Meetings & Information


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Newt Gingrich’s agenda-setting big donor

Food for thought --

Newt Gingrich’s agenda-setting big donor
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who is the biggest patron of Newt Gingrich's presidential bid, giving a reported $10m to a Gingrich-supporting Super Pac. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP
by Arun Kundnani

By donating $10m to the pro-Newt Gingrich Super Pac campaign, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, one of the richest men in the US, and his physician wife, Dr Miriam Adelson, have kept Gingrich in the Republican primary race, and given him the resources to win in South Carolina and, potentially, in Florida, without having to build a large donor base.

The power of corporate money in American politics is nothing new. But the rules set by the US supreme court in its Citizens United decision – that money is speech and corporations are people protected by the first amendment – have undone the limits set by Congress in the 1970s, allowing, in this case, one family to transform the Republican primary race.

Of course, like all private funding of politics, there is no way of knowing with certainty what the Adelsons expect to achieve with their money. And the mainstream US media has been coy about referring to the Adelsons’ political views. The New York Times story on the latest $5m donation to the Gingrich-supporting Super Pac merely described Sheldon Adelson as “a longtime Gingrich friend and a patron”.

This ignored the fact that the Adelsons use their wealth to fund rightwing groups in Israel and anti-Muslim campaigns within the US, causes that are also strongly supported by Gingrich. In Israel, Sheldon Adelson has been accused of using his newspaper Israel Hayom to promote support for his friend, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is also a political ally of Gingrich. In addition, Adelson is a financial backer of the One Jerusalem group, which opposes peace negotiations that would lead to parts of Jerusalem coming under Palestinian sovereignty. The couple’s Adelson Family Foundation donated $4.5m to the founding of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem, headed by Likud party former minister Natan Sharansky (pdf).

Adelson has also funded the leading pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac). Aipac is known for its strong and effective advocacy of Israel’s interests in Washington, but four years ago, Adelson reportedly complained to its director that it was too supportive of the Palestinians. He has called the two-state solution a“stepping stone for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people”. He also reportedly supports the Clarion Fund, which produces scare-mongering films advancing the conspiracy theory that Muslims seek to impose sharia law in America.

Gingrich shares the same political agenda. On 9 December, in an interview with the Jewish Channel, Gingrich stated that the Palestinians are an “invented” people. Asked about the comments while in Israel,Adelson defended Gingrich. In an address to the Republican Jewish Committee last June, Gingrich called for the US to end negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and for the closure of UN camps that house 1.4 million Palestinian refugees. He has also said there is no reason for Israelis to slow down settlement activity and give up on “maximizing their bargaining position”. He has enthusiastically perpetuated the narrative that Obama has been a poor friend to Israel, despite Obama’s repeated statements and actions to the contrary.

Gingrich is “realistic” about the threat of Islamic fundamentalism,according to Adelson. He has endorsed the conspiracy theory that Muslim organisations are using a strategy of “stealth jihad” to infiltrate sharia law into US institutions. Speaking to the American Enterprise Institute in July 2010, Gingrich said: “I believe sharia is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” He favours a federal law to ban sharia from US courts and has said he would require American Muslims to make a loyalty declaration before serving in his administration. With his wife Callista, he produced and narrated a 2010 film on the threat of radical Islam, entitled America at Risk: The War With No Name. Bernard Lewis, who coined the phrase “clash of civilisations”, appears in the film, saying: “This war will go on until the entire world either embraces Islam or submits to Islamic rule.”

While Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have also declared their strong support for Israel, only Gingrich has embraced a vision of civilizational conflict between the west and Islam – a convenient narrative for the right in Israel, which fears growing international support for the human rights of Palestinians, and would prefer Americans to think of Israel as a bastion of western values threatened by Islamic barbarism.

The number of Americans holding this view is declining. One index of this shifting mood was the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman writing last December that the standing ovation Netanyahu received at Congress was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby”, implying that money rather than shared values underlies the special relationship.

Yet there remains a reluctance to fully discuss these issues for fear of fueling the old hate libels about Jewish money controlling world events. This is a real concern: antisemitism continues to be central to much far-right ideology in the US and Europe. Equally, though, we should not be discouraged from properly scrutinising the millions of dollars being spent to advance the career of a politician who promotes conspiracy theories about a Muslim takeover of America and is running for the presidential nomination while espousing a Greater Israel agenda.

Original post: Newt Gingrich’s agenda-setting big donor

Casino construction resumes Wed.

Casino construction resumes Wed.
Written by
Alexander Coolidge


Messer Construction Co. announced it will resume construction of the future Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati on Wednesday – just five days after an accident injured more than a dozen workers and halted work.

Messer, the project’s construction manager, said it is beefing up safety proceedures to prevent further incidents. It also vowed to continue aiding inspectors in ongoing investigations into Friday’s collapse of a part of the second floor.

“Worker safety remains the priority of all parties involved as we resume work on this important project,” Messer president Tom Keckeis, said in a statement. “We are confident that our augmented protocols for supervising, inspecting and verifying all work performed in the construction schedule can be performed safely, or it will not go forward.”

Friday’s accident occurred when concrete workers poured cement for a floor onto sheet metal that was resting on a steel beam that broke away.

The accident has spurred two investigations. The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration is investigating the cause to ensure the safety of workers, while third-party structural engineers employed by the casino developer are looking into the cause, damage and remedies required, which the city will review.

Messer declined to discuss details of the incident, but investigators have approved work to resume. The company said its “project design and safety teams have reviewed all aspects of the construction, safety and inspection protocols, and we are implementing additional procedures to prevent this from happening again.”

The announcement comes hours after Cincinnati’s top building official said partial construction activity could resume as early as this week.

Amit Ghosh, chief building officer, said the emerging casino complex is a large site, and work could resume away from the section where the floor collapsed. He indicated work could resume first on the 2,500-car parking garage, which is a separate building.

“The site will hopefully be mobilized later this week,” Ghosh told city council members during a briefing on the investigations after the accident.

(Page 2 of 2)

He declined to discuss potential causes of the accident, but disclosed it is a common practice that steel beams are not always permanently affixed to the framework when they are first installed. He said it’s possible the beam that failed last week may not have had all the bolts installed or fully tightened to permanently secure it before it failed.

“Some were temporarily connected because other beams were not in place yet,” he said, adding afterward he didn’t know how many bolts were installed in the failed beam or how many would ultimately hold it in place.

Bob May, owner of RJM Consulting in Monfort Heights, said it is a common construction practice to erect steel without fully tightening all bolts to allow for some adjustments, but those bolts should be tightened and inspected before any load – such as a concrete floor – is placed on those beams. May’s firm manages construction projects for commercial clients, and he teaches classes in constrcution methods at the University of Cincinnati.

“Before you pour concrete, a special inspection should have taken place,” he said.
Ghosh said Messer Construction Co., the project’s construction manager, has promised the city it will ensure steel beams will be permanently installed before future concrete pouring is conducted.

“We have said, and they have agreed, that all connections they make from now on will be completely connected and we will get a structural engineer’s report before every pour that’s made,” he said.

Steel probed in casino collapse
Written by Alexander Coolidge and Lisa Bernard-Kuhn

DOWNTOWN — Steel beams fabricated by a Jackson, Miss., firm and installed by J&B Steel Erectors Inc. of West Chester will be examined as part of dual investigations into the collapse last Friday of the future Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati.

Probes by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the city of Cincinnati are ongoing to determine why a steel beam supporting a section of the second floor collapsed while cement workers poured concrete on sheet metal on top of it.

Scott Allen, OSHA spokesman, said investigators will be talking to key contractors on the job: J&B, which began installing the steel frame last September; Jostin Constuction, which was pouring the cement during the collapse; Woolpert, the civil engineer that crafted the building specifications; and Messer Construction Co., the construction manager that oversees the project.

“We’ll look at all aspects to determine the cause,” said Scott Allen, an OSHA spokesman.

Construction of the future Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati remained halted on Monday as investigators continued to examine potential causes. At least 13 unidentified workers were hospitalized; one remained in serious condition at Bethesda North on Monday.

OSHA and city officials declined to speculate how long their separate reviews will take or how soon they will clear the site to resume construction. Both have to give the okay for work to continue. A specific cause does not have to be determined, just that building design and work conditions are deemed safe, they said.

Experts said construction work might resume in a few days or in several weeks, depending on the complexity of the investigation.

The city is investigating after building officials evaluated the site on Friday. The city is awaiting findings by structural engineers working for the casino, which the developer will forward to city officials.

Amit Ghosh, the city’s chief building officer, is scheduled to brief the city council’s Major Transportation and Infrastructure Projects Subcommittee today on the accident, the investigation and the impact.

(Page 2 of 2)

Allen said OSHA had inspectors examining the site with some contractors over the weekend. He said once investigators have assessed the site, they will likely supervise the cleanup, which could yield additional clues.

