Meetings & Information


Saturday, November 30, 2013

“crack cocaine of gambling”

Man blew £250,000 on slot machines branded the “crack cocaine of gambling”

James Petherick was driven to the brink of ­suicide by the devastating impact of ­betting ­terminals on which ­you can gamble up to £100 in 20 seconds

Slippy slope: James Petherwick started taking out loans
Slippy slope: James Petherwick started taking out loans

Skint James Petherick has told how he blew £250,000in 10 years on slot machines ­branded the “crack ­cocaine of ­gambling”.

Welder James, 37, spoke about the devastating impact of fixed odds ­betting ­terminals on which ­you can gamble up to £100 in 20 seconds.

He was driven to the brink of ­suicide by a crippling ­addiction to the casino-style machines that are found in bookies and are now the target of a Sunday People campaign. He said: “I’d stop on the way home, go into a bookies and pour all my wages into these machines.

“I’ve worked hard all my life but I don’t have a pension or savings. I don’t own anything. I’ve lost a girlfriend, jobs, the lot. I don’t have a family, I don’t have a business.

“I don’t think I will ever ­recover from this. That’s the impact these slots have.”

James spiralled into debt after being introduced to the fixed odds terminals in 2002.

He recalled: “I’d lose £20 and chase it with £40. Soon I was spending all my wages in one go and taking out loans. I had ­multiple overdrafts and credit cards. I’d make up excuses for having no cash.

But I split from my girlfriend when she found the extent of my betting.

“I had a good job in London. I was clearing £40,000 a year and lived rent-free with a relative. I didn’t even have to pay ­electricity, gas or council tax.
The hands of a gambler holding a cigarette and placing a bet
Danger: James ended up sleeping in his car

“But I spent everything I had on the machines. I started losing jobs because I was too poor to fill up my car to get to work.”

James, who lives in Amesbury, Wilts, went on: “I ended up sleeping in my car. By 2008 I was considering taking my life.”

As he struggled to quit, he posted a video clips of himself confessing his problems on YouTube. His Diary of a Compulsive Gambler has been watched half a million times.

Many viewers shared their stories with James, who has been bet-free since New Year’s Eve.

He added: “High stakes gambling should never have been allowed on the High Street. Action needs to be taken.”

A Sunday People five-point plan unveiled last week calls for fresh rules restricting operators of high stakes machines.


37K accounts set up for NJ Internet gambling

Sucking discretionary dollars from wallets in the silence and privacy of your own home can no longer be labelled a 'job creator' or 'economic engine.'

 Bill Kearney

How easy will it be for the youth of America to get hooked on these gaming sites when casinos with their high tech security systems have a problem with underage gambling, and parents are unaware of what their children are doing on the internet? These sites are the gateway to a casino gambling addiction.

Press of Atlantic City - November 29, 2013 - 37K accounts set up for NJ Internet gambling

Thousands of people have signed up for Internet gambling in the early days of its availability in New Jersey....

The state Division of Gaming Enforcement says as of Thursday, more than 37,000 accounts had been created.

Regulators could not say how many different gamblers actually made bets online. Some users have created accounts with more than one gambling site.

On Thanksgiving alone, 5,000 new accounts were created.
Full statewide Internet gambling began Monday afternoon in New Jersey after a five-day test period that started Nov. 21.

It marks the biggest expansion of gambling in New Jersey since the first Atlantic City casino opened in 1978.
New Jersey is the third state in the nation to offer online gambling, after Nevada and Delaware.
See More

Casinos and homelessness are linked

One of many, many stories of how gambling increases homelessness.

Casinos and homelessness are linked


“Well I got a job and tried to put my money away
But I got debts that no honest man can pay
So I drew what I had from the Central Trust
And I bought us two tickets on that Coast City bus”

- Bruce Springsteen, Atlantic City

In the wake of a random double murder in Atlantic City allegedly by a troubled woman from Philadelphia, The Inquirer attempts to examine why so many homeless and unstable people roam the struggling seaside town.

The piece never nails down the exact reason but quotes the head of an Atlantic City shelter claiming that surrounding agencies regularly “dump” people in Atlantic City without referrals or treatment plans, or county reimbursements. William Southrey, president of the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, said social service agencies funnel folks on buses to Atlantic City’s shelters, soup kitchens, and recovery programs. He quipped that it is “Greyhound therapy.” (Southrey gave the same quip last year in this piece about the homeless.)

That may be true, but it is not the full story. Studies show the presence of casinos play a role in the increase in homelessness. The Inquirer piece does not delve into this area. But several of the homeless people quoted talk about gambling, including one who claims to have won $8,000 in a casino. Brenda Spencer, 54, another homeless person made it clear why she was in Atlantic City: “I came here to gamble.”

What the story fails to report is that a large chunk of the homeless in Atlantic City are problem gamblers. This 1985 AP report references a study that found half of Atlantic City’s homeless came to town after the casinos opened seeking to get rich quick. A 2003 survey of 120 homeless living in Southrey’s Rescue Mission found that 20 percent listed gambling as a contributing factor to their plight. Indeed, the Mission’s own website says the arrival of casinos led to an increase in homeless in Atlantic City.

