Meetings & Information


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Iowa: 'They suffer in silence;' stigma high with gambling addicts

'They suffer in silence;' stigma high with gambling addicts

Twenty-nine thousand Iowans struggled with a gambling addiction in 2015, but only 600 called the state's hotline, 1-800-BETS OFF.
That's a "huge disparity," said Eric Preuss, program manager for the Iowa Gambling Treatment Program through the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Preuss, who has worked in substance abuse treatment since the late 1980s, said the stigma surrounding a gambling habit is higher than other addictions. The rate of suicide is higher, too, he said.
"There is an extreme amount of shame and guilt," Preuss said. "They suffer in silence. These are people that are hurting. It takes courage to pick up the phone."
About 68 percent of Iowans, or 1.6 million people, have gambled in the past 12 months, statistics show. Of those, 85 percent stay within their means and very rarely or never exhibit problem behaviors.
"They seem to just have fun with it," Preuss said.
The 29,000 who struggle with a gambling addiction represent 1.2 percent of the state's population. Preuss said another 13 percent are considered "at risk," because they have exhibited at least one of nine criteria for determining problem gambling. That could include losing a large sum of money in one bet or lying to your spouse about where you were.
Blair Brown, a problem gambling counselor in Davenport, said where she often sees the addiction beginning to form is when the person is trying to duplicate the high he or she felt after winning the first time.
"They had a big win the first time gambling," Brown said. "They're chasing that high over and over again."
She is concerned that as gambling continues to become more available the risk of relapse will grow among those who already are struggling with the addiction.
Preuss shares the concern, too.
In 1991-92, the Quad-Cities went from zero to three riverboat casinos. Today, Iowa has 22 casinos and 2,400 Iowa Lottery outlets, and the state issues more than 2,800 social and charitable gaming licenses, such as for a church bingo event.
"Gambling has always existed," Preuss said. "Poker always existed. But now with the stuff you can do on smartphones, and there is talk of fantasy sports being legalized, what existed 25 years ago looks much different today."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Letter to AG Maura Healey on Penn National's Deceptive Online Marketing Practices

Below is our letter today to Attorney General Maura Healey requesting that her office take swift action to protect Massachusetts consumers from Penn National's deceptive and unfair online marketing practices as reported in today's Boston Globe.

I encourage you to contact her office by email or a hard copy letter, urging her to act against these fraudulent practices. 


Les Bernal,
Stop Predatory Gambling
March 23, 2016

Attorney General Maura Healey
Office of the Attorney General
c/o Gaming Enforcement Division
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108

Dear Attorney General Healey:

On behalf of Stop Predatory Gambling (SPG), I am writing to request that your office act swiftly to stop the unfair and deceptive marketing practices being used by Plainridge casino in their online marketing program.

As reported by The Boston Globe on March 23rd, Plainridge’s parent company Penn National has designed a fraudulent online slots game that creates an illusion of success with the intent of luring more citizens to use real slot machines.

According to the story:

“If the games look the same and sound the same, but the payback of one is much lower, then that’s misleading,” said Natasha Dow Schull, an associate professor at New York University and the author of Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas.
Schull said online casino sites have a bait-and-switch quality to them because their large payoffs condition players to expect the same at the casino.

The goal of online slot machines, a growing trend known in the casino industry as social gaming, is to “prime your system for gambling — to hook you in,” she said.

The real slot machines inside Penn National’s casino are designed mathematically so users are certain to lose their money the longer they play. At the same time, the machines are literally designed so citizens cannot stop using them, exploiting aspects of human psychology and inducing irrational behavior.[1] Every feature of a slot machine - its mathematical structure, visual graphics, sound dynamics, seating and screen ergonomics - is designed to increase a player's "time on device" – which means how long a person plays.[2]  (See Figure 1 below)

Figure 1: Addiction By Design by MIT Professor Dr. Natasha Schull, Pg. 112


No single act of government creates more inequality of opportunity than its promotion of gambling. Bringing about major reform on this public policy includes stopping the unfair and deceptive marketing practices used by commercial gambling operators such as Penn National.

For additional information on the issue, please contact me at (202) 567-6696. Thank you for your attention to this important consumer protection issue.


