Meetings & Information


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mass. slashes funding for problem gamblers by 28% just as casinos arrive

John Epstein pointed out the article below ----

Casinos fund treatment for problem gamblers

Paul Davies March 25, 2013 11:09 am

One of the inherent conflicts of gambling is that the more citizens lose, the more tax revenue the state takes in. Here’s another troubling conflict: the casinos fund the treatment for problem gamblers.

Maybe that is why you never hear much from the gambling treatment centers about how casinos and state lotteries are the driving force behind gambling addiction. The treatment centers are reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them. The only way the treatment centers grow is if they get more funding to treat more problem gamblers.

Even more problematic, casinos often target problem gamblers, who can account for as much as 60 percent of the slots revenue. Worse still, lawmakers often divert the funding to treat problem gamblers to the general fund, leaving less money to help those in need. Not to mention, the amount of money that is set aside to treat problem gamblers is often tiny to begin with.

In Massachusetts, the $1.8 the state earmarked to help problem gamblers was slashed by $500,000 later in the fiscal year, according to this report. The cutbacks come as Massachusetts gears up to open commercial casinos, creating a likely surge in problem gamblers. That what has happened in other states. Other states have cut funding for treatment in recent years, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The cutbacks come as more states legalize casinos, creating more opportunity for gambling addiction.

According to a report by PBS: “In Louisiana, four years after the state legalized casinos and slots, a study found that seven percent of adults had become addicted to gambling. In Minnesota, as 16 Indian casinos opened across the state, the number of Gamblers Anonymous groups shot up for one to 49.

It is a safe bet that as New York looks to legalize commercial casinos, there will not be much help for problem gamblers despite claims by lawmakers to do all they can to help the addicts they will create.


Deadwood: Exhausting the Supply of Gambling Addicts?

Deadwood casino revenue down compared to last February
March 29, 2013   •

Indian Reservations Seek Federal Bailouts To Offset Casino Losses

While the political slant is inaccurate, a unique perspective is offered. Maybe someday, the author will conduct some research.

Indian Reservations Seek Federal Bailouts To Offset Casino Losses

Casino revenue too tempting for politicians

Casino revenue too tempting for politicians

The only basis on which some councillors promote the idea of establishing casinos in Waterloo Region is money.

However, the acute need for monies is due, in part, to faulty governance in the first place. The huge sums squandered by debacles such as RIM Park, eHealth, the Ornge air ambulance service, to name but a few, now has the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. urging municipalities to solve their money problems through casinos.

I’m reviewing more than 20 research papers on the effects of casinos in a given community. Does no one in the gaming commission, and so few councillors, read the research on how casino money is inextricably bound to deleterious effects in a community?

Casinos increase gambling in their vicinity and with it the public health issues of problem gambling and accompanying physical and mental disorders.

Will the gaming commission state the inherent damage casinos inflict on the social fabric, as well as fund the added heath care costs? The corrosive effect on families and children due to gambling addiction is measurably alarming. Studies also reveal that the unemployed and the poor, as well as single seniors, are disproportionately drawn to casino gambling in their vicinity.

The gaming promoters posit casinos as healthy recreational activity. Our region is blessed with marvellous and beneficial recreation and cultural venues: thousands of kilometres of trails, sports, theatres, museums, music, parks, symphonies, bands, a growing presence of culturally diverse restaurants, clubs, great libraries for all ages, and creative programs for seniors ... the list goes on.

Where are the carriers of values: churches, synagogues, mosques, educators, addiction counsellors, parents, and those who hold a vision of a value-oriented future for subsequent generations?

We who are able should be willing to add to our tax bill to pay for the services we vote for; we should not give faulty governance cover for their managerial debacle.

Governing bodies slumbering at due diligence got their tails in a financial wringer; casinos should not be cover for the dereliction.

Since money is the only temptation blinding politicians, we can still take moral courage, fashion responsible governance and reject casino money with its inevitable train of social detriments.

Jack Dueck

NH Gaming Study Projects Ups and Downs of Expanded Gambling

NH Gaming Study Projects Ups and Downs of Expanded Gambling
The paper, published in February 2013 by NH Center for Public Policy, examines how gaming would effect New Hampshire.

Expanded gaming is a hot topic everywhere in New Hampshire, including Nashua, where just this week, the question of whether the city should put forth an official position was raised by Alderman Dan Moriarty.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said she is not in favor of casino gambling in New Hampshire, and "in particular," not in Hudson, Nashua's next-door neighbor.

Below are excerpts from "Expanded Gambling in New Hampshire: An update on options New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies" published in Feb. 2013. The full report is uploaded here. It's an easy read.:

  • It is difficult to accurately predict when the state would see any new revenue from a license fee or casino operations. Experience in other states suggests that it could take at least two years before any tax revenues from casino operations would be available to the state. While up-front license fees paid by developers might come sooner, that will depend on several factors: the speed with which local communities allow expanded gambling through a referendum, and the state’s ability to set up a regulatory structure, among other factors.
  • While expanded gambling will yield revenue to the state, our model’s estimates of the social costs of problem gambling suggest no long-term net state benefit when the tax on casino operations is set at 30 percent or less. That calculation changes as the tax rate is increased. Our model indicates that at a tax rate of 40 percent, a casino with $300 million in investment would provide an annual net benefit of roughly $32 million, while a $500 million facility would provide roughly $51 million in net benefit for the state.
  • While expanded gambling would result in job increases, the number of long-term jobs depends on the size of the investment. Our estimates range from 540 jobs (at a $100m facility) to 2,700 jobs (at a $500m facility). Further, some portion of these jobs will likely replace other jobs. The extent of this so-called “substitution” will be driven by how many visitors to the casino come from outside the market.
  • Our model still does not account for a number of factors, including the potential positive or negative effects of expanded gambling on New Hampshire’s “brand” (as a tourist destination and place to do business), the potential private costs associated with pathological gambling (so-called “abused dollars”), nor the benefit to the community where the facility is located in the form of increased property tax revenue.
  • Gambling revenues continue to decline locally and nationally, and our assumptions have been updated to reflect those trends. Our May 2010 report used 2009 as a base year, and therefore we have reduced our revenue estimates to account for this decline. Gaming revenue is reduced by 15 percent in our model, compared to our May 2010 report, based on declines seen in Connecticut slot machine revenue and New Hampshire lottery income from 2009 to 2012.
  • Figure 9 (pictured with this story) shows the potential state revenue of such a larger facility in southern New Hampshire, the impact of expanding gambling in Massachusetts on revenues from that facility, additional social costs to New Hampshire, and the net state benefit after social costs are subtracted from potential revenue. Allowing for recent declines in gambling revenue in New Hampshire and at other facilities across the country, we estimate that such a large casino could potentially generate $138 million in annual revenues to the state of New Hampshire, assuming a 30 percent tax rate. An operating casino at Suffolk Downs would lower potential revenues to $68 million. Private and public New Hampshire social costs would total to about $68 million, leaving no net benefit to the state.

