issues in sport that happen regularly in the field of play without any suspicion and that is the great danger.

We still have a long way to go, but I am confident we are headed in the right direction. I envision that, in the next few years, we may even have a global watchdog in place, similar in structure to the World Anti-Doping Agency, and that fighting illegal betting and match-fixing will be obligatory for the IFs if they wish to remain part of the Olympic Movement.

Our fight has just begun. It is now up to all of us to join together to stop the cheats from banking on the popularity of sport.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sinus problems on Beacon Hill continue

Smell is everything and this reeks!

Ex-Patrick aide now lobbyist for gambling firm
Also had ties to current, previous state treasurers
By Frank Phillips

Doug Rubin, a former close political adviser to Governor Deval Patrick and the state treasurer, has registered as a Beacon Hill lobbyist for GTech Corp., the gambling giant that holds multimillion-dollar contracts with the Massachusetts State Lottery.

Las Vegas: Photos Released Of Two-Time Robber

Photos Released Of Two-Time Robber
Police: Robber Hit 2 Stores In 3 Days

LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas Metro police released surveillance photos of a robber who hit two stores within a few days of each other.

During the evening of Feb. 4, police said the robber entered a store in the 3800 block of E. Sunset Road, walked up to a cashier working the slot machines and demanded money. The cashier complied and the robber left on foot.

Three days later, about 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 7, the man robbed a store in the 8000 block of Las Vegas Boulevard South, police said.

Again, the robber walked up to a cashier working the slot machines and demanded money, police said. The cashier complied and the robber left and took off in a waiting car.

The robber is described as a white man, between 35 and 40 years old, about 6 feet to 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing between 200 and 235 pounds and wearing a goatee.

Anyone with information is urged to call Metro's robbery section at 702-828-3591 or, to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555 or visit its website. Tips directly leading to an arrest or an indictment processed through Crime Stoppers may result in a cash reward.

When fun turns into nightmare

When fun turns into nightmare
Gambling addiction growing in Baja California
Omar Millán

TIJUANA – Roxana used to spend up to six hours a day sitting in a chair glued in front of the “little machine with unicorns” at Caliente Casino.

Oblivious to her surroundings, the time of day, her children, her work and her recent divorce, the 42-year-old woman sat as if hypnotized, waiting to win a fortune.

She lived this way for three years, until one day last March when she took 15 tranquilizers to kill herself, hounded by debts and remorse at not being a good mother to her two children.

She was rushed to the Red Cross Hospital and then to Tijuana’s Mental Health Hospital, where she was diagnosed as being a compulsive gambler, a mental disorder similar to drug addiction or alcoholism.

According to the national association of casino owners, 465 betting and gaming centers with “little machines” operate in Mexico, 44 of them in Tijuana.

Despite the recession, the Mexican gaming industry invested $200 million to open new casinos in the country last year. The major players include Grupo Caliente from Tijuana, Play City (from the giant television network Televisa), Sports Book and Yak.

Most patrons go there for occasional entertainment, without problem, but some gradually fall into the grip of addiction.

“You start out having fun, you forget everything, relieve stress,” said Roxana. “Then you want to recover all the money that you lost. Sometimes I would win, but I wanted to recover more, then I would begin to lose again.”

Roxana, who requested that her last name not be used, said she began this vicious cycle five years ago when she started going to San Diego County casinos at least twice a month.

Then, after casinos with those “little machines” opened in Tijuana, she began to spend every weekend there, and occasionally, when she managed to scrape together money, on weekdays after work as a medical assistant.

“I won 11,000 pesos once (about $915), but I lost them that same night,” she said. “I remember that I had to walk home because I didn’t even have enough to pay a taxi.”

There’s little research on the number of people who suffer from compulsive gambling in Baja California.

However, Jorge Octavio Maldonado, the director of Tijuana’s Mental Health Hospital, the only facility of its type in the city, said the problem grows every day.

He said the increase in the number of gambling facilities in the city -- combined with the stresses of living in a troubled urban environment during a tough economy -- is an explosive cocktail.

“All of a sudden they have something that makes them feel good, an escape valve that disconnects them from their problems: The fantasy of winning millions, which then becomes an obsession,” Maldonado said.

One a recent weekend, the tourist strip of avenida Revolución was virtually empty at midnight.

However, a gambling center where clients can place bets and play on machines, between Third and Fourth streets, was jammed.

Inside, TV screens blared various sports games, there was lively music, and everything was painted in bright colors. And then there were the patrons: euphoric, smiling, frustrated.

Most only stared at a machine’s screen; they didn’t want to be distracted or answer anyone’s questions. Many had notebooks and scribbled down numbers, combinations, secret formulas.

At dawn, one mechanic acknowledged that he lost his entire paycheck; another man, two weeks’ worth of pay. A woman asked for money for public transportation after playing for more than five hours “without stopping to even go to the bathroom.” Others, mentally adding and subtracting the amounts they had when they arrived, began to head home.

“There’s a lack of information about this disease. Many people still don’t know that they are sick until they see the damage they are causing their families,” said Arturo, the coordinator of a support group that helps gamblers, called Grupo 2000.

It’s the only one of its type in the city. The same members continue to attend meetings there since it began in September 2008, despite the anonymous testimonials that talk of hundreds of people who have lost fortunes in one day, millions of dollars, like Arthur himself.

At one recent meeting, some shared their experiences.

“I am aware of my addiction to gambling, but the anxiety gets to me,” said Leo, 43. “It’s been a week since I have gone to gamble but it’s only because I don’t have the 1,000 pesos in my pocket, if I did, I would already be there.”

He said that he once owned ten import companies in Tijuana, had a nice house in an upscale neighborhood and had a wife and four children who loved him.

He said his gambling addiction cost him everything.