Les Bernal
National Director
Stop Predatory Gambling


[1] Natasha Dow Schull, PhD, Addiction By Design, Machine Gambling in Las Vegas, (2012), available at

[2] Natasha Dow Schull, PhD, Beware: Machine Zone Ahead, Washington Post, July 6, 2008,
Build a more humane and just society: sunset the policy of government-sponsored gambling because it's dishonest, financially damaging to citizens and contributes to rising inequality of opportunity.

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian Warns of Increase in Prostitution and Drugs in North Jersey

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian Warns of Increase in Prostitution and Drugs in North Jersey

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian Warns of Increase in Prostitution and Drugs in North Jersey
Don Guardian is fighting a two-front war: to avoid North Jersey casinos and Chris Christie's economic controls.

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian warned lawmakers that North Jersey casinos would bring an increase in “prostitution and drugs and other minor crimes” to the region. Mayor Guardian’s comments were part of an ongoing debate in anticipation of a casino referendum which is planned for the November 2016 election cycle.
Political leaders in the state of New Jersey are grappling with the idea of licensing brick-and-mortar casinos in places like Jersey City and the Meadowlands, which would be the first time since gaming was legalized in New Jersey in 1976 that casino gambling would exist outside Atlantic City.
Proponents of the longstanding casino monopoly in Atlantic City claim that North Jersey casinos would spell the end for Atlantic City’s casino industry — and perhaps the end for the Boardwalk city as a whole.

Guardian Sought a Bridge Loan

The comments came on Monday, when Don Guardian tried to convince New Jersey lawmakers to make Atlantic City a bridge loan. He was unable to convince legislators to do so. In response, Guardian said he would shut down many aspects of city government for the better part of the month.
The Atlantic City government shutdown affects 900 city workers, and goes into effect on April 8. The shutdown is going to last until May 2, when the city receives its next quarertly revenue payment. Guardian said the shutdown would affect “non-essential services”.

Blamed Chris Christie

Mayor Guardian placed the blame for the Atlantic City government shutdown on Gov. Chris Christie, whom he says refused to a fiscal bailout package without Atlantic City signing over to New Jersey’s state government control of its financial affairs. Don Guardian called his moves “ethical decisions”, based in the common interest.
Guardian said North Jersey casinos would exacerbate traffic woes in the region, causing a massive effect both on commuter’s everyday lives and the local environment. Even more extremely, he suggested the opening of casinos in North Jersey would increase crime in the region. Presumably, North Jersey is a region particularly prone to crime, because Guardian had never complained about casinos bringing crime to his resort city.

Geoff Freeman Speaks

Geoff Freeman, the outspoken chairman of the American Gaming Association, rebuked Don Guardian for his words. In an American political season when rhetoric already is out of control, the AGA chairman said arguments about the North Jersey casinos “should be based in fact, not driven by asinine comments like those made by Mayor Don Guardian.
Mr. Freeman said casino gambling was a solid business and community leader in every jurisdiction which has legal casino gambling in the United States. He added that it was “disappointing and disingenuous” of Mayor Don Guardian to “recycle tired myths about an industry that serves as the lifeblood of his city.

Atlantic City’s Failing Economy

The advice is not likely to be taken. Atlantic City is reeling from the loss of 8,000 casinos jobs in 2014, which was part of catastrophic loss of 9,000 jobs overall. When one considers that Atlantic City has only 40,000 residents and 24.6% of those people are under the age of 18, one realizes that the job losses affected a full one-third of the workforce (accounting for retirees). Almost no family in the city was not affected.
Worse, the tax base of Atlantic City was gutted by the casino closings of 2014. Not only did the city lose the tax revenues from four of its largest businesses — the casinos — but it lost revenues from a third of its workforce. Under the circumstances, Atlantic City was listed in 2014 as the worst city in American in which to live — even worse than the financially troubled Detroit.

Attempts to Bridge the Divide

Some New Jersey politicians have tried to sought ways to lessen the economic effects of North Jersey casinos. Senate President Stephen Sweeney has a plan to pump $1 billion over a 10-year period into the AC economy from North Jersey casino tax revenues. State lawmakers assured that only Atlantic City casino companies could bid on the North Jersey licenses, though that hardly helps the people of Atlantic City.
Under the circumstances, those who believe casino gambling should stay in Atlantic City (only) are likely to pull out all stops, because they are trying to save the jobs of the remaining workers in the city. Voters should expect an ugly casino referendum campaign.

