Meetings & Information


Monday, May 30, 2016

Pa. can't balance budget on gamblers' losses

Pa. can't balance budget on gamblers' losses | Editorial

Online gambling 2006 Getty Images file photo.JPG
Online poker is one of the gambling options the Pennsylvania Legislature is 
looking to legalize. (Karen Fleier/AFP/Getty Images file photo)

By Express-Times opinion staff 
on May 29, 2016

In these turbulent times, one thing seems certain — Pennsylvania isn't going to balance its budget by legalizing and taxing online betting. Or fantasy sports leagues. Or video poker in bars and clubs.  Or — please spare us — slot machines in airports.
Nonetheless, the state House took a stab at legalizing those options last week, and failed spectacularly when too many competing proposals were thrown into the pot. The muddled outcome exposed the conflict between the state's highly successful casinos — most of which favor online gaming because they would manage it — and taverns and social clubs that are hungry for video poker.
This is no way to stave off another budget crisis. Expanding gambling options is a dicey, short-term gambit. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli reminded us last week that easy access to internet gambling feeds addiction, as well as the type of crimes that follow addiction and the transfer of electronic money online.
There's a practical reason to find more reliable revenue sources. While Pennsylvania represents a big untapped market for online gaming (New Jersey legalized it three years ago), it's only a matter of time until other states join in and flatten the overall take. Pennsylvania's casinos are largely credited with the collapse of Atlantic City's numbers. As casinos continue to multiply in neighboring states, and New Jersey considers casinos outside Atlantic City, states will look to other gambling sources. Until they, too, reach a point of saturation.
None of this matters much in Harrisburg. Given lawmakers' reluctance to go along with Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed tax increases, they're turning to gambling.
Last Tuesday the House voted down amendments that would have legalized online gambling and sports fantasy leagues, but the "poison pills" were other add-ons. One amendment would have allowed video poker at taverns and social clubs, which the casino industry views as a threat. Another amendment called for placing slots machines in off-track betting locations and airport lounges. (Don't air travelers have enough headaches now without waiting for flights in mini-slot parlors?)
Under the proposed legislation, casinos would oversee online gaming and sports fantasy betting. Most casino owners are in favor of the proposal for that reason. However, Sheldon Adelson, owner of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, remains opposed to any online gambling. Owners of taverns and social clubs, who largely rejected the state's recent foray into small games of chance, are lobbying to be able to offer video poker. Legally.
The House rejection last week may only mean that members haven't parlayed their differences into a winning compromise. The same proposals are expected to come up again in June.
Wolf says he isn't opposed to online gambling; the Senate is guarding its hand closely.
The argument for legalizing online gambling and video poker is that people are going to do it anyway, so it's better if the state regulates it and takes a cut for the taxpayer. Yet placing bets on computers and smartphones — or having access to video poker at every neighborhood bar and club — is different from taking a trip to a casino.
If the House goes down this road, the Senate should seek to fill the state's $1 billion-plus budget deficit in a more reliable way, even if that means limited tax increases.

Wampanoag casino opponents seek injunction

Wampanoag casino opponents seek injunction

East Taunton neighbors aim to remove land from trust until lawsuit is decided

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell was behind the controls of this excavator that took down an existing warehouse in April to make way for the new First Light Resort & Casino project in Taunton.Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell was behind the controls of this excavator that took down an existing warehouse in April to make way for the new First Light Resort & Casino project in Taunton. Merrily Cassidy/Cape Cod Times file
By Cynthia McCormick
Posted May. 28, 2016
East Taunton residents opposed to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s casino are seeking an injunction to at least temporarily remove tribal land from a federal trust that is paving the way for construction of the First Light Resort and Casino.
The plaintiffs in Littlefield v. U.S. Department of the Interior filed a motion for a preliminary injunction Friday to be in place until the outcome of their legal challenge to the federal government is decided.
Michelle Littlefield and other residents of East Taunton are challenging the tribe’s ability to open the First Light Resort and Casino by questioning the federal government's ability to take land into trust for tribes recognized after 1934.
Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribes need land in trust to pursue a casino on reservation land.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe broke ground for the casino in April, seven months after the U.S. Department of the Interior approved taking 151 acres in Taunton and 170 acres in Mashpee into trust as the tribe’s initial reservation.
But the Littlefield plaintiffs argue that allowing the tribe to complete the casino while the lawsuit winds its way through the legal system would deprive them of any remedy if they win their case.
Plans for the casino, which will cost an estimated $600 million to build, include a 300-room hotel with twin towers and a gaming room with 3,000 slot machines, 150 table games and 40 poker tables.
Cedric Cromwell, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council chairman, said the First Light Resort and Casino project “is moving forward and focused on getting the first phase up and running by next summer.”
“We do not see this lawsuit against the federal government as having any impact on our progress,” Cromwell said.