Rhode Island Illegal Gambling and Corruption

4 charged in RI corruption agree to plead guilty
By Ian MacDougall

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Three former North Providence town councilmen and a businessman agreed on Wednesday to plead guilty to corruption charges in several schemes that included soliciting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to approve zoning changes.

Former councilmen Joseph Burchfield, Raymond Douglas III and John Zambarano, along with Edward Imondi, a developer accused of acting as a middleman, agreed in court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Providence to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy, extortion and bribery. The men also agreed to jointly forfeit $46,000, the total amount of the bribes they received.

Zambarano also agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud and conspiracy for his part in a separate insurance fraud case, and Douglas agreed to plead guilty on gambling charges.

Burchfield, Douglas and Imondi are scheduled to enter their pleas in U.S. District Court in Providence on Monday, said Jim Martin, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Rhode Island. Zambarano is slated to enter his plea on Tuesday.

Conspiracy is punishable by up to five years in prison, while bribery and extortion carry sentences of up to 10 years and 20 years in prison, respectively.

The three councilmen were arrested last year after an FBI investigation captured several conversations about the schemes in audio recordings.

They were ultimately indicted in four schemes to solicit bribes from businesses in the town. In one, they took a $25,000 bribe in exchange for a zoning change to allow a supermarket to be built. In another, they demanded a $75,000 bribe, but received $21,000, for a zoning change to approve a residential mill development. Imondi was accused of facilitating the mill project bribe and collecting a portion of the payment in return. The councilmen also solicited two other bribes from a bar owner and restaurant, but those were never paid.

Their efforts to solicit a bribe from the bar owner was one of the alleged extortion attempts caught on tape.

"Are you (expletive) nuts? Nobody is getting anything for that license," the bar owner is quoted as saying in the indictment. "This is real life; this isn't a movie, like the Sopranos, where you have to pay to do things."

A fifth man also charged with serving as a middleman, attorney Robert Ciresi, has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say the pay-to-play scheme occurred between October 2008 and May 2010, when the three then-councilmen were arrested.

In the insurance case, Zambarano is accused of conspiring with local radio host Lori Sergiacomi -- known on air as Tonya Cruise -- insurance adjuster Vincent DiPaolo and former town council President Robert Ricci to damage Sergiacomi's home and submit bogus insurance claims. Prosecutors said the insurance company paid just over $40,000 for the claim.

Zambarano faces up to 20 years in prison on the mail fraud charges.

Sergiacomi, DiPaolo and Ricci have pleaded not guilty.

Asked about Ricci's status, his lawyer, C. Leonard O'Brien, said Ricci "has not entered into a plea agreement at this time."

Lawyers for Ciresi, Sergiacomi and DiPaolo did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Prosecutors say the gambling charges against Douglas stem from an illegal sports-betting operation he ran. They say he extorted money from clients who had placed wagers with his bookmaker but failed to pay their debts.

9 Day Crime Spree by Gambling Addict

Man who robbed bookies with scissor blade sentenced to three years
Galway Advertiser
Gambling addiction and massive debt led to nine-day spate of robberies, court hears
By Martina Nee

A three-year jail sentence was handed down at Galway Circuit Criminal Court this week to a man who terrified a city centre bookies’ clerk during a robbery in which he stole up to €800 in cash and brandished a scissor blade.

The court heard on Tuesday how Kenneth Mooney (41) of 22 Plunkett Drive, Finglas, Dublin, had severe gambling addictions which started on slot machines as a youth and that these problems grew over the years, resulting in him owing debts to the tune of €40,000. Feeling that his life had spirralled out of control, Mooney went on a nine-day spate of robberies targetting a number of premises throughout the country including a Ladbrokes betting office in Galway.

Detective Garda John Maloney gave evidence that on June 22, 2009, at 2pm, one member of staff had been on duty behind the counter at Ladbrokes in High Street along with two punters on the main floor. When the other customers left, Mooney approached the counter, produced a bag and removed an implement, a scissors’ blade, before agressively banging his fist on the counter top and demanding the clerk take money out of the till and put it in the bag.

“She was in total fear and complied,” said Det Garda Maloney, who said that Mooney then left the shop on foot carrying the bag containing between €700 and €800, and gardai were called. Gardai took a statement from the distressed clerk, viewed CCTV footage and from that the security at Ladbrokes were able to identify the culprit as he was known to them. Mooney then presented himself at Finglas Garda Station on June 26 and he was arrested in connection with another matter. However during interview he confessed to the Galway robbery and was subsequently charged.

Det Garda Maloney explained that Mooney “made no attempt to disguise who he was” during the robbery and that “it is believed the robbery is a result of his gambling addiction”. He said that Mooney had carried out a total of 10 similar attempted robberies in Dublin from September to November 2002 and in July 2004 Mooney received 240 hours of community service and was ordered to pay €8,059 in compensation. In December 2009 Mooney received a 10-month sentence for theft, and last year he received a five-year jail sentence with the last two suspended for robbery, a sentence which he is currently serving.

Mooney’s barrister said that the Galway robbery was the fourth out of a total of five robberies committed in the space of nine days and that these took place in numerous locations including Navan, Ratoath, and Killarney. She said that Mooney had had a bad gambling addiction which resulted in him owing €40,000 and that he had been travelling the country and sleeping rough in his van at the time these offences were committed.

Mooney’s sister Susan Browne told Judge Raymond Groarke that the gambling addiction had begun at a very young age but that her brother had always been in full time employment. She said that because of his gambling his salary, by consent, had been paid into her account for safe keeping for more than 20 years. Ms Browne said Mooney had tried for many years to deal with his problems, that he had been the sole carer for his ill mother, and had worked constantly.

“He is very remorseful for what happened. He is a fantastic character, outside of his gambling,” said Ms Browne.

