When the Governor signed legislation in 2011 officially legalizing gaming in Massachusetts, it was a shock to most of us, and I, being a native Holliston resident, do not think that Milford, Mass., is a good place for a casino. There are several reasons for this. First, a casino would cause many expensive logistical problems during both construction and operation. The casino will certainly cause extreme traffic jams, even in it’s construction phases, which will in turn back up I-495, because of the off and on ramps right near where the casino would be.
Another logistical problem this casino would pose is the already strained town water supply of Milford, which is stressed as it is, and a resort casino would certainly overload the current system.
More importantly than these immediate physical problems though, is the overall way in which this casino would change Milford, Holliston, and all the surrounding towns as a whole. Casinos, let’s face it, do not bring around the most desirable crowd of people, especially so close to residential zones.
This potentially could result in people abandoning the suburbs around the casino because of the new unsafe environment the casino would surely create. This casino will drastically affect our everyday lives, and there are many people organizing opposition already; there is an online petition with nearly 1,000 signatures in support of banning the casino from Milford Massachusetts.
Around the globe, betting on sporting events have led to corruption scandals involving match fixing and organized crime.
New Jersey is so poorly managed, has experienced such historic corruption and fiscal mismanagement, they are desperate to suck every $$$ for residents' pockets and betray the public trust.Republican Governor Chris Christie is willing to suck discretionary income from the pockets of the poor before adopting sound fiscal policy.
Should attorneys representing New Jersey be permitted to obtain depositions from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NBA Commissioner David Stern, and other league bosses as part of the discovery process in the leagues’ lawsuit against the Garden State’s bid to offer sports betting?
That’s just one of several issues that have gone before federal Judge Lois Goodman on Thursday without a resolution at hand (if you need to catch up on this case, go HERE)
State attorneys say the depositions should be allowed because “The Commissioners themselves each have claimed to possess direct and personal knowledge about the impacts New Jersey’s legalization of sports wagering may have on Plaintiffs’ operations.” As an example, attorneys note that in his declaration to the court, Stern – a Teaneck High grad, by the way – wrote in part, “The sports gambling scheme contemplated by the State of New Jersey threatens to alter these fundamental characteristics of NBA basketball.”
But attorneys for the plaintiffs say that the declarations “were not submitted in support of Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, and that Plaintiffs are not relying on them for that motion. Those declarations were submitted solely in connection with the alternate motion for a preliminary injunction…. At this point, Defendants’ dogged refusal to acknowledge Plaintiffs’ representations on this score can be understood as nothing more than harassment.”
At least the two sides agree on one thing: “The parties also respectfully request an in-person hearing with the Court early next week or as soon thereafter as the parties may be heard.”
A look at some of the other issues:
There are seven points of contention:
1. “Whether Plaintiffs’ Alleged Injury-In-Fact Is Subject To Discovery” – The leagues say that “no discovery should be allowed because their…. standing can be resolved as a matter of law.” The defense argues that the court already has denied a bid to prevent any investigation, on Aug. 30 allowing discovery “narrowly tailored to address only the issues raised by Plaintiffs’ pending motion for summary judgment.” New Jersey attorneys note that while the leagues contend their standing “is established as a matter of law,” that contention was not part of the argument for summary judgment.
The state is fishing for “studies, analyses and memorandums regarding the impact that sports gambling has on their viewership, ticket sales, reputation, fan interest and fan loyalty….” The leagues counter that they have “already produced more than 2200 pages” of discovery material. Additional requests, they say, are “far-reaching and overly broad.” They also promise not to rely on any witnesses or declarations in their preliminary injunction attempt.
2. “Whether Defendants May Take Discovery Relevant To The Relief Requested By Plaintiffs’ Motion For Summary Judgment” – This has to do with the leagues seeking a permanent injunction against NJ sports betting. The dispute is whether a 2006 ruling in an EBay case applies. If so, the leagues have to show “irreparable harm” – a very high hurdle, given that the leagues are doing fine with Nevada offering the same product for decades. The leagues instead refer to a 2009 federal case where Delaware lost on its attempt to expand beyond the limited NFL parlay betting it has, with a summary judgment settling the matter. The 20-year-old law that prohibits this gambling, the leagues say, intends to allow such injunctions against any state attempting to move sports betting forward.
3. “Whether Witnesses Submitting Declarations In Support Of Plaintiffs’ Motion For Summary Judgment Or A Preliminary Injunction May Be Deposed” – we addressed this one at the top.
4. “Whether Defendants May Take Deposition Testimony From Representatives Of The Plaintiffs
Under Federal Rule Of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6)” – Similar point, with the state adding that it wants to know more about regulatory system that help casinos detect fraud as well as how leagues and NCAA also benefit from fantasy sports and March Madness. The leagues counter that the issue at hand has to do with state sponsorship of sports betting.
5. “Whether The Purported Benefits Plaintiffs Draw From Sports Gambling Are Subject To Discovery” – An expansion of the point about the “benefits” of gambling to the leagues, who counter that state-sponsored betting don’t help them at all.
6. “Whether Plaintiffs Must Produce A Privilege Log” – State wants one, and leagues say “there is no privilege log to be produced.”
7. “Whether Plaintiffs Must Search For Electronically Stored Information And Internal Correspondence” – Again, New Jersey wants more, and the leagues object to “further costly and time-consuming discovery.”
This year’s presidential race comes as states are considering ways to
legalize online wagers, an issue on which the two candidates have taken
At the same time, political contributions by the casino industry have risen
as the industry has grown.
Mitt Romney has said he opposes online wagering, while the Obama
administration has taken steps that could ultimately clear the way for Internet
But the industry does not seem to be supporting one candidate over the other,
said Joseph S. Weinert, senior vice president of Linwood’s Spectrum Gaming
Democrats have received more political contributions this cycle from the
casino industry, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Democrats have received $6.4 million from the industry to Republicans’ $5.8
million, according to figures released in early September.
An additional $20.3 million was allocated to political action committees and
so-called “Super PACs” that have a greater ability to spend on candidates.
In 1992, the casino industry gave $484,019, according to the center. Of that,
71 percent went to Democrats and 29 percent to Republicans. The center ranked
the casino industry 75th most generous out of more than 80 industries.