Ihab Saad, chairman of the Department of Construction Management at Northern Kentucky University, said the more complicated the investigation, the longer it takes to restart work and ultimately conclude the inquiry. Work could resume in a few days or a few weeks.

“The construction site is quite large – they could resume work in areas not deemed to be dangerous,” he said.

Saad is not involved with the project and declined to speculate on the cause of the accident.

However, he noted that steel beams are routinely inspected with ultrasound for small cracks and breaks before they’re used in a construction job. He was also skeptical of a design flaw, since plans have been reviewed by engineers, inspectors and contractors.

Saad said the bolts holding the beam that gave way may have too tight or not tight enough.

A final cause of the accident may not determined for as long as six months. OSHA is still investigating a similar incident that befell Horseshoe casino construction six weeks earlier in Cleveland, but workers resumed development after one week.

Toya Estes, president of J&B Steel, expressed concern for injured workers and vowed to help investigators.

“Our prayers are with the injured workers and their families and we stand ready to provide any assistance to them that we can,” said Estes in a written statement. “We, along with all other contractors on the project, are cooperating with OSHA and other investigators to identify the causes of this accident and to see that the potential for any future problems are corrected immediately.”

Estes’ firm is a subcontractor to Jackson, Mississippi-based Steel Service, which fabricated the steel for the job.

Messer and Jostin issued similar statements of concern along with pledges of full cooperation over the weekend. Woolpert deferred to developer Rock Gaming and Messer for comment. Rock Gaming officials said it’s too early to know why the accident occurred.

Casino site after collapse

Casino Collapse Is Second In Two Months For Developer Rock Gaming LLC, At Least 20 Injured (VIDEO)

Wynn asks judge to oppose top investor's suit

Wynn asks judge to oppose top investor's suit
By Farah Master

(Reuters) - Las Vegas tycoon Steve Wynn's Wynn Resorts has urged a U.S. court to reject legal claims made by its largest shareholder, adding fire to an escalating public spat that could impact the future control of the $15 billion casino giant.

In a 117-page filing with the Clark County District Court in Nevada, Wynn stated that Kazuo Okada, who holds a 20 percent stake in the firm, was "utilizing innuendo, hyperbole, half-truths and sweeping generalizations" in his legal petition that was filed on January 11.

Okada, Wynn's longtime business partner who was formerly known for his close relationship with the U.S. billionaire, sued the company for denying him access to crucial financial information and has objected to an "inappropriate" $135 million company donation to the University of Macau.

The Japanese businessman owns more than double the stake of Wynn Resorts stock than Wynn himself has. Okada filed his suit through Aruze USA Inc -- a unit of his company Universal Entertainment Corp, an arcade-game manufacturer and developer of a multi-billion-dollar casino in the Philippines.

Responding in Monday's filing in Nevada, Wynn stated that Nevada law did not give Okada the right to inspection and his requests were "nothing more than stockholder inspection requests, on behalf of Aruze."

"Nevada law does not afford Okada or any other individual director the right to do an end run around the express statutory limitations on stockholder inspection rights, or to play detective, while unnecessarily distracting and burdening Wynn's management with the endless task of satisfying his unfounded and unarticulated 'concerns'," the filing said.

Wynn's donation to the University of Macau in 2011 was approved by the boards of Wynn Resorts and Wynn Macau on April 18 last year, with Okada the only member of the 12-person board who objected to the payment, according to the latest filing.


In an email sent to Reuters on Tuesday, Aruze USA said that as a member of the board of Wynn Resorts, Okada had the right to inspect the corporate documents he deemed necessary to carry out his duties as a director.

"The response of Wynn Resorts' management, while full of colorful rhetoric, cannot explain this away. We look forward to presenting our position to the Court," Aruze said.

Okada, a Hong Kong resident who made his fortune in Japanese pachinkos, has also proposed four potential candidates for election ahead of Wynn's 2012 shareholder meeting.

If these are endorsed, the Japanese businessman would be pushing out high level executives including Wynn's Chief Operating Officer Marc Schorr and Linda Chen, President of Wynn International Marketing, whose terms expire this year.

Wynn, creator of the volcano-roaring Mirage and lavish Bellagio in Las Vegas, upset shareholders more than 12 years ago with overzealous spending on items including his $200 million art collection, eating into profitability of his firm at the time, Mirage Resorts.

Weighed by poor company earnings, Wynn agreed to sell out to MGM Grand, now known as MGM Resorts International in 2000, before rebounding on the gaming stage with Wynn Resorts.


Wynn, like Las Vegas and Macau rival Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands, has expressed interest in cementing his presence in emerging Asian gaming markets such as Japan and South Korea should legalization allow in the future.

Okada, who has been investing in Wynn Resorts since 2000, is seen as key to the company's potential casino development in Japan due to his vast business links and contacts.

The earthquake and tsunami-ravaged country has been discussing legalizing casinos to help contribute to international tourism. Japan is a market that analysts say would be highly lucrative and could generate revenues of over $40 billion a year.

"The negative relationship dynamics that have developed seem serious enough to where it may put the company's future in Japan in jeopardy," said Jonathan Galaviz, managing director and chief economist at research firm Galaviz & Company.

"My guess is that this negative relationship issue with Wynn Resorts will probably press Okada to develop a relationship with another U.S. casino gaming company. Certainly Las Vegas Sands has been very aggressive in their desire to do something in Japan," said Galaviz, adding that he expected many large corporates to be reaching out to Okada's organization.

Revenues from Wynn's property in Macau, the world's largest gambling destination on the tip of China's southern coast, accounts for 70 percent of Wynn Resort's total revenues. Wynn currently does not have a presence in the fast-growing Singapore market, where LVS has developed one of the world's most profitable casinos.

(Editing by Brian Rhoads and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

The Desperation of Atlantic City and False Promises

State agency’s plan for Atlantic City: make it a cleaner, safer and more inviting resort
By Wayne Parry Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Friends have taught Larry Sherlock two main things about Atlantic City: Bally’s, the Taj Mahal and the Borgata give out nice comps. And, don’t venture out onto Pacific or Atlantic avenues, especially at night.

The retiree and his wife love Atlantic City enough to make the seven-hour drive from Hampton, Va., twice a month. But when they’re here, they experience only a tiny slice of the resort, sticking to the casinos and the Boardwalk, areas where they feel safe.

People like Sherlock, a retired manufacturing manager, are at the heart of a redevelopment plan expected to be approved Wednesday by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the newly empowered state agency tasked with carrying out Gov. Chris Christie’s overhaul plans for the nation’s second-largest gambling resort.

The goal is simple: to make Atlantic City safer, cleaner and more inviting.

“We’ve identified dozens of interesting ideas to improve visitation, improve the convention atmosphere, the Boardwalk, and entertainment venues,” said John Palmieri, executive director of the CRDA. “The visitor experience is very important.”

Billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs are at stake. For the past five years, Atlantic City’s casino revenue has been plunging due to an ever-growing number of casinos in neighboring states, and the continued sluggish economy.

Lawmakers in the far more populous northern part of New Jersey have long clamored for slot machines and table games at horse tracks in their part of the state, including the struggling Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, just outside New York City. Thus far, Christie has resisted those calls, promising to give Atlantic City five years to get its act together before revisiting the question of whether it deserves to continue the monopoly on gambling that the state’s Constitution gives it.

To do that, Christie got state legislators to create a new tourism district in Atlantic City consisting of the casinos, the Boardwalk, shopping districts and the former Bader Field airport site, and put the CRDA in charge of overseeing it. The plan the agency is expected to approve Wednesday addresses quality of life issues for visitors and residents alike, calling for new development in some areas, spruced up store facades, removal of anti-crime shutters on businesses, stepped-up sanitation and other initiatives.

Already, workers riding mini-vacuum trucks are scurrying up and down Atlantic Avenue, sucking trash from the gutter and trying to keep things cleaner than they have been in recent years. Flowers are being planted, signs erected giving better directions to attractions, and a new parking garage is being built to accommodate shoppers drawn to The Walk and its successful outlet stores.

That area, considered the main gateway to Atlantic City, has been given a total makeover, with glittering spires, a landscaped median strip, and gleaming new stores on either side of the end of the Atlantic City Expressway that put an inviting face on the first impression many visitors get here. CRDA hopes to duplicate that kind of success in other areas that are not as tourist-friendly.

Atlantic and Pacific avenues, the two main downtown streets, will get particular attention.

“The first two streets off the Boardwalk I don’t go to, because I was told not to, especially at night,” Sherlock said. “I hope they do make it safe there. If I have to go anywhere around here, I go by car.”

He and his wife have been visiting Atlantic City for 20 years, and haven’t experienced anything worse than the occasional panhandler begging for change or cigarettes on the Boardwalk. But he says it would be nice to feel as at-ease on the downtown streets as he does on the Boardwalk.