The defence barrister further explained that her client’s gambling addiction started when he was a juvinile playing slot machines. She said that Mooney managed to hold down a job until a week or two before the robberies, that he had been a sports coach for the West Finglas youth squad, and had linked in regularly addiction counselling groups. However, as his mother became more ill and he realised the amount of money he owed his family, Mooney began to feel his life was out of control and he went on this spate of robberies for nine days.

Regarding the effect the incident has had on the ex-Ladbrokes staff member, Judge Groarke said: “She was subjected to a vile, vicious attack”. Judge Groarke then imposed the three year jail sentence to commence immediately.

Massachusetts: "The Republican" betrays public trust

"The Republican" has long been a Slot Barn Cheerleader for a financially insolvent partner proposing a Slot Barn in Palmer and recently published an editorial "Slots for Kids."

Typical of media that neglect their purpose and the public trust, they ignore letters to the editor that provide factual information or represent Slot Barn opposition.

Below is such a letter "The Republican" will ignore:

From: Robert Price/Springfield College/US
Subject: Sure thing a sure disaster

To the editor:

When I saw the headline of the Sunday February 20 editorial I thought for a moment that it must be April Fool's day and the writer was suggesting that readers view the biting satirical video on by Gladys Kravitz, called "Slots for Tots."

I read further, waiting for the satire to begin, when I realized, to my dismay, that the writer was serious.

Those of us in organizations like Quaboag Valley Against Casinos have been working to educate the citizens about the regressive and predatory nature of the slot machine industry. While couching their lobbying with pie-in-the-sky visions of "international destination resort casinos," the gaming industry wants Class III gambling legalized in Massachusetts because of slots. The largest percentage of gaming revenue comes from slot machines.

It has been solidly documented that slot machine revenue is the most regressive revenue steam in any state with slots--meaning that the overwhelming percentage of the money comes from those persons least able to afford spending it. Also, as Leslie Stahl's expose on 60 Minutes (did the writer even look at that) showed, the gaming industry spends enormous time and energy developing slot machines and venues that are addictive. Studies at MIT reveal that the brain, while playing slots, is activated in the same way as it is while using cocaine. The goal is to get the gambler to "gamble to extinction," exhausting all his/her resources.

Do we want our state to be subsidizing such an enterprise? Is this the message that we want to convey to our children about how we value their education? Do we want our landscape littered with slot barns? Drive, as my wife and I have, I-10 from Baton Rouge to El Paso. Almost every exit has a gas station, connected to a convenience store, connected to a slot barn. Billboards no longer advertise tourist attractions, restaurants and motels but slot barns.

And the idea that revenues from slots can be inviolably designated to education is a myth. Residents of Connecticut were promised that 75% of casino revenues would be allocated to cities and towns. After a series of yearly legislative "modifications" because of other needs, that number is now closer to 25% . Would it be different in Massachusetts? Think about the promises in regard to lottery revenues, tobacco tax increases to be devoted to smoking cessation education and programs, and tolls on the Mass Pike eliminated when the road was paid for.

The "sure thing" is figment of the editor's imagination.

My suggestion for April Fool's satire: Legalize prostitution in the state. Designate the revenues for infrastructure repair. Think of the possibilities: construction of fancy brothels (jobs! jobs!), licensing of brothels and prostitutes--which could include medical exams to reduce STDS, future careers for our children. If the state is going to facilitate one deadly sin--greed--why nor another--lust..

We can call the program "Pops for Potholes" or "Bangs for Bridges."

Robert E. Price
Monson, MA 01057

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pennsylvania couple stole to feed addiction

New Cumberland couple stole from employer to feed gambling addiction, police say
SARA GANIM, The Patriot-News

A couple who told police they lost everything — their house and three cars — to a gambling addiction stole more than $66,000 from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association to pay their bills, keep food on the table and keep gambling, police said.

The Patriot-News/fileStacie and David Carmines, who live on the 1600 block of Elm St., are accused of writing fraudulent business checks, using company gift cards and running up a rental car tab, all under the association’s name.

Stacie Carmines had worked for the association for 10 years, police said, and told officers she began stealing money in 2010 to feed a gambling addiction that drained the family's finances.

Stacie Carmines created a false billing account under her husband’s name and generated $62,800 in business checks between August and November, then cashed them and kept the money, police said.

She told police she was creating checks for thousands of dollars on a regular basis, police said.

An attorney for the association, Michael Levin, discovered the missing money and called police two days before Thanksgiving to report the couple.

A forensic team analyzed the books, and found the pair probably stole more than $66,000. When confronted, the Carmines admitted to stealing money, but told police they hadn’t kept track of how much was taken, court papers say.

Stacie Carmines told police the figure the forensic team came up with seemed accurate, police said.

Stacie Carmines, 41 , is charged with theft by deception and unlawful use of a computer, and her husband, 39, faces a conspiracy charge. They are out on bail.

Both were charged in January, and waived their right to a preliminary hearing earlier this month.

"Stole to fund gambling addiction"

"Stole to fund gambling addiction"

A BAR STEWARD who stole more than £18,000 from two clubs to fund his gambling addiction has been jailed for two-and-a-half-years.

Cavan Simpson, aged 63, admitted theft from the United Services Club, Tetbury. He also admitted a £4,600 fraud at a Liberal Club in Bath.

Gloucester Crown court heard he had had gambled away all the stolen money. He had tried to cover up the theft from the United Services club by claiming the money had been taken in a burglary.

Jailing him, Recorder Michael de Navarro QC said he had committed 'two serious breaches of trust.'

The court heard that Simpson, from Bussage, Stroud, and his partner were appointed stewards of the Tetbury club in June 2007. Simpson did not reveal to the club committee that he had two previous convictions for stealing from employers.

When his thefts were discovered in March 2009, police gave him bail while they carried out their investigations. Within months, Simpson's partner got the job of steward at the Bath club and Simpson went to work as her assistant.