new Video_thumb
Figure 9

Casino tax for gambling addiction prevention falling short

March 29, 2013

Casino tax for gambling addiction prevention falling short

Staff Writer

The Ohio Department of Alcohol & Drug Addiction Services’ share of the gross casino revenue tax for prevention and treatment of gambling addictions is falling far short of estimates. With gambling still in it’s infancy in the state, officials say it’s not clear whether the funding will meet the need.

The first Ohio casinos opened in May 2012 in Cleveland and Toledo, followed by the opening of the Columbus facility in October 2012. The state began receiving its quarterly 2 percent allocation of the tax revenue in July, for distribution to the 50 county boards coordinating the public behavioral health system in Ohio.

“Initially we were working with estimates, $15 million, then $8 million, then $5 million. We just keep scaling back,” Stacey Frohnapfel-Hasson, communications chief for the Ohio Department of Alcohol & Addiction Services (ODADAS) said.

The first allocation of the gross casino revenue tax to the state in July totaled $395,205. In October, ODADAS received $788,792 and in January $1,048,352. Because the allocations have been low, the state has made just one distribution to the 50 county boards totalling $710, 235, according to state data.

“It’s hardly anything when you look at the state as a whole,” Frohnaphel-Hasson said. “Quarterly distributions will begin next (fiscal) year.”

Montgomery County’s Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Metal Health Services board received $32,945 in the first quarterly distribution.

“It’s enough to get started. We don’t really know who will need these services, Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director of Montgomery County’s Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Metal Health Services board said.

The Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties received $21,127; Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services for Darke, Miami and Shelby counties, $12,613; Mental Health Recovery Services of Warren & Clinton Counties, $15,682 and the Butler County Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board, $22,663.
Prevention will be the focal point of the funding.

About 60 percent of the funds must be spent on prevention of problem gambling and 40 percent on treatment. The funds must be used — contracts awarded to providers — by June 3.

“We want people to understand that gambling at a racetrack or a casino can be addictive,” Jones-Kelley said. “We’re likely to see an increase in the number of people with a gambling addiction. It’s a very attractive from of recreation.”

Montgomery County is developing a screening tool to identify and assess gambling issues. Jones-Kelley said ADAMHS currently has providers undergoing state training to treat gambling addictions and she expects a contract will be awarded to provide the service in June. The county also will spend part of its funds on public education, such as web and radio ads and other advertising.
Kevin Taylor, director of financial management for the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties said they too are working on a public education plan.
“We held a conference call with our providers about screening and treatment,” Taylor said. “We want to implement screening as soon as possible.”

In Butler County, the funding will initially be used to develop a treatment plan and to set up the infrastructure to implement it. John Bohley, executive director of the Butler County Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board, said they want to learn who is at high risk for a gambling addiction and understand community attitudes about prevention and treatment.

“We’re not out to demonize gambling by any means. It’s something our population has embraced,” Bohley said. “We’re encouraging professionals in our area to develop competencies to treat gambling addictions. It may be several months before we roll out.”

The first Ohio casinos opened in May 2012 in Cleveland and Toledo, followed by the opening of the Columbus facility in October 2012. Each casino is required to file and remit taxes to the state of Ohio daily. Revenue accumulates in the Casino Tax Revenue Fund; payments are made by the Ohio Department of Taxation on the last day of the month following the end of a calendar quarter. The table shows how the Ohio Casino Tax Revenue Fund is distributed:

5 percent: Gross Casino Revenue Host City Fund
34 percent: Gross Casino Revenue County Student Fund *
51 percent: Gross Casino Revenue County Fund
3 percent: Casino Control Commission Fund - one percent (1%) of the amount deposited into this fund is subsequently transferred to the Casino Tax Administration Fund.
3 percent: Ohio State Racing Commission Fund
2 percent: Law Enforcement Training Fund (Ohio Attorney General’s Office) - eighty-five percent (85%) of the amount deposited is subsequently transferred into the Police Officer Training Academy Fund; and fifteen percent (15%) is transferred into the Criminal Justice Services Casino Tax Revenue Fund
2 percent: Problem Gambling & Addictions Fund (Alcohol and Drug Addictions Services)

Two Atlantic City casinos face legal problems

Two Atlantic City casinos face legal problems
by: liaferrante - Wildwood Crest, NJ
started: 03/29/13

Two Atlantic City casinos are facing major legal problems. A man is suing the casino, Revel, for more than $75,000 from an escalator injury. The man says that his clothing became stuck in the escalator and broke his leg. He was hanging upside down 40 feet in the air. Also, at Resorts Casino Hotel, state officials are trying to recover $600,000 dollars in unpaid vacation wages for employees.