Palmieri and his agency declined to reveal specific details of the plan until after it is presented and approved on Wednesday. But in a series of public hearings in recent months, several proposals have been discussed at length.

The agency has envisioned putting stores or restaurants on the ground floor of casino parking garages along Pacific Avenue, the oceanfront street, and even encouraging patio dining along the street, which is now lined with cash-for-gold pawn shops, strip clubs, discount motels and run-down buildings.

It also wants businesses along Atlantic Avenue, two blocks inland, to remove anti-crime shutters from their storefronts, and has considered locating state offices in a dense cluster on the street to create more activity in certain spots.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dear Mr. Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO

Beacon Hill lawmakers, sorely in need of spinal transplants and too lazy to conduct their own research, suddenly awakened to the prospect of NIMBY in the flawed legislation they supported when suddenly confronted by constituent opposition.

Regardless of the neighborhood, regardless of the town, the Gambling Industry only exists because it creates NEW Gamblers because of proximity and relies on NEW GAMBLING ADDICTS.

This isn't sensible public policy that protect the Common Good by preying on those least able to afford it.

Didn't any of these lawmakers wonder why Beacon Hill refused to conduct an INDEPENDENT COST ANALYSIS?

Mr. Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO

The Kraft Group
One Patriot Place
Foxborough, MA 02035

Dear Mr. Kraft:

We members of the General Court, who have the honor of representing the citizens of Walpole, respectfully stating on their behalf and in their best interests, that we stand united and unanimous in opposition to a casino being situated so unacceptably close to the homes and businesses in the town of Walpole. This opposition of the people was succinctly affirmed by the recent unanimous votes of the Walpole Board of Selectmen and the Walpole Planning Board, each member of each board voting to support the votes of their Foxborough counterparts to oppose the siting of a casino in Foxborough.

We remain ever mindful of your vitally important business presence in our region, your invaluable contributions to our economy, and your steady leadership in putting thousands of our citizens to work. Your philanthropy to countless charitable and worthy causes is legendary and has, no doubt, changed the course of lives of so many of our fellow brothers and sisters for the better. For your past deeds, we owe you our deep gratitude; for your future deeds, we owe you our loyal candor. Thus, to be candid, should you continue with your current casino plans, though, of course, it is your right to do so, the wonderfully rich legacy that you so admirably cultivated over the last four decades would be terribly and irreparably diminished forever in the hearts and minds of the people of Walpole who have been your willing partners and supporters for so very long.

With the utmost respect, we appeal to you, our valued neighbor, to reverse course and announce that you have heard the voice of the people and, for their prosperity and well-being, will not seek to place a casino on your land. If you do that historic deed, your great legacy will forever be enshrined.


John H. Rogers, 12th Norfolk
Louis L. Kafka, 8th Norfolk
Paul McMurtry, 11th Norfolk
Daniel B. Winslow, 9th Norfolk

Jimmy Dimora county corruption trial

Clever, catchy and crude quotes peppered throughout the Jimmy Dimora county corruption trial
By: Ken Trump,

AKRON, Ohio - If news crews were allowed to take recording equipment into the federal courtroom during the Jimmy Dimora county corruption trial, there certainly would be no shortage of sound bites during the evening news.

Quotable quotes, along with a number of profanity-laced quotes that cannot be fully quoted in the news, have been peppered throughout the first few weeks of the Dimora trial.

But since federal rules prohibit cameras in the courtroom, a one-stop shop of some of the more clever, catchy and sometimes crude quotes from the first weeks of the trial is presented below.

From the witnesses:

- "I was there to perform sex work for Jimmy Dimora and Mike Gabor."
Testimony by female escort Rebecca Johnson in describing her "sessions" with Dimora, defendant Michael Gabor and others at a Flats condo.

- “I wanted to gain influence at Cuyahoga County and help my businesses and get protection for my businesses...After I developed a relationship with Mr. Dimora, things ran a lot better."
Contractor and government witness Ferris Kleem told jurors in describing why he allegedly bribed Dimora.

- “Yeah, but after I gave her the money...I told her he's a very nice man but he is large."
Kleem told federal prosecutor Ann Rowland, who asked Kleem if he ever described Dimora to Suzzanne Michaels, the Vegas female escort the FBI said had sex with Dimora in his Vegas hotel room.

- "Because Mr. Dimora would take the cash."
Former county employee-turned-consultant Daniel Gallagher said when asked by a federal prosecutor why he gave Dimora $2,000 in cash during a gambling trip to Canada but did not give money to the two other county commissioners who also had to approve a personnel appointment.

- "I feel like a stool pigeon."
Kevin Filko, a prosecution witness and maintenance manager for Plumbers Union Local 55, said while testifying about seeing Dimora, Russo and others at poker parties at the union hall.

From the wiretaps:

- “A little chatty, but good…Thank you, though. It was excellent. Thank you. Thank you.”
Dimora said while thanking contractor Ferris Kleem for setting up a woman who the FBI said provided Dimora with a massage and sex in his Vegas hotel room.

- "I'm leaving Vegas as a man-w----. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."
Dimora told contractor Michael Forlani as Dimora was leaving his multi-day Vegas trip.

- “Tell them I sat in First Class because my fat a-- won’t fit in second class or whatever they call it.”
Dimora said to former Auditor Frank Russo when Russo told him the Plain Dealer newspaper was doing a story on their Vegas trip.

- “Get the one with the thing in her tongue.”
Dimora told J. Kevin Kelley, referring to bringing a female escort later identified as Rebecca Johnson to a Flats condo where she said she performed "sex work" with Dimora and others.

- "I’ve gotta have it for an emergency. In case a terrorist attacks, it’s my county emergency management location.”
Dimora joked on a wiretap while talking about getting a key to a Flats condo that prosecutors said was used by Dimora and others for poker games and sex.

- "You misfit mother (expletive). You deformed (expletive) sucker."
Dimora greeted J. Kevin Kelley at the start of one wiretap conversation.

- “I always tell people loyalty makes up for brains any day.”
J. Kevin Kelley told Brian Schuman, former co-director of the Alternatives Agency, a halfway house program and consulting client Kelley lobbied for while he also served as a county employee.

- "I gotta have a (expletive) fundraiser to pay this (expletive) jersey off."
Dimora told contractor Michael Forlani after Dimora's wife charged $3,600 for a Beanie Wells football jersey at his request while they were at an auction.

From the attorneys:

- "The guides in this story are not going to be Girl Scouts."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon said while warning jurors in her opening statement that government witnesses will include people who were investigated, pleaded guilty and made deals to testify for the government.

- "Don't leave a trail of breadcrumbs the FBI could follow."
Prosecutor Bacon told jurors was one of three rules Dimora and former Auditor Frank Russo followed in orchestrating corrupt activities in the county.

- "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, except when the FBI is involved."
Michael Gabor's defense attorney Leif Christman told juors during opening statements.

- "You can't be part of a conspiracy if you don't know about it."
Defense attorney Christman told reporters in response to questions about Christman's cross-examination successes in getting some prosecution witnesses to distance defendant Gabor from dinners, meetings and other schemes highlighted by prosecutors.

- "Foul language is not a crime."
Dimora defense attorney Bill Whitaker said when asked by reporters about the government playing numerous wiretaps with Dimora using profanity.

- "The background noise is gambling, sexual talk and carousing. The government has confused this kind of behavior with corruption."

defense attorney Andrea Whitaker told jurors during opening statements.

From the judge:

- "I'm telling you right now, nobody had better misstep. We have worked too hard, too long to come to this point. We have 18 citizens who have committed their time to come to this courthouse, to sit in that jury box and to listen to the evidence so this case can be resolved. I don't want any missteps coming from anyone in this room, directly or indirectly. Anyone have any problems understanding this directive?"

U.S. District Court Judge Sara Lioi admonished attorneys after prosecutors claimed defense attorneys violated a protective order prohibiting the release of sensitive information.

Dimora and Gabor have maintained their innocence of all federal charges.

Continue to follow and NewsChannel5 for new quotable quotes and new developments in the trial.

Read more:

Ala. gambling retrial faces uncertainty after weekend death of defendant

Ala. gambling retrial set to start Monday faces uncertainty after weekend death of defendant
PHILLIP RAWLS Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The status of the retrial of Alabama's gambling corruption case is unclear after the weekend death of a defendant.

The trial was scheduled to begin Monday in federal court, but it wasn't certain if jury selection would go forward right away following the death Sunday of former legislative employee Joseph "Ray" Crosby. Montgomery County Coroner David Thrasher confirmed Crosby's death, but would not release additional information and said only that the investigation is continuing.