Macau to study ways to combat multiplier: govt

Macau to study ways to combat multiplier: govt

Macau’s Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, said on Monday that his departments would continue to communicate with the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), to study ways to combat what he referred to as “side betting”.
The secretary made the comment at a Monday press briefing discussing the city’s crime statistics for the first quarter this year. Mr Wong stated that his office currently does not have any official statistics regarding the crime of “side betting” because of its “hidden nature” and the difficulty of obtaining usable evidence concerning the activity.
The Macau government’s “mid-term” review report of the local casino industry published at the start of May, mentioned the likelihood of tighter regulation of VIP gaming promoters at the city’s casinos, including potentially the use of undercover investigators to combat what the report referred to as “side betting”. In the Macau context, this usually means “the multiplier”.
The multiplier is an illegal practice defined in the Macau government’s industry review report as “the VIP room operator’s secret arrangement with the client that both parties will agree to magnify by a few times – for instance ten times – the bet on the table”. The review described the multiplier as “greatly restricting government taxation and seriously disruptive to social order”.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Mr Wong said his office remains “open” on whether to adopt the use of undercover investigators to combat the multiplier. That possibility was mentioned in the “mid-term” review report.
The secretary also noted that what the government refers to as “the adjustment” in Macau’s gaming industry – usually taken by outsiders as a reference to the two-year downward trend in casino gross gaming revenue – had so far not had any negative impact on the city’s security, nor had it created what Mr Wong referred to as “irregularities” in triad activities.
Rise in crimes
But according to official data released by Mr Wong’s office, there was a rise in the number of gambling-related crimes in the first three months of this year.
In the January to March period, the number of cases of gambling-related crimes reported to, and investigated by, the police totalled 368 cases, representing an increase of 11.2 percent year-on-year, the official data indicated.
In the quarter, a total of 89 cases of unlawful detention – i.e., where a person is held against his or her will by someone not legally authorised to do so – were recorded, reflecting an increase of 32.8 percent year-on-year. Such cases are typically associated in Macau with loan sharking connected to gambling, the city’s authorities have said.
Usury cases – unlawful lending of money – in the period, increased by 55.9 percent year-on-year to 106 cases, according to official data released on Monday.
While cases of unlawful detention and of usury had fallen when judged quarter-on-quarter, the fact that both categories of offence had risen year-on-year was a ground for the security forces not to be complacent, the secretary’s office concluded. The office also noted on Monday that it would launch more efficiently targeted crime prevention measures to combat illegal detention and usury.
Most of the victims and suspects involved in the illegal detention and usury cases were not Macau residents, the secretary’s office said in its report, which was read out at the media briefing.
Explaining the year-on-year rise seen in gambling-related crimes, Mr Wong stated it was partly due to “better enforcement of the law”. Most of the cases took place inside casinos, and the police saw so signs that such criminal activity was spreading beyond the walls of the casinos.
His office noted that in the first quarter, gaming-related cases involving a total of 424 suspects had been sent to the Public Prosecutions Office, up by 17.5 percent year-on-year.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Anti-gambling, recovery activist Kenneth MacGregor dies at 74 at home in Pawtucket

Anti-gambling, recovery activist Kenneth MacGregor dies at 74 at home in Pawtucket