Casinos not the answer for New Hampshire

Casinos not the answer for New Hampshire

March 27 — To the Editor:
To those who still think that building a casino in New Hampshire will answer our financial problems, take a look at the problems of the existing casinos to our south. Both the Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun are looking for further grants from our impoverished federal government. Their reason is the competition from neighboring states, and as we know, Massachusetts has already approved at least one casino to be built in the near future. When subsidized casinos are having a hard time making ends meet, what makes you think we can do better? I don't like the idea of increasing taxes any more than the next person, but I don't think casinos are the answer to our spending problem.
Ray P. Hutchinson

Ind. woman found dead in Majestic Star Garage

Ind. woman, 76, found dead in casino's garage

Published : Saturday, 30 Mar 2013

GARY, Ind. (AP) — Northwestern Indiana police are investigating the fatal shooting of a 76-year-old woman whose body was found in a parking garage at Gary's Majestic Star Casino.

Lt. Matt Argadine of Griffith police tells the Times of Munster ( ) Mary Austgen of St. John was reported missing Thursday by relatives she works with at a Griffith business.

Her body was found about 4 a.m. Friday in the parking garage at Buffington Harbor. The Lake County coroner's office lists her cause of death as a single gunshot wound to the lower left torso.

Griffith and Lake County police on Friday combed Austgen's business, The Austgen Cos., collecting evidence inside and dusting the door for fingerprints.

Austgen's death has been ruled a homicide and police are treating the business as a crime scene.


Biggest loser at craps table? Uncle Sam

Biggest loser at craps table? Uncle Sam

The Lowell Sun

Anyone who has traveled to Connecticut's Indian casinos to gamble hard-earned spending money on cards, dice or slots knows in the long run the house always wins.

Unless a bettor counts cards at blackjack or cheats, the odds are stacked in the casinos' favor. That realization has prompted not a few us to at least think about searching our ancestry to see if we have any Mashantucket Pequot or Mohegan blood, so we can become part owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino or Mohegan Sun.

Indeed, the Pequots, owners of Foxwoods, at one time distributed checks exceeding $100,000 a year to adult tribal members. How's that for a profit-sharing plan?

It certainly seemed the legislation that allowed poverty-stricken tribes to open casinos so they could become financially self-sufficient was working like a charm.

That was then. Now these gaming palaces in the Connecticut woods have fallen on tough times, largely because of the Great Recession but also because of the billions in debt the tribes always figured they'd be able to pay off. The Pequots' annual stipends to members have stopped.

Now, like a gambler who has lost his last chip but still can't get enough, the tribes are hitting the ATM -- one that is owned and operated by the federal government. That's right, you.

Over the last five years, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation has received more than $4.5 million in grants from the Interior Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act.

The Mohegans have cashed in, too.

We find it appalling that tribes owning casinos would seek the same grant money that aims to help poor tribes on reservations in the West.

"The whole purpose of the 1988 law that authorized Indian casinos was to help federally recognized tribes raise money to run their governments by building casinos on their reservations," Robert Steele, a former Connecticut congressman, told The AP.

"I would argue strongly that federal money was meant for struggling tribes. Certainly the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans couldn't under any circumstances be put in that category."

Grants developed for destitute Native Americans should not be going to tribes that own some of the largest casinos in the world. The federal government has a choice: Change the rules or continue to be the Indian casinos' biggest sucker.

Read more:

Professional Gambler Charged in Illegal Financial Transactions at Ameristar Casino

Professional Gambler Charged in Illegal Financial Transactions at Ameristar Casino
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Member of the Tom Hyland Card Counting team, one of the most successful black jack teams in America.
Kansas City, MO - infoZine - Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a professional gambler from New Jersey has been charged in federal court with illegally structuring financial transactions, including cashing in hundreds of thousands of dollars in chips at a local casino.

Richard Dougherty, 52, of Linwood, NJ was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., with structuring financial transactions. Dougherty was arrested at the Ameristar Casino in Kansas City, MO on the evening of Thursday, March 28, 2013, following the filing of the criminal complaint earlier that day. He appeared in court today and was released on bond.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Dougherty won nearly $700,000 during dozens of visits to Ameristar over the past year. Dougherty is a professional gambler and a member of the Tom Hyland Card Counting team, one of the most successful black jack teams in America. The Hyland Team is most known for their expertise as card counters and passed on their skills to many team members over the years. Hyland team members, both full-time and part-time players, are scattered across the country. The team at one point had grown to 30 or 40 people. Playing as a team rather than an individual helps to smooth over the losses, because if one person has a bad day then it’s usually smoothed out by the wins of teammates.

Because the Hyland team has been counting cards for so long they are recognized at many casinos.
The team has used disguises throughout the years at various casinos. However, at present, disguises are less important as there are laws, specifically in Atlantic City and in Missouri, to prevent casinos from barring card counters.

Dougherty is charged with structuring financial transactions at Ameristar in order to avoid federal reporting requirements. Federal law requires casinos to file currency transaction reports with the federal government for each transaction (either cashing in or cashing out) of $10,000 or more. These regulations also require that multiple transactions be treated as a single transaction if they are conducted by, or on behalf of, the same person, and they total more than $10,000 during one business day. It is illegal for an individual to structure financial transactions in such a way that the casino fails to file the required report.

The criminal complaint alleges that Dougherty purchased at least $166,380 in chips with cash in 11 structured transactions at Ameristar, and that he cashed in chips for $315,075 in 32 separate structured transactions from Feb. 16, 2012 to March 27, 2013.

Dougherty made at least 60 visits to Ameristar between Feb. 16, 2012 and March 27, 2013. During this time period, the affidavit says, Dougherty won at least $697,892 and lost $382,880, netting him $315,012 in casino winnings. Not one time during his play at the Ameristar did Dougherty cash out for more than $10,000, according to the affidavit. Dougherty allegedly structured these currency transactions in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid triggering the filing of a currency transaction report.

The affidavit also refers to Dougherty’s gambling activities at casinos in Powhattan, Kan.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Metropolis, Ill.; Elizabeth, Ind.; Valley View, Calif.; West Lake, La.; and Morton, Minn. Dougherty has allegedly used multiple aliases at a large number of the casinos he has played. According to the affidavit, casinos have filed 126 currency transaction reports on Dougherty since 1996.

Dickinson cautioned that the charge contained in this complaint is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

Tribes make most of Indian gambling law

Tribes make most of Indian gaming law

By George Brennan

March 31, 2013

The seeds of a $500 million casino in Taunton proposed by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe were planted in 1988 in the waning days of President Ronald Reagan's second term.