Twenty years later, the center reported the casino industry has contributed
more than $32.5 million, as of early September. Direct contributions still
favored Democrats, 52 percent to 48 percent, but the industry’s ranking rose to
15th most generous.
But Weinert said the partisan discrepancy could be because Democrats
represent more gambling jurisdictions. Furthermore, Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry
Reid, D-Nev., has been a major proponent of online gaming, Weinert pointed
“The bigger context is the economy,” Weinert said, and support would likely
hinge on whose economic proposals seem better.
Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business Magazine, said, “In general
the top guys are pretty clear where they are standing,” starting with Sheldon
Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Casino money “never has been that important,” Gros said, “but when you have
Sheldon Adelson, who has a billion dollars to spare, it becomes very
Adelson has been a Republican contributor since the 1990s. He started playing
an outsized role in the presidential campaign in January, when he and his wife,
Miriam, together donated $10 million to Winning Our Future, a super PAC that
supported former candidate Newt Gingrich’s campaign for the Republican
Adelson has since pledged “limitless” support for Republican nominee Mitt
Romney and other Republican candidates, telling Forbes magazine that he did so
to stop President Barack Obama’s “socialization” of America and to secure closer
ties to Israel.
Obama also offended other Las Vegas casino industry officials, Gros said.
Gros pointed to comments Obama made in 2009 when the president said of
federal spending, “You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super
Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime.” At a town-hall meeting the following year, Obama
said, “You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for
Gros said Obama “didn’t really apologize for that in a fashion that the
industry would have liked to have seen.”
Officials have been quiet in Atlantic City, the nation’s second-largest
gaming jurisdiction. Jon Bombardieri, lobbyist and spokesman for the Casino
Association of New Jersey, declined to comment, as did association President
Tony Rodio, who heads Tropicana Casino and Resort. Other casino executives also
Under Obama, the Justice Department in 2011 interpreted the Interstate Wire
Act of 1961 in a way that was seen as friendly to gambling. That interpretation
said the law, which previously barred Internet wagers, applied only to sports
betting. Since then, New Jersey and a number of other states have sought to host
In a response to an online petition to license and regulate online poker,
Brian Deese, a special assistant to Obama for economic policy, wrote in May that
Internet wagering is an issue for the states.
He said the Obama administration
was concerned about the potential for fraud, money laundering and underage
Romney has taken different positions on the topic of gambling throughout his
He is a Mormon, who in following the teachings of the faith, does not gamble.
But when Romney unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1994, the Boston Globe
reported that he supported a proposed casino, saying it was a decision for the
community to make.
Running for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, Romney supported closing a $2
billion state budget hole with a taxpaying casino, the Globe reported.
Once in office, Romney proposed raising $300 million to $800 million with
video slot machines, but the state Legislature rejected the proposal. The Globe
reported he also called on casino operators in Rhode Island and Connecticut to
pay $75 million to keep Massachusetts from developing its own casino, but that
never came to pass.
Gambling has not been a major issue in the presidential race, but before the
Nevada primary in February, Romney told a Las Vegas television station that he
generally opposed online gambling opportunities because “Gaming has a social
effect on a lot of people.”
He also told KSNV-TV that he opposed online wagers because there is plenty of
gambling access currently and that some states use gambling tax proceeds for
public purposes, and online gambling would not improve that.
The Republican Party also formally opposes Internet wagering. In this year’s
platform, the party said it supported the prohibition of Internet betting and
called for the reversal of the federal Justice Department’s gaming-friendly
interpretation of the Interstate Wire Act. Casino industry officials said they
saw this as Adelson’s influence.
DIVIDING THE PIE: The math behind sharing gambling revenue
For every dollar wagered in a Pennsylvania slot machine, about $0.92 is paid out as winning and direct promotions.
The remaining $0.08 is called the casino's gross terminal revenues.
There are adjustments that are made to this figure, but it's pretty solid from month to month.
The $0.08 is then taxed at about 55 percent. That gives the state $.04 for every dollar wagered, or 55 percent of the gross terminal revenues.
Of the state's $0.04 in tax revenues, about 62 percent of it, or 2.7 cents, goes toward property taxes.
Most, but not all of, that amount is collected into a statewide fund and is distributed each year to each school district based on a formula that's more complicated than a celebrity divorce.
In 2011-2012, the state fund was about $627 million. Out of that, for instance, Stroudsburg Area School District received $2,656,267. That's about 4/10s of 1 percent of the total state slots tax revenue for property tax relief.
There are 7,973 qualifying property owners in Stroudsburg's school district. That means each property got $333.60 last year.
But they don't get it as a check. It's credited on their tax bill, with the actual bill net of the gaming funds benefit.
So, a review:
of wagersFor every dollar
wagered on slotsWagers at slot machines$23,246,155,687 Gross terminal revenue$1,845,072,433 7.94%$0.08 State tax for property reduction$627,324,627 2.70%$0.03 Stroudsburg's portion$2,659,774 0.01%$0.0001
(one one-hundredth of a penny)Each qualifying property owner$333 0.000001%$0.00000001
(one millionth of a penny)
SASD property owners got $1 for every $70 billion wagered.
SASD property owners got $1 for every $5.5 million in gross terminal revenues.
Just not by that much.
As you pay your school taxes today, you will have saved from $337 to $447 on your bill, thanks to state taxes on slot machine revenues.
The median tax bill in Stroudsburg Area School District — with no tax increases this year — was $4,187, according to Stroudsburg Area School District Business Manager Don Jennings.
That means gambling gave Stroudsburg district taxpayers an 8 percent savings.
The legislation that determined the distribution of gaming funds was called The Taxpayer Relief Act of 2006.
Some call it false advertising.
"I told them, 'You are getting hosed,'" said state Rep. Mario Scavello, R-176, when school boards were first introduced to the legislation in 2004. "The most you're going to get is one year of no tax increases."
While former Gov. Ed Rendell predicted somewhere around a billion dollars in property tax relief a year once all of the casinos where open, that number has proven to be overly optimistic.
