Meetings & Information


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tribal Casino Patrons & Employees: Beware!

This is no trick or treat: Employees and patrons of Graton Casino may want to think twice before entering Indian land...
Graton Casino Patrons & Employees: Beware! | Stop Graton Casino
Graton Casino Patrons & Employees: Beware! October 29, 2013 0Casino patrons and employees alike, must be extra careful when entering tribal land. Since tribal reservations set and follow their own set of rules, Graton Casino employees might want to read the fine print of their contracts. Indian tribe.....

Graton Casino Patrons & Employees: Beware!

Casino patrons and employees alike, must be extra careful when entering tribal land. Since tribal reservations set and follow their own set of rules, Graton Casino employees might want to read the fine print of their contracts. Indian tribes follow the majority of federal laws, but tribes are exempt from some laws.

entering tribal land

Once you are on Native American land, t
he tribal courts have
civil and criminal jurisdiction over those who are members or conduct business on federal Indian reservations. With Graton Rancheria being a federally recognized tribe, they will have jurisdiction over the people residing on their land.

This story below proves just how federal courts dismissed a case of workplace harassment since it was on Indian land.So, before you feed that slot at Graton Casino, you might want to read up and be aware of your rights prior to spending that hard earned paycheck.

Indian casinos don’t have to enforce workplace laws

By Christopher B. Nolan
The Superior Court, at the request of Cache Creek, threw out the case, holding that Cache Creek was owned and operated by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation (formerly the Rumsey Indian Rancheria of Wintun Indians) and, therefore, the casino could not be sued under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. In other words, as an Indian nation, the U.S. and California courts had no power to sue unless that power was established by treaty or compact. As a result, M.D. was left with no job and no legal remedy.
Indian casinos are operated under a compact with the state. This is a form of agreement where in exchange for the right to operate gambling establishments (unlawful in California other than on certain sovereign Indian lands), the tribes agree to share revenues through applicable taxes and licenses with the state. In its compact with the state, the tribe agreed to “adopt and comply with standards no less stringent than federal laws and state laws forbidding employers generally from discriminating in the employment of persons to work for the Gaming Operation or in the Gaming Facility on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability.”
The compact stated that if a tribe failed to adopt such regulations, “The applicable state statute or regulation shall be deemed to have been adopted by the Tribe as the applicable standard.” The tribe never adopted any standard, and when sued by my firm for what would be a very serious case of harassment, it filed a motion to dismiss, stating that “put simply, an agreement to adopt particular standards does not constitute a consent by the tribe to be sued for an alleged violation of these standards.” As the U.S. Supreme Court has explained, “There is a difference between the right to demand compliance with state laws and the means available to enforce them.”
In short, the tribe said: Just because we agreed we would adopt the standard doesn’t mean we actually had to and, by the way, you can’t sue us in state or federal court as we are a co-equal nation over which you hold no power unless we have agreed to give it to you or have waived our right to sovereignty.

The Superior Court in Yolo County, adopting a long line of Indian sovereign immunity cases, agreed and dismissed the plaintiffs’ case not only against the casino but against the individual managers, holding that they, as employees of the casino, also enjoyed the immunity generally reserved for ambassadors and diplomats.

So, Cache Creek Casino will never be subject to any legal scrutiny of this conduct because it wrote a compact, signed by Gov. Gray Davis (later amended by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger), that did not contain any mechanism for enforcing employee rights.

Think about that the next time you decide to go to Cache Creek to spend your hard-earned money. The casino should have a huge sign at the employee entrance saying, “You have left the United States and the state of California — you have no rights under the anti-discrimination laws and your courts can’t touch us.”

Study shows that gambling is dumb!

Study shows that gambling is dumb! Business Insider

Study Shows That Most Gamblers Are Throwing Away Money

They may not admit it, but most people lose money through gambling — and heavy gamblers lose the most, according to a new analysis by the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal drew these conclusions from a study of several databases and interviews with experts.
Eighty-nine percent of gamblers lost money in a study of 4,222 anonymous users of one online gambling network in Europe that includes games of chance like roulette, blackjack, and slots. In the small set of winners, few won more than $150.

Among the heaviest gamblers, 95% lost money. In this group, big losers outnumbered big winners by 128 to 1.

In another study of 18,000 loyalty card holders at U.S. casinos, only 13.5% ended up winning money.

The odds of winning were better when it came to games of skill like poker, but still most gamblers lost money.

And that's all you need to know when it comes to the investment value of gambling for most people.