In addition to Crosby, the second trial was to involve casino owner Milton McGregor, state Sen. Harri Anne Smith, former Sens. Larry Means and Jim Preuitt, and two others. All were facing bribery charges and six of the seven faced conspiracy charges. Some of the defense attorneys had estimated that jury selection could last several days.

The first trial ended in August with the jury acquitting two defendants, but unable to agree on some charges against the remaining seven.

The judge and defense attorneys were to be the same for the retrial, but the federal government has a new lead prosecutor.

the “crack cocaine” of gambling

Pokies make mega-profits out of misery
By Paul Benedek

“Poker machine playing is a repetitive and insidious form of gambling which has many undesirable features. It requires no thought, no skill or social contact. The odds are never about winning … the machines … are addictive to many people. Historically poker machines have been banned … in the public interest, they should stay banned.”

This quote is not from independent MP Andrew Wilkie, or “No Pokies” Nick Xenophon.

It is from the 1974 Royal Commission into Gambling, Western Australia.

Almost four decades ago, WA took far more stringent poker machine reform measures than those scuttled by the Gillard government in breaking its deal with Wilkie. Apart from one casino, WA remains poker machine free.

In contrast, the rest of Australia has more than 200,000 pokies — 21% of all gambling machines on the planet. More than half Australia’s machines are in New South Wales, where there is a poker machine for every 70 people.

Poker machines are a $12 billion annual business in Australia — and the house always wins.

Yet there are huge costs to a pokies-saturated society.

For 2.3% of Australian adults, gambling is an uncontrollable addiction that affects their personal, social and financial life. Three-quarters of those with a gambling problem have issues with pokies — the “crack cocaine” of gambling.

For each sufferer, 10 others — family, friends, workmates — are affected, meaning about 2 million Australians are impacted by problem gambling.

A gambling addict’s life revolves around the next “fix”, and the pokies industry is very obliging. Like with drugs, users need larger or more frequent wagers to get the same “rush”.

Wilkie's reforms targeted high-intensity machines, which allow gamblers to lose up to $15,000 in an hour.

Pokies are designed to be addictive. Sound and images entice users, and free games and bonus levels attract and hold gamblers. Users can even play over 3000 combinations with each “spin” using “multiple ways”, creating the illusion of increased chances while maximising the machine’s profit.

Such design feeds off addicts’ compulsion to “chase” losses – encouraging the false idea that if a gambler goes on long enough they will get the big payout that can cover previous losses.

Addicts don’t just punt their money – they risk their homes, jobs, personal relationships and health. They often lie to family and friends to cover up their problem, and in serious cases turn to crime to feed the addiction.

It costs lives. A 2010 study in an Australian hospital found that 17% of suicidal patients admitted were problem gamblers.

But for pokies industry lobby group Clubs Australia, addicts are not “problem gamblers”, but an important part of their billion-dollar takings.

Sixty percent of pokie revenue comes from people who have a gambling problem or are at risk, the Productivity Commission's 2010 gambling inquiry found.

Clubs Australia won’t give up this lucrative majority of their business – despite these profits flowing from depression, despair, family breakdown, job and housing losses, and suicide.

Clubs Australia waged a $20 million advertising drive that called the proposed reforms “un-Australian” and harmful to community organisations it supports.

Yet Clubs Australia admits that just 2.7% of the billions made from poker machines reaches community organisations and charities.

Meanwhile, the costs from the hugely anti-social, addictive industry are estimated at $4.7 billion a year.

Gillard can’t be accused of bowing to public opinion on pokies – all polls indicate overwhelming support for Wilkie’s reforms.

A May 2011 Australian National University survey found that 70% think gambling in Australia should be more tightly controlled, and 75% believe people should nominate how much they’ll spend before gambling. Most believe there are too many opportunities for gambling and it should be discouraged.

An Australia Institute national survey found 81% of Australians agreed that punters should be allowed to set limits on how much they bet.

Even an internet survey conducted by the Coalition’s Malcolm Turnbull found 57% support mandatory pre-commitment and 67% support for $1 bet limits.

Support for the reforms was even higher among Labor voters. And opposition to the reforms actually fell after the Clubs' ad campaign.

So just who is profiting from the unfettered pokies industry?

The largest Australian operator of pokies is Woolworths, which owns about 13,500 machines. The “fresh food people” are also taking food off the table.

Crikey’s Stephen Mayne revealed other interests tied into the pokies industry, such as the Canberra Labor Club, which profits from 500 machines; Jeff Kennett, chair of mental health organisation Beyond Blue, who is a paid director of pokies supplier Amtek; and Australia’s biggest newspaper publishers, News Ltd, which profits from pokies at club venues with its 50% ownership of the National Rugby League.

While the profiteers from pokies may be small in number, they are big in corporate, political and media influence. And they have 12 billion reasons to stick with the status quo.

Unable to refute the harm from poker machines, the industry echoes big tobacco’s mantra of “we need more evidence”.

Meanwhile, homes, relationships and lives are lost.

The Wilkie reforms could have been a first step to undermining the carnage from poker machines. Other solutions could include a ban on gambling advertising (like smoking ads), rather than constant promotions urging us to punt on every aspect of sports and beyond.

Social resources need to be provided for the elderly and others preyed on by the industry. In many communities, the local club — chock full of addictive pokies — is the only place to socialise.

But before change can occur, the corporate power of the pokies industry must be broken. The pokies lobby will put mega-profits, made out of human misery, ahead of even the most minor reforms.

Community power — from churches to trade unions — needs to mobilise against industry pressure.

Such a harmful industry shouldn’t remain in private hands. It should be nationalised, brought into public hands to determine its future. The public can discuss the urgent steps needed to end the pokies scourge.

Ultimately, pokies are “perfect capitalism”. While selling the lie that “everyone can win”, it is a mug’s game for the 99%, while the 1% clean up.

Like capitalism, the odds are stacked, billions flow from the poor to the rich, victims are hooked through advertising, and pokies operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

It’s time to end the madness of the rampant pokies industry and challenge the profits-before-everything system that underpins it.

Gambling turning into a big problem for Wisconsinites

Gambling turning into a big problem for Wisconsinites
By Mike Joyce

Eau Claire (WQOW)- With the Super Bowl just a week away, WQOW News 18 called a Wisconsin hotline that helps compulsive gamblers to see what they could tell us about one of the biggest gambling days of the year.

The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling received almost 14,000 calls last year from addicts calling their hotline for help.

"Our average debt last year was $158,000 and for us that number was triple over 2010," says Executive Director Rose Gruber. "It seems to be like their debt is getting higher."

Whether it's lottery tickets, mail order sweepstakes, slot machines or sports, betting experts say over 330,000 Wisconsinites have a gambling problem.

"If you are a sports better who has been losing all season long, the Super Bowl almost becomes in their mind, a make-it or break-it," Gruber explains. "So it really becomes kind of a desperation last-ditch effort for people for people who have a sports gambling problem.

To draw in bets, sports gambling web sites give fans hundreds of different betting options; from how long the national anthem will last, to which team will score the first point. When compulsive gamblers do ask for help, experts say it's usually too late.

"By the time people reach out very often for help, they have lost everything. Very often they have maxed out credit cards; 10 to 20 credit cards. They may have pay day loans. They probably have borrowed from everyone they know at that point. They have maxed financially," Gruber says. "It's not about they money. It's about the feeling. It's about the high just like other addictions. So no matter how much they win, they are probably going to continue to lose until they get help for their addiction."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Crosby mulls basic gambling questions

Crosby mulls basic gambling questions
Gaming chair sits for wide-ranging interview
Kyle Cheney

BOSTON (State House News Service) - When it convenes this spring, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will face an immediate conundrum with multimillion-dollar implications: how closely should gambling regulators partner with and advance the interests of the industry they’re charged with nurturing and policing?

Stephen Crosby, chairman of the new commission, is grappling with that question as he prepares to build a casino industry from scratch over the next two years. In a wide-ranging interview, Crosby wondered whether it is in the public’s interest to encourage gambling, whether casino regulators should work with licensed developers to ensure they maximize their economic impact, and if the commission should conduct its own review of the negative economic consequences of expanded gambling.

“What is the public good here? We know we want to avoid the bad. We know we don’t want criminals in the system. We know we don’t want undue political influence. We know we don’t want crony hiring. We don’t want skimming at the casinos, and all that kind of stuff. We know we’d like to have as much economic impact as possible,” he said. “But do we want to promote the gaming industry? Is that part of our job? Is that a public good? And if so, how do you do it?”

Crosby’s questions underscore the challenge of building an industry with the promise of generating billions of dollars of economic activity in a state with a deep dichotomy of views on gambling; Massachusetts boasts the most successful per capita lottery in the country, but a vocal, persistent anti-gambling constituency appears to have no intention of laying down for casino moguls. How aggressively the Gaming Commission partners with the gambling industry also carries great implications for the strength of the Lottery, another paradox with which gaming commissioners must contend.

