Meetings & Information


Monday, December 31, 2012

LV police suspect casino worker killed Jade Morris

LV police suspect casino worker killed young girl

This booking photo provided by the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vega...

LAS VEGAS — Police suspect that a casino worker killed a 10-year-girl before going to a Las Vegas resort and allegedly slashing the face of a co-worker with razor blades.

The search for Jade Morris ended Friday afternoon when officials confirmed that it was her body that was found a day earlier in an undeveloped housing tract.

The Clark County coroner's office said she died of multiple stab wounds. Jade was last seen Dec. 21 with family friend Brenda Stokes Wilson, who picked her up to go Christmas shopping.

Wilson, 50, returned the car she had borrowed for the outing to a friend two hours later. Jade never came back. Investigators later found blood on the driver's door and steering wheel of the 2007 Saab sedan.

Later that night, Wilson was wrestled to the ground with razors in each hand after allegedly slashing the face of a female co-worker at the Bellagio casino.

A judge raised her bail from $60,000 to $600,000 Friday morning after she was identified as the prime suspect in the child's killing.

"It's no secret the defendant is the suspect in the murder of 10-year-old Jade Morris," prosecutor Robert Daskas told Senior Clark County District Court Judge Joseph Bonaventure at the hearing.

Later Friday, Las Vegas police homicide Capt. Chris Jones said investigators were still moving forward.

"As soon as we get all the evidence in that we need, we'll book her on the murder charges," he said.

Wilson has been jailed since the 21st on felony battery with a weapon, burglary and mayhem charges that could get her decades in prison.

Police said she offered no help in the search for the missing girl. Murder and kidnapping charges could get her life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

On Thursday, Las Vegas police responding to a 911 call found a girl's body in unkempt brush near palm trees in a small traffic circle about 10 miles from the downtown Las Vegas outlet mall where Stokes was to have taken the girl shopping.

On Friday evening, Jones called the slaying "unfathomable."

"Even having our jobs, we still can't wrap our heads around this," he said. "A lot of people think that just because of our positions we can understand it, but we can't."

In court Friday morning, Wilson stood flanked by eight police officers as her lawyer, Tony Liker, clutching a Bible and a copy of the charging documents, asked the judge to postpone arraignment until Wednesday to give him time to meet with Wilson.

Wilson, who had been identified by police and prosecutors as Brenda Stokes, told the judge Friday that her full name was Brenda Stokes Wilson.

Jade's father, Philip Morris, was removed from court Wednesday by armed court officers after shouting questions about his daughter's whereabouts to Wilson. He did not attend Friday's hearing.

The two dated for several years, and Jade had a long and trusting relationship with Wilson, according to the girl's grandfather, Philip Tucker.

Tucker said Philip Morris lived in Billings, Mont., and worked at a Flying J truck stop for more than a year. He would stay with Wilson when he visited Las Vegas, Tucker said.

Authorities have not disclosed a motive for the slaying. But Tucker said Wilson appeared to believe that the face-slashing victim had become romantically involved with Philip Morris.

Wilson picked up Jade for their shopping expedition around 5 p.m. Later, she got a ride with a friend to the Bellagio. She allegedly attacked her co-worker, Joyce Rhone, at around 9:30 p.m.

Rhone, 44, was hospitalized with deep cuts on her face, including one from her ear to the edge of her mouth.

Wilson told investigators that she visited her doctor last week, seeking to be admitted to a hospital "due to feeling like she wanted to hurt someone."

Wampanoag court decisions now posted on Suffolk site

Wampanoag court decisions now posted on Suffolk site
MASHPEE — The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is giving the general public a window into something that, until now, has been kept behind closed doors because of the tribe's sovereign status.
Decisions made by the fledgling Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Court are now being posted on a website hosted by Suffolk Law School, which offers courses specializing in Indian law.
The court, established in 2009, currently hears only civil cases and meets on an as-needed basis.
More than a half-dozen cases are posted on the Suffolk website, including a decision to find that former tribe leaders Glenn Marshall, Shawn Hendricks and Desiree Hendricks Moreno defaulted in a lawsuit filed against them.
According to the decision, all three were served by a court-appointed constable, but did not respond to the suit, which seeks to recoup money that current tribe leaders allege was stolen when the three were tribal leaders. Marshall, the tribe's former chairman, served a federal prison term for embezzlement, but neither Hendricks nor Moreno, both former tribe officers, were charged criminally.
Another court case provides a glimpse into tribal government. In January, tribal council secretary Marie Stone filed suit against the tribal council, which had suspended her without pay, according to the decision posted online. No reason for the suspension is given in the posted court documents and the decision centers on whether tribal council members are protected from suit because of the tribe's sovereign status.
"The Tribal Council may not use the claim of sovereign immunity to defeat claims by tribal members under the Tribal Constitution," tribal court chief justice Henry Sockbeson ruled.
The judge made no decision on the merits of the case, just on the claim by the other tribal council members that they are protected from suit, which Sockbeson denied.
Stone could not be reached for comment.
In September, Sockbeson dismissed an appeal brought by Nellie Ramos alleging irregularities during the 2009 tribal election. He ruled that Ramos filed three years too late.
"While she challenges the adherence of the Election Committee to the requirements of the Election Ordinance, she herself has totally ignored well-settled tribal law regarding the requirement to appeal election irregularities," the judge wrote in his decision.
Reached by phone Friday, Ramos questioned the impartiality of the judge and the court. "To me it's not a court. The tribe is not getting anything out of that judge," she said of Sockbeson. "I don't like the way he's treating the tribe."
The decisions are being made public in an effort to show the general public that the tribal court operates using the same parameters as state and federal courts, Rob Mills said.
"I think it's a great idea to make these decisions public," said Mills, who is an attorney with Wynn & Wynn in Hyannis. Mills is also a tribe member and is one of three judges who have heard cases since the court began operating in 2009, though his cases have been limited by his close relationships with tribe members, he said.
"It's already a challenge instilling confidence in public that this is a legitimate court system that operates like court systems they are familiar with — so the more public we can make it, the better for everyone," he said.
There could be instances in which the tribe would require a vendor doing business with the tribe to agree to have any disagreements heard in tribal court, Mills said. It's important that the tribe be able to demonstrate that its court makes reasoned decisions based on law and that it cannot be influenced by leadership, he said. Some of the rulings by the court already demonstrate that, he said.
The joint venture with Suffolk was announced in the December issue of the Mittark, the Wampanoag newsletter distributed to tribe members and posted on the tribe's website. According to that announcement, court judges will have the ability to seal some cases that involve either minors or other confidential information. "Cases involving juveniles, Indian Child Welfare Act cases, and cases involving involuntary commitment proceedings are also closed to the public," the announcement in the Mittark states.
The decision to partner with Suffolk was made because professors and students at the law school have offered pro bono services to help the tribe set up its rules for civil procedure, Mills said. The end result is a system that's much more user friendly than the federal system, Mills said.
The court also has judges with extensive experience both in and out of tribal court systems. Sockbeson was educated at Harvard Law School and Mills graduated from Boston College Law School. A third judge, Rochelle Ducheneaux, has experience in tribal courts across the country, Mills said.
"The public needs to know that the panel is impartial and fair and they can glean that from reading the decisions," Mills said.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Maryland: The Race to the Bottom