Posted May 26, 2016 at 6:39 PM
Updated May 26, 2016 at 7:40 PM 

By Lynn Arditi 
Journal staff writer

His name was Kenneth G. MacGregor but everybody knew him as “Kenny Mac.”
At an age when many men are perfecting their golf swings, MacGregor, a retired engineer from Pawtucket, found his calling. He testified at the State House about the dangers of gambling addiction. He opened a recovery house — and sometimes his own home — to people trying to beat addiction.
“He’d take in a lot of people who other people had rejected,’’ his son, Joseph MacGregor, 32, of Burrillville, said. “He tried to help them out and get them on the straight and narrow. ''
MacGregor — anti-gambling activist, head of Highlander House, in Pawtucket, and founder of the Rhode Island Council on Problem Gambling — died at home in Pawtucket on Saturday. He was 74.
“He had been in recovery for [over] four decades and helped hundreds of people find and sustain their recovery,” said Thomas Coderre, a senior adviser to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in Washington. “He helped me tremendously, without judgment, and I am forever grateful for it.”
The former Rhode Island senator recalled how MacGregor came to visit him in 2003, when Coderre was in treatment.
“Kenny showed up at the treatment center with all sorts of baked goods and donations for the residents,” he wrote in an e-mail. “In fact, he came every week, and not just to our center, but to centers and shelters for [the] homeless and victims of domestic violence throughout the state.”
Coderre recalled his mother, former state Rep. Elaine Coderre, describing how on Saturday mornings the children in the homeless shelter in Pawtucket that she used to run would wait on the front steps for MacGregor, who would arrive with two dozen doughnuts and two gallons of milk.
A U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, where he served with the 101st Airborne Division, MacGregor later worked as an industrial engineer and consultant before retiring in his 50s and focusing on helping people trying to beat addiction.
His personal life was marked by tragedy. His 29-year-old stepdaughter, Marie A. Gonder, was murdered in 1994 by her husband, leaving behind their three young boys, Joseph, Jaime and Justin. MacGregor and his wife, Phyllis, took in the boys, their grandsons. Then, less than two months after her daughter’s murder, Phyllis MacGregor died at age 52.
“He raised those kids virtually all by himself,” Coderre said. In 1997, MacGregor adopted the three boys as his sons.
He also had four other children — two sons, Rob Roy and Kenneth F. McGregor, from a previous marriage, and Phyllis' children, Lynn and Joseph P. MacGregor, whom he also adopted.

“He was a class act,” his son Joseph said. “He was very humble. He did a lot of things under the radar.”
Calling hours are on Friday, May 27, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the William W. Tripp Funeral Home, 1008 Newport Ave., Pawtucket. Services, with military honors, will be on Saturday, May 28, at 10 a.m. at Calvin Presbyterian Church, 126 Angell Rd., Cumberland, followed by burial at Highland Memorial Park Cemetery, 1 Rhode Island Ave., Johnston. 

Trump's history of stoking rivalries goes back to his casino days

Trump's history of stoking rivalries goes back to his casino days

donald trump hotel casino

AP Photo/Chaarles Rex Arbogast, FileIn this 1990 photo, Donald Trump ascends the stairs with his fist raised from the genie's lamp after opening the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in a spectacular show of fireworks and laser lights in Atlantic City.