In legislation that sanctioned up to three casinos and a slot parlor in Massachusetts – signed by Gov. Deval Patrick in November – the Gaming Commission is imbued with sweeping powers to build and regulate the gambling industry, including the authority to design the criteria applicants must meet to win a casino license and to enforce gambling laws.

Crosby is the commission’s only member so far, appointed as its chairman by Gov. Deval Patrick in December. Four other commissioners are due to be named by March 21, one appointed by Treasurer Steven Grossman, another by Attorney General Martha Coakley and two consensus picks by Patrick, Coakley and Grossman. Crosby said he’s offered his help to Grossman and Coakley in making commission picks, should they seek it.

“I said both to the attorney general and the treasurer that I was very interested in this but I knew I had no formal role, but if they were interested in my participation, I’d be more than happy to do it because obviously this matters to me as much as anybody else on earth,” he said. “Steve Grossman reached out and said, by all means … make suggestions if you have any.”

“That’s what it’s all about with these four people, is personal integrity – demonstrated personal integrity,” he said, “the ability to deal with the kinds of pressures, the kinds of temptations and the kinds of challenges we’re going to deal with, and wisdom and the ability – the demonstrated ability – to exercise that wisdom and sound judgment.”

During the interview, Crosby made clear his own reservations about expanded gambling, but stopped short of saying an anti-gambling advocate belongs on the Gaming Commission.

“I don’t know that it would be a good idea to have somebody who’s explicitly opposed. We don’t want to refight the battle about whether to do this or not. I don’t think we should interpret the law as inviting us to oppose casinos,” he said. “Personally, if I felt like I couldn’t permit casinos to come, I would resign. I don’t think that’s the right way to go here. That would probably be too far on the continuum.”

But Crosby said he’d be willing to attend a forum convened by anti-gambling groups, some of whom criticized Crosby for participating in a conference with potential developers and gambling industry stakeholders last week. That conference was organized by NAIOP, an association representing commercial real estate developers.

“Sure, I’d be open to that,” he said. “The NAIOP experience shows that I have to be very, very careful not only on the reality of a conflict but in even the remotest appearance of a conflict.”

In a nod to gambling critics, Crosby said he’s heard their appeals for a more detailed examination of the ills of expanded gambling, and he said he is reviewing existing data to see whether it is conclusive.

“I’ve heard criticism that they aren’t objective or they’re not comprehensive. I’ve started to read some of them, but I just don’t have my own opinion. But we absolutely do need good, baseline data,” he said. “What kind of economic impact is realistic to expect? What kinds of revenues are realistic to expect? What are the negative consequences? What does it tend to do to compulsive gambling? How does it aggravate compulsive gambling? What does it tend to do in terms of associated criminal activities? If the Legislature and the governor have not done really thorough and objective analysis of that, then I would think the commission would want to do that.”

Opponents of expanded gambling have demanded that the state conduct a cost-benefit analysis of three casinos, arguing that introducing gambling facilities in Massachusetts would drive up addiction, organized crime and drunk driving, shutter small businesses, and simply shift consumer spending in other parts of the economy to casinos. Beacon Hill leaders opted against such an analysis last year, saying numerous studies already exist that measure the economic and other impacts of casinos.

Crosby said the commission, when formed, will be immediately tasked with deciding whether to work as a “partner” of the gambling industry, offering guidance and advice to maximize their success, or whether to act strictly as a regulator and take a “hands-off” approach to industry decisions.

“The question is, What role is there for the commission to become a proactive ally of the industry in Massachusetts?” he wondered. “Do we want to try to think proactively, what can we do to advance our industry’s objectives versus a competitor … Do we want to become their partners, sort of? Do we want to work with them or not?”

In particular, Crosby said, the potential advent of internet gambling or sports betting, as well as the potential reaction to Bay State casinos by border states like New Hampshire or Connecticut, could put pressure on Massachusetts casinos, and working with casinos to address these potential challenges could fall under the commission’s purview.

Other critics of expanded gambling have argued that it would divert money from the Massachusetts Lottery, which generated $4.5 billion of sales per year and sends hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to cities and towns as local aid. Crosby noted that the gambling law’s requirement that casinos minimize harm to the Lottery would require the Gaming Commission to tap into “new markets.”

“But how big are the new markets?” he wondered.

Crosby indicted that however the commission proceeds, Bay State residents are unlikely to see gambling facilities for years.

“We have to build an institution from the scratch. We don’t have office space yet. We don’t have any bylaws. We certainly don’t have any specifications for proposals. We don’t have an executive director. We don’t have anything,” Crosby said. “I would imagine that it’s going to be the better part of this year before we’re even able to really appropriately solicit proposals. So it would be a year or two before even a license 2” – the designation for a slot parlor license – “goes out.”

Crosby said that as soon as the commission reaches three members, enough to constitute a quorum, it may begin signing leases and conducting basic, organizational business.

“You can’t sign a lease, do anything formal until you have a quorum … we’re looking at places where other public agencies have vacated space. We don’t even know how many employees we’re going to have,” he said. “We’ll probably get some interim space that’ll hold 10, 15, 20, 30 people while we’re getting organized and figure out how much space we really need. Do we need space for 200, 100, 300? None of us really knows yet.”

Crosby acknowledged that the new gambling law counted on awarding the slot facility license more quickly than the casinos licenses.

“Because it’s much less capital intensive, much less construction to be done, much less community impacts probably, it certainly could happen more quickly,” he said. “But as I’ve said many times, we’re not going to rush this. And I think a big slots parlor is going to require as much scrutiny and care on our part as a casino. So it probably will happen more quickly, but I’m not going to feel rushed by that.”

Crosby also agreed that a brewing patronage scandal within the state Probation Department will challenge the Gaming Commission to look “clean.”

“It just creates an environment where nobody trusts anybody and it’s all the more important why I, and we, have to be just as assiduous as we can to make it look like we are really paying attention to transparency and equity and merit-based hiring and everything else,” he said, adding, “Knock on wood – the least we’re going to do is not hire under some corrupt system … the challenge is to look as clean as you are. And in this skeptical environment, that’s hard to do.”

Crosby said he expects the commission to adopt anti-patronage reforms proposed by a task force that investigated the Probation Department scandal in 2010.

Failed Policy

Miami business leader Norman Braman effectively explains why casinos are a failed policy

Bet on gambling? Oh?

In a bizarre response in a New York newspaper [below], Frank Fahrenkopf [well paid to defend Government Sponsored Addiction] defends the increased CRIME caused by GAMBLING by referencing IOWA?

From: Race to the bottom....

Compare Tourist-Destination Crime Rates

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

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

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

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

“So it’s not just a matter of number of visitors. It’s also a matter of who is visiting,” he said.

One need not look very far to see the harm wrought by casinos:

• “Embezzling Grows from Addiction to Casinos” (Buffalo News, Feb. 17)

• “Killer Who Was Compulsive Gambler to Be Released from Prison” (Las Vegas Sun, Feb. 17)

• “Problem Gambling Group Hears Former Lawyer’s Addiction Story” (Louisville Courier-Journal, Feb. 12)

Tragically, these are not isolated cases, but are integrally related to the existence of the predatory gambling, especially casinos, upon which state governments are becoming increasingly reliant – and for which states and cities have failed to realize their expected revenue gains.

Bet on gambling

Many peer-reviewed studies have found no connection between casinos and the social problems Sam Skolnik attributes to the influence of gaming (“The House Loses,” PostScript, Jan. 22). [Those peer reviewed studies are paid for and reviewed by the Gambling Industry.]

For many years, Iowans were asked to vote every eight years on a referendum to continue allowing gaming. Each time, voters overwhelmingly approved the measure. If casinos were responsible for bringing crime and corruption to communities, Iowa’s casinos would have closed long ago. [How is this connection even relevant?]

Finally, multiple reports have confirmed the prevalence rate of pathological gambling has held steady at approximately 1% of the adult population for more than 30 years despite the widespread growth of casino gambling. [Beg to differ!]

Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., President & CEO, American Gaming Association, Washington, DC

Read more:

Editorial: Ks. can't forget addicted gamblers

Posted as a comment in response to this article:

It's like opening a crack house and asking the crackheads to call this 800 number if they need help. Why do we create a problem and try to fix it by creating more problems? No casino= no addicts=problem solved. Simple.

Pretty simple!

Editorial: Ks. can't forget addicted gamblers
By The Capital-Journal Editorial Advisory Board

Gambling in Kansas is becoming much more convenient, which means becoming addicted to the action offered by casinos also is becoming more convenient.

That makes the state’s use of money that was to be dedicated to treating problem gamblers troubling, to say the least.

State law stipulates that 2 percent of the state’s revenue from gambling is to go into a fund for treatment of problem gamblers and people with equally debilitating addictions. But of $3 million expected to be generated for the Problem Gambling and Addictions Grant Fund during the current fiscal year from casinos and the lottery gambling, only $717,000 has been earmarked for that cause.

