Meetings & Information


Friday, January 31, 2014

“It’s about whether the people will get to vote.”

As more communities have educated themselves about the consequences of Predatory Gambling, more communities have DEFEATED the effort.

Casino foes line up new legal team for repeal push

Miami Is Not the Next Las Vegas

Miami Is Not the Next Las Vegas
Posted: 01/28/2014

It started in 2010 when debating digital billboards. Locals thought the advertisements would corrupt the natural landscape. Opponents further argued digital billboards would give the city a Las Vegas type of image and a majority of Miamians didn't want that.
Miami now has digital billboards. No biggie.
Not the end of the world.
Then in 2011, the Genting Group announce plans to build the world's largest casino right smack dab in the middle of our emerging city corridor. Their plans were denied, but as reported recently, they seem hell-bent on building a casino downtown.
Today, the mega club E11even is opening very soon, bringing to Downtown Miami the first ever 24-hour day/night club. Taking advantage of a 24-hour liquor license, the owners spent $40 million building a club that is part LIV, part Cirque De Soleil, and all flash.
The mega-club will cater to high end patrons and also feature a strip club.
Miami is the first city the owners have chosen for E11ven.
When asked why Miami, the owner replied: "We see South Florida as the new Las Vegas. Only
better, because there's the beach."
There seems to be this contingent of people and investors (never from Miami) who think Miami is the next Las Vegas. Breaking News: Miami is not and never will be Las Vegas.
Who here wants that?
Let's hope the new club succeeds. They're creating jobs. It could benefit the area. But if they do succeed, it won't be due to locals. Maybe tourists -- but not locals. No one from Miami wants to pay $20-$40 to enter a club. No local wants to pay South Beach prices for drinks.
Miami people like their drinks and music free or cheap.
People who think Miami is the next Las Vegas, or Miami is simply South Beach, don't understand Miami. We are a multicultural, diverse smorgasbord of immigrant culture and transplants. Most of Miami is way more impoverished than flashy or entitled.
Despite our income inequality, we're still growing as a city.
People who think Downtown Miami wants gambling or flashy strip clubs are completely oblivious as to what is transpiring in the area. More and more artists have relocated Downtown, including Cannonball, the Young Arts, Bas Fisher, Dimensions Variable, Primary Projects and so many more. Not to mention the Perez Art Museum. The Science Museum. The Arsht Center. The Ziff Ballet. The Knight Foundation. Miami is evolving. I can't say this enough: we are going through a cultural renaissance. And this culture doesn't include gambling or high end strip clubs. Go to the Magic City Casino. It's depressing.
You want Las Vegas, go to Las Vegas.
We need to grow from within.
We need to develop and foster more emerging industries, like technology -- moving forward, Miami needs to create new jobs, rather than just feed its tourism and hospitality industries.

Casino vote big win for democracy

Casino vote big win for democracy

Newspapers comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, according to Finley Peter Dunne’s fictional bartender Mr. Dooley.
Except when it comes to the unfashionable, like those pesky signature gatherers who stand outside strip malls in the rain, sleet and snow trying to make democracy more small “d” democratic.
Going back to Howard Jarvis’ property tax-cutting Proposition 13 in 1978, the press has portrayed people who dare to try their hands at direct democracy as tacky, uncouth, unwashed.
The irony is that initiative petitions — by which ordinary citizens propose laws and constitutional amendments for consideration by voters without going through the legislature — are a product of the Progressive Era. Yet “progressive” reporters typically take the side of the status quo against them.
As is the case in Massachusetts, where by some sleight of hand the corporate Goliaths pushing gambling have been cast as the good guys, while the Davids trying to repeal the 2011 law that authorized a gaming commission to issue casino licenses are the bad guys.
The right to petition government is part of the First Amendment, the one the media depends on for its livelihood. You would think they’d at least be impartial, if not sympathetic to the plight of petitioners.
But no. Down on Morrissey Boulevard the Globe put the efforts of gambling interests on Page 1, above the fold, Monday and portrayed their efforts to keep the people from voting on repeal of the 2011 gaming law as some sort of noble crusade.
There is “growing concern” among casino operators, says the Globe. There would be “risks” for the state in accepting their nonrefundable fees. There is a “cloud of uncertainty” over “the state’s casino industry” — which doesn’t even exist yet.
Talk about misplaced sympathies.
Even if casino opponents win the court case for the right to put repeal on the ballot, the other side will get a chance to persuade the voters that gambling makes sense statewide. That’s exactly what the original progressives had in mind when they first proposed initiative petitions as a way to counter the power big businesses had over state legislatures. Take it to the people, and let them decide.
Gambling is the ultimate NIMBY — not in my backyard — issue. Those who support casinos in general become opposed when asked how they would feel about high-rollers coming into their own community, or one next to it. Unfortunately, abutters don’t get to vote in neighboring towns’ referendums.
But everyone would get a vote if casino opponents are allowed to put the question on the ballot.
That would be the progressive thing to do.
Cornelius Chapman is a freelance writer and the author of the proposed casino repeal bill.


