Meetings & Information


Monday, March 31, 2014

Casinos are financial equivalent of strip mining

Predatory Gambling sucks discretionary income from the LOCAL economy.

Fools' Gold? Yup!

REPEAL THE CASINO DEAL is the only sensible solution!

Casinos are financial equivalent of strip mining

Editor's note: This column was written before the House rejected all casino bills on March 12. It became timely again on Thursday when the Senate passed a bill for two casinos that now will go to the House.
Yet another round of the apparent endless gambling game is upon us. Despite the high stakes on the table, this isn't a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. More importantly, it is an issue that strikes at the heart of what "We the People" want for our state and our citizens.
I rarely intervene in policy debates but state-sponsored gambling is an issue of enormous proportions and considerable significance that deserves the understanding and participation of every citizen. I previously put aside my professional role and wrote a column titled "Fool's Gold." I argued that far from addressing our long-term fiscal challenges, the adverse financial, social and regulatory consequences of casino gambling would merely exacerbate them. Moreover, I questioned the long-term economic assumptions provided by the lobbyists who supported expansion. I wondered why New Hampshire should feel the urgent need to embrace gambling when so many surrounding states have or will soon have casinos and when so many earlier casinos have gone bankrupt. In addition, expanded gambling will introduce a host of other problems.
Do we really believe we will compete against a multimillion-dollar casino just a few miles south of us?
I also asked whether lawmakers understood the potential for corruption in a state with little or no regulatory framework to handle such a sophisticated industry. For those lawmakers seduced by the lure of seemingly easy revenues to shore up our perennially strapped state budgets, it's important to remember that most of that money coming into state coffers will be in the form of a regressive tax on state residents. This is a cold hard fact — not just an opinion. What reason is there to believe that expanded gambling will enhance the New Hampshire advantage and improve the quality of life in our state?
Anybody with even a basic knowledge of finance or the casino industry knows that gambling is the equivalent of financial strip mining — much is taken but only deep scars are left behind. Much of the promised financial bonanza is never delivered because the partnership between the state and the gambling industry is a flimflam played on the public. Most of the real financial benefits will go to out-of-state casino interests who do not have our state's interests at heart. This might explain why opposition to expanded gambling in our state has stirred so many bipartisan activists.
I did some additional research and one trend struck a powerful chord because of the financial challenges facing so many seniors and aging baby boomers. Most have simply saved too little for their financial security and are looking for a quick fix. The gambling industry loves senior citizens with plenty of time on their hands and some additional disposable income. New Hampshire provides a proverbial jackpot with almost 15 percent of the state's population being 65 years or older in a state with incomes above the national average. Why should the gambling industry subsidize buses to Connecticut, Rhode Island or Massachusetts when they can fleece the boomers and seniors closer to home in New Hampshire?
The casino industry was ardent in drawing on ever-younger customers in larger numbers. Yet since the 1970s when gambling began to expand beyond Las Vegas with casinos in Atlantic City and the emergence of Native American casinos, senior citizens have proven to be a consistent cash-cow market. Given our society-wide addiction to small-screen electronic devices, it's no surprise that the casino industry targets senior citizens who are drawn to the visual allure of the video poker screens and the slots. Regional reports of gambling related debts and foreclosures are on the increase as a result.
A 2008 Wayne State University study looked into the growth of the addictive problem of gambling in older adults and reported:
  • Seniors are drawn to casinos for both extrinsic and intrinsic reasons — the thrill of gambling and a positive environment that welcomes them.
  • Researchers found that casinos were becoming the new senior centers — and the industry was doing its best to keep these elderly customers coming back for more with added amenities including oxygen tanks.
  • In addition to financial challenges, older adults with gambling issues can also have unique risks such as reduced cognitive capacity that the casino industry can profitably exploit.

During her State of the State speech earlier this year, Gov. Hassan warned lawmakers that "our state will begin to lose $75 million per year to new casinos right across our border in Massachusetts. Developing New Hampshire's own plan for one high-end destination casino will create jobs, boost our economy and generate revenue to invest in critical priorities."
That is one hopeful, but perverse, way to look at it. As The Economist magazine recently reported, the worldwide gaming industry had revenues of more than $440 billion, with our fellow citizen's losses in the United States leading the pack at $119 billion. The casino always wins. How much will the people of New Hampshire lose in their pursuit of fool's gold?
Though there might have been a strategic revenue and gambling option along our southern border years ago, in the same way we once sold cheap cigarettes and liquor, that opportunity has long since evaporated. New Hampshire lawmakers should understand the significance of their actions before they take the gambling plunge and sanction a fleecing of our fellow citizens.
Tom Sedoric of Rye is a nationally recognized financial adviser and serves as chair of the advisory commission to the state of New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development.

Horse Racing Exposed: Drugs and Death

The failure of racing commissions to protect horses from this level of abuse has been noted elsewhere.

Attendance at Horse Races is declining and this explains part of the reason. Who wants to witness cruelty?

Published on Mar 19, 2014
A PETA undercover investigation of leading thoroughbred trainer Steve Asmussen reveals chronic misuse of drugs, reportedly to enhance horses' performance and mask their injuries.

PETA Accuses Top Horse Trainer Of Animal Cruelty Following Undercover Investigation


After a four-month undercover investigation, an animal rights group has accused a prominent horse trainer of giving his horses unnecessary amounts of performance-enhancing drugs and using illegal electric shock devices to make them run faster.

The investigation, conducted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), used hidden cameras and microphones to document the staff of Steve Asmussen, a top thoroughbred racehorse trainer who holds multiple horse racing records and has won millions of dollars in horse race purses.

The probe took place at both Churchill Downs in Kentucky and Saratoga Race Track in New York from April through August of last year.

Released on Thursday, the video appears to show Asmussen's workers discussing a top-performing horse's feet being worn down to "nubs." One says they had to use superglue to keep its hooves together.

That horse, who was named Nehro, died of colic -- "a term used to describe a symptom of abdominal (belly) pain" -- in the back of a van on the day of the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

The man can also be heard discussing how he had a jockey use an illegal shocking tool on a horse. ("I'd tell [jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.], 'You got the máquina?'" he says.) He's also heard talking about employing undocumented workers and having them lie to the IRS.

PETA's video also purports to show prominent veterinarian Dr. James Hunt Jr. saying all of Asmussen's horses are given Lasix, or furosemide, a controversial drug that's banned in many countries but legal in the United States.

"They basically all run on it. It makes them lighter," the man PETA identifies as Hunt says in the clip.

Hunt did not immediately respond to request for comment from The Huffington Post.
Asmussen's lawyer, Clark Brewster, told HuffPost that electric shock devices were

After a four-month undercover investigation, an animal rights group has accused a prominent horse trainer of giving his horses unnecessary amounts of performance-enhancing drugs and using illegal electric shock devices to make them run faster.