Less than two-thirds of that has been generated, with 11 of the state's 14 legislated casinos operating.
Yet the industry has been a tax-revenue-generating machine.
"Pennsylvania casinos generate more tax revenue from casino gaming than any other state, including New Jersey and Nevada," said Richard McGarvey, deputy director of communications for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. "A 55 percent tax rate will do that."
Slots highly taxed
That tax rate, which is applied to slots revenues only, is the highest in the nation among states that don't own their own slot machines.
While slots were sold to the state on the basis of property tax reduction, table games were not.
Table games were legalized in 2010, almost overnight in legislative time.
The argument was to close a $200 million budget gap that year. It did just that, thanks to the one-time up-front antes casinos paid as "certificate fees."
All of those funds go into the state's general fund. None goes to property tax relief.
One drop of a trickle
In fact, tax relief is a small drop in the sea of revenues generated by the casinos.
To put it into perspective, the state's casinos generated $31 billion in bets and $2.5 billion in slots revenues in the 2011-12 fiscal year.
Although more than half of slots revenues goes toward state taxes, only 34 percent goes to property tax reduction.
The rest is spread between economic development projects, the casinos' host communities and the horse racing industry, which gets 12 percent of slot revenues.
[Taxpayers are subsidizing a DEAD Industry and there is no indication that attendance has increased. The word SCAM comes to mind when taxpayer $$$$ are spent this way, much as Massachusetts will support Suffolk Downs and Plainridge. Why?]
Much of the economic development money, 5 percent of gaming revenues, has gone to projects in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, like the expansion of Philadelphia's convention center, and a hockey arena and airport debt in Pittsburgh, according to McGarvey.
That leaves about $850 million for the taxpayer relief fund.
Formula is locked
But the fund is diluted further, with payouts to senior rent relief, problem gambling, fire department grants and forest reserves.
After being whittled down, the real property owner fund is closer to last year's $616 million.
The state then divvies up the tax relief funds once a year to school districts with a formula that's more complicated than a celebrity divorce settlement.
The formulas are locked in on historical figures from 2002-05, including the school district's personal income, home market value, millage and taxes.
That prevents funding adjustments based on changes in a community.
By the time casino taxes get to property owners, there isn't much left.
Relief or reduction?
"There has been a misconception that gaming revenue would relieve homeowners of school property taxes, but it was a reduction," McGarvey said.
School districts were initially given an opportunity to opt out of the property relief program if they had philosophical difficulties accepting money from gambling.
"We aren't philosophically opposed to $2.6 million," Stroudsburg's Jennings said.
Monroe County's four school district's ranked among the top 30 of the state's 499 school districts in estimated tax relief distributions to homeowners last year.
Pleasant Valley School District ranked fourth in the state, with $447 per qualifying property.
East Stroudsburg was 11th with $394; Pocono Mountain was 12th with $338; and Stroudsburg came in 29th with $322 per property owner.
The Chester-Upland School District ranked first at $631 per property. The average homeowner in the state received about $191 last year.
Reforms still sought
State Rep. Mike Carroll said that although the program has been somewhat helpful, additional measures are needed to satisfy the law's intended outcome.
"It is long past the time to provide substantial and meaningful school property relief for homesteads and farmsteads in this state by enacting legislation which shifts to a sales and income tax model and away from property taxes."
It's a model supported by Scavello and others, but has lacked the political clout to become a reality.
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR PROPERTY TAX REDUCTION?
For a property owner to be eligible for the tax credit, the property must be an owner-occupied, full-time residence. Rentals, vacation homes and commercial properties do not qualify.
Property owners have to apply for a homestead/farmstead exemption. In the four Monroe County school districts, once you've qualified it's not necessary to re-apply.
You can tell if you've received the tax credit by looking at your current tax bill. A box called "less exclusion" appears in the Homestead row of the bill. It's the box that's second from the right. If that box has an amount, you're getting the credit. If it's empty, you're not.
School districts are required by the end of December to notify property owners of the homestead exclusion, and work with the assessor's office to notify people who aren't signed up yet, Stroudsburg Business Manager Don Jennings said.
HOW GAMBLING MONEY TRICKLES DOWN TO YOU
For every dollar fed into a slot machine, about 90 percent is paid out as winnings. The balance — the net slots revenues — is taxed at a rate of 55 percent, the highest in the nation among states that don't own their own slot machines.
Property tax relief is funded with 34 percent of all net slots revenues. Most, but not all, of these funds actually go to tax relief.
The state then applies a complicated formula based on income, market value, millage and local tax revenue from 2002 to 2005 to divide it up among the state's 499 school districts and Philadelphia. The formula does not take into account changes in the composition of a school district since that time.
It's similar to the "hold harmless" rule that married state tax school allocations to 1990 census figures and guarantees that slow-growing or contracting districts don't lose funding.
It also deprives growing counties like Monroe and Pike from its fair share of the gaming money.
Tim Eller of the Pennsylvania Department of Education said there was a reason for the gaming formula.
"The idea was to prevent potentially large fluctuations in each school district's distribution based on annual changes in the data elements," he said.
State Rep. Rosemary Brown, R-189, called them extremely complex and antiquated.
"We're looking at what those formulas would bring us now and see if it's hurting us," she said. "My guess is it's hurting us."
School districts, in turn, simply divide the pool of money they receive from the state by the number of approved homesteads and farmsteads in the school district. The result is the tax credit that shows up on your bill.
And here's something that may surprise you: Every property owner in a school district gets exactly the same amount of tax credit as their neighbors, regardless of the size of their property or appraised value. That's the way the 2004 law was written.
James Lynch next to a microfilm reader that is showing the 1708 freetown land transfer
WATERBURY, Conn. — He has been disparaged as a document-hunting hit man, available for hire to snuff out the historical claims of Native American tribes.
James P. Lynch says that’s just part of doing business as a self-employed “ethno-historian” who investigates the ancestry of contemporary Indian tribes, often with multimillion dollar casino proposals in the balance.
The polarizing researcher, often criticized by academics, has developed a reputation over 20 years as the go-to consultant for those seeking to debunk the historical claims of tribes, specialists say.