Degradation, Not Jobs!

Column: Casinos and slot barns bring degradation, not jobs

During my 20 years in the Massachusetts House and Senate, I listened to hundreds of hours of testimony on casinos in public hearings. I met with dozens of slot experts, both pro and con, from all over America, and I read numerous books about the gambling industry including “High Stakes: the Rising Cost of America’s Gambling Addiction” by Sam Skolnik and MIT Professor Dr. Natasha Schull’s new book, “Addiction by Design.”

I have no built-in moral bias against gambling per se. I do, however, have a built-in bias against rip-offs, and today’s gambling industry is one of the biggest rip-offs in American history. Slots are designed to make a few wealthy men even wealthier by emptying the pockets of lower income, elderly and addicted citizens.

Today, our own wonderful corner of world, the Merrimack Valley, has been thrust into this debate because of Penn National’s slot barn proposal in Tewksbury. Penn will spend millions to convince you that this is a good idea for Tewksbury and the region. I have heard it all before, and I assure you that it is not economic development. Rather it is economic and social degradation.

Casinos, and especially slot barns, degrade the local and regional economy. They do not enhance it. When local people pour their dollars down the slots they are not supporting existing or new businesses that depend on discretionary income. For Tewksbury to get its magic money, local citizens must gamble and lose hundreds of millions of dollars. Aside from the very short-term construction jobs, the actual number of jobs is always over estimated, and the wages are pathetic.

Gambling companies claim to help problem gamblers. To the contrary, they do everything possible to keep them gambling as long and as fast as possible. The industry has fought every proposal across America to minimize addiction, whether limits on ATM withdrawals or limits on free booze. Slot barns do not make money from the casual gambler who cuts his or her losses at $50. Their profits come from those who can’t stop. This is their business model, not subject to change.

Make no mistake, these facilities are not merely looking to attract current gamblers away from Connecticut. They are looking for a whole new group of slot players — your neighbors — who start out visiting once a month, and end up visiting several nights a week because they are so close to home.

Whatever deal is on the table today will change tomorrow. Casinos all over the Northeast are already heavily in debt. When the absurd market saturation begins in Massachusetts, estimated profits will head down hill and so will the promised revenue and jobs.

If children’s jewelry and toys arrive from overseas with lead content, our government bans them because of potential harm to our children. We have dozens of agencies and private organizations designed to protect consumers from harmful products.

Now, we have a product which everyone agrees will harm thousands of our neighbors, destroy families, and cause significant more theft, embezzlement and DUIs. This product is called the modern slot machine, designed with algorithms to give potential addicts the illusion of winning. Instead of controlling it, state and local governments have partnered with it and promoted it in their own delusion of “free money.” What other industry offers mitigation money as an up-front admission that it will cause problems in the community?

Every resident of Tewksbury and this region has a stake in this issue. Many communities have “just said no” because they learned quickly that the costs far outweigh the benefits. One such community, Foxboro, did considerable research and made a film titled “Preserving the Character of Foxboro.” It is worth 20 minutes of your time to Google this video and watch it on YouTube. My hope is that Tewksbury, like Foxboro and so many other communities, will look beyond the hype and smell this big rat for what it is.

Sue Tucker, a former Democratic state senator, writes from Andover.


Mass. gambling chief asks court to dismiss lawsuit

Mass. gambling chief asks court to dismiss lawsuit

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ex Delco councilman charged with alleged $3M theft

Massachusetts ‘GAMING’ Future

More proof that casinos ‘BREED’ compulsive gambling degenerates who end up criminals.

CBS Philly - January 29, 2014- Local Delco Politician Charged With Scamming His Employer For Millions...

COLLINGDALE, Pa. (CBS) — Authorities in Delaware County, Pa. have charged a Collingdale man — a former borough councilman for nearly 20 years — with embezzling nearly $3 million from his former employer over more than a decade.

James Bryan resigned from the Collingdale Council last October amid word that he was the focus of an ongoing investigation.

The 45-year-old man is now charged with theft and related offenses, accused of orchestrating an elaborate scheme to steal from Wescott Electric, in Aston, Pa., where he was a project manager.

Delaware County DA Jack Whelan says Bryan would cash checks that were generated for fraudulent invoices and buy copper wire for the company which he would scrap for cash.

“He’s got a severe gambling problem, and that’s what he’s admitted to,” Whelan says. “He would spend a lot of time at Harrah’s Chester, but also would be involved in sports betting and even purchasing excessive amounts of lottery tickets.”

Whelan calls Bryan’s actions a breach of trust and a crushing blow to a vibrant Delaware County company looking to expand and grow.

