Meetings & Information


Thursday, March 31, 2011

College students at higher risk of gambling addiction than adults

College students at higher risk of gambling addiction than adults Researchers say gambling can have dangerous financial, psychological consequences By Darin Moriki News Reporter "Mike" loves to play competitive poker and considers it "to be the best game ever." In fact, the 20-year-old Lane Community College student said he gambles several times each month at a local downtown poker hall for three to five hours at a time. "I would like to do it more frequently if I had more money," Mike said. "Sometimes I set a limit, but sometimes I get out of hand and risk more than I should. I think you do have to risk a lot to win a lot. I think that if you play hesitantly, you won't be able to win as much as you want." While Mike is a part of the approximately 75 percent of college students who gambled legally or illegally during the last year — spending their money on casino games, lottery, cards and sports betting — some researchers have warned gambling can develop into a habitual activity with potentially destructive financial and psychological consequences. "While the vast amount of those old enough to legally gamble can do so responsibly, the most recent research estimates that 6 percent of college students in the United States have a serious gambling problem that can result in psychological difficulties, unmanageable debt and failing grades," said Glenn Christenson, chairman of the National Center for Responsible Gambling. "For those who are not of legal age to gamble, there's no level of responsible gambling." The types of gambling that college-aged students commonly engaged in most frequently ranged in order from lottery, card games, small stakes gambling, sports gambling, casino games and Internet gambling, according to a National Center for Responsible Gambling study conducted last year. Despite the sense of enjoyment and fun associated with gambling, Oregon State University Associate Director for Health Promotion Patricia Ketcham said it can quickly turn destructive. "Perception doesn't match reality in all cases because research has shown that, for a segment of college students, gambling for fun can turn into a serious preoccupation that adversely affects their lives," Ketcham said. "Gambling is certainly one of those things where students can find themselves and their chance for academic and student success somewhat impinged." Though colleges nationwide have aggressively responded to other types of addiction issues — including those associated with tobacco and alcohol use by creating intervention programs and enforcing strict policies on substance use — Christenson said 22 percent of colleges have formal policies on gambling. To address this, the National Center for Responsible Gambling recently opened, a website aimed at educators, parents and students to provide awareness on problem gambling but also offers resources for people looking to kick the habit. Though problem gambling rates have remained relatively stable over the past several years, some researchers say there is still a cause for concern. "Six percent is a lot of people, and for those people that have the disorder, it can be quite devastating in terms of psychological problems, debt and their ability to maintain stability in school," said Christine Reilly, the National Center for Responsible Gambling's senior research director. "Even though we may not have had a sharp increase in the problem over the years ... they deserve the same attention that you would give for any risky disorder that may be wreaking havoc in people's lives." In addition, Ketcham said gambling addictions not only have immediate effects, but have long-term effects that can extend to those emotionally close to problem gamblers. "For those 6 percent, they certainly place themselves at risk for incurring a large debt, which not only compromises their ability to stay in school but their ability to maintain some sort of success afterward, even after they leave the school system," Ketcham said. "While 6 percent may seem small to some, for those that are affected, the impact can be quite devastating not only for themselves but those people that are close to them." In a sharp comparison to their younger counterparts, the National Center for Responsible Gambling estimates gambling addictions only affect about 1 percent of the adult population. To account for this disparity, Reilly said many adults mature out of gambling as they grow older. "Young people are at a higher risk for a whole range of risky behaviors, including alcohol, tobacco and drug use," Reilly said. "People at that age are more impulsive and are more apt to take risks, so it has a lot to do with age. Just as people who drink excessively tend to drink less as they get older, you're going to find that kids who gamble excessively are probably, for the most part, mature out of it over time, unless they have a serious problem." Among the many warning signs commonly associated with problem gambling, Reilly said it is important to pay attention to those who need to gamble more frequently to achieve some form of happiness; the need to wager more money in hopes of recouping those losses. Another sign is an increased preoccupation with gambling at the expense of time spent on schoolwork and with family and friends. "For me, I like to take risks and it's a thrill to win money," Mike said. "It's a very satisfying feeling to (be) winning a big hand or a big pot of money." Although Mike doesn't believe that he has a gambling problem, he said the large cash rewards are appealing but also said some concepts learned while playing cards can be applied beyond the poker table. "I think poker can teach you a lot about life, like knowing how to make the right decisions," Mike said.

Families? Nowhere near first

Families? Nowhere near first By Dale Perkins, Times Colonist Re: "$15 million in gaming grants restored," March 25. If we needed another signal that Premier Christy Clark's B.C. Liberals are not about families and at-risk children, we need look no further than the gambling and gaming files. Both have caused and still cause horrendous social problems for unimaginable numbers of families: personal bankruptcies, family breakups, even suicides directly attributed to gambling addiction. Obviously, this government has become addicted to gambling/gaming revenues -more than $1 billion came in 2010. This benign form of volunteer taxation is something the B.C. Liberals don't want to acknowledge or reduce. Newly minted minister Ida Chong now will hand out an additional $15 million to certain charities and community groups from the huge profits they make from gambling and gaming -hardly something to brag about even as she encourages the BCLC to carry on its insidious campaign to lure more of us into the gambling habit. Such hypocrisy, and how disingenuous of Clark and Chong to pretend they really care about families and at-risk children. Dale Perkins Victoria