Maryland epitomizes the Gambling Industry's Playbook - start small and continue to expand.

Begin with phony promises, overstated revenue and job projections, continue to suck discretionary income from the local economy and wonder why economic development stagnates.

In Massachusetts, there is no way to limit expansion.

Adding sports wagering at Maryland casinos a bad bet for now

By Matthew Owings - Capital News Service

Tuesday, December 25, 2012
ANNAPOLIS — Maryland once said it would only have slots in racetracks.

But that was before the existing slots casinos were approved by voters four years ago. It was even longer before Question 7 was passed last month, allowing table games at the five existing casinos and adding a sixth location at National Harbor in Prince George’s County.

So, with Delaware already offering legalized sports gambling, and New Jersey planning to follow suit to stay competitive in the gambling-saturated northeast corridor, could Maryland soon join its neighbors and permit sports wagers?

Policy-makers in the state aren’t betting on it.

“It’s not something that has come up in any conversations,” said Delegate Barbara A. Frush, Prince George’s Democrat. “Nothing has ever been mentioned. It hasn’t been brought up.”

Currently, Marylanders still need to go the traditional route to place a sports wager. That requires a trip to Nevada, Montana, Oregon or Delaware, as these are the only states to have legal sports gambling.

For the more technologically inclined gamblers, there are the quasi-legal online betting sites, although their legitimacy is cloudy at best.

If Maryland were going to explore the possibility of sports betting, it would be a surprise to Donald F. Norris, chairman of the Department of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“I haven’t heard anything of it,” he said. “I’m willing to guess that the current governor is so fed up with the gambling issue that I’m sure he will not support anything.”

For Maryland to press sports betting, Mr. Norris said there would need to be more active supporters throughout the state.

“If there’s no demand, there’s not likely to be legislation,” he said. “I don’t see anything being put forward with regard to gambling.”

He added: “Who can predict the future?”

Citing strict federal laws, among several factors, other analysts outside Maryland don’t expect gambling to be the new frontier, either.

Bill Eadington, director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno, doesn’t see a reason for states to push for legalized sports bets.

“Historically, it has been a very small portion of the revenue stream,” he said.

Mr. Eadington said sports betting would absolutely attract different gamblers, who then might be interested in playing other games while in the casino. Regardless, he points out that the addition of sports betting would increase revenue for casinos by only about 1 percent to 1.5 percent.

Further, there are many obstacles on the federal front. In 1992, the “Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act” was passed, banning sports wagering in 46 states, including Maryland.

Last year, voters in New Jersey approved sports betting in Atlantic City casinos. The legislation is being challenged in federal court, but state officials still plan to implement the Nevada-style wagers in January.

Along with the federal snags that hinder any potential sports betting expansion in Maryland, having major athletic organizations as an opponent further complicates the issue.

Earlier this year, the Washington Redskins organization came forward in support of Question 7 for Maryland. But according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, the league will not go any further in endorsing the gambling industry.

“We’re very much opposed to the gambling on our games because of the threat to the integrity of our game and the risks that come with it,” he said. “We don’t think our players should be used as bait for gambling.”

Currently, there is no pending legislation in Maryland to expand gambling to sports wagers.

“It’s always possible that somebody could pursue it,” Mr. Norris said. “I just can’t foresee that happening.”

Gambling Addict's Suit Against Foxwoods

Interest legal case!

by | December 28, 2012

Second Circuit Briefs in Gambling Addict’s Suit against Foxwoods

Here are the briefs in Tassone v. Foxwoods Resort Casino:

Tassone Brief

Foxwoods Brief


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Foxwoods to fight for Bay State clientele

Where are the words "Gambling Market Saturation" ? There is never any mention of "COSTS" nor lack of economic development nor low wage jobs that have heavily impacted Connecticut.


Foxwoods defaulted on their excessive debt. How's that going?