Bryan worked for Wescott for 26 years.

Steve Wynn OWNS You!

Those dastardly 'OPPONENTS' explained when Beacon Hill refused to conduct an INDEPENDENT COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS that once legalized, the Predatory Gambling Industry OWNS YOU!

Thank Steve Wynn's Arrogance and Ego for proving the OPPONENTS were right!

Steve Wynn is dictating TERMS!

REPEAL THE CASINO DEAL is the only sensible solution.

Please consider joining and supporting a grassroots movement to oppose Predatory Gambling!

Steve Wynn wants Wampanoags’ deal

Seeks to slice almost a third from casino tax

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Vegas mogul Steve Wynn — still in competition for the sole Boston-area casino license — is already angling for a tax cut, telling the Gaming Commission in a memo obtained by the Herald he wants the 25 percent state tax on gambling revenue reduced by nearly a third to the rate the Wampanoags negotiated for their proposed casino.

The proposed change in the gambling law could cost the state more than $160 million a year — money the casinos would keep instead. A Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce estimate, frequently cited by state officials and casino developers, predicted at least $500 million a year in revenues on a 25 percent tax from three casinos statewide.

“A Wampanoag casino in Taunton would be a mere 40 miles from our proposed investment in Everett and a real alternative for our patrons,” the Wynn memo reads. “All (resort casinos) should operate pursuant to the same economic terms with the same tax applied to all operators of the same type of facility.”

The tax cut is one of a dozen wished-for changes in Wynn’s memo, which cites the deal Gov. Deval Patrick recently struck with the Mashpee Wampanoags — now seeking federal approval to build a resort casino in Taunton — that calls for the tribe to pay a maximum 17 percent tax. A Wynn spokesman declined to elaborate on the request, saying, “I think it stands for itself.”

Wynn has met privately with top Beacon Hill legislators such as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Brian Dempsey to push changes in the casino law that he and state officials have refused to specify. Dempsey did not return calls for comment yesterday. House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo told the Herald last month he’s “not inclined to make any changes” to the 2011 casino law.
Gaming Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said the board — which will decide if Wynn gets a license over Mohegan Sun’s Suffolk Downs plan — has not taken a position.

“The commission is still in the very beginning stages of their evaluation process and haven’t had a chance to assess every aspect of the applications yet,” Driscoll said.

The commission is putting its weight behind some proposed changes, however, voting yesterday to endorse changing a requirement that players pay a 5 percent withholding tax on any winning over $600. The commission is backing IRS guidelines, which set a $1,200 tax reporting threshold and allow players to deduct losses from their reported winnings. This is among Wynn’s proposals, but commission chairman Stephen Crosby said the board’s position is “certainly not for Steve Wynn.”

“Lots of people have written to us and just spoken to us and said this is just out of whack,” Crosby said.

Wynn’s memo also seeks to relieve casinos of having to provide on-site day care for employees’ children and treatment for substance abuse and compulsive gambling; and determining whether prizewinners owe past-due child support or taxes.

Mohegan Sun ignores Gambling Market Saturation!

Mohegan Sun casino posts two-thirds 1Q profit drop

Kentucky Baptist Convention airing radio ad opposed to expanded gambling

Kentucky Baptist Convention airing radio ad opposed to expanded gambling

FRANKFORT, Kentucky — A Kentucky Baptist leader warns that casinos would "prey on the most vulnerable" as his organization launched a radio ad aimed at stirring grassroots opposition to expanded gambling.

The ad, featuring the Kentucky Baptist Convention's executive director, comes as expanded gambling supporters push a proposed ballot measure that would let Kentucky voters decide whether to legalize casinos.

"I'm a hunter, but Kentucky lawmakers should not be issuing 'hunting licenses' that allow casino operators to prey on the most vulnerable among us," the KBC leader, Paul Chitwood, said in the ad.

The 60-second spot will air on several Christian radio stations for a week, starting Wednesday, according to the state Baptist Convention, which has 750,000 members. The KBC called it a modest ad buy.

Chitwood urges listeners to press their lawmakers to oppose expanded gambling.

It's part of the group's two-fold campaign against casinos. Chitwood also is featured in a video being sent to churches across the state. In the video, he warns that "where gambling is legalized, misery follows."

He said it's the first time he's known the KBC to use an ad to spread its word against expanded gambling.

"This issue keeps coming up year after year, and it's time that the Christian majority in this state rises up and says 'enough is enough,'" Chitwood said.

Kentucky has a long history of wagering on horses but the Bible-belt state has resisted casinos.

Supporters of legalizing casinos point to expanded gambling as the best option to generate new revenues needed to meet the state's funding needs.

A House committee held two hearings on the issue this month but hasn't voted on gambling proposals.

House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, is sponsoring two casino-related measures.