Read the full analysis at the Journal >

Military Gambling Addiction

Massachusetts ‘Gaming’ Future

Massachusetts ‘Gaming’ Future 

Associated Press - October 30, 2013 - Compulsive gambling advocates turn to military

Advocates for gamblers struggling with their addictions are turning their attention to military veterans.

Counselors and other specialists told a Connecticut conference on Wednesday that helping veterans is difficult because few acknowledge they have a problem and seek help.

Gabor Kautzner of the New Haven Vet Center said many veterans struggle with an adrenaline rush that continues even after they come home from Afghanistan and Iraq. He said veterans often expect to quickly return to a normal life, which almost never happens.

He also said veterans with other dependency problems such as alcohol grapple with excessive gambling. Scratch-off tickets, for example, are sold in liquor stores, which Kautzner said is the worst place.

Counselors and advocates are calling for increased funding to help compulsive gamblers as lotteries and casinos become more common.

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 3:07 pm | Updated: 4:07 pm, Wed Oct 30, 2013.
Advocates for gamblers struggling with their addictions are turning their attention to military veterans.
Counselors and other specialists told a Connecticut conference on Wednesday that helping veterans is difficult because few acknowledge they have a problem and seek help.
Gabor Kautzner of the New Haven Vet Center said many veterans struggle with an adrenaline rush that continues even after they come home from Afghanistan and Iraq. He said veterans often expect to quickly return to a normal life, which almost never happens.
He also said veterans with other dependency problems such as alcohol grapple with excessive gambling. Scratch-off tickets, for example, are sold in liquor stores, which Kautzner said is the worst place.
Counselors and advocates are calling for increased funding to help compulsive gamblers as lotteries and casinos become more common.

Caesars casino owners in hot water with IRS

Caesars casino owners in hot water with IRS


Could These Infographics Deliver the Death Blow to the Casino Proposal?

Could These Infographics Deliver the Death Blow to the Casino Proposal?

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

With your support, we exceeded our fundraising goal of $10K in just 10 days. Your support then and after made a huge difference, enabling us to print and deliver enough newspapers for every registered voter in Eastie; to order signs and materials for standouts; to pay an organizer; and more.

Today, a new poll shows our efforts are making a huge difference. We are winning in this new poll, but the margin is close. Our friends at Repeal the Casino Deal (working to get a casino question on the ballot in 2014) are working to make sure that even if we defeat the casino at the polls, no developer tries to put a casino in our backyard ever again. In order to ensure we win this thing, however, we have to increase our effort in the final push -- just as we know Suffolk Downs will. We need to do more outreach and need to make sure every ally of ours votes on election day. In the end, the only votes that count are those made by people who make the effort to go to the polls (or send in an absentee ballot) on election day.

Two issues important to undecided voters are jobs and traffic. This week, we released online two infographics (to great fanfare!) that clearly show the ways that Suffolk Downs' casino plan falls short in both of these areas. Here they are:

We want to get these infographics out by mail to even more of our neighbors prior to the vote, but WE NEED TO RAISE A LITTLE MORE MONEY to do so. In this spirit, we are launching a $5K in 5 Days Challenge. If you haven't given yet, this is your chance. If you have, please consider giving one more time to help get these important graphics to our neighbors and help us win on Tuesday.

It kicked off yesterday. We will give you daily updates again. (the first one is below)

Together, we will win this fight! Thank you for your support!

Justin and Steve

p.s. Don't forget, your contribution of your time is desperately needed as well. Drop by Our Saviour's Lutheran Church (28 Paris St., Maverick Sq) volunteer during the day or in the evenings -- we need all the help we can get!

Fundraising Update from Yesterday:
Amount raised yesterday: $845
Total raised in campaign: $845
% of goal at day 1/5: 17% (we're well on our way!)

Thank YOU for helping us raise $5,000 in 5 days
to help us win on Tuesday and keep Eastie great for families!



No Eastie Casino | 256 Marginal Street | East Boston | MA | 02128

WBUR Poll Shows A Divided East Boston Opposes Casino

WBUR Poll Shows A Divided East Boston Opposes Casino

White-Washing Suffolk Downs

This is why the Gambling Commission is losing credibility!

The author also ignored the money laundering [Bank Secrecy Act] by Caesars.

Oct 30, 2013, 9:05pm EDT

Suffolk Downs casino clears background check

Dan Ring, The Republican, Special to the Journal
State gaming regulators on Wednesday said that Suffolk Downs has passed a state background investigation for a casino, but added that the race track was "too trusting" of its former partner in the project.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously to find Suffolk was "suitable" to hold a casino license with certain conditions. The decision came about 10 days after the race track's former partner, Caesars Entertainment of Las Vegas, withdrew from the casino plan at Suffolk Downs, after it was flagged by investigators for the commission.