The 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission, considered the definitive national study on gambling in America, found that “individuals with gambling problems seem to constitute a higher percentage of the homeless population.” The commission said the Atlantic City Rescue Mission reported that 22 percent of its clients are homeless due to a gambling problem. In a survey of 1,100 clients at Rescue Missions nationwide, 18 percent cited gambling as a cause of their homelessness. Interviews with more than 7,000 homeless individuals in Las Vegas revealed that 20 percent reported a gambling problem.

So clearly, there is a direct link to casinos and homelessness. That seems like a detail other communities and lawmakers should keep in mind when considering whether or not to legalize casinos. In short, some of today’s gamblers lining state coffers eventually end up on the street, costing taxpayers money in long-term care and feeding later.

Suffolk Downs shuffle faces scrutiny

No Eastie Casino to Suffolk Downs "What part of we voted NO don't you understand?"

Suffolk Downs shuffle faces scrutiny

                (NECN: Peter Howe) In the aftershocks of Milford residents voting no on a Foxwoods casino and casino foes submitting 90,000 signatures to repeal the 2011 gambling law outright, the state Gaming Commission Thursday dug into an ungodly mess of a legal question: Suffolk Downs push to escape a “no” vote in East Boston by sliding its casino plan, retroactively, across the city line to Revere.

Ultimately, casino regulators agreed to not yet agree – or disagree – on whether the Suffolk Downs team can move ahead with a Revere-based casino application. Gaming Commission chairman Steve Crosby said whichever way the five-member panel rules, "Somebody's going to be very unhappy here, and this is a 51-49 question, at best. We ought to have all the information we can get."

Besides the question of voters’ will and understanding of what they were voting on Nov. 5, the commission’s questions even got down to the dictionary definitions of words like "expand" and "premises."

When East Boston voted 56-44 no and Revere voted 61-39 yes on Nov. 5, the plans that had been presented for months to voters envisioned a casino and restaurants on the East Boston side of the 161-acre property, inside the grandstand of the 78-year-old race track. The Revere side of the parcel was to remain largely space for horse barns and ancillary buildings.

But within minutes after the votes came in, Suffolk and Revere officials were already talking about retroactively reconfiguring the plan to slide the casino part into the roughly 50 acres of the site located in Revere.

Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo told the casino commission Thursday: "The residents and voters of Revere have been in support of this project, whether the construction is all in Boston, part in Boston and part in Revere, or all in Revere."

Rizzo and Charles Baker III, a Boston superlawyer who serves as Suffolk’s board secretary, said Revere and Suffolk had had conversations about what would happen if Revere voted yes and Boston voted no, and they pointed to language in the Revere "host community agreement" they said was written with that contingency in mind: "If the Owner [Suffolk] seeks to expand its gaming establishment onto the Revere Property or beyond the Owner shall promptly notify the City and the Parties shall negotiate in good faith an amendment to this Agreement … "

But that claim faced significant skepticism. Gaming Commissioner James McHugh, a former Superior Court judge, said bluntly: "The verb ‘expands’ is different than 'changes.'"

Agreed Crosby: "This is not an expansion to the Revere side. This is the elimination of the facility altogether, and building a fresh one … Expand does means expand. It doesn't mean replace. I find that troubling." But after hearing a quote from Suffolk chief operating officer Chip Tuttle saying the track owners had thought about the "really, really, really hard" solution to an Eastie no vote of moving the casino to Revere, Crosby said, "If it was in his mind as an option, then it's hard to not to take the two lawyers at their word, unless they're lying to us bald-faced."

No Eastie Casino chief counsel Matt Cameron said, "It’s an extreme stretch to say that when you're talking about expanding a gaming facility what you were talking about was installing it wholesale [in Revere] with nothing in East Boston … We voted a casino at Suffolk Downs. Not a casino in East Boston. Not a casino in Revere. But a casino at Suffolk Downs, which we were told for several years would span the entire 161-acre property."

Celeste Ribeiro Myers, co-founder of No Eastie Casino, said, "This is a last-ditch effort by folks who spent a lot of money" who, she said, are trying to roll over democratically voted opposition.

"We did our part. We did our job," Ribeiro Myers said. "We stopped it at the ballot box." She questioned how much longer citizen volunteers will be forced to keep spending their own time and money fighting the project after the vote. "You know, we're needing to keep our organization going, financially, and personally, and quite frankly, I punch a clock. I'm here all day not getting paid" while testifying at the commission.

Tuttle said Suffolk wants to come back to the commission with a plan that honors Revere’s yes vote, provides consideration to East Boston through a “neighboring community” deal, preserves hundreds of horse-racing jobs, and keeps Suffolk viable as a race track.

"We, with our team of architects and engineers and environmental consultants have been working diligently with the [Revere] mayor and his team since then to meet those challenges, with the objective of presenting to you by the end of this year a plan that locates our gaming establishment entirely in Revere, meets or exceeds all of the legislative requirements and all of the standards that you have set out."