Foxwoods to fight for Bay State clientele

Plans outlet mall and renovations

PA: Casino Patron Pistol-Whipped

Massachusetts ‘Gaming’ Future

Police: Man robbed of gambling money in Allentown

The Morning Call - December 26, 2012

 A man told Allentown police he was robbed of a large amount of gambling money Tuesday night by two men, one who pistol-whipped him in the head, police said.

The man, who was not identified, said he was approached by the two men at 10:30 p.m. in the 300 block of S. 15th St., police Capt. George Medero said. The man said he showed the men his money and told them he was going to gamble when one of them pulled a gun on him and struck him in the forehead, Medero said.

The men fled with the money and the victim was taken to the hospital for treatment, Medero said.,0,1275212.story
See More
Massachusetts ‘Gaming’ Future

Police: Man robbed of gambling money in Allentown

The Morning Call - December 26, 2012

A man told Allentown police he was robbed of a large amount of gambling money Tuesday night by two men, one who pistol-whipped him in the head, police said.

The man, who was not identified, said he was approached by the two men at 10:30 p.m. in the 300 block of S. 15th St., police Capt. George Medero said. The man said he showed the men his money and told them he was going to gamble when one of them pulled a gun on him and struck him in the forehead, Medero said.

The men fled with the money and the victim was taken to the hospital for treatment, Medero said.,0,1275212.story

Ex-NFL player Joey Porter free in casino debt case

Massachusetts ‘Gaming’ Future

This is just one of many reasons why four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA are moving forward with their legal battle over New Jersey's plans to allow sports gambling.

Ex-NFL player Joey Porter free in casino debt case

 The Associated Press - December 24, 2012 - Ex-NFL player Joey Porter free in casino debt case

LAS VEGAS - Authorities say former NFL Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter was released from a California jail after paying $70,000 owed to the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas.

A spokeswoman with the Kern County jail in Bakersfield said Porter was released Monday.

Prosecutor Samuel Bateman in Las Vegas says Porter was arrested during the weekend in on a theft and bad check complaint filed earlier this year.

Bateman said the 35-year-old Porter paid the amount and was released pending dismissal of the charge. A court date was not immediately set.

The prosecutor says Porter received several IOU markers from the Hard Rock in June.
Porter played 13 seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals before retiring in July.

His arrest was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
See More
Massachusetts ‘Gaming’ Future

This is just one of many reasons why four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA are moving forward with their legal battle over New Jersey's plans to allow sports gambling. 

Ex-NFL player Joey Porter free in casino debt case
The Associated Press - December 24, 2012 - Ex-NFL player Joey Porter free in casino debt case

LAS VEGAS - Authorities say former NFL Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter was released from a California jail after paying $70,000 owed to the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas.

A spokeswoman with the Kern County jail in Bakersfield said Porter was released Monday.

Prosecutor Samuel Bateman in Las Vegas says Porter was arrested during the weekend in on a theft and bad check complaint filed earlier this year.

Bateman said the 35-year-old Porter paid the amount and was released pending dismissal of the charge. A court date was not immediately set.

The prosecutor says Porter received several IOU markers from the Hard Rock in June.
Porter played 13 seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals before retiring in July.

His arrest was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Adelson gave $40 million to super PACs in final weeks of election

Adelson gave $40 million to super PACs in final weeks of election

December 21, 2012

By Michael Beckel and Andrea Fuller

Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and family poured nearly $40 million into the coffers of GOP-aligned super PACs In the final three weeks of the 2012 campaign, bringing their total giving to the groups to more than $93 million.

Adelson ranks as the top donor to the outside spending groups by a wide margin, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of campaign finance records.

The unlimited donations, which are used primarily to fund candidate attack ads, concern advocates such as Stephen Spaulding, staff counsel at Common Cause.

“People are able to distort the political process, open doors and be kingmakers simply because of the size of their bank account,” he said. “The threat of the spending just hangs over all the political decisions that are happening on [Capitol] Hill.”

After focusing primarily on the presidential contest, in the final weeks of the campaign, Adelson ramped up his giving to GOP-aligned super PACs active in House and Senate races.

In Virginia alone, Adelson invested $4 million into a super PAC that ran attack ads against Democrat Tim Kaine in the final days of the election.

His million-dollar contribution to a super PAC called the “Hardworking Americans Committee” accounted for the bulk of the money used in an unsuccessful last-ditch effort to defeat incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

And a GOP-aligned super PAC known as the “America 360 Committee” received $500,000 from the Adelsons as it touted incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and criticized Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren in telephone calls and mailings.

Adelson’s donations to super PACs — which can accept unlimited donations from individuals, corporations and unions — set a new standard in political giving.

Adelson is a staunch ally of Israel and an opponent of unions. He first hit the news when he and his relatives pumped more than $16 million into a super PAC that supported former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s failed bid for the Republican nomination for president.

He and his wife Miriam gave $30 million to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, which accounted for nearly 20 percent of the nearly $154 million raised by the group.

In late October, the Adelsons also gave $23 million to American Crossroads, their first donations to the group. Crossroads spent more than $90 million in an unsuccessful effort to help Romney oust Obama.

Roughly two-thirds of Adelson’s $93 million went to super PACs that backed just one or two specific candidates. None of Adelson’s preferred candidates prevailed in any of the 10 races in which these super PACs were active.

Earlier this month, a defiant Adelson told the Wall Street Journal that he would spend even more money in future elections.

"I happen to be in a unique business where winning and losing is the basis of the entire business," Adelson told the newspaper. "I don't cry when I lose. There's always a new hand coming up."

For the complete report, click on link:

More casinos may not have expected financial results....