The decision also was released before voters in East Boston and Revere on Tuesday vote on a casino for Suffolk Downs.

In a six-page decision, the commission said Suffolk owners have "a sound performance record" at the East Boston horse track. The commission also said Suffolk leaders took "swift and decisive action" in asking Caesars to withdraw once state investigators confronted them with certain problems at Caesars.

Suffolk joined with Caesars in early 2011 to build the planned $1 billion casino, but now is working to find a new casino operator.

"It appears as though (Suffolk Downs) was too trusting of a partner and paid insufficient attention to investigating, detailing and documenting the background and intentions of their prospective partner," the commission's decision said.

Under the decision, Suffolk must identify a new partner and that partner must pass a background check by Dec. 30. Suffolk also must present a plan for host and surrounding communities to work with the new partner and provide proof by Nov. 8 that Suffolk has divested Caesars as an owner or has a plan in place to do that, the decision said.

The gaming commission last week released a 558-page investigative report that raised several questions about Caesars, including its $23.7 billion in debt and its dealings with a high roller who filed a civil lawsuit against Caesars, claiming Caesars encouraged him to gamble while intoxicated.

The report also looked at Caesars' involvement with a hotelier whose company was linked to an alleged Russian mob front.

Suffolk would compete with Foxwoods and Wynn Resorts for the sole casino resort license in Greater Boston. Foxwoods is proposing a casino for Milford and Wynn is planning a casino in Everett.

In Western Massachusetts, the Mohegan Sun, which is planning a casino in Palmer, passed its background check, while a similar investigation is still pending for MGM Resorts International, which is planning a casino in Springfield.

Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer at Suffolk Downs, released a statement saying Suffolk plans to build a world-class resort at the race track.

"Suffolk Downs' proposal to create 4,000 jobs for local residents and to provide a boost to local businesses got a boost of its own today with the commission's decision," Tuttle said. "We thank the MGC for its hard work and favorable finding allowing Suffolk Downs to move forward in this important economic development process."

This article originally appeared on

Suffolk Downs has no clothes

Suffolk Downs has no clothes
By Joan Vennochi / Globe Columnist / October 30, 2013

The Suffolk Downs casino proposal is looking a lot like the emperor who wore no clothes.

The racetrack was once seen as a shoo-in for a casino license. But after background check problems, Caesars Entertainment is gone, leaving a casino proposal without a casino operator. Vornado Realty, one of the biggest investors, put its interest into a blind trust rather than undergo a background check.
In their suitability assessment, state regulators also expressed worries about the financial stability of Richard Fields, Suffolk’s largest shareholder.
Minus Caesars, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission just pronounced Suffolk Downs suitable for a casino. But the current proposal is a drastically stripped-down version of its original self, leaving its backers as naked as the sovereign in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Unlike the emperor, they already know they are walking around in their birthday suits. They’re just hoping East Boston voters are too uninformed or too desperate for jobs to see that when they vote on Nov. 5.
Everything about this proposal was built around Caesars, the corporate culture it represents, and the promises it made to Bostonians in general and to East Bostonians in particular. The ballot question summary describes Caesars as the operator. The host agreement between the city and Sterling Suffolk Racecourse specifically references “Caesars Massachusetts Management” and cites “the Caesars standard” as the basis for the agreement.
There’s a clause in the Boston host agreement that authorizes transfers of interest, as long as the city approves. And it’s possible that a new casino operator will build exactly what Caesars promised and sign off on every condition set forth in the host agreement. But do you really want to roll the dice on that, if you’re an East Boston resident contemplating the impact of a casino on traffic, crime, and your property values?
Why even trust the judgment of the remaining Suffolk Downs partners? They contend they were “blindsided” by disclosures that Caesars — their partner for two years — faced serious questions from state investigators. The partnership that owns the track “relied on Caesars contractual obligation to keep us informed,” track lawyer Bruce E. Falby told the state gambling commission. “These obligations were not met.” Caesars representatives say they were blindsided, too.
That hardly inspires confidence in this crew’s ability to spot trouble up front or hold themselves to the highest standard — or in Mayor Menino’s oversight up to now.
The mayor has long championed Suffolk Downs and is still promoting it. Martin J. Walsh and John R. Connolly, the mayoral candidates vying to succeed him, still support a casino if East Boston wants it. During Tuesday night’s debate, Walsh said he would vote “yes” if he lived in Eastie — at least earning points for taking a stand. Connolly wouldn’t say how he would vote as an Eastie resident, although he did answer “probably not” when asked if he would support a casino in his own neighborhood.
The mayor and his would-be successors are unwilling to state the truth: Without Caesars, a “yes” vote isn’t a vote for a specific plan. It’s a vote for a mirage. Their starting premise is that East Boston with a casino run by a mystery operator is better than East Boston without a casino.
As for the Suffolk Downs team, they want voters to believe the severed partnership with Caesars means nothing more than eliminating the laurel-wreath logo associated with the brand. Their glossy new information package eliminates all references to what they once proudly touted — the Caesars standard.
As voters confront this Suffolk Downs fairy tale, the one about the emperor reverberates.
Swindlers told the emperor they could make him a suit out of the most beautiful cloth, which only stupid people could not see. And so, the emperor walked through town in these garments, with everyone exclaiming how beautiful they were because they did not want anyone to call them dumb.
Then a child called out, “But he has nothing on” — just like the Suffolk Downs casino proposal.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