Atlantic City mayor: Northern casinos would bring crime

March 22, 2016 11:37 AM by Staff & Wire Reports
Atlantic City’s Republican mayor says adding two casinos in northern New Jersey would bring crimes including prostitution and drugs and would cause as many problems as benefits.
The Record newspaper reports Mayor Don Guardian spoke Monday at a St. Peter’s College forum on a referendum on extending casino gambling beyond his financially troubled city. The referendum goes before voters in November.
Atlantic City has had a monopoly on casinos. The state Legislature has OK’d a referendum asking residents whether to change the state constitution to stop that and to offer two casino licenses for the northern part of the state.

Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jim Kirkos says a northern New Jersey casino would help the state recapture revenue that goes to New York’s Yonkers Raceway or to eastern Pennsylvania casinos.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Mashpee Wampanoag Folly


Reel Wamps

Mass Gaming Commission to hold open public meeting in Mashpee March 15

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to give presentation on history, Taunton resort-casino project
- See more at:

Members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will be in Mashpee this afternoon. Commissions 181st open public meeting will be held at the Mashpee Wampanoag Community & Government Center at 1 p.m. 
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell will host Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Steve Crosby, Commissioner Gayle Cameron, Commissioner Lloyd Macdonald, Commissioner Bruce Stebbins and Commissioner Enrique Zuniga.
During the meeting the tribe will give a presentation outlining the progress of their Project First Light resort-casino development in Taunton. The presentation will also contain information about the history of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.
In January, the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs officially designated tribal lands in Mashpee and Taunton as a reservation, removing the final obstacle for the resort-casino in Taunton. The resort will be built on 151 acres in Taunton.
A live stream of the meeting will be available on the MassGaming website here. See the agenda for the Mashpee open public meeting here.
- See more at:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe blasts Brockton casino backer during public meeting

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe blasts Brockton casino backer during public meeting

“Neil Bluhm and team, they are going to lie to you, and say we are not funded,” said Cedric Cromwell, tribal chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. “You have the No. 1 gaming company in the world that dwarfs Neil Bluhm. Well-established, the Genting Group is the biggest, the most powerful, the strongest. We are funded. We are moving forward.”

BROCKTON – The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe said that the Genting Group is putting putting forth millions of dollars to build its casino project in Taunton, and that the developer behind a proposed gaming destination in Brockton is a liar to say otherwise.
Cedric Cromwell, tribal chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, blasted Chicago developer Neil Bluhm, the developer behind a proposed casino in Brockton, during a public meeting with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Tuesday. Cromwell said Bluhm is “immoral” for funding a lawsuit aimed at reversing the U.S. Department of Interior decision made last year to grant the tribe land in trust for its $500 million Taunton casino project, in an effort to secure his own commercial casino license in Brockton.

“Neil Bluhm and team, they are going to lie to you, and say we are not funded,” Cromwell said. “You have the No. 1 gaming company in the world that dwarfs Neil Bluhm. Well-established, the Genting Group is the biggest, the most powerful, the strongest. We are funded. We are moving forward.”

Cromwell continued on with a diatribe against Bluhm, the chairman and founder of Rush Street Gaming, which has a local affiliate called Mass Gaming and Entertainment that is pursuing a $677 million casino project at the Brockton Fairgrounds. The gaming commission said previously that it plans to make a decision on the Brockton casino application by the end of April, while considering the legal standing of the tribe’s land in trust in Taunton.
“The lies that others have been communicating, like Neil Bluhm – it’s egregious,” Cromwell said. “To even launch and fund a lawsuit against the tribe – when he’s going for a commercial license – how immoral! How sad that that this has become, that someone like this would do such an egregious act.”
Cromwell also lashed out at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for even meeting with the Brockton casino group, calling it a breach of the Massachusetts gaming law, which gives special precedence for a tribal casino in Southeastern Massachusetts. Cromwell said that the gaming commission would “destroy” the gaming landscape in Massachusetts if approves the Brockton casino license, and that the tribe would give zero gaming revenues to the state in that case, rather than the 17 percent promised by the compact it forged with the state.