The investigation, conducted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), used hidden cameras and microphones to document the staff of Steve Asmussen, a top thoroughbred racehorse trainer who holds multiple horse racing records and has won millions of dollars in horse race purses.

The probe took place at both Churchill Downs in Kentucky and Saratoga Race Track in New York from April through August of last year.

Released on Thursday, the video appears to show Asmussen's workers discussing a top-performing horse's feet being worn down to "nubs." One says they had to use superglue to keep its hooves together.

That horse, who was named Nehro, died of colic -- "a term used to describe a symptom of abdominal (belly) pain" -- in the back of a van on the day of the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

The man can also be heard discussing how he had a jockey use an illegal shocking tool on a horse. ("I'd tell [jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.], 'You got the máquina?'" he says.) He's also heard talking about employing undocumented workers and having them lie to the IRS.

PETA's video also purports to show prominent veterinarian Dr. James Hunt Jr. saying all of Asmussen's horses are given Lasix, or furosemide, a controversial drug that's banned in many countries but legal in the United States.

"They basically all run on it. It makes them lighter," the man PETA identifies as Hunt says in the clip.

Hunt did not immediately respond to request for comment from The Huffington Post.
Asmussen's lawyer, Clark Brewster, told HuffPost that electric shock devices were never used. He said the recorded dialogue in the video was just table talk about the use of buzzers "historically" and not specifically on his client's horses.

"We are reserving comment until we get specific allegations from PETA," Brewster said. "At this point it's just been a media blitz by PETA rather than any substance or information for us to respond to. I think ultimately people will see what this is, an effort by this organization to grandstand because they disapprove of horse racing."

Brewster said he's spent the past two days trying to get PETA to send him complaints but that PETA has declined to do so. PETA, however, says it had offered to provide Brewster with the complaints.

The animal rights group filed complaints with federal and state officials in Kentucky and New York after completing its investigation. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, a state agency that regulates horse racing in Kentucky, confirmed to HuffPost that it had received documents from PETA alleging animal cruelty "by two trainers working at Churchill Downs."

The Commission said it has not reviewed the information yet but that it plans to conduct a thorough investigation.

Churchill Downs could not be reached for comment. The Saratoga Race Track did not immediately respond to a request for comment from HuffPost.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Missing 90-year-old man found at Conn. casino

Defining Gambling Addiction!

Missing 90-year-old man found at Conn. casino

One in five gambling addicts are suicidal

The Gambling Industry doesn't want you to know its DIRTY LITTLE SECRET: SUICIDE!

The Gambling Industry only profits by creating NEW Gamblers and creating NEW Gambling Addicts!

Losing stakes: One in five gambling addicts are suicidal, new report finds

Counselling centre research finds ‘basic issues of sleep and work’ behind problems

Lo Wei

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014


About 20 per cent of gambling addicts who sought help at a counselling centre had considered suicide, while 22 also thought of killing their families, a report says.

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong found that of the 3,685 people who sought help at the Caritas Addicted Gamblers Counselling Centre between 2003 to 2012, about one in five had thought of attempting suicide and 22 individuals had thought of taking their family members’ lives as well.

“When we look at the reasons behind suicidal thoughts among gamblers, it is easy to overlook the basic issues of sleep and work,” said Paul Wong Wai-ching, social work and social administration assistant professor at the university.

Among the suicidal group, they found that 57 per cent said of gambling addicts suffered insomnia and 43 per cent said they were unmotivated at work. In the non-suicidal group 33 per cent suffered insomnia, while 26 per cent felt unmotivated.

The researchers also found that addicted gamblers usually face multiple problems in life, including emotional and family problems that affect their sleep. A lack of sleep may also lead to impulse behaviour, they said.

The researchers warned gamblers and their families to be aware of these signs which may be point to future bahaviour.

The report is to be published in international journal Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, next month.

Last week, suicide prevention workers said that ingrained resistance to discussing mental health problems and suicide in Hong Kong is proving to be an obstacle to bringing down the rising rate of young people killing themselves.

The city’s youth suicide rate rose by 19 per cent between 2010 and 2012. In 2010, it was 7 in every 100,000 youths, but the number rose to 8.3 in 2012.

Meanwhile, the overall suicide rate dropped 8 per cent – from 13.8 in 2010 to 12.7 in 2012, according to the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention.

Asians at Sands Bethlehem casino 'ride bus to live'

Great article about all that's wrong with Predatory Gambling!

Asians at Sands Bethlehem casino 'ride bus to live'

Sands Bethlehem casino attracts Asians from New York

Related Content
9:34 pm, March 29, 2014

The endless hum of whirling slot machines washes over the food court at the Sands casino in Bethlehem, as Yuli Cui of Flushing, N.Y., reads a Chinese newspaper.

Huddled at a table with her friends, Cui, 50, plucks a tangerine from the bagged lunch she brought from home. She's been to the casino hundreds of times over the past three years and, like almost every other time, she's doing her best to kill five hours until her bus returns.

Sometimes she walks the scenic path through south Bethlehem or visits the bookshop at Lehigh University, and sometimes she window-shops at the Sands outlet. But one thing she almost never does is gamble.

Instead, she and her husband sell the $45 free-play cards the casino gives them for making the 100-mile bus trip, and they spend the rest of the day absorbing what the Christmas City has to offer until they return home.

For them, riding the casino bus is a job — the only one they can find.

"We can sell our cards for about $1,200 a month," Cui said in Mandarin through an interpreter. "I cannot find a job in Flushing. This is our only income. We come every day. Every day."

Cui is among thousands of bus riders who flood into the Sands on more than 50 buses a day from heavily Asian-populated New York City neighborhoods in Flushing, Chinatown and Brooklyn. Lured by the best casino deal in the region — $45 in free slot play for the price of a $15 bus ticket — hundreds sell their casino cards every day on the underground market moments after stepping off the bus. Many are low-income and some are even homeless, revealing that for some, riding the bus to the Sands is not only a way of life but a way to live.

Others are recently emigrated senior citizens who followed their children to America and find the green spaces surrounding Bethlehem's waterways, the canal path and even Lehigh University's campus a daily respite from their busy concrete neighborhoods in New York.

Some simply like to gamble, and the deal the Sands is offering is better — and closer — than what they can get at casinos in New Jersey or Connecticut.

A few are there to turn the casino odds in their favor. They buy the cards, sometimes dozens a day, at a $5 discount from people like Cui, in the hope of riding back home with a wallet full of winnings.

The steady flow of buses has brought with it a cultural change of sorts on both sides of the route. Back in New York, the urban neighborhoods whose populations are dominated by Asian immigrants have quickly become casino bus towns, where downtown streets are clogged by idling tour buses boarding people en route to Atlantic City, Connecticut and, most frequently, Bethlehem.