Crosby’s final verdict: "Can they do this? We're going to say, we're not sure yet."

Meanwhile, there were other big developments with the last surviving eastern Massachusetts casino bidder with a clear local yes vote, Wynn Resorts’ plan for a casino in Everett.

The Boston Globe reported Thursday morning a federal grand jury and two state agencies are investigating whether a businessman with an extensive criminal record has a hidden ownership in the property where casino developer Wynn wants to build his $1.3 billion resort. Federal prosecutors want to know whether that businessman, Charles Lightbody, is a secret investor who could profit if the casino is approved.

Wynn is expected to face a December 16 ethics "suitability" vote by the Gaming Commission, it was announced Thursday morning.

With videographer Scott Wholley

Friday, November 29, 2013

Paul Burns makes fool of himself....again! Palmer, Ya Gotta Problem!

A Palmer Citizens Casino Study Committee was appointed to determine the costs of hosting Mohegan Sun.

Paul Burns silenced the report that determined the ANNUAL cost would be
not including the
$50 MILLION to bring water from the Quabbin

Palmer lacks the water to provide for the Mohegan Sun proposal.
Now, Paul Burns is calling for TRANSPARENCY?

There's that pesky little FLYOVER that never happened.....

Palmer town councilor sends warning letter to Mass. Gaming Commission

Posted: Nov 27, 2013

CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

PALMER, MA (WSHM) - A town councilor in Palmer sent a letter to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Monday warning them that Mohegan Sun could not be trusted.
The letter from Paul Burns comes after allegations last week that Mohegan had been in talks with Suffolk Downs about a project there prior to the referendum vote on Nov. 5. Mohegan tribal chairman, Kevin Brown released a statement in response to allegations by Burns, "We find the patently false accusation of Councilor Burns that we were talking to any other parties in Massachusetts before the referendum to be completely inappropriate and hurtful given the hard work of the Mohegan Sun Massachusetts team up to, and importantly, AFTER the referendum. Mohegan Sun and our team in Palmer worked tirelessly over the past five years to bring a world class facility to Palmer and the Commonwealth, invested millions of dollars into this effort, and engaged in a highly transparent process of explaining our project to the community. Despite the long odds that a recount might bring a different result, we have deliberately stayed the course awaiting the outcome. This change in tenor from an elected leader in Palmer is of great concern to us."

Brown announced Wednesday that Mohegan had signed a deal with Suffolk Downs that morning. A recount for the host agreement in Palmer was completed Tuesday afternoon. Burns called the ability to get a new agreement done with Suffolk Downs a "miracle". He said it took them 11 months to get an agreement, but seemingly less than 24 hours to make an agreement in another community.

Brown said the next step was to complete a development plan to give to the gaming commission by the Dec. 31 deadline.

There is still 152 acres of land in Palmer that Mohegan Sun said they wanted to use for a non-gaming commercial venture since they wouldn't be building a casino there. Burns said he firmly believed Mohegan Sun was trying to block potential competitors by taking a prime piece of real estate.

Burns said he would welcome a development plan by Mohegan Sun, but it would have to be done quickly if they wanted any credibility with the community. He said it would take tens of millions of dollars just for infrastructure improvements on the property. Burns also stated the company can't just put a strip mall on the property. Any development would have to be sizeable. He said he would not be opposed to a plan by Mohegan Sun as long as the process was sincere and transparent. Any plan would still have to go through the planning and zoning approval process.


REPEAL THE CASINO DEAL may make ballot

Casino, gas tax increase repeals may make ballot

Football match-fixing: lack of commitment in fight against betting corruption

Football match-fixing: Government and FA critisised for a lack of commitment in fight against betting corruption

Former Fifa head of security Chris Eaton insists "it was only a matter of time" before a match-fixing investigation uncovered corruption in English football

Football match-fixing:
"Endemic": Chris Eaton believes it was inevitable that match-fixing would reach the English game Photo: THE TELEGRAPH
11:22AM GMT 28 Nov 2013
The Government and Football Association have come under fire over their commitment to tackling the threat of match-fixing after members of an alleged betting syndicate were arrested on suspicion of rigging games in the UK.
Ministers and FA officials were both accused of failing to do enough to combat one of sport’s biggest scourges in the wake of an investigation by The Telegraph that found fixers from Asia had targeted games across Britain.

A leading authority on the subject claimed those in power had been “complacent” about the prospect of fraudsters infiltrating the English game.

And the Government was also urged to use public money to fund the fight against match-fixing in the same way as it does the battle against drugs in sport, as well as regulating the gambling industry more tightly.

Those calls were led both by former Premier League and Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry – who chaired the Sports Betting Integrity Panel in 2010 which made similar recommendations – and representatives of the country’s biggest sporting governing bodies.
The Sports Betting Group includes figures from the FA, Premier League, Rugby Football Union, England and Wales Cricket Board and British Horseracing Authority.