He abused his position there, said prosecutor Robert Duvall.

Kannan Siva, defending, said gambling was at the root of Simpson's offending. He kept stealing in the belief that sooner or later he would have a big win to pay everything back.

"He accepts candidly that gambling has ruined his life," Mr Siva said.

Simpson was jailed for 2 years for the theft from the United Services Club, 6 months concurrently for the false burglary report, and six months consecutively for the Bath club fraud.

After the hearing David Robins, secretary of the United Services Club, welcomed the sentence.

He said the theft had affected the club so badly that it had only just managed to survive financially.

"It was a real kick in the teeth to discover what this man had done to us," he said.

"We all trusted him completely and thought he was an honest and capable worker.

"It was shocking that he pulled the wool over our eyes about his criminal past. We understand that the Bath club did a check on his record and were told there was nothing known against him.

"But by that time he was already on bail on suspicion of stealing from us and they weren't told.

"Apart from losing the money, the worst thing for us was that all of us on the committee were under suspicion as well because he was denying it and making it seem there had been an 'inside job'."

Empire notified of delisting

Nasdaq warns it might delist Empire Resorts
By Victor Whitman

MONTICELLO — Empire Resorts has been put on notice by Nasdaq that it has to get its stock price up or it might be delisted from the stock exchange.

The owner of the Monticello Casino & Raceway was informed on Feb. 14 that the company doesn’t comply with Nasdaq’s minimum price, as its common stock had fallen below $1 per share for 30 consecutive days.

The company must meet or exceed the $1 per share price for a minimum of 10 consecutive business days prior to Aug. 15 to avoid delisting. Empire closed Friday at 79 cents a share.

The company, which announced recently it has no further plans to chase Indian casinos, has been shopping a proposal in Albany to obtain a bigger slice of its video lottery terminal monies to finance a 200-room hotel and other projects on its property in Monticello.

Sinus problems on Beacon Hill

Widespread sinus problems seem to be afflicting Beacon Hill leaders when they fail to detect the stench covering the Commonwealth.

Beginning with the
Probation Dept. Scandal that has been ignored by House Speaker "Racino" DeLeo who continues to conduct his single-minded Dog and Pony Slot Barn Show state wide after accepting campaign contributions from the Gambling Industry and its promoters and conducting business behind closed doors.

Buying a judgeship for $39,775?

DeLeo, The Buffoon!

As the Boston Globe editorial below points out, 'appearance' is everything:

With family ties to lobbyists, Walsh doesn’t fit health post

NEXT TO the budget, the thorniest issue the Legislature will deal with this year will be changes in health care financing. Lawmakers will consider bills that may completely change how health care providers are paid. That shift — from fee-for-service payments towards a system based more on per-capita reimbursements — will set off a free-for-all among insurers, doctors, and hospitals.

To referee this on the House side, Speaker Robert DeLeo has chosen a health-finance committee chairman, Steven M. Walsh of Lynn, whose family is to lobbying what the Mannings are to NFL quarterbacking. Walsh’s father-in-law represents the state’s health insurers, while his uncle’s firm blocks and tackles for Steward Health Care, new owners of the Caritas chain of Catholic hospitals. (Walsh’s father is also a lobbyist, but mainly for the American Federation of Teachers.)

...While Walsh, a Wesleyan graduate and practicing attorney, gets high marks from some State House observers, DeLeo’s decision to put him in charge of the committee overseeing organizations that are paying his uncle’s firm and his father-in-law can only undermine public confidence in the Legislature. DeLeo’s tone-deafness on conflicts of interest was painfully visible in the recent probation scandal, and alarm bells should again be sounding around the health-finance committee.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Finally...a little honesty about Beacon Hill

Taylor Armerding: Legislature doesn't want to look too closely at casino gambling
The Salem News

Brian Dempsey has a drill.

That's great. Haverhill's state representative is in a position to use a fiscal drill, as the new chairman of the Powerful House Ways and Means Committee (I'm making "powerful" part of the name, since that's the way everybody says it).

The problem is that he is only allowed to use it selectively.

Shortly after Gov. Deval Patrick's $30.5 billion budget for the coming fiscal year landed in the legislative chambers, Dempsey announced that he intended to "drill down" into the document, to see if the assumptions being made by the administration were valid.

That, of course, is what his boss and benefactor, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, wants him to do. And it is well worth doing. Legislators should not accept the governor's budget without some serious scrutiny.

But, based on that logic, it would also make sense for Dempsey to get his drill out to validate the utopian assumptions made by the promoters of expanded gambling in Massachusetts — resort casinos and racetrack slot parlors.

Before handing out permits for gambling palaces that will change the culture and character of the state, it would make sense to take a sober, no-spin look at whether the gauzy promises of thousands of good jobs and hundreds of millions in new money for the state, are real or would be offset by other social and economic costs.

Uh, not so much. That's not what his boss and benefactor wants him to do. DeLeo's mind is made up.

Ask the speaker a question about gambling — any question — and the answer will always be a repetitive mantra about jobs and money ... uh, "revenue."

So there was Dempsey a week or so ago, dismissing a proposal backed by state Sen. Stephen Brewer, D-Barre, who is Dempsey's Senate counterpart as its top budget writer.

That proposal would require an independent analysis of the costs and benefits of expanded gambling before the Legislature takes it up again.

No need, Dempsey said. There have already been multiple studies done.

Technically true. There have been studies. But they are in more need of a drill than Patrick's budget. They have either been paid for by gambling interests or use information supplied by gambling interests. You don't even have to read them to know what the conclusions are.

But there won't be an independent study, not because there is no need for one, but because DeLeo doesn't want one. The reason Dempsey sits where he does now is not because he's a budget genius, but because he's the speaker's go-to guy on casinos and slots.