One is a proposed constitutional amendment that would let voters decide if they want to make casinos legal. A companion bill specifies how many casinos would be allowed, how the industry would be regulated and how the state's share of revenue would be distributed.

Clark's plan would allow up to eight casinos statewide, including five run by racetracks.

He says the state would eventually take in an estimated $286 million in yearly casino-related tax revenues. Under his plan, half the amount would go to education. Licensing fees granted to casino operators would generate at least $50 million more for the state for each casino at the outset.

Supporters say Kentuckians are flocking to neighboring states to gamble at casinos near the border, generating tax revenue for those states that could stay in the Bluegrass state.

In the Senate, the effort to legalize casinos is led by Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Dan Seum, R-Louisville.

The push for casino gambling comes after years of lean budgets in Kentucky. The state endured about $1.6 billion in state spending cuts the past six years as tax collections plunged amid the recession.

Gov. Steve Beshear recommended $98.6 million in additional spending cuts in the two-year state budget proposal he presented to lawmakers last week. The cuts are aimed at freeing up more money for schools.

Beshear campaigned in support of expanded gambling as a revenue producer, but he's been unable to get a gambling measure through the General Assembly.

In the radio ad, Chitwood takes aim at what he calls the "small group" of politicians promising that expanded gambling will provide an "economic boon."

"And it will be — to the casino operators eager to cash in on the misery of our fellow Kentuckians," he said.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sex trafficking of minors at Foxwoods

Increase in sex trafficking of minors getting local, state attention
By Karen FlorinPublication: The Day
Published 01/28/2014
Department of Children and Families to hold forum Wednesday on problem
Human trafficking sounds like a crime that takes place in a big city or exotic country, but police and child welfare experts say it occurs right here in Connecticut in increasing numbers.

In December, the state police Casino Licensing & Operations Unit charged a 24-year-old Providence woman with bringing a 16-year-old girl to the Two Trees Inn on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation for a prearranged sexual encounter. Kaieema E. Gadson, charged with trafficking in persons and promoting prostitution, posted a $5,000 bond and is due back in court on Feb. 4.

The case reached the major crimes docket in New London Superior Court around the same time the state Department of Children and Families announced a forum to raise awareness about domestic minor sex trafficking in Connecticut. On Wednesday, more than 200 people, including judges, law enforcement officers, medical providers, hospital administrators and school officials are expected to attend the day-long forum at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.

During the past few years, 130 girls and boys in Connecticut have been identified as child sex slaves, according to DCF, and the agency has recently experienced a substantial increase in reports of suspected or actual human trafficking of children. At the forum, state and national experts will discuss the scope of the crime as well as legal and forensic treatment issues and how the state is working to combat what the agency describes as "the egregious victimization of children."

Gov. Dannel Malloy and DCF Commissioner Joette Katz are scheduled to speak, and key supporters of the event include the Judicial Branch, the Office of the Chief State's Attorney, the Mohegan Tribe and the Department of Consumer Protection.

A preliminary police report in the Mashantucket human trafficking case does not identify the relationship between Gadson and the teen-age victim, who was detained at the scene and taken to a hospital for a medical evaluation. But according to the DCF, traffickers often are friends or family members who employ a number of techniques, including physical and emotional abuse, to keep their victim in bondage.

In December, a joint task force of local, state and federal law enforcement agents conducted an investigation into prostitution at Foxwoods Resort Casino after receiving information about the pervasive use of online sites such as to arrange paid sexual encounters. Participating agencies included the state police, Department of Homeland Security, FBI and Mashantucket Tribal Police Department.

On Dec. 19, agents identified "several individuals knowingly engaged in prostitution," at Two Trees, which is a tribe-owned hotel located near Foxwoods Resort Casino on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation. Gadson, who had been previously targeted for trafficking minor females and promoting prostitution, was arrested for delivering the teen-age girl to a prearranged locations "with intentions of waiting for the individual to fulfill a sexual encounter for a fee," according to the report.

Gadson, who was arrested without incident, had only been charged with motor vehicle offenses in the past, but could face additional charges. State police said they are preparing an arrest warrant application based on a previous sex trafficking/prostitution incident involving a minor.


Mayor Of Saratoga Springs Addresses Division On Casino Issue

Mayor Of Saratoga Springs Addresses Division On Casino Issue In First State Of The City Speech

In her first state of the city address last night, Saratoga Springs mayor Joanne Yepsen worked to bring divided parties together. The coming year will prove whether she succeeds.

Joanne Yepsen’s first State of the City address was delivered in a packed Saratoga Springs City Center. But two distinct colors stood out in the crowd, red and white – the colors associated with the opponents and supporters of expanding casino gambling in Saratoga Springs.
Credit Lucas Willard / WAMC
Mayor Joanne Yepsen

With the Saratoga Casino and Raceway pursuing a $30 million expansion and intending to apply for a full-sized casino license, a state-appointed casino siting panel still in formation, and a casino project RFP still to come, Yepsen acknowledged the need for more discussion between Albany and the casino industry in Saratoga Springs to determine how the impending arrival of a casino project in the Capital Region can best be handled to mitigate negative impacts.