Reagan signed a law that allowed Indian casinos on reservation land, a direct reaction to a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision in California v. Cabazon that ruled states had no authority over Indian government activities, including gaming.

"The backdrop for all of this really predates the (Indian) gaming of the 1970s," Steven Light, an Indian gaming expert, said. "The true backdrop is a lot of poverty and few economic development opportunities for the rural, mostly reservation-based tribes, across the United States."

Light and Kathryn Rand are co-directors of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming and Policy at the University of North Dakota and have co-authored two books on Indian gaming.

"Both Congress and the tribes were desperately looking for some means to build tribal economies," Rand said.

At the time, Indian gambling was a fledgling $100 million industry — mostly bingo halls — with little or no oversight. The 1988 law signed by Reagan, known as the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, was considered a compromise aimed at providing federally recognized Indian tribes an opportunity for economic development and, with that, an opportunity for self-sufficiency for tribes facing serious poverty. At the same time, it provided federal oversight and an opportunity for state governments to cut a deal with tribes looking to offer gambling inside their borders.

One of the biggest misconceptions about Indian casinos is that tribal sovereignty means they are unregulated, Light said. "In fact, it is the most highly regulated form of gambling in existence in the U.S.," he said. "There is a regulatory role for the federal government, the state government and tribal governments — three levels of regulation. Commercial casinos — Trump's casino, Wynn's casino — are not regulated by three levels of government."

Few could have predicted that passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act would make tribes synonymous with casinos. The new law opened the floodgates and paved the way for behemoths like Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.

Today, Indian gaming is a $27.4 billion industry with 242 tribes operating casinos in 28 states as of 2011, according to the Indian Gaming Industry Report, an annual research report conducted by economist Alan Meister of Nathan Associates Inc. and published by Casino City Press.

"I think it's pretty clear now that Congress had no idea the Pandora's box it was opening when it created this law," said Robert Steele, a former congressman from Connecticut and author of "The Curse: Big Time Gambling's Seduction of a Small New England Town." The 2012 novel is based on Connecticut's experience with the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, which opened Foxwoods in Ledyard, Conn., in 1992. "It opened the door to tribal casinos, but also the spread of non-Indian commercial casinos as well."

game changer

Indeed, it was the 2007 acknowledgement by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe's existence that ignited the push for legalizing casinos in Massachusetts. Various proposals had languished for decades until the state Legislature agreed to a bill in November 2011 that provided for three casinos in the Bay State, including one that recognized the federal rights of Indian tribes, as well as a single slot parlor.

The Mashpee tribe has applied with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for an "initial reservation" under that 1988 federal law, an exemption that allows a tribe recognized after 1988 to open a casino on tribal lands. That application is still pending with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and faces a legal tangle.

Tribe leaders say it's that federal law that makes its casino in Southeastern Massachusetts "inevitable." Opponents say the hurdles tossed in the way by two U.S. Supreme Court rulings make a tribal casino highly unlikely. The Carcieri decision calls into question the authority of the Department of the Interior to take land into trust for tribes recognized after 1934. And the Patchak decision gives property owners opposed to a casino up to six years to file a lawsuit.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been given a role under state law to determine whether a tribe casino is "inevitable" or "unlikely." It's a task that commission Chairman Stephen Crosby acknowledged is daunting at a March 21 public meeting on the topic.

"We know there are strong interests, strong rights, strong economic impacts, strong emotions on many sides of this issue," Crosby said during the meeting.

The tribe has estimated it could have shovels in the ground by the end of 2014. Opponents put the estimate at six to 10 years, if ever.

corruption concerns

With the onslaught of Indian casinos in the 1990s and 2000s came something else inevitable.

Rand said Congress had worried when it passed the law in 1988 that organized crime would infiltrate Indian casinos. That never materialized.

Political corruption, on the other hand, was rampant — much of it surrounding disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Abramoff's misdeeds are well-documented — using political payoffs and influence to help tribes gain federal recognition that ultimately would lead to the right to build casinos.

The Mashpee Wampanoag had a leadership scandal of its own. Former tribal council Chairman Glenn Marshall pleaded guilty to political corruption and embezzlement charges in 2009 and served more than three years in federal prison.

Despite what happened with Abramoff and the Mashpee tribe, Light and Rand say the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act has by and large done what it was supposed to do. Most Indian gaming facilities across the country are not like the Connecticut giants, but are more modest facilities aimed at providing jobs for tribe members and a revenue stream for the tribe.

"Folks tend to think about Foxwoods and the Pequots as the example of Indian gaming," Rand said. "But out here in North Dakota, our tribes more typically have thousands of members, our tribes have more typically experienced generations of extreme poverty — 50 percent unemployment or more on our reservations."

That 50 percent matches the unemployment rate among the 2,600 members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Chairman Cedric Cromwell said. The tribe's casino would not only provide much-needed jobs, but would boost health care outreach, housing and education, Cromwell said.

"We want to create a situation where our people can be lifted out of poverty," Cromwell said. Indian gaming will give the tribe the ability to provide self-determination and self-sufficiency by giving resources to a tribe that he said has been "underfunded" and "severely neglected" by the federal government. "It's very important for us to provide for our services to our people and lift our people — give them a hand up so they can have a better quality of life."

In recent days, after an Associated Press story on the tribe that owns Foxwoods receiving $4.5 million in federal grants over the past five years despite years of earning millions in casino cash, Indian casino opponents have pointed to that as galling.

Rand said while she understands the outrage, federal support for tribes is not need-based. "That's part of federal government's obligation to protect and assist tribes because of the long historical circumstances between tribes and the federal government," she said. "That responsibility exists regardless of the relative wealth of the tribe."

too many casinos?

Connecticut got hooked on the revenue it receives from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, Steele said. The tribes were in the right place at the right time and have had a nearly two-decade monopoly on the New England gambling market, he said.

Now with Massachusetts about to enter the game and New York expanding, the Connecticut casinos are hurting from the competition.