Sunday, March 13, 2016



MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2016

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the country’s gaming regulator, has announced the preliminary findings of its inquiry into alleged money laundering, according to media reports.
The story begins in Bangladesh, a country of about 170 million people that’s recently found itself with record foreign reserves thanks to a low wage-fueled export boom and inward remittances. Some of those reserves were held in an account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith last week accused the Fed of “irregularities” that led to the unauthorized transfer of USD100 million from the account. The Bangladesh central bank said the funds had been stolen by hackers and that some had been traced to the Philippines.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted an unknown PAGCOR official as saying that the inquiry revealed that “USD46 million of a reported USD81 million in stolen Bangladeshi funds that entered the Philippines found its way into the local casino industry. The rest of the funds never entered the local casino system. So, we don’t know where those funds went.”
Philippine authorities believe that the USD46 million that entered the gaming system was split into two different groups, including a USD26 million tranche that entered the Solaire Resort and Casino, an integrated resort owned by Bloomberry Resorts. A second tranche of USD20 million allegedly made its way to the Eastern Hawaii Casino and Resort.
The accounts holding the laundered money have reportedly been frozen by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). RM

CT: Trouble brewing for tribes' joint casino venture

Our View: Trouble brewing for tribes' joint casino venture

By Bulletin Editorial Board

Posted Mar. 12, 2016 at 8:34 PM 

Nearly a year ago, the state implied eventual approval of a commercial casino run jointly by Eastern Connecticut’s two American Indian tribes, seemingly guaranteeing the venture’s success — even though the state’s top attorney at the time warned of legal uncertainty ahead.
After a tumultuous week in Hartford that proved Attorney General George Jepsen correct, the Mohegans’ and Mashantucket Pequots’ path to success is less clear. And that bodes ill for the more than 9,000 people their respective casinos employ — whose jobs depend upon stable business there — and for the entire Eastern Connecticut economy.
The tribes say their plan to build a third, off-reservation casino north of Hartford is all about protecting jobs at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun — not about expanding gambling in Connecticut. MGM is building a $950 million commercial casino in Springfield, Mass., and our region’s tribes want to intercept the flow of patrons there.
The hurdles the tribes face, at this point, appear to be twofold.
Tribal, legal trouble
On Monday, the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, with MGM’s backing, sued the state over the law passed last year giving the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal coalition exclusive rights to pursue commercial casino development on nontribal land.
As Jepsen had warned, the Schaghticokes assert they, too, should be permitted to pursue commercial gaming, and the exclusivity enjoyed by the federally recognized tribes violates the Schaghticokes’ rights under the equal protection clause of the state and U.S. Constitution. The Schaghticokes have so far failed to gain federal recognition but have, for centuries, been recognized by the state.
The state Legislature, when it green-lighted the tribal coalition’s negotiations for a commercial facility in May, gave itself power of final approval over any deal. That gave the state an out in case the law’s legality doesn’t stand up in the courts. Today, it appears that back door was a wise addition.
That being said, the Schaghticokes reportedly were reluctant to admit their involvement with MGM, which reveals the lawsuit to be linked primarily to a business interest rather than a tribal or constitutional issue.
“After weeks of not returning phone calls from reporters, (Schaghticoke Chief Richard) Velky finally revealed that his operation is being bankrolled by MGM,” Andrew Doba, spokesman for the Mohegan-Mashantucket Pequot alliance, said in a statement. “This startling revelation — which according to the chief was a year in the making — should raise a red flag for anyone who is concerned about MGM's plan to steal jobs from Connecticut residents.”
It is unclear whether MGM has a solid interest in backing a potential Schaghticoke-run commercial casino — or if it just seeks to throw a wrench into the Eastern Connecticut coalition’s endeavor.
We are eager to see how the lawsuit plays in court, because if it succeeds, it will impede, and may even scuttle, the coalition’s plans. The fallout could be severe for Eastern Connecticut casino workers.
To study or not to study
Meanwhile, the Legislature is considering another measure that aims to evaluate the “costs and benefits” of establishing a commercial casino in the state — a law the Eastern Connecticut coalition opposes. The state Office of Policy and Management and Department of Consumer Protection would be charged with analyzing potential state tax windfalls and, more to the point, the “geographic locations within the state where a commercial gaming facility could be located to maximize state revenues.”
Those geographic locations, for all anyone knows, may differ from the strategic area identified by the Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots. That coalition and MGM have pointed to separate studies they’ve commissioned — which, unsurprisingly, reached different conclusions. An impartial study may be just the ticket.
And, perhaps more importantly, the law would require “an economic and legal analysis of the potential effects” of a commercial casino on existing slot revenue-sharing agreements between the tribes and the state — another uncertainty that Jepsen warned of in April, and one that evidently has not been clarified in the meantime.
There is still much to sort out, and MGM Springfield is slated to open in 2018. The clock is ticking. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Genting/Mashpee Wampanoag: Massachusetts tribe plans April groundbreaking for casino