When Donald Trump acquired a pair of Atlantic City casinos in the mid-1980s, he pitted his managers against each other in a ferocious competition over everything from booking entertainers to attracting high-rolling gamblers.
That one of those managers was his wife, Ivana Trump, didn't earn her any slack.
"His tactic there, as our success surpassed the Castle's in 1987, was to shove the Plaza's performance in Ivana's face, like a mirror, holding it up for her to see the reflection of a less than successful manager," John O'Donnell, Ivana Trump's rival in the casino wars, wrote in a 1991 book.
Trump's penchant for encouraging rivalries is now roiling his presidential campaign just as he's captured the GOP nomination, creating deep uncertainty among Republicans about his preparedness for a complex and costly general election campaign. The tensions boiled over last week with the abrupt ouster of political director Rick Wiley, who left the campaign after just six weeks.
Wiley found himself caught between Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, one of the businessman's original campaign staffers, and Paul Manafort, a veteran Republican hand who was brought in to bolster the operation in March. While Wiley was originally hired by Lewandowski, he aligned himself with Manafort's vision of a more robust and expensive campaign operation — a vision Trump does not appear to have fully bought into. He also was seen as being unwilling to fill top jobs in battleground states with people close to Lewandowski, according to people familiar with the decision.
Wiley did not respond to requests to discuss his tenure with the Trump campaign. Trump aides would not make the candidate available for an interview, but they did not dispute the notion that the real estate mogul encourages internal competition.
"Of course there's competition because you want the best," Lewandowski said. "That's the type of mindset you have to have in the federal government."
Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide who was fired last year, put the dynamic more bluntly: "He loves playing people against each other." Still, Nunberg said he appreciated the competitive environment, crediting it with keeping staffers creative and committed to the organization.
But for other Trump aides, the businessman's cutthroat style led to mistrust and paranoia.
"You can't trust the other guy's people," said Stuart Jolly, who resigned as Trump's campaign field director after Manafort and Wiley were given more power. Jolly confirmed Friday that he is joining the pro-Trump group Great America PAC as its political director.
Some current and former Trump advisers blamed the businessman for withholding information about staff changes from his team, sometimes leaving them to learn about internal developments in the media. Some have taken to shopping negative stories about their rivals to the press in a bid to undercut each other in the eyes of the boss — even if the stories reflect poorly on Trump.
Even more concerning for Trump as he eyes a likely faceoff with Democrat Hillary Clinton is the uncertainty the internal friction has created about the direction of the campaign. People close to the campaign say there are major questions about battleground state hiring, voter targeting efforts and super PAC fundraising.
Those close to the campaign insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the campaign publicly.
Trump turned his fondness for competition into ratings gold with his television show "The Apprentice," where rival teams battled against each other to impress the boss. Those who failed were unceremoniously fired — a made-for-television version of events that sometimes played out in Trump's real businesses.
In 1985 and 1986, Trump acquired full control of two Atlantic City casinos in quick succession. Ivana Trump was put in charge of one, named Trump Castle, while the other — Trump Plaza — was overseen by casino managers hired away from gambling titan Steve Wynn.
Trump Plaza Casino signReuters/Mark MakelaSteven Nordaby and Tony Demidio, of Calvi Electric, remove the letter 'A' from the signage of Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Castle and Plaza managers were expected to compete over everything from casino entertainers to which property bought more copies of Trump's autobiography, "The Art of the Deal."
The most heated competition of all: which casino could draw the high-rolling gamblers who would wager thousands of dollars per hand. By 1987, the larger and more luxurious Plaza was successfully wooing this small but elite set, aided by top-tier prize fights in the Atlantic City Convention Center next door.
Instead of allowing the Plaza to establish itself as the unrivaled venue for high-rollers in Atlantic City, however, Trump underwrote Ivana's campaign to compete for them.
Ivana TrumpBryan Bedder/Getty Images for Gabrielle's Angel FoundationNEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 19: Ivana Trump attends Angel Ball 2015 hosted by Gabrielle's Angel Foundation at Cipriani Wall Street on October 19, 2015 in New York City.
"If we presented a $100,000 player with a gold Rolex watch, the Castle gave him two," O'Donnell wrote in his book book "Trumped! The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump — His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall." In a 1997 interview, Trump said "the stuff O'Donnell wrote about me is probably true," using an expletive to describe his former executive as a loser.
When Plaza managers pleaded to Trump that the competition between his two casinos was ill advised, Trump mocked them.
"What are you worried about Ivana for," he told one executive, according to O'Donnell's book. "She's just a woman. She can't take the business."
The competition described by O'Donnell led to an ill-advised, $70 million addition to Trump Castle, dubbed "The Crystal Tower," and continued even after Trump sent Ivana back to New York and three of the Plaza's top executives died in a helicopter crash.
Within weeks of the accident, Trump's Castle team launched a surprise raid on Trump's other casino: It's top executive leased office space directly above the Plaza's marketing department, offering the Plaza team raises of up to 30 percent to defect.

NLRB Defends Attempt to Enroach on Tribal Sovereignty

NLRB Defends Attempt to Enroach on Tribal Sovereignty

On May 23, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that it has authority over labor practices at two Michigan tribal casinos. This argument stems from petitions filed earlier this year by both casino tribes — the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. The casinos urged the court to reverse a Sixth Circuit ruling, which upheld NLRB authority over the tribes’ employment practices.
At issue is an ordinance enacted by the Little River Band’s tribal council prohibiting casino employees from engaging in strikes, work stoppages or slowdowns. The NLRB sought a cease and desist order to prohibit enforcement of parts of the tribal law which conflicted with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The Sixth Circuit agreed with the NLRB and held that the tribe’s no-strike law violated the NLRA. In doing so, the Sixth Circuit squarely rejected a contrary decision by the Tenth Circuit, which sustained tribal labor laws.
The tribes now challenge the Sixth Circuit ruling. They argue that the casinos are exempt from the National Labor Relations Act as government employers. The NLRB contends that no circuit conflict exists and that earlier decisions did not address how the NLRA applies to a tribe acting as an employer. Moreover, the board argues that applying the NLRA to the casinos, which mostly employ non-Indians and serve non-Indian customers, is consistent with both tribal sovereignty and the NLRA’s purpose.
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Taunton property owners ask court to stop construction of Mashpee Wampanoag casino project

The tribe broke ground on the casino in April, and has begun work at the 150-acre parcel, a former office park. “The tribe has demolished buildings, ...