Lynch recently jumped into a dispute between Massachusetts tribes, by helping the Pocasset Band of Pokanoket Indians of Fall River, combat efforts by the Mashpee Wampanoag to build a casino in Taunton, which the Pocasset say is their historic territory.
The Mashpee, in response, have blasted Lynch as a “hired gun” with questionable credentials.
‘Mr. Lynch has gained a reputation . . . as a hired gun who will come up with reasons to deny Indian tribes their sovereign right to land as long as the price is right.’
For Lynch, such a fierce counterattack is a good sign.
“When they start attacking you personally, you know your research has hit home,” said Lynch, 66, who works from his house in Waterbury, about 30 miles southwest of Hartford.
One room of his basement is filled with dozens of his meticulously crafted models of military ships and planes, a lifelong hobby. The adjoining room is stuffed with thousands of records on Native American tribes.
For thrills, Lynch roots around old libraries and archives. “That moment of enlightenment when you learn something new is like a siren’s song,” he said.
He began researching tribal histories seriously in the early 1990s, beginning with the Golden Hill Paugussett in Connecticut. The tribe’s wide-ranging land claims at the time threatened the home of Lynch’s mother-in-law. The tribe later blamed Lynch’s “inappropriate research” for the 1996 rejection of its petition for federal acknowledgment, according to a Globe report in 2000. His work on the Golden Hill Paugussett led to more assignments.
“My work has always been word-of-mouth,” he said. “I never really put myself out there.”
He has often been hired by law firms representing municipalities opposing tribal recognition, which is often a first step toward a casino.
Lynch did not come to historical research along the traditional academic career path. He served in the US Navy after high school, from 1964 to 1973, and then studied sociology and anthropology at Southern Connecticut State University. He holds a master’s degree in anthropology and ethnohistory from Wesleyan University and participated in a University of Connecticut doctoral program in anthropology and history, but did not finish.
He worked for heating equipment companies before becoming a full-time consultant and document researcher around 1998. He founded his current firm, Historical Consulting and Research Services, in 2001.
His work often provokes angry responses. A commentary Lynch published in March, for instance, which questioned the historical claims of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, in California, brought a stinging retort from an anthropology professor who accused Lynch of distortions.
James Axtell, a historian and researcher retired from the College of William and Mary, who knows of Lynch, said the rise of tribal casinos has created a new breed of researchers-for-hire. “Lots of people are getting paid to do this stuff,” he said. “You expect them to find what you want. These are not historical researchers hired to find what the truth is.”
A federal judge made a similar point about Lynch in 2009, in a ruling in a federal lawsuit over tax-free tribal cigarette sales in New York. Though Lynch was deemed qualified to testify in the case as an expert witness, the judge noted Lynch’s testimony in 10 cases involving federal recognition by Indian tribes.
“Mr. Lynch found adversely to the tribe’s federal recognition in nine matters in which he was retained by clients opposing tribal recognition,” the judge wrote. “In the one matter in which Mr. Lynch found in favor of tribal recognition, he was retained by a client that supported tribal recognition.”
Lynch said he never guarantees his clients the results they want. “One thing I make clear: You get what the facts dictate,” he insisted.
In fact, he said, the most satisfying day of his career came when he discovered a document in Connecticut that appeared to bolster the case for federal recognition by the Eastern Pequot. “I must admit the temptation to suppress it,” said Lynch, who was working at the time for opponents of tribal recognition. But he said he placed the document in the official record of the case. “That, to me, was a seminal moment that defined whether I was a professional or a client’s hit man.”
The town of Halifax hired Lynch to investigate the Mashpee, who in 2007 had announced plans to build a casino in Middleborough, near Halifax. Lynch produced a report arguing that the Mashpee lacked historical connection to the land and therefore should not be permitted to establish a reservation or a casino at that location.
John Bruno, former Halifax selectman, said the board did not direct Lynch toward any predetermined conclusion, though local opposition to a casino was well known. He thought Lynch did a good job with the research. “He does a lot of work with primary source documents,” said Bruno. “He seemed to know what he was talking about.”
In the current dispute between Massachusetts tribes, Lynch wrote that the Mashpee are not linked historically to the land in Taunton where the tribe has proposed a casino.
“Historically, the lands inquestion were those belonging to the historic Pokanoket tribe,” with which the Cape Cod-based Mashpee were not associated, he wrote. He accuses the Mashpee of seeking to “distort the historical realities of Southeastern Massachusetts” for the sake of gambling profits.
Lynch said he agreed to help the Pocasset for free because the tribe was “on the verge of getting screwed.” He said he may be paid “down the road” if the tribe builds a successful economic development project, be it a casino or something else.
The Mashpee, in response, say Lynch is the one warping history.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Lynch has gained a reputation throughout the country as a hired gun who will come up with reasons to deny Indian tribes their sovereign right to land as long as the price is right,” Cedric Cromwell, the Mashpee Wampanoag chairman, said in a statement.
“Throughout our quest for federal recognition, and now an initial reservation, those with a financial motivation to deny us our rights have paid so-called experts to refute our history and our identity as Mashpee Wampanoag people. Every step of the way, the evidence has supported our proud history, and we are confident that the outcome will be the same in this case.”
The US Department of the Interior must sort out the dueling portraits of Mashpee Wampanoag history in rendering a decision on whether to take the Taunton land into trust for the Mashpee, a necessary step before the tribe may open a casino.
The Pocasset have pushed since August for the state gambling commission to review Lynch’s research. The commission has the authority to seek bids for a commercial casino in Southeastern Massachusetts if it believes no tribes will be able to build a casino in the region.
Stephen Crosby, the commission’s chairman, is aware of Lynch’s research, but said it is too soon to consider whether the Mashpee will be successful.
In the meantime, Lynch hopes his latest work will provoke the Mashpee to produce fresh research in an attempt to refute him.
“If you’ve got cards,” he dared the tribe, “it’s time to put them on the table.”
ANNAPOLIS — The debate over expanding gaming in Maryland will ultimately be decided by the people, but to help them pick, casino companies on both sides have now contributed more than $26.7 million to campaigns for and against Question 7.