It emerged on Friday that its chairman, Sport and Recreation Alliance chief executive Tim Lamb, had repeatedly lobbied Government for both funding and legislation to no avail.

With a new Gambling Bill currently going through parliament which should net additional £300m in tax revenue from bookmakers, Lamb believes ministers will soon have no excuse for dragging their heels.

“Sport is vulnerable and will continue to be vulnerable to match-fixing unless further action is taken by Government – both in changing the law and in providing greater funding and support,” he said.

“It confirms what we have been campaigning about for some time – that there is an urgent need for an appropriate, clear and comprehensive legal and regulatory framework to tackle the match-fixing problem.

“We raised this issue with the sports minister two weeks ago and whilst a bill is currently going through Parliament that will bring about some improvements, there is still much more to do.

“We have long held serious doubts about whether the police and Crown Prosecution Service have the appropriate legal and financial resources to deal with the match-fixing effectively. Confusion and inconsistencies in the legal and regulatory environment are hampering efforts to tackle this blight on sport.

“The positive thing is that there is still time to make changes and improvements to this law – but the government needs to act now.

“Resources and funding are also an issue. The fight against anti-doping currently receives around £6 million in public funding. The fight against match fixing gets nothing.”

Parry's efforts on this front three years ago witnessed the formation of the Gambling Commission's Sports Betting Intelligence Unit but it was given no public funding.

He said: “There is a great opportunity for government with the new bill that’s going through.
“If they allocated even one per cent of the likely tax revenues as a result of the new Gambling Bill, that could generate in the order of £3 million, which would go a huge way towards funding an absolutely state-of-the-art integrity unit to help the fight.

“If such a betting integrity unit was set up, it would help combat the kind of alleged fix uncovered by the Telegraph.

“Football in England is my no means immune, so it’s a salutary lesson and a wake-up call.”
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller said: “Match-fixing undermines the integrity of sport across the world and we will do all we can to help stamp it out.

“In Britain, we have one of the leading systems internationally to tackle this blight but we are not complacent.

“We will continue to work hard alongside the police, sports governing bodies, betting operators, the Gambling Commission and the Financial Conduct Authority.”

Parry also questioned how seriously the FA had taken previous allegations of match-fixing, particularly their response to suspicious betting patterns in non-league games earlier this year.

He said: “They should be addressing two questions: did they have the intelligence on irregular betting patterns on Conference South games? And, also, what did they do?

“Writing to the clubs, reminding them of their responsibilities is a 1920s FA response, isn’t it?
“If someone’s betting large amounts on a Hornchurch game, that’s a pretty clear suggestion something may be badly wrong.”

Former Fifa head of security Chris Eaton, now director of sport integrity at the International Centre for Sport Security, declared on Friday “it was only a matter of time before the English game was caught up in this global wave of match-fixing in football”.

This week’s arrests signal the first time in decades police have amassed sufficient evidence to hold those suspected of trying to fix a match in the UK, following a succession of similar scandals abroad.

Those included a recent case in Australia involving four British players, some of whom also played non-league football in England for clubs investigated by the FA over suspicious betting patterns in some of their matches.

Eaton said: “The arrests in Australia of English journeyman footballers several months ago was a recent wake-up call.

“But this new disclosure must be put in global context. Governments and football administrations must not react emotionally, but coolly and rationally.

“Everyone really knew that match fixing is endemic in football. And, in this case, there is nothing new in terms of the corrupting method, its internationality or in the core betting-fraud purpose.

“What is new is that it shocks a complacent England, the home of the game. That shock should be used to galvanise international efforts to regulate and supervise sport betting globally, which is the real motivation for modern match-fixing.”

Eaton has repeatedly called for a more global approach to match-fixing in sport, particularly regarding legislation to tackle unregulated and illegal betting markets.

“Strategically, governments must tackle the right enemy, betting fraud,” he added.

“Clearly, international sport, especially football, is in serious trouble with corruption of its competitions.”

Officers from Britain’s new National Crime Agency held six men in the past two days, including at least three footballers and Delroy Facey, a player-turned-agent who has played in the Premier League.

The former Bolton Wanderers striker told the Sun: “I went in for questioning. I was arrested.”

The matches targeted are understood to have been games in the Football Conference involving at least three clubs.

All of English football’s stakeholders are thought to have been informed of the arrests but Football Conference general manager Dennis Strudwick told The Telegraph on Friday morning: “I’ve not seen any clubs named, so I really do have nothing to say.”

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Reader stories of state-sponsored addiction

Oregon Lottery: Reader stories of state-sponsored addiction (day 4)

The Oregonian By The OregonianThe Oregonian
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on November 27, 2013

Selling addiction

The Oregonian invited readers to share Oregon Lottery experiences in a questionnaire. Because of the personal nature of comments, many asked that their names be withheld all or in part. Read more and share your story at We’ll offer more in the days ahead.

