Meetings & Information


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Racing's Dead. Candor Required

Racing, whether horse or greyhound, is dead.

The transparent pretext of 'Gambling to Save Racing' is repeatedly revealed for the sham it is.

It couldn't be more clear than Florida:

House Approves Changes To Dog Track Gambling

TALLAHASSEE ( – The Florida House has approved a bill that would allow greyhound dog tracks to continue offer gambling without having to hold live dog racing.

The measure is opposed by dog breeders. The primary opposition has come from Republicans who said it will expand gambling at the tracks.

GOP representatives said that will increase a track’s poker and casino-like offering once they are free from having to host live dog racing.

Representative Dana Young sponsored the bill and said it didn’t make sense to force tracks to keep the money-losing business of dog racing going.

“It (HB 1455) will eliminate an artificial propping up of an industry,” Rep. Young said.

“All you’re doing is converting race tracks to card room casinos,” said Rep. Dennis Baxley who voted against the bill. “When you reduce racing, you increase gambling.”

Democrats, who have no power in the Florida Legislature, have taken to questioning why the GOP continues to focus on issues that have nothing to do with the job creation many of the Republican’s ran on in 2010.

“How many of those greyhound dogs are going to lose their jobs?” Rep. Dwayne Taylor asked in jest.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Gambling Addiction

Gambling Addiction [video available]

Maryland's two casinos may be generating millions as well as addictions.

Lesa Densmore, lived in a tent, food stamps, and welfare, all because of gambling.

Densmore is a recovering addict, and shared her story with teens in Timonium.

As many as 6% of teens have a gambling problem.

Densmore says, "Gambling is a major issue. As the economy gets worse, its going to get worse."

Densmore's message comes as Maryland opens it's door to gambling. Two of five proposed casinos are bringing in millions, but only a fraction will go to help problem gamblers.

Densmore believes "there is a gap between what we know and what we do."

She wants states to spend more money tackling the symptoms of gambling, to prevent others from what she went through.

Gambling Addiction - Jeff Abell

Banker plundered account of pensioner with dementia

Ainsdale banker who plundered the account of pensioner faces jail over a string of new fraud crimes
Southport Visiter

A CALLOUS banker who plundered the account of a frail pensioner faces jail over a string of new fraud crimes, the Visiter can reveal.

Ainsdale man Alex Cunningham, 31, was jailed for three and a half years in 2006 after stealing £270,000 from Doris Galloway, then 84, to feed his gambling addiction.

But the former Merchant Taylors’ pupil is set to be sent back to prison after committing a fresh raft of offences upon his release.

Over four months, Cunningham fleeced his girlfriend’s bank account while she was away, blowing cash on online gambling sites using her credit card.

He also used her Ford Fiesta car without permission, driving it without insurance over a four month period.

Cunningham, who gave a Walton address at Liverpool Crown Court, pleaded guilty to six charges of false representation and fraud between February and June 2010.

He admitted gambling cash at online bookmakers William Hill and Gibraltar-based firm, Bwin.

And he also committed fraud by taking out a £400 loan in his girlfriend’s name, while using her account to repay another.

Cunningham was told to expect a prison term when he appears at Liverpool Crown Court for sentencing on Tuesday. He has already pleaded guilty.

Described by police as a "very arrogant man", Cunningham was jailed for raiding Mrs Galloway’s account while working at the HSBC bank in Lord Street between 2003 and 2004.

He discovered that the wealthy pensioner had no family and that her husband was in poor health.

Cunningham, then of Liverpool Road, would call at her home and run errands for her and soon started opening and closing accounts without her knowledge, transferring cash between them and even crediting loans to her accounts.

He was found guilty of 34 offences, including theft, false accounting and obtaining a money transfer by deception.

During the time he stole the money, Cunningham had accounts with an online betting company and casinos.

He even staked more than £1,000 on an American football match hours after he was released on police bail following his arrest.

The bank caught him when he transferred £50,000 from its unclaimed balance account into her high interest savings account.

Sentencing him, Judge Bryn Holloway said he had used his education and talents to cheat and deceive Mrs Galloway.

He told Cunningham: "The fact you were addicted to gambling may well explain, but cannot in any way excuse what you did.

"It was callous in the extreme."

Mrs Galloway, now 90, suffers dementia and is reliant on Southport care provider Community Care Direct. Her medical condition rendered her too poorly to speak to the Visiter.

A spokesman said: "Mrs Galloway is a very, very frail lady. To be informed of something like this could be so detrimental to her health. It is something that could take her over the edge."

Cunningham will be sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday, May 3. For a full report, see next week’s Visiter.

Gambling addict hopes to inspire others to seek help

Gambling addict hopes to inspire others to seek help
Written by Andy Fitzpatrick
The Enquirer

The subject of gambling addiction will feature one substance abuse counselor and others hoping those in the area who need treatment will seek it out.

Don Horner, a licensed psychologist with Psychological Consultants of Michigan, said Tuesday the visit from recovering gambling addict Peter Harrington will benefit others by allowing them to hear another's story of struggle.

Harrington, a former lawyer who is active in 12-step recovery programs for gambling addiction, will speak at the Alano Club of Battle Creek, 1125 W. Territorial Rd., Battle Creek, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

"The line is, 'We're as sick as our secrets,'" Horner said.

Hearing someone else talk about what a gambling addict struggles with, he said, can be enough to spur them to get help.

Roy Tooke, president of the Alano Club Board of Directors, said Tuesday there is a need for a Gamblers Anonymous group in Battle Creek, but there's been difficulty starting one.

"It's not that there aren't people to do it," he said. "It just appears to me that they just don't stay clean long enough to actually lead it."

The premise of a treatment group, he said, relies on someone with the actual problem leading the group.

"I don't have that problem; I can't start that group," he said.

Horner had a list of 20 questions people concerned about gambling addiction should ask themselves. The list was provided by Gamblers Anonymous. Horner requires anyone he counsels on gambling addiction to attend G.A. meetings.

"Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?" and "Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?" are just two of the questions.

Horner said anyone asking themselves these questions should seek help if they answer "yes" to just seven of them.

Gamblers in the area have plenty of opportunities to indulge themselves. State lottery tickets are found in most convenience stores. FireKeepers Casino is near Battle Creek, and Mount Pleasant, Detroit and Wayland all have their own gaming establishments.

Even the workplace is a potential location for gambling.

"Nobody complains if it's an office pool," Horner said. "They would if you brought in something to drink, but somehow it's OK to have a little office pool betting on when somebody's going to have a baby."

The Internet is also a source of gambling, and is particularly worrisome for those with an addiction, according to Tooke. That's because it can be done at home with nothing more than an

Internet connection and a credit card.

Still, he said, people shouldn't pick out one form of gambling to demonize and Horner added that casinos are more likely to draw in people already addicted, rather than create new addicts.

"I go to the casino," Tooke said, referring to FireKeepers. "I may go out there five or six times a year. I enjoy the casino being in the community."

FireKeepers spokesman Mike Facenda told the Enquirer in 2010 that the casino has a self-eviction program in place, allowing people who believe they have a gambling problem to effectively ban themselves from the casino. FireKeepers is also associated with the Michigan Association on Problem Gambling.

According to a 2006 study conducted by the Michigan Department of Community Health, the most common form of gambling was lottery, at 50 percent. It was followed by casinos at 34 percent, charitable events at about 25 percent and office pools at about 24 percent.

Fraudster calls police on himself

Fraudster calls police on himself
Tony Spears, QMI Agency

OTTAWA - A fraudster couldn't bring himself to go through with a plan to rob the bowling alley he'd already ripped off for $30,000, so he turned himself in to police.

Michael Gignac, 41, was given a six-month conditional sentence and two years of probation on Thursday after pleading guilty to fraud over $5,000.

Gignac's gambling addiction led him to steal $31,075 from Laurentian Lanes Ltd., a chain of alleys that includes Vanier's McArthur Lanes.

The money disappeared in a hurry so he hatched a plan to fake a burglary in April 2010. But after Gignac cut the cables to the surveillance cameras, he could sin no more and told police all.

The landscaper has already put aside $2,000 to be paid to Laurentian Lanes and will make restitution in full to the tune of $200 each month.

Victim Howard Grundman was nevertheless irked, using his victim impact statement to allege Gignac stole beer and food, and had fraudulently transferred ownership of his home in 2009 -- almost a year before the fraud took place -- to avoid repaying more money sooner.