Question 7, the gaming referendum, would expand gambling in Maryland by extending casino hours, adding tables games and allowing an additional casino to be built at National Harbor in Prince George’s County. The gaming referendum fight has been prominently featured in television ads.
A total of $14.1 million has been contributed to the pro-expansion committee For Maryland Jobs and Schools Inc., most coming from MGM Resorts International, the potential operator of a casino at National Harbor.
A casino at National Harbor could take business away from surrounding casinos, including those owned by Penn National Gaming Inc. So far Penn National has spent has spent $13 million to campaign against expansion.
Penn National owns the Hollywood Casino Perryville in Maryland, but gaming analyst James Karmel said the company is really concerned about the effect gaming expansion in Maryland could have on its Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia.
“The millions they spend on ads could potentially be offset if they win,” Karmel said.
The most recent campaign finance statement from the pro-expansion committee For Maryland Jobs and Schools Inc., released Wednesday, shows MGM has contributed an additional $3 million since a report issued last week. That puts MGM’s total contributions to the pro-gaming expansion campaign since August at $11.4 million.
Some of MGM’s contributions were in-kind, meaning they provided services and then reported the monetary value of those services as contributions.
For Maryland Jobs and Schools Inc. has also received $2.3 million from CBAC Gaming LLC, a group led by Caesars and Rock Gaming that was granted a license to operate video lottery terminals at a location in Baltimore this summer. Peterson Development Companies, the developers of National Harbor, have also contributed $400,000. They’ve spent $13.6 million.
Penn National has contributed $13 million to the committee against expansion, Get the Facts-Vote No on 7. They’ve spent $10.9 million.
Through its own committee Penn National Gaming Inc. has spent $36,401.
Jared DeMarinis, the director of Candidacy and Campaign Finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections, said both committees have been consistent and accurate in reporting their expenditures. He said they are required to report everything in Maryland.
He said a more detailed report will come out Oct. 12, showing how the money has been spent.
Some observers have noted the irony in seeing casinos spend money on both sides of a gambling debate.
“There’s a touch of hypocrisy quite often in the kind of marketing that’s been done,” said Bill Eadington, director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Gambling addiction saw me steal from my dying nana.. but I would sink further still, admits Kevin Twaddle
FORMER SPL football star Kevin Twaddle has opened his heart on the devastating gambling addiction which cost him £1million.
I LOVED my nana, Annie Barker, to bits. I really did.
Her health was failing when I was at Motherwell and I went to see her every single day.
My mum used to say what a great laddie I was because it looked like I was doing so much for my nana.
She didn’t know I’d had a key cut for a box in my nan’s living room where she kept all her money.
She didn’t know I was stealing her life savings.
I didn’t go into the box and take all the money in one swoop but gradually, over the months, I took out small amounts until there was next to nothing left.
I don’t know how much money I actually stole from her. I would hate to know what the exact figure was. It was a substantial amount and, at a guess, I would say it would have been in excess of £10,000 if I am being totally honest.
What sort of person would do that to their own nana? There are no words that can describe the shame I feel.
I don’t say that for sympathy because, after the way I treated my nana, that is the last thing I should be entitled to.
The most galling thing is that, if I had just asked my nana for the money, I know she would have happily given it to me but I didn’t want to tell anyone I had a gambling problem.
I watched my nana die and – I have to be honest although I know it might sound cold-hearted and it was – I didn’t even want to go to her funeral.
Not because I didn’t love her or I was unable to cope with the grief but because I had an illness. I was caught up in a gambling frenzy.
To most people who maybe haven’t had a betting addiction, it might sound like a load of rubbish, a cock-and-bull story to try to justify my actions but it wasn’t.
I don’t think any sane individual could defend my actions. But when you are a gambling addict, it consumes you and takes over your life without you even knowing. It is hard to explain.
Gambling becomes all-consuming. It becomes the be-all and end-all. You will go to extreme lengths and measures just so you can put on a bet and satisfy your cravings and impulses. I was that sick, although I didn’t even realise it.
My nana died on November 24, 2003. I didn’t want to grieve. The only place I wanted to be was at the bookies. I even left my nana’s funeral early so I could get to the bookmakers for the first horse race of the day.
I look back on that day with nothing but shame and embarrassment. How could I have done that to somebody I was so close to? There can be no excuses, even though I was in such a bad place with gambling.
It had taken over my life and was at the centre of everything I did. Thinking back, I am just relieved I went to the funeral because I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I hadn’t gone and probably, back then, it would have been touch and go.
I should have been the first person there because my nana did so much for me and was one of the most caring and loving people I ever met.
I think, at the end, my nana knew about my gambling although, like everybody else, she didn’t know the full extent of it.
I did some horrible things to her but I do genuinely miss her terribly and I do think about her every day.
I just wish she was still here to see me today. I just hope that, if she is looking down on me, maybe she can be proud of the person I am now.
I am very different to the one who waved her farewell from this world.
By then, I had numerous people coming to my parents’ door looking for money, from sheriff officers to some really unscrupulous characters.
The phone was going 24/7, with people looking to threaten me.
My mum and dad didn’t know half the stuff that was going on because most nights I would put their phone on silent to stop it ringing.
The last thing I wanted to do was have them answering the phone and knowing what I had got myself embroiled in.
I was stealing from my mum too. I tore her to pieces with my gambling and what I did to her.
I had my mum over a barrel. She would never tell my dad what I had done because I would blackmail her emotionally. I would say things like: “If you tell dad, I will never speak to you again.” I was out of control.
To be fair to my mum, she didn’t tell my dad until near the end, when I was at the height of my troubles and when things were really bad.
Money was going missing from her bank account left, right and centre and, at that point, it was obvious to everybody that I needed help. Everybody but me.
Kevin Twaddle’s autobiography Life On The Line sells for £11.99 but we can offer Sunday Mail readers copies at the exclusive price of £10 including postage and packaging. All you have to do is call Black and White Publishing from tomorrow between 10am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, and quote “Kevin Twaddle Book Offer”. Offer ends on Friday, November 16, 2012. Please allow 12 days for delivery.