The state has diverted to Medicaid $1.3 million of the revenue that is supposed to go to the grant fund, and $900,000 is being used to fill a hole elsewhere in the state budget.

Clearly, the money isn’t being used for its intended purpose.

That must change.

Kansas officials decided the state should get into the gambling business and take a share of the profits. Now the state must fulfill its promise to help those who become incapable of pulling themselves away from the slot machines and gaming tables.

Granted, the state has financial needs and Medicaid is one of the state’s most expensive programs. But problem gamblers are a growing population and the money allocated to help them shouldn’t be so readily diverted.

The Problem Gambling Coalition reports that since the state casino in Sumner County’s recent opening, calls to the statewide problem gambling hotline have doubled. The hotline received 526 calls in November and 993 in December.

A new casino in Wyandotte County will open soon, and the coalition expects a further spike in gambling addiction. That spike will only increase the existing need for more treatment of problem gamblers.

News reports show that in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011, the state spent only about $8,000 on one-on-one gambling treatment.

That isn’t going to cut it.

The state made its first foray into gambling in the 1980s when Kansans approved, all in the same year, open saloons, pari-mutuel wagering at horse and greyhound race tracks, and the lottery.

Consequently, casino gambling appeared in Missouri and Kansas was required to negotiate with its American Indian tribes to allow reservation casinos. Tribal casinos also opened in Oklahoma. The horse and dog racing tracks couldn’t compete with the casinos and all are closed now.

But Kansas, during former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ administration, decided to get into the casino game by allowing four destination casinos in different areas of the state. Two of those casinos are open, one in Dodge City and one in Sumner County, and one in Wyandotte County is close to opening.

The law allows a fourth casino in southeast Kansas, but it doesn’t appear one will be built there anytime soon.

Some Kansans view the casinos as entertainment and risk only a predetermined amount. Wealthy gamblers may risk more, but most also have an established threshold for losses. Many people, however, can’t step away from the action. They are the gambling addicts that often risk everything they have.

Now that Kansas has made casino gambling convenient, it must make treatment much more convenient.

Members of The Capital-Journal Editorial Board are Gregg Ireland, Mike Hall, Fred Johnson, Ray Beers Jr., Garry Cushinberry, Joyce Martin, John Stauffer, Frank Ybarra and Sally Zellers.


Bribes, Chinese Mob Ties Alleged at Casino of Gingrich Money Man

Bribes, Chinese Mob Ties Alleged at Casino of Gingrich Money Man
[video on link]

The casino company run by the principal financial backer of Newt Gingrich's presidential bid, Sheldon Adelson, has been under criminal investigation for the last year by the Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission for alleged bribery of foreign officials, according to corporate documents.

In a separate civil lawsuit, a former executive of the company has alleged that Adelson ordered him to keep quiet about sensitive issues at the Sands casinos on the Chinese island of Macau, including the casinos' alleged "involvement with Chinese organized crime groups, known as Triads, connected to the junket business." The triads -- Chinese organized crime syndicates -- are allegedly involved in organizing high stakes gambling junkets for wealthy Chinese travelers.

In its filings with the SEC, Adelson's company says it became aware of the investigation in February 2011 when it received a subpoena from the SEC requesting "documents relating to its compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act." The company said it "intends to cooperate with the investigation," which it said may have been triggered by the allegations in the lawsuit by Steven C. Jacobs, a former Sands executive who says he helped run the Macau operation. The federal investigation was first reported last year by Las Vegas newspapers and the financial press.

At a gaming forum last year, Adelson said the lawsuit "is not a serious case" and that the federal investigations would find no wrongdoing. "When the smoke clears, I am 1,000 percent positive that there won't be any fire below it."

Gingrich says gambling is a "worry."

Helped by $10m from casino magnate, Gingrich says gambling is a "worry."

Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign has gotten a $10 million boost thanks to cash from Las Vegas Sands gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, but Gingrich says he isn't necessarily buying into gaming. But it's not really clear what his position on gaming is.

"Well, let me say up front, at the risk of offending some of my friends who've been very helpful," Gingrich said, "I worry about the degree to which the poor are the most likely to end up spending a large percentage of their income gambling in the false hope that they can mathematically beat the system."

Gingrich, however, never said whether he supported or opposed casino gaming.

Gingrich was asked about the issue by evangelical activist John Stemberger, a Rick Santorum supporter, at the Orange County Liberty Counsel Forum in Winter Park. The issue is huge in Florida right now as the Legislature considers whether to expand casino-style gaming in Florida. The issue is being pushed by Genting and Adelson's company. Note: Adelson and his wife (not Las Vegas Sands) have contributed the $10 million that has helped Gingrich via the political committee Winning Our Future.

Gingrich, like Romney explaining his relationship with the PAC Restore Our Future, said he only knows about the Adelson money because of press accounts.

“I have read articles," Gingrich said. "I haven’t known anything technically because I’ve not been briefed because it’s illegal. But I’ve read articles and Sheldon Adelson has clearly, according to the articles, been very generous.”

Gingrich said he met Adelson nearly 20 years ago on Capitol Hill, where Adelson is a major player due in large part to his support of pro-Israel policies.

"Sheldon Adelson's passion in life is the survival of Israel. And he and I are in agreement that Iran is a deep and immediate threat, posing the risk of a second Holocaust with three or four nuclear weapons," Gingrich said.

"So Sheldon has said – to offset, by the way, Goldman Sachs, the big banks and everybody who’s been helping my opponent – he stepped in and said, 'look I really want somebody to be there who understands foreign policy, who understands national security,'" Gingrich said. "I’m happy to tell you my relationship with Sheldon is about a very specific public thing: I believe we should be strong enough to stop the Iranians and that Israel should e allowed to exist and I’m prepared to defend it."

--with Alex Leary

Read more here:

Gingrich Deflects Questions About a Big Supporter’s Casino Interests

Gingrich Deflects Questions About a Big Supporter’s Casino Interests

WINTER PARK, Fla. — The possibility of gambling exploding across Florida has worried many on the religious right, and they questioned Newt Gingrich on Saturday about his financial backing by Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate.

Mr. Adelson and his wife have contributed $10 million to a “super PAC” supporting Mr. Gingrich, in effect bankrolling his presidential campaign.

Before Mr. Gingrich arrived at a campaign stop here at Aloma Church, several religious leaders expressed concern about the expansion of casino gambling and the potential for the spread of problems such as substance abuse that they said often accompany gambling.

When Mr. Gingrich arrived at the event, sponsored by the Orange County Liberty Counsel Forum, he was asked whether, despite his backing by Mr. Adelson, he could “reassure” the audience that he would not encourage the spread of gambling.

Mr. Gingrich essentially dodged the question, one that is rarely asked at his public events.
At first, he responded, “At the risk of offending some of my friends who’ve been very helpful, I worry, not just about casino gambling, but about the degree to which the poor are the most likely to end up spending a large part of their income gambling.” This drew approving murmurs from the audience.

He then said that he had read articles saying that Mr. Adelson had been “very generous” to his campaign, emphasizing that he had not been briefed by Mr. Adelson, because such coordination with the super PAC supporting him would be illegal.

He then diverted the question away from Mr. Adelson’s gambling interests and toward his support for Israel, an issue of utmost concern to the religious audience.

“Sheldon Adelson’s passion in life is the survival of Israel,” Mr. Gingrich said. “And he and I are in agreement that Iran is in deep, immediate threat of posing the risk of a second Holocaust” with nuclear weapons.

And so, Mr. Gingrich said, Mr. Adelson decided, ” ‘I really want someone to be there who understands foreign policy, who understands national security’ — I was called at one time the best speaker of the House in terms of Israel that we’ve ever had because I thoroughly understand how dangerous that part of the world is.”

Mr. Gingrich concluded this way: “So I’m happy to tell you that my relationship with Sheldon is about a very specific, public thing. I believe we should be strong enough to stop the Iranians and that Israel should be allowed to exist, and I’m prepared to defend it.”

The audience gave him a big round of applause. And the gambling question was left on the table.

NYRA's Choice

Without taxpayer subsidies, RACING can't survive and isn't surviving.

Shouldn't that be the question we're asking?

When the grossly flawed legislation was passed in Massachusetts, it contained generous subsidies for the RACING INDUSTRY - an industry that has lost attendance, lost public interest.

What other industry are taxpayers subsidizing to this extent?

Editorial: NYRA's choice


The state comptroller fears that the people who run New York's racetracks will squander the take from video slot machines.


That money might be racing's last, best hope.

Why, it's the New York Racing Association, back in the news and on the receiving end of a stern warning from the state comptroller's office. The best way for all those who care about horse racing to sort out this latest critical report is to think of NYRA as one more bettor at the racetrack.