On the Bethlehem side of the route, a gentle culture shift has begun as thousands of Asian visitors find the city each day by casino bus, many of them fanning out across the South Side to while away the hours until they return.

It's a phenomenon that's happened quickly, since the Sands casino opened in 2009, and one that becomes more noticeable by the day. It's evident in a handmade shelter with its intricately laid stone path to the Lehigh River, built, according to city police, by Asian bus riders.

It's evident in the group of men who walk a mile from the casino each day to perform tai chi in the park next to the Steelworkers Memorial.

So evident that south Bethlehem's Touchstone Theatre's latest project is "Journey: Dream of the Red Pavilion" — a stage performance portraying how the surge of Asian visitors to Bethlehem is changing the community.

And among the most recent additions to the Lehigh University curriculum is a credited class that partners with Touchstone to follow the emerging trend.

The shift is perhaps most evident in the workforce at the Sands, where more than 425 Chinese-speaking workers have been hired to help welcome a new population of visitors who speak primarily Mandarin, Cantonese or Fujian dialects.

"It's very noticeable on the South Side, and quite interesting, but in a lot of ways it's also rather hidden," said Dongning Wang, a Lehigh adjunct professor teaching a "Journey from the East" class related to the Touchstone production. "Eventually, if it is to continue, they're going to need churches and groceries and maybe even a school. I'll be interested to see if that transition is ever made."

So much change brought on by the pursuit of a tiny plastic card loaded with free casino money.

Coveted seats

The buses pour in seven days a week from neighborhoods in Chinatown and Brooklyn, but the flow out of Flushing, in Queens, has become a deluge.

The 2010 Census says its population was 44 percent Asian, but in the bustling downtown business district where the buses depart, it's not uncommon for a visitor to walk for blocks without seeing a non-Asian face.

The smell of Chinese and Korean cuisine wafts across Main Street, as bumper-to-bumper traffic tries to push through the crowds of people hurrying into crosswalks from bulging sidewalks. Rows of shops with names printed in Chinese are broken by a few familiar chains such as Burger King and McDonald's.

A block from Main is the Fay Da Bakery. During the day, the spacious, nondescript shop has some of the tastiest pastries and cakes in the downtown, but at night it becomes the unofficial outlet for casino trips to the Sands, organized by bus companies with such names as Golden Mega, Lucky 9 and Baccarat 88.

There's no ticket booth, no Internet presence and no bakery employees who have anything to do with filling the buses.

But that's where bus hosts like "Bobby" sit and sip their coffee for the hour before each motor coach is ready to depart. Bobby works entirely through word of mouth, and on this February day his cellphone rings almost constantly. In between calls, he's approached by people wanting a seat on the 7 p.m. trip. The bus is full, he tells them in Mandarin, but they can stand by and hope someone won't show up or will give up their seat for the right price.

That's the position Stephen Petho, 66, of the Bronx is in on this chilly night in January. The disabled former construction worker is one of the few non-Asians catching the Sands bus to Bethlehem. He's been making the Bethlehem run for more than a year and he's a nightly regular, but his inflamed tonsils kept him from his regular seat the previous week. Still, Bobby had to keep every seat filled, so now Petho is back on the waiting list.

Once he gets back on the bus, Petho will be able to reclaim his regular seat, so long as he rides, and tips, every day. That's because on every return trip back to Flushing, Bobby — or one of the dozen other bus hosts organizing daily Golden Mega Enterprise bus trips from Flushing to the Sands — will walk the center aisle and collect his $5 tip.

Moments later, he'll walk through again and sell tickets for the next day.

"If you don't tip, forget about getting a ticket for the next day," Petho said. "He'll say 'No. No. VIPs coming tomorrow.' Kind of funny, actually. You ride every day and you tip every time or you don't get a ticket."

As the 7 p.m. bus pulls up 40 minutes late, the 63 people who have taken up every seat and piece of floor space in the Fay Da excitedly surge toward the door to get on the bus.

Petho and a handful of others are left behind without tickets. Maybe they can find a seat on one of the four other Sands buses that will leave by 11 p.m., Bobby tells them.

"I doubt it. The 8 p.m. bus is already full," Petho says. "Maybe I'll try tomorrow."

By the time the bus arrives in Bethlehem after 9 p.m., Petho has been shut out of three consecutive full buses back in Flushing. He gives up and goes home.

That's never a problem for Dongbi Jin, a 60-year-old immigrant from the Fujian province of China. Wearing a plaid shirt, a sideways Yankees cap and a smile that appears to touch both ears, he rides the bus twice a day. At 8:15 a.m., he catches the first of seven morning Golden Mega buses that leave from a block away, in front of the Su Jung Sauna and Massage parlor. Jin plays his $45 — he said he never sells it — and his bus returns to Flushing about 5:15 p.m.

That gives him just enough time to grab dinner and get to Fay Da for the 7 p.m. bus back to the Sands. Another $45 free-play card and another return trip to Flushing around 4 a.m.

"I like to play," he said in a Fujian dialect. "Maybe, too much."

At 8:15 a.m., the cycle begins again for Jin.

It's not a cycle that New York Assemblyman Ron Kim, whose district includes downtown Flushing, is comfortable with, but it's one he acknowledges he has little power to change. The free-play giveaway by the casinos and the high-demand ticket system promoted by the bus companies surely encourage gambling abuse that seems to take advantage of the elderly and low-income, said Kim's chief of staff, Yuh-Line Niou. But stopping it could make matters worse.

A spectacular vantage point from Kim's 10th-floor downtown office includes a bird's-eye view of the more than 50 casino buses that leave Flushing every day. Kim has urged local police to crack down on idling buses that pollute the air and clog streets, and he's seeking legislation that would give tax breaks to local business owners willing to provide space for senior citizens to socialize.

But in the end, there's only so much he can do.

"We're seeing people spend their whole day riding the bus. A part of you knows it's not acceptable and a bit predatory," Niou said. "It's sad that people are selling these vouchers to survive. We've got elderly men paying $350 to stay in a tiny apartment with seven other elderly men, and this is how they pay that rent. We're not going to do something that cuts off their only income."

Kwang S. Kim, president of the Korean Community Center, still tries. He sees 20 to 30 community center members a year — most of them elderly — who are addicted to riding the casino bus. Many are homeless men who prefer spending their time on the buses than going to a shelter. For some, their immigration status and lack of English make it difficult to find work.

So they ride every day.

"Some don't like the shelter. As soon as they enter the casino, it's a status change. They're big shots for a little while," Kwang Kim said. "Some like it, but for others, it's a sad, vicious cycle that they can't seem to break. They're riding the bus to live, and living to ride the bus."