More casinos may not have expected financial results, study finds

Date: Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Reporter- South Florida Business Journal
Casino chips gambling
Gambling and the development of casinos might not be as much of a build-it-and-they-will-come strategy as operators might be counting on, according to new study out of the University of Iowa.
If all you wanted for Christmas as a gambling operator was to add more one-armed bandits to your casino floor, or to expand the menu to include more horse racing, then 2012 was your year.

Casino operators such as the Seminole Tribe of Florida spent $150 million to expand in Coconut Creek and horse racing returned to Hialeah Race Track. Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach wants to hold horse racing year round and the majority of voters in Palm Beach County said they support slot machines at pari-mutuels.

Additionally, The Genting Group recommitted to its strategy of convincing legislators to buy into the idea that Las Vegas-style gambling should be allowed in downtown Miami.

But a new study on the impact of casino growth on Iowa might dump some coal in their stockings:

The University of Iowa found that casino expansion doesn’t necessary [sic] draw more local gamblers.

Donald Black, a psychiatry professor at the University of Iowa that studies gamblers, said that results should also apply elsewhere. He likened the public’s fascination with casinos to a child having a new toy, with the initial interest changing from intense to indifferent, over time, according to an explanation of the study on the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine website.

“It seems society reaches a saturation point beyond which additional gambling opportunities won’t capture more people," Black, whose study was published in the journal Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, was quoted saying on the College of Medicine website. "And that applies to problem gamblers, too. They all seem to adjust to it.”

The issue is particularly poignant considering all the money going into the industry. Genting’s push has spurred some such as Ron Bergeron to seek permits to open Jai Alai facilities in Weston and others to push for pari-mutuels elsewhere, all with their eye on including card rooms and other gambling.

This comes despite problems in the gaming industry: Florida Gaming Corp. (OTCBB: FGMG) sold at the end of November for more than $115 million despite its financial struggle and a foreclosure lawsuit that included both its Miami and Fort Pierce operations.

Genting has insisted throughout its push for expanded gambling that the kind of casinos the Malaysian company operates attracts international players with lots of money. Their product draws a class of the world’s wealthy, “whales,” that is just as likely to park their super-appointed yacht in the casino’s waterway as be able to afford a private flight on their customized jet to play the high-end table games.

So, the study may be brushed off Genting's shoulders like the recent push to declare The Miami Herald building historic, which would have undercut their plan to develop the waterfront. The city of Miami’s historic board denied the designation. Business Journal Editor Kevin Gale hailed as a sign of progress.

The rest of the industry will have to see if the results of the study bear out in their own local operations, which have been a job creator for many communities over the last year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gam[bl]ing commission meets Thursdays in 2013

Gam[bl]ing commission meets Thursdays in 2013
December 26, 2012

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission won't meet again until 2013 and, when commissioners reconvene, it will be on a new day.
After the first of the year, the commission will begin holding its weekly meetings on Thursdays instead of Tuesdays.
The next meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 3.
Meetings are broadcast live on the commission's website at

Italy: The High Costs of Addiction

Gambling addiction takes its toll in Italy

Experts say state does not recognise scale of problem as legislation clears the way for 1,000 new arcades
in Milan
    Italian gamblers
    Slot machine gamblers in Val D'Aosta, Saint Vincent, Italy. Photograph: Tips Italia/Alamy
    Italy is to press on with plans to open 1,000 new gambling arcades despite mounting national anguish over the spread of pathological gambling in what until recently was a nation of frugal savers.

    Silvio Berlusconi's last government authorised the new video-poker saloons in 2011. A contest to decide who should get the licences is due to be held by the end of January.

    The non-party government of Mario Monti made a last-ditch bid to suspend the competition by another six months. But a clause inserted in the 2013 budget was thrown out in committee as lawmakers raced to clear the way for the dissolution of parliament last Saturday.

    Under pressure to boost state revenues and pay off Italy's huge public debts, successive governments have relaxed the country's once-strict gambling laws. The first significant change was in 1994 when scratch-card lotteries were legalised.

    But it was not until the mid-2000s that gambling mania really seized Italy. By 2010, according to figures compiled by Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, Italy's per capita spending on betting was the fifth highest in the world, excluding countries such as Monaco, where gambling is a central part of the economy.

    Simone Feder, a psychologist and adviser to the juvenile court in Milan, also works with a Roman Catholic church-run refuge in Pavia that caters to, among others, addicts of all kinds. He remembers 2004 as "the year the punters began knocking at the door".

    Among those staying at the refuge before Christmas was Caterina Rossini whose real name the Guardian agreed to conceal on grounds of privacy. The wife of a Turin shopkeeper, she described how she had been reduced to penury by her husband's compulsion. "He had been gambling for years, but I didn't realise it," she said. "At the start, he went to casinos and played the lottery. But about 10 years ago, he switched to scratch cards.

    "I'd say things like: 'This month, we don't seem to have as much cash as I thought.' But I had no idea how much he was spending." By the time she found out, his losses came to €60,000. There was no option but to sell the house they owned to meet his debts. Once they had paid off the mortgage, there was nothing left. At the age of 50, she was planning to start work as a cleaner to earn the rent.
    "In a final, terrible gesture, [my husband] stole my jewellery and sold it," she said. He had made €3,800 – and spent it all on scratch-cards.

    Her husband was one of several compulsive gamblers in her immediate neighbourhood, Rossini said. "There are a lot of men who go around saying: 'My wife works. I gamble.'"

    In November, a bar owner in the town of Cremona, south of Milan, won national notoriety after it was reported she had ordered the removal of gambling machines from her premises, foregoing a monthly income of some €2,700. Monica Pavesi was quoted as saying: "I couldn't bear any longer to see people ruining themselves in that way."