Julie Lechuga, 55, of Tigard:
Where (did) you typically play?
Since I don't drink, it was never bars. Mostly it was place like area Chinese restaurants, Shari's, Elmer’s, Dotty's, Foxy's, corner coffee/pastry places. Regardless of which locale, the atmosphere was generally the same -- secluded, somewhat dark, no clocks, no window viewing access. Ideally, each facility is designed in order for you to lose track of the amount of time you are busy gambling. Employees generally greet you very warmly, sort of like on the old Ted Danson series "Cheers," everyone knows your name. I believe this is designed to make it feel like you were a bunch of friends getting together and that the gambling is just a “side” factor in the get-together. EVERY facility has an ATM right there and, frequently, it's no more than 5 feet from the machines.
How much money [did] you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?
When I was actively gambling, it was not uncommon to get paid at lunch on payday and to have spent the whole check (almost $1,500) on line games by the end of the night. In hindsight, it's funny how I'd be unwilling to spend $40 on a desperately needed new pair of shoes but think nothing of putting $400 into a machine.
What do you enjoy about playing lottery games?
Ha! Nothing anymore. When actively gambling, it seemed like a sanctuary of sorts. A place to go and de-stress from work prior to heading home to any problems that might be going on there. The more interactive the game, the more it appealed to me. Video poker did nothing for me since that seemed like work when I was actually looking to "check out."
Have you ever lost more than you could afford?
I always lost more than I could afford. The $20 I intended on spending became $80, which quickly became $200 … Gambling losses resulted in my filing bankruptcy in March 2012 and in borrowing from almost anyone I could in order to pay enough of my bills to not lose my car or housing.
When you play, do you sometimes feel you have a problem stopping even though you know you should?
Yes, I did. My last date gambled was 3/15/13 and despite having been in gambling addictions treatment since October 2011, I now finally feel like I have a grip on the problem. There are a few things that would occur when I was gambling. Probably the most harmful is the distorted thinking. Money ceased being real. It became like play or Monopoly money, having little value. Of course, when I had put the paycheck into the bank, it held real value for me, but once I was in front of a machine, that changed and the money coming out of the ATM no longer seemed to have the same value coming out of the bank account as it did when it went in. I would sit down at a machine, notice the time counter at the bottom of the screen and if it read 6, I'd think, OK, I'm giving myself until 6:30 then I'm out of here. The next thing I knew it would be 9.
Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?
Yes. I started treatment at LifeWorks in Tigard in October 2011. This was mandated by my boss since I was not functioning well at work, would disappear for hours and had already borrowed and paid back almost $5,000 from him to get out of the first lottery hole I dug. Treatment consisted of, and continues to consist of, one-hour-long individual sessions with my gambling addictions counselor as well as two group therapy sessions each week. Learning the hows and whys of why certain people become addicted to gambling has been crucial to my recovery. It’s easy to understand why alcoholics and drug addicts have problems; they are putting drugs into their systems. It’s not so easy for people to understand how you can become addicted to something when you aren't adding chemicals. The trick with gambling, though, is that your brain is automatically adding the chemicals -- you don't have to.
Has your life been affected by problem gambling?
Yes. Work, family, friends have all been affected. As a “pathological gambler,” other things in my life seemed less important and got less of my attention than they should. Of course, my finances were destroyed. Ultimately, in October 2012, after having relapsed, my daughter staged the fastest intervention known to man. Basically, it was a, "You have three hours to get your (stuff) packed, you are coming up here (Silverdale, WA), and it's not open to argument." I've had to borrow money from my elderly parents twice. My daughter, son-in-law and three grandsons have moved to Whidbey Island, and my youngest (6-year-old) grandson was very worried about my recent trip to see them because of the number of casinos I would have to pass to get to where they live.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Those of us who are problem gamblers, have a gambling addiction, are pathological or compulsive gamblers or any other name you choose to give us are still valuable human beings and worthy of receiving help. People need to understand that treatment and support is also available for family or household members and that those programs are also FREE. The general population needs to understand about the addictive brain and learn how to recognize and help those with addiction problems.

55-year-old Damascus man:
Do you know other people who have a problem with gambling?
My soon-to-be ex-wife is a gambling addict. In about 2000, she gambled more than $100,000 away on video poker. In the last three years, she has stolen about $45,000 from our family and gambled it away. She has been through rehabilitation twice but is in total denial about the extent of her problem and shows no inclination to change her behavior. I have recently filed for divorce as I just can't do this anymore.
Do you think the benefits from Oregon Lottery revenues — to schools, parks and such — outweigh the harm caused by problem gambling?
I’m sure the revenues help, but to families like ours, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. This addiction has turned beautiful person into someone I don't even know.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Twenty-five years of marriage will end soon. I can't lay all the blame on video poker, and yet I wonder what life could have been like if we hadn't had the financial crisis, lies and dishonesty.