The proliferation of Indian and commercial casinos is reaching a saturation point, Steele said. Revenue from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun to the state of Connecticut is down more than $130 million per year from its peak of $430 million, he said. Once Massachusetts casinos open and New York expands, the future doesn't look bright for the Pequot or the Mohegan tribes, he said.

"I keenly appreciate how enormously attractive and seductive these offers seem to be on the surface," Steele said of casino revenue. "You look at what's happening in Connecticut and if you were having the same debate again in Massachusetts about legalizing casinos, it's hard to believe you'd come to the same conclusion."

Both Light and Rand said that, back in 1988, there was no crystal ball to predict the explosion of Indian casinos across the country or the voracious appetite of consumers for gambling.

Tribes have proven they are capable of operating successful, complex enterprises like casinos and leverage them into fairly robust tribal economies. Ultimately, that's what the intent of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was all about, Rand said.

"There may have been an assumption that this wouldn't go very far because tribes didn't have the capacity to take it very far," Rand said. "But tribes have taken the opportunity of Indian gaming and used it to as full advantage as they possibly can for tribes and tribe members."

State's casinos on a losing streak

John Epstein offered this --

Be sure to read the highlighted sections. Massachusetts casino fortunes will be revealed. Read 'em and weep . . .,0,1079672.story

State's casinos on a losing streak

Has Pennsylvania, the nation's second-busiest casino gambling state, reached its peak? It's feeling competition from other states.

By Matt Assad, Of The Morning Call
March 30, 2013

After five years of getting rich by wrestling customers away from New Jersey gambling halls, Pennsylvania casinos are now finding that they're not the only new bully on the block.

Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, New York and West Virginia have all added or expanded casino gambling, causing an abrupt halt to what was five straight years of Pennsylvania casino industry growth.

It raises the question: Has Pennsylvania peaked?

"Market saturation is happening. No question. And it's hurting Pennsylvania, no question," said Shawn McCloud, a vice president for Spectrum Gaming Group, a New Jersey company that tracks gambling nationwide. "But does that mean Pennsylvania has stopped growing? Maybe, but I don't think we have all the answers on that yet."

No one is suggesting that Pennsylvania's young gambling industry is a bust. Last year, when it hauled in $3.2 billion in total revenues, it officially overtook New Jersey as the nation's second-busiest gambling state, behind only Nevada.

And while Pennsylvania was tripling its first-year revenues by year five, New Jersey's $5.2 billion take in 2006 had plummeted to $3 billion in 2012.

But after years of huge annual gains, Pennsylvania's growth spurt has stopped.

In four of the past five months, Pennsylvania's 11 casinos have collectively reported fewer slot machine revenues than in the same month the previous year and that will become five of six when the state releases the March numbers Tuesday. Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is the only gaming hall in the state on pace to match last year's revenue, but it started to show signs of falling in February, when its revenue dropped for the first time in nearly a year.

Even statewide table games, which didn't open until 2010, experienced their first decline in February. So what's the problem? In addition to a fiscal cliff-slowed economy, it appears that other states are now doing to Pennsylvania what the Keystone State has been doing to Atlantic City.

"Obviously, the days of double-digit gains are gone," said Richard McGarvey, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. "But I'm not ready to declare that the growth is over. We're still a pretty new industry in Pennsylvania. There's no history to look at."

Certainly, the most recent history is less than encouraging.

When Pennsylvania's first casino opened in late 2006, its primary competition was 11 Atlantic City casinos that required hours in the car for most Pennsylvania residents. Now, it is surrounded by new competitors. Ohio and Maryland both opened casinos in 2012. New York added slot machines to its race tracks. And to beat back Pennsylvania's new threat, Delaware and West Virginia added table games to their existing slot-machine casinos.

Diminishing returns

It's exactly the argument that casino opponents made when state officials were debating whether to legalize casino gambling: Dianne Berlin, coordinator of CasinoFreePa, argued that the state's effort to generate $1 billion in tax relief would come largely from its own residents.

"We expected this," Berlin said. "Now we're left with picking the pockets of our own residents."

State officials note that the casinos are among the most successful in the nation and are doing precisely what they were intended to do — create $1 billion in tax relief for property owners.

Perhaps the best evidence of the impact is Presque Isle Downs & Casino, in Erie, on the border of Ohio. It is the state's smallest race track casino, but since opening in 2007 it has consistently outperformed what experts projected, raking in $167 million in slots revenue in 2011.

As of the first quarter of 2012, Presque Isle remained on pace to at least match its previous year revenues. But from the moment the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland opened in May, roughly 100 miles down Interstate 90, Presque Isle went on a run of double-digit declines. Its slot machine take fell to $151 million in 2012 and so far this year, its revenues are down a depressing 24 percent compared with last year.

"There's no debate here. Ohio opened and we went down," said Joe Billhimer Jr., chief operating officer for Presque Isle owner MTR Gaming. "We'll adjust and compete. We still have high hopes for Presque Isle."

Presque Isle isn't the only loser. Parx in Bensalem, Buck County, and Harrah's in Chester are on six-month losing streaks. At least some of that comes from competition from within the state: SugarHouse Casino opened in Philadelphia in 2010.

But all three of those Philadelphia region casinos — and even the Hollywood Casino near Harrisburg, which has seen eight months of declines — are facing new competition from the south. And things seem more likely to get worse before they get better.

Maryland opened its first casino in 2010; it now has three and two more are set to open by 2014, including one on the border town of Flintstone. Adding even more weapons to their arsenal, several of Maryland's casinos will be adding table games such as blackjack and roulette this year. All of that has, and probably will, keep Maryland gamblers who have been driving into Pennsylvania from leaving their home state, analysts say.

Soft economy

Still, the drop isn't all about what other states are doing, said Mike Bean, president and general manager of Mohegan Sun Casino near Wilkes-Barre. Mohegan Sun is more than 100 miles from the nearest New York racetrack that started slot machines gambling in 2011, and it's even farther from the Maryland and Ohio borders.