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Face of Addiction

Beating the odds: Two women offer insight into problem gambling By Faye Trafford Editor's note: As National Problem Gambling Awareness month comes to a close, Donna Zaharevitz of Windsor Locks and Joan Masot of Newington recently visited the Grace offices to spread the message that for those who are struggling with gambling addiction, there is hope. Have you had ever one of those dreams where you had a special power? Maybe it was flying. Maybe it was the ability to use your mind to move objects or unlock doors. To heal someone or to stop time. Remember how realistic the dream was? How your mind raced ahead to how you would apply this gift; how you marveled at the difference it could make in your life and those of your loved ones? Compulsive gamblers say that in the grip of addiction, the mind is as delusional as this dream world. In the dream, you believe you can fly, so you keep trying to leave the ground. In life, you believe you will win, so you keep trying to win. Even though you keep losing. Even when the sky caves in. Donna's story In 2008, seven years into her recovery from gambling addiction, Donna Zaharevitz founded a weekly program for women problem gamblers incarcerated at the Janet S. York Correctional Institutions in Niantic. There's been a waiting list each year since. Gambling is socially acceptable, she says, and many people can set aside a few dollars a month to play the lottery, or leave the card table when their $20 runs out. But there are those who don't stop at $20, or $200, or when the checking account is drained and the cars are repossessed and the bank forecloses on the house. In the face of immense personal loss, the gambler still believes "this time" will be different; this time they will win or at least control their losses. The mission statement of Gamblers Anonymous calls "the persistence of this illusion ... astonishing," and the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling lists "returning to rational thinking" among the goals of treatment. Compulsive gamblers don't stop even when the dream of a big win comes true, and the chance to repair the damage is in their hands. "There's no end to it," Donna says. "You win $100 and think you can win $1,000, and on and on." She calls her one jackpot of $27,000, "the kiss of death." "That $27,000, which God knows why I insisted on taking in cash," she rolls her eyes at the memory, "cost me $200,000, when all was said and done. $200,000." There is no ready profile for who is likely to develop a gambling problem, no indicators for age, ethnicity or gender. "You couldn't pick me out of a crowd," Donna says. In her case the problem hid inside the life of a community-minded mother and wife, a successful purchasing agent, a woman who loved spending summers on the Rhode Island coastline. Society, she says, was slow to adopt the idea of compulsive gambling as an addiction similar to alcoholism or drug use. "The attitude is, it doesn't work that way," Donna said. "But it does. The only difference is the substance." The devastation it visits on addicts and their loved ones is the same: jobs are lost, relationships suffer, families are neglected, trust is destroyed. "By the time you realize you have a problem, you're in serious, serious trouble," Donna says. Trouble can mean hiding the mail so family members don't see the late notices, or taking out a P.O. box so the mail doesn't come to the house. It can also mean crimes like embezzlement, forgery and theft, committed when a gambler has exhausted their personal resources. "Once you are in the [legal] system, no one asks the question, 'do you have a gambling problem?'" Donna said. "And then the person gets classified as a thief, not someone who is sick." One of the goals of the program at York is to curb recidivism, which, in the long run she says, costs society more than treatment. "Incarceration is expensive. Then people get out, they can't find work, they can't make restitution to their victims." Donna's problems came to a head when she was arrested for forging stolen checks and sentenced to two years of probation in the late 1990s. A neighbor had asked her to watch her house while she was away. "I told her, 'sure, no problem,' " she recalls. "The idea of stealing from her didn't even enter my mind. But then I needed money to gamble. Because I didn't have a 'gambling' problem, I had a 'money' problem; there was never enough." When the police showed up on her doorstep a month later, she denied everything. Then they showed her footage of herself cashing the checks at the bank. That's when the sky caved in. "I had run for public office," she says. "We were known in the community. After my arrest, my family had to face the town." Friends withdrew. Her 36-year marriage crumbled. She attempted suicide three times. Even now, years into recovery, she hasn't recouped all of her losses. She has a son she is estranged from, and some grandchildren she doesn't see. Still, she says she is grateful to be alive. "If I was still gambling, I'd be incarcerated or dead. There's no question," she says. It's said that an addict has to hit bottom before they can commit to recovery. The bottom for Donna came when, driving home from a casino at 4 a.m., she fell asleep at the wheel and nearly slammed into the car in front of her. "I was trying to leave it all at the door — the courts, the divorce. I had been gambling for 48 hours straight. "I knew then how dangerous I was. I knew I couldn't live with myself if I killed someone else." She completed treatment through the Bettor Choices program and started volunteering on the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling hotline in 2002. She now works as a peer counselor at the Wheeler Clinic, a nonprofit, community-based behavioral health provider; and runs the weekly meeting for 12 women at York. That's where she met Joan. Joan's story Joan Masot has blond hair, blue eyes and a soft-spoken, gentle demeanor. She is quick to smile, and her voice fills with a feeling any mom would recognize, when she talks about her 16-year-old son. She and her second husband were married just a year ago and she has what she describes as a good job in human services, as a case manager for people with co-occurring mental health disorders. Her life now, she says, is a world away from the hopelessness of the days she lost to her addiction. It began in 1994 with social outings — getting together with friends or coworkers for bingo. But things "quickly, quickly, went out of control," she says. "I was buying instant tickets, playing slots, I would bet on anything that was bettable." As the money disappeared, she began hiding bills from her husband. Her marriage fell apart. Joan stopped gambling briefly after the divorce, but says that merely put the addiction on hold. "Because I stopped, I felt I didn't have a problem. In reality, I had lost a 16-year marriage, my home, our cars, and every bit of pride and hope I had ever had." When she started up again two years later, it was as if she had never stopped. "I was out of control again, like that," she says. "I was right back in that dream world." Eventually, she says, she ran out of money to fund her habit. In 2003, she was arrested and charged with embezzling from her then-employer. "When I was taking the money, I was convinced I was going to win and put double back the next morning," she takes a deep breath, "my stomach churns when I say that now. That is how sick I was. The intention is always, always to put it back. You think, 'I'm borrowing this money, and when I win, I'm going to fix all my mistakes.' "I thought when I won that I would make everything up to my son." Donna nods. "When I stole those checks, I stole deposit slips, too," she says. "Which sounds crazy. But you believe it at the time." Joan served a total of four years in the York Correctional Institution for women in Niantic. Her eyes well up as she talks about her elderly parents getting searched when they would visit her; about how she had to tell her son, nine years old at the time, that she was going away. "To a lot of people it makes no sense," Joan said. "I was 40 years old, and I had never even had a speeding ticket. The person I became was not the person I was raised to be. I wasn't a mom, I wasn't an HR person. I looked in the mirror and I did not know who I was." While in prison, her despair deepened. Believing her problem was hopeless, she searched for a reason to live. "I was so in fear of losing my son," she says, her voice breaking. "I never wanted, ever, to have to say goodbye to him. There were times when I was purely, purely hopeless. And parts of that are just indescribable." She says Donna, and the program, saved her life. "She came in, and she could relate, and she had been in our shoes. 'You can do the same thing, someday,' she told me, and I didn't believe it. But she was the first place I went the day I got out." Joan hasn't placed a bet since Jan. 19, 2003. There is hope The perception of gambling addiction is changing, both women say. There are more treatment opportunities, support groups and some external steps people can take to guard against relapse. One option is for the problem gambler to self-exclude from the regional casinos. The exclusion list — the first of its kind in the northeast — was the outgrowth of a joint effort between The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling after Foxwoods opened in 1992. Donna says the casinos work with people to redeem their outstanding points, through a gas card or something equivalent. She adds that in her experience, once a gambler self-excludes, the Connecticut casinos are discreet but firm in enforcement. Opportunities to gamble, though, they both emphasize, are everywhere: lottery tickets, sporting events, keno, and the host of sites (most of them illegal) that have cropped up online. This is why treatment and support, both women point out, are critical to maintaining recovery. Addicts are often alienated from family and loved ones, and the stigma of incarceration can make rebuilding a life difficult. As part of the program at York, participants compose empathy and apology letters to the people they've hurt. "You don't realize what you do to your family. I didn't realize what I did to my family. I was 12 years in, and I expected everyone to be fine the next day," Donna says. "The person in recovery can know they're doing well, but it's hard for others to see." And recovery is a process, they say. Compulsive gamblers, like alcoholics, cannot ever "safely" return to the behavior. "I'll never be healed," Joan says. "It's a continuous fight. But I know that I will never be in handcuffs again. "The life I live today is just a miracle," she smiles. "I look in the mirror and I am the mom I should be and I love the person I see." "I've never been able to say that."

Mortgage adviser swindles friends and associates

Mortgage adviser swindles £200K from friends and associates A Bradford-based mortgage adviser has been jailed after swindling friends out of £200,000 in order to fuel his gambling addiction. 31-year-old Kevin Barker lied to those who were closest to him, persuading them that there was a substantial amount of money to be made through a property development opportunity. At Bradford Crown Court, Prosecutor Stephanie Hancock said that 16 complaints had been lodged for varying amounts, from £5,000 to £25,000. She added that some of the victims had taken out personal loans and readjusted their finances on the promise that they would make money in the developments. The Bradford Telegraph & Argus reported that victims of the scam included Barker’s former best man and the godparent of his children. Barker, a part-owner of K&B Mortgage Solutions, used the good name of the company as a prop in his scam. Yet in court, Barker was handed a sentence for just 18 months. The judge, Recorder Paul Watson QC, said that he had reduced the sentence after reading numerous positive references from the complainants, who had not wanted him jailed. He said: “I have read some remarkable testimonials written by people including Mr Brook, somebody who clearly lost a significant amount to you and your fraud, but even now, and to this day, he is prepared to speak highly of you. “In one sense it makes it worse because it demonstrates the affection these people had for you, which you so blatantly abused in order to lay your hands on their money to feed your gambling thrill.” Recorder Watson explained that another reason why Barker’s sentence had been lessened was because he had handed himself into the authorities. The court heard that after Barker’s mother discovered what her son had done she phoned all of the complainants to tell them the truth. Barker then handed himself into police and later pleaded guilty to 16 fraud charges in court.