    Feder said that, despite the rise in cases of pathological gambling, "it is still not recognised [by the authorities] as an addiction". Sufferers could not, as a result, be treated in the national health system.
    Because of that, there is no reliable estimate of the number of addicts. A religious NGO, Associazione Libera, has put the figure at 800,000.

    Earlier this month, officials in predominantly German-speaking South Tyrol reported that the number of compulsive gamblers who had sought help in the province had risen by 76% in 12 months. The figure was released as the authorities there announced a ban on slot machines within 300 metres of "sensitive locations" such as schools, youth clubs, retirement homes and hospitals.

    A spokesman for the gambling industry's representative body said it was preparing to challenge the order, describing it as "a way of fuelling illegal gaming". The industry is, however, co-operating with new measures introduced by the government in Rome which will require gambling machines to carry "health warnings" and an indication of the odds against winning.

    According to the latest estimates, the total amount gambled in Italy has dipped slightly this year as the recession and tax increases ordered by the Monti government have bitten into household budgets.

    But until 2011, the industry appeared to be immune to the effects of the eurozone crisis. On the contrary, said Feder, there was evidence to suggest that many Italians had reacted to a downturn in their disposable incomes by turning to gambling in the belief they could make up the difference with winnings.

    The same conviction was held by a lot of young people.

    In June, he carried out a survey of almost 2,000 secondary school students in Pavia. He found that 5%
    of those interviewed had a close relative who was a habitual gambler.

    But the most disturbing conclusion, he said, came when the teenagers — average age 15 – were asked why people gambled. By far the most common response — given by 57% of interviewees – was "to get rich".

    "In fact, of course, it is always the 'bank' that wins," he said.

    Tuesday, December 25, 2012

    Casino revenue windfall an illusion

    Tuesday, December 25, 2012

    Mazzi: Casino revenue windfall an illusion


    News Assis­tant Man­ag­ing Editor

    Dur­ing a brief con­ver­sa­tion in his office last week, Big Wal­nut Local School Dis­trict Super­in­ten­dent Steve Mazzi and dis­trict trea­surer Feli­cia Drum­mey dis­cussed what Mazzi called the illu­sion that estab­lish­ing casi­nos in Ohio would be a wind­fall for the state’s school districts.

    Dur­ing the cam­paign to allow casino gam­bling in Ohio one north­ern Ohio news­pa­per said Ohio schools would “… hit the jack­pot” because of casino rev­enue; and dur­ing the Big Wal­nut school district’s levy cam­paign peo­ple who opposed the levy were ask­ing dis­trict admin­is­tra­tors and board of edu­ca­tion mem­bers what they were going to do with “… all the gam­bling money.”

    Mazzi said a month ago he was lis­ten­ing to a talk seg­ment on WNCI where the dis­cus­sion was about how casino rev­enue is help­ing Ohio schools.

    “I called in and told them we are receiv­ing $21 per stu­dent in the first dis­burse­ment in Jan­u­ary, times 3,000 stu­dents,” Mazzi said. “That doesn’t even take care of one first-year teacher’s salary and ben­e­fits, so when they say we’ll have all that money com­ing in, it really isn’t enough to do much of anything.

    “Even take a place like Olen­tangy with 10,000 stu­dents,” Mazzi con­tin­ued. “You’ve got a lot more stu­dents, sure, but then you look at their expenses and $160 mil­lion bud­get – it’s not going to be a wind­fall for them, either.”

    Drum­mey said the county has received casino rev­enue, but dis­burse­ments have not been made to school dis­tricts yet.

    “That $21 per stu­dent we should receive in Jan­u­ary is not a guar­an­tee, that’s from an esti­mate of casino gross rev­enue from the state,” Drum­mey said. “Our pay­ment in August of 2013 is esti­mated to go up to $71 per stu­dent, but casino rev­enues are down. In June and Sep­tem­ber the Toledo casino rev­enue was down 9.6 per­cent, and that’s an esti­mate by the Ohio Depart­ment of Taxation.”

    Drum­mey did note that the Cleve­land casino rev­enue is up 5 per­cent, but the state fore­casts that total casino rev­enues will be down 1.2 percent.

    “But the point is, we haven’t received any­thing yet,” Drum­mey said. “We are antic­i­pat­ing a dis­burse­ment two times a year. In Jan­u­ary if we see $21 per stu­dent, that’s $63,630. If we get an August dis­burse­ment of $71 per stu­dent we’ll receive $278,760, but that’s in the next fis­cal year.

    “We have a $28 mil­lion annual bud­get,” Drum­mey con­tin­ued. “We have $2.3 mil­lion a month in finan­cial oblig­a­tions. Even at the higher num­ber, $278,760 spread over six months it only adds a lit­tle over $46,000 to our rev­enue stream each month. I wouldn’t call that a windfall.”

    Drum­mey said Mike Sobul, Granville Exempted Schools Trea­surer, who is the retired Sec­tion Chief for Fore­cast­ing and Spe­cial Projects at the Tax Analy­sis Divi­sion of the Ohio Depart­ment of Tax­a­tion where he was respon­si­ble for tax esti­ma­tion, has said to down­grade Big Walnut’s Jan­u­ary esti­mated dis­burse­ment from $21 to $19, and the August dis­burse­ment could be as low as $50 to $55 per student.

    Mazzi said com­pli­cat­ing the sit­u­a­tion and mud­dy­ing the prover­bial waters is the State of Ohio’s his­tory of giv­ing one thing and tak­ing some­thing away from another fund­ing source.