But maybe, just maybe, the rest of the Legislature has some lingering interest in whether more gambling will really benefit the state, long-term. With the help of the state of New Hampshire and some gambling analysts, including Lawrence's Les Bernal, executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling, here are a few things Dempsey would discover, if he would only use his drill.

The New Hampshire Gambling Commission did a study on the costs and benefits of expanded gambling in our neighbor to the north. The commission concluded that a casino in New Hampshire would lead to a net loss of $68 million. That's a lot of teaching jobs.

If casinos really did make things better, the states that have them would be doing much better than we are here. But they're not. The states with the worst budget deficits, including New Jersey and Connecticut, are casino states.

Casinos themselves aren't doing all that well — gambling revenue is declining, and some of them are going bankrupt.

Casinos and slots don't create new wealth. They siphon existing wealth away from other businesses (including state lotteries) and people, most tragically from people who can least afford it — those whom Dempsey and his colleagues would be calling "the most vulnerable among us" if they were pushing another government entitlement program. Gambling takes money that people would otherwise be able to spend on food, medicine and housing.

Expanded gambling's delicately named "social costs" include poverty, debt, crime, domestic violence, other addictive behaviors involving alcohol and drugs, and suicide. Is that what the state wants to promote? Whatever happened to: "If it saves just one life, it's worth it"?

The response to much of this is the standard line that, "people are going to gamble anyway, and as long as they're going to do it, we shouldn't let Connecticut and Rhode Island reap all the benefits."

To that, Bernal notes that for 45 years, millions of people have been streaming across the border to New Hampshire, to buy retail products from computers to TVs to building materials, so they can avoid the Massachusetts sales tax. The response from our elected leaders? They raised the sales tax by 25 percent 18 months ago, increasing the incentive for business and jobs to move elsewhere.

Yet they wonder why job creation is a problem — and keep telling us gambling will solve it.

Las Vegas, in debt-ridden Nevada, glitters and shines. But it was all built by losers — literally. Gambling riches are a mirage for everybody but those running the tables.

There's our new slogan, after DeLeo and Dempsey get done bringing casinos and slots to the state: "Massachusetts: It's for losers."

Monday, February 21, 2011

$2m Casino Gambling Debt Lands Porn Maker In Big Trouble

$2m Casino Gambling Debt Lands Porn Maker In Big Trouble
Author: S. Taylor

The legal battle between Wynn Las Vegas casino and Joe Francis continues to rage over the ‘Girls Gone Wild’ producer’s $2 million gambling debts dating back four years.

Back in February 2007, Joe Francis apparently was allowed $2.5 million in credit from Wynn Casino but the business only received $500,000 in payment after he lost the money gambling.

Despite being found liable for the entire $2 million gambling debt, Joe Francis has yet to pay up the outstanding amount and has been appealing the judge’s ruling on several issues.

Firstly, Joe Francis has insisted he was promised a $200,000 limit on his losses. Furthermore, he states that he should be entitled to a discount on the debt and that one of the main reasons he gambled at the Wynn was the fact that as a big-time gambler he was offered between 10% to 30% off any gambling debts accrued.

Allegedly, the discount was later rescinded in 2008 after Francis failed to pay up his marker on time even though Francis claims he was never informed of any time constraints on the arrangement.

Other fascinating details thrown up by the case is Joe Francis’ unsubstantiated claims that the casino used a variety of means to entice him into gambling, including providing hookers. Francis then made a whole list of other less than savoury claims about the casino, which has since lead to a retaliatory defamation law suit. Francis’ claims include such practices as the Wynn Las Vegas intentionally miscalculating markers, forging customer signatures, and destroying surveillance records of gamblers.

Unfortunately for the Mantra Films founder, a Vegas grand jury has now ordered him to stand trial relating to non payment of the debt, which now becomes a criminal matter carrying up to four years in prison.

As matters are set to become a whole lot messier, Francis has still managed to remain upbeat throughout the ordeal and said:

“I’m 100% confident that I will prevail, just like I always do. Steve Wynn has enormous influence over the politicians in the Las Vegas area…so I’m sure he’s behind this. The moral of the story is don’t gamble at the Wynn casinos or this could happen to you.”

Related articles:

Man Strangles Wife Over $20k Gambling Debt

Radio Sports Presenter Sebastian Loses $380k Gambling

Murder suspect arrested at Island View Casino

Hattiesburg murder suspect arrested in Gulfport

GULFPORT -- A man wanted for murder in Hattiesburg was arrested early this morning after a brief standoff in the parking lot of the Island View Casino, authorities said.

Anthony Gipson, 35, was walking to his car in the casino's east parking lot when authorities first approached him around 3:30 a.m. today, said Justin Vickers, supervisory agent in charge of the U.S. Marshal's Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force.

"He pulled out a gun and put it to his head," Vickers said. "After we negotiated, he eventually relinquished the weapon."

Gibson was taken into custody and take to Hattiesburg, where he's accused of killing a woman. Details about the killing were not immediately released.

The arrest was the result of a joint effort between marshals and Gulfport police.

No injuries were reported.

The Sun Herald updates this story in Tuesday's edition

Twin River: Convenience Gambling and Lost Local Control

Residents of the host community voted overwhelmingly to oppose 24/7/365 gambling.

Twin River emerged from bankruptcy with 24/7/365 gambling.

Slots were employed as a pretext to 'save racing.'

After bankruptcy, Twin River no longer offers racing.

Regardless of glorious promises to the host community and surrounding area, eventually any local control that inhibits the cash sucking abilities of Slot Barns becomes unimportant.

Now, seeking the gambling expansion that typifies Slot Barns, Twin River is promoting table games - 'well, we'll just have a few, blabbity, blab....'

Can we see where this is going?