For anyone in Palmer - we have a new supply of lawn signs. Pick yours up at our headquarters. Someone will be there tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday from 10am-1pm and from 4-6pm.
If your sign has been stolen, please report it to the police, even if you don't have a description of the car. What counts is the number of signs.
There will be a major standout on Friday. The rain is supposed to clear out in the morning. Come to our headquarters at 4pm to get your sign and "marching orders." Ask anyone who's done this - it's really uplifting to hear all the horns and see the thumbs-up.

Penn National Bait & Switch

The Plainridge/Penn National Casino keeps getting BIGGER, BETTER and more convoluted than originally proposed.

Voters were mislead when they voted.

Despite the fact that Plainridge has almost 100 acres of land, they insist upon encroaching on the wetlands, impacting the health of the water, vegetation, and animals in the area. The health of the wetlands is directly connected to the health of our drinking water.

Below are three recent notices to abutters about separate proposals that require permission from the Plainville Conservation Commission to impact the wetlands. Please attend the hearings on these matters, if you can. If you can’t attend, please write your testimony to the Plainville Conservatiuon Commission at Town Hall.

You can find the hearings after they’re posted on the Town’s Posted Meeting page:

Please share with Plainville residents.

MGM: Unfortunately The Casino Does Not Always Win

Unfortunately The Casino Does Not Always Win

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. (More...)

Between the Casino stocks that I have been covering recently with exposure to Macau, MGM Resorts International (MGM) is the company with the largest exposure to the Las Vegas Strip market. MGM Resorts is the largest gaming company in the Las Vegas Strip gaming and hotel market, its properties include approximately 30% of all rooms on the Strip. The majority of the company's revenue comes from the USA with MGM China currently contributing approximately 20% of the company's revenue and EBITDA.

MGM China is much safer from competition, because only six companies are licensed to operate in Macau (as discussed extensively in my articles about Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) because they have comparatively large stakes on the island), effectively that grants the operation a solid economic moat for the foreseeable future.

MGM Resorts is a turnaround story after flirting with bankruptcy in the recent past. Trying to valuate the company I encountered several difficulties. At the heart of the matter is debt load. It's huge and for many investors, it's a turn-off and to many, it should be. Yet, I will spend considerable time examining it, because getting some insight into the debt load is necessary to get an idea about this investment prospect.

Under the destructive tenure of former MGM CEO Terry Lanni, who overpaid for acquisitions funded by leveraging the company, one of them the massive City Center project that nearly drove MGM into filing for Chapter 11, MGM's stock price was driven into the ground.

CEO Jim Murren who took over in December 2008 (after being COO since 2007) is halfway through turning the company around. Bankruptcy is not an immediate threat but the company is still significantly more levered than I think is ideal. This is the information the company gave about the issue in their Q1 2013 earnings report:
"We have significant outstanding debt and contractual obligations in addition to planned capital expenditures. We expect to meet our debt obligations and planned capital expenditure requirements with future anticipated operating cash flows, cash and cash equivalents, and available borrowings under our senior credit facility. Excluding MGM China, at March 31, 2013 we had $1.1 billion of principal amount of long-term debt maturing, and an estimated $826 million of cash interest payments based on current outstanding debt and applicable interest rates, within the next twelve months. At March 31, 2013, we had $13.7 billion of indebtedness, including $2.9 billion of borrowings outstanding under our $4.0 billion senior credit facility and $553 million outstanding under the $2.0 billion MGM China credit facility. On April 1, 2013, we used a portion of the cash balance to repay our $462 million 6.75% senior notes at maturity."