California appropriates $3.33 per gambling addict

REGION: New program offers free help for gambling addicts Local therapists are available to help gamblers, family members By EDWARD SIFUENTES A new state program offers treatment for gambling addicts, and it's free. Last month, the state's Office of Problem Gambling and the Gambling Studies Program at UCLA launched a program that offers problem gamblers and their family members eight counseling sessions with a state-licensed therapist at no cost. "It's a godsend," said Suzanne Graupner Pike, a psychologist who treats gambling addicts in North County. "I didn't think I'd live long enough to see this." Problem gamblers often lose their money and jobs through their addiction, Graupner Pike said. They often lose their health insurance, and some insurance programs don't pay for gambling addiction treatment. That is why state-funded treatment is critical to deal with the problem, she said. North County has five casinos: at the Pauma, Pala, Rincon, San Pasqual and Santa Ysabel Indian reservations. The Pechanga tribe in Temecula owns one of the largest casinos in the state. The $4 million program is funded through the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund, a pot of money that gambling tribes pay to the state for various purposes, including gambling addiction programs, said Terri Due Canale, deputy director of the state's Office of Problem Gambling. California has as many as 1.2 million compulsive gamblers, according to a state study. A 2006 report by the California Research Bureau estimated that pathological gambling costs the state $1 billion, largely in costs related to crime, bankruptcy and public health services. Canale said it took a long time to set up the treatment program because the Office of Problem Gambling didn't exist until 2003. The office started offering gambling prevention programs soon after it was created and then had to ask the Legislature for funding to develop a treatment program. "It just took time getting up and running," Canale said. Last year, the state ---- in partnership with the UCLA-based Gambling Studies Program ---- began training therapists and offering them contracts to treat gambling addicts. Thus far, about 20 therapists are enrolled in the program statewide, including two in Escondido and two in San Diego. None is based in Southwest Riverside County, but Canale said the state offers several options there, including counseling sessions via phone, brief interventions and residential treatment. Graupner Pike, whose practice is in Escondido, is a supervisor in the one-on-one counseling program. Thus far, 65 patients are enrolled in the program statewide, Canale said. However, officials say they hope to treat as many as 3,900 people a year.

Beacon Hill Secret Meetings: What else is new?

Massachusetts voters who continue to express their disgust and outrage at the sleazy conduct of Beacon Hill will find no surprise that lawmakers were huddled behind closed doors to discuss Slot Barns and the legalization of Predatory Gambling.

So, what else is new? Have they failed to inform of Industry presence?

Well, it's not needed because minds are already made up.

So much for those sham hearings they conducted.

House Speaker "Racino" DeLeo sponsored incompetents for state patronage jobs and couldn't understand the public outrage.

Senate President "Cha Ching" Murray boasts that she never reads anything 'ANTI."

Nothing like informed leadership.

Ms. Shepherd got it right!

Massachusetts House leaders to huddle in Amherst on casinos, other key issues

Emmaladd Shepherd of Monson, co-president of Quaboag Valley Against Casinos, criticized House members for plotting casinos behind closed doors.

"I'm afraid there's going to be some agreement done in the backroom,"

Shepherd said on Monday.

"It will be a fait accompli. They will just announce it."

She said House members should air the issue in the open.

Honorable Governor Patrick:

Your comments were sorely disappointing!

We've all made BAD decisions that were based on flawed data or reports that were slanted (such as the Spectrum Report you commissioned that cost Massachusetts taxpayers $189,000, hard earned tax dollars), or even on your wife's employment at Ropes and Gray.

At a certain point, the wise reflect on those decisions, carefully consider widely available information and the experiences of others, and recognize their error.

One might only hope that would include you.

The 50 Mile Rule Every time a new venue is opened, problems associated with problem gambling will double within a 50- to 60-mile radius of the casino. Those problems take the form of white-collar crimes, such as embezzlement, spousal abuse and child abuse. “What happens when a new casino opens is those who haven’t been inclined to travel for a casino, will,” Witri said.

In the past, I have blogged about tourism, in particular about Gettysburg -

Solid data show that when casinos come to heritage tourism towns, visitation to the historic resource plummets as it did in Vicksburg, Miss., where 40 percent of the historic downtown is now shuttered.

And I began a whole category -- Lack of Tourism

"You said 150 to 200 times a year," he repeated. "That's three to four times a week, essentially."

"Yes," Jonas confirmed, most of his players fit that profile.

In fact, because Parx players tend to live within 20 miles of Street Road, many go even more frequently. "We have customers," Jonas boasted, "who give us $25, $30 five times a week."

From: Casinos: Limited Tourism Benefit [from our friends to our north in New Hampshire who seem to have more sense than Beacon Hill]

A significant matter for policy makers evaluating legalized slot machines and casinos is whether they will draw most customers from larger distances, thus importing new tourist dollars and exporting social and economic costs -- or like almost every gambling venue in the United States, whether they will draw eighty plus percent of customers from the surrounding resident population.

The effect is merely to transfer wealth and disposable consumer income from existing local restaurants, movie theaters, car dealerships and food stores to casino owners and to burden New Hampshire with social and economic costs.

Here is data from several studies disproving any claim that video slots casinos will enhance New Hampshire tourism.

· 95 percent of patrons at the Bangor, Maine casino live within 35-50 miles.

97 percent live in Maine. (Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Interview with Mike Peters, April 13, 2007).

· A survey of Illinois riverboat gamblers conducted in 1995 found that 85 percent lived within 50 miles of the floating casino at which they were gambling.1

· A study by Iowa State University reported that 94 percent of gamblers at the Prairie Meadows Race Track and Casino in Des Moines came from within the state; nearly two-thirds came from the county in which the racetrack is located.2

· A survey of gamblers inside a Kansas City, Missouri, casino found that 88 percent lived within 45 minutes of the casino.3

Another survey of Kansas City casinos, which are located on or near the Missouri River across from the Kansas border, found that 94 percent of cars in the casino parking lots bore either Missouri or Kansas license plates.4

· Eighty percent of Wisconsin casino revenues come from Wisconsin residents, according to a study released in 1995.5

· The 1995 United States Survey of Gaming and Gambling gives further evidence that casinos are primarily a local draw. The survey found that among respondents with a casino in or near their community, 40 percent gambled in the past year, compared to only 17 percent of those who lived at least 100 miles from a casino. Further, among casino gamblers, 42 percent of those with a casino in or near their community gambled at least every three months, compared with only 17 percent of casino gamblers living 100 miles away from a casino.6

· At the short-lived New Orleans land-based casino, local residents made up 60 percent of the clientele.7

· According to gambling researcher William Thompson, a professor at the University of Nevada- Las Vegas, “(Casinos) have a negative impact on the community unless 50 percent of the gamblers come from out of state.”8

1 Ricardo C. Gazel, William N. Thompson and J. Terrence Brunner, “Casino Gamblers in Illinois: Who Are They?” 1996, p. 7.

2 Cathy H.C. Hsu, “The Impact of Gambling on Iowa Tourism and Rural Businesses,” presentation at the “Gambling and the Family Conference,” Iowa State University, October 31, 1996.

3 Rick Alm, “Taking a Chance on the Boats,” Kansas City Star Magazine, June 30, 1996, p. 9.

4 Anne Lamoy, “Kansans Leave Cash at Casinos,” Kansas City Star , September 23, 1995, p. C1.

5 William Thompson, Ricardo Gazel and Dan Rickman, “The Economic Impact of Native American Gaming in Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Policy Research Institute Report , April 1995, p. 1.

6 Arthur G. Cosby, “The Proximity Factor: Results from the 1995 United States Survey of Gaming and Gambling,” Grogan Casino Report , May 1995, p. 40.

7 Amy Jinker-Lloyd, “Gambling Economic Development,” American City & County , July 1996, p. 57.

8 Ray Parker, “Gambling Is Professor’s Work,” Las Vegas Review-Journal , February 19, 1997, p. 12A.

Mayor Wesley Johnson of Ledyard, Conn.: "There has been no economic development spin-off from the casino. Businesses do not come here," Johnson said.

"Tourists come mainly to gamble. Gamblers have one thing in mind: get to the casino, win or lose their money, get in their cars, and go home."

"They tell you there will be economic development spinoff, and they will work to have that happen, but they don't want it to happen. They want it all controlled in the casino so people will stay there and gamble."....

In Christina Binkley's book, "Winner Takes All," she went into great detail about how Harrah's targeted, marketed and pursued their patrons to increase loyalty.

They offered 'comps' that provided complimentary rooms, and got little response because the patrons were LOCALS.

Casinos know their customers and they know the demographics.

You don't see a slot barn proposed in Newton or Dover or Milton.

You see slot barns proposed in poverty pockets on pretenses.

They offer 'loyalty cards' that track playing in real time.

And much else. They track their playing patterns and if a patron plays let's say once a week and fails to show, a friendly voice calls and inquires.

Professor Robert Goodman wrote extensively about slot barns quickly exhausting the supply of 'local' addicts.

So while statistics can easily be manipulated, this is an extremely profitable industry that knows the buzz words and sound bytes to use to sell their addiction.

They conduct extensive polling and testing.

That's why we need an Independent Cost Benefit Analysis. The facts prove different.