Poll finds support for same-sex marriage, but not gambling
Maryland referendum questions fill November's ballot
The casino-backed committees on the two sides of the gambling debate have
each spent at least $13 million to persuade Maryland voters, but The Sun poll
shows that opponents may be getting more bang for their
According to the poll, 53 percent of Maryland voters oppose Question 7, which
would permit table games at Maryland casinos and allow a new gambling palace in
George's County, while 38 percent would vote yes.
Meanwhile, those against the gambling measure have opened up a huge gap in
voter enthusiasm, with 43 percent of opponents saying their views are strongly
held. On the other side, only 24 percent say they are strong in their
The results are especially challenging for gambling supporters, led by MGM
Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, because the pool of voters
describing themselves as undecided is shallow, 8 percent.
Opposition to the expansion cuts across party lines — even though the measure
that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot is the work of a Democratic governor and
General Assembly. Republicans are rejecting the measure by 67 percent to 26
percent.But Democrats, too, are opposed, 46 percent to 44 percent. Independents
and third-party supporters say they will vote no, 56 percent to 36 percent.
The Democratic rejection of the gambling measure is largely driven by
negative numbers in the party stronghold of Montgomery County, where 54 percent
of voters plan to vote no and only 34 percent yes.
The margin could be an indication that the proponents' arguments that the
proceeds from expanded gambling would benefit education are not convincing
voters. Opponents, led by Penn
National Gaming, have pushed the theme that there are no guarantees that the
money will remain in the schools.
Some voters support gambling philosophically but don't like the manner in
which Gov. Martin
O'Malley and General Assembly leaders got the measure on the ballot. They
include James H. Thomas Jr., a 61-year-old UPS retiree from Dundalk,
who plans to vote no.
"O'Malley handled this behind closed doors," Thomas said. "It was put off to
a special session. There are tax deductions for whoever runs these gambling
conglomerates. I really don't like that."
In Prince George's County, which is expected to gain an important new revenue
stream if the measure passes, voters are giving Question 7 only tepid support —
52 percent yes to 42 percent no.
Raabe said that if support doesn't pick up in Prince George's, the measure is
likely doomed statewide.
"They should be for it by 30 points," Raabe said. "Even Prince Georgians are
pretty lukewarm about it."
The measure does have strong supporters in the county, including Myra
Henderson of Hyattsville. Like a 56 percent to 32 percent majority of
African-Americans, the 62-year-old retired Social Security Administration
employee says she will vote yes, partly because she likes to gamble and would
enjoy a casino at National Harbor — the most likely location if the voters
"It would be closer to home," she said. "Why go to Atlantic City or wherever,
when you could go right here?"
The modest margin of support in Prince George's is more than offset by heavy
opposition in Baltimore. City voters currently oppose the measure, 57 percent to
34 percent, despite Mayor Stephanie
The contest to allow a sixth casino in Maryland and table games in all of them is close, with 45 percent of Maryland voters supporting the expansion, 46 percent opposed and 9 percent undecided. African-Americans again are the swing vote, with only 31 percent favoring the idea, and 64 percent opposed, compared to 51 percent of Democrats as a whole in favor of the proposition.
This divergence on the issue between white and black Democrats, Gonzales said, “could present an obstacle on Election Day for supporters of expanded gaming in Maryland.” The contest to allow a sixth casino in Maryland and table games in all of them is close, with 45 percent of Maryland voters supporting the expansion, 46 percent opposed and 9 percent undecided. African-Americans again are the swing vote, with only 31 percent favoring the idea, and 64 percent opposed, compared to 51 percent of Democrats as a whole in favor of the proposition.
This divergence on the issue between white and black Democrats, Gonzales said, “could present an obstacle on Election Day for supporters of expanded gaming in Maryland.”
The Mohegan Sun casino is seen earlier this year in Uncasville, Conn. The casino is laying off more than 300 employees and replacing its CEO, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's chief executive said Thursday.
PALMER News that Mohegan Sun casino laid off more than 300 employees and replaced its chief executive officer doesn't worry some proponents of the Connecticut-based company's plan to build a resort casino here.
But others are questioning whether or not Mohegan, which has long wanted to build a casino off Thorndike Street (Route 32), has the financial means to make the project happen, and if this is a sign that the market already is saturated with too many casinos.
Town Council President Philip J. Hebert said he was called personally by Paul I. Brody, Mohegan's vice president of development, about the layoffs.
Hebert said he's not sure what to think of the news, but wondered if there are already too many casinos for any of them to be prosperous.
"Has the industry become too saturated?" Hebert questioned.
Brody said the Connecticut casino is facing competition from the new Resorts World Casino at the Aqueduct racetrack in New York City, but he said what is happening in Connecticut has no impact, and no relevance, on the company's plans for Palmer.
"It's really a very different set of circumstances," Brody said.
The downsizing will help match the volume of business in Connecticut, he said.
Stephen Norton, a gaming consultant from Illinois and a director of the company leasing land in Palmer to the Mohegan Sun, also said the layoffs are separate from the company's casino plans for Palmer.
"That's good management -- bringing employment in line with supply and demand," Norton said of the layoffs. [Since Mr. Norton has had his share of bankruptcies, he should know.]
Mohegan is one of several casino operators competing for the sole Western Massachusetts casino license. Under the state gaming law approved in November 2011, three casino licenses and one slot parlor license will be awarded. The state gaming Commission, which is overseeing the process, has announced a draft master schedule that calls for granting a license for a casino or a slots parlor by February 2014.
"I think they are still viable, assuming they find the right financial partner," At-large Town Councilor Paul E. Burns said.
Brody said they are still working on identifying a financial partner.
Both Norton and Iris L. Cardin, co-chair of Quaboag Valley Against Casinos, said they are concerned that Mohegan has yet to announce a financial partner for Palmer.
Cardin said "it's looking bad" for Mohegan.
"They need to just cut and run and leave us alone," Cardin said.
Burns, a casino proponent, said it would show Mohegan's commitment and truly show evidence of its viability if the $400,000 gaming application fee was paid. One competitor for the Western Massachusetts license - MGM Resorts International, which has a proposal for Springfield's south end - has paid the fee.