59-year-old Portland woman:
Have you ever lost more than you could afford?
All the time. I would go in whatever place with the intention of only playing $20 but had a few nice spins. Somehow I have a $40 balance, and I cash out intending to pocket my original $20. I go back and play with my winnings and am now losing. I put in my next $20 and lose that. I feel really down, so I go and pull money out of the ATM to see if I can win back my original $20 plus whatever I pulled out of the ATM. This was my cycle more often then not.
Has your life been affected by problem gambling?
At first it was exciting to win some more money than I bet. But to keep that “high” that you get from winning, I kept “finding” money either from my checking account, cash withdrawal from credit cards or money intended for house payments. Then it got to be that I needed more money to just pay bills. In my mind I usually tried to turn $300 to $900 for bills. Sometimes it worked, but then it didn't for many weeks, then it turned into months. Any extra money that came in from Christmas gifts or refunds was usually “gambling” money.
A few years ago, I told family members that I wasn't giving out new Christmas gifts and was shopping at thrift stores for gifts. And that they could do the same. That was because I didn't want to spend extra money on gifts that I knew they were not going to like. Then the last two years, I told them I was forgoing even giving gifts and they could do the same to me. All I thought about every single day was where could I get money for “playing.” In the end, I thought I was going to explode from the inside. I couldn't sleep. I was depressed. I was crying all the time. I was not enjoying it anymore but was on this merry-go-round of trying to win back the money I lost. I was not interested in any of my hobbies like gardening or sewing or even reading anymore.


Gambling Addict selling drugs to pay off loansharks


Michael Chopra's gambling debts at centre of drugs cash trial

A stash of alleged drugs money was in fact footballer Michael Chopra’s gambling debts, a court was told

Michael Chopra in action for Sunderland in 2007
Michael Chopra in action for Sunderland in 2007

A stash of alleged drugs money was in fact footballer Michael Chopra’s gambling debts, a court was told.

The former Newcastle United and Sunderland striker’s debts are at the centre of a trial of four men accused of running a cocaine cartel.

Prosecutors claim £50,000 found in a car was drugs cash but jurors at Newcastle Crown Court were today told it was money Chopra owed to underworld loan sharks.

And one of the accused's barristers claimed Chopra had only joined arch rivals Sunderland so he could put the signing-on fee towards his debts after spending millions on his addiction.

Richard Bloomfield told the court: “Michael Chopra had a gambling addiction and spent or wasted, you may think, an awful lot of money gambling.

“He would bet on anything and reached a stage where he was owing increasing amounts of money.

The amount he spent runs not into the thousands or hundreds of thousands but into the millions and he even owed money to team mates.”

Mr Bloomfield said there came a time when Chopra was unable to get credit from legal bookmakers and was offered money by loan sharks in Liverpool.

The barrister said: “Eventually they started putting the squeeze on to him and they contacted his football club.”

Unable to loan money from the bank, Chopra is then said to have borrowed money from shadowy figures in Glasgow.

One of the men on trial is John Somerville, who knew Chopra’s dad and agreed to help the footballer get the money to the men in Glasgow, Mr Bloomfield said.

When police stopped a car leaving Somerville’s Newcastle home, they found £50,000, which prosecutors say is linked to the alleged drugs gang.

But Mr Bloomfield said: “That money was nothing to do with drugs, it was Chopra’s from the loan sharks to pay off his illegal gambling debts.

“That’s what John Somerville was doing, not buying drugs, he was paying Michael Chopra’s gambling debts off.”

The barrister said Chopra then got himself in trouble with the Scottish money lenders, who contacted his then club, Ipswich.

They were put on to chairman Simon Clegg OBE, who helped organise the London Olympics and had a personal audience with the Pope.

He arranged for the club to loan Chopra £250,000 to pay off his debts, the court heard.

Mr Bloomfield said: “When loan sharks start turning up at the training ground it’s a big story.

“Michael Chopra would prefer to keep it under wraps but John Somerville is on trial for a serious offence and he has no alternative but to deal with it, so he will call Michael Chopra to give evidence.

“He will expose himself to the inevitable storm by coming to give evidence.”

He added: “For those of you who are Newcastle fans, when he moved from Cardiff to Sunderland he did so to pay off his creditors with the signing on fee.”

Somerville is alleged to have thrown £12,500 of cocaine out of his car window in Gateshead with police on his tail.

Months later police allegedly found a flat in Washington turned into a drugs factory.

Somerville, 53, of Sherringham Avenue, Kenton, Newcastle, Daniel Chisholm, 51, of Franklin Street, Sunderland, Joseph Lewins, 55, of Malvern Road, Lambton, Washington and Christopher Bacon, 33, of Ashwood Terrace, Sunderland, all deny conspiracy to supply cocaine.
The trial continues.


One state's addiction to Gambling Revenues

Ignoring the costs, too many states are taking the lazy way to revenue and ignoring the human toll.

Oregon Lottery: Lawmakers begin work on responsible-gambling plan

Oregon Lottery
In the far corner of Ace Tavern on Sandy Boulevard in Portland, framed posters advising customers on gambling addiction are sandwiched between the games and the ATM machine. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian)

Selling addiction

After coming under increasing pressure from state lawmakers, the Oregon Lottery has begun work on a formal responsible-gambling plan.