And that's why each of us needs to speak out with the facts and the impacts we simply can't afford.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Baltimore: City workers arrested in gambling probe

City workers arrested in gambling probe have extensive records Many city transportation workers arrested on Friday and charged with gambling and drinking while on the clock have extensive criminal records. Just how they got hired or whether background checks were done will have to be determined after the weekend is over. More than a dozen city workers arrested, charged with drinking, gambling on duty Tip to city officials led police to city office By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun Baltimore authorities broke up what they described as a regular "payday" gambling game involving more than a dozen city transportation workers who police said were arrested Friday after being caught drinking champagne and playing dice in a city office. The roundup occurred in a Department of Transportation building on East Madison Street and was sparked by a tip to city officials who contacted the inspector general's office, which investigates corruption, fraud and waste in city offices.

Woman says kin’s alleged theft haunts her

Woman says kin’s alleged theft haunts her SHEENA DELAZIO LARKSVILLE – Louise Mary Olenik moved into her Sondra Drive home eight years ago with her husband, expecting to live out their lives there together. But now the house has a for sale sign in the front yard, while Olenik worries daily about how she’s going to pay her bills. The worries for Olenik began, she said, just about a year ago when her niece allegedly began taking a total of $107,000 from the recently widowed woman Olenik, 79, also said Monday it’s like a “slap in the face” to see her niece’s life unchanged, and that she may be part owner of a clothing boutique in Edwardsville. Marisa Harlen, 29, of Kingston, is awaiting trial on one count of receiving stolen property in Luzerne County Court. At a November preliminary hearing, Harlen said the thefts came, in part, due to a gambling addiction. “If I could take back what happened, I would,” Harlen said in November, noting she intended to pay back the money to her aunt and plead guilty to taking the money. “It’s all because of a gambling addiction.” Harlen is tentatively scheduled to appear in Luzerne County court on April 4. Harlen and her attorney, Joseph Yeager, were could not be reached for comment Monday. Olenik said Monday she believes her niece is part owner of the Park Avenue Boutique in the Gateway Shopping Center, Edwardsville. A Times Leader reporter stopped at the store Monday afternoon between posted store hours of 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. and the store was locked and dark inside. A woman who answered the store’s phone Monday evening did not know if Harlen is an owner of the store. A newspaper advertisement on the front door, however, showed Harlen’s photo and her name listed with two other women, and that the store would offer $5 off to anyone who presented the coupon. Olenik said she had to put her home on the market about two months ago for just over $230,000 because she is no longer able to afford the house and the 24-hour at-home nurse’s aide she requires. Olenik, who has health problems and suffered from a stroke a few years ago, said her husband’s last words included if investigators had charged Harlen. “I miss him more and more each day,” Olenik said of her husband, who passed away in December. “He would probably have no words for what’s going on now.” Olenik said she and her husband worked their entire lives – he as a carpenter, plumber and mechanic and she as a government employee. They saved their money and eight years ago bought the Sondra Drive house where they planned to live the rest of their lives. Olenik said now she must sell the furnishings and her house to pay her bills and worries how she will pay to live in a nursing home or pay for 24-hour nurse care. “I think about it every minute. Here, I thought I had it made, and then, I had nothing,” she said. She was alerted to the stolen money when she and her husband tried applying for veteran’s assistance, Olenik said. She said they went to the bank and learned the most recent withdrawal in April was a few thousand dollars at the Mohegan Sun Casino at Pocono Downs. Olenik said she trusted Harlen – one of three nieces and among only a few relatives Olenik has – because Harlen has a college degrees in finance and criminal justice. Now, with attorney’s fees, having to change her power of attorney, and daily living costs, she worries about each penny she spends, even on a food order. “It consumes my life at this point,” Olenik said. She also wonders why Harlen’s case hasn’t progressed and she hopes Harlen will be able to make a restitution payment in full – instead of smaller monthly payments. “I want it all,” Olenik said. “I hope with all my heart she is planning on paying back the money.”

Saturday, March 26, 2011

No one wants to say it....

just maybe the business model that's based on creating new gamblers and new gambling addicts has exhausted its supply.
Maybe it won't rebound.

Jeers: To the pervasive expansion of tribal casinos in the Northwest. The Associated Press reports that the Yakama Indian Nation plans a $90 million expansion of its facility near Toppenish, including a six-story hotel and conference center. In Northeast Oregon, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation are in the midst of a $67 million expansion, which also includes a hotel.

But even as the plans move forward, the market for Indian casinos is declining. Boosters claim the dip is temporary and that the gambling market will flourish in the coming years. We hope not. Gambling is hardly a way to build stronger families and permanent wealth. It just sucks money from largely unrewarded consumers who often fall prey to addiction. That’s partly why the Cowlitz Tribe’s proposed casino project near La Center is the wrong approach.

It would be much wiser for the tribes to spend their short-term gambling gains to fund a more reliable economic strategy.

Las Vegas continues decline

Las Vegas Hilton, Riviera post quarterly losses
By Steve Green

The recession and the over-supply of hotel rooms in Las Vegas continued to punish the Las Vegas Hilton and the nearby Riviera Las Vegas hotel-casinos during the fourth quarter, newly-filed financial reports show.

Bankrupt Riviera Holdings Corp., owner of the Rivieras in Las Vegas and Black Hawk, Colo., said in its annual report this week that the 2,075-room Riviera Las Vegas generated net revenue of $79 million in 2010, down from $92 million in 2009.

In Las Vegas, casino revenue for the year ... fell 14.3 percent while room revenue ... fell 5.9 percent. The average daily room rate fell 5.9 percent to $57.01. Occupancy, however, was nearly 81 percent, an improvement from 77.4 percent a year earlier.

The Hilton, with 2,650 rooms and 300 suites, said its hotel revenue remained steady from 2009 to 2010 ...

"In 2010, table games revenue decreased approximately 19.6 percent and slot revenue decreased approximately 16.4 percent compared to revenues in 2009.....

Manager stole millions for gambling addiction

Manager stole millions for gaming habit

Confessed thief Richard Watson stole $5.5 million from his Auckland employer over 10 years to fund a pokies addiction. He faces at least six years in prison.

Watson appeared in the Manukau District Court yesterday for sentencing on two charges of theft.

The 55-year-old admitted he stole from his long-time employer, the family-owned Ross Group, to fund a claimed gambling addiction. This was despite earning $300,000 a year as the group's general manager and head accountant, and receiving bonuses worth $700,000 over the course of his 32-year employment.

Watson stole amounts of $50,000 to $200,000 from four company accounts. As head accountant and financial controller of the roofing tile manufacturer, he had access to the bank accounts and authority to transfer funds.

Watson, who previously had name suppression, was supported in court by about 15 family members.

Members of the Ross family also attended and victim impact statements were read by them, including company directors Ian and Cameron Ross.

Watson's sentencing was adjourned till May to allow a psychological evaluation to be undertaken.
The Dominion Post

2 Tompkins men indicted on gambling charges

2 Tompkins men indicted on gambling charges

Two men arrested in late September in connection with illegal sports gambling have been indicted by a grand jury, the Tompkins County District Attorney's Office announced Friday.

Jeffrey S. Iacovelli, 51, and Carmen Ciaschi, 50, both of Ithaca, were indicted in a 22-count indictment that included counts of promoting gambling, possession of gambling records, attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance, conspiracy and enterprise corruption.

Ithaca Men Face Sports Gambling Offenses

Pennsylvania: Crime and Corruption and Gambling

Attorney: Alcohol, gambling addictions clouded Toole's judgment
By Michael R. Sisak (Staff Writer)

SCRANTON — Former Judge Michael T. Toole tore through a 30-pack of beer a night at the height of the alcoholism and “pathological” gambling addiction that clouded his judgment and complicated his final years on the bench, his attorney told a federal judge Friday.

The 51-year-old father of two hit rock bottom after federal prosecutors charged him two years ago with illegally accepting free use of a New Jersey beach house and failing to pay taxes on an attorney referral fee — charges he is scheduled to be sentenced on April 8.

Since then, Toole has made a remarkable recovery, attorney Frank Nocito told a federal judge this morning at a hearing on Toole’s objections to a pre-sentencing report.