Make that one more somewhat overextended horse player, albeit one who has just come into some money. If nothing changes, that windfall could be little more than additional money to lose.

NYRA has more money than it's had in a long time, thanks to its share — some $48 million a year — of the take from the video slot machines at Aqueduct Race Track.

That's good, of course, for an outfit that was in bankruptcy just four years ago and still is losing money even as it has cut its costs.

That's good, we mean, as long as NYRA understands what's behind the admonishing words of Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. He warns not to squander this money.

That might sound painfully obvious, especially in an economy like this one. Who can be against thrift?

NYRA can. It sure showed that in the bad old days, when its prior management escaped prosecution for tax fraud only after promising to clean up NYRA's act.

Even now, a very new and different NYRA has been able to make its case for state subsidies in a more promising context — that its share of the windfall from the Aqueduct racino offers a way out of hard fiscal times for New York horse racing.

The NYRA management might bristle at Mr. DiNapoli's warning, yet he has no choice but to make it.

"NYRA stands to squander significant revenue from the recently opened VLT franchise at Aqueduct," he says.

"NYRA still has not conducted a top-to-bottom review of its financial operations and taken necessary steps to curb costs, particularly for staffing and consulting contracts," he continues.

To that, NYRA says its house is in considerably better order than it gets credit for. Its president, Charles Hayward, predicts a profit of about $19 million this year, a far cry from the $19 million Mr. DiNapoli forecasts it will lose on racing operations.

How nice it would be to see NYRA turn out to be right — proving all the while that it took the comptroller's admonition to heart.

Read more:

Alabama gambling corruption retrial will be 'a new game'

Alabama gambling corruption retrial will be 'a new game'
Written by Sebastian Kitchen

An attorney in the second round of the federal corruption trial of VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor and six others compared it to the national championship game between Alabama and Louisiana State University.

"We played the game before, but this is a new game," said Jim Parkman, a defense attorney for state Sen. Harri Anne Smith, an independent from Slocomb.

LSU beat Alabama in the first contest. But in the second, Alabama overwhelmed LSU to win the national championship.

Parkman said, although there were no convictions out of the more than 130 counts in the first trial, they are taking nothing for granted. They are preparing an offense and a defense and will be ready to go a second time.

Jury selection begins at 9 a.m. Monday.

The new trial will feature two fewer defendants, a different prosecution team, the absence of key prosecution witnesses from the first trial, and at least the possibility former Gov. Bob Riley could be called by the defense.

McGregor, Smith, and five others are accused of having taken part in an alleged scheme in which casino owners and their lobbyists bribed state lawmakers to support pro-gambling legislation.

Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley and two of his lobbyists, Jarrod Massey and Jennifer Pouncy, pleaded guilty before the start of the first trial, which ended in August.

The jury found two of the nine defendants in that trial not guilty on all of the charges against them, and found the defendants not guilty on a total of 91 counts.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson also threw out several counts before the case went to the jury and declared a mistrial on 33 counts after the jury could not reach a consensus on those counts.

After declaring a mistrial on those undetermined counts against the remaining seven defendants, Thompson set a retrial for Monday.

Much like that national championship game, the retrial could be a very different affair than the first.

Change in prosecution team

The lead prosecutor for the federal government, Justin Shur, left the U.S. Department of Justice in the last month for private practice. And the two local assistant U.S. attorneys who handled much of the heavy lifting in the first trial, Louis Franklin and Steve Feaga, will not be prosecuting the case.

(Page 2 of 3)

Parkman said the prosecution has "plenty of good lawyers" and he does not believe that the change in prosecutors would "affect anything."

"I think they will have somebody to fill in for (Shur) and do a good job," he said.
Franklin and Feaga questioned some crucial witnesses, including Gilley, state Rep.
Barry Mask and state Sen. Scott Beason.

Beason, R-Gardendale, and Mask, R-Wetumpka, recorded conversations for the FBI.

A juror who spoke to the Associated Press after the trial said there were credibility issues with Beason and other witnesses, including Gilley and Massey. She also said that a majority of the jury leaned heavily toward not guilty verdicts on those charges they could not agree on.

Different witnesses for prosecution

Parkman said other defense attorneys told him that prosecutors said they do not plan to call Beason or former state Rep. Ben Lewis, a Dothan Republican who is now a judge.

But defense attorneys could call them as witnesses.

"If they're not going to call them, they believe the credibility issues outweigh the evidence they could get in -- (that it) could be more damaging to have their testimony than not to," Parkman said.

One of the conversations that Beason recorded -- one in which he talked to Lewis and another Republican lawmaker -- referred to supporters of a west Alabama casino in predominantly black Greene County, as "aborigines." Beason, who has since announced he is running for Congress, later apologized for the comment, but fellow Republican leaders in the Senate stripped him of a key leadership post.

Thompson, in a ruling leading up to the second trial, wrote that Beason and Lewis lacked credibility and that their intentions had political and racial roots.
New testimony, faster trial?

Attorneys for McGregor, after a ruling from a magistrate judge, could call Riley, who did not have to take the stand in the first trial.

McGregor and his attorneys have been bitterly critical of Riley, who formed a task force to shut down what he believed was illegal gambling in the state.

(Page 3 of 3)

McGregor has long contended that part of the impetus for the crackdown was because of campaign funds Riley received from Mississippi Indian casino owners who wanted to shut down competition in Alabama.

Parkman expects the second trial to be smoother than the 10-week trial that started in June 2010 and ended with the attorneys for the nine defendants only calling one witness.

He expects "it to be a little faster than last time and not as drawn out."
"Of course we're taking this very seriously, and we're not relying on what happened the last time," Parkman said.

Parkman said they have discovered new information since the first trial, which he said could shed some "more light on people there and their thought process."
Parkman said they will "face good lawyers with the government," which he said has power with the number of investigators it can use.

"We're nervous about it. We always are," Parkman said.

The other defendants are McGregor lobbyist Tom Coker; former state Sens. Jim Preuitt of Talladega and Larry Means of Attalla; former Country Crossing spokesman Jay Walker; and former legislative analyst Ray Crosby.

Federal authorities arrested the defendants Oct. 4, 2010, and charged them with conspiracy, bribery and other crimes.

Prosecutors have declined to comment throughout the trial.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Repeal the Casino Deal

No one at this public meeting spoke in favor of a Slot Barn in their neighborhood.

Even the elected officials who foolishly championed this issue remained silent.

Public, Reps Discuss Plans for MetroWest Casino
Could a nearby casino complex impact Westborough?

By Justin Saglio

During the question and answer portion of the meeting, area residents spoke out against the casino and asked how to stop it from being implemented.

John Pibeiro, a Winthrop resident, asked the meeting's attendees to sign a petition to repeal November's legislation that permits casino gambling in the state.

"Why would you ever want something that requires mitigation?" Pibeiro
[Ribiero] asked.

"If in two years our property value tanks, what are we supposed to do?" Steve Guerrera, a Holliston resident asked.

Casino foes popping up

Casino foes popping up
Some opponents also were against wind farm

BRIMFIELD — Two weeks after absorbing the news that an international gambling corporation based in Las Vegas is eyeing a rural part of town for a $600 million casino development, some townspeople are beginning to publicly speak out against the idea.

Key players in the movement that fought off a proposed wind farm atop West Mountain last year said in interviews this week that they expect to mount a similar battle against the casino proposed by MGM Resorts International. Anti-casino fliers headlined “The Unfortunate Truth” have begun appearing around town, and casino opponents have set up an email distribution list to spread information and coordinate their efforts.

An MGM executive said he welcomes all input as the company draws up specific plans to present to the town and that representatives of the company hope to meet with opponents in the coming weeks to hear their concerns.

Would-be casino operators in Massachusetts must first secure host community approval before submitting a bid on one of the three casino licenses to be offered in the state.

“I think there’s going to be organized resistance,” said Virginia A. Irvine, who was a member of and spokeswoman for the anti-wind farm group No Brimfield Wind. “We didn’t want to industrialize our town with wind turbines, and I would expect people who didn’t want that won’t want to industrialize our town with a casino.”

Judith A. Sessler, another vocal opponent of the wind farm plan that ultimately was withdrawn by the developer in the face of stiff resistance, said she’s also girding for a fight over the casino plan.

A portion of Ms. Sessler’s wooded property off John Haley Road, a winding country road along a stream, abuts the proposed casino parcel, about 150 acres owned by businessman David Callahan of West Brookfield just north of the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The opponents are under no illusions, though, that taking on a gambling industry heavy-hitter that reported $6 billion in revenues in 2010 will be equivalent to going up against First Wind, a Boston-based green energy firm that had proposed building at least eight 400-foot-tall windmills on West Mountain near the proposed casino site.