The senior credit facility is the crux of the matter. I apologize about the flood of dry material but I think it's important I quote the latest 10-Q because the company lays out how these loans are collateralized and what conditions are tied to the credit facility.

Senior credit facility.

At March 31, 2013, the Company's senior credit facility consisted of $1.2 billion of revolving loans, a $1.05 billion term loan A facility and a $1.75 billion term loan B facility. The revolving and term loan A facilities bear interest at LIBOR plus 3.00% and are subject to credit rating adjustments six months after the initial loan. The term loan B facility bears interest at LIBOR plus 3.25% with a LIBOR floor of 1.00%.

The revolving and term loan A facilities mature in December 2017 and the term loan B facility matures in December 2019. The term loan A and term loan B facilities are subject to scheduled amortization payments on the last day of each calendar quarter from and after March 31, 2013 in an amount equal to 0.25% of the original principal balance.

The Company permanently repaid $7 million in the first quarter of 2013 in accordance with the scheduled amortization. The Company had $1.05 billion of available borrowing capacity under its senior credit facility at March 31, 2013. At March 31, 2013, the interest rate on the term loan A was 3.28%, the interest rate on the term loan B was 4.25%, and the interest rate on the revolving loans was 3.18%.

The land and substantially all of the assets of MGM Grand Las Vegas, Bellagio and The Mirage secure up to $3.35 billion of obligations outstanding under the senior credit facility.


The Casino Fix

Early in the proposed invasion of Middleboro by Gambling Interests, someone recommended Professor Godman's book that was out of print, purchased from Alibris:

FROM Casino Watch:

Professor Goodman methodically presented the many negative impacts of Predatory Gambling on communities in an easily read style, my copy now dog-earred and highlighted.

I have since heard him speak. laying out how Government Sponsored Gambling effects us all because taxpayers subsidize the Industry.

The Casino Fix

Local gambling expert Robert Goodman urges Massachusetts to stay out of the luck biz.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thomas Northcut | Photodisc
Pile of gambling chips, overhead view