    “Through­out the cur­rent finan­cial cri­sis the state has been reduc­ing the guar­an­tee, which means our fund­ing from the state is below what we got last year,” Mazzi said. “We got one per­cent less from the state each year in fis­cal 2011 and fis­cal 2012. At the same time the state accel­er­ated the phase-out of the Tan­gi­ble Per­sonal Prop­erty Reim­burse­ment that was sup­posed to be phased out by 2019. Those dol­lars are now gone.”

    Drum­mey said the fed­eral stim­u­lus plugged a 6 per­cent gap in the reduc­tion in school fund­ing, but the state failed to fill that gap when the stim­u­lus ended.

    “Look­ing back it’s not an under­state­ment to say we went through a per­fect storm,” Drum­mey said. “It’s going to be inter­est­ing to see what the new school fund­ing for­mula looks like. We’ll know in March when the state bien­nial bud­get is released, and it takes effect in July — at least it’s sup­posed to. But last time it wasn’t known until July of ‘09 and we had to start fis­cal 2010 before we knew how much money the school dis­trict would get from the state.”

    As the con­ver­sa­tion came full cir­cle Drum­mey and Mazzi began search­ing for ways to put what casino rev­enue would mean to Big Wal­nut in terms that every­one could understand.

    Drum­mey said if the dis­trict receives $21 per stu­dent in Jan­u­ary applied to the cur­rent fis­cal year it would rep­re­sent two-tenths of one per­cent of the district’s cur­rent fis­cal year bud­get; if a $71 per stu­dent dis­burse­ment mate­ri­al­izes in August that would rep­re­sent nine-tenths of one per­cent of the next fis­cal year’s budget.

    “A school dis­trict bud­get is no dif­fer­ent than a fam­ily bud­get, just big­ger,” Drum­mey said. “Look at it like a per­son mak­ing $52,000 a year would. Under the $71 per stu­dent for­mula the casino rev­enue would give him $468 addi­tional dol­lars per year, or $39 a month, or $9.75 per week. For some­body whose fam­ily bud­get is based on a $52,000 per year income that would not be called a windfall.”

    Mazzi said he’s con­stantly hear­ing peo­ple say: “Look at all this money schools are get­ting from casinos”.

    “It’s not really all that much, it doesn’t even replace what the state has already taken away from us,” Mazzi said. “It’s an illu­sion, that’s what I call it. The illu­sion is that the state is pro­vid­ing a wind­fall from the lot­tery and casi­nos for schools, and it’s just not the case.”

    Sheldon Adelson's Campaign Investments

    Except for defeating an anti-union ballot initiative in Michigan, Sheldon Adelson's Gambling Dollars seem not well spent. We will never know the true amounts spent to impose plutocracy on America, but the collage of articles below should raise alarming questions.

    How Much Did Sheldon Adelson Really Spend on Campaign 2012?

    Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson poured $53 million into the 2012 elections via controversial super PACs to back these candidates. All lost. From left to right, Mitt Romney, Connie Mack, George Allen, Allen West, Joe Kyrillos, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, David Dewhurst and Newt Gingrich. West is demanding a recount, however, claiming 'disturbing irregularities at the polls.'

    By Rachael Marcus and John Dunbar, The Center for Public Integrity

    Money can't buy happiness, nor can it buy an election, apparently.

    The top donors to super PACs in 2012 did not fare well — casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the No. 1 super PAC contributor with more than $53 million in giving, backed eight losers at this writing.

    Adelson was top backer of the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future super PAC, with $20 million in donations. Romney lost to President Barack Obama. In addition, Adelson's contributions to super PACs backing U.S. Senate candidates in Florida, Virginia and New Jersey were also for naught.

    The hotly contested Senate race in Virginia attracted $2.5 million from Adelson and Perry, both giving to Independence Virginia, the super PAC supporting former Republican Sen. George Allen. His opponent, Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine, won the seat with 52 percent of the vote.

    Adelson also invested in the re-election of Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., in Florida's 18th District, who narrowly lost to Democratic newcomer Patrick Murphy. On Wednesday, however, West's campaign called for a recount, citing "disturbing irregularities reported at polls."

    Adelson did score one point with his $2 million contribution that helped sink a Michigan ballot initiative seeking to enshrine collective bargaining in the state's Constitution. Adelson runs the only non-union casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

    See which industries funneled the most cash into presidential race

    Adelson’s gamble on Romney
    Romney was not Adelson’s top choice. Adelson invested $16.5 million in former House Speaker Gingrich via Winning Our Future, the primary pro-Gingrich super PAC, before the candidate dropped out May 2.

    Now the top supporter of Restore Our Future, Adelson has said he is willing to spend $100 million electing Romney and a Republican Congress. The spending has made him newsworthy.
    Adelson’s steadfast and occasionally controversial positions on Israel’s national security have also increased his profile in the national media and provided fodder for the opposition.

    Idealism or self-interest?

    It is impossible to say for certain whether Adelson’s support of Romney is based on idealism or self-interest or both. Adelson’s spokesman refused to comment for this report.

    Romney’s tax policies and Adelson’s financial interests are aligned, especially when it comes to tax treatment of overseas profits.

    The Romney-backed “territorial tax system” would allow the Sands to bring its future foreign profits back to the U.S. free from U.S. income tax. Romney’s plan also calls for a “tax holiday” that would allow American companies with profits stashed abroad to repatriate them tax-free.

    The Sands holds $5.6 billion in in overseas profits, according to its 2011 annual report. Under Romney’s policy, Adelson and his company could repatriate it all for free.

    The tax holiday combined with a switch to a territorial tax system would potentially provide a $1.8 billion tax break to the Sands the first year, according to a study from a liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress.

    Adelson himself, as majority owner, stands to benefit.