He also asked the court to ramp up Gignac's monthly repayments, but Judge Lise Maisonneuve accepted the joint sentencing position because he turned himself in and is in counselling for his addiction.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Abramoff Redux

Jack Abramoff's name and surrounding convictions periodically surface as reminders of the Middleboro/Mashpee Wampanoag/Glenn Marshall connection. The recent article below provides a quick summary:

Convictions in the Abramoff corruption probe
By The Associated Press

Lawmakers, lobbyists, Bush administration officials, congressional staffers and others caught up in the Jack Abramoff public corruption probe:

_Abramoff was sentenced in September 2008 to four years in prison on charges of mail fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion. Since pleading guilty in 2006, the once-powerful lobbyist has cooperated with the federal investigation of influence-peddling in Washington. He was sentenced to a six-year prison sentence in a criminal case out of Florida, where he pleaded guilty in January 2006 to charges of conspiracy, honest services fraud and tax evasion in the purchase of gambling cruise boats. He was released to a halfway house in June 2010, then home confinement and worked at a pizzeria until late last year.

_David Safavian, the former chief procurement officer in the administration of President George W. Bush, was sentenced in October 2009 to a year in prison after being found guilty in a retrial in December 2008 for lying to investigators about his relationship with Abramoff, who provided gifts in return for information from Safavian about government property the lobbyist wanted to acquire. Safavian's 2006 conviction on similar charges was overturned on appeal. The U.S. Court of Appeals heard arguments in his appeal of his second set of convictions on Oct 22.

_Kevin Ring, an ex-lobbyist who worked for Abramoff, was convicted Nov. 15 of bribing public officials with expensive meals and exclusive event tickets. An earlier jury could not agree on a verdict in October 2009 on charges that Ring showered tickets and meals on employees of then-Republican Reps. John Doolittle of California and Ernest Istook of Oklahoma and the Justice Department in return for congressional appropriations and other assistance for Abramoff's clients. The second trial found the 40-year-old former Republican congressional aide guilty of conspiracy, honest services fraud and giving an illegal gratuity to an aide of former Attorney General John Ashcroft. He's facing a third trial on obstruction of justice counts.

_Former Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, served a prison term and was released in August 2008. He acknowledged taking bribes from Abramoff. Ney was in the traveling party on an Abramoff-sponsored golfing trip to Scotland that was at the heart of the case against Safavian.

_Former Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles, the highest-ranking Bush administration official convicted in the scandal, was sentenced to 10 months in prison for obstructing justice. He admitted lying to a Senate committee about his relationship with Abramoff, who repeatedly sought Griles' intervention at Interior on behalf of Indian tribal clients.

_John Albaugh, former chief of staff to ex-Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the House. Albaugh admitted in federal court in Washington that he accepted meals and sports and concert tickets, along with other perks, from lobbyists in exchange for official favors. He was sentenced to five years' probation with four months in a halfway house.

_Robert E. Coughlin II, a Justice Department official, pleaded guilty to conflict of interest. He admitted in federal court in Washington that he accepted meals, concert tickets and luxury seats at Redskins and Wizards games from Ring, while helping the lobbyist and his clients. In November 2009, a U.S. District judge said Coughlin did not deserve prison time for his actions.

_Italia Federici, co-founder of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, was sentenced to two months in a halfway house, four years on probation and a $74,000 fine after agreeing to help federal investigators. She pleaded guilty to tax evasion and obstruction of a Senate investigation into Abramoff's relationship with Interior Department officials.

_Tony Rudy, lobbyist and one-time aide to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, pleaded guilty in March 2006 to conspiring with Abramoff. His sentencing is scheduled for May 3.

_Michael Scanlon, a former Abramoff business partner and DeLay aide, pleaded guilty in November 2005 to conspiring to bribe public officials through his lobbying work on behalf of Indian tribes and casino issues. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

_William Heaton, Ney's former chief of staff, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge involving a golf trip to Scotland, expensive meals, and tickets to sporting events between 2002 and 2004 as payoffs for helping Abramoff's clients. He cooperated with investigators and was sentenced to two years' probation and a $5,000 fine.

_Neil Volz, a former chief of staff to Ney who left government to work for Abramoff, was sentenced to two years of probation, 100 hours of community service and a $2,000 fine after pleading guilty to conspiring to corrupt Ney and others with trips and other aid.

_Mark Zachares, former aide to Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, pleaded guilty to conspiracy. He acknowledged accepting tens of thousands of dollars' worth of gifts and a golf trip to Scotland from Abramoff's team in exchange for official acts on the lobbyist's behalf. He was sentenced to four years' probation and 12 weekends in jail.

Republicans Sen. Kit Bond and Rep. Roy Blunt, pleaded guilty to not reporting $4,100 in gifts from lobbyists in return for helping clients of Abramoff and his associates. Among the gifts were tickets to the World Series and concerts, plus meals and entertainment at a "gentleman's club." His sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

_James Hirni, a former Republican Senate aide and one-time Abramoff associate, pleaded guilty to using wire communications to defraud taxpayers of congressional aides' honest services. Hirni acknowledged providing Blackann with meals, concert passes and tickets to the opening game of the 2003 World Series between the Florida Marlins and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

_Todd Boulanger, a former Abramoff deputy, pleaded guilty to lavishing congressional aides with meals and tickets to sporting events, concerts and the circus in exchange for help with legislation favorable to his clients. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

_Ann Copland, a former aide to Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, pleaded guilty to taking more than $25,000 worth of concert and sporting event tickets in return for helping one of Abramoff's top clients, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. She was sentenced to 75 days in a halfway house and 75 days of home detention and placed on probation for two years.

_Roger Stillwell, a former Interior Department official, was sentenced to two years on probation in January 2007 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge for not reporting hundreds of dollars' worth of sports and concert tickets he received from Abramoff.

_Former Abramoff business partner Adam Kidan was sentenced in Florida in March 2006 to nearly six years in prison for conspiracy and fraud in the 2000 purchase of the Fort Lauderdale-based SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet.

_Horace Cooper, a former Labor Department official and one-time aide to former Republican Rep. Dick Armey pleaded guilty in April 2010 to falsifying a document when he did not report receiving gifts from Abramoff and Volz in 2003. He was placed on probation for three years.

_Fraser Verrusio, a former aide to Young, was found guilty of conspiracy and accepting an illegal gratuity for taking a trip to the first game of the 2003 World Series in New York with a corporate official and lobbyist who picked up the tab. He also was found guilty of making a false statement for failing to report the trip on his House financial disclosure form. His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 8.

The Importance of Monthly Statements

One way to discourage compulsive gambling

The state House Gaming Oversight Committee on April 6 approved a bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Clymer, a Republican from Bucks County, on a 14-11 vote, and it now goes to the full House for consideration.

Clymer's House Bill 587 would make our gaming operators send casino monthly statements to their patrons whom they're tracking through their rewards card programs. This legislation has been put forth in the last four sessions and has been the only legislation since our gaming law passed in 2004 that addresses the compulsive casino gambling problem before, not after, one has the problem.

I am a former compulsive casino gambling degenerate, and I would like to share with you why monthly statements are important.

Pennsylvanians are being affected in a negative way because our casinos are operating with no consumer protection. There are many who don't believe this, so I'm going to prove that there is no consumer protection by listing the provisions that our gaming law provides that address the compulsive casino gambling problem.

First, the state allocates millions of dollars annually for the prevention and awareness of compulsive gambling. These millions of dollars are spent on things like 1-800-GAMBLER, a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week telephone hotline that provides crisis counseling, plus TV commercials and brochures that reveal the ill effects of becoming casino gambling addicts. There's also the self-exclusion program for those who become addicted.

These provisions address the compulsive casino gambling problem after, not before, one has the problem.

Our casino operators say they don't want to send these monthly statements because no other state makes their casinos send them. They say statements are already available and that anyone who requests one gets one free of charge from a casino in Pennsylvania. They bring up the privacy issue and the cost to send the statements.

It shouldn't be a problem when it comes to the cost because it could be incorporated with all of the other promotional mail that rewards cardholders receive. They also could be sent by email. And to keep the cost down, the statements would be sent only when there is activity on the card.

I'm confused about the privacy argument because other businesses send monthly statements that track our spending. And it's true you can request your gaming activity statement free of charge from a casino in Pennsylvania, but by the time a rewards card patron would do such a thing, in many cases, it could be too late. Now the reason why no other state makes their casinos send statements is the same reason why casino monthly statements have yet to become part of our gaming law. In other words, it's all about the money.

The casino monthly statements would not only help prevent present and future casino gamblers from becoming casino gambling addicts, but they would also make our casino operators more adept at intervening when their patrons are excessively gambling six, seven, eight, nine or up to 15 to 24 hours nonstop, week after week, and constantly losing thousands of dollars.

I believe when people see their gaming activity, including their losses, in black and white month after month, it could help to prevent them from crossing that line that separates those who can gamble in a casino responsibly and those who can't.

Every industry that tracks your financial transactions sends you a monthly statement. So where is the harm in making our casino operators mail them, especially since this system is already in place? I can't imagine that there is anyone whose loved ones have chosen to gamble in our casinos and are enrolled in the casino rewards programs, not wanting them to be receiving casino monthly statements.