“But until then, I remain very concerned about this issue, and I will continue to listen to all our citizens," said Yepsen. "But even though Albany and the Governor’s siting panel have the final determination, we can still try – we will do everything in our local power – to have our voices heard.”

Yepsen, a Democrat who won office in November, urged both Saratoga casino supporters and opponents to come together.

“But being this divisive and disingenuous will get us know where. And I implore all of you to talk to each other tonight in different colored shirts and find common ground, and think about how we can maximize the precious little input that we do have," said Yepsen.

Yepsen reaffirmed her stance against a Las Vegas-style casino, and said she seeks a solution that says “No” to an event space that could harm the City Center, to a ”colossal casino hotel” that could draw business from local hotels, or an “untold number” of restaurants and retail businesses that would harm downtown. She also said she supports a plan that benefits the city’s finances, supports jobs, and benefits harness racing.

Yepsen said she has asked horse trainers, breeders and riders to serve on a new City Racing Advisory Council to determine the effects of the state gaming law on the city’s horse racing industry.

Republican State Senator Kathy Marchione praised Yepsen’s desire to bring a divided community together on casino gambling, and reflected on Yepsen’s push for more community involvement in the siting process.

“I believe local zoning should be able to have a say,” said Marchione. “It’s our city and it’s difficult in situations like this. I know in school districts for example, it works the very same way – there isn’t local control and there should be.”

Marchione, who represents Rensselaer, and Saratoga Counties, both of which could be considered for casino development, said she will wait for the RFP before voicing her support for any particular project or location.

Dan Hogan, co-chair of the pro-casino Destination Saratoga group - the portion of the crowd wearing the white t-shirts - said he was pleased to see the new mayor welcome more conversation.

“I think the mayor is keeping an open mind about gaming in this city and I think that in and of itself is a victory for us,” said Hogan.

After her speech, Yepsen said her style of government will take a more collaborative approach.

“I was sure that even in this commission form of government we can build a collaborative government and we’re doing just that,” said Yepsen. “We can utilize the staff in city hall to be more effective and to feel even prouder about whay they’re doing. We can include local residents into boards and committees and initiatives and to make them feel proud about they’re doing to advance these initiatives in the city.”

Yepsen also announced the formation of a Business Advisory Council, and outlined an agenda on issues of open government, sustainability and comprehensive planning, and constituency service.


Bishop Confronts Casinos

Bishop Confronts Casinos
  • Thursday, January 23, 2014
By J. Scott Jackson

Bishop Douglas Fisher did not seek his role as an anti-casino spokesman, but that has not made the Bishop of Western Massachusetts timid in challenging gaming interests that want to build casinos in his hometown of Springfield. One such proposal, under review by the state gaming commission, would license MGM Resorts International to build an $800 million resort casino in the heart of downtown Springfield, about six blocks from Christ Church Cathedral and the diocesan offices. “We like to think we choose mission. We pray and then decide to act for a certain cause or group of people,” Fisher said via email. “But I think mission chooses us. It sucks us in.”

Fisher was ordained and consecrated as bishop in the fall of 2012. By the following summer, he and others from the diocese had joined ecumenical partners and other volunteers in the fight to defeat the MGM proposal in a city referendum. The proposal, strongly backed by Mayor Dominic Sarno and the city council, was approved by 58 percent of voters in the July plebiscite. Casino supporters hope the development will revitalize the economy and infrastructure of the struggling city of 150,000 that borders the Connecticut River.

Fisher entered the fray — speaking at an anti-casino rally at the cathedral, giving press interviews, and writing blog posts — bolstered by an anti-gaming resolution that had passed unanimously at diocesan convention. After losing the vote in Springfield, anti-gambling activists turned their focus toward a state ballot initiative to keep casinos and slot parlors out of Massachusetts completely.

Though the attorney general has challenged the legality of the repeal proposal, activists gathered the necessary 69,000 signatures for the ballot initiative and await a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on whether the repeal vote can proceed.

Fisher gave his blessing for Steven Abdow, diocesan treasurer and administrator for missions resources, to dedicate time to the statewide repeal campaign. On the political front, gaming opponents have been heartened by crucial public votes that defeated other proposed casino developments in Western Massachusetts, in the Worcester metro area, and, to the surprise of many observers, in East Boston.

Fisher told TLC that feedback about his anti-gaming work has been mostly supportive across the diocese, and some of his colleagues in the House of Bishops have thanked him for raising the profile of the gaming issue.