Those are the people Kwang Kim tries to help with rental assistance grants, job training and social programs at the community center 2 miles from downtown Flushing.

But to get those benefits, they have to agree to stop riding the buses.

"Once an immigrant gets off track, it's not easy to get back on. Once they start riding the buses, it's hard for them to stop," Kwang Kim said. "We try to help them. I'm sorry to say, most go back."

Dr. Timothy Fong, director of UCLA's gambling studies program, said little study has been done on gambling among Asians, but his surveys show that it's more prevalent than in the general population. His most recent survey showed that even though Asians make up less than 14 percent of California's total population, they account for more than 30 percent of the patrons in the state's casinos.

"It would take a lot more study for us to understand why, but it appears that it's just more culturally acceptable," Fong said. "It's not uncommon to see entire families of Asians gambling together. You don't see that in other cultures."

Cultural clash

Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is arguably Pennsylvania's most successful gambling hall. The $800 million casino is the only one in the state with a hotel, an outlet mall and a concert venue. Collectively, they attract more than 8 million visitors a year.

Only Parx Casino, benefiting from a much larger population zone outside Philadelphia, brings in more gambling revenue. But there is one place where the Sands is unmatched: at the tables.

Games like blackjack, craps and roulette helped the Sands rake in $165 million last year — or nearly 50 percent more than second-place Parx pulled in at the tables. And the Sands can credit that dominance to all those buses streaming in from the east.

In Bethlehem, a city with an Asian population of 2.9 percent, roughly 50 percent of all the players at the casino's 194 tables are believed to be of Asian descent, most of them bus riders arriving daily, said Robert DeSalvio, who resigned this month as Sands president to take a casino job in Boston.

DeSalvio has said the casino welcomes the diverse player makeup and is proud of the diversity in its workforce.

Fully 20 percent of the Sands' more than 2,100-member workforce is of Asian descent, more than doubling since 2009, according to the casino's annual diversity report filed with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The Sands has the highest number of Asian workers of any casino in Pennsylvania, and virtually all of them are fluent in Mandarin — a necessity to provide good customer service to the casino's wide-ranging clientele, DeSalvio said.

All those Chinese-speaking workers help the casino welcome the visitors on the gaming floor, but out in the city, not everyone is so accommodating.

Nestled among the trees along the north side of the Lehigh River is the hand-built shelter with a prime view of the Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces and enough bench seating for 10 people. Built with tree branches, wood and a canvas tarp for cover, it sits just 30 feet from the canal path used by joggers and bikers, and yet it's completely out of view behind a thick patch of trees.

With its expertly laid floor made from river stones embedded in the dirt, and bag of rice hanging from a branch, it has a distinctly Asian style. It was clearly built by someone with time to be meticulous in constructing a winding stone path that leads to the river.

Bethlehem police say it was built by Sands casino bus riders who, in good weather, use the shelter daily to relax until their buses return to New York.

It's a physical sign of the Asian culture that quite literally rolls into Bethlehem each day.

But with that arrival comes a double-edged sword that often accompanies such change. On one side is a casino and city embracing a new population, but on the other is a veneer of hostility from some not as welcoming.

On Facebook and Twitter, some complain about Asian bus riders napping along the greenway, sleeping on top of picnic tables or resting atop pieces of cardboard and newspaper, often with their shoes placed neatly to the side.

A photo of people resting beneath the Fourth Street bridge was posted on Twitter last July with this comment: "If these were 18-year-old kids loitering on the #Bethlehem greenway would the police still look the other way?"
Another Twitter user, Michele Ryder of south Bethlehem, wrote: "So many comments about how 'sad' this thing is with the people on the Sands buses. What about how sad what they are doing to Bethlehem is? I mean really. Being poor does not give you a free pass to … litter, loiter, and trespass."

New Bethany Ministries Executive Director Diane Elliott said she's noticed an increase in non-English-speaking Asian clients at New Bethany's South Side shelter and soup kitchen, but she didn't realize they were likely Sands casino bus riders.

Ryder said she believes the Sands has a "social obligation" to deal with the bus visitors.

"I feel like their solution, instead of dealing with these people, is to just get them off their property," she said. "They are part of the problem with busing people in who are trying to make a couple of bucks off their vouchers."

For this story, Sands officials declined all comment, saying the company does not discuss internal company business.

Ryder said she's concerned about loitering and littering. She said she's seen visitors leaving newspapers, remnants of their lunches and bottles behind.

"When you are in a big group and there are six people sprawled out and napping on benches, that shows they have no care that they are hogging up the resources that others may want to also use," Ryder said. "It's a quality-of-life issue that I think residents don't want to have to deal with."

Bethlehem police officials said any calls involving the Asian visitors have been minor — mostly complaints about loitering in public areas and littering.

Police have responded to some calls from perplexed homeowners who found strangers in their garden taking a handful of vegetables or others lounging on porch chairs. In all of those cases, police said they believe the visitors were unaware they were on private property and no criminal charges were filed.

Chief Mark DiLuzio said some bus riders banned from the casino have been cited for defiant trespass, but he knows of no other criminal cases.

"When police ask them to move along, we've never had an issue," he said. "It's been very, very minor stuff."

DiLuzio said police also investigated a complaint about some of the visitors taking fish and frogs out of the canal. Police are convinced wildlife was taken from the canal, but no criminal charges were filed.

The complaints are not limited to the South Side.

Just across the Minsi Trail Bridge, new employees at the Bottom Dollar grocery store are taught a single phrase in Mandarin, "limit of two." And the limit on certain sale items is sometimes listed in English and Chinese, according to a grocery supervisor, who said it's an effort to keep bus riders from trying to buy dozens of sale items like 78-cent eggs.

"We're happy to serve anyone, but they try to use the language barrier to take advantage of our sales," said Lisa, a supervisor at the grocery store a half-mile from the casino who declined to give her last name. "When I have to call the manager to keep a brawl from happening because I won't let someone take 12 cartons of eggs, that's a problem."

But others on the South Side have grown accustomed, even fond, of seeing their visitors each day.

Roger Hudak rather likes the culture shift he's seeing in his beloved south Bethlehem. Yes, the longtime chairman of the South Side Task Force has heard about visitors wandering through the city, picking food from gardens and plucking wildlife from the canal.

But he's seen this kind of migration before — and the discomfort that comes with it — and he believes it is what's kept Bethlehem vibrant.

"In the '30s and '40s, immigrants from Eastern Europe came to work at Bethlehem Steel, and Hispanics from Puerto Rico followed in the 1950s," Hudak said. "And now look at us 80 years later. The South Side is full of ethnic churches, social clubs and bars. It's what makes it such a great place to be. I look forward to a chance to add to that diversity."