Toole completed an in-patient program at the Marworth Treatment Center in Waverly, sees an addiction counselor and regularly attends meetings of the 12-step support group Alcoholics Anonymous, Nocito said.

He no longer drinks, no longer gambles and has repaired relationships with his wife, Donna, and college-aged son and daughter.

“He recognizes it’s an ongoing process,” Nocito told U.S. Judge Richard P. Conaboy. “Step by step, day by day, and it’s continuing.”

Toole’s drinking evolved from the casual curiosities of high school and college to full-on alcoholism as an adult, manifesting in the late 1990s in a daily pattern of work followed by long hours at the bar, drinking and gambling, Nocito said.

Toole, noticeably slimmer and more vibrant than when he pleaded guilty to an initial set of corruption charges in December 2009, declined to comment as he left the hearing.

Conaboy ordered the hearing after Nocito objected, in a court filing, to the value assigned in the pre-sentence report to Toole’s use of the beach house and the characterization that his use of the home in 2006 and 2008 constituted multiple gratuities.

Posted at 1:20 p.m.: Suspended attorney explains Toole's use of N.J. beach house

SCRANTON — Suspended attorney Harry Cardoni revealed this morning that he invited corrupt former Luzerne County judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan to use the same New Jersey beach house where ex-Judge Michael T. Toole spent parts of three summers, but that they refused.

Cardoni, testifying at a hearing on Toole’s objections to a pre-sentencing report on charges he accepted an illegal gratuity and failed to pay taxes on a finder’s fee, said he also provided at least annual gifts of lobster to Toole, Conahan and Ciavarella and that he provided ex-Judge Ann H. Lokuta with kielbasa.

Toole’s objections led to a postponement of his sentencing, which had been scheduled for today, until April 8.

Toole’s attorneys objected to the pre-sentence report’s characterization of Toole’s use of the beach home as multiple gratuities and asked for a reduced sentence based on the amount of “rehabilitation” Toole has already gone through.

Prosecutors say Toole rewarded Cardoni by appointing an arbitrator hand-picked by Cardoni to hear an insurance case in which Cardoni represented the plaintiff.

Cardoni said in court this morning “friendship” was the only motivation he had for offering Toole use of the beach house. Cardoni said Toole first used the home in 2005.

Federal prosecutors, who only charged Toole with crimes related to his 2006 and 2008 trips to the shore, said they were not aware of Toole’s earlier use of the home until his attorneys brought it to their attention.

Cardoni said he and Toole schemed to create paper trail to cover ex-judge's "free" use of a N.J. beach house in 2008, amid rumors of a federal probe into courthouse corruption.

Cardoni says he gave Toole $8,400 in cash so Toole could write him check covering $7,500 rental fee and have $900 on hand for emergencies.

Cardoni's law license has been suspended by the state Supreme Court, but he faces no criminal charges.

Toole also pleaded guilty to failing to report a $30,000 finder's fee he accepted from another attorney who represented a relative of Toole's wife in a civil case in another county.

That attorney, Robert J. Powell, testified for the prosecution last month in the trial of Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., who faces 13 or more years in prison after being found guilty of racketeering and other charges.

Powell, whose law license has been suspended, faces a likely sentence of 21 to 27 months in prison for failing to report a felony and abetting tax evasion in the Ciavarella case.

Ciavarella, Toole and Powell are among more than 30 people charged in an ongoing public corruption probe.

Union sues to stop bailout of Revel

Union sues to nix $261M NJ aid to Revel casino


A union representing Atlantic City casino hotel workers is suing New Jersey to try to block $261 million in tax aid for the half-finished Revel casino project.

Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union filed the lawsuit last week against the state Economic Development Authority, but publicized it on Thursday. The EDA agreed last month to refund $261 million in taxes to Revel over 20 years to help restart the stalled project.

That aid guarantee was seen as instrumental in Revel obtaining the remaining $1.15 billion in private financing it needs to finish the casino-hotel.

The union claims the state violated open public meetings and records laws and wants the tax break canceled.

Letters to the editor

Below, is a recent sampling of letters to the editor in response to the Mohegan Sun Folly proposed in the little town of Palmer:

Letter in Springfield Republican, March 24, 2011

Casinos will exact high social costs

I am concerned about the social costs of gambling. People might gamble away money needed for household and gambling also leads to addiction.

Given the negative impact a casino would have on the region, I would urge a 2/3-majority vote of the host town and of the abutting communities before a casino is located in the towns.

Also, in the Palmer Journal, March 24, 2011

Oppose a local casino

Now that the financially distressed Mohegan Sun has scaled by their plans for Palmer, the promised economic benefits are considerably more paltry. The hotel might be off the table, and slots only. This provides them with the best opportunity to fleece gambling addicts of all their money, while returning as little as possible to the host region.

For the sake of the health of our communities, we must oppose a local casino.
Maria Thomson

We need unbiased analysis

We need an unbiased cost-benefit analysis of casinos and slot parlors in Massachusetts. And the resulting report needs to be publicly discussed before any vote is taken to authorize gambling in the state.
Frances Perquidi

You may recall that Mohegan Sun, the financially insolvent developer of the proposed Slot Barn, recently 'down sized' their proposed "Destination Resort Slot Barn" to a mere "Slot Barn."

This was predictable to anyone who has watched the Gambling Industry. All the amenities disappear, the low wage jobs and revenue evaporate and it becomes a mere Slot Barn with cash sucking machines to pay off the extravagant debt of the parent, while the community is stuck with the expensive impacts, including drunk drivers and crime.

Spectrum Gaming prepared a report for the Connecticut Dept. of Special Revenue, available on the United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts web site that considered the conduct of Mohegan Sun.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Gambling Addict Betrays Trust

Bradford addict Kevin Barker lied to get money to pay spiralling debts

A mortgage adviser swindled £200,000 from friends and associates to feed his spiralling gambling addiction, a Court heard.

Kevin Barker’s victims included Paul Brook, who was best man at his wedding, and another friend who was a godparent to his children, Bradford Crown Court was told yesterday.

Barker, 31, was jailed for 18 months, but the judge, Recorder Paul Watson QC, said he had greatly reduced the sentence after reading glowing references from the complainants, who had not wanted him to be jailed.

Prosecutor Stephanie Hancock told the court Barker had abused the trust of close friends and associates, who he had advised through his part-owned company, K & B Mortgage Solutions, by telling them an “outright lie” about what he said was an opportunity to make money in property development.

Miss Hancock said 16 complainants put in various amounts of money, ranging from £5,000 to £25,000. She said they took out personal loans and readjusted their finances, on the promise that they would make money.

Miss Hancock told the court: “There was never any property development opportunity. It did not exist. He told lies to cover his gambling addiction. It spiralled out of control when he started borrowing from friends to pay back what he owed to others.”

She said Barker told one complainant his grandmother had died, another that his mother had got breast cancer, and a third that he had a funeral to attend in Liverpool, all claims which his supportive family said were true.

Miss Barker said the defendant’s mother discovered what her son had done and phoned all the complainants to tell them the truth and assure them she would try to pay them back.

Barker, of Derwent Road, Bolton, Bradford, then handed himself into police and admitted to what he had done. He pleaded guilty to 16 charges of fraud. Miss Hancock said that such was the affection of the complainants for the defendant, they did not want to give details to police.

Barker’s lawyer, Michael Reeves, said his client was misguided and that since his confession, Barker had attempted to deal with his addiction and had attended Gamblers Anonymous.

Recorder Watson said sentencing Barker gave him no pleasure, but it was fraud on a grand scale.

He said: “You swindled people, who you knew trusted you, who put their confidence in you, in a persistent and determined way.”

The judge said that in Barker’s favour was the fact he had handed himself in and readily made admissions, He added: “I have also read some remarkable testimonials written by people including Mr Brook, somebody who clearly lost a significant amount to you and your fraud, but even now, and to this day, he is prepared to speak highly of you.

“In one sense it makes it worse because it demonstrates the affection these people had for you, which you so blatantly abused in order to lay your hands on their money to feed your gambling thrill.”