Brody said they still plan to pay the fee when the application is submitted, which may be as soon as December.
Town Manager Charles T. Blanchard said Mohegan has indicated its commitment to the town, and its desire to expand to the Massachusetts market. Blanchard said studies are ongoing to evaluate a casino's impacts on traffic the town. This week, consultants interviewed department heads about fiscal issues.
Wonder if they made available the Citizens' Casino Study Report indicating the cost to host Mohegan Sun would be $18 MILLION to $39 MILLION annually, not including the $50 MILLION to bring water from the Quabbin.
Said District 4 Town Councilor Donald Blais Jr. about Mohegan, "I'm not too worried . . . I think they'll be alright."
Jennifer L. Baruffaldi, a spokeswoman for the pro-casino group, Citizens for Jobs & Growth in Palmer, said she remains positive about the Palmer project. She said Mohegan has the same struggles as other casino operators. [Ms. Baruffaldi is a very pleasant person lacking education in financial reporting. Because Mohegan Sun's debt is publicly traded, their SEC filings are available online for review.]
Edward S. Harrison, chairman of the Western Massachusetts Casino Task Force, a neutral group, questioned if bringing casinos to Massachusetts makes sense if the casino industry is having difficulty.
"Is it really going to be profitable?" Harrison said.
Harrison asked what will happen if the casinos are built, then the companies resort to layoffs.
Mitchell G. Etess, the chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, told The Day of New London that the layoffs affect workers in nearly every department and job level. About 8,000 employees remain. Etess blamed the layoffs on the weak economy and competition from the New York City casino.
“You have to put this in the context of the amazing decline in business we’ve experienced,” Etess told The Day.
James Ferrerra III, Springfield City Council president, said the layoffs do not surprise him.
"Casino companies are not immune to the economic climate out there," Ferrerra said.
Etess told The Day of New London that Jeffrey Hartmann will be replaced by Bobby Soper, chief executive officer of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Hartman, a Mohegan Sun executive since 1996, was the casino’s chief executive officer since 2011.
New England Public Radio News
Contributor: Fred Bever
That comes after the company's refinancing of some billion dollars in debt - while observers say the company has been close to bankruptcy.
"I think one of the concerns with the layoff is that it may raise the question in some people's minds about just how financially viable they are," said Paul Burns, president of the Palmer Town council, and an advocate for the proposed casino.
[Does anyone wonder if it's ethical for an elected official to be a prime cheerleader. ignoring the financial insolvency of a proposed developer? and the gambling market saturation?]
Casino-Cheating Criminal Enterprise Sentenced to 36 Months in Prison for
Targeting Casinos Across the United States
Department of Justice September 28,
WASHINGTON—Van Thu Tran was sentenced today in San Diego to 36 months in
prison for her role in a scheme to cheat casinos across the country out of
millions of dollars, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the
Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy for the
Southern District of California.
In addition to her prison sentence, Van Thu Tran, 47, was sentenced by U.S.
District Judge John A. Houston in the Southern District of California to three
years of supervised release and ordered to pay $5,753,416 in restitution,
payable to several casinos. The court ordered the forfeiture of her interests in
various assets, including jewelry and bank accounts.
Van Thu Tran entered her guilty plea in San Diego on January 14, 2011.
In her plea agreement, Van Thu Tran admitted that in approximately August
2002, she, along with co-conspirators Phuong Quoc Truong, Tai Khiem Tran, and
others, created a criminal enterprise defined as the Tran Organization, based in
San Diego and elsewhere, for the purpose of participating in gambling cheats at
casinos across the United States. In her plea agreement, Van Thu Tran also
admitted that she and her co-conspirators unlawfully obtained up to $7 million
during card cheats.
The investigation of the Tran Organization led to the filing of three
separate indictments in 2007, 2008, and 2009. A three-count indictment was
returned in San Diego on May 22, 2007, and unsealed on May 24, 2007, which
charged Van Thu Tran and 13 others each with one count of conspiracy to
participate in the affairs of a racketeering enterprise; one count of conspiracy
to commit several offenses against the United States, including conspiracy to
steal money and other property from Indian tribal casinos; and one count of
conspiracy to commit money laundering. The indictment also charged five separate
individuals each with one count of conspiracy to commit several offenses against
the United States, including conspiracy to steal money and other property from
Indian tribal casinos; and one count of conspiracy to commit money
According to court documents, the defendants and others executed a “false
shuffle” cheating scheme at casinos in the United States and Canada during
blackjack and mini-baccarat games. Court documents also show that members of the
criminal organization bribed casino card dealers and supervisors to perform
false shuffles during card games, thereby creating “slugs,” or groups of
unshuffled cards. Court documents also show that, after tracking the order of
cards dealt in a card game, a member of the organization would signal to the
card dealer to perform a “false shuffle,” and members of the group would then
bet on the known order of cards when the slug appeared on the table. By doing
so, members of the conspiracy repeatedly won thousands of dollars during card
games, including winning several hundred thousand dollars on one occasion.
Court documents also show that the members of the organization used
sophisticated mechanisms for tracking the order of cards during games, including
hidden transmitter devices and specially created software that would predict the
order in which cards would reappear during blackjack games.