MGM hired Brown Rudnick LLP, a prominent national law firm with offices in Boston, to handle public relations and lobbying in Massachusetts. MGM spent $60,000 on lobbying Beacon Hill last year, according to records on file with Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin’s office.

“It’s going to be an uphill battle,” Ms. Sessler said. “We have so many new people in Brimfield that don’t realize what a treasure it was. We were hit so hard by the tornado. I’m really concerned that we’re so battered emotionally and that gives less incentive to think about the long-term (effects) of the casino.”

In announcing the casino plan in Brimfield earlier this month, MGM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren stressed the potential for thousands of permanent jobs at the finished casino in addition to construction jobs to build it. Mr. Callahan, the land owner, and Mr. Murren said the developers would listen to input from residents and seek to incorporate their suggestions as more specific plans are drawn up.

In a telephone interview from his office in Las Vegas, MGM Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Alan Feldman said the company is eager to talk with any townspeople wary of a casino. At this stage, the company has only announced plans to submit a proposal, and there’s plenty of time to hear and address concerns from residents, Mr. Feldman said.

“At the end of the day, all we can do is try to show folks that we’ve been sensitive to their concerns and listened to what they had to say. I don’t think it’s going to be possible to win every person over, but I think we can prove we’re good listeners,” he said. “We intend to be good community partners and work hard to find solutions to any problems folks raise.”

But Ms. Irvine seemed less concerned with the particulars of the plan than with the fact that a large casino of any kind might harm the rural nature of the area.

“I moved here in 1978 because I wanted to be in the country. My neighbors moved out here because they enjoy the rural community and the quiet,” she said. “One person who lives down the street from me said he travels to cities all over the country for work, and when he gets home and gets out of his car, he likes that he can see the stars.”

MGM’s Mr. Feldman said in early meetings with architects, engineers and other consultants, the company has emphasized that the casino design must mitigate concerns about traffic as well as light and noise pollution. He said the company is excited by the challenge of developing a proposal appropriate for a landscape and region so different from Nevada.

“It’s got to fit into its surroundings. God forbid it look like a Las Vegas casino. That would be terrible,” he said.

But John R. Mortarelli, who lives about five miles from the proposed casino parcel, isn’t buying the notion that a major resort-style casino can be built in such a way that it won’t fundamentally alter the rural nature of the town.

“Totally against it. Absolutely stupid. Bad idea,” said Mr. Mortarelli, who predicted townspeople will reject any proposal put forward by MGM. “There’s a good chunk of people that just want to live a rural residential life. We don’t have any industrial zoning of any kind. We just want to live a country life.”

Mr. Mortarelli, who has lived in Brimfield for three decades, said there’s a high correlation between opponents of any large commercial development in town and politically active residents who always vote. The members of an e-mail distribution list set up to oppose the wind farm last year have been added to a new list designed to coordinate resistance to the casino plan, he said.

“There will be organized opposition. How can you help but organize to fight them when they come in with stuff like this?” Mr. Mortarelli said.

Mr. Feldman said MGM is not so naive as to think it can win over every person in town, but the company would like to talk with opponents just the same.

“We’d love to meet with them,” he said. “We’d love to hear what they’re worried about and at least start a dialogue.”

Although there’s no firm timetable yet, and the state is still assembling a gambling commission to evaluate casino bids and regulate the eventual license holders, Mr. Feldman said he would expect the MGM proposal to be put to voters in Brimfield at some point later this year.

In the meantime, the company and casino opponents will be working to win over townspeople to their side of what could become a contentious issue from Brimfield.

Tucson woman who stole fees for methadone sentenced

Tucson woman who stole fees for methadone sentenced
Kim Smith, Arizona Daily Star

A Tucson woman who stole nearly $183,000 from a local social-service agency told her sentencing judge Friday she has sought help for a gambling addiction and hopes to educate high school students about the dangers of gambling.

Mary Ann Diaz, 53, was indicted last April on one count each of fraud and theft. She pleaded guilty to theft last month.

Assistant Arizona Attorney General Jesse Delaney asked Judge Teresa Godoy to sentence Diaz to probation and jail and Assistant Pima County Public Defender Leo Masursky asked for a strictly probationary term.

Godoy sentenced Diaz to five years probation, ordered her to repay what she stole from La Frontera and to pay the Attorney General’s Office $2,000 in investigation costs.

Diaz was responsible for collecting fees from people seeking methadone at La Frontera and then depositing those fees, Delaney said.

However, between July 1, 2007, and March 23, 2010, Diaz would routinely take one or two days' worth of fees and use them to gamble, Delaney said.

A tearful Diaz told Godoy she’s not the woman she was last year. She’s been seeing a therapist and is involved in a gambling recovery group.

Read more:

Former CHEK TV ad rep to be sentenced in March

Former CHEK TV ad rep to be sentenced in March
Times Colonist

The sentencing hearing for a former advertising sales rep at CHEK TV who defrauded friends in the business community out of $235,000 to finance his gambling addiction will continue March 15 and 16.

Michael Muir has pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud over $5,000 between June 2007 and January 2009.

At his sentencing hearing, which began Jan.10, Crown prosecutor Laura Ford told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Johnston that the offences were a classic Ponzi scheme - a form of fraud in which belief in a nonexistent business venture is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money paid by subsequent investors. Ford asked Johnston to impose a prison sentence of two to 2 1 ?2 years.

Muir, who was a respected member of the media business community, persuaded friends he met in the business world to give him money, Ford said.

Muir told them he was buying a large number of flatscreen TVs from a supplier and selling them to high-end hotels. He promised them a 20 per cent return on their money within a few months.

The frauds were sophisticated, with Muir creating false documents using letterhead for the flatscreen TV company, Ford said. Initially, the "investors" saw a return on profit, although it was rolled over into the next purchase of TVs.

"Multiple fictitious deals were concocted by Mr. Muir," Ford said. "But all the money was spent on gambling and it all came crashing down in a cascade of lies and excuses in February 2009."

The hearing was adjourned to allow lawyers to make submissions on restitution - how much Muir owes his victims. Johnston also asked counsel for submissions on whether Muir was in a position of trust when he committed the offences.

Read more:

Targeting the poor

In the US, the Gambling Industry is more subtle.

They locate Slot Barns in poor neighborhoods and call it JOB CREATION!

Codes need to kick their gambling addiction
Richard Hinds.

This is sport walking its social responsibility talk. As it does in other areas such as charitable causes, community fitness programs and - if you remove some awful exceptions, such as the NRL's embarrassing cheerleading squadrons - even women's rights.

But, when it comes to social responsibility, sport has a bottom line. One horribly exposed by the sad dependency of the leading codes on poker machine revenue.

When Julia Gillard abandoned her pledge for meaningful poker machine reform this week, the AFL and NRL quietly toasted a significant ''victory''. Unencumbered by $1 limits and mandatory pre-commitment, the aces would keep spinning in the clubs. The only mild threat is Gillard's stalling device - an absurd trial in mostly middle-class Canberra, from where anyone who wants to dodge pre-commitment and put their entire pay packet down the slot can drive a few kilometres to neighbouring Queanbeyan.

Confronted by sad tales of gambling addiction, and well aware that poker machines rob those who can least afford to lose, you would think our ''socially responsible'' leagues would have found alternative revenue streams. Just as they did when cigarette advertising was banned.

Perhaps the football codes cannot help others tackle their gambling addiction because they are still battling their own. The sick dependency on revenue from poker machines and corporate bookmakers diminishes everyone who is involved. Even the Channel Nine commentators who gave their scripted support for the poker machine lobby during the NRL finals.

The lobbyists rhetoric about poker machines providing ''freedom of choice'', and ''paying for community facilities'' is so blatantly self-serving it barely warrants response. Not when you have spoken with the administrator of an investment fund, who admits his company cynically targets the lowest demographic. Put the machines in the new estates with low-cost housing and little alternative entertainment or public transport. Then watch the punters swarm in like bees to the honeypot.

Or if you have lived, as I once did, in the same street as a large, 24-hour poker-machine venue. See the punters wander out in the morning, eyes still spinning like the reels upon which they have been fixated. See them wander slowly away, pockets empty but still entrapped. They are seldom gone for long. They'll find the money somewhere.

Which is why it is sickening when the lobbyists and opportunists hide behind weasel words such as ''entertainment complex'' and ''community hub''. Pocket the money, but call the pokies what they are: a poor tax.

A tax on the very people rugby league, particularly, purports to champion. The so-called ''battlers'' who they are encouraging, with ever louder voices, to buy memberships, merchandise and television subscriptions.

The hard sell on memberships often comes with a tinge of emotional blackmail. ''Do you support the game?'', ''Do you love your club?''.

But when it comes to poker machines that love and care is not returned. Sorry, we're just putting on the show. That money you couldn't afford to lose? That's your responsibility.

Read more: