Meetings & Information


Monday, April 30, 2012

Taxpayer subsidized Revel, now anti-union

APNewsBreak: Unions target new Revel casino

Union pickets could be going up soon outside the newly opened Revel casino, even as the $2.4 billion month-old resort tries to build its business before a grand opening on Memorial Day weekend.
Three major labor unions, including the Teamsters and the United Auto Workers, announced Monday that they'll press to unionize workers at Atlantic City's newest casino.

The unions are joining with Local 54 of the Unite HERE union to start a unionization drive at Revel, whose dealers, hotel workers, beverage servers and others are not represented by a union.

Local 54 has repeatedly clashed with Revel over tax subsidies that the casino has received, as well as four or five-year term limits it has imposed on many customer service jobs.

Revel, which opened earlier this month, is Atlantic City's 12th casino. It has reached pacts with some other unions.

"Revel wants to open a non-union casino in the midst of a union town, and destroy the standard of living that generations of workers have walked picket lines and gone on strike to achieve," said Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54. "That is unacceptable and impossible for us to ignore."

The casino had no immediate comment on the unions' announcement.

McDevitt said pickets and other demonstrations outside Revel are a real possibility.

"How much disruption there is depends on whether Revel is willing to participate in a cooperative relationship with the unions like all the other casinos in Atlantic City do, or whether they want to have a fight to the death," he said. "We don't picket our friends."

Revel has signed a memorandum of understanding with skilled tradesmen including carpenters, painters and operating engineers. But McDevitt said that agreement covers only about 100 workers out of 5,500 Revel employees.

The unions are also particularly angry over Revel's first-of-its kind policy limiting workers in jobs including dealers, beverage servers and bartenders to no more than four or five years before having to reapply for their jobs. The casino says the rule is needed to prevent workers from becoming burned out and unresponsive to customer needs.

The UAW has been organizing dealers in Atlantic City for the past four years. It represents dealers at four Atlantic City casinos -- Trump Plaza, the Tropicana Casino and Resort, Bally's Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City.

"It is appalling that Revel has taken hundreds of millions of dollars in state assistance, and then it turns around and institutes anti-worker policies," said Scott Adams, director of the UAW's Region 9 unit that includes Atlantic City. "That is a slap in the face to workers in this heavily unionized region."

Marcus King, president of Teamsters Local 331 in Atlantic City, promised his union will do everything it can to fully unionize Revel.

"Revel's policies of term-limiting service employees and huge use of part-time workers are a direct attack on the labor movement," he said. "We are going to use all the tools available to us to let people know Revel is out of bounds."

The union move comes while Revel is in its so-called preview period leading up to its grand opening over Memorial Day weekend. The luxury resort is being counted on to help revive the sagging fortunes of Atlantic City, which recently lost its rank as the nation's second-largest gambling market to Pennsylvania.

Genting buying support in New York

Growing up in New York, I watched as OTB parlors were opened in poor neighborhoods and attracted drugs, violent crime, prostitution, drive-by shootings, muggings, car-jacking and destroyed communities.

The first new business to open in Aqueduct's neighborhood was a pawn shop, in recognition of the consequences of Gambling Addiction.

Politicians, blinded by campaign contributions, ego-stroking lobbyists and the Fools Gold of Gambling ignore the failure of nearby Atlantic City, the community devastation and the lessons of others. Do they believe themselves immune?

For government to win, its citizens must lose.

Government then becomes invested in the success of a predatory business creating problem gamblers, destroying families, destroying lives.

I-Team Exclusive: The Man Behind a Queens Casino Dream

Christian Goode has built casinos elsewhere and is now trying his luck in New York

By Chris Glorioso
Monday, Apr 30, 2012

The man who has helped build casinos from Oklahoma to West Virginia to western New York is now trying his luck in what is arguably the most lucrative gambling market outside of Las Vegas:  New York City. Christian Goode talks to Chris Glorioso in this exclusive interview.
The man who has helped build casinos from Oklahoma to West Virginia to western New York is now trying his luck in what is arguably the most lucrative gambling market outside of Las Vegas: New York City. Christian Goode talks to Chris Glorioso in this exclusive interview.

The man who has helped build casinos from Oklahoma to West Virginia to western New York is now trying his luck in what is arguably the most lucrative gambling market outside of Las Vegas: New York City.

"We supply entertainment that people demand," Christian Goode told NBC 4 New York in a recent exclusive I-Team interview as he strode through the Resorts World Casino, a recently renovated property in Ozone Park, Queens.

The casino already houses about 5,000 computerized slot machines known as video lottery terminals.

Goode is the senior vice president of Genting, a Malaysian casino firm that bought a $380 million license to operate those video lottery terminals.

Since then, Genting has invested another several hundred million dollars, renovating the building and preparing it for something much bigger: a possible amendment to the New York state constitution that would legalize table games like blackjack and poker.

"What we envision is building a world class resort," [Don't they all?] Goode said. "We've talked about and are working through plans to build the largest convention center in the U.S."

In January, Governor Cuomo announced an informal agreement with Genting and his support of the grand casino plan in his state of the state address.

For table games to become legal, the state legislature must approve a constitutional amendment this year and then the voters must approve the amendment in a referendum next year.

Goode insists Genting could build a convention center even if table games are voted down, but if they are legalized, he envisions a more rapid expansion driven partly by a steady influx of foreign visitors.

The casino's proximity to John F. Kennedy International Airport, he says, would make it an ideal place to attract air travelers. Goode has also talked up a dedicated rail link to Manhattan. "You would see this whole area built out with hotels," he said [Tourists? Where have we heard that before? Oh! Yes! Boston! Gambling doesn't bring tourists!]

If Goode sounds confident, he has good reason to be. Genting has hired one of the most imposing lobbying and public relations teams in New York history. They include a former top aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a former attorney for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Mayor Bloomberg's former campaign manager, and a long-time adviser to Cuomo.

"What this company has done is hire lobbyists who are close to every single powerful decision-maker who might be involved in the ultimate decision," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause NY, a nonprofit watchdog for money in politics.

Since 2010, the Malaysian casino company has spent $1.6 million on six lobbying contracts. One of the contracts, with a firm called Cordo & Company, LLC, was the fourth-biggest lobbying deal in the state, topping the Trial Lawyers Association and just behind a contract inked by the Bankers Association of NY.

The furious spending on lobbyists has drawn criticism from those who say Genting is trying to buy a change in the state constitution.

Goode says his firm is just doing what any smart company would in such a highly regulated industry. "We're not trying to buy a change," he said. "We're somewhat the new kids on the block. We want to make sure we're properly represented as, frankly, any company in the U.S. does."

So far, Genting's lobbying efforts appear to be paying dividends. It is hard to find elected leaders who oppose the plan. "I believe Genting is a pioneer in many ways," said Erich Ulrich, a Republican city councilman who represents Ozone Park.

"Genting has answered every one of the concerns of my residents," said Democrat State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who also represents Ozone Park. Campaign finance records show Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, who is also a former state assemblyman, has taken $5,750 in campaign cash from Genting and one of its lobbyists.

At one point, Spano's brother, Nick, was hired to lobby on behalf of the casino company.

Mayor Spano insists Genting has not influenced his support for a table gaming amendment. "Because I support casino gaming," he said. "As a matter of fact, that was always a proposal of mine. Something I supported and touted, that we should have full-blown casinos, at least at the raceway sites." From political offices to the corners of Queens, Genting is also spending money to influence voters directly.

At nearly every meeting of Community Board 10, a Genting public relations representative stands up to speak.

During a recent meeting, he was touting the $135 million in revenue those video lottery terminals have provided for the state's education fund. [ignoring that it's $$$ being sucked out of a poor community!]

"They meet with us, they talk to us. They answer our concerns," said Community Board 10 President Betty Braton. [They stroke your ego!]

Despite the promise of additional tax revenue for schools, past efforts to legalize table games have been vigorously opposed by religious groups and neighbors worried about organized crime.

Genting is also mounting a television and radio campaign to beat back those critics.

Lerner, of Common Cause, fears the heavy spending could overwhelm smaller voices in the gambling debate. "What chance does an ordinary resident of Ozone Park have to raise $100- or $200 million to be on a par with the advertising that Genting is going to flood New York airwaves with if there's a constitutional amendment to permit gambling in our state?" she said.

Employee stole for gambling binge

Employee stole for gambling binge

A Filipino hotel manager went on a cocaine-fuelled five-day gambling bender, Queenstown District Court was told last week.

Carolito Surreal Ross, 33, of Arrowtown, appeared for sentence before Judge Michael Turner after admitting five fraud charges and two theft charges last year.

He admitted stealing $4195 from his employer, Nugget Point Hotel, to feed a gambling addiction between October 28 and November 2.

Sentencing was delayed while Ross sought a suitable address for community or home detention.

In a previous appearance, the court was told Ross was an assistant manager at the Queenstown resort and used his position to send money directly to his accounts via eftpos.

When he ran out of money gambling at Lasseter's casino he went to his work and used a merchant card to transfer money, a step he repeated, returning to the casino after each transaction.

Judge Turner said Ross was employed in a position of trust with access to the merchant card, which can be used to give refunds to guests via eftpos.

He consumed a quantity of cocaine and embarked on five days' gambling, returning to his place of work on occasions to transfer money to his account. He also opened a safe and stole cash.

A victim impact report by Ross's employer said his actions had caused "immeasurable damage" to cash flows and staff morale.

"You were offered and took cocaine and went on a gambling binge," Judge Turner said.

Ross's lawyer Phena Byrne said he had consumed drugs to excess and gambled during a "five-day bender."

He was sentenced to three months' community detention, to include an 8pm to 8am curfew, 300 hours' community work and 18 months' judicially monitored intensive supervision.

Judge Turner also ordered Ross to attend alcohol, drug and gambling counselling as directed by the Probation Service, and to pay $4195 reparation.

Caesars latest Las Vegas project

Caesars, formerly known as Harrah's, mired in debt - + $20 BILLION and salivating to enter Massachusetts, has begun a new Las Vegas project noted below.

This is a significant issue that bears on the financial solvency of any proposal, especially since licenses are granted for 15 years with no revocation provision contained within the legislation [written by the Industry].

In the past, casinos have filed for bankruptcy, nullifying their agreements, amending local agreements, re-negotiating tax rates, destroying any illusion of local control.  

O'Shea's casino on Vegas Strip shutting its doors

April 30, 2012

LAS VEGAS—A 23-year-old Irish-themed casino on the Las Vegas Strip is going dark to make way for a major entertainment district.

O'Shea's Casino is set to close at noon Monday after urging patrons to "drink us dry" over the weekend. Officials plan to implode the casino's parking garage early Tuesday.

The casino's parent company is making way for a $500 million Linq Project, which will include an outdoor shopping and dining area and a giant observation wheel.

Caesars Entertainment executives say they'll bring back the casino's distinctive casual atmosphere, live music and beer pong in a reinvented O'Shea's within the Linq project.

O'Shea's employs about 300 people. Casino officials say they've been trying to place them in other jobs within the company.

Animal Abuse and Gambling and Greed

Coming soon to Massachusetts --

[Click on photo for video]
Breakdown | Death and disarray at America's racetracks

Big Purses, Sore Horses, and Death

Large payouts to owners make it profitable for owners to field thoroughbreds that are past their prime, sometimes with fatal results.

As popularity in horse racing has diminished, racetracks like Aqueduct in New York turn to casinos for additional revenue.
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
As he approached the first turn, Wes Vegas broke a leg and had to be euthanized.

A week earlier, another horse, the 4-year-old Coronado Heights, who records show had “early degenerative joint disease,” suffered a fatal breakdown at Aqueduct after receiving 13 injections for pain and cartilage damage in the month before his race.
Since a casino opened at Aqueduct late last year, offering vastly richer prizes, 30 horses have died racing there, a 100 percent increase in the fatality rate over the same period the previous year.

Like Wes Vegas and Coronado Heights, many had been injected repeatedly with pain medication in the weeks before their breakdowns, according to a review of veterinary records by The New York Times.

Pain medication during training is legal as long as it does not exceed certain levels on race day. But the prevalence of drugs is a graphic illustration of how the flood of casino cash has created powerful and dangerous incentives to run sore, tired or otherwise unfit horses in pursuit of that big score.
“If the public knew how many medications these horses were administered after entry time, I don’t think they would tolerate it,” said Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director of the California Horse Racing Board.
Amid the uproar over the Aqueduct death toll, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York ordered an investigation to “ensure against needless injuries to horses and to riders.” Experts are examining various factors — not just drugs, but issues like track conditions and pre-race inspections.
But what is indisputable is that casinos opening at Aqueduct and a growing number of racetracks have recalibrated the age-old economic equations of the horse-racing game.
To survive amid a riot of new, technologically advanced gambling options, track owners have increasingly succumbed to the gambling industry’s offer to sweeten racing purses with slot machine revenue. But if casinos promise to prop up a struggling sport, they can also erode the loyalty that owners and trainers feel toward their horses, turning them, in the words of Maggi Moss, a leading owner, into “trading cards for people’s greed.”
The casinos’ impact is greatest at the sport’s low end, the so-called claiming races, a world away from the bluegrass pageantry of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. In the claiming ranks — where some of the cheapest horses fill starting gates at tracks like Aqueduct, Penn National, near Harrisburg, Pa., and Evangeline Downs in Louisiana — the casino money has upset the traditional racetrack balance of risk and reward.
“It’s strictly self-centered greed of not thinking about the horse but thinking about maybe I can get one more race out of him and get a piece of the game,” said Dr. Tom David, until recently the chief veterinarian for the Louisiana Racing Commission.
To better protect the horses, some industry experts say, purses should be limited so the potential winnings in any race do not exceed the value of the horses running in it. That way, the incentive for the owner is to care for the horse over the long haul, rather than risking it for a single payday. A prominent veterinarians group, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, recommends that no purse exceed a horse’s value by more than 50 percent.

Yet that recommendation is widely ignored, The Times found.
At Aqueduct, horses worth $7,500 — at the lowest level of competition — recently raced for a $40,000 purse, nearly four times the recommended maximum. Two of them broke down and had to be euthanized. Both had been given pain medication in the days leading up to the race. In all, 19 of the 30 Aqueduct deaths occurred in races where the veterinarians’ standard was violated.
Nationwide, 57 percent of thoroughbred claiming races at casino tracks exceeded that 50 percent standard, and horses broke down or showed signs of injury at a 29 percent higher rate in those races, according to a Times analysis.
In a statement, the New York Racing Association said “it would be inappropriate and irresponsible of The New York Times to speculate on the reasons for breakdowns and injuries” before the governor’s task force has finished its inquiry.

Big purses have destabilized the racetrack economy in another way. Every claiming race is essentially a marketplace, with all horses for sale at a fixed price. But the casino money has set off a frenzy of horse trading at Aqueduct, with owners eager to buy and also to sell to slake the surging demand. Since the casino opened late last fall, nearly 500 horses and $10.7 million have changed hands, more than double the previous year, records show.
Again, the incentive is to push horses, fit or not, out onto the track.
“If horses don’t win, people just get rid of them,” Ms. Moss said.
The turmoil at Aqueduct over the last six months caught many in the industry by surprise. But a cautionary tale played out two years before at Penn National, where nine horses belonging to a single owner died while racing, prompting a boycott by jockeys. State investigators discovered evidence of serious problems in the owner’s operation: trainers and other employees injecting horses with illegal drugs and administering other illicit treatments at an off-track training center.
When the Hollywood Casino arrived in 2008, Penn National became part of a casino expansion that now encompasses more than a third of the nation’s thoroughbred racetracks. Gambling companies, state budgets and some horse owners have benefited, but the spread of casinos has left many people wondering if in the long run, casino gambling is hurting racing and the horses themselves.
“In spite of what they say, and they are my friends whom I love dearly, they do not care about horse racing,” William Koester, of the Ohio State Racing Commission, said recently of the casino industry.

“They care about gaming. That is their mission.”

Lame and Still Racing

Melodeeman, a 10-year-old thoroughbred, had earned a rest.

He raced gallantly for six owners. He set a track record at Aqueduct for the fastest five and a half furlongs and earned more than $250,000 in his career. He raced even after a broken leg was put back together with three stainless-steel screws.

But by the evening of Jan. 21, 2010, Melodeeman had hit the bottom of the racing world. As the temperature hovered near freezing at Penn National, he prepared to compete among the lowest quality thoroughbreds.

In a different time, Melodeeman might have skipped this race, or retired altogether. Not now. Not here. Profits from the track’s casino had fattened the purse to $18,000, far more than the $4,000 for which each horse could be purchased, or claimed — precisely the kind of cost disparity that prominent veterinarians had warned against.

Eager to get in on the action, three people filed claims to buy three horses in the race.

No one tried to buy Melodeeman.

According to one exercise rider who saw the horse well before the race, Melodeeman was clearly lame. But Melodeeman raced anyhow that evening.

Turning for home, his front legs buckled, sending his jockey, Angel Quinones, flying. Melodeeman had snapped his right cannon bone and was euthanized at the track, almost four years to the day after he set his Aqueduct record.

State regulators were suspicious. Other horses belonging to the same owner, Michael Gill, had been breaking down in large numbers, and jockeys were complaining.

A subsequent necropsy revealed that Melodeeman not only had degenerative joint disease in the lower part of his two front legs, but that his fatal fracture occurred next to the earlier break mended with three screws. The examiners were concerned enough to have snapped a color photograph of the screws.

A prohibited sedative, fluphenazine, was also found in Melodeeman’s brain, according to records obtained by The Times. Fluphenazine can calm a horse that becomes agitated because of discomfort or injury, according to two veterinarians.

Melodeeman’s fatal breakdown was not quickly forgotten by jockeys on the backside at Penn National. A revolt was brewing.

Jockeys Fight Back

Mr. Gill made his fortune in the mortgage brokerage business before becoming one of the nation’s most successful — and controversial — thoroughbred owners. He was a winner of the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding owner, but tracks in several states denied him stable space because of brushes with regulators over his treatment of horses. He set up a training center in Chester County, Pa., giving him easy access to three casino tracks, among them Penn National.

Although the casino there does a steady business, the track itself seems almost an afterthought. It sits behind the parking garage, barely visible from the gambling floor. On many nights, the few racing fans who show up outside buy programs from a vending machine and beer at a single counter.
But there was no secret why Mr. Gill had made Penn National the hub of his operation: the hefty purses.

Now, Melodeeman’s death threatened to upend it all.

The next morning, Thomas Clifton, a veteran jockey, complained to the state racing commission’s office at Penn National that Mr. Gill’s horses were unsafe. He had been making similar complaints for a month.

“The horses go perfectly sound right up to the second they snap their leg off,” Mr. Clifton said. The following day he came back with a warning: “If we have one more horse break down, we are going to have a major problem on our hands.”

That night, riding in the fifth race, Mr. Clifton heard a bone snap and saw another jockey, Ricky Frazier, vaulting off a horse named Laughing Moon. Mr. Clifton yanked his own mount, but they still went soaring over Laughing Moon.

Within minutes, Mr. Frazier was in an ambulance and a veterinarian was administering a lethal injection to Laughing Moon, the ninth Gill horse to die racing in 10 months.

That is when the jockeys decided to take a stand: They would not ride in any race with a Gill-owned horse.

Their boycott cast a harsh light on the Pennsylvania Racing Commission and Penn National Gaming, which owns the track.

“It wasn’t the commission or the racetrack or anyone with any responsibility for horses and riders who took action,” said George Strawbridge, a prominent breeder and owner. “It was the jockeys who feared for their life. That’s not a shame. That’s a disgrace.”

Track officials and regulators had ample reason to question the integrity of Mr. Gill’s operation well before the boycott.

Regulators did not have the authority to monitor the treatment of horses on Mr. Gill’s ranch, but three months before the boycott, the commission and track security officers searched a van delivering Mr. Gill’s Lion’s Pride, who was scheduled to race that day. They found four syringes, and Lion’s Pride tested positive for a corticosteroid used to treat joint inflammation.

Lion’s Pride was not allowed to race that night. But on Dec. 18, 2009, after running barely a quarter of a mile, he suffered a fatal breakdown.

By then, an employee of Mr. Gill’s ranch had already told state police investigators that horses were being injected with drugs on race day, which is illegal. Investigators later heard accounts of snake venom injections and other performance enhancing treatments on race day, according to records obtained by The Times.

Dr. Jerry Pack, a former veterinarian for the racing commission who now works for Penn National, told the police that he suspected Mr. Gill’s horses received an illegal performance enhancing substance. He also said trainers were using shock wave therapy, which can mask injury. “This is also dangerous to the welfare of the horse,” he told investigators.

Suspicions were heightened by the backgrounds of some employees of Mr. Gill, including two trainers, Cole Norman and Darrel Delahoussaye.

Mr. Norman had been fined or suspended 30 times in four states for drugging horses. The authorities had accused him three times of administering an illegal “milkshake” — a concoction of baking soda, sugar and electrolytes delivered through a tube down a horse’s throat to combat fatigue by breaking up lactic acid. Mr. Norman was also incarcerated for killing a driver in a head-on collision while under the influence of prescription painkillers.

In 1984, Mr. Delahoussaye lost his Louisiana training license after a conviction for check fraud, and Ohio later suspended him for possessing syringes and drugs and for using a makeshift electric cattle prod on a horse. Mr. Gill himself had once been suspended from racing after syringes and needles were found in his barn at a New Hampshire racetrack.

A grand jury in Dauphin County, Pa., investigated reports of horse doping and other corrupt acts. But Mr. Delahoussaye was the only one charged, with doping. A plea agreement kept him out of jail — and out of racing in Pennsylvania.

In the face of the boycott, the racing commission ejected Mr. Gill and his racing manager, Anthony Adamo, from Penn National. They filed a federal lawsuit, saying that they were expelled for no valid reason and without a hearing. A trial took place last week and a decision is expected soon.

Alan Pincus, a lawyer for the men, said that they have been unfairly tainted with “all kinds of innuendo and lies for over two years,” and that the testimony showed that their ejection “was not based on any culpable wrongdoing.”

Mr. Gill said that he rarely visited Elk Creek Ranch, his Pennsylvania training center, and that he never instructed anyone to break racing rules.

Chris McErlean, vice president of racing at Penn National, said the investigation of Mr. Gill and the enforcement of racing rules was the responsibility of the state racing commission, which declined repeated requests for an interview.

Since the jockey boycott, change has come slowly at Penn National. The track began doing pre-race inspections of horses — routine at most racetracks in North America — only last October.

The track’s owner has declined to seek accreditation or to contribute to a fund for jockey benefits.

In September, an injured filly had to wait more than an hour to be euthanized because Penn National had no licensed veterinarian on duty during morning training. The company said it was not the track’s responsibility, though it is a requirement of accreditation.

“There’s cost issues and there’s problems we have with the process,” Mr. McErlean said of accreditation. “They are making racetracks solely responsible, presenting it as a racetrack-only issue. They don’t accredit horsemen, or breeders.”

Bought and Sold

Aqueduct has never been the most glamorous track. The sound of pounding hooves is often drowned out by the roar of jets at nearby Kennedy International Airport. The bulk of its racing is conducted in the winter, when top owners move their horses to Florida to race.

Aqueduct is a neighborhood track for working-class horsemen, where low-level horses are bought and sold in claiming races, which account for nearly 70 percent of American racing.

In claiming races, horses are grouped by ability and price. In a $10,000 claiming race, for example, any horse can be “claimed” or bought for that price. The goal is to lure a group of evenly matched horses to attract bettors but also to ensure a level playing field. The deterrent to entering a high-caliber horse in a low-level claiming race is the risk of losing it for a pittance.

Aqueduct is a case study of how casinos have altered the economics of claiming races. Purses there have jumped by about $130,000 a day compared with the previous year. At the same time, crops of thoroughbreds nationwide have declined and, many experts say, so has their overall quality. The result, at Aqueduct and other casino tracks, is daily cards of low-level claiming races being run for higher purses and a spike in the claiming of horses by owners seeking a quick profit.

Among them was Bojan, a valuable commodity, but a disposable one, too.

Bojan possessed enough good looks and pedigree to fetch $107,000 at a yearling sale in Kentucky in 2008. Now it was April 6, 2012 — Good Friday — and just as Bojan was about to run in the first race at Aqueduct, a trainer named Juan Serey dropped a slip of paper into a box in the racing office, agreeing to pay $10,000 for him on behalf of an owner who employed him. But the horse would not be his until after the race.

Mr. Serey, who has been the leading trainer at Aqueduct, knew the horse had a fragile tendon and puffy ankles. It was why Bojan kept coming up for sale at the bottom of the claiming ladder, why he had changed hands twice in two months.

Even so, Bojan had continued to prove a sound investment. He had earned more than $19,000 for one owner and trainer, Linda Rice, in the span of 16 days, and his current co-owner and trainer, David Jacobson, had owned Bojan for a single race — a victory worth $17,400.

Mr. Serey decided to roll the dice.

“Everybody just wants a horse, and they want him now to race in 10 days,” he said. “I want a horse today and I don’t want it tomorrow. I’m a businessman.”

Turning for home, Bojan led the field and it looked like Mr. Serey had chosen well. Suddenly, however, the horse faltered and his jockey stood up in the saddle. They hobbled home, finishing fourth. Moments later Bojan was boarding a horse ambulance.

“They tried to roll him and win the race and get the money,” Mr. Serey said of Bojan’s owners.

Indeed, the owners walked away with the $1,150 fourth-place check.

Mr. Serey had no regrets. “You’ve got to take the good ones and the bad ones,” he said, adding, “If somebody takes my bad horses, it’s good.”

Since the casino opened at the end of October, Aqueduct has seen a sharp rise in the number of horses injured and killed. Horses have broken down or shown signs of injury at Aqueduct at a rate of 10.2 per thousand starts, or more than double the national rate of 5.0 per thousand starts for thoroughbred racing, according to a Times analysis.

Similar trends are evident at some tracks around the country. The five casino tracks in New Mexico have rates for thoroughbred breakdowns that are double the national average, with Ruidoso Downs and Zia Park topping the list with 12.5 and 12.1, respectively, per thousand starts.

Coleman Lloyd, the racing secretary at Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino in Louisiana, told the state racing commission that the only conclusion that can be drawn from Evangeline’s high fatality rate was it “runs more races and cheaper horses,” according to the minutes of an Aug. 30, 2010, meeting.

Joe Gorajec, executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, said his state capped the number of racing days at 75 and mandated that low-level claiming races make up only 30 percent of the program.

“If you had just what I would call obscene money on these lower-level horses, it would affect the judgment of those horsemen,” he said.

Beyond the numbers, veterinary records obtained by The Times on Aqueduct’s 30 horse deaths show in raw terms how pain medication is used in racing.

In the week leading to a $7,500 claiming race with a $40,000 purse in early March, Big Polk a Dot’s right front ankle was injected with powerful cortisone, his feed was laced with a potent anti-inflammatory and he was shot with a painkiller, records show.

One of his rivals, Almighty Silver, got his left and right lower hocks injected with a painkiller and his front ankles with synthetic joint fluid. He also got an injection to dilate his airway, records show.

Big Polk a Dot ran barely an eighth of a mile before his right front cannon bone snapped and he was euthanized. Almighty Silver managed to finish third, despite a fractured right front leg.

While his effort earned $4,000 for his owner, Almighty Silver was taken by ambulance to Aqueduct’s backside where he, too, was put out of his misery.
These horses got little protection from state regulators or the racetrack. Even as the death toll was rising, necropsies were not performed to determine if pre-existing injuries had contributed to the fatal breakdowns. Nor were toxicology exams conducted.
In March, days after Governor Cuomo announced he would appoint a task force to investigate the fatalities, New York Racing Association veterinarians became more aggressive in keeping unfit horses out of the starting gate, which Dr. Anthony Verderosa, its chief examining veterinarian, called “a coincidence.”
The State Racing and Wagering Board announced an emergency rule voiding a claim if a horse had to be euthanized on the track. Among the 30 dead horses, 7 had been claimed in the race in which they had broken down.
But in the ethic of horse traders — in which you are just as likely to sell a damaged horse as buy one — not everyone believed that prohibiting the claiming of dead horses was a good idea.
“This is a game,” Mr. Serey said, “and we have to know how to play.”

A Fight for a Horse

Horses have never been a game to Earle Mack. A real estate developer, philanthropist and former ambassador to Finland, Mr. Mack began breeding and racing thoroughbreds more than 50 years ago.

 He spent seven years in the 1980s as chairman of the New York State Racing Commission.

Over the past nine months, Mr. Mack has had a frustrating, front-row seat for how horses are treated in the casino era of horse racing. In 2008, he brought a beautifully bred horse from Argentina named Star Plus to the United States. Star Plus won one race and took second in another. Although minor injuries sidelined him in 2009, he won a race the following year. But on March 28, 2010, at Gulfstream Park, he suffered a career-ending ankle injury. The veterinarian recommended he never be ridden again.

Mr. Mack retired Star Plus to a farm in Florida. But last summer, Mr. Mack said he sold the horse for just $1,000, after the new owners agreed not to race him again.

Instead, the new owners, George Iacovacci and Kelly Spanabel, began training Star Plus. Records show that Mr. Iacovacci, an owner-trainer, and Ms. Spanabel, a jockey, eke out a living at casino racetracks, which often pay purse money through last place. Last year, for example, horses Mr. Iacovacci owned made more than $90,000, despite winning only five times.

When Mr. Mack found out Star Plus was training, he alerted racing officials and offered to buy him back. The couple refused. Last July, they ran Star Plus in Michigan and, in November, in two races at West Virginia’s Mountaineer Park. He finished last all three times.

On Jan. 9, after discovering Star Plus was entered to run two days later at Charles Town, Mr. Mack faxed a letter to the West Virginia Racing Commission.

“As you are undoubtedly aware,” he wrote, “with an impaired ankle this horse is a danger to himself, his rider and everyone on any track where he is allowed to work and race.” Darcy Scudera, who cares for Mr. Mack’s horses in Florida, also contacted West Virginia officials, but was told there was nothing they could do.

Three weeks later, Mr. Mack wrote to the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, but he said he never heard back.

On Jan. 28, Star Plus was again outclassed by six other horses, clomping home 43 1/4 lengths behind. Even so, he earned his owners $1,000.

“This is clearly abuse, and anyone interested in animals should have stopped it,” Mr. Mack said. “But these tracks need full fields and have got to fill races. That’s why they pay $1,000 for last place.”

Last month, after the West Virginia attorney general’s office persuaded state racing officials to hear the case, Mr. Iacovacci and Ms. Spanabel sold the horse back to Mr. Mack for $7,000. Ms. Spanabel said that she and Mr. Iacovacci never agreed to retire Star Plus, and that they decided to sell the horse back when it became clear he was not going to be allowed to compete.
Star Plus is now retired in Kentucky.

“These horses have fought so hard for us and given us so many great thrills and happiness,” Mr. Mack said. “Don’t they deserve to be cared for? Don’t they deserve better than what we’re giving them?”

Dara L. Miles contributed reporting.

Plainville Selectmen choose ignorance

Plainville Selectmen and Town Administrator, Joseph Fernandes were invited to attend an educational forum Sunday, April 29th and instead chose to remain ignorant of the consequences of a Slot Barn proposed in their town.

Instead, Mr. Fernandes is soliciting information from a known Casino Shill and ignoring the lack of protection within the legislation.

Pity poor Plainville with this lack of leadership.

Town of Plainville

'This is our one shot'

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mashpee Wampanoag Fairy Tales

It's disappointing that a journalist would repeat the Mashpee Wampanoags' fairy tales without asking questions.

Didn't Middleboro hear the same myths from Glenn Marshall?
Where is there a mandate or a written agreement to hire only union construction workers?  especially in an Industry known for being anti-union?

Why wouldn't a responsible journalist question the exaggerated job numbers that can easily be disproven?

Someone has been imbibing in Casino KoolAid to excess.
Mashpee Wampanoags roll the dice for Taunton casino

Atlantic City casinos win tax appeals

ATLANTIC CITY — Local tax bills could rise more than 9 percent to make up for casino property values dropping by nearly $2.3 billion during the past year.

Most property owners will pay the higher taxes because half of the city’s casinos have successfully contested their property assessments.

Officials are working on ways to reduce the burden on noncasino taxpayers under the $232 million proposed budget for 2012, which is down $12 million, or 5 percent, from last year’s $244 million budget, City Council members said Monday.

The proposed tax rate is $1.13 per $100 of assessed value, up 9 cents from the $1.04 rate in 2011.

This year’s proposed budget would be 20 percent more than the 2007 budget of $193 million and up 91 percent from a $121 million budget of 10 years ago.

For the average residential property owner, the new budget means a bill of $2,715 this year, up $225 from $2,490 in 2011, assuming the property’s value did not change.

Average residential property values, however, dropped by nearly 5 percent in Atlantic City since last year, according to numbers provided by the municipal Tax Assessor’s Office.

Driving the tax increase is the loss of $1.4 billion in ratables, 7 percent of the city’s ratable base, down to $18.1 billion. The drop came mainly because of tax appeal settlements, including those that reduced property values for Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s four local properties.

The city’s ratable base could erode even further if remaining casino tax appeals also result in lower assessments. The city has not yet resolved appeals filed by Revel, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Tropicana Casino and Resort, Atlantic Club Casino Hotel and Golden Nugget Atlantic City, formerly Trump Marina.

“This doesn’t look good at all, and next year looks just as bad, so it’s not a good situation,” 6th Ward Councilman Tim Mancuso said. “We’re down almost $2 billion. How do you make that up?”

The proposed budget does not call for layoffs and limits department spending increases mainly to contractual obligations, city Revenue and Finance Director Michael Stinson said.

The largest is an increase of $1.8 million for police, attributable to 4 percent contracted raises and the $500,000 cost of hiring 25 Class II officers, for a total budget of $38.9 million, the proposed budget shows.

Extra money for legal costs to fight casino tax appeals is included in the budget, Stinson said. Those expenses more than doubled from $385,000 in 2009 to $785,000 in 2011, city legal bills and contracts show.

“It’s not like we’re spending crazy amounts of money on frivolous things. We’re bare-bones as it is,” Councilman Mo Delgado said. “We’ve made requests through the Governor’s Office, and with the CRDA (Casino Reinvestment Development Authority) directly about … paying taxes on their properties.”

The CRDA has historically been forgiven all or part of taxes on its resort properties.

CRDA spokeswoman Kim Butler said Monday that the agency is open to the possibility of starting or increasing existing partial property-tax payments, or other mechanisms, to help support police, fire, trash retrieval and other public services on which casinos and the rest of the Tourism District depend.
Mayor Lorenzo Langford, who did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment, previously suggested the CRDA facilitate a surcharge of some kind on casinos or other businesses to help pay for public safety services in the Tourism District.

Mancuso and other councilmen have lobbied state officials to change New Jersey’s tax laws to negate what they consider an unfair advantage afforded casinos by current regulations.

“They have to offset some services we put out — those are big issues, big tickets for us, especially public safety — not necessarily a surcharge, but through strengthening our ability to defend our assessments,” Mancuso said.

Existing rules let businesses choose how their property values are calculated, basically deciding whether to factor in financial performance or not, he said.

That scenario has forced costly court battles and compromised the ability to plan long-term for both the city government and local casino industry, Stinson said.

“We want to come up with a better method,” Stinson said. “Right now, we have these fluctuations from year to year. We can’t have that, it doesn’t work, and we’re proving that pretty easily right now.”

City officials have worked with the state Treasury Department and Local Finance Board in the Department of Community Affairs to put together the preliminary research needed for tax-assessment legislation, Atlantic City Business Administrator Michael Scott said.

They also have discussed other methods for addressing the issue in the meantime, including doing another citywide revaluation, Stinson said.

“Now is not the right time to do it,” Stinson said. “If we do a complete reval, more of a burden will be shifted to the residents because the casinos are still appealing.”

Atlantic City underwent a revaluation in 2008, and municipalities normally wait longer before doing another, Stinson said.

Still, state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, said another one may be necessary.

“The last one was done just a few years ago at the top of the market,” said Whelan, a former city mayor who lives in the resort. “Casinos are in a position where they’re appealing and doing assessments. A lot of individual homeowners might not have the resources or the awareness to appeal their property taxes. While it seems some shift from casinos to the rest of us is inevitable, one way of getting that down would be to do a citywide reval. Beyond that, I don’t know … there’s any extra money lying around anywhere to offset what we’re looking at.”