It’s been 18 years since Hampshire College professor Robert Goodman issued his sober warnings about what the proliferation of casino gambling would do to our economy, our society and our democracy in his book, The Luck Business: The Devastating Consequences and Broken Promises of America’s Gambling Explosion.
As more and more state and local governments looked to expand legalized gambling as a “magic-bullet cure for their economic woes,” they were ignoring the very real, and likely irreversible, problems that trend would create, wrote Goodman, who’d served as director of the United States Gambling Study, an independent project funded by the Ford Foundation and the Aspen Institute.
The creation of new casinos and other gambling venues shifts discretionary spending away from local restaurants, theaters, shops and other businesses in the community, he wrote. It leads to increased problem gambling and the attendant social and legal problems, like higher rates of personal bankruptcies and crime. And it distracts both attention and capital from other, more sustainable forms of economic development. A reliance on gambling “helps to shape a society that harvests short-term profits, while accumulating a large residue of costs for the future,” Goodman wrote.
“[D]o we really want our governments so dependent on gambling that they are forced actively to promote an activity that takes disproportionately from those who can afford it least, does great damage to existing economies, and can be highly addictive?” he asked.
Goodman’s warnings—like those of many other casino skeptics—have, apparently gone unheeded, at least by policy makers. Until the late 1980s, casinos were legal in only two states, New Jersey and Nevada. Today, according to a report from the American Gaming Association, 39 states have some form of casinos, with a total of 464 land or riverboat commercial casinos, 466 tribal casinos and 49 racetrack casinos. And several more states are poised to join the fray, including Massachusetts, where the state Gaming Commission is scheduled to award three casino licenses, including one in Western Mass., next year.
The explosion in the number of casinos has provided ample evidence of the kinds of social and economic consequences that Goodman warned about in The Luck Business—consequences that can we can expect to see in Massachusetts as well, he said in an interview with the Advocate.
“It’s not rocket science. It’s not like I’m some kind of seer into the future,” Goodman said. “All we have to do is look at what’s happening in other parts of the country.”
Under Massachusetts’ gaming law, casino developers need the approval of their host communities for their license applications to be considered by the Gaming Commission. Next week, voters in Palmer will weigh in on Mohegan Sun’s casino proposal for their town. In July, Springfield voters approved MGM’s plan to build a casino in the South End; in September, West Springfield residents rejected Hard Rock’s proposal for a casino at the site of the Big E.
The idea of legalizing casinos in Massachusetts has been kicking around since the late 1970s. Various casino proposals continued to emerge over the years until finally, in 2011, the Legislature passed a law that authorizes three casinos and one slots parlor, with a portion of their revenue going to the state and local governments. Backers of the law argued that it was necessary to compete with the two casinos already operating in Connecticut; when Gov. Deval Patrick, who made the issue a centerpiece of his administration, first introduced a casino bill in 2007, he pointed to a report from UMass Dartmouth that found that Massachusetts residents were spending $876 million a year at the Connecticut casinos.
That’s a common scenario, Goodman said; typically, when one state legalizes casinos, its neighbors rush to do the same, arguing that it will lose potential revenue if homegrown gamblers cross state lines with their rolls of quarters. “We are approaching in many places market saturation or have already reached it,” he said.
That includes this region, which is fast becoming crowded with casinos and casino proposals. Like Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island each now have two casinos. On Election Day, residents of New York—already home to nine racetrack-based casinos, or “racinos”—will vote on a proposal to allow up to seven casinos there. New Hampshire, with a wary eye on the impending opening of three venues in Massachusetts, also is considering legalizing casinos.
The proliferation of casinos has helped the industry, overall. According to the AGA report, casinos earned $37.3 billion in gross gaming revenue in 2012, a 4.8 percent increase from the previous year (a rise some attribute to new venues in places not typically associated with high rollers, like Kansas). That increased revenue, the report said, led to increased payments made by casino companies to their host states and municipalities: $8.6 billion total, up 8.5 percent from 2011. The AGA also reported that the gaming industry employed 332,000 people in 2012, down 0.9 percent from the previous year.
Those industry figures notwithstanding, Goodman isn’t the only expert to point to signs of market saturation. Slot revenues at Connecticut’s casinos have been flat or declining in recent years, even without competition from Massachusetts and New York. Casino revenue in Atlantic City, too, has been on the decline for years, as competing casinos have opened in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Even that mecca of gambling, Las Vegas, has had adjust as competition has become stiffer; earlier this year, Time magazine reported that while the city has seen its tourism-based economy rebound after several shaky years, its gambling revenue is still down, as would-be players find places closer to home to gamble.
Those newer, closer casinos, Goodman said, are often very different than the high-glamour spots associated with Vegas. He uses the term “convenience gambling” to describe the kinds of casinos springing up in places like the Midwest—and, he predicted, Western Mass. “They rely on local gamblers,” he said. “No one flies in to Des Moines. And they’re not going to fly in to Springfield.”
When casinos draw from a small geographic area, Goodman continued, that area feels the economic effects more deeply. The money local people spend at casinos is money they’re not spending at local restaurants or movie theaters, or on new clothes, cars and other goods. And the effects of that spending shift, Goodman said, won’t be limited to the host town; a Western Mass. casino will affect the entire Valley, including places like Northampton, whose economy relies on local and regional visitors.