“Some have told me I am being divisive and should focus on inviting people to the love of Jesus and the power of the Spirit in their lives,” Fisher said. “I feel badly for those rectors that have received negative reactions from parishioners for what I have said. But social justice is constitutive of the gospel, as our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters declared in Vatican II.”

Fisher said he refrains from issuing dogmatic pronouncements about what God demands but instead immerses himself in details of an issue. Most of his statements on gaming reiterate a central message:

“Jesus came to preach good news to the poor. Casinos are bad news for the poor. We follow Jesus.”
Since the 1990s, 23 states have welcomed casino gaming in a bid for economic renewal. The Council on Casinos, an independent consortium of 50 academic and civic leaders, has gathered research from health and social sciences that paints a grim picture (see In contrast with the days when people of means would travel to Las Vegas or Atlantic City for recreational gaming, customers are likely to be local and gamble frequently. The newer facilities use high-tech slot machines designed to drive customers to “play to extinction.” Nearly half of revenues come from problem gamblers. Casino workers are poorly paid and often in cash, making gambling their earnings all the easier. Meanwhile, casinos tend to divert revenue from other local businesses, sucking communities dry. Yet state and local governments court gaming companies that promise solutions to dwindling tax revenues. Some governments must bail out failing facilities.

The Rev. Peter Swarr, rector of St. Mark’s Church in East Longmeadow, a suburb of Springfield, recalls one evening years ago in Portland, Maine, when his roommate came home and announced he was quitting his job at Scarborough Downs racetrack because he could no longer stand to take money from customers gambling away their Social Security checks. Swarr also recalls one New Year’s Eve, while he was serving as a priest’s associate in suburban Detroit, when he joined several friends downtown for dinner, only to find a once bustling Greek neighborhood virtually deserted. A nearby casino, however, was packed. When the issue came up in western Massachusetts, Swarr was ready to act and helped draft the diocese’s anti-casino resolution.

Fisher and Abdow worked with the Rev. Christopher Carlisle, retired chaplain and missioner for higher education in Western Massachusetts, to write an essay, “Theology and Casino Gambling” (see “It should be startling to Christians that the darkest moment of all time should begin with an act of gambling,” they wrote. “Roman soldiers — responsible for [Jesus’] death — are described by the gospel writers as gambling for the paltry possessions of a man who literally gave his life for the poor.”

Lani Bortfeld, who has lived in Springfield for 28 years, felt called to pray against the casino. She was discouraged, initially, at the lack of a concrete and decisive response in the ecumenical community. “It was eerie how few voices were raised against the casino; I felt like a conspiracy of silence enveloped the community,” she said. Although casino proponents won the plebiscite, she takes heart that a prayerful response did coalesce eventually, in the form of a rally one week before the vote.

The blight of casino gaming, Bishop Fisher has said, is not merely a local issue. “If you are in a state considering casinos, the mission is choosing you,” he said. “Don’t let another neighborhood get trashed. Don’t stand by while the poor are driven further into poverty by an illusion. Don’t promote addictions that destroy lives.”

J. Scott Jackson is a writer and independent scholar who lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

WHY CASINOS MATTER from Council on Casinos

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Flanagan Does It Again!

Mayor Flanagan genuflected before the Predatory Gambling Industry last time around and now can't wait to do the same with developers [the Foxwoods/Nunes Duo] that lied to Milford residents who had the sense to inform themselves and toss them out.

Once again, the LOW WAGE JOB projections are OVERSTATED, Foxwoods is laying off in Connecticut because of declining revenues and Gambling Market Saturation.

Predatory Gambling has NEVER been economic development - Atlantic City is the poster child for all that is wrong with Predatory Gambling!

How do you negotiate without a SITE?

Check out FACTS posted here:

Casino Free Milford

Flanagan: Deal between Fall River, Foxwoods to be announced Tuesday

Mayor Will Flanagan said casino developer would invest $750 million in the project that would include a 140,000 square foot gaming floor and amenities

Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Jan. 27, 2014 @ 2:03 pm
FALL RIVER — Foxwoods Casino and the investment group Crossroads Massachusetts LLC are looking to build a destination resort casino in the city after a failed attempt in Milford, Mayor Will Flanagan said today.

"We are ready to go," said Flanagan, "we just need a site."

Flanagan said the casino developers would invest $750 million in the project that would include a 140,000 square foot gaming floor, approximately 20 restaurants, a 350-room hotel, a "name brand" shopping mall, an entertainment arena, a convention center and spa.

In November, Milford voters soundly voted against plans to build a $1 billion resort casino. Flanagan said the day after the vote, he received a call from David Nunes, the chief operating officer of Foxwoods Massachusetts.

"He said I want to come to Fall River," Flanagan said, " I said okay, let's talk about the city."

Subsequent to that call, Flanagan and members of his administration met with Nunes and Foxwoods Casino CEO Scott Butera, he said. At the meeting they agreed to move forward with plans to locate a smaller scale casino and look at possible sites in the city.