If we do nothing today to stop these casinos from breeding casino junkies, then be prepared to face the same ill effects that we have been addressing since the 1960s when the youth of America started entertaining themselves with drugs.

Bill Kearney, who resides in Philadelphia, is a former compulsive casino gambler who has educated Pennsylvanians on the pitfalls of gambling.

Gambling's Dirty Little Secret

When a Business Model is erected based on creating New Gamblers and the financial success is dependent on creating Gambling Addicts, is it truly a 'moral issue' ?

It is known that Gambling Addicts have the lowest rate of self-referral and the highest rate of SUICIDE.

When we allow ourselves to be blinded by the false promises of overstated jobs and exaggerated revenues and ignore the clearly defined Business Model, how does that define our priorities?

Ken Lum tells of father's devastating gambling addiction, as moral issues surface at casino hearings

Jenny Uechi

Moral questions surrounding gambling surfaced repeatedly in today's public hearing on casino expansion. Councillors pressed casino proponents hard, eliciting some surprising answers from casino expansion proponents.

"Why have only the employees come out in favour of the expansion so far?" Councillor David Cadman asked an Edgewater employee. "Why have almost no patrons have come to speak in favour of an expanded casino at BC Place?"

Alan Stokes, an Edgewater employee, said there was a “public perception” was that gambling was seen as a bad thing by society and admitted that he did not discuss his job with his children.

“I have two children, 11 and 13, and I haven’t told them that I work in a casino,” he said. “It’s not because I’m embarrassed of my job,” he quickly added. “But the legal gambling age is 19, and I don’t think I need to tell them about it now.”

Stokes said that he was himself a gambler, and that while he had it under control, felt he could make more money from casinos as a casino employee.

As councillor Woodsworth's question about public perception of gambling led to a discussion about churches' long opposition to gambling, Mayor Gregor Robertson interrupted the conversation, saying the hearing was to be focused on rezoning.

The issue, however, surfaced repeatedly in different words throughout the hearing, coming to a head when Paul Smith, director of corporate social responsibility at BCLC began to speak. After his statement that BCLC "neither glamorizes nor condemns” gambling, councillor Heather Deal brought up an image of River Rock Casino’s racy “party pit" ad on her screen, showing an image of a scantily-clad young woman with Photoshopped clothes.

Deal asked if BCLC considered the ad “socially responsible,” prompting Smith to reply that the ads were created by the marketing department.

Artist Ken Lum said the casino issue prompted him to speak for the first time publicly about his father's addiction to gambling.

"I've seen first hand what happens when family members become addicted to gambling," he said, noting that he had emailed all the councillors about his personal experience with gambling. Lum then spoke of his mother's beating at the hands of his father's loansharks, and the women in the Chinese community who he said are working double shifts to work off debts "My life is fine now, but my father's still addicted to gambling...he still calls me up for money," he said, with some difficulty.

"It's largely hidden. It's a source of shame, especially in the Chinese community," Lum said, echoing speakers at the Saturday hearing who said that gambling disproportionately affects the Chinese community. "The only way to pay for this is moms working double shifts...and getting beat up by the predators."

Despite the strong showing of Edgewater casino employees in yellow T-shirts coming to speak and show their support, the hearings today seemed to be dominated by personal stories about family tragedies and secrets, followed by appeals for Council to consider the moral implication of approving a new gambling facility.

Vancouver resident Brad Zembie talked about a young family member who had committed suicide by immolation to protest his parents' gambling addiction, while another resident talked about a friend who was killed as a result of loan-sharking activity, leaving behind a school-age child.

Golden West Casino Patrons Shoot Cab Driver

2 Accused Of Shooting Cab Driver In Head
Men Arrested On Attempted Murder Charges
Crosby Shaterian - 23ABC

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Bakersfield police said a cab driver was shot in the head, and now they have arrested two men who they believe are connected to the shooting. . Sgt. Mary DeGeare with the Bakersfield Police Department said that about 2:10 a.m. Tuesday, a call was received regarding a shooting at Second and U streets.

Police said Zamora picked up two men at Golden West Casino and began to take them to the area of Second and U streets.

During the ride, the men attempted to rob Zamora at gunpoint, police said.

Police said the men shot Zamora in the head and fled the area.

Zamora described the men to officers, and surveillance video was obtained from the casino.

The surveillance video photos were distributed among the Crimes Against Persons detail, and on Tuesday at about noon, Detective Dennis Murphy spotted both men at the Greyhound bus station.

One was detained there and the other left in a cab but was detained a short distance away.

Jeffrey Allen Rector, 27 and Adrian Lyons, 23, both of Los Angeles, were arrested on charges of attempted murder, attempted robbery and conspiracy.

Gambling Addiction Drains Bank Account, Nearly Destroys Life

Gambling Addiction Drains Bank Account, Nearly Destroys Life
A South Florida woman describes how her addiction to gambling led to the loss of nearly $50,000, the loss of a home, and almost her life.

Cape Cod Illegal Gambling Corruption

From Frederica Cade's blog, was this seemingly innocuous release:

PRESS RELEASE: Cape Cod Gambling Group Charged with Illegal Gambling and Obstructing a State Law Enforcement Investigation

The Boston Globe offered:
3 to plead guilty in gambling ring
DA O’Keefe denies link to Cape operation
By Milton J. Valencia

An investigation into illegal gambling on Cape Cod that triggered a wider federal probe of alleged public corruption involving Cape and Islands District Attorney
[Republican] Michael D. O’Keefe has resulted in charges against three members of an alleged gambling ring. All three are now cooperating with authorities and have agreed to plead guilty, according to documents unsealed yesterday

The Globe, citing people with direct knowledge of the investigation, reported in April 2010 that the State Police probe of Hart had sparked a federal investigation of O’Keefe. The investigation was launched after a relative of Hart’s made a comment on a wiretap that suggested the district attorney may have protected illegal gamblers in the past

Delving further, the plot thickens with additional information, worth consideration:

From CapeCodToday:
DA O'Keefe denies he's a crook

The DA's New Clothes, or, McCowen Unbound
Everything you always wanted to know about the Christa Worthington murder,
But couldn't get District Attorney Michael O'Keefe to tell us
By Walter Brooks

The comments are interesting as well. This bears watching as it unfolds.

Ex-Ledyard mayor talks of lessons learned about casinos

In Maine, ex-Ledyard mayor talks of lessons learned about casinos

Lewiston (Maine) Sun-Journal

Paris, Maine — The former mayor of Ledyard, Conn., home to Foxwoods Resort Casino, told Oxford County commissioners Tuesday that local officials must have a deal on the table that economically benefits the area before letting a casino come to Oxford.

“We were just caught dead. You have no idea how much that has cost our town ... millions, and it is on the backs of taxpayers” said Susan Mendenhall, who served four years as Ledyard’s mayor and eight on the town council.

Mendenhall appeared at the commissioners’ monthly meeting with Dennis Bailey of CasinosNo!, the group opposed to a proposed $184 million casino resort in Oxford County. The gambling facility is proposed for land near Oxford Plains Speedway on Route 26 in Oxford, a town of about 5,000. It would include 300 hotel rooms, several restaurants and a regional conference center with 10,000 to 20,000 square feet of space on at least 25 acres.

Voters will decide in a statewide referendum Nov. 4 whether to allow a casino in Oxford County.

Proponents of Las Vegas-based Olympia Gaming’s proposal for Oxford say it would create about 1,300 jobs with a $39 million payroll over five years. Revenue is projected to be $96 million in the first year, 2010, and more than $164 million by 2014, with Oxford County to get 1 percent of that and the town to get $2.3 million to $3.5 million a year.

“We were very disappointed in the economic spinoff. It just hasn’t come,” Mendenhall told commissioners. “When you bring in a development like this, it’s all about the money.”

Ledyard, a community of about 15,000 residents in the southeastern part of Connecticut, is host to the world’s largest casino with 340,000 square feet of gaming space in a complex that covers 4.7 million square feet. It began as a high-stakes bingo hall in 1986 by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and has about 40,000 guests per day, according to the Foxwoods Web site.

Mendenhall said the impact from the casino on local services such as fire, police and particularly the school system has been significant.

More than 200 misdemeanor summonses and 100 warnings are written each month, and one out of every three tickets is for an out-of-town visitor, she said. The police and fire departments had to increase their ranks despite there being no corresponding residential population increase, she said.

Although the casino jobs allowed some local residents to “keep their houses,” Mendenhall said that because the area could not support the number of jobs the casino was looking to fill, it brought in workers from outside the country. That affected the town, which did not have the affordable housing to support workers who are paid minimum wage or just above minimum wage, she said. As a result, some families were doubling up and living in single-housing units, she said.

Schools were significantly affected because of the influx of workers to the area, she said. One elementary school now services children with 16 different dialects, which she said has placed an “enormous burden” on teachers and staff.

Mendenhall said crime, particularly guns and drugs, is on the rise along with another crime which she declined to name but added, “You all know what that is and it will come.”

Emergency dispatch calls for police, fire and medical help have risen from about 3,000 to 15,000 a year since the casino was built, she said.

Ledyard Town Planner Brian Palaia backed up Mendenhall’s assertions in a telephone interview Tuesday, saying the only thing the community has seen in economic growth is a new Dunkin’ Donuts and a hotel that was built by the casino.

Because Foxwoods casino was built on Native American land, the town gets no property taxes from the site, but it does see about $400,000 a year in property taxes from the hotel that is not on reservation land.

“Everything is internal, Palaia said. There was no need for off-site business expansion because the casino meets all of its customers’ needs within the casino property.

In addition to the former mayor’s information, Bailey provided the commissioners with a 20-page report in response to an economic study given to the commissioners two weeks ago by the casino promoters. In the report by Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, the writer contended the proposed casino would bring in between $89 million and $100 million in gross revenues.

Bailey said the report generated by casino proponents did not show whether money spent at the Oxford casino would represent a new source of revenue or whether it was money that would be spent in the local and regional economy regardless of whether there was a casino.

“Just don’t go into it blind. That’s all I can tell you,” Mendenhall said.

“If it passes, we’re going to sit down at the table and do our own negotiations,” Oxford Town Manager Michael Chammings said after the meeting.

Copyright 2008 The Bulletin. Some rights reserved

Wynn breaks ties with indicted gambling site

Wynn breaks ties with indicted gambling site
Federal prosecutors alleged last week that the founders of PokerStars and two other big gambling sites are breaking various laws, prompting a distancing by Wynn Resorts.

By Daniel Massey

Wynn Resorts has severed ties with, less than a month after a ballyhooed partnership between the two gambling giants was formed to lobby for the legalization of Internet gaming.

The move follows the unsealing of an indictment last week by federal prosecutors in New York, which alleged the founders of PokerStars and two other firms took part in a criminal scheme to trick or bribe banks to assure the flow of billions in illegal gambling profits.

In a statement, Wynn Resorts said the decision to end the short-lived partnership with PokerStars “was reached as a result of the indictment unsealed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.”

In announcing the alliance last month, Wynn Chief Executive Steve Wynn had said it was time for the jobs and tax dollars produced by Internet gambling to “come home” to the U.S. The two companies had plans to launch if their lobbying effort succeeded.

Wynn Resorts had made waves in New York City in 2009 when it sought a lucrative contract to build a slots parlor at Aqueduct Racetrack. But the firm withdrew from that competition over frustration with the process, and the contract eventually went Genting New York, part of a Malaysian-owned casino conglomerate.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Husband, wife in NJCU SGO theft sentenced

Husband, wife in NJCU SGO theft sentenced to total of 7 1/2 years by judge who says wife had reason to fear him

NEWARK - A former office manager at New Jersey City University and her husband were sentenced to a total of seven and a half years in prison yesterday and ordered to pay back more than $500,000 in restitution for stealing money from the college's student government organization.

Shaunette Ruffin-Moody, 49, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William J. Martini to 18 months in prison for her part in the scheme. Her husband, Alexander Moody, 52, - characterized as the "mastermind of the plot" by prosecutors - was sentenced to six years.

Kimberly Jackson, 39, a third co-conspirator, received three years probation and was ordered to pay $34,315 in restitution at $100 a month for fraudulent checks she admitted cashing.

All three co-conspirators are Jersey City residents and had previously pleaded guilty.

With her voice trembling, Ruffin-Moody said yesterday she was remorseful and had made a "tragic mistake."

"I am certain when she is released she will make the judge very proud of her," her attorney, Alan Bowman of Newark Bowman, said after the court appearance. "She is a very decent woman who made a serious mistake."

Attorney Christopher Patella of Bayonne told the judge that his client, Alexander Moody, needed the money to feed a cocaine habit and gambling addiction.

Martini said Ruffin-Moody and Jackson had reason to fear Moody who served 12 years in prison after being sentenced in 1979 for a "spree of robberies" and was not released from parole until 2004 because of multiple parole violations.

Martini said the public needed protection from Moody who had failed to deal with his addictions and whose actions had ruined the lives of two "pretty good women" struggling "to make a go of it."

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Shaunette Ruffin-Moody used her position as the SGO office manager to steal funds from NJCU by cashing unauthorized checks drawn on the SGO bank account.

From Jan. 4, 2007 through July 21, 2010, Ruffin-Moody and her husband stole approximately 275 checks that were then fraudulently signed and made payable to, among others, the Moodys and co-conspirators Arsenio Willey, Curtis Shearer and Kimberly Jackson, officials said.

In order to conceal and perpetuate their crime, the Moodys falsified documents, transferred funds among SGO financial accounts, and obtained fraudulent audits of the SGO's finances.

Shearer pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge on March 29, 2011, and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 12, 2011. The charges against Willey remain pending.

Cost to treat Gambling Addiction: $5,800 per individual

Program pays for gambling addiction treatment

By Jan Biles
Most people consider gambling a source of entertainment and a chance at winning some money.

But for some Kansans, casting dice, playing the lottery or betting on horse races can become an addiction that depletes personal bank accounts, jeopardizes jobs, ruins relationship and increases destructive behaviors, such as criminal activity and suicide.

A 1999 National Prevalence Study revealed about 18,614 Kansans were pathological gamblers. Officials say that number likely has increased as television shows spotlight large winnings at poker tournaments and the number of casinos in the state grows.

"The chemical reaction in the brain when they are in the mode (of gambling) is the same as the chemical reaction in a cocaine addict," said Carol Spiker, coordinator of the Responsible Gambling Program for the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission.

"Gambling isn't necessarily about the money, but (about) an action,” she said. “If it was about the money, they would have quit years ago because the chance of winning money is so small."

Dena Dean, prevention/intervention specialist with Prevention and Recovery Services, said Kansas on Feb. 1 began offering treatment assistance to problem gamblers, their family members and concerned friends through the Kansas Problem Gambling and Addictions Grant Fund.

The assistance program is funded by a percentage of the money generated at Boot Hill Casino and Resort, a state-owned casino in Dodge City. State-owned casinos in Mulvane and at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., are expected to open in 2012. A portion of their revenues also will go to the program.

Dean said getting assistance begins with a call to the toll-free, confidential 24-hour Kansas Problem Gambling Help Line, (800) 522-4700. Problem gamblers who call the help line are referred to Gamblers Anonymous or a certified gambling counselor near their hometown for an evaluation to see if treatment is needed.

Similarly, family members and concerned friends of the problem gambler who call the help line are referred to Gam Anon or counselors who work with families dealing with addictions.

In both cases, the Kansas Problem Gambling and Addictions Grant Fund pays for the individual’s treatment. Spiker said the cost of gambling addiction treatment averages about $5,800 per individual.

"Historically, there has been no funding for this treatment, and most insurance (companies) won't cover it," she said. "(Treatment) helps them to begin understanding what addiction is and how to rebuild their lives."

Spiker estimates about 50 individuals will have received treatment through the assistance program by June 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

The incidence of problem gambling among youths, college students and military personnel is rising, Spiker said. Surveys indicate about 23 percent of college students report gambling weekly, and about 6.3 percent of military personnel experience at least one gambling-related problem in their lifetime.

Because of the stigma associated with gambling addiction, Spiker said, people are hesitant to seek help.

"We are starting to see more people reach out and hope people will access this new service," she said.

For more information, visit the Kansas Responsible Gambling Alliance website at

PROBLEM GAMBLING? The National Council on Problem Gambling defines problem gambling as "gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life psychological, physical, social or vocational." Here are some warning signs of problem gambling: Hides gambling losses from family members. Preoccupation with gambling. Borrows money to fund gambling. Talks only about wins, not losses. Withdraws from family and friends. Gambles as a way to escape from problems. Inability to stop or cut back on gambling. If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, call the toll-free, 24-hour Problem Gambling Help Line at (800) 522-4700.

Tuttle pleads guilty to wire fraud

Tuttle pleads guilty to wire fraud

MINNEAPOLIS — Former Freeborn County Commissioner Linda Tuttle pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to one charge of wire fraud, a felony.

U.S. District Court Judge David S. Doty accepted her plea and ordered a pre-sentence investigation.

Linda TuttleThe plea comes as part of an agreement between prosecutor Nancy E. Brasel of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Tuttle’s lawyer, Kevin O’Connor Green.

Tuttle was the business owner of Albert Lea Abstract between 2003 and 2010. She admitted in court Tuesday to taking funds from escrow accounts and diverting them to her own purposes. The police investigation said she spent the money to support her gambling addiction.

The prosecution and defense disagree on how much she spent. Her lawyer contends it was $920,000, while the government says it was $1.1 million. Green said the two sides will have to negotiate a final dollar amount based on claims.