The bones of the plan, made public this year, add some initiatives to cut down on problem gambling and codify practices already in place.

Here are some of the highlights:

Over the next six months or so, the five-member Lottery Commission will adopt a responsible-gambling “code of practice” to guide its policies. The code will be widely distributed to the public and to lottery employees.

The plan calls for a “player management system,” that allows the lottery to more closely monitor behavior of those who gamble on video slot and poker machines.

Bars, restaurants and other outlets where games are available will be required to display materials that include the 877-MYLIMIT help line – which is current practice. The lottery also will maintain current bet limits, and continue to force cash-outs for any win above $1,250.

In the plan, the lottery makes a pledge to “take a systematic approach” to working with groups and agencies with a stake in responsible gambling, including the Oregon Health Authority, the
Legislature and the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling.

Jeff Marotta, a Portland-based problem-gambling consultant, commended the plan as “a significant step in the right direction.” But, in a memo to the Lottery Commission, he added, “This is not to say the plan is as good as it could be or that the plan will result in appreciable change.”

Among the problems he cites are the lack of any outside certification and no mention of designating a responsible gambling coordinator within the lottery.

The plan calls for extensive research into best practices and ways to use technology to encourage healthy gambling. But it doesn’t call for tracking or studying the amount of problem gambling on Oregon Lottery video machines.

That’s best left to organizations outside the lottery, says lottery Director Larry Niswender, who retires at the end of the month.

“We’ve been more focused on how do we fulfill the mission of the lottery in terms of offering games that they want and features they like,” he says. “I don’t know that it’s been the primary focus of our research to focus on problem gambling. But it certainly could be done by those in the intervention and treatment community, and we would support that.”

-- Harry Esteve


Guidelines needed on gambling addictions

Guidelines needed on gambling addictions

November 28, 2013

Tom McCarthy

Over the past two decades, the level of gambling activity in Victoria has experienced a sharp and sustained rise, largely due to a relaxing of the regulatory environment, and aided by advances in gambling technologies. Unsurprisingly, this rapid evolution continues to bring novel challenges for various facets of our community, not least our justice system.

More gambling is leading to more problem gambling and more problem gambling means more people are resorting to fraud and other theft crimes to facilitate addictions. Criminal courts are increasingly being called upon to adjudicate gambling-related incidents, using a legislative framework that hasn't been totally updated to deal with the new gambling landscape.

An inspection of the recent Victorian case law suggests that the courts are finding one task particularly troubling: deciding whether or not a gambling addiction (as a motivating factor for offending) warrants a more lenient sentence. Generally, the courts have shown a reluctance to acknowledge problem gambling as a cause for a reduction in sentencing. However, gambling addiction often exists in and may even be a manifestation of a matrix of personal hardship and/or mental illness - factors that are considered in sentencing.

To deal with this conundrum the courts appear to have created an exception to the general position, whereby a reduction in sentencing is permitted if the offender's gambling addiction is so intertwined with their existing mental illness that it is considered inseparable. Unfortunately, this approach requires a level of distinction that is highly subjective - an unenviable characteristic of any judicial exercise.

A comparative look at two recent cases - both of which involved millions of dollars of gambling-motivated fraud - demonstrates the contentious nature of the current approach. The judge in one case was willing to accept that the offender's gambling addiction was sufficiently tied up in her ''major depressive order'' to warrant a sentence reduction. While in the other case, the presiding judge refused to acknowledge any linkage between a comparable gambling addiction, and the offender's ''dissociative identity (mental) disorder''.

Despite the inherent difficulty, one can appreciate why the courts are engaging in this judicial contortion. To absolutely deny gambling addiction as a cause for leaner sentencing could see otherwise good people encounter the full wrath of the law. On the other hand, with problem gambling becoming so prominent, the last thing the courts want to do is appear weak on the issue by routinely allowing sentence reductions.

As it stands, the situation is untenable, and unfair on an ill-equipped judiciary.

The state government, as the main benefactor of the gambling industry (relying on it for approximately 12 per cent of its budgetary revenue), cannot shirk its responsibility to provide a legal and regulatory framework capable of dealing with gambling-related crime. It must resolve this problem by formulating an explicit guide to sentencing where gambling addiction is a factor. The government should also engage in a constructive conversation with the community to ascertain its position on the matter.

Tom McCarthy is a business adviser and former commercial lawyer.

Read more:

"It's just another Thursday"

Almost every function of government will come to a standstill tomorrow [Thanksgiving] as most Americans share Thanksgiving with their families and friends. But it will be business as usual for government's cheating and exploitation of citizens through its sponsorship of casinos and predatory state lotteries. It's just another Thursday. In fact, government-sponsored gambling has become such an important and essential function of the state that it runs every day of the year including all holidays.

When you celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, please include a remembrance and a prayer for the millions of citizens and their families whose lives have been deemed expendable by one of the most unethical public policies of our times.

It's not a matter of if this public policy will end but when. It's inevitable. But while it may be inevitable, it will require an enormous sacrifice of our time, sweat and resources to achieve the result. Please consider our mission as one of your priorities on #GivingTuesday and in the year ahead. Thank you.