Yet when figures are released next week, it will reveal the ninth straight month in which slot machine revenues at Mohegan Sun fell compared with the previous year. The downturn, according to the casino's research, comes from a combination of a soft economy, uncertainty over fiscal cliff issues and the federal Social Security payroll tax increasing by 2 percent to return to 6 percent Jan. 1. That one tax increase alone takes roughly $100 out of the average casino customer's monthly income.

In other words, Mohegan Sun isn't competing for dollars with Ohio, Maryland and New York, it's competing with groceries, the light bill and gas. Add big local real estate tax increases, and the result is a squeeze on the disposable income people lose at casinos.

"It's hard for us to blame other states when only 7 percent of our customers are coming from out of state," Bean said. "This is more about the fiscal cliff, the tax increase and the increased pressure on our local economy. We're optimistic all of these conditions will ultimately improve."

A spokeswoman for Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem made the same argument as Bean, blaming the economy and tax increases. For much of the year, it appeared Sands was defying the trend as the only Pennsylvania casino on pace to outearn the previous year. But last month, slot revenues fell 7 percent, the first month-to-month loss in nearly a year for Sands.

Whether it's new competition or a limping economy, the trend is undeniable. Yet it's not a bad thing for everyone, experts noted. While it may be a headache for people like Billhimer and Bean, it's a win for the average gambler because it's forcing Pennsylvania casinos to step up their game.

Mohegan Sun is building a $50 million, 238-room hotel it hopes will double its territory, and Presque Isle is remodeling its gaming floor and considering a hotel of its own. Meanwhile, their out-of-state competitors are doing the same. Delaware recently added table games to its slot casinos, Maryland had the two casinos opening by the end of 2014, Ohio is adding six casinos to its existing five and New York legislators are debating whether to add table games and as many as seven casinos.

Perhaps the biggest effect of the downturn is that it's forced some casinos to recalibrate their expectations. Turns out, the days of getting hordes of gamblers to cross state lines to play were a temporary luxury that most Pennsylvania casinos can no longer count on.

No reason to complain about it, Billhimer said. It's business.

"The gaming industry is becoming more regional. We have to focus on our own property and our own territory," Billhimer said. "We have our niche and we'll compete to keep it. Pennsylvania's still a great place to do business."

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Maine Gambling Addiction Suicide

Casinos No! Don't Gamble Away Maine's FutureHo

Military uses slot machines to fund overseas recreation
POSTED: May 23, 2007
By Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston
BANGOR, Maine (CNN) -- Carrie Walsh's husband was a decorated Apache helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army. But years ago, Aaron Walsh started playing slot machines on military bases. He became a gambling addict. It eventually ruined his military career.

Then last fall, with his life in a tailspin, the 34-year-old walked into the Maine woods, put a gun to his head and killed himself -- after what his wife says was one final "gambling binge."

"The military has this culture of taking care of their own," says Carrie Walsh. "But it seems like when it comes to this, they just, you know, profited from his addiction and then threw him away."

There are thousands of slot machines on military bases overseas. The military says the revenue from the slots -- well over $100 million annually -- is used to fund recreation programs overseas, such as swimming pools, movie theaters and concerts.

Critics say it is an outrage that the military, which has a budget of more than $500 billion this fiscal year, takes money from the pockets of its troops and runs slot machines that generate revenues that equal a medium-sized Las Vegas casino operation.

"The military should not be a predator on its own soldiers and their families," says John Kindt, a business professor at the University of Illinois who has spent years studying the matter. "To be a predator of their own people that are serving their country is outrageous." (Watch why Kindt believes the military should be ashamed Video)

Earlier this year, Kindt issued a report titled "Gambling with Terrorism and U.S. Military Readiness" that blasted the military's gaming machines. He says many soldiers trapped in overseas posts can ill afford access to gambling machines.

Kindt says people drawn to military life are predisposed to become gambling addicts. They're generally young and they're risk-takers, he says. He adds that those type-A personalities are the "ones most likely to get hooked."

About 2.2 percent of military personnel have indicators of probable pathological gambling, he says, compared with about 0.77 to 1.6 percent in the general population.

Military: Slots are needed

Rich Gorman, the Army's point man on recreational activities, says there are 3,000 slot machines for the Army and Marines, bringing in $130 million. The number of gaming machines for the Air Force and Navy weren't immediately disclosed. (Back in 1999, the last time numbers were made available, the Pentagon said it ran 8,000 slot machines on 94 overseas bases and posts.)

Gorman disagrees with critics like Kindt who say military personnel are more apt to get hooked on gambling. Gorman said military personnel are no more likely to be addicted to gambling than anyone else.

Undersecretary of Defense Leslye Arsht, in a statement to CNN, said the machines on bases and posts provide "a controlled alternative to unmonitored host-nation gambling venues and offers a higher payment percentage making it more entertainment oriented than that found at typical casinos."
"Department of Defense policy authorizes the military services to operate gaming and/or other amusement machines in overseas locations only, unless prohibited by host-country laws or agreements," Arsht said.

As for Carrie Walsh, she says her husband struggled with gambling from the outset. Aaron Walsh had gone through one marriage and a suicide attempt after getting hooked on slots at a base in Germany, she says.

His addiction continued after the couple got married and moved to a base in South Korea, with him tearing through his military paychecks and maxing out his credit cards. (Watch Carrie Walsh describe looking for her husband among the slots Video)

After he got in trouble for missing work and was grounded, his wife got fed up and headed back home to Maine.

She says the military did try to help her husband "when it became apparent that he had a problem." He checked into the military's only gambling treatment program at Camp Pendleton in California, a program that has since shut down. But it did little good.

Aaron Walsh was eventually kicked out of the military in September 2005 because of his addiction problems. A few months later, he turned up in Maine. Then one night last fall, he made his way to a civilian casino in Bangor, before killing himself.

"He had been doing really well staying away from it, and I think that he went and had like a gambling binge, and then realized what he had done and decided he wasn't ever going to get better," she said.

Maine: Broken Promises! They Told You So!