The real tragedy of gambling

James L. Evans: The real tragedy of gambling
by James L. Evans Anniston Star

Gambling is going to play a huge role in Alabama’s political campaign this year — that is glaringly obvious. We already have seen high-profile arrests stemming from alleged vote-buying in connection with a previous attempt to legalize casino gambling in the state. That investigation is ongoing, and only God knows where it will lead.

In the meantime, both candidates for governor have expressed their willingness to allow Alabamians to vote on whether to legalize gambling. Given the economic climate in our state and in our country, it’s a pretty good bet that voters will say yes to some sort of gambling initiative.

The moral concerns about gambling have been made abundantly clear by several faith groups in Alabama, none more vocal than the group I am a part of — Alabama Baptists. In 1999 it was Baptists, in concert with other faith groups and concerned citizens, that shut down former Gov. Don Siegelman’s effort to institute a state-supported lottery. Those voices will be out there again, but it is a different day and time. It is not at all clear that Christian activism will be able to stem the tide this go-round.

The concerns are valid. Lotteries and casino gambling prey upon the poor. It is the desperate among us who seek to cash in on their dreams all at once with one big payoff. For those who cannot manage their behavior, the addictive gamblers, the loss of livelihood and the impact on families can be devastating.

While we must hold accountable those who gamble irresponsibly and lose money they can’t afford to lose, the gamblers are not the only culpable players here. The nationwide over-reliance on gambling as a source of state revenue represents a gross failure of leadership. That is nowhere more evident than in Alabama.

Alabama boasts of having some of the lowest property taxes in the country. But what we get for those low taxes are some of the poorest schools in the nation.

While we complain and bemoan the constant ebb-and-flow in our education funding, we fail to realize that much of our state government is dependent on sales-tax revenue. It is nearly impossible to plan a long-range budget in Alabama because we cannot know from year to year what the sales-tax revenue is going to be. It is that reality that keeps our schools in proration.

All of this represents a failure of leadership. Because elected officials lack the courage to enact adequate taxes, we suffer with inadequate schools and state services. In Alabama, we over-tax the poor by means of sales tax and regressive income tax, and we under-tax the wealthy with favorable income tax breaks.

Combine this with an irrational anti-tax mania that has gripped the whole country, and we end up with a situation in which elected officials are afraid to raise taxes. So instead, we resort to gambling.

I stand with other faith leaders in opposing legalized gambling in our state. But saying no to gambling is not enough. Those who oppose gambling as a moral concern also need to help legislators have the backbone necessary to reform our tax system and raise adequate taxes for schools and other services. Adequate and fair taxes would make the need for gambling revenue irrelevant.

It’s an example of what Paul meant in the New Testament when he wrote, “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”

James L. Evans is pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church.

How my wife's gambling addiction destroyed our family's life

Opinion: How my wife's gambling addiction destroyed our family's life

I remember the exact moment I looked at my wife and realized she was a gambling addict.

I guess the industry term is “problem gambler,” but that just doesn’t go far enough. Addict or junkie is more fitting to convey the destruction gambling has had on our family’s life.

Our home? Gone. Our savings? Gone. Our children’s education fund? Gone.

All that’s left is filing for bankruptcy to protect us from the dozen or so credit cards my wife secretly acquired and racked up as part of her dizzying juggling act.

She didn’t know her limit and she certainly didn’t play within it.

And yet, what disappeared even faster than the money was the woman I used to know.

I go back to that moment when I realized she was gone forever. She had finally hit the wall and couldn’t hide the problem any longer. She broke the news that we would have to sell our home to cover her losses. Actually, it paid only a fraction of her losses.

I used to be able to tell what she was thinking just by looking at her, but she had mastered deception.

She couldn’t even muster a few tears to make the news more palatable. It was just an icy statement, another calculated move to bail herself out.

Going to the casino without me knowing hadn't been difficult. She had her own business, so she could come and go as she pleased, cramming in gambling sessions while the kids were in school. Her business often meant late nights so I didn’t know where she was. I would wake up and she’d be in the spare bedroom and say she hadn't wanted to wake me. In truth, she had just arrived home at 5 or 6 a.m. She used her business as the mailing address for all the incriminating bills and had concocted other elaborate schemes to keep me from finding out.

Gambling started out as fun girls’ nights out once in a while but, as she later admitted, once she won a big jackpot she thirsted for more. Even now she is convinced she has a 'system' to beat the slot machines. She talks about how certain machines are 'sure things' and that you have to hit them at certain times.

The woman once grounded so firmly in reality is now a little delusional. She went to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting but didn’t return. She signed up for the provincial Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program, but admitted it's still easy for her to quietly go into a casino and gamble -- she'll just get kicked out if she wins and tries to collect.

She never does.

The author is a writer living in Greater Vancouver.

Washington Gambling Addict Steals

Ex-Lacey Chamber of Commerce official charged

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A former executive director of the Lacey Chamber of Commerce is accused of stealing nearly $18,000 from the chamber over about a three-year period.

Court papers say Jenny Thorsell had a gambling problem and spent thousands at the Red Wind and Tulalip casinos.

The Olympian reports the 42-year-old was charged with theft Wednesday in Thurston County Superior Court.

She resigned in May after nearly eight years as the Lacey chamber's executive director.

Harrah's employee gets 3 years in prison for embezzlement

Harrah's Entertainment paralegal gets 3 years in prison for embezzling $370K
By The Star-Ledger Continuous News Desk

ATLANTIC CITY — A Harrah's Entertainment paralegal was sentenced to prison in February for stealing $370,000 from a program at the casino teaching youths about the dangers of gambling, according to a report on

Jodi Muraczewski, 46, of the Waretown section of Ocean Township, stole the funds over a four-year span starting in 2005 by forging signatures on checks to draw funds from a corporate bank account, the report said. She has been sentenced to three years in prison and will have to pay restitution equal to what she stole.

Harrah's fined

Harrah's Resort Atlantic City is fined $65K for failing to detect thefts by cashier, underage gambling
By The Associated Press The Star-Ledger

ATLANTIC CITY — New Jersey gambling regulators have fined Harrah's Resort Atlantic City $65,000 for allowing underage gambling, failing to detect thefts by a cashier and leaving cash boxes from three slot machines unattended for more than half an hour.

The fines were handed down on March 8 and made public today. They represent the first disciplinary action against a casino by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement since a sweeping change in gambling regulation was carried out in recent weeks.

Harrah's did not contest the violations and agreed to pay the fines. A spokeswoman for Caesars Entertainment said the company had no further comment.

The most serious violation involved casino security failing to detect four thefts totaling $23,000 by an employee in late 2008 and early 2009. A casino cage supervisor identified only as "MS" was accused of entering the casino's main bank area while acting as a cashier when the regular cashier was gone.

The first incident occurred on Nov. 16, 2008, when "MS" was accused of opening a sealed plastic bag containing cash that had been prepared for deposit and replacing two bundles of $50 bills with $20 bills. That theft resulted in an $8,000 shortage.

On Dec. 28, 2008, "MS" allegedly went into the main bank area and took $5,000 from a bundle of cash, hiding it beneath other papers.

On Jan. 1, 2009, "MS" took another $5,000 from the main bank and put it in her pocket.

And on Jan. 18, 2009, "MS" took yet another $5,000 from a bundle of cash.

The casino was cited for failing, through its surveillance department, to identify and stop theft, and for allowing employees to perform incompatible functions that would allow them to both commit a theft or error, and then cover it up in the course of their duties.

The state Attorney General's Office, which oversees the Division of Gaming Enforcement could not immediately say where the criminal case involving "MS" stands. The woman was fired from the casino and three other cashiers were issued written warnings connected to the case.

In the underage gambling case, Harrah's allowed a 20-year-old man to gamble on Dec. 19, 2009, in the wee hours of the morning. The legal gambling age in New Jersey is 21.

According to paperwork filed by the enforcement division, "JB" was twice allowed to buy casino chips without being asked for identification, and played 19 rounds of roulette. He was caught when he and an associate tried to steal a $100 chip from another gambler at the roulette table, and a commotion ensued. Casino security called State Police who charged "JB" with underage gambling after the patron whose $100 chip was stolen declined to press charges.

Perhaps the most embarrassing of the incidents involves an Aug. 16, 2009, episode in which the contents of three slot machines were removed from the machines at 6:35 a.m. But instead of being placed on a trolley for transport to the cash counting room, they were placed on stools in front of the machines and left there for more than 30 minutes while casino employees brought the contents of other slot machines to the counting room.