He said the criminal case in federal had been waiting for a civil case to settle. That case was with Cincinnati Specialty Underwriters. It settled earlier this month.

Green said Tuttle has taken gambling-addiction treatment at Project Turnabout in Granite Falls. In an interview outside the courtroom, he said her father also suffered from gambling addition. He said prescription drugs to treat restless-legs syndrome that are said to have the side effects of compulsive behavior still play a factor in how a successful businesswoman and county leader could “just run off a cliff.”

“We have records of her running five slot machines at a time for an eight-hour stretch,” Green said.

He said many people might not see gambling addiction or other compulsive behaviors as a disease but said they fit the disease models. “Either way, it’s real.”

He said Tuttle’s willingness to work with the federal prosecutors shows she wants to do her best to rectify her wrongful deeds.

“Her acceptance of responsibility is a big deal,” Green said.

Tuttle, whose full name is Linda K. Tuttle-Olson, declined to comment. Her husband, Steve Olson, sat in the gallery behind her during the plea hearing.

Doty deemed Tuttle was neither a threat to flee nor a threat to society. She was processed through the U.S. Marshals then released on a $25,000 bond. Her pre-sentencing conditions require that she not travel out of Minnesota, that she not gamble and that she not accept employment that requires fiduciary responsibility.

The condition requires that she not possess firearms. Green pointed out to Doty that Olson has hunting weapons locked in a gun cabinet. Doty asked a probation officer what she determined to be not possessing firearms, and she said as long as Tuttle does not have the key and never gains entry the cabinet. Doty asked Olson about the key. He replied that he is the only person with a key and only person who knows where it is stored.

The plea agreement requires that Tuttle cannot withdraw her plea and cannot appeal. She surrenders the right to trial by a jury of her peers, the right to a speedy trial and the right to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Doty was careful to step Tuttle through these and other rights she waived Tuesday, often asking “Do you understand?” Tuttle responded with, “Yes, sir,” to each.

Finally, the judge — the very same one who is considered one of the most influential men in pro football — asked, “Do you think you are guilty of the charge that is in this case?”

“Yes, sir,” Tuttle said.

“How do you plead?”

“I plead guilty, sir.”

Doty has overseen NFL labor-relations rulings for 20 years, though not the recent lockout ruling that presently is in the news.

Wire fraud is devising a scheme to obtain funds with false premises using an electronic communication. Doing it over state lines makes it a federal crime. Brasel in court gave an account of one such crime from June 11, 2008.

Brasel said $206,000 was wired to Home Federal Bank in Albert Lea from a bank in Price, Utah, with $190,000 in escrow. She said Tuttle took $190,000 from the trust account and used it for herself.

Brasel asked Tuttle if this was true, and Tuttle said yes.

This means that she was already committing fraud while campaigning for Freeborn County commissioner that summer of 2008. She was elected in November of that year to a four-year term. She was arrested in June 2010 and spent two days in the Freeborn County jail. She was charged on the state level that month; those charges were amended in July 2010. She resigned as a county commissioner on Aug. 1, 2010.

Brasel said during a period between January and June 2010 she created a scheme to defraud Albert Lea Abstract escrow accounts by writing checks to cash and to herself, then kiting checks to cover the balance. Kiting checks is relying on the time it takes for banks to take a paper check and transfer it into actual funds.

“To cover that, she wired many by interstate wire,” Brasel said.

Then Brasel asked Tuttle, who was under oath, if this was true. Tuttle said it was.

At the start of the hearing, Tuttle waived the right to be indicted by a grand jury rather than by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The judge will decide if Tuttle, 60, faces prison time. A sentencing date has yet to be determined.

Brasel talked in terms of offense levels, which is part of the U.S. federal sentencing guidelines. Brasel said Tuttle will have a base offense level of 7. The number of victims and the amount of the money loss or gained are factors that would increase or decrease the offense level.

Brasel contended there were 40 victims. Green allowed there were more than 10. The prosecution also contended that Tuttle abused public and private trust, which would increase the offense level she ends up with. She could get a reduced level if she follows guidelines. Brasel said that Tuttle probably will fall into the 51-to-78-month range. She mentioned supervised release along with a fine.

Other fraud charges still remain in Freeborn County District Court, though those could change status depending on the outcome of the federal case.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ronnie Gilley broke all the rules ....

Ronnie Gilley broke all the rules of political corruption fight club
By John Archibald -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News

Ronnie Gilley's south Alabama gambling empire didn't last long.

All that audacity, all that brass and flash, gone.


Like a quarter in some bum slot machine.

But it's still hard to see Gilley as he sees himself. He said, in pleading guilty to 11 counts of conspiracy, bribery and money laundering Friday, that he was "somewhat naive" about corruption in Alabama politics.

Naive? Are you kidding?

Is that even possible from a guy who -- according to the indictment to which he copped a plea -- purchased votes with a buffet of illegal services and bought cell phones in other people's names just to throw the feds off his scent?

Naive? How can he even say that?

Because, like it or not, it's true.

Yeah. He may have been savvy enough to employ super-secret cell phone habits. But he was naive enough to explain the whole process to a legislator who turned out to be working for the government.

This is "a very, very safe line," he said -- on a federal wiretap. "I change the phone out every three days."


And that really does violate the first rule of Alabama politics, the first rule, really, of Political Corruption Fight Club. What's that rule?

Don't talk about Political Corruption Fight Club.

And, boy, Gilley talked.

In a phone call he promised campaign money "until the damn cows come home" to then-Rep. Benjamin Lewis of Dothan -- who was also working for the feds -- in exchange for support on gambling bills. Later, he warned Lewis not to vote against the bills, or "we'll do everything we can to take your ass out."

How many fight club rules can a guy break?

Never talk about money in the same conversation you ask a lawmaker for support.

Gilley did it.

Never talk numbers. Period. And never talk dollar figures to a politician.

Gilley did it.

Never call up people you just bribed, just to ask if they're still in.

Never promise anything.


And never, ever, act like you know more about the rules of Alabama politics than Milton McGregor.

And Gilley did it. Talk about naive.

Once, according to the indictment, Gilley scolded McGregor for failing to change his phone.

"They done tracked your phone ... you had it so long," he told McGregor. "You defeated the purpose about four months ago."

How did McGregor respond?

"I don't really care," he said.

And he didn't.

Because McGregor's words -- for the most part -- are not the ones coming back to haunt him.

Gilley is the one who crossed the invisible lines, who broke the subtle rules that have kept the wheels of corruption lubed in Montgomery for decades.

Which is why, frankly, his guilty plea and cooperation are so important to prosecutors who want to convict McGregor and the others.

Because they need someone, badly, who is just naive enough to talk about fight club.

And now they have him.

Another Guilty Plea?

This is one of the first interesting editorials since Gilley's guilty plea in the vote-buying scheme to pass gambling legislation --

Advertiser editorial: Another guilty plea

Another guilty plea in the ongoing federal probe of alleged bribery and corruption in the handling of pro-gambling legislation has made it undeniably clear that the legislative process was corrupt and tainted.
That does not mean that any or all of the remaining defendants in the case will be proven guilty. They deserve their day in court, and the government has the responsibility to prove their guilt.
But the guilty plea entered Friday by Country Crossing casino developer Ronnie Gilley effectively undermines past claims that the handling of the pro-gambling legislation was just politics as usual in the Legislature. Something clearly was amiss; now it just remains to be seen if others were involved and whether their involvement was illegal. (To see the guilty plea, go to and click on Opinion, then click on Read It for Yourself.)
Gilley told U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr., “I’m sorry. I’m wrong, and my plea is guilty.”
Gilley joins two lobbyists, Jarrod Massey and Jennifer Pouncy, in admitting they offered bribes for supportive votes by legislators on the gambling legislation. His plea comes after his legal team failed in getting FBI wiretaps of Gilley and indicted VictoryLand casino owner Milton McGregor tossed out of court.
It remains to be seen what effect Gilley’s guilty plea will have on the cases against the remaining defendants, who include several legislators.
The attorney for indicted state Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, said the plea agreement did not show his client had any direct contact with Gilley. He said that Ross is not guilty. Indicted state Sen. Harri Anne Smith, I-Slocomb, said Gilley’s plea deal did not change her plans to plead innocent. McGregor’s attorney said his client looks forward to showing he is innocent when he goes on trial June 6.
Gilley’s agreement to help the prosecution not only may affect the ongoing criminal cases, but also may possibly help to bring criminal actions against others. Prosecutors have indicated in earlier court filings that the criminal investigation is still ongoing.
Honest legislators should follow this case closely to see if legislative rules and ethics laws need to be changed to minimize the likelihood that future corruption will occur. The Legislature recently strengthened ethics laws, but ongoing revelations in this case may well show that further reforms need to be made. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Casino Next Door

Interesting article about a wholly unregulated business coming to a neighborhood near you --

The Casino Next Door
How slot machines snuck into the mall, along with money laundering, bribery, shootouts, and billions in profits

Gilley: politicians were "out for personal gain and to accommodate special interests."