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe have been working on creating a new casino in theTaunton area of Massachusetts, spending as much as $1 billion on Project First Light Resort & Casino. The tribe has faced strong opposition to the project, with property owners in Taunton suing to try and stop the tribe from building the casino resort. The property owners have now went one step further in their efforts, asking the court on Friday to stop construction of the project, even if just for a temporary time frame.
An injunction was filed in federal court by residents to renew their efforts to stop the large gaming project, a venue that should be open by summer of 2017. If a judge grants the injunction, the tribe would be forced to stop construction, at least until the lawsuit has been resolved. This could take several years. The tribe already broke ground on the venue back in April and began to work on the parcel of land for the resort, consisting of 150 acres.
The filing stated that the tribe has already begun to demolish buildings, cut trees and used heavy equipment for grading the land. The property can now be described fairly as a moonscape. Property owners are claiming that the significant changes to the property are causing irreparable harm.
Investors of the project as well as tribal leaders remain confident that they will win in court and have chosen to begin construction despite the fact that legal intervention could take place. The legal move by the property owners of Taunton takes place just one month after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission rejected plans for a casino to be constructed in Brockton, which gave the Mashpee tribe exclusive rights to operate a casino in the southeastern area of the state.
The decision by the commission helped to avoid two large casinos being constructed within a close proximity to each other but also had the risk of the lawsuit ruining the Taunton plan and leaving the area without a casino in place.
In the lawsuit by the residents of Taunton, the federal government is accused of acting unlawfully in 2015 when approval was given to the tribe after a request was made to designate the property in Taunton as a sovereign reservation which made way for the casino.

Free-falling Macau Searches for Answers

Free-falling Macau Searches for Answers

Published May 28, 2016

Macau casinos are still in freefall. 
Searching for Answers
With Asian gambling hub Macau looking for new forms of revenue to offset losses brought on by their government's anti-corruption campaign, it appears time to take a closer look at online gambling for the traditional land-based gaming powerhouse.
Two Years of Losses
April marked the 23rd consecutive month of loss, as the struggle to offset revenue lost from VIP junket operators being forced out by the Chinese government continues.  
Macau's take for April came out to 17.3 billion patacas ($2.2 billion) in April, representing a 9.5 percent drop year-on-year from the same period in 2015, and down almost a full third since 2013.
The Drop
Before Chinese President Xi Jinping launched his anti-corruption campaign three years ago, Macau revenues were fueled by VIP junket operators flying in clients to Macau casinos and lending them money. 
Red Economic Curtain
Socialist leaders in the Chinese government began cracking down on these junket operations in 2014, out of concerns that the scheme was being used by wealthy citizens and corporations to move large amounts of money offshore and out of the government's reach.
As a result, the government has sought to find alternative forms of revenue. Billionaire hotel and marketing magnates Adelson and Wynn have added themes to their hotels to draw Vegas-style tourism. However, there is still a form of gambling which Macau has yet to tap into: online gambling, a sector where other countries are experiencing incremental boosts in revenue at little or no cost to them, and with relatively minimal costs to operators as well.
Increase Revenues through Gambling Activity
Since junkets are retooling marketing strategies to appeal to a more middle class tourist-centric audience, why not offer a more affordable form of high stakes play? Hosting online games combining competition from online players and physically present players could give that new segment the opportunity to participate in high stakes games.
At this point, it seems increasingly difficult to ignore the online option for stimulating revenues and adapting to Macau's the new era imposed on the Macau market.

Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh says church employee stole $220K in donations

Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh says church employee stole $220K in donations

Aaron Aupperlee


A former employee of Good Samaritan Parish in Ambridge who ran up a six-figure casino gambling loss admitted to stealing more than $220,000 from donations for votive candles and the collection plate, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and Beaver County District Attorney's Office said Friday.

Thomas P. Ross, 62, known in the church as Brother Ambrose Ross, was arraigned Friday on three counts of theft and three charges of receiving stolen property. A phone call to a number listed for Ross was not returned.

Records from Rivers Casino showed Ross had gambling transactions totaling $2.7 million from 2010 to 2015, including more than $331,000 in losses, according to the district attorney's office.

Bishop David A. Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said he was “deeply grieved” that someone would take money given to the church.