    “By a reasonable but conservative estimate, the tax cut he stands to get from Romney’s tax policies over a four-year term would be well over $2 billion,” said Seth Hanlon, the author of the study.

    “When you consider he’s going to spend $100 million on the presidential race, the return on investment is more than 2000 percent.”

    Ohio: Fighting over crumbs

    Monday, Dec. 24, 2012

    $30M from casinos may not be shareable

    Library, cities and townships have asked county to share casino taxes, but it might not be legal.

    By Tiffany Y. Latta

    Local cities and townships that want a share of casino money from Clark County government may face an uphill battle.

    The County Commissioners Association of Ohio has raised questions about whether counties can legally give municipalities money unless it’s for a specific project or service, such as funding roads.

    “There is a serious legal question if the county can simply give money to other political subdivisions through an appropriation,” CCAO Director Larry Long wrote in a memo sent to county leaders with “talking points” on revenue sharing requests.

    The Hollywood Casino Toledo, Horseshoe Casino Cleveland and the Hollywood Casino Columbus combined have brought in more than $293 million in total revenues. So far the casinos have sent more than $59 million in taxes to the state, with about $30 million of that designated for Ohio’s 88 counties and eight largest cities.

    Clark County has received more than $360,000 from the casinos as of late October, including a single payout that month of more than $239,000. Champaign County has received more than $104,000.

    The memo to county leaders comes months after the New Carlisle Public Library requested $50,000 and New Carlisle, Bethel Twp. and Springfield also asked for a share of the county’s casino money.

    Municipalities and townships say the money is needed because of local government fund cuts and other reductions as a result of the 2012 state budget.

    Several townships have asked for a share of casino money, Ohio Township Association Director Matthew DeTemple said, but his organization hasn’t taken an issue on the matter.

    But he said because state cuts have hit smaller communities hard, legislatures have acknowledged that there is a need to redistribute local government funds.

    “There’s no harm in asking, but there’s also no legal obligation for them to do that,” DeTemple said.

    Clark County Administrator Nathan Kennedy said the county has no plans to spend casino revenue or distribute it to area municipalities and other entities for at least a year because current casino revenue estimates are unreliable.

    “I just don’t think it’s prudent. It doesn’t mean no, it just means not now,” Kennedy said.

    Long’s memo reiterates that point, saying the financial performance of casinos are already “significantly less than anticipated.”

    “The value of receiving casino revenues is extremely speculative. We remain critically concerned with this revenue’s reliability and performance. And the limited experience we do have suggest we are well found in our concerns,” Long wrote.

    Long also advised officials to obtain a legal ruling from a prosecutor before sharing any casino money and to remind municipalities of the services county governments pay for, such as the county jail, mental health and human services.

    He also said voters approved casino revenue allocations to counties and schools, and any change would require an amendment to the state Constitution, an option township supporters say they aren’t currently pursuing.

    The Hollywood Casino Columbus, which opened Oct. 8., brought in more than $18 million in it’s first month and more than $20 million in revenue in November.

    Counties receive four payments annually from casinos, with the first distributed this past July. The next payment for the county is at the end of January. School districts will receive two casino payments per year, with the first coming at the end of January

    Revenues from casinos in Toledo and Cleveland have dropped since June, said Long from the county commissioners association, and he speculated that all of the casinos will likely see a decline when racinos — slot machines at race tracks — open. He also said counties are “under a threat” to lose additional local government funds in the 2013 state budget.

    No one wants a fight between smaller communities and counties, Long said, but instead want the entities to fight to restore money cut in the last state budget.

    “We all got cut. All of us got the double whammy. We understand the problems they have … A lot of small municipalities and townships are hurting. We’d love to see the restoration of some of that funding, but we won’t know until February,” Long said.

    Data Sharing and Slot Machines

    Data Sharing and Slot Machines
    Rob Fox
    Dec 20, 2012
    My wife and I were in Vegas recently on a little R&R getaway when I sat down at a slot machine. After a few minutes, I started thinking about the evolution of the slot machine and how that reminded me of changes in how applications are hosted and share data.

    I still remember (ok, dating myself here) when a slot machine was nothing more than a machine you fed coins into that had three physical reels that spun by pulling a lever and stopped spinning based on a random number generator. Based on the pay table, the machine would spit out coins (if you were lucky of course). If you were indeed very lucky and the random number generator favored you, you got to load up a bucket with coins and visit a cashier, who ran them through a machine and handed you your aggregate winnings in the form of paper money.

    Boy how things have changed! The premise is the same, but through technology innovation driven by the benefits of data sharing, the experience has changed. Gone are the plunk of the coins that used to hit the bin. Nowadays, think about the data involved with something as simple as playing a slot machine:

    1 – You walk up to a machine, you insert a “player’s” card into a slot in the machine. This reads your information so that your interaction with the machine can be recorded by the casino. Play enough and the casino will give you a free buffet, or some other freebie known as a “comp”. This implies a database somewhere that tracks your history, and it means the slot machine’s computer is feeding this data to a central repository somewhere.

    2 – Time to put your money in – Paper? Vouchers? The ability to pay has gotten “easier”. Here we see technology enabling ease-of-use, which is geared at better user experience and translates to more plays in shorter amount of time (parallels to EDI anyone?).

    3 – You look up to see the current progressive jackpot – a dollar amount that is constantly changing. A dollar amount that is dynamically computed in real-time across an entire family of casinos. This too implies coordination of data from multiple sources, which are aggregated, recorded and sent back to the same systems to provide “fresh data”.