Alabama casino owner pleads guilty to vote buying


Country Crossing casino developer Ronnie Gilley became the third person to plead guilty in Alabama's gambling corruption probe and admitted Friday that he worked with another indicted casino owner to offer millions to legislators to pass pro-gambling legislation.

Gilley's lobbyists, Jarrod Massey and Jennifer Pouncy, pleaded guilty earlier to offering millions in bribes for their client. Despite their pleas, Gilley had persisted in proclaiming his innocence until the judge recently refused to toss out information obtained through FBI wiretaps on the phones of Gilley and indicted VictoryLand casino owner Milton McGregor, who had a financial interest in Country Crossing.

The two casino owners tried to get the Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment last spring that would allow the games to resume, but the bill died in April 2010 when the FBI revealed it was investigating allegations of corruption. Gilley and McGregor were arrested in October along with four present and former legislators and several casino lobbyists.

In his signed plea, Gilley admitted, "The defendant and McGregor, and the lobbyists and other individuals working for them, gave, offered and agreed to give money and other things of value worth millions of dollars to members of the Alabama Legislature in return" for voting for the gambling legislation.

He pleaded to half of the 22 counts against him: one of conspiracy, six of bribery involving public officials and four of money laundering by using political action committees and other contributors to hide the payment of money.

Gilley admitted his illegal acts involved the four present and former legislators charged in the case.

Gilley told the judge that he was naive about politics when he started making plans for Country Crossing.

But he said he soon found politicians were "out for personal gain and to accommodate special interests."

Gilley said he persisted in developing Country Crossing and got caught up in corruption despite his best intentions.

"The closer I got to the flames, it seems I became engulfed by the fire instead of putting it out," he said.

Beacon Hill Crime, Corruption and Gambling Addiction

In the unfolding saga of another Beacon Hill scandal, Lally's disappearing funds certainly raise interesting questions that muddy the waters of the prosecution's zeal and require public disclosure.

Pre-trial clashes continue in DiMasi corruption case
By Milton J. Valencia, Globe Staff

Weinberg argued that the e-mails may show that Lally, who purportedly has a gambling problem and debts, had a financial interest in agreeing to cooperate, something that would impeach his credibility as a witness.

Wolf did, however, grant a separate request by Weinberg to subpoena the tax returns of Lally and his wife from 2006 to 2010. Weinberg said he had evidence showing Lally lied on his tax returns and the lawyer said he planned to use that evidence to impeach Lally’s credibility.

DiMasi defense targets former codefendant
Seeks records of associate who struck plea bargain
By Andrea Estes, Globe Staff

Weinberg would not say exactly what he is looking for, but the search terms, including “bankruptcy’’ and “forfeiture,’’ suggest he wants to determine what Lally did with the $2.8 million in commissions he netted on the two Massachusetts contracts. The public is footing the bill for Goldstein, after a federal judge found Lally could not afford to pay a lawyer himself.

Wave of brazen attacks sounds alarm at casino

Delaware crime: Wave of brazen attacks sounds alarm at casino
Officials worry robberies might scare away customers
By CRIS BARRISH, The News Journal

Jacob Orbon, a robust former steel plant manager, used to think nothing of parking at Delaware Park's football-field-sized lot and strolling into the casino to relax and play poker.

Not anymore.

Three recent robberies, including one inside a casino restroom, plus other similar crimes at the Stanton-area gambling hall during the last year have made Orbon venture there in what he calls "fear and trepidation."

Now he uses valet parking at the facility and keeps an eye out for suspicious people while hoping the the casino will improve security.

"The robberies are going to continue," said Orbon, who lives in Kennett Square, Pa. "It's much easier for a nefarious individual to knock me over at age 81 than it is to rob a gasoline station."

The recent attacks were brazen. A man with a box cutter robbed two female employees of their purses in the parking lot March 20. A woman hit a 76-year-old woman in a restroom and stole her wallet April 4. Two days later, a man threw an 85-year-old customer to the ground in the lot and took his wallet. Police made arrests in the first two robberies.

While all three Delaware casinos have the occasional fight, theft or robbery, state gaming enforcement officials are alarmed by the recent spate of violence at Delaware Park, whose casino also had a rape in 2007. Officials are concerned customers might start avoiding one of Delaware's cash cows -- the casino generated more than $103 million in revenue for the state in 2010 -- more than Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway.

Kelly said state troopers in his unit, who work undercover, won't be patrolling the lots at Delaware Park or any casino. They investigate fraud and cheating complaints and crimes inside the casinos after they occur. For the parking lots, his office is encouraging Delaware Park to hire off-duty troopers, who often work at sporting events and other private affairs, and to add security patrols.

State troopers based at nearby Prices Corner have been told to take a few spins in their marked cruisers around the casino and horse-racing track's three lots during each shift.

"We want to heighten the visibility," Sgt. Paul G. Shavack, a state police spokesman, said of police presence.

Delaware Park President Bill Fasy insists the recent crimes are isolated and that their customers, whom he calls an "older crowd," shouldn't be worried. About 8,000 gamblers visit the casino daily, he said.

"I can't control somebody that comes in and might be drinking, might be having a bad day and wants to take it out on somebody and are unscrupulous and wants to rob somebody," Fasy said.

The casino hasn't hired off-duty cops, but Fasy said security guards in yellow vests are now patrolling the three parking lots on foot to support guards who drive around in vehicles. The casino also provides security escorts to customers requesting one, he said.

Crime reports not compiled

Whether Delaware Park has more violence than Dover Downs or Harrington cannot be determined because state officials do not compile those statistics.

The nearly year-old gaming enforcement division, which has nine state troopers for all the casinos, tracks crimes such as thefts, cheating and underage gambling, but does not investigate assaults or robberies unless they occur on the casino floor. For example, a fight at a casino nightclub or the attack in the restroom is reported to security, which calls the police.

And though by law the state Lottery Office, which regulates the racetrack casinos, must compile an annual report of crime at the casinos and in surrounding communities, the state has failed to produce a report since 2007. Those reports, however, do not specify which crimes occurred on casino grounds.

State finance director Tom Cook, whose office oversees lotteries, said he takes responsibility for not having the reports done.

"They should have gotten done by now," said Cook, an appointee of Gov. Jack Markell, who took office in January 2009.

"It wasn't done because they didn't want to do them or we were trying to circumvent the law. But we went through the transition of new games and a new administration. It got lost, but we're going to correct it."

Fasy said Delaware Park tracks crimes on its property, but he would not provide an accounting to The News Journal.

The recent violence at Delaware Park has been reported to the media by police outlets, while no incidents have been reported about Dover Downs or Harrington this year.

Edward J. Sutor, president at Dover Downs, said his casino has had robberies and other incidents in its parking lot, but none this year. Patti J. Key, chief executive at Harrington, did not return calls for this story.

Sutor, who called the recent violence at Delaware Park "a shame," said Delaware casinos are fortunate they don't have the volume of crime that occurs in Atlantic City, where he worked for several years.

"Atlantic City is a very urban environment and the characters who come off the boardwalk are incredible. At Caesars, we had plainclothes 'Flea Patrols' to keep out the unsavory people, the fleas, who preyed upon our customers. Fortunately, we don't have that problem here in Dover. We're not near high-traffic pedestrian traffic areas."

'They need more security'

John Wysocki, 83, who lives in Upland, Pa., and plays the slots "once or twice a month" at Delaware Park, learned about the attacks from a reporter.

"It happens at every casino," Wysocki said. "Some years ago, I was at the Tropicana [in Atlantic City] and my car was broken into in the parking lot. It concerns me that it's happening here, but I'm not worried."

A middle-aged woman from Bear who would not identify herself said she knew there had been attacks. "They do need more security around here," she said, surveying the vast lot. "I don't like the idea that people could follow you out and pick you off. That's awful."

Orbon said he's complained about the attacks and what he perceives as a lack of security to dealers, who downplayed the incidents and said the media had exaggerated them.

"I would rate the security as poor," he said. "They need more security in the parking lot."

Random Rewards and Addiction

This column will change your life: Get into the habit of random rewards
Can 'intermittent variable rewards' help you become addicted to more positive behaviours?
Oliver Burkeman
The Guardian

An urban myth popular in US universities concerns a group of psychology students who decide to play a trick on their lecturer. They conspire among themselves to nod, smile and express passionate interest whenever he's standing at one side of the podium, or whenever he raises his arms to gesture; the rest of the time, they look distracted and bored. By the end of term, he's spending every lecture teetering precariously at the podium's edge, his arms floating foolishly far above his head. He has fallen victim to good, old-fashioned "operant conditioning" – the rewards-based system of behaviour change pioneered in rats by BF Skinner.