To date, 42 defendants have pleaded guilty to charges relating to the
casino-cheating conspiracy: Van Thu Tran, Phuong Quoc Truong, Tai Khiem Tran,
Anh Phuong Tran, Phat Ngoc Tran, Martin Lee Aronson, Liem Thanh Lam, George
Michael Lee, Tien Duc Vu, Son Hong Johnson, Barry Wellford, John Tran, Willy
Tran, Tuan Mong Le, Duc Cong Nguyen, Han Truong Nguyen, Roderick Vang Thor,
Sisouvanh Mounlasy, Navin Nith, Renee Cuc Quang, Ui Suk Weller, Phally Ly,
Khunsela Prom, Hop Nguyen, Hogan Ho, Darrell Saicocie, Bryan Arce, Qua Le,
Outtama Keovongsa, Leap Kong, Thang Viet Huynh, Don Man Duong, Dan Thich, Jimmy
Ha, Eric Isbell, Brandon Pete Landry, James Root, Jesus Rodriguez, Jason Cavin,
Nedra Fay Landry, Connie Holmes, and Geraldo Montaz. These defendants admitted
to targeting, with the aid of co-conspirators, a combined total of approximately
29 casinos in the United States and Canada during the course of the
1) Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi;
2) Casino Rama, in Orillia, Ontario, Canada;
3) Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut;
4) Gold Strike Casino in Tunica, Mississippi;
5) Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana;
6) Horseshoe Casino and Hotel in Tunica, Mississippi;
7) Isle of Capri Casino in Westlake, Louisiana;
8) Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Indiana;
9) Mohegan Sun Resort Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut;
10) Palace Station Casino in Las Vegas;
11) Resorts East Chicago Hotel and Casino in East Chicago, Indiana;
12) Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, California;
13) Cache Creek Indian Bingo and Casino in Brooks, California;
14) Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington;
15) Imperial Palace Casino in Biloxi;
16) Argosy Casino in Baton Rouge, Louisiana;
17) Trump 29 Casino in Coachella, California;
18) Isle of Capri Casino in Bossier City;
19) Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, California;
20) Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs, California;
21) Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California;
22) L’Auberge du Lac Casino in Lake Charles, Louisiana;
23) Nooksack River Casino in Deming, Washington;
24) Barona Valley Ranch Casino and Resort in Lakeside, California;
25) Caesars Indiana Hotel and Casino in Elizabeth, Indiana;
26) Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas;
27) Harrah’s Casino in Lake Charles;
28) Golden Moon Casino in Choctaw, Mississippi; and
29) Viejas Casino in Alpine, California.
Two other defendants, Ha Thuy Giang and Tammie Huynh, pleaded guilty to tax
offenses stemming from the investigation, and Khai Hong Tran admitted to the
offenses alleged in a 2007 U.S.
indictment when he pleaded guilty to
casino-cheating offenses in Canada.
On December 15, 2010, defendant Mike Waseleski, a former casino card dealer,
was found guilty by a federal jury in San Diego for his role in the Tran
Organization’s cheating scheme to steal approximately $1.5 million from Resorts
East Chicago Casino.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s San Diego Field Office; the
Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; the San Diego Sheriff’s
Department; and the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling
Control. The investigation has received assistance from federal, state, tribal,
and foreign authorities, including: the Ontario Provincial Police; the National
Indian Gaming Commission; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District
of California; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of
Washington; FBI Resident Agencies in Gulfport (Mississippi), Tacoma
(Washington), and Toledo (Ohio); the Indiana State Police; the Rumsey Rancheria
Tribal Gaming Agency; the Sycuan Gaming Commission; the Barona Gaming
Commission; the Mississippi Gaming Commission; and the Washington State Gambling
The case is being prosecuted in San Diego by Criminal Division Organized
Crime and Gang Section Trial Attorneys Joseph K. Wheatley and Robert S. Tully.
Foxwoods' Malaysian backers compete with themselves
By David CollinsPublication: The Day
Standing inside the cavernous slot machine hall of the new Resorts World Casino at the Aqueduct race track in Queens, N.Y., I thought I could easily have been inside either one of Connecticut's casinos.
You don't have to be someone who doesn't care much for casino culture to note that they are all pretty much alike.
The colors might be a little different, and the carpet is newer and fresher in Queens, but I didn't notice much to distinguish it from Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun.
It's true the Connecticut casinos are built out as resorts, with hotel rooms, full restaurants, theaters, golf and even swimming. They are also real casinos, with table games, while Resorts World still only has electronic table games, with fake dealers on television screens.
But this summer, the New York casino trucked right by both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in its monthly slot machine win. It's on the New York subway system, less than a half hour from midtown Manhattan. Never mind that two-lane stretch of Route 2, or taking a ferry from Orient Point, Long Island, to New London, to board a bus.
Resorts World is already hosting hundreds of thousands of visitors every month.
I paid a visit to the New York City casino in part because it is the beginning of the giant new wave of competition that is about to wash over the Connecticut casinos.
I was also curious since the developers of the clever racino at Aqueduct are none other than the Malaysian investors who bankrolled the Foxwoods startup.
Indeed, the Malaysian family that put up the initial $58 million to build Foxwoods is still collecting on that bet, at terms that would make a New York loan shark blush. They will continue to collect 9.9 percent of gross Foxwoods revenue each year, a lot of money, through 2016.
By 2016, of course, the Malaysian lion may really be roaring in New York.
The Malaysians have proposed building a $4 billion convention center at Aqueduct and likely will compete for one of the New York casino licenses expected to be created when the state finishes amending its constitution.
It is interesting to see how much the development of Resorts World has unfolded in a way so similar to Foxwoods. The New York casino is even run by a former Foxwoods president, Michael Speller, clearly the Malaysians' U.S. gambling guy on the ground.
Genting, the Malaysian conglomerate that lent the Mashantucket Pequots money to open Foxwoods, has also pulled a lot of the same political levers in New York that the tribe did here.
The Mashantuckets became one of the biggest political donors in the country at the time Foxwoods began growing. Genting is now giving liberally to New York politicians, including $2.4 million to a lobbying group that supports New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The growth pattern is the same, too.
The development of the big slot hall with more than 4,000 machines was fast tracked as soon as approval was in hand. There is also a food court, an all-you-can-eat buffet and a giant bar.
An overhead heated corridor that will connect the casino with the A train subway station is under construction. Until then, you can take a quick shuttle bus ride from the subway to the casino's front door.
The next phase of development is slated to occur on the giant parking lots that surround the racetrack and connect with the big highway system around New York City.
The one thing that Resorts World has that the Connecticut casinos don't is a working racetrack. A few windows at the side of the gaming floor (Foxwoods was once known as the first casino with windows) look out at the big track.
The transition from the racetrack, where players, mostly older men, line up across the linoleum floor to place bets at cashier cage windows, is stark, when you walk into the casino area, with its plush carpeting and blinking slot machines with jackpot bells ringing and overhead lights changing color.
It won't be long, I suppose, before the casino at Resorts World completely consumes the old Aqueduct racetrack.
Let's hope Foxwoods doesn't seem like a quaint memory then, too.