No one expects the Sands to have the impact of Bethlehem Steel, which once employed 30,000 people in Bethlehem — more than 10 times the number working at the Sands. But quietly, a more subtle change is happening. On Hudak's block along Fifth Street, in the shadow of the casino entrance, three homes once owned by steelworkers' families are now owned by Asian casino dealers, including two who have brought their families from New York, Hudak said.

"The shift is quite noticeable since the casino opened," Mayor Robert Donchez said. "We're talking about people who seem to love our city and want to buy homes here. Why wouldn't we welcome that?"

Unlike Bethlehem Steel, which dominated the Lehigh Valley economy for a century, the impact of the Sands is far more tenuous. There's no reason to believe the casino won't be a South Side fixture for generations to come. However, the promotion that feeds that stream of buses from New York could end any time.

If that little plastic card worth $45 in casino money disappears, so too, presumably, would the need to keep hiring such a high number of Chinese-speaking workers.

"Then I hope they keep doing it," Hudak said. "No area is better equipped to handle the new immigration than we are. Keep it coming."

At least a few times each week, a group of men perform tai chi at the plaza surrounding the Steelworkers Memorial. On a recent sunny day, the group of four men gathered in the plaza, reading newspapers and listening to a radio someone had brought along.

One man, who only identified himself as Huang, drew the smiles of passing motorists as he moved to a nearby traffic berm near West Second and Northampton streets. As some motorists slowed to watch him, Huang vigorously stretched his arms and touched his toes.

Huang, who said he only spoke "a little" English, smiled as he talked about tai chi, saying he and his friends gathered for fresh air and exercise.

After a few minutes, the group waved goodbye and began the walk back to the casino.

Inside the casino were people like Nuiqiang Zhou, a 53-year-old Flushing bus driver who immigrated to New York in 2008 but only found the Sands casino bus in January. He catches the Lucky 9 Enterprises bus behind the Hong Kong Supermarket in the morning and does his best to convert the $45 free-play card into cash that he can use at the blackjack tables.

The free money can only be downloaded in slot machines. The cards are programmed so that the player must make at least $45 worth of slot-machine wagers before he can cash out whatever is left. Statistically, the Sands' slot machines give an average payback of 90 percent, meaning a typical day would leave Zhou with about $40 to play blackjack.

"I play until it's gone or maybe I win some money. Usually, I lose," Zhou said through an interpreter. "Almost everyone else [on the bus] sells their card, but I can pay my bills. I play my card."

Selling that card has become a cottage industry at the Sands, where the bus center, food court, slot-machine seats and even South Side walking path are thick with bus riders like Cui and Zhou who are killing time after they've sold their card or lost its proceeds.

State Gaming Control Board attorneys say that underground-market card trade is not illegal, board spokesman Richard McGarvey said.

"It's part of promotions," he said. "We look at it as a private deal between the casinos and the bus companies. What they allow to be done with those cards is their business."

Sands officials would not comment specifically on its deals with the bus companies.

The buses begin rolling into the Sands around 10 a.m., arriving every few minutes into the mid-afternoon, before a nighttime wave begins arriving around 9 p.m.

Moments after the first morning bus has arrived, the 150-seat, concrete-block, outdoor bus center is already filling up with people who never go into the casino.

Each is given their free-play card as they step off the bus, but some discreetly pass their card to a regular buyer within a few paces of the bus. For those who don't have a regular buyer, they can find one standing just inside the doors, behind the Molten Lounge, or near the Sic Bo table games that routinely stand four deep with Asian players.

"It's easy to sell your card. Every bus has one or two buyers," said a man calling himself only Mr. Ni, a 60-year-old former farmer who immigrated from Fujian province in 2008. Ni came to America to be with his son but lives in a tiny Chinatown apartment with several other men.

"My son works, but I can't find a job. I come seven days a week," Ni said, noting that selling the card helps him pay the bills.

Not every bus rider is in Ni's and Cui's position.

Golden Mega operator Phillip Chan said he's careful that his buses have enough real players. Chan has his hosts make sure at least half the riders have personalized Sands player cards, and he does his best to make certain that at least a handful of riders are known to spend a lot — those VIPs Bobby was talking about.

"The seats are very hot, but we make sure there are enough real players," Chan said. "If 59 [out of 63] people don't play, we have a problem. We have to keep a certain rating for the casino to keep us."

Ernest Innocent of Flushing probably helps raise that rating. Innocent said he is a 57-year-old former stockbroker who made it off the 45th floor of One World Trade Center just before it collapsed during the Sept. 11 attacks. But he hasn't been able to escape diabetes and heart disease. His medical problems forced him to give up his hectic job in 2007, and he's been riding the casino bus since 2009.

Almost daily he boards a bus, sometimes to Atlantic City or Foxwoods in Connecticut, but most days to the Sands. He converts his free-play card to whatever money it will yield and heads straight to the craps tables, where he's likely to add his own cash to the mix. He still has the suits he wore to the trading floor, so he wears one to the Sands every day.
But he's quick to point out that he feels fortunate compared to most of the people on his daily bus. He knows that whether he wins or loses, he'll get back on the bus in five hours and return to his wife, Barbara, and home.

"I just come to forget the pain in my leg for awhile, but most of these people are caught in a vicious cycle. They'll spend five days saving up free-play money and then lose it in an hour. It's sad," he said, subtly pointing to a man a few seats away at the Sands bus center. "That guy was crying, 'I lost everything in my pocket.' I feel terrible for him."

Even as he shakes his head, his phone rings, reminding him how lucky he is.

"Did you forget what today is?" his wife of 17 years says through the phone. "It's the anniversary of our first kiss. How could you forget?"

"Oops," Innocent says sheepishly. "I'll make it up to you later."

Chenghua Zheng will never be the kind of rider Innocent has to feel terrible for. Standing on the second floor of the Outlets at Sands Bethlehem mall, the 71-year-old former businessman from Hunan province reads a Chinese-language newspaper and sports a wide smile as he explains why he makes the two-hour bus ride six days a week. He followed his restaurant-owner son to Flushing in 2011, but he's no big fan of gambling and he doesn't need the money.

He just likes Bethlehem.

"The environment is clean, there isn't a lot of pollution and people are polite," he said in a Fujian dialect. "[In Flushing,] I have nothing to do all day."

So, he comes to Bethlehem to breathe the fresh air, talk with friends and sell his card to someone like Nian Zheng, a 60-year-old Manhattan businessman who gets someone else to run the restaurant he owns because he spends most days at the Sands.

On a cold day in January, Nian Zheng is doing leg lifts on the Sands parking-lot barriers as he waits to board the Baccarat 88 bus back to Chinatown. He enjoys gambling and always plays his free card. Some days he'll buy a few cards from other people, but occasionally he'll spend as much as $1,000 buying 25 cards, he said.