Flanagan will officially announce Foxwoods interest in building in the city during a press conference with Butera and Nunes tomorrow. The casino developers have looked at several sites in the city already, Flanagan said, that could possibly sustain the development that requires 30 to 70 acres, although no location has been identified.

Flanagan and the Foxwoods officials will also announce the formation of a site selection committee with appointees being Robert Mellion, president of the Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Ken Fiola, vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development; John Sbrega, president of Bristol Community College; Joseph Camara, City Council president; Joseph Vienna, director of the Fall River Career Center; and Carl Garcia, chairman of the Workforce Investment Board and owner of Carl's Collision Center.

"Our goal is to have a site under agreement in the very near future," Flanagan said.

Flanagan said for him, bringing a casino to the city "is about LOW WAGE job creation," although he declined to immediately release the number of jobs that would be generated with the construction of the resort casino.

"My mission is that all jobs be Fall River preference and priority, so all city residents have first access at these jobs," Flanagan said.

Flanagan said he has two sites in mind at this time, one on the waterfront and one that is not, although no offers have been made on the properties.

Once Foxwoods secures a site for a casino, Flanagan said the issue will go to the voters as a ballot question, which he predicted will get overwhelming support. He wants it to go before the voters as soon as possible.

See more at:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Open Mouth, Insert Foot!

Gaming panel chief confident in odds

Stephen Crosby unfazed by lawsuit, criticism


Photo by:

John Wilcox
STANDING PAT: Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen P. Crosby, right, admits it was a mistake to not disclose his ties to someone connected to the Wynn Resorts casino bid but contends his office is an open book.


Gaming board boss Stephen P. Crosby is on the firing line facing a lawsuit and big decisions to make on who is awarded coveted casino licenses, but he’s embracing his high-stakes post with humor by wearing dice for cufflinks and hanging fuzzy pink dice on the rearview mirror of his BMW.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Herald yesterday, the chairman of the state Gaming Commission said he’s all in.
“These are issues that split people down the middle,” Crosby said about casinos. “People are passionate. Some people think gambling is really cool, and some people think it’s malevolent and a sin.”
But he said “the upside” is the jobs and revenue 
casinos will bring to the Bay State.
Crosby said the attorney general’s office is representing him in a lawsuit brought by Caesars Entertainment — which was dropped from the process to build a gaming parlor at Suffolk Downs amid concerns about alleged ties to the Russian mob.
Crosby has also been criticized for not disclosing a previous relationship with a potential casino player tied to the Wynn Resorts casino pitch in Everett. He admitted that was a mistake on his part from a public relations point of view, but said his office is an open book and insisted there is no conflict.
The gaming chief also said:
•   He’s been ducking phone calls from casino tycoon Steve Wynn, including one from his boat on the Mediterranean. Crosby admitted he and Wynn spoke early on — well before the gaming titan was a committed contender for a lucrative Eastern Massachusetts casino license — about two or three times.
“I never reached out to Wynn to encourage him to do anything — ever. Not once,” Crosby said.
The calls stopped around July last year, he told the Herald.
“At some point as we began to get into the process, I said, ‘I can’t do these calls anymore,’ ” he said.
“Certainly by midsummer any calls from him I had screened by our executive director.”
• He does not keep regular contact with Gov. Deval Patrick on gaming issues and he’s only had minimal contact with the governor’s team.

• He does not keep regular contact with Gov. Deval Patrick on gaming issues and he’s only had minimal contact with the governor’s team.
• His commission will ask the state Legislature to amend a quirky tax law that requires taxes be paid each time a gambler wins $600 or more — even if they lost more than that the day 
before. Many other states use a $1,200 threshold.
• He doesn’t think the swearing-in of an anti-casino governor in 2015 would derail casino licensing efforts, but he is concerned about a possible referendum in 2014 that would repeal casino gambling in the Bay State.
“It’s kind of like Obama-care,” Crosby said. “After a while, the benefits start to kick in and it gets harder to rid it out.”

Casino doesn't show flip side of coin

Letter: Casino doesn't show flip side of coin

Jan. 24, 2014

The Firekeeper’s Casino is proud to brag about the positive impact it has had on the community. It has provided many full and part-time jobs as well as funding to local schools … blah, blah, blah.

However, what is less known is the negative impact the casino’s presence has had on the well-being of families due to the struggle with a family member’s gambling addiction.

Where are the statistics for the increase in gambling addiction in our community? I have witnessed the destruction of this addiction first hand. I watched my grandmother transform from a proud, confident person who was always there for me into a desperate, empty shell.

It is a family joke that we know where we can find her when she is not at home or answering her phone; a joke, in which no one is laughing. Family members have turned away from her one by one, tired of the arguments about overdrawn bank accounts, maxed out credit cards, and unpaid bills.