Eight minutes after the cash boxes were left unattended on the stools, casino security re-opened that area of slot machines to the public so that patrons could use the machines. It wasn't until 36 minutes after the cash boxes were left unattended that casino workers returned to find them still sitting on the stools in front of the machines, and then brought them to the counting room.

Two of the workers were issued written warnings, and a third was on his last day of employment with the casino when the incident occurred.

Mohegan Sun: casino gambling debt case finale

Plum CEO ponies up
Vows to pay $1.2M debt after Post prodding
by Keith J. Kelly

It looks like this time, the Native Americans will emerge victorious.

Jerry Powers, the co-chairman and CEO of Plum TV and it nascent publishing operation, has been accused by the Mohegan Sun casino of welshing on a $1.2 million gambling debt that he racked up in a marathon blackjack session back in May 2009.

Shortly after Media Ink got on his trail -- not to mention a tense meeting with the eight-person Plum Media board last weekend -- Powers decided to pay up, ending an 18-month legal battle in which a Connecticut judge had cleared the way for Mohegan Sun to attach some of Powers' assets.

At first, the millionaire Plum executive sought to appeal, but is now reversing himself and is ready to fork over the wampum.

"Jerry is currently in settlement discussions with Mohegan Sun to drop his appeal and pay his gambling obligations in full," a spokesman for Plum TV told Media Ink.

Court papers claim that Powers stopped payment on a $465,000 check and other checks were returned because they were written against accounts that had been closed. In court proceedings, Powers did not claim it was an error or mixup but rather that the Mohegan Sun had no right to sue him in Connecticut state court because it is a sovereign Indian nation.

He also claimed that the Mohegan Sun, in granting him a virtually unlimited line of credit, had engaged in an illegal gambling contract.

Connecticut Judge Robert Leuba rejected both arguments and gave the Mohegan Sun the right to attach his assets to reclaim the debt.


Mohegan Wins Fight Over $1.2M Debt: Report

They say the house always wins.

Now, it looks like Mohegan Sun Casino has won its battle with a cable TV executive over a reported $1.2 million gambling debt.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Judge applauds prosecutors in bingo corruption case

VIDEO: Judge applauds prosecutors in bingo corruption case

MONTGOMERY, Ala. --- A federal judge applauded prosecutors Wednesday for the phone recording documents they turned over to him in the bingo corruption case.

Judge Wallace Capel had scolded government lawyers Tuesday for their failure to surrender all records relevant to FBI wire taps in the case.

He even threatened to sanction them if they did not provide more records by 5:00 pm Tuesday.

Defense lawyers told the judge Wednesday they had received betweetn 150-200 documents by Tuesday's deadline.

Ten people are charged with carrying out a vote-buying scheme to try and pass pro-gambling legislation in Alabama last year.

The bill failed after the bingo corruption probe was announced.

Much of the case is based on secret FBI phone recordings and defense lawyers have challenged the wire taps.

They have claimed federal agents did not follow legal guidelines during the process of recording phone calls the defendants had with each other along with those not in the case.

Defense attorneys had also accused prosecutors of not surrendering all relevant materials so they could properly challenge the recordings in court.

Now that additional records have been provided, there will be another hearing on the matter Thursday in Montgomery's federal courthouse.

Crime and Corruption and Gambling

Extended cut: John Tyson on gambling, corruption [video]
John Tyson Jr., the commander of Gov. Bob Riley's Task Force on Illegal Gambling, speaks to the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery on Tuesday, March 30 [sic March 20], about corruption and his ongoing efforts to rid Alabama of electronic bingo machines.

Unbiased study sought for casino

Unbiased study sought for casino

The Western Massachusetts Casino Task Force supports state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer's call for an independent analysis of expanded gaming.

The task force, which is composed of 14 communities, first voiced its support of an independent analysis more than two years ago, and recently penned a letter to the members of the Massachusetts General Court in support of Brewer's recently filed legislation.

Task Force Chairman Edward S. Harrison, of Monson, said the task force feels that to date, all the studies done about casinos have "been slanted" and conducted by groups that "are not truly independent disinterested third parties. They are people who have a vested interest in getting casinos passed."

Harrison noted that the casino Mohegan Sun is proposing for Palmer, on land across from the turnpike exit on Thorndike Street (Route 32), has been downsized considerably. Touted as a $1 billion project, Mohegan now is proposing a $600 million resort casino. It has gone from 3,000 to 2,500 slot machines, and from a theater with seating for up to 5,000 to a multi-use ballroom of 1,000 square feet to 1,500 square feet.

"Is the casino business as viable as it was before?" Harrison asked. "You look at the news these days and casinos are having problems, and laying off people."

Task force member Paul E. Burns, of Palmer, said he thinks the bill is "redundant exercise."

Oh? Paul, do you mean like the Palmer Casino Study Committee Report that determined a casino would destroy the little town of Palmer financially? The one that you ignored? The one that was buried? What are you hiding?

Mohegan Sun: casino gambling debt case

Miami Beach media mogul embroiled in casino gambling debt case

A court has ruled that Jerry Powers must pay back more than $1 million in credit extended to him at Connecticut’s Mohegan tribal casino, but Powers is appealing.

By James H. Burnett III

Jerry Powers, the Miami Beach-based media mogul who co-founded Ocean Drive magazine and currently runs luxury media network Plum TV, appears to have crapped out in a court battle with a Connecticut casino.

The Mohegan Sun casino has won a civil judgment against Powers for $1.2 million it says Powers was extended in May 2009 as a line of credit so he could gamble there, according to Chuck Bunnell, a casino spokesman.

The ruling granted the Mohegan Sun authority to seize Powers’ assets to satisfy the debt.

Since Powers, 64, has filed to appeal the court ruling, any seizure of assets have been temporarily halted.

Powers could not be reached for comment.

Bunnell declined to comment further, citing the casino’s policy of keeping mum on pending litigation.

During the initial civil trial, the Mohegan Sun’s attorneys accused Powers of cancelling one check he wrote to the casino. says Powers took out the gambling marker with the casino so that he could play Blackjack one May evening nearly two years ago.

According to the website, Powers has not disputed that he borrowed the money. Rather, he has argued that he was intoxicated the evening in question and took out the gambling marker under duress. He also argued that Connecticut state courts don’t have the jurisdiction to enforce the deal, since the transaction was made on Native American tribal land.

But New London Superior Court Judge Robert Leuba shot down Powers’ jurisdiction defense and signed off on the seizure of his assets.

Powers is best known as the co-founder and former publisher of Ocean Drive magazine, the Miami Beach-base publication that has featured profiles of the rich and famous. He sold the business in late 2007 for more than $33 million to Niche Media, and stayed with the company for two years as an executive before parting ways.

Last year, he launched Plum TV, a broadcast and Web network that targets the same audience as Ocean Drive, in addition to other hot spots, such as high-end markets, including Aspen, Co., Martha’s Vineyard, and The Hamptons.

Presque Isle and Parx Fined

Gaming Control Board Fines Casinos $72,000 For Violations

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today fined Presque Isle Downs, Inc., operator of Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie County, $52,000 for three instances of permitting underage persons onto the gaming floor and for permitting a patron on the Self-Excluded List to play slot machines and collect a jackpot.

Additionally, Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment, Inc., operator of Parx Casino in Bucks County, received a fine of $20,000 for removing slot machines without the proper authorization by the Gaming Control Board.

The Board unanimously approved a consent agreement negotiated by the Office of Enforcement Counsel for the 2010 violations at Presque Isle Downs. While it was the first violation involving a self-excluded person at the Summit Township casino, it had been fined by the Board on one other occasion, $15,000 in October 2010 for two incidents involving underage gambling.

It is also not the first fines levied by the Board for violations by casinos of the self-exclusion regulations. Since December 2009, the board has fined three other casinos a total of $75,000 for 8 other violations involving self-excluded persons.