There are also social costs, he said. Goodman is part of the Council on Casinos, an independent group of scholars who recently released a report, called “Why Casinos Matter,” that pulled together casino-related research from the health and social science fields. Among its findings: that living closer to a casino increases a person’s chances of developing a gambling problem; that problem gambling has broad negative effects on families and communities; and that working in a casino is linked to poor health. The report also cited research suggesting that while a new casino might initially boost the local economy, “the stimulus fades over time, as the presence of a casino drives out established local businesses and attracts other gambling-linked businesses, such as payday lenders, pawn shops, auto title lenders, and check cashing stores.”
Pro-casino lawmakers often talk of the necessity of being competitive with casinos in neighboring states—of “fighting fire with fire,” Goodman noted. But, he added, “What happens when you fight fire with fire is you get a bigger fire.”
When state lawmakers passed the casino legislation in 2011, Goodman said, “They looked at it as a static situation.” Massachusetts was losing gambling revenue to Connecticut, they reasoned, so it needed to build its own casinos to recapture that money.
But, Goodman said, they failed to take into account many other factors, including the shrinking pot of revenue that will be available for Massachusetts as other nearby states open their own casinos and the Connecticut casinos offer more appealing deals to keep their customers. “This is not a static situation,” he said. “This is a very dynamic situation.”
In the summer of 2012, at a meeting of the Mass. Gaming Commission, Goodman urged the body to slow down its casino-licensing process to allow time for more study. He warned that the state was relying on incomplete data and projections generated by the gaming industry and was failing to take into account fully the broad economic and social effects casinos could have.
The commissioners’ response, as Goodman put it? “Thanks, but our job isn’t to decide whether it’s a good idea; it’s to make this happen.” Indeed, the Gaming Commission’s charge isn’t to evaluate the pros and cons of casinos or decide whether expanded gaming is a good idea for the state—it’s to, in the words of its mission statement, “create a fair, transparent, and participatory process for implementing the expanded gaming law.”
Meanwhile, Goodman added, lawmakers failed to serve a watchdog role. State legislators who once opposed casinos “caved” to pressure from Statehouse leadership, he said. State Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst) a one-time casino opponent who voted for the bill, put it this way at the time: “My sense is that there may well be consequences for people voting against this bill, particularly people in [House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s] inner circle.”
On the local level, officials in communities targeted as possible casino sites have served as cheerleaders for the industry, urging voters to support the plans—and, in some cases, intimating grave repercussions if they didn’t. In Springfield, Mayor Domenic Sarno, just weeks before the MGM vote, balanced his city’s budget using casino revenue and warned that without it, layoffs and cuts in services would be necessary. (“Could you imagine a business owner going to a bank for a loan based on projected revenues—revenues that would only come if a ballot question passes?” Goodman asked.)
Of course, many in Springfield are counting on a casino to provide the elusive key to reviving the city’s struggling economy. MGM promises that its casino will create 2,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs, with 90 percent going to residents of the region; will generate at least $25 million in annual payments to the city, in addition to $15 million in one-time, upfront payments; and will support the city’s larger economy, by, for example, contracting with local vendors for goods and services—all very attractive propositions in a post-industrial city with high unemployment and poverty rates, and no doubt a large part of why city voters approved the project last summer.
Mohegan Sun is promising annual payments of $15.2 million to Palmer, plus tens of millions more for infrastructure improvements, and says the casino would employ about 3,150 people.
It’s no accident that a community like Springfield would be targeted by casino developers, Goodman noted: “Where did these casino companies go to locate? They didn’t go to Amherst. They didn’t go to Lincoln.”
Instead, he said, across the country, casino developers set their sights on poor cities with seemingly few other economic prospects, from Springfield to East St. Louis to Detroit: “Community after community—just find the place that’s most depressed, and they welcome you with open arms.”
But Massachusetts, Goodman continued, would be wise to consider what casinos have (or have not) done for other struggling communities. Detroit now has three casinos, but, as the city’s recent decision to file for bankruptcy would suggest, “[they] did not turn the economy of Detroit around.”
In other places, Goodman said, governments have granted or are considering public bailouts of gaming operations that were once looked to as economic engines. This summer, Delaware gave $8 million to the state’s three racetrack casinos, which had seen their revenue drop in recent years after casinos opened in neighboring states. Indiana lawmakers have considered a taxpayer bailout of that state’s Indian casinos, which began cutting jobs as revenue declined.
In 2011, New Jersey approved a $261 million tax reimbursement deal for the then half-completed Revel casino, whose developers did not have the money to finish building it. State officials justified the deal by pointing to the thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenue the massive casino complex would generate. The casino opened in April of 2012 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy 10 months later. It’s since been through a restructuring that eliminated $1.2 billion of its $1.5 billion debt, according to the Associated Press, which earlier this month reported that the casino, like others in Atlantic City, is still seeing declining revenue.
In each case, Goodman said, lawmakers had initially embraced casinos for their promised jobs and revenue—only to later find themselves justifying government breaks and bailouts to shore up struggling casinos and stem the loss of those jobs and that revenue. “That’s Massachusetts five, six years down the road,” he predicted.•