Maine's Oxford Casino Sold to Multi-State Gaming Company
Reported By: Patty B. Wight Oxford Casino

The Oxford Casino is being sold to an out of state company. The news comes less than a year after the casino opened, and follows a voter approval campaign in 2010 that touted local ownership as a major selling point.

Oxford casino 3

The price tag for the Oxford Casino is a cool 160 million dollars in cash.

"Well, we're all Maine business people, and running casinos is not our expertise," said Suzanne) Grover one of the Oxford Casino's seven owners.

Grover said the search for a buyer started about six months ago, and has culminated in a deal with Kentucky-based Churchill Downs, the company that runs the Kentucky Derby.

"Maine is a beautiful area, so it's a very appealing property," said Churchill Downs spokeswoman Courtney Norris.

Maine is also appleaing, said Norris because it is gaming-friendly. She said Churchill Downs is diversifying, adding to its holdings of two casinos in Mississippi, as well as racinos in Florida and Louisiana. Gambling opponents said they're not surprised by the pending sale.
"I told you so," said Dennis Bailey is executive director of Casinos No! "I hate saying that."

He said Mainers have been hoodwinked by casino proponents.

"They sold themselves as local business people" Bailey said "Local owners. Maine-based with a real commitment to the area. That's really why they won. That was their message over and over again."

Mark robinson, a PR consultant who worked on the pro casino campaign said the sale is a surprise to him.

"Well the news runs contrary to everything I was told as I was being recruited to be the spokesperson for the effort," he said.

Promises of local ownership aside, Oxfords' Susan Grover said she and other owners have delivered on their promises.

Oxford casino 4"We uh, won the campaign we put up a beautiful facility," said Grover. "We are employing and they will continue to employ 400-plus people from the state of Maine, and they will continue to move forward with exactly what we were planning to do."

Norris said her company always looks to improve their guest's on-site experiences, and they'll evaluate expansion plans once the sale is complete.

"The company is familiar with the original master plan, and the vision they have for the development of the hotel and other amenities at the property," Norris said.

Oxford Town Manager Michael Chammings said he's fine with the news, and predicts the sale will create even more jobs.

"I think the advantage of what they have, the group that's taking this over, is that they've done this in other areas, and they'll be able to move more quickly on the development of it," said Chammings.

Bailey agrees that's possible, but he said that without a local stake in the casino, there's just as good a chance that Churchill Downs will pull out if the facility isn't making enough money.

The sale is expected to be complete at the end of this year, so long as the Gambling Control Board gives its approval.
Photo by Susan Sharon.

From:   CasiNO!

Get Involved

The gambling industry isn't giving up on Maine, and neither is CasinosNO!The indisputable facts are that casinos breed crime, lead to increased poverty, broken families, spousal abuse and suicides, drive traditional retail businesses and restaurants into bankruptcy, bring more traffic and congestion, and ultimately snare our political leaders and democratic institutions in a web of corruption.
Here's what you can do to give us a fighting chance to keep Maine's future bright.

Mike Peters, Former Member, Maine Gambling Control BoardClick Here to view video [mpeg 4.0MB]

Pakistani cop who allegedly became Karachi's biggest gambling don illustrates shady underworld

Pakistani cop who allegedly became Karachi's biggest gambling don illustrates shady underworld

KARACHI, Pakistan — A corrupt, low-level cop with a healthy dose of street smarts rises to control hundreds of illegal gambling dens in Pakistan's largest city. By doling out millions of dollars in illicit proceeds, he protects his empire and becomes one of the most powerful people in Karachi.

The allegations against Mohammed Waseem Ahmed — or Waseem "Beater" as he is more commonly known — emerged recently from surprise testimony by a top police commander before a crusading anti-crime Supreme Court judge. The story has given a rare and colorful glimpse into the vast underworld in Karachi, a chaotic metropolis of 18 million people on Pakistan's southern coast.

The sprawling city has become notorious for violence, from gangland-style killings and kidnappings to militant bombings and sectarian slayings. Further worrying authorities have been signs that the Pakistani Taliban are using the chaos to gain a greater foothold in the city.

For months, the Supreme Court's Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has been leading special hearings on Karachi's crime, berating the city's top police officers for failing to act. This past week, he demanded they move in to clean up so-called "no-go" areas — entire neighborhoods where police fear to tread — according to local press reports.

Further fueling the problem is rampant police corruption, undermining efforts to combat the city's violent gangs and extremists. Among the public, the police nationwide are seen as the country's most crooked public sector organization, a high bar given claims of pervasive corruption throughout the government.
The allegations surrounding Ahmed further fuel questions about the overlap between Karachi's underworld and its police forces. After the testimony to the Supreme Court earlier this year, police officials in Karachi provided The Associated Press with additional details over his reported rise.

The AP made repeated attempts to contact Ahmed, who has been removed from the force and fled to Dubai, but was not successful.

Ahmed came from a poor family in Karachi's old city and joined the police force in the 1990s. He soon started working as a "beater," a low-level thug who works for more senior cops to collect a cut from illegal activities in their area, such as gambling, prostitution and drug dealing, said half a dozen police officers who knew him personally at the time. They all spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

Ahmed, who sports a bushy black mustache and usually dresses in a simple, white shalwar kameez, earned a reputation for carrying out his illicit work efficiently, said two police officers who have known him ever since he joined the force. That reputation helped him forge relationships with more senior figures, and eventually he was collecting money for some of the top police officers and civilian security officials in Karachi, they said.

The heavyset 40-year-old also attracted the attention of a local boss who controlled the largest concentration of illegal gambling dens in Karachi, located in the city's rough and tumble Ghas Mandi area, where Ahmed worked, said the policemen and a local journalist. The two teamed up to expand their gambling empire to other parts of Karachi and surrounding Sindh province.

Gambling was not always illegal in Pakistan, a nation of 180 million people that gained independence from Britain in 1947 as a sanctuary for Muslims who did not believe they could thrive as part of what is now India, a majority Hindu state. Despite the religious undertones of Pakistan's founding, the country's major cities, such as Karachi and Lahore, were relatively liberal places in the first few decades after independence. Alcohol flowed freely in nightclubs filled with dancing girls.