    4 – If you win, you print out a voucher that represents money. That voucher is scanned by a machine which pays out the winnings. The machine is reading the barcode and doing a lookup once again to a server that records the payout. Here we see elimination of dirty coins in a way that replaces an almost completely manual analog experience with a more reliable and more efficient digital one (see the EDI parallels?).

    By unlocking the data going in and out of these one-armed bandits, one can quickly see the benefits of the “improved” technology (or not if you lose your money as fast I as I did).

    I didn’t even mention the crazy digital nature of machines nowadays, along with the bonus games and noises, it’s changed quite a bit. I do miss the loud “plunk” of the coins when you win, but many machines now come preinstalled with high quality speakers that pump out that beautiful sound recorded digitally.

    Data sharing, ain’t it grand?

    When Gambling Buys the Election

    Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012

    Editorial: What’s in a name? The future of casinos in Florida

    By Jac Versteeg

    International casino operator Genting has announced that it will end an effort to ask Florida voters to authorize mega-casinos in, say, Miami-Dade County, where Genting bought waterfront property.

    A gambling person — excuse us, a “gaming” person — might bet that Genting and other casino hopefuls have concluded that they can get what they want quicker and easier from the Florida Legislature. And — what are the odds? — the Senate has just created a “Gaming” Committee to conduct a thorough review of “gaming” in Florida.

    Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, and Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, both are on the committee. Both are pro-“gaming.”

    Could they at least call it gambling? When lawmakers adopt the industry’s euphemism, it leaves the impression that big casino interests aren’t gambling that they can get what they want; they’re gaming the system to get it.

    Jac Wilder VerSteeg
    for The Post Editorial Board

    Gambling Group Raises the Stakes for Rick Scott’s Re-election

    By: Jim Turner | Posted: December 19, 2012

    Gov. Rick Scott wasn’t a proponent of expanding gambling in Florida as a proposal was debated in the Legislature last spring.

    Then again, he never really came out in opposition to the bill before it died in the House.

    Now the group that is building up his campaign finances for his 2014 re-election effort have picked up a $100,000 donation from the business behind last session’s drive to allow casino gambling to proliferate in the Sunshine State.

    The Genting Group-related firm Bayfront 2011 Development LLC dropped the donation Dec. 17 into the coffers of the Let’s Get to Work electioneering organization.
    Earlier this month, Malaysian-based casino giant Genting withdrew its plans to collect signatures to ask voters in 2014 to support a constitutional amendment on casinos.

    The Miami-based Bayfront donation was one of 10 worth a combined $284,000 that was reported on Let’s Get to Work’s website.

    Others who chipped into Scott’s re-election since Oct. 1 included investor Lloyd Miller of Palm Beach, who contributed $50,000; Flagler Medical Management, $10,000; and St. Joe Co., $10,000.

    While Scott has said he doesn’t intend to dip into his personal wealth for his re-election bid after spending an estimated $75 million in 2010, the Let’s Get to Work war chest continues to pose a hurdle for any challenger.

    Entering the fourth quarter, the electioneering organization had collected $4.4 million since the start of the year, far outpacing the just over $58,000 raised by Democrat Nan Rich, the former state senator from Weston.

    Alex Sink, the state’s former chief financial officer, drew $28 million when running as the Democratic Party candidate for governor in 2010.

    Former governor and newly born Democrat Charlie Crist, as a Republican was able to muster $60 million in 2006 but could only scratch together just over $13 million four years later when running for U.S. Senate as an independent.

    Sunday, December 23, 2012

    Gambling Addiction Story Ends in Tragedy

    Another Massachusetts Community Targeted

    Littleton latest town to be eyed for casino
    December 21, 2012
    Littleton is the latest Bay State town to enter the increasingly competitive casino game as officials there have had preliminary talks about a possible gaming facility, the Herald has learned.
    Clairvest, a Toronto-based casino company, has reached out to the town about a possible gambling parlor but no specific plan has been proposed, Littleton town administrator Keith Bergman said.
    "Town officials have been familiarizing ourselves with the gaming statute and the impacts of such operations in other communities," Bergman said tonight. "The town of Littleton is committed to a full and thorough public input and review process for any proposal which might be submitted.
    Clairvest, which operates a casino in suburban Chicago with Rush Street Gaming, is one of 11 firms that has met with the state gaming board about the application process. It's unknown if Clairvest would seek a full casino or a slots parlor. A company official did not return messages.

    Clairvest operates at least seven casinos in the United States, Canada and Chile and most recently opened Rivers Casino in suburban Chicago. The company was also part of a group that sought to turn New York’s Aqueduct racetrack into a casino but the deal fell apart and the racino is now run by another firm.

    Clairvest’s partner in the Chicago casino is developer Neil Bluhm’s Rush Street Gaming. Representatives of Bluhm’s company have also met with state gaming officials, MGC spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said.

    Officials from Clairvest and Rush Street did not return messages.

    Driscoll said the board should get a clearer picture of who all the true players are within a couple weeks. The board has set a Jan. 15 deadline for applicants to pay the state-required $400,000 preliminary license fee.

    Also, the state law requires gaming developers to strike a deal with local officials in the town or city where the facility will be built. Driscoll added that details of projects should come into focus in the coming weeks as developers start to hash out deals with host communities.

    In addition to Clairvest and Rush Street Gaming, the companies that have met with the MGC are: MGM and Penn National, each of which has proposed a Springfield casino; Mohegan Sun, which has pitched a Palmer casino; Raynham Park and Plainridge Racecourse, each of which wants a slots parlor; Suffolk Downs and Wynn Resorts, each of which wants the sole Boston casino license; Ameristar, which recently pulled out of Springfield; and Hard Rock International, whose plans remain unknown.