Mickey Mouse: No Expanded Casino Gambling in Florida!

Mickey Mouse: No Expanded Casino Gambling in Florida!
October 24, 2013; Sunshine State News

Whatever Mickey (Mouse) wants, Mickey gets—at least in central Florida. Therein lies a problem with the casino gambling debate going on right now in the Sunshine State.
An organization called No Casinos is leading the charge against legalizing casinos outside of Indian reservations. On GuideStar, No Casinos shows up as a 501(c)(4) established in 1990, but with its tax exempt status marked “revoked.” The address for No Casinos, per GuideStar, is 605 East Robinson Street, Suite 310, in Orlando, which is also the address of Consensus Communications (cited on this document as occupying suite 310, as well as other suites), a for-profit public relations firm run by one John Sowinski. Sowinski is identified in the press as president of No Casinos.
Sunshine State News columnist Nancy Smith makes no bones about her support of casino gambling as “a classier venue for adult entertainment,” which she prefers over “the growing mish-mash of mostly low-end options.” While the analysis of classy vs. low-end analysis puts us off a bit, she devotes a recent column to taking apart No Casinos by examining who—particularly Disney—might or might not be behind the organization, presumably with a revived tax-exempt status.
However, Smith doesn’t quite take No Casinos apart entirely. Sowinski answered a series of questions posed by Smith, who then helpfully attached the responses to her column. Although Sowinski declines to identify the financial backers of No Casinos, he asserts that the group takes no money from gambling interests, including the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa facility, which, with other Seminole-operated casinos in Florida, has a five-year agreement with the state for table games such as blackjack and a separate agreement on slots, paying the state $1 billion in revenues over five years.
The lurking question that Smith insinuates and Sowinski doesn’t quite deny is how much Disney is directly and tangibly involved in the No Casinos effort. In the New York Times, Lizette Alvarez and Michael Snyder do not specifically identify Disney as a financial backer of No Casinos, but implied other elements of potential hypocrisy on the mouse-company’s part. In contrast to its opposition to the expanded presence of casinos as harming Florida’s “family friendly” resort identity, the article notes that Florida is awash with legal gambling: racetracks, jai alai frontons, racinos, and the seven or so casinos of the Seminole tribe. Moreover, Disney itself has its corporate fingers in legalized gambling; it licenses the Marvel and Lucasfilm character images it owns for use on slot machines. (Disney representatives have since said they plan to end those arrangements.)
Family-friendly or not, Disney doesn’t want the competition of expanded casinos. It appears that the Seminoles don’t either, and even the racinos are in opposition to potential legislation that would authorize new destination casinos. While Disney may or may not be putting money into No Casinos, it is putting money into the campaign coffers of Florida politicians. Since 2012, Disney has donated $1.7 million to Florida’s Republican Party and $759,000 to the Democratic opposition. Other players in the gambling scrum include Sheldon Adelson, the owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and the Seminole tribe. Both donated $250,000 to Governor Rick Scott’s campaign coffers. We would guess that Adelson’s donation is to woo the governor to support casino expansion, while the donation from the Seminoles could go either way, given the expiration of their deal with the state in 2015. An additional $250,000 donation by Disney to the Florida Chamber of Commerce was followed by the Chamber’s donation of $250,000 to Scott’s “Let’s Get to Work” reelection PAC.
Big corporate money on both sides of the Florida gambling debate casts a pall over the issue. But a recent report, the first of a two-volume state-sponsored analysis of gambling, suggests some of the challenges:
  • There is big money behind the pro-casino forces, as Sheldon Adelson’s presence suggests. That could be an incentive to make gambling opponents ally with the likes of the moneyed Disney, even if there might be some hypocrisy in Disney’s motivations. As the report also notes, “In the battles between pro-gaming and anti-gaming political campaigns, the playing field is not level in one important sense: Those who oppose gaming’s expansion often succeed, but in many instances they have to continue doing battle in subsequent years. They have to win every time. Those who favor the expansion of gaming need to win only once.”
  • States have gotten smart about extracting revenues from gambling by relying on licensing fees, much like the deal Florida has with the Seminoles. According to the report, “In Florida, the holder of a slot machine license must pay an annual license fee of $2 million…in conjunction with its monthly tax payment, each permitholder pays a daily license fee. For jai alai, it is $40 per game. For greyhound permitholders, it is $80 per…for horse racing, the fee is $100 per race. For cardroom operators, the state charges annually a fee of $1,000 for each table when the application is submitted.”
  • The report details several kinds of generally unavoidable costs associated with expanded gambling: crime of all sorts, health problems associated with pathological or problem gambling, political corruption, personal bankruptcies caused by problem gambling, and more.
It’s tough for community groups to fight against wealthy political interests, and as a result, odd alliances sometimes emerge. In this case, the massive Walt Disney Company finds itself on the side of advocates against increased casino gambling.
It seems that Mickey’s owners would like to maintain that in family-friendly central Florida, “what happens in DisneyWorld stays in DisneyWorld,” and what happens in Orlando shouldn’t include casino gambling. But it would be good for everyone concerned if all of the lobbying interests, for and against expanded casinos, were to disclose their donors.—Rick Cohen
This article has been altered from its original form. The article initially asserted that casinos were present on Disney cruise ships that operated outside of U.S. waters; this is not the case. Disney representatives also say they intend to cease the licensing of their Lucasfilm and Marvel characters on slots.

IRS Cited Caesars for Bank Secrecy Act Breach

IRS Cited Caesars for Bank Secrecy Act Breach