Hotel at Twin River cold be risky, consultant says

A consultant advising Twin River executives on how to raise profits at the Lincoln slot parlor says it would be risky for them to add a hotel or expand resort-style amenities much beyond what already exists there.

“This is a drive-in market,” said Steven Rittvo, chairman of The Innovation Group of Companies. “You’ve got to be careful in a convenience market.”

Over the years, some Rhode Islanders have worried that the gambling facility would grow into a full-fledged casino, with all the attractions –– and land-development issues –– that go with it.

The central thesis of that view is that the Lincoln gambling facility would install table games –– roulette, craps, etc. –– to attract more gamblers, and would build a hotel to house them for days-long gambling binges.

The former Lincoln Downs has evolved from a thoroughbred horse track to a greyhound racing track and now to an all-night gambling hall with 4,751 electronic gambling terminals, an entertainment venue and restaurants.

Few people west of Connecticut’s capital city venture past the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos to gamble at Twin River. About half of Twin River’s gamblers come from the eastern portion of Massachusetts, bowing out toward Boston.

“Convenience” casinos akin to Twin River draw gamblers mostly from within a short drive of their location, Rittvo noted — up to 75 miles distant. That means most people drive to such casinos, gamble a few hours, maybe grab a bite to eat, and leave. Most of those spend less than half a day at such places.

Even Foxwoods Resort Casino, with 2,241 hotel rooms, is a “drop dead convenience location,” he said, estimating that 85 percent of the 40,000 people who visit the Indian-run casino daily are day trippers of the sort that frequent Twin River.

And that’s why building a hotel at Twin River would be a financial stretch, Rittvo said.

“I would be cautious about doing it,” he said.

The Scam and Myths of Slot Barns: Worth reading

After a few years of reading the Myths and Scams of the Casino Vultures who run around repeating drivel that makes no sense and lacks factual substantiation, the article about Vancouver below grabbed my attention. [The article itself is worth viewing for the graphic cartoon that so clearly represents the false promises.]

In case you haven't been following it, the Head of Paragon has been proclaiming salvation from his pulpit and assuring those who raise their legitimate concerns about CRIME that 'casinos are safer than malls.' That rang a bell of familiarity because it closely resembles the inaccurate statements made by Massachusetts Senator Marc Pacheco on the Senate floor defending that grossly flawed legislation before him, that was blogged about here: Race to the bottom....

Grinols presented a long list of crimes, pathologies and social problems in which Nevada is first or among the leaders in the nation, including first in suicide (double the national average), divorce, gambling addictions, child-abuse deaths and per capita bankruptcy, to cite a few. He said crime associated with gambling is not explained merely by the fact that it draws large numbers of people.

His research compared crime at Las Vegas to that at high-tourist destinations not associated with gambling – Branson, Mo.; and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.

Las Vegas’ crime rate is 1,040 percent higher than Branson’s and 15.7 times higher than Bloomington’s, Grinols reported, although both destinations draw far more visitors per resident than does Las Vegas.

A similar pattern is found when comparing crime rates at large tourist destinations in the National Park System to Las Vegas.

These are the links included in the article that are worth reading in their entirety:
Pete McMartin: Huge gaming-grant cuts don’t apply to Lottery Corp. offices
BCLC guts grants to charities and non-profits while spending $3 million on furniture and decorating

Gaming board chairman says more casino bankruptcies expected (Las Vegas Sun)
Edgewater Casino Deal Approved

Is PAVCO's proposed mega-casino at B.C. Place too big to fail? No!!!!
Sean Bickerton

Our paragon of a premier and Paragon Gaming, a premier casino peddler, have decided to give Vancouver a great big gift!

If approved by City Council after public hearings this Thursday night, they will insert that huge gift-wrapped package right up Vancouver’s False Creek, depositing it right into the centre of our city.

It’s huge! It will be the largest casino in Western Canada, featuring more than 1,500 slot machines!

It will create jobs, we’re told! And provide buckets full of cash to local and provincial coffers!

Did I mention the jobs? Big jobs! Hundreds of them! Right here in the centre of our city! And in case I didn’t mention it, buckets full of cash for local and provincial coffers. What’s not to love?

Now, they say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth. So let’s just ignore the fact that the American company building this mega-casino in our city’s heart is not required to provide any local community amenities in violation of Vancouver development policy.

And we’ll ignore for now concerns about 25,000 of our fellow residents with compulsive gambling addictions. Next to a huge shiny new casino, those old bromides about being our brother’s keeper seem so old-fashioned, don’t they?

Did I mention the jobs?

Tourism Vancouver and the city’s business leaders have told us to ignore those small petty concerns and get with the program. “Jobs!” they shout. “Tourists!” they exclaim. “The economy!” they exhort us to care about more.

And yet … and yet … we’ve recently learned that
nearly half the casinos in America were in bankruptcy or receivership by the beginning of last year. And more are to follow according to the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board who reported just last Tuesday that “he expects more casino bankruptcies in the stagnant economy.”

Foxwoods casino, the largest casino near New York city, which I’m familiar with, owed $1.6 Billion to local governments, employees and small area businesses when it went into receivership at the end of 2009.

The peddlers would argue that the reason most casinos are under water financially is because of the failure of the economy in 2008. But the
Edgewater Casino here in Vancouver has already gone into bankruptcy once, not after the financial meltdown, but back in 2003. And Trump’s ill-fated casinos in Atlantic City have gone under repeatedly, twice before the meltdown, a not-uncomon occurrence in this industry.

Casinos are simply not sustainable. Owners move in, harvest as much cash as possible from the local area, earning 35% of their take from problem gamblers, then declare bankruptcy and move on. It has happened time and again across the United States.

Can you imagine the financial impact if Paragon’s proposed mega-casino goes under again when it’s triple the size?