"It's fun inside," he said in Mandarin, as he rushed for his departing bus. "You should go inside."

As he's joking about buying cards, a woman calling herself Mrs. Lin, standing a few paces away, mistakenly believes Zheng's acquaintances are in the market to sell their cards.

"How many do you have? Two?" Lin says in Mandarin as she begins to peel four $20s from the wad she pulled from her pocket. "I'll pay cash."

Underground market

That underground card-selling system happens primarily on the buses from Asian communities. With almost every other bus coming from places like Kutztown or the Port Authority in New York, when the riders step off, a Sands worker swipes their personal player's card through a machine that loads their free money.

If players don't have a player's card registered with the Sands, they're given a voucher they must take to the desk, where they get a player's card with their name on it that is loaded with free-play money. The personal cards require a personal identification number to use. It not only allows the Sands to track the player's bus-riding habits, but it prevents the cards from being bought en masse, because the buyer wanting 25 cards would also need 25 PINs — a fatal inconvenience.

Only with the Asian buses do Sands workers simply hand out a stack of identically marked cards loaded with money. No names, no PIN and no identification necessary.

"They could stop the card-selling trade overnight if they wanted," said Ron, an Allentown man who declined to give his last name who used as many as 30 cards a day. "They look the other way for the Asian buses. They've sold their souls for the few big baccarat players that come in on those buses."
When asked why its policy for Asian buses is different, Sands officials reiterated that the casino does not discuss internal company business.

The math behind those little plastic cards makes it clear why there's such a market for them.

For a seller trying to make a few bucks, it's a chance to get paid to ride the bus. Each ticket is $15, and to ride the bus consistently, another $5 must be invested to tip the bus host. But the ticket can easily be sold for $40. That's a profit of $20.

That may not sound like much for spending more than eight hours riding a bus and walking around Bethlehem, but it's tax-free and consistent. For a family like the Cuis, who can get two or three people on the bus, it might even be enough to pay the rent.

For the buyer, it's a chance to defy the old adage that the odds are always with the house. By getting $45 in casino play for $40, the buyer is essentially playing at an 11 percent discount. The slot machines at the Sands, and most Pennsylvania casinos, return roughly 90 percent of the player's money — a 10 percent house edge.

That means the underground discounted cards completely eliminate the house advantage on the standard slot machine. A player who pays $1,000 for cards gets $1,125 in slot-machine play. In that case, statistically he can expect a return of $1,012.50 — a $12.50 profit for his troubles. Not exactly a lucrative living, but for people who like to gamble, they're able to do it free, with money left over for lunch. And it gives them plenty of chances to hit that big, life-changing jackpot.

But that's not where the real money can be made, because there's one type of slot machine where the casino edge is much smaller than 10 percent. Poker machines, though considered slot machines and thus eligible for free-play card use, follow the standard rules of poker and come with the standard odds. A skilled poker player making all the right moves can cut the house odds from 10 percent to less than 2 percent.

But if that player has an 11 percent discount with the free-play cards, all of a sudden he has a 9 percent advantage. Now, the same buyer with $1,125 in free-play cards, for which he paid only $1,000, can expect to walk out of the casino with $1,102.50 — a $102.50 profit.

Ron said he usually did better than that.

"You're eliminating the house edge, plain and simple," said Ron, a self-proclaimed compulsive gambler who played poker machines to convert his cards into cash. "I was buying about $1,500 worth of cards a day, and making an average of $150 a day, but I wouldn't call it easy money. It was actually a lot of work."

Others play the free cards just enough to cash out and take the money to the table games, where a skilled player can cut the house advantage to less than 1 percent. Again, this allows the person to play free and maybe even make a few bucks.

Michael Shackleford, a mathematician who helps manufacturers set the odds for their slot machines, said the effort to beat the system is nothing new.

"Las Vegas is full of people sponging off the promotions," said Shackleford, whose alter ego, the "Wizard of Odds," runs a highly respected website on the cold, calculated math behind casino gambling. "I'm not at all surprised that it's being done in Bethlehem, too. A smart casino will consider it the price of doing business. It's all part of the game."


Chinese interpreters Haifeng Liu and Michael Rong contributed to this story.

Coming Monday: Card chasers show how to beat the system to get free-play cards.

Please Attend Mon. 3/31 Anti-Casino Press Conference, 10:40 am

Casino and slot machine gambling has returned for a second time this year in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. HB 1633 was defeated, but the new bill (Senate Bill 366) will bring two casinos to New Hampshire, not one.
If you thought one casino was a bad idea for New Hampshire,
please help us defeat the new proposal for two!
We need your help. Please join us at a press conference!
This Monday, March 31st starting at 11:00 am
at the Legislative Office Building in Concord,
(directly behind the State House)
Please arrive by 10:40am, Monday morning
Remarks by our spokespersons: Harold Janeway and Steve Duprey
You will not be asked to speak but the "visual" of your presence is important!
For more information on Casino Free New Hampshire, the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling and the proposals to bring big money gambling to New Hampshire visit,
Thank you for your support!
Alice Chamberlin
Volunteer, Casino Free New Hampshire
~Please feel free to forward this notice to like-minded friends~
Our mailing address is:
Casino Free New Hampshire
2 Eagle Square, Concord, NH, United States
Concord, NH 03301

Revel Assault: Baltimore RB Ray Rice Indicted

NFL Fantasy Crime League Update: Baltimore RB Ray Rice Indicted

Atlantic City casino. Video footage of an NFL running back dragging an unconscious girlfriend from an elevator. Rumors of a violent scene between the two.

Indeed, in this 2014 offseason's NFL Fantasy Crime League, the first crime of the season, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's assault on his fiancee, has been the most salacious crime of the season, and I say that with all due respect to Jim Irsay being caught with a small pharmacy in his car a week or so ago.

What started as a simple assault charge that would fade away with time and some couple's counseling has turned into more. A lot more.

ON Thursday, Rice was indicted by a grand jury on third-degree aggravated assault for allegedly striking and knocking his fiancée, Janay Palmer, unconscious last month.

As mentioned earlier, Rice was arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence on Feb.15, after a physical altercation with Palmer at the Revel Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J.

For the record, the spat appeared to cut both ways, as Palmer also was charged with simple assault.
Third-degree crimes are pretty punitive in New Jersey, carrying a potential prison sentence of at least three years and up to five years, and a fine that could be up to $15,000.

The smoking gun in all of this is a video obtained and posted online by TMZ showing a frustrated Rice lifting Palmer by her arms out of an elevator and laying her on the floor. Rice's attorney, Michael Diamondstein, has said the footage is authentic but doesn't tell the whole story.