Les Bernal

Executive Director

Bending the law.....

Fleecinos - leave no penny in the other guys pocket.
Repeal The Casino Deal - do unto others.

Mohegan Sun, Suffolk Downs partner on Mass. casino


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Senator Anthony Petruccelli's letter to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission

Steve Holt
As a reminder, here's Senator Anthony Petruccelli's letter to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission condemning Suffolk Downs' Revere-only plans. People may take issue with our opposition to these plans, but can they really take issue with a State Senator representing East Boston and part of Revere, who helped write the 2011 law, who formerly was one of the biggest supporters of a casino at Suffolk Downs?

[Begin Letter]

Dear Chairman Crosby and Commissioners:

On behalf of my constituents of the First Suffolk and Middlesex District, I write today to express my increasing concern over recent efforts by Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC (“Sterling Suffolk”) to proceed with the resort casino development originally proposed for the 161-acre land parcel at Suffolk Downs in East Boston (the “Project”). In a letter to the Commission, dated November 13, 2013, Sterling Suffolk expressed their intentions to move forward with the Project despite the unsuccessful ballot question in East Boston. Indeed, Sterling Suffolk has proposed to modify the Project’s development plan so that it fits entirely within the 52-acre Revere parcel at Suffolk Downs. To do so, in my opinion, undermines the spirit and intent of the Commonwealth’s Expanded
Gaming Act of 2011 (the “Gaming Act”).

When the State Legislature crafted and passed the Gaming Act, my colleagues and I carefully drafted provisions pertaining to host community agreements and the conduct of an election. M.G.L. c.23K, §15 specifically requires an applicant, as a prerequisite to filing an RFA-2 application (“Phase 2”), to receive a certified and binding vote on a ballot question at an election in the host community. (See also 205 CMR 124.00.) Also, where a proposed gaming establishment is situated in more than one community, as is the case with the Project:

The applicant shall execute an agreement with each host community, or a joint agreement with both communities, and receive a certified and binding vote on a ballot question at an election held in each host community in favor of such a license. M.G.L. c.23K, § 15(13).

Taken together, the intent of these provisions is clear. Only favorable referendum results in both host communities allow the applicant to proceed to Phase 2. That did not happen with Sterling Suffolk’s Project. Because one host community voted in the negative, the Project proposed for Suffolk Downs is dead. If Sterling Suffolk wishes to proceed with an alternative development plan on the Revere parcel, then under the terms of the Gaming Act:

[They] shall not submit a new request to the governing body within 180 days of the last election; and provided further, that a new request shall be accompanied by an agreement between the applicant and host community signed after the previous election. M.G.L. c.23K, § 15(13).

However, in their November 13th letter to the Commission, Sterling Suffolk asserted that, regardless of the November 5th election results, Revere’s host community agreement remains in effect and need only be modified to reflect a shift to Suffolk Down’s Revere parcel. Sterling Suffolk does not interpret the referendums to have been votes about the Project (and host community agreements) itself; rather they view the referendums as votes on whether Suffolk Down could be developed for a casino at all.

While it is true that Revere and East Boston voted on land use, it is also unquestionable that the host community agreements were essential to the voting process. All ballots required, and did in fact contain, “a fair, concise summary of the host community agreement.” 205 CMR 124.05. My colleagues and I in the Legislature recognized
that it was imperative to ensure that Massachusetts residents in an impacted community have adequate notice of, and be well-informed about, any casino proposal prior to voting. Accordingly, the Gaming Act specifically requires a host community agreement to be made public, and that host and surrounding communities have ample opportunity to weigh the potential impacts on local businesses, traffic, jobs, as well as public safety.

Furthermore, it is false to argue that an alternative development plan on the Revere parcel is anything but a new proposal, which would require a new host community agreement and referendum under the provisions of M.G.L. c.23K, § 15(13). Any proposed project development on the Revere parcel would undoubtedly look very different from that which voters reviewed prior to November 5th. Buildings and parking lots would need to be relocated, not to mention the racetrack and stables. Such changes materially alter the Project as it was initially proposed. In effect, this undermine the Gaming Act’s requirements for transparency and notice that ensure members of the impacted communities, including myself, have adequate time to weigh the merits of a proposal.

I understand why Sterling Suffolk wishes to pursue an alternative development plan on the Revere parcel. As an organization, they’ve invested a great deal of time, effort, and money to see the Suffolk Downs Project to fruition. I, too, was disappointed that the Project failed to receive the two affirmative referendum results needed to proceed to Phase 2. I believed, and still believe, that a casino has great potential to rejuvenate communities within my District. Nevertheless, the Commission cannot allow a gaming applicant to circumvent the process required by the Gaming Act merely because the results were disappointing.

I appreciate the opportunity to state my position to the Commission, and request the Commission’s clarification on the status of Sterling Suffolk’s application. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at my office.


State Senator
First Suffolk and Middlesex District