If these mythical students had been truly ingenious, though, they wouldn't have shown such interest every time the lecturer moved to one side, or raised his arms, but only sometimes – because one of the most dependable findings of operant conditioning is that random rewards are more motivating than predictable ones. As the animal trainer Karen Pryor notes in Don't Shoot The Dog!, a dolphin rewarded with a fishy treat every six jumps will soon become lackadaisical about the five in-between ones; reward it at random, however, and it'll jump vigorously, never knowing which jump will bring fish. This is why slot machines are so addictive, and why we click compulsively on email and Twitter – not because we know we'll be rewarded with interesting messages, but because we might be. If slot machines delivered £1 every time you inserted 50p, you might use them, but you'd never get addicted.

Rightly or wrongly, the unique power of "intermittent variable rewards" makes them perfect for manipulating others: what is dog training, after all, except manipulating dogs? (Even dogless parents and spouses might find Pryor's book worth reading, given how transferable her techniques seem to be.) It's also surely why certain drama-loving people, prone to unpredictably conferring or withholding affection, seem to "addict" their partners, whether or not the manipulation's conscious. But it raises a sunnier prospect, too: might you be able to use random rewards to addict yourself to more positive behaviours?

Which brings me to Habit Judo, a crafty self-improvement scheme devised by a Michigan law student named Allen Reece, who was finding it hard to get new habits to stick. "That's the problem Habit Judo solves," he told me. "It provides enough additional incentive to get you over the motivation gap until the new habit becomes ingrained." His system involves rewarding yourself with a computer-generated random score between one and 10 every time you perform a desired behaviour. Your score gradually accumulates, and at certain thresholds you "qualify" for a real reward, such as a favourite food or "move up a level": Reece marks the levels by wearing wristbands in the colours of judo belts, hence the name. (In technology circles, the term for such ideas is "gamification", because videogames often deploy similar reward mechanisms – but then, so did Skinner, years before videogames.)

After years intending to meditate and get better at weightlifting, Reece now does those things. "It's so powerful and addictive that if I set flying as a new habit, in a couple of months I'd be a superhero," he says. AddictedMan: it has a certain ring.

Penn National Renegs

The Gambling Industry spent buckets of money in Ohio finally gaining voter approval of legislation crafted by the Industry to ensure they gained everything their cold hearts desired at the expense of taxpayers.

Hollow public promises were offered and experience has shown this is just the beginning.

Casino's sewer zoning disputed
'Dispatch' company says certificate shouldn't be issued
By Doug Caruso


The county shouldn't issue the zoning certificate because Penn National can't show that it has sewer service for the casino, an attorney for the subsidiary wrote in objection. That's a violation of the county's health and plumbing codes, the objection says.

The company has received state permits to begin construction of the foundation and a parking garage. But unless the county issues a zoning certificate, either the county or an adjacent property owner can go to court to stop construction, said Steven Tigges, the attorney who filed the objection.

Attorneys for Penn National said in their application for the zoning certificate that the Ohio Constitution says that zoning issues can't be used to stop casinos. The constitutional amendment that allowed for four Ohio casinos does, however, allow communities to enforce health and building codes. [In poorly crafted legislation written by the Industry, for the Industry and solely for the benefit of the Industry, local control was surrendered and taxpayers will absorb the costs to subsidize this lucrative venture.]

A Penn National attorney said in a letter accompanying the zoning application that Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien had told the company that Franklin County would issue a conditional zoning certificate, "and the condition would be that Penn would need to demonstrate a final source of sewer and water prior to the certificate of occupancy."

Tigges said in his objection letter that the law requires Penn to demonstrate that it has sewer service now. But it can't do that because "Columbus and the casino are at an impasse on sewer service. And in view of their deadlocked positions, it is presently impossible for the casino to connect to the only sewer system available to it."

"The Dispatch Printing Company has taken a number of actions since the May 2010 election to make sure that all of us honor our promises to the electorate from that campaign," said Michael F. Curtin, associate publisher emeritus. "Once it became apparent to us several months after the election that Penn National might start to renege on the promises we jointly made to the electorate, we decided to take several steps to make sure Penn National could not sidestep its obligations to the community."

Penn officials said they wanted breaks on taxes and utility rates to offset the cost of changing sites as a condition for annexing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Gambling Addiction More Common Than Alcoholism

Gambling Addiction More Common Than Alcoholism
Liz Benston, Las Vegas Sun

For decades, researchers have said that alcoholism is more common in the U.S. adult population than compulsive gambling.

But last month the University of Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions published a surprising report concluding just the opposite.

After age 21, gambling problems are more common than booze dependence, the institute found in analyzing data from two national studies.

The study included all forms of gambling, such as lotteries, office pools, charity bingo, Internet gambling and raffles.

The results have drawn skepticism from some treatment experts in light of long accepted research that drinking problems are at least twice as common as gambling problems. Even the institute's chief investigator, John Welte, was surprised by the results.

"I didn't expect problem gambling to be more common than alcohol dependence for such a wide age range," he said.

What might otherwise be an academic debate could have bigger consequences for the gaming industry, which has long fought criticism that gambling creates social ills that go unaccounted for in official statistics. Casinos are subject to high "sin" taxes in states where they are granted monopolies, with some tax money diverted to help problem gamblers. There's still relatively little money for problem gambling treatment in the United States, in part because it has been viewed by academics and industry officials as rare.

Welte's research found that the prevalence of alcohol problems peaks at a younger age and drops off significantly after age 21, a similar trend found elsewhere and possibly explained by the fact that young people tend to engage in risky behavior more than adults.

By contrast, the prevalence of gambling problems increases after 21, peaking at ages 31 through 40 and declining slowly until later adulthood, when it falls off significantly, the study found.

Welte's findings show a significantly lower rate of alcohol dependence than previous studies, although his evidence that problem and pathological gamblers combined make up from 1 to 5 percent of the over-21 population is within the range of previously reported figures.

A state-funded study in 2002 found that from 5.1 to 6.4 percent of Nevada adults are problem gamblers or "probable" pathological gamblers likely to develop a problem -- at least 75 percent higher than results for the rest of the country. That study hasn't been replicated to determine whether the problem has worsened as the population and available gambling opportunities have grown, even as some locals with gambling problems stop or curb their gambling over time.

To compare gambling and drinking problems, Welte's study ranked the percentage of survey respondents who answered "yes" to at least three questions on gambling addiction against the percentage who answered "yes" to at least three questions on alcohol dependence. The questions, which include whether a person has ever lied or stolen to feed his addiction, are taken from standard diagnostic manuals.

The study combined results from two national telephone polls conducted by the institute, including a survey of adults ages 18 and over in 1999 and 2000 and a survey of youth ages 14 to 21 from 2005 through 2007. All told, Welte's group surveyed nearly 5,000 people in one of the largest research projects of its kind.

Welte found the greatest discrepancy between gambling and drinking problems from ages 31 to 40, with gambling problems peaking at about 5 percent of the population and at three times the rate of alcohol problems.

Problem gambling is probably higher in Southern Nevada than it is elsewhere because of widespread gambling options, Hunter said.

That may be changing, Hunter said, as casino and Internet gambling spread nationwide.

Most of the Problem Gambling Center's patients are 31 to 60, with the number of people in each decade about equally represented, he added.

Researchers typically quantify compulsive gamblers in two ways -- severely addicted "pathological gamblers" who experience tolerance or withdrawal symptoms similar to drug addicts, and a wider audience of "problem gamblers" who experience gambling-related problems such as money woes or strained marriages.

Casino industry representatives and treatment experts commonly cite only one of those figures when quantifying gambling problems. Pathological gamblers, they say, represent about 1 percent of U.S. adults -- a figure taken from smaller, regional or statewide studies.

Remember: The "Industry" consistently attempts to minimize the percentage of Gambling Addicts and downplay the harm caused by Gambling Addiction.

Critics say that figure minimizes what has become a bigger, nationwide problem. On the other hand, some experts say this more severely affected group is easier to quantify and study than the bigger, more loosely defined group of problem gamblers -- people, they say, who don't need as much help and often get better on their own.

Copyright © 2011, Las Vegas Sun

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Determining that Gambling Addiction is more prevalent than Alcoholism defeats the frequently used Gambling Industry argument.

Embezzler sent to prison

Embezzler sent to prison
Woman stole $400K in 6 years
Written by John Hult

A Sioux Falls woman who stole $400,000 from her employer during six years will spend at least one year and nine months in prison for the crime.

On Wednesday, 55-year-old Karen Lee Lovro was sentenced to 15 years in the prison for aggravated grand theft from Musivend Enterprises, where she had worked for nearly two decades and had come to be regarded as a close and trusted friend by her boss.