As jobs seem to be one of their key arguments, please consider for a second the financial impact on the city if we suddenly lose the 1,700 jobs they claim they’ll create instead of the 600 now involved.

Just imagine for a second the millions in dollars of debt that local businesses and governments will be left holding. At what point does this casino become too big to fail, requiring further government bailouts to protect those all-important jobs?

BC Lottery Corporation, by which I mean the taxpayers of this province,
just spent millions on handmade custom furniture for their gleaming new offices in downtown Vancouver at a time we have 500 homeless people sleeping on our city’s streets. Clearly to them, taxpayers’ money is no object.

In fact they’ve already handed out millions and millions to private casino operators over the past ten years. Are we going to be on the hook if this one goes under too?

We learned very well what “Too Big To Fail” meant in the fall of 2009, when taxpayer dollars were used to bail out bankers who should have been arrested instead on charges of reckless endangerment of the free market.

With all due respect to the Board of Trade, Tourism Vancouver, and the Downtown Business Improvement District, Vancouver cannot afford this kind of risky gamble.

If you care about the future of our city, about our economy, about sustainable jobs, about the livability of our downtown core, please write and let them know the only economically, morally and socially responsible vote on February 17 is “No!” to casino expansion in Vancouver.

Corruption? It's practically a state hallmark

John Baer: Corruption? It's practically a state hallmark

By John Baer
Philadelphia Daily News

Daily News Political Columnist

THE CENTER FOR Public Integrity is starting an ambitious national project - believed to be the first of its kind - to identify risks of public corruption in each state based on laws on the books and how they're enforced.
Pennsylvania will show itself to be at very high risk indeed.

Right now we've got two former legislative leaders (Democrats Mike Veon and Vince Fumo) in prison; one former legislative leader (Republican Jane Orie) on trial; and two former legislative leaders (Republican John Perzel and Democrat Bill DeWeese) awaiting trial.

That doesn't count Mark Ciavarella, the cash-for-kids judge in Luzerne County, convicted Friday of a dozen counts of racketeering and conspiracy.

And it doesn't count ongoing investigations into political fundraising in Philly, misuse of public office in Harrisburg, the issuance of gambling licenses across the state, the probe of another former legislative leader (Democrat Bob Mellow) and more.

In Pennsylvania, where the official state tree is the hemlock and the official state bird is the ruffed grouse, politics is poisonous and grousing is justified.

In fact, in Pennsylvania, corruption is the official state condition.

The new study, aimed at identifying states' risks or, in our case, confirming the obvious, is also geared to fire up citizens.

"The idea here is to be a warning device and to get people aware of where their state is weak and prone to corruption," says center spokesman Randy Barrett.

The Washington-based center has $1.5 million in grants from the Princeton-based Rita Allen Foundation and the California-based Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm, to conduct the 18-month project.

Caitlin Ginley, who's honchoing the effort, tells me she's hiring investigative reporters in each state and reaching out to good-government groups for input.

A key, she says, is examining how well preventive laws are used; areas of concentration are "anything having to deal with money."

That means campaign finance, lobbying, conflicts of interest and levels of required public disclosure. And that means that Pennsylvania's risks will soar.

We are one of only 11 states with no limits on what individuals, political parties or political-action committees can give candidates. Lobbyists, in addition to funding campaigns, meals and golf outings, treat our lawmakers to Super Bowl trips. We've had lawmakers run their own nonprofits with tax dollars. And the Daily News reported Saturday that the state no longer posts timely data online about campaign contributions, so we can't even easily see who's paying what to buy influence with whom.

All this keeps us among states that cultivate corruption like a money crop - a place we've been for years.

In 2008, the New York Times tallied convicted public officials in each state from 1998 through 2007: Pennsylvania ranked fourth, with 555 - behind Florida, New York and Texas.

In 2009, the Center for Public Integrity updated its 1999 survey of states' disclosure and public-accessibility laws: Pennsylvania got an "F."

And last year, the Daily Beast ranked states based solely on federal convictions between 1998 and 2008. Pennsylvania, proving it can be in the top 10 of anything bad, ranked eighth.

I'm not sure how many national studies or sets of statistics it takes to engender serious reform, as opposed to the tepid, watery stuff being offered by the new governor and the lax Legislature.

I'm not sure those in power much care how average folks view them.

But I am sure the gap between "entitled" officials and embattled citizens is growing as those in office flaunt power, protect perks and nurture the seeds of corruption.

And I'm sure that gap isn't good for representative democracy or governing.

And if another national study highlights the problem, then I'm all for it.

Arrests in illegal betting

Indian Police Make Arrests Over Illegal Cricket World Cup Betting Syndicates

Indian police this weekend arrested men connected to four illegal betting syndicates taking bets on the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup.

Police official Ashok Chand told the Associated Press that :” We were acting on a tip that gambling syndicates are active during the matches and have broken up at least four gambling syndicates”. The arrest occurred in the Indian capital of Delhi yesterday. Laptops , mobile phones and other equipment used by the syndicate were seized during the operation.

Police also seized 28 million rupees ($620,000) allegedly bet on the opening match of the tournament between co-hosts India and Bangladesh. Eight of the men were named in Delhi and a ninth arrested after being traced to Mumbai.

Indian police are extra-vigilant on spot betting during the tournament as the spectre of match fixing and corruption hangs over the game. Betting in sport is illegal in India, though this has not stopped a massive industry flourishing right under the noses of the authorities.

Wife confesses to burning journalist to death

Wife confesses to burning journalist to death

Tran Thuy Lieu has confessed to police she herself killed her husband who was a vocal journalist, ending month-long speculations that he was killed for his high-profile reports on underworld thugs and corruption.

At 10:30 pm Sunday, Lieu, 40 came to the police station in Long An province and confessed her unthinkable crime.

According to Lao Dong, Lieu said that she did not want to kill Le Hoang Hung, 51 of Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper but only wanted to “warn” her husband.

She said this stems from domestic conflict arising from her gambling, Lao Dong reported.

She is being arrested pending investigation.

Earlier Sunday, after leaving the police station from a questioning session at around 5 pm, she came home and hugged her two daughters and cried in tears, saying “mother will probably die”.

When her sister asked her why, Lieu admitted she killed her husband.

Lieu’s sister then managed to persuade Lieu to confess. After one hour lying in bed crying, Lieu and her relatives went to the police station and made the confession under the witness of her sister Tran Thi Thuy Loan.

According to VnExpress, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Pham Van Tien, chief investigator said that Lieu is the mastermind but there is one accomplice helping her in the murder.

But as the investigation process is not complete, Tien declined to reveal the name of this accomplice.

VnExpress quoted Loan as saying that prior to her confession, Lieu kneeled down at her husband’s altar and mumbled “please forgive me”.

Loan said that Lieu later attempted to cut her wrist but relatives intervened in time and took her to the police.


On January 19,while he was asleep in his bed on the second floor in Long An, Hung was doused in petrol and set on fire.

He died in hospital 10 days later.

During the time he was conscious in hospital, he would turn away whenever investigators asked him who he thought was the culprit.

Tears reportedly fell down his cheeks.

His wife, Lieu, told police that Hung burst into the room she and their two daughters were sleeping in, covered in flames.

The pillows, mattress and blanket in which he was sleeping were burnt to ashes.

The bed after the fire

Her neighbor and brother climbed into the locked home from an adjoining balcony and put out the inferno on Hung’s bed with a blanket.

Lieu claimed she extinguished the fire covering her husband using a showerhead.

At around 1 a.m., the family called a taxi to their four-story house in a sparsely-populated development in Tan An Town, the capital city of Long An Province, 50 kilometers to the southwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

Hung was rushed to the Long An General Hospital. Two hours later, he was transferred to Cho Ray Hospital in HCMC.

Hung was a father, a Communist Party member, a former soldier in the Vietnamese army and the son of a war martyr. He had also spent the last 32 years of his life as a dogged reporter.

More than 400 people attended his funeral.

Immediately after Hung’s death, papers focus suspicion on underworld thugs exposed by Hung in his high profile reports.

But later suspicion zoomed in on his wife when newspapers started to report that Lieu and Hung had an argument before he was set on fire.

Lieu reportedly implored her husband to sell their house to repay her gambling debts, but he refused. Her total debt was said to be up to VND1 billion ($50,000) from her trips to Cambodian casinos.

In a February 11 interview, Lieu admitted to gambling at casinos in Cambodia in over twenty trips across the border.

On February 15, the Ministry of Public Security dispatched a team to work with investigators in Long An and help facilitate an investigation.

Testing the fire?

Then, it was reported that her neighbor saw Lieu extinguishing a bush fire in her house’s yard on the day her husband was burnt. This prompted speculation that she could have set the bush on fire to 'test' the fire and the damage.

Despite such circumstantial evidence, the crime is hard to believe until Lieu actually came clean.

Even Nguyen Phan Dau, Hung’s friend and colleaque did not believe Lieu was the killer.

“I think that someone who suffered from his reporting has taken revenge”, said Hung - a correspondent of the Hanoi-based Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper in Long An Province.

“I can tell you his family was an unhappy one but not to that level,” he said.

Dau and Hung had worked together closely on special projects and investigations.

Dau describes Hung as a diligent and professional reporter who was not afraid of danger.

For the past nine years, Hung had worked at the Nguoi Lao Dong and covered news in Long An, Tien Giang and Ben Tre provinces in the Mekong Delta under the pen name Tran Hai Nguyen.

“Hung and I exposed rampant smuggling near Long An’s border with Cambodia and he was given an anonymous deaths threat,” he said. “It’s really dangerous being a reporter here.”

The morning before his attack, Hung confronted a local court judge whom sources had accused of accepting bribes.

Dau said that Hung had received claims that the judge had received bribes from a rich man in Long An’s Ben Luc District in exchange for a favorable ruling in his pending divorce.

Hung and the judge quarreled before he left the office, Dau says.

Undaunted journalist fighting corruption

In 2009, he reported that hundreds of farmers had filled out petitions accusing Tan Tru District authorities of offering meager compensation for land that they would appropriate for an industrial park.

Soon afterward, Hung wrote about the Thu Thua District’s plan to build a cemetery on the province’s most fertile rice paddies.

The provincial administration eventually rejected the district proposal.

In August 2010, Hung reported findings that 111 officials in Long An Province had used forged high school diplomas to win promotions.

On the day he died, Nguoi Lao Dong published Hung’s last story which detailed an unresolved murder that had taken place in Duc Hoa District, last September.

Hung named two men as having murdered a man who had been asked to resolve a family argument. Hung wondered, in his story, why the two suspects had not been placed in police custody during the course of the police investigation - as is customary in Vietnam.

“Hung has always been a good journalist,” said Truong Van Tem, 49, a member of the Long An People’s Council, the local legislature. “He has worked to protect the rights of residents who had suffered from wrongs at the hands of government officials.”

Tem once enjoyed a prominent position as chairman of the Vam Co Waterway Transport Cooperative.

In 1995, he was arrested and charged with official corruption. After just one month in police custody, Tem was released, but the charges stuck.

Two years later, Hung found Tem living in a palm and bamboo hut near a river. He helped champion the man’s innocence.

In 2007, provincial prosecutors officially exonerated Tem of wrongdoing and extended him an official apology and financial compensation for his ordeal.

“His career has hurt many,” Tem said. “It’s no surprise that someone would want to take a revenge on him.”

However, all that is now put to rest as the true murderer has been revealed.

Source: Tuoitre News/VNE