Friends and neighbors have turned away from her as well, all tired of the inevitable begging for money to pay a bill or to go “one last time” as the big hit is just one pull of the slot machine away.

The casino is quick to advertise the exuberant person who just won $20,000! But where is the advertisement with the desperate face of the gambling addict who just lost their last penny?

Katie Wade
Battle Creek

Gambling Industry Afraid of Gamble!

Casino companies seek to stop repeal effort

“It would be a gamble” for the companies to pay the fee, said Carl Jenkins, managing director at the financial firm Duff & Phelps, who has studied the local casino market.

The state would also be taking a risk by accepting the nonrefundable fees while the repeal question is unresolved, said Jenkins. “If the law was repealed, I’d wager there would be a significant number of lawsuits against the state,” he said.

One of the companies participating in the coalition against the repeal, MGM Resorts, said that over the past two years the company has invested millions of dollars and enormous staff time into its plans for an $800 million casino and entertainment complex in downtown Springfield. About 58 percent of Springfield voters backed the plan in a referendum last July.

“Our plan was endorsed by an overwhelming majority of voters,” Michael Mathis, vice president of global gaming development, said in a statement. “It would be devastating to roll back all that has been accomplished and take away the promise of what is to come.”

Massachusetts legalized casino gambling in November 2011, establishing a five-member state gambling commission to license as many as three resort casinos and one slot parlor.

Casino opponents, who argue that state voters never had a chance to directly weigh in on whether to open Massachusetts to the gambling industry, responded with a signature drive to put a repeal of the casino law on the November ballot.

“This wasn’t passed by the will of the people,” said John Ribeiro, chairman of the repeal effort, in an interview. “This was the will of a few people on Beacon Hill.”

Last year, Attorney General Martha Coakley of Massachusetts dealt the repeal effort a setback, ruling that the petition was unconstitutional and could not appear on the ballot.

Coakley’s office concluded the repeal would “impair the implied contracts between the commission and gaming license applicants,” and illegally “take” those contract rights without compensation, according to the decision issued Sept. 4.

Opponents appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court, winning the right to collect signatures while the appeal was pending. They collected more than the minimum 68,911 valid signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot.

The case is expected to be argued in court in May, and decided by late June or early July. If the casino opponents win the case, voters would decide the repeal question in November, extending a cloud of uncertainty over the state’s casino industry for most of this year.

In the meantime, the gambling commission expects to award its first licenses. The panel may choose the winning applicant for the slot parlor license by March, and then issue licenses for resort casinos in Western Massachusetts and in Greater Boston by May. The resort casino license created for Southeastern Massachusetts is on a later timetable.

The licensing fee for the slot parlor is $25 million; the resort casino fee is $85 million. By law, the winning bidders are supposed to pay within 30 days.

In their attempt to intervene in the case, the gambling companies will support Coakley’s argument that the repeal would amount to an illegal taking of contract rights, as well as raise the argument that the petition was improperly drafted because it includes an issue unrelated to casinos: an apparent ban on parimutuel wagering on simulcast greyhound races, according to people familiar with the motion.

Stephen Crosby, chairman of the gambling commission, said some applicants have raised concerns over the repeal effort in documents submitted with their applications.

Nothing in the casino law gives the commission the power to return the licensing fees to the applicants if the casino law is repealed, Crosby said. In addition to licensing fees, winning bidders will face other costs, such as commitments to pay millions of dollars to their host communities, as well as land option payments, he said.

The Rev. Richard McGowan, a Boston College professor and casino expert, said he doubts any winning bidders would walk away from the license over the possibility of a repeal.

Based on “every single poll I’ve ever seen, I cannot imagine the state would vote for a repeal,” he said.

Polling performed last November by the Western New England University Polling Institute suggested that 61 percent of Massachusetts adults support the establishment of casinos in the state, and just 33 percent oppose it, which was similar to the results of polls in 2009 and 2010. Support plummeted when the projects got too close to home: just 42 percent said they would support a casino in their own community, while 55 percent were opposed, according to the survey.

Officials at Penn National Gaming, one of three applicants for the slot license, take comfort from the industry’s strong polling numbers.

“We’ve seen these types of [repeal] challenges before and they’ve never been successful,” said Eric Schippers, a Penn senior vice president. If Penn wins the slot license, the company will pay the $25 million fee even if the repeal is undecided, he said.

Ribeiro, the casino opponent, hopes the issue will discourage casino firms from building in Massachusetts. “The opposition is not going away,” he said. “If I were [a gambling company] considering investing in coming to this state, I’d think twice.”

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Clear Channel REFUSES AD!


Celeste Ribeiro Myers
Amazing how NO ONE even pretends to have integrity! @Clear_Channel @SuffolkDowns @MoheganSun I'm looking at you...