"We deny that he committed an aggravated assault. We don't think the law would support that [he did]. And we just ask the public to reserve judgment until all of the facts are out," said Diamondstein.

The Ravens released a statement Thursday that read: "This is part of the due process for Ray. We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident."

This is a bit of a slippery slope for the Ravens, standing behind their guy despite gaming video footage. Also worth noting, we are in the midst of an offseason where three Ravens players were arrested in a 22-day period. Backup wide receiver Deonte Thompson was arrested for possession of marijuana on Feb. 21, and reserve offensive lineman Jah Reid was arrested on two misdemeanor charges of battery on March 9.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has said Rice has a future with the team despite his arrest (and despite the fact he is coming off his worst season, rushing for 660 yards and averaging a career low 3.1 yards per carry). It's worth noting that releasing Rice for any reason, performance or conduct, would come with a $14 million salary cap hit in 2014 for the Ravens.

For what it's worth, the couple publicly is saying it's all puppy dogs and ice cream again. "We vehemently deny that Mr. Rice committed an aggravated assault," Diamondstein said. "Both Mr. Rice and Miss Palmer are together, they are happy and they're in counseling."

To be continued....

COLTS .. 3
* 3/16/14: Colts owner Jim Irsay is arrested for DUI and possession of a controlled substance (felony)
* 2/14/14: Ravens RB Ray Rice is charged with third degree assault.
* 2/21/14: Ravens WR Deonte Thompson is arrested for suspicion of possession of marijuana.
* 3/9/14: Raves OL Jah Reid is arrested on two counts of battery.
* 2/18/14: Falcons WR Roddy White is arrested for failing to appear in court.
* 3/20/14: Titans DE Adewale Ojomo is arrested for solicitation of prostitution.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Casino gambling was supposed to save Atlantic City.

Decline of Atlantic City Casinos Squeezes City

BY Robert Slavin
MAR 28, 2014

Casino gambling was supposed to save Atlantic City.

But with casinos sprouting throughout the northeast, to attract visitors the city is looking to its past for ideas, such as conventions and the lure of the seashore.

In the near-term however, the city's finances, closely linked to the fortunes of its casinos, look grim.

"There's a lot more competition for Atlantic City and it's not abating," said Howard Cure, director of municipal research at Evercore.

In 1976 New Jersey voters approved casino gambling in Atlantic City, spurring the opening of multiple casinos there starting in 1978. For many years, Atlantic City had the only casinos east of the Mississippi, drawing potential gamblers from throughout the eastern United States.

The city, on the ropes before the casinos came, became a one-industry town.

But starting in the late seventies Indian tribes started to gain approval to open gambling on their reservations. By the nineties states a few states including Delaware and West Virginia were approving casinos next to horse racing tracks.

In the 1990s, the small Mashantucket Pequot tribe opened what developed into one of the world's largest casino resorts in eastern Connecticut; the river of revenue that followed helped inspire an increase in both tribal and non-tribal gambling throughout the northeast.

Nearby states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York have followed suit in recent years and potential gamblers feel less and less reason to travel substantial distances to Atlantic City.

Atlantic City has no population to its east because of the Atlantic Ocean and little population within 60 miles to its west, said Michael Meczka, president of Meczka Marketing Research Consulting.

Slot machines account for 85% to 90% of most casino revenues, and the same slot machines found in Atlantic City are now available in casinos in Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.

So there's no real reason for slot machine gamblers to drive long distances, Meczka said.

Gross casino revenues in the city declined 41% to fiscal 2012 from fiscal 2006, said Moody's Investors Service analyst Vito Galluccio. The revenues were down an additional 6.1% in 2013.

While Atlantic City government does not directly receive gambling revenues, the decline of these revenues is nevertheless hammering the government's finances.

Property values throughout southern New Jersey are declining, Galluccio said. But due to declining patronage for Atlantic City's casinos, the decline is particularly acute in Atlantic City.

The casinos constitute 70% of the city's property tax base. One way of determining commercial property values is by the amount of profit that can be made on the site, Galluccio said. Now that the casinos are bringing in less revenues and profits, they can argue that their properties are not as valuable.

They have been making that argument, filing legal cases and succeeding through either court orders or settlements in forcing the city to lower the valuation of their properties, Galluccio said.

One of the largest casinos in Atlantic City, the Borgata, won a major tax appeal judgment for 2009 and 2010 in October 2013. It is still appealing taxes in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Five of the city's 13 casinos have pending property tax appeals.

Property values in Atlantic City have declined from more than $20 billion in 2010, to $14 billion in 2013, to about $11 billion in this year, said Atlantic City's director of revenue and finance, Michael Stinson.

Moody's downgraded Atlantic City to Baa2 from Baa1 in November and gave the city a negative outlook, which was due to its belief that "declining casino revenues and ongoing tax appeals will continue to reduce the city's taxable base and further strain the city's weak financial position and increase its debt burden to above-average levels," Galluccio said.

Standard and Poor's rates the city A-minus.

As of Dec. 31, the city had $261 million in debt, Stinson said.

The decline in property tax base has weakened the city government's finances, according to several observers.

As of Dec. 31, 2012, the city had a narrow $2.3 million current fund balance, Galluccio said. This was 0.9% of revenues. Due to property tax appeal losses, the city had a financial statement loss of $10 million to $11 million in 2013, Stinson said.

The city has been selling bonds to cover major property tax refunds. As of November Moody's projected that the city would have direct debt burden of 2% of full property valuation by the end of the first half of 2014. This would be double the United States median. The city's unfunded pension liability is also an above average 1.9 times operating revenue.

City residents elected a new mayor in November 2013. Mayor Don Guardian is applying to New Jersey for $10 million in Transitional Aid and $12.5 million in an Essential Services Grant.

The city has not yet adopted a 2014 budget and is operating on a continuing resolution extending 2013 funding levels. In his proposed budget, Guardian is not assuming the city will receive the aid and has proposed a 45% jump in the property tax rate, Stinson said. The goal is to increase the total property taxes received to $229 million from $199 million.

The New Jersey Local Finance Board now has approval rights over Atlantic City government's budget. While the city council will vote on it, the board has ultimate authority, Stinson said. The board is expected to vote on the budget in May or June, Stinson said.

Guardian told The Bond Buyer that he was optimistic that the state would approve the two grants for the city, reducing pressure on it. This would allow the city to not increase its tax rate as steeply.

While the city acknowledges its fiscal distress, it sees the future of the city's casino gambling differently than many outsiders. Cure, Galluccio, and Meczka are all pessimistic about the city's gambling future.

Stinson said he expects the Atlantic City casinos' total gambling revenues should stabilize in the next three years.