“I offer my prayers and consolation to the parishioners whose trust has been broken and I promise to continue full cooperation with the civil authorities,” Zubik said in a statement. “I ask your prayers for everyone who has been harmed by this, including Brother Ambrose.”

An attorney accompanied Ross to his arraignment Friday but no information for the lawyer was listed in court records. He was released on an unsecured $250,000 bond, court records show.

Ross worked as director of music and liturgy and as a fundraising coordinator from 1994 to May 2015 at Good Samaritan. He resigned after being confronted with evidence of financial irregularities, church officials said. He worked at St. Stanislaus Parish before Good Samaritan.

The church began investigating in early 2014 because a parishioner reported that his 2013 contribution statement was not accurate. Good Samaritan's pastor, the Rev. Joseph Carr, found financial irregularities when he tried to verify cash contributions to the church.

The parish installed hidden cameras in the office in April 2015. The cameras caught Ross taking sealed bank envelopes from a safe. Ross was shown the videos in May 2015, admitted to taking the money and resigned, said the Rev. Ron Lengwin, a spokesman for the diocese.

The church turned the case over to the police, who asked they keep it quiet as their investigation unfolded. Parishioners were informed that Ross had resigned because of financial irregularities, but details of the investigation weren't released until Friday.

A letter from Zubik about Ross and the thefts will be read to parishioners at Good Samaritan during services this weekend, Lengwin said.

The diocese said the parish followed established rules for handling money but that Ross was able to exploit a flaw in how money was handled and accounted for.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 7.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Secret Addiction

The Secret Addiction

Attending class hungover, blacking out at every party and vomiting are all obvious signs of a developing drinking problem. What about missing class, anxiety, depression, mood swings, begging parents for money and excessive sports watching? These may just seem like the everyday struggles of a normal college student, but they also are all signs of a silent addiction that is just as harmful as drugs and alcoholism but harder to recognize: a gambling addiction.

Many young-aged adults experiment with gambling while in college, and it can lead down the same tumultuous path as alcoholism and drug abuse, but it isn’t nearly talked about as much as other  addictions.

Gambling addiction is not considered a mental disorder, although alcoholism and drug addiction are classified as medical conditions, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In college, there are many different outlets to help recognize alcohol and drug problems, from campus seminars to outreach programs. But there’s nothing about gambling. There are also many strict policies about consuming alcohol and drugs on campus with hard repercussions that can even lead to expulsion. At Sonoma State University, there is a link to a drug and alcohol resources page with four different campus resources and six local resources filled with information about the signs, symptoms and treatment of different addiction abuse, but there’s no word on gambling addictions.
Sonoma State isn’t the only university that doesn't take gambling seriously. According to National Council on Problem Gambling, only 22 percent of American universities have formal policies on gambling while almost every major university has policies on drug and alcohol use.
    ABC News reported on this issue that has been a problem since the early 2000s at the start of the online poker craze. They looked to Jeff Marotta, a problem-gambling services manager for the Oregon  Human Resources Agency.
"About one college student in 20 has a gambling problem, but it's an issue that's very much under the radar," said Marotta in a statement announcing a campaign to help prevent college gambling, published by ABC News in 2006. "Most colleges seem to view student gambling as a harmless extracurricular activity, yet we know that for a certain percentage of student gamblers it can lead to serious problems."    
    California is home to more than  90 casinos with 23 offering gambling to people of the age of 18 and up.
    Rohnert Park is home to the largest casino in California. Graton Resort and Casino opened its doors two years ago with a clear focus to attract young socialites interested in a night of drinking and gaming. Graton even holds more gaming tables than the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. Graton is now nearing the opening of a $175 million, 20- room hotel. With the rise of gambling in the Rohnert Park area and the expansion of Graton attractions, gambling addiction needs to be taken more seriously at Sonoma State.
    Gambling takes place in many shapes and forms other than regular casino-style gaming. The lotto, sports betting and fantasy sports can all be considered gambling and they all begin while in college. According to the National Center for Responsible Gambling, 75 percent of college students have gambled in the past year, and 18 percent gamble on a weekly basis. Casino nights and poker tournaments are popular fundraising events put on by college organizations that introduce students to the gambling world.
     Gambling addiction can be extremely difficult to recognize. The first signs of a gambling addiction can be saving money for a casino trip, betting bigger bets, borrowing money to gamble, reliving past gambling experiences and secret gambling trips. If you or someone you know is suffering from gambling addiction, call 1-800-GAMBLER or visit