Judge Joseph Neiles suspended nine years of the sentence and told Lovro that she'd probably be eligible for parole on the remaining six years by January 2013 because she did not have a criminal record.

Lovro received a lighter sentence in part because she cashed in her retirement account and sold her home to pay off $126,200 of her $399,595 restitution bill before Thursday's sentencing.

Lovro's defense lawyer, Jan Olson, told Neiles that her client's crime had its roots in an unhappy marriage and her children's departure from the home. She began to go out, Olson said, and picked up a video lottery habit that soon was sucking up $700 a week.

"Once she got in the cycle, she couldn't get out," Olson said.

The 226 checks she wrote to herself from her employer's account fueled her growing gambling addiction, and Olson said the shame she's felt explaining herself to her friends and family since the theft was discovered has been devastating.

"I don't know if Karen has stopped crying for the last year," Olson said. "I'm not telling you that to get sympathy, I'm just saying it because I think it shows how remorseful she really is."

Prosecutor Tom Hensley told the judge that Lovro's otherwise exemplary life and her efforts to pay her restitution up front can't undo the years of theft. Lovro essentially kept two sets of books to hide all the individual thefts.

"Audits were done. Reports were made," Hensley said. "She was good. She was a very crafty thief, and she hid her tracks very well."

The theft hurt not only the owners, Hensley said, but also the family-run business' other 12 employees. They could have been given raises if the money were there, he said.

Lovro will begin serving her sentence in two weeks and will be required to pay the remainder of her restitution by the end of her 15-year sentence.

Vote-Buying Trial One Step Closer

Country Crossing owner Ronnie Gilley could testify against gambling corruption case defendants

[UPDATE: Ronnie Gilley pleads guilty in bingo case: 'I'm sorry, I'm wrong, and my plea is guilty.']

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- Country Crossing owner Ronnie Gilley is expected to plead guilty today in a bingo vote-buying case, setting him up potentially to be a key witness against the remaining defendants.

Prosecutors alleged Gilley, McGregor and their lobbyists offered legislators millions of dollars in campaign contributions, a $1 million-a-year job and other election-year assistance in exchange for critical yes votes on the gambling bill.

Gilley originally was released on bond but he has been in jail since early February after a federal judge revoked his release. Prosecutors alleged Gilley tried to buy Massey's silence and entice Massey not to cooperate with federal investigators.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bankruptcy lawyer condemns proposed casino expansion

Bankruptcy lawyer condemns proposed casino expansion

Since the beginning of public hearings on the proposed Edgewater casino expansion, doctors and lawyers have spoken out against the dangers of another gambling facility in Vancouver.

Katherine Wellburn, a bankruptcy lawyer, explains her opposition based on years of experience seeing people go broke as a result of gambling addiction. Katherine Wellburn

I live in Kitsilano and work in Yaletown. I am a bankruptcy lawyer. I was a Registrar in bankruptcy for 8 years and I oppose the expansion of the Edgewater Casino.

I would like to speak about problem gambling and loan sharks since both are causes of bankruptcy.

There was a statistically significant increase in the number of severe problem gamblers in British Columbia of 0.5 percent from 2002 to 2008. According to the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Carsley, there are 19,000- 43,000 severe problem gamblers in British Columbia.

Dr. Carsley referred to the study from Alberta and Ontario showing that 36-39 percent of gambling revenues come from problem gamblers. That number increases to 60 percent of the revenues from slot machines, which are more addictive.

One of the indicators of a problem gambler is that the gambler lies to family members, therapists or others to conceal the extent of their involvement in gambling. My experience is that gamblers who realize that they have a problem are embarrassed or ashamed and don’t want to talk about their gambling, particularly their losses and the problems that gambling has caused to them and their families.

I asked a recovered gambling addict to come and speak to you. He was a casino employee who became addicted to gambling. He was able to overcome his addiction by quitting his job and moving to an area where there are no casinos but only after incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and going bankrupt. He wants to put that period of his life behind him.

The problem gamblers I see most often are the ones who gamble away their own money, borrow more, lose that money and go bankrupt to get out of paying their gambling debts.

One indicator is whether a person is a problem gambler is whether the person goes back to gamble another day to try to win back money they have lost. This is the lure of gambling –the gambler can’t quit because the big win might be just around the corner. That would include the bank manager who lost his savings gambling and quit his job so that he could withdraw money from his retirement plan and gamble more. He lost that money too, his wife left him and he went bankrupt.

Another indicator of a problem gambler is “borrowed money or sold anything to get money to gamble.” That would also include the retired couple living with their adult son and his family. The couple put a mortgage on the family home of $375,000 to try to recoup gambling losses by gambling more. Seven months later, they had gambled all of that money away and were more than $500,000 in debt. They lost their house in a foreclosure and bankruptcy.

Another sign of a problem gambler is bailout – whether the gambler has relied on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling. This would include the man who had borrowed money to gamble. His daughter took him to the bank, paid off the debts and begged the bank to not lend him anymore money. He still borrowed more money, gambled it away and went bankrupt. We’ve heard this story more than once – family pays off debts, only to have gambler go into debt again to gamble more.

Problem gamblers risk significant relationships because of gambling. The description fits a woman whose daughter took her to a trustee in bankruptcy to try to get her to stop gambling since the trustee would cut off her credit. That woman assaulted her daughter in the waiting room – she didn’t want to quit – she wanted to keep on gambling.

One of the criteria used to determine whether someone is a problem gambler is whether they have committed illegal acts such as forgery fraud, theft or embezzlement in order to finance gambling. This would include the woman who received $50,000 from a community group to develop a children’s program, gambled it away and went bankrupt. This raises another problem – money laundering – the trustee was unable to trace the money and confirm that it was actually lost on gambling or hidden away somewhere because there is no way to track money in casinos.

I never see casinos as creditors in a bankruptcy because casinos always get paid. They only take cash, not credit.

And people pay their loan sharks because the loan sharks resort to threats and violence to collect their debts. A gambler who owes money to a loan shark will try to borrow money from family members to pay the loan shark because they are terrified of what the loan shark will do to them.

Another way loan sharks get paid is by telling debtors how to get money by defrauding creditors, by getting credit cards from companies like the Bay, Canadian Tire, and buying items on credit as directed by the loan shark, and then going bankrupt. This is fraud, but very rarely investigated or prosecuted in BC.

Trustees and registrars in bankruptcy may insist that the bankrupt attend Gamblers Anonymous or counselling to deal with their addiction and self-exclude from the casino. Unfortunately, self-exclusion is well known to not work. There are even stories of people who had self-excluded going to the same casino the next night, although if they happen to win, the casino will not let them collect their winnings.

Your staff had statistics, showing that BC spent the lowest proportion of gambling revenue of any province on helping problem gamblers and that this figure had decreased from 2008-2009.

By contrast, the casinos are permitted to have aggressive advertising on the television radio, SkyTrain, to attract new gamblers and to encourage existing gamblers to gamble often and gamble a lot. The casinos are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This casino has buses pick people up at the SkyTrain stations and seniors’ centres. Its expansion plans include a massive increase in slot machines, the most addictive form of game in a casino.

The website of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General lists as one of its initiatives to control problem gambling by ensuring that “the number of casinos and other gaming facilities are limited in the province”.

Gambling Addiction Program

Gambling Addiction Program

KXMBTV Bismarck It doesn't involve a substance..... But for a gambling addict, the anticipation and excitement of the win can be just as powerful as an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Megan Lowry tells us one man's story of addiction...

And we have concealed his identity. (Nat of gambling) (Ray) "There is nothing physical about it its a mental addiction." (nat of chips) A caculated risk that for Ray spun out of control. " I remeber one afternoon I was half way there before I even realized where I was it was just a black out and I couldn't turn around

Seemingly innocent fun that quickly turned into his number priority "I wasn't living I was existingin hell on earth. As the addication strengthened, Ray began skipping work and sometimes disapearing for days

"I knew I had a problem but I had no idea it was an addiction I just thought there was something wrong with me not that it was an addiction like alcohol.

(Lisa Voller) That it is the hardest thing for people to understand that they are not injesting anything but when person engages in that activity there is something that happens in the brain chemistry and its hitting that reward system and thats what they contine to seek and it initally works

Lisa Voller counsels gambling addicts through Gamblers Choice North Dakota

A state wide program geared to helping people get out from under their debt. "They have to aknowledge that there is a problem and then we can step in and help." For Ray, it took his son confronting him with his credit card reciepts before he could get a handle on his addiction. "For one thing you are always chasing your losses and you never make it up and once you quit and the big thing is all the time i lost I'll never get that back. He has been living a gambling free life for 14, leaving his past life on the table. "I thank god because now life has a meaning and a purpose. and that is something he can bet onwith the support he has of friends and family

Megan Lowry, Kx News

Ray attends weekly meetings with Gamblers Choice. He credits the support of friends and family for his continued success.