The recent introduction of online gambling in New Jersey, which is flowing through Atlantic City's casinos, has been less popular than most observers expected. Yet this may grow, helping the casinos and the online gambling is expected to lead to onsite gambling competitions of participants, Stinson said.

Guardian said he is also working diligently to expand the city's economy beyond gambling.

For several decades starting in the 1930s many conventions were held in Atlantic City, the mayor said. For a period at the end of the 20th century and in the past decade, hotel rooms were too booked for conventions to be held in the city. This is no longer the case during weekdays outside the summer season, he said.

Atlantic City's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is creating a nonprofit organization to promote conventions in the city, Guardian said. The organization should be operating by early 2015.

While the city has some facilities for conventions, it lacks facilities with many smaller meeting areas, which some conventions prefer, Guardian said. Harrah's Casino is building a 200,000 square foot facility to serve this sort of convention.

The city is also trying to offer venues and events that are not found elsewhere, Guardian said. It recently drew many people to the city for an air show and a Miss America pageant. The city will host a major triathlon in June.

The authority has a five-year plan for the city, Galluccio said.

The authority is trying to capitalize on the city's golf courses and presence on the ocean and is trying to come up with other ideas to keep the city a popular destination.

Mohegan Math - The Real Conflict

...not exactly what Massachusetts taxpayers thought they were getting....

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Have they heard from you?

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
There was a powerful moment Wednesday at a Massachusetts Gaming Commission hearing on the proposed Suffolk Downs casino. As No Eastie Casino chairwoman Celeste Myers approached the microphone to testify, dozens of other East Boston residents stood behind her in solidarity, filling the middle aisle of the convention hall. (see the photo above) We were only a few, but we represented thousands of our neighbors who, on November 5, 2013, said NO to any casino at Suffolk Downs. It was such a striking moment because the commissioners were forced to look into the eyes of the residents whose votes they disrespected by allowing a Suffolk Downs casino proposal to proceed.

Friends, they are hearing us, but they need to hear from many more of us -- not only in East Boston and Revere, but in surrounding communities as well. Here are three (maybe four) quick things you can do today to let the Commission know that there are thousands -- probably tens of thousands -- who oppose the arrival of a predatory casino to Suffolk Downs:
1. If you haven't already, will you please send a note to the Commission today expressing your opposition to a casino at Suffolk Downs, your belief that the matter was settled when East Boston voted no, and your belief that East Boston is rightfully a host community for any casino at Suffolk Downs? The best way to reach the Commission is through the contact form on their website.

2. Will you send your comments to your elected officials? In East Boston, this would be, salvatore.lamattina@,, and anthony.petruccelli@masenate. gov. Thank them for agreeing that East Boston is still host to any casino at Suffolk Downs, but remind them that we expect them to uphold East Boston's clear "no" vote on Nov. 5. After all, they work for us.
3. Will you ask your friends in other surrounding communities -- including Lynn, Chelsea, Winthrop, Salem, Melrose, Cambridge, Everett, Swampscott, Lynnfield, Saugus and Nahant -- to do the same? Here is a template you can send them to use and modify. Make sure people insert their specific town throughout the letter. People can mention opposition to the Wynn Everett proposal too, if they want (in parentheses):
Subject: [Melrose] Resident Opposed to Casino at Suffolk Downs

Comments: To the Massachusetts Gaming Commission:

I unfortunately did not know about the public hearing seeking surrounding community input on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. I am writing to submit my official comments. I speak with a silent majority of people in my community and other surrounding communities in saying I am strongly opposed to the development of a resort-style casino at Suffolk Downs (and in Everett). Unfortunately, we were not afforded the opportunity to vote on this proposal--a proposal which is overstating the benefits and for which there has been far too little discussion of the negative repercussions.

If people in Melrose had had the opportunity to learn about this proposal, I am confident we would have strongly voted no. We are very concerned for several reasons: 1) We cannot trust Suffolk Downs or Mohegan Sun. The people of East Boston and Palmer voted, and the owners of Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun circumvented the law to have another (illegal) vote on a proposal for which both East Boston and Revere continue to be host communities. Mohegan Sun violated the confidentiality of Winthrop in negotiations with their town leaders. They negotiated a host community that gives them the right to renegotiate "at any time for any reason." Such an agreement is not worth the paper it is written on. For these and other reasons, we cannot trust the entities who have proposed to develop this casino. 2) This proposal will bring significantly increased traffic to the area. Proposed traffic mitigation is woefully inadequate--as demonstrated in independent letters from two former state transportation secretaries--and relies too heavily on agreements the city of Boston has yet to make. This will make our commutes more difficult and will deter people from visiting, shopping and dining in Melrose. 3) On a related note, this proposal will have a negative economic impact in Melrose. First, gambling addiction will double because we are within 15 miles of the proposed casino. This will destroy families and lead to increased foreclosures--hardly an economic development strategy. Second, this will take money away from our local businesses and redirect it into slot machines. Finally, research demonstrates there is no net job creation from casinos built in urban areas; this proposal will lead to job loss at local businesses. 4) There is woefully inadequate provision for the increased costs associated with addiction, crime, pollution and other social ills that will befall Melrose as a result of this proposal.

Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs proactively reached out to employees and other guaranteed supporters, providing free transportation and dessert to encourage them to attend the hearing on March 25. This does not demonstrate stronger support for the casino, but rather demonstrates that with millions of dollars, corporations can bring a group of people to a hearing. I speak for many others in surrounding communities in letting you know that while we may not have been at the hearing in person, we strongly oppose the proposed casino at Suffolk Downs. It is wrong for Melrose and it is wrong for Massachusetts.
4. Finally, we need to forge and strengthen our alliance with like-minded groups in Greater Boston. Nonprofits, healthcare facilities, and community and advocacy groups be registering their opposition to the casinos not only with the Gaming Commission, but also with Mayor Walsh or their respective mayor. If you have ties to groups in or around Boston who may be able to aid our cause, send us an email.

Thank you for your continued and tireless support of our efforts to keep our communities safe, thriving, and casino-free. We're making a difference, and we will not stop until our voices are heard and respected!

Best Regards,

The No Eastie Casino Team
Para recibir este correo en espanol, por favor, mande su nombre y su direccion de correo electronico a

Wynn Resorts: 4 Different Insiders Have Sold Shares This Month

Steve Wynn is the casino developer proposing an elegant Slot Barn on a contaminated waste site in Everett, Massachusetts.

Macau casino stocks swing lower • 10:46 AM
  • Macua-related casino stocks are being sold as some reads on March revenue tallies in Macau point to growth numbers for March below expectations.
  • Decliners: Galaxy Entertainment (GXYEF) -5.0%, Melco Crown (MPEL) -2.7%, Wynn Resorts (WYNN) -1.8%, Las Vegas Sands (LVS) -1.8%.
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