The three violations involving underage patrons resulted in fines of $47,000. These included:

•August 7, 2010 - a 20-year-old male accessed the gaming floor and wagered on slot machines for approximately 35 minutes.
•October 13, 2010 - a 20-year-old female accessed the gaming floor for approximately two hours and 30 minutes.
•November 24, 2010 - a 19-year-old male accessed the gaming floor and wagered on slot machines for approximately one hour and 15 minutes and consumed alcoholic beverages.

The self-exclusion violation resulted in a $5,000 fine, occurred on May 21, 2010, 13 months after an individual was placed on the PGCB's Self-Exclusion list for 1-year but prior to him requesting removal. The PGCB's Self-Exclusion Program, established in late 2006, permits problem gamblers to ban themselves from gambling at Pennsylvania casinos for 1-year, 5-years or a lifetime. Individuals are not automatically removed from the list once the term of the exclusion ends, but must request removal by the Board. Until that time, the person remains on the list and cannot gamble at a Pennsylvania casino.

Once a person is placed on the Self-Exclusion list, gaming facilities in the Commonwealth must:

•Refuse wagers from and deny any gaming privileges to a self-excluded person;
•Deny check cashing privileges, player club membership, complimentary goods and services, junket participation and other similar privileges and benefits to a self-excluded person;
•Ensure that self-excluded persons do not receive junket solicitations, targeted mailings, telemarketing promotions, player club materials or other promotional materials relating to gaming activities at its licensed facility; and,
•Notify the Pennsylvania State Police of violations of the ban. A self-excluded individual who violates the ban will be subject to arrest and charged with trespass.

Currently, more than 2,200 individuals have self-excluded from Pennsylvania casinos.

In this instance at Presque Isle, the individual played slot machines for approximately 40 minutes and was paid a jackpot of $2,001.20. He then played slot machines for 20 more minutes. Only later did Presque Isle personnel notice the jackpot payment was to a self-excluded person. The casino subsequently reported the error to the PGCB's Bureau of Casino Compliance.

The fine against Greenwood Gaming stemmed from a violation of the Gaming Act wherein 10 slot machines were moved without proper authorization. The board imposed a $2,000 per machine fine, and Parx agreed to institute preventive measures to prevent this type of violation from occurring again.

In Ohio: Penn National whines for taxpayer handout

The Gambling Industry spent buckets of cash in Ohio, convincing voters to approve the folly of Predatory Gambling as Salvation for all ills.

From: Casino Opposition
After Ohio voters said NO to casino gambling 4 times, $50 million was spent to persuade them otherwise. Who would think their money was wasted?

This bears watching for the lessons to be learned.

Penn National was part of a $50 million campaign in this state to persuade voters to approve the casino.

Sometimes, Greed and Lies know no bounds!

Kasich cancels check to casino
Transportation bill rider prevents Penn National from getting $2.5 million
By Joe Hallett

The Kasich administration has blocked Penn National Gaming from getting about $2.5 million from the state that it was counting on to help clean up the site of the West Side casino it plans to open late in 2012.

A two-year, $7 billion state transportation budget sent to Gov. John Kasich yesterday thwarts Penn National's attempt to use Clean Ohio money in cleaning up the site of the former Delphi auto-parts plant near W. Broad Street and I-270.

An amendment prohibiting the Ohio Department of Development or other entities from using state assistance for casinos, or other gambling sites such as racetracks, was included in the transportation budget approved by the Senate on Tuesday and ratified by the House yesterday.

Rob Nichols, spokesman for Gov. John Kasich, said the administration requested the amendment because it thinks casinos have sufficient resources and don't need help from the state's taxpayers.

"The administration believes that the casinos do not need any additional development incentives in order to build these facilities," Nichols said.

The decision to deny the funds, he said, was not coordinated with the city of Columbus, which is involved in lawsuits with Penn National.

In January, the Franklin County commissioners voted to apply for $2.5million in state Clean Ohio funding for the 114-acre Delphi site, where Penn National is to build a 300,000-square-foot Hollywood Casino.

Dan Williamson, spokesman for Mayor Michael B. Coleman, said the city supported the application and he expressed surprise that the Kasich administration had moved to deny the money to Penn National.

"We support those funds, and we continue to support those funds for the Hollywood Casino," Williamson said.

The city agreed to back the Clean Ohio funding after Ohio voters in May 2010 moved the Columbus casino site out of the Arena District.

So far, Penn National has spent about $16 million cleaning up the Delphi site and about $ 4million on the Arena District site it owns and is seeking to sell.

"We've spent close to $20 million remediating two brownfield sites on our own dime," said Eric Shippers, senior vice president for Penn National.

Since Clean Ohio money cannot be spent on sites that already have been cleaned up, Shippers said, the transportation bill's denial of the money to the firm "may be sort of a moot question at this time."

Columbus has been involved in a stalemate with Penn National over annexation of the casino site. The city has refused to provide sewer and water services to the site unless it is annexed. The company has balked at annexation unless the city agrees to breaks on taxes and utility rates and other financial help.

While denying Penn National money it expected to receive, the transportation budget does provide about $5.5 million for the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Chairwoman Jo Ann Davidson told the six other commission members yesterday that the money should be available by April 1.

Davidson said about $250,000 would be available for the commission to begin hiring a staff, leasing office space and paying the members' $60,000-a-year salaries. Money for the commission, which will govern the state's four new casinos, had to be put in the transportation budget when it was discovered that no funds were available because of a legal oversight.

The commission will draw money as needed and pay it back to the state once its primary funding sources - casino license-application fees and an allocation of 3percent of the tax on gross casino revenue - start to flow.

Davidson said the commission hopes to hire an executive director within two months.

Chicopee Gambling Addict Steals for Mohegan Sun

Elizabeth Wilk pleads guilty to theft of $115,000 from Friends of Chicopee Library
By Buffy Spencer, The Republican

SPRINGFIELD - Elizabeth Wilk, former treasurer of the Chicopee Friends of the Public Library, on Tuesday pleaded guilty to stealing $115,198 from that group.

Wilk, 57, was also vice president of mortgage lending for Chicopee Savings Bank at the time, a position she no longer holds.

Jack St. Clair, Wilk's lawyer, said Wilk is a gambling addict, using the stolen money for scratch tickets and gambling at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.

Sentencing of Wilk is set for April 21 at 2 p.m. before Hampden Superior Court Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder.

Wilk, of 81 Orchard St., Chicopee, pleaded guilty to larceny over $250 by a single scheme and making false entries into corporate books (the books of the Friends group).

In an agreement with Hampden District Attorney Mark G. Mastroianni's office, Wilk agreed to plead guilty to a district attorney's complaint taken out Tuesday, which is a way of being charged without a grand jury indictment.

Assistant District Attorney James C. Orenstein told Kinder the crimes took place between Dec. 22, 2007, and Sept. 16, 2010.

The Chicopee Friends of the Public Library is a nonprofit organization formed in 1996 to raise money to support the library. Its main role is to assist librarians with funding requests and it often purchases equipment and helps fund programming.

The group, which has more than 200 members, pledged to raise $1.5 million to help build the new $9.3 million library, which opened on Front Street in 2004. Its “Raise the Roof” campaign far exceeded the goal, collecting nearly $2 million in donations.

Orenstein said the prosecution has agreed not to seek a longer sentence than 2 1/2 years to a county house of corrections on the larceny charge.

The prosecution is recommending probation on the false entries charge, with a condition of probation paying restitution for the embezzled money.

He said he may reduce the sentence recommendation for jail time, depending on how much restitution is paid before the sentencing.

Orenstein said Wilk maintained the books for the Friends group which had an operating account, savings acount and certificate of deposit. He said the bank became aware of irregularities in the Friends accounts in September. When the Friends board of directors asked Wilk she said she knew nothing about it, and the next day hired a lawyer.

Wilk had taken out cash in relatively small withdrawals, Orenstein said, and as sole signatory on the accounts and also vice president at the bank she was not questioned about the number of withdrawals.

She would submit false reports to the board stating an amount of money in accounts that was not there, he said.

On Jan. 25 Wilk and St. Clair went to the District Attorney'soOffice and she admitted to the thefts, Orenstein said. He said Wilk said she planned to pay back the money when she won big, but ironically when she hit a scratch ticket for $140,000 she did not use the money to pay back the account because to do so would have revealed her embezzlement.

Wilk is free on her own recognizance awaiting sentence.