Genting bears watching

The Malaysian investor, Genting, has funded the Mashpee Wampanoags' recent expensive adventures in Massachusetts and their action below bears note.

This is speculation --
An alternate theory is that the company is simply tightening its belt in light of diminished revenues at many of its worldwide properties. Last summer, the company reported big revenue drops at its Singapore and UK based operations.

Rumors have widely circulated about Genting's desire the dump the Mashpee Wampoags.

Additional information --

Mashpee tribe unveils $500m casino plan - Featured Articles From ...
TAUNTON - In the latest turn in the state's high-stakes gambling scrum, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe unveiled details of its proposed casino Thursday,
Mashpee tribe unveils Taunton casino plan | Mobile ...
TAUNTON — The Mashpee Wampanoag unveiled a casino proposal Thursday that would be about the half the size of Mohegan Sun, one of two Indian casino
Reel Wamps

Genting Drops US Affiliates

WROR Schwin Casino

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dance of the Slot Barn Shills!

Thursday, April 26th, the Boston Globe hosted the Dance of the Slot Barn Shills!

It was an adventurous evening, sorry you missed it! 
First, we need to step back in history to enlighten.

Once upon a time in Middleboro, the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen was Wayne Perkins who made the statement during a 2007 BOS meeting:

Chairman Perkins noted that towns in Connecticut that have casinos don't pay taxes.

NOTE: TOWNS - plural

Wow! That potential was so impressive, scads of us began researching this MIRACLE! What's not to love about that prospect?

We spoke to town officials, reviewed information online, reviewed the agreement the Tribe has with the Town of Montville that provides for annual payments of $500,000, with no escalation and no share of revenue.

We found no evidence of that statement.

FAST FORWARD to April 26th, 2012:

During the Dance of the Slot Barn Shills, Father McGowan stated that there was a community in Connecticut that paid no real estate taxes! Huh?

So, in 2007, this was Wayne Perkins source of misinformation!

After the event that blessed the death knell of many communities if it moves to fruition, I attempted to determine to what community Father McGowan's comment referred. Although there were numerous other inaccuracies in McGowan's statements, that was my focus.

As I waited to ask McGowan to name the community, he concluded his conversation with Jo Fernandes, Town Whatever from Plainville [God help Plainville if this is the source of their information because they're too blind or lazy to inform themselves!].

When I asked which community, McGowan simply said Mohegan Sun without naming the community. (It is Montville. The Agreement mandates annual payments of $500,000 with no escalation, no participation in revenues, negotiated by Town Counsel, noted in the SEC filing by Mohegan Sun.) He volunteered that there was another unnamed community north of Chicago.

I was so stunned by the revelation, I said that they only receive $500,000 per year.

At that, McGowan's demeanor changed and he lashed out at me with unwarranted attack, as well as an attack on the ONLY Opponent on the evening's panel.

During his Vampire Routine, McGowan blurted that the town didn't pay taxes the first few years. I don't know what it is now.


When I pointed out that that was NOT what he said, the Bully got really hostile, told me he wasn't going to talk to me any more and turned his back!

Folks, this is the problem with Slot Barn Cheerleaders who have consumed too much KoolAid.

Gambling is a Predatory Industry that creates NEW Gambling and creates NEW Gambling Addicts. Even Massachusetts Secretary Bialecki was forced to acknowledge that the 'Administration' calculated that 50% of the profits would originate from  GAMBLING ADDICTS. [Harrah's, now known as Caesars, determined that 90% of their profits came from 10% of their patrons.]

This is not a talisman that wards off arrogance and dishonesty --

Please provide information indicating what TOWNS do NOT pay real estate taxes.

I'm waiting!

Perkins said the Mashpee tribe offered an economic engine for the region, giving Middleboro 2 percent of the net gaming revenue, annually.
[It never happened!]

From: To Talia: Casino Corruption #4

MARCH 5, 2007
Chairman Perkins said he was in favor of forming an exploratory committee in response to a news release by the Wampanoag of Mashpee who are looking for about 200 acres in Southeastern Massachusetts for a casino.  He said he had been approached by a number of residents.
Selectman Bond agreed.  He asked if the economic impact of having a casino was known.

Mr. Healey said he didn't know, but noted it would significantly change the character of the town.
Selectwoman Brunelle said the economic impact would be whatever was negotiated with the group.[Huh?]

Chairman Perkins noted that towns in Connecticut that have casinos don't pay taxes.,_Connecticut,_Connecticut
budget - 1st bond payment in Rand Whitney settlement - page 2
Line 49080 page 11 Mohegan contributions $500,000

Stop the Taunton Casino! Growing Opposition!

Who wants a 'casino' in their neighborhood?

It seems not many.

Thanks Governor Slot Barns and Senator Pacheco!

Hit the road, Wynn!

Ever notice that the Gambling Vultures promise to go away if they're unwanted? Then, when a community says "NO!" they just won't go away?

Steve Wynn has a long list of communities that didn't want him. Maybe it's time for him to pack his bags and leave, along with his lengthy list of shareholders' lawsuits and FCPA investigations.

Can Steve Wynn Beat the Odds in Massachusetts?