Meetings & Information


Monday, February 21, 2011

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.

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