But in 1977, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto banned gambling and alcohol for Muslims in an attempt to appease Islamic hard-liners. Drinking and gambling, which are forbidden in Islam, didn't stop, but much of it was driven underground.

The gambling dens in Ghas Mandi are hidden behind nondescript facades down dark alleyways with tangled electrical wires hanging overhead in one of the oldest and densest populated parts of Karachi.

In one den, a dozen men dressed in shalwar kameez sat in a semicircle on the floor playing a local card game, mang patta, beneath bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling. The men sipped tea and tossed 100 rupee ($1) poker chips at the dealer.

In an adjacent room, a handful of men played chakka, a game that involved guessing the numbers that would appear when the dealer rolled three dice out of what looked like an old leather Yahtzee cup. Rupee notes were placed on a table as bets and held in place by a large metal washer. Everyone stopped their games when the Muslim call to prayer came over a loudspeaker from a nearby mosque — and they promptly resumed the dice and cards once the prayer ended.
PHOTO: In this Friday, March 23, 2012, photo, Pakistani police officers during a crackdown operation against criminals in Karachi, Pakistan. For months, the Supreme Court's Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has been leading special hearings on Karachi's crime, berating the city's top police officers for failing to act. The past week, he demanded they move in to clean up so-called “no-go” areas _ entire neighborhoods where police fear to tread _ according to local press reports.(AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
In this Friday, March 23, 2012, photo, Pakistani police officers during a crackdown operation against criminals in Karachi, Pakistan. For months, the Supreme Court's Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has been leading special hearings on Karachi's crime, berating the city's top police officers for failing to act. The past week, he demanded they move in to clean up so-called “no-go” areas _ entire neighborhoods where police fear to tread _ according to local press reports.(AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

Ahmed earned tens of thousands of dollars each day from hundreds of such gambling dens, said the policemen and journalist who knew him. He also collected extortion money from drug dealers and brothels and smuggled diesel fuel into Karachi from neighboring Iran, where it is much cheaper, they said.

He distributed cash to senior officials, and the pay-outs made him one of the most powerful people in Karachi's police force, said his acquaintances. He won significant influence over who was posted to senior positions, thus providing him with protection, they said. Known as a man of few words who rarely loses his cool, Ahmed also handed out money to Karachi's powerful criminal gangs and traveled with roughly a dozen armed guards as an insurance policy.

He was sailing smoothly through the underworld until one of the Supreme Court sessions in January.

A petitioner outlined to the court allegations of Ahmed's illicit activities and his power in the police force. Chief Justice Chaudhry then asked senior police officers and civilian officials who were present about the allegations. They all expressed ignorance.

But Deputy Inspector General Bashir Memon spoke up and backed the petitioner's claims.

"I said yes, Waseem 'Beater' is present among the ranks of the Karachi police. He controls the gambling business in Karachi," Memon told The Associated Press. "I also confirmed that he is involved in the transfer and posting of junior and senior police officers."

Another senior police officer in Sindh province, Sanaullah Abbasi, also testified that he knew Ahmed and that he controlled gambling dens in Karachi.

Chaudhry lambasted the senior officials for not going after Ahmed and asked Memon whether he was concerned about contradicting his colleagues.

"I replied, 'I only told you the truth,'" Memon told the AP.

As a sign of Ahmed's power, Memon said he was told the same day he would be transferred out of Karachi, but the Supreme Court canceled the transfer order.

Ahmed was dismissed from the police force after the Supreme Court hearing, according to two senior police officers, and government records indicate he flew to Dubai and has not returned.
Hassan Abbas, an expert on the Pakistani police at the New York-based Asia Society, said Ahmed's case provides a stark illustration of the level of corruption in the Karachi police force, which he described as the worst in any of Pakistan's major cities. Criminal cases are currently pending against 400 police officers serving in Karachi, said Abbas.

Civilian officials, who also benefit from corruption, have shown no willingness to reform the system, making the force relatively ineffective in cracking down on criminal gangs and Islamist militants in the city, said Abbas.

"The chaos in Karachi provides criminal gangs with the cover they need to operate," said Abbas. "Corruption provides an incentive to continue that chaos."


Court date set for Picknelly, Palmer dispute

Court date set for Picknelly, Palmer dispute

Updated: Friday, 29 Mar 2013, 5:18 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 29 Mar 2013, 1:22 PM EDT

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - The $500,000 dispute between Peter Picknelly and Northeast Gaming will be heard in court.

A judge will hear two motions to dismiss this case in Hampden County Superior Court on April 17th.

Northeast Gaming owns the land Mohegan Sun wants to build on in Palmer.
Peter Picknelly, owner of Peter Pan Bus Lines, had a $500,000 investment with that group, which his lawyers say he transferred to a longtime business partner, Malcolm Getz. Picknelly believes he is free and clear from that initial investment.

Northeast Gaming believes Picknelly is still legally obligated to that investment with their group.
Peter Picknelly is currently a 50/50 partner with Penn National Gaming, who is trying to bring a casino to Springfield's North End.


Please seek help for gambling addiction

Please seek help for gambling addiction

As I read Kate Meier’s column (“Soon, not my one and only, R&L, March 27), I found my tears ducts full and my heart strings unduly exercised.

Being a mother is God’s greatest gift. I remember holding my own in the middle of the night, wondering what I had done to deserve this. My daughter, now 43, holds her own boys while basking in the glory described by Kate.

Over a period of years, my life took some curves. Gambling, and all the offshoots that go along with it, overtook my life. I was compulsive gambling while overlooking any of the honors bestowed upon me as wife, mother, grandmother, friend, etc.

I found that one of my medications might be the culprit. Seeing my neurologist, I came off one of my medications. The pain of withdrawal was worth the benefits. The compulsive gambling side-effect has disappeared. However, damage was done.

Please, if you have a gambling issue, seek help. Don’t lose the important gifts you are given by being stupid. Forgiveness is hard to follow.