Massachusetts tribe plans April groundbreaking for casino

TAUNTON, Mass. (AP) — The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has planned an April groundbreaking for a resort casino south of Boston.
The federally recognized tribe announced Monday it has picked three firms to start demolition and site work for the casino to start April 5.
The tribe and the Malaysia-based Genting Group are developing the $500 million casino at an industrial park in Taunton, about 35 miles from downtown Boston.
In January, the federal government officially designated the tribe’s 150 acres in Taunton and another 170 acres in the Cape Cod town of Mashpee as reservation lands.
Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell says the tribe is moving quickly on the casino to secure its financial future. State regulators are considering awarding a gambling license to a rival casino project in nearby Brockton later this month.

Opponents of Taunton casino cast doubt on groundbreaking plans


Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell said that three firms – Dimeo Construction Company, The Penta Building Group, and Talako Construction – will begin pre-construction for Project First Light, with a possible groundbreaking date of April 5.“It could be a false bravado,” said Adam Bond, the Midd...

TAUNTON – Opponents of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s casino project in Taunton said that the financial backers of the gaming destination would proceed at their own risk if they go forward with a groundbreaking planned for early April.
After the Mashpee tribe announced its plans to break ground on a $500 million casino in Taunton, a lawyer for a group of citizens that filed a lawsuit to stop the project said on Tuesday that the construction project could be a waste of money.
“They do so at their own risk,” said Adam Bond, the Middleboro-based attorney who helped file the lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of the Interior decision to grant land in trust for the tribe in Taunton. “It doesn't change the lawsuit that is pending.”
On Tuesday, Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell published a statement that three firms – Dimeo Construction Company, The Penta Building Group, and Talako Construction – will begin pre-construction for Project First Light, with a possible groundbreaking date of April 5. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has long told the government and the public that it has the financial backing of the Malaysian multinational Genting Group.
Bond said that the tribe's announcement of an April groundbreaking could be an attempt to convince the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which is deciding on whether to award a commercial license for a Brockton casino project, that the Taunton project will not be stalled or halted by the federal lawsuit.
“It could be a false bravado,” Bond said. “It could be real. I don't know. I'm not focused on their tactical discussions. ... The gamble is theirs, or their financiers’. It's at their own risk.”
Bond said the tribe is scheduled to respond in federal court to the Taunton group’s lawsuit in early April, just before the scheduled groundbreaking.
The state commission previously stated that it is considering the “tribal status” of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, as it decides whether to award a license to Mass Gaming and Entertainment, the group behind the Brockton bid. That status is the crux of the lawsuit filed on behalf of the Taunton citizens group, pointing to the precedent set by the 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar, which stated that the benefits of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 are limited to tribes that were "now under federal jurisdiction" at the time of the law's passage.
The Mashpee tribe was not federally recognized until 2007, but members claim they have been under federal jurisdiction for many generations. The Taunton citizens group points to historic government documents to deny that claim.
The effect of lawsuit is a crucial consideration for the gaming commission, which is concerned about the potential for market oversaturation, with two potential casinos located close to each other. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission recently said that it now plans to make a decision on the Brockton casino in late April.
Neil Bluhm, chairman of the Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, the parent company of Mass Gaming and Entertainment, has repeatedly stated during public meetings with the gaming commission that the Mashpee tribe may say it’s going to start construction, but that when it comes down to it, he doubts the tribe’s financiers will invest seriously in the Taunton casino project with a serious lawsuit looming overhead. Bluhm recently helped fund the Taunton group’s lawsuit, and the tribe has repeatedly stated that Bluhm’s claims are dubious.
“We are not questioning Genting’s resources,” said Bluhm, during a November hearing for the proposed Brockton casino. “The question is, would a sound businessman want to risk that kind of money in light of the potential reversal of this case? You might say, initially I will, but once you get down to it, would you really do it? But one thing I think is absolutely clear, a lender is not going to take this kind of risk. This would require 100 percent equity or a guarantee. And this is a binary decision. If courts hold you can’t have a casino (in Taunton), there will be no casino. And all of that money is going to be lost. So, that’s a pretty hefty decision for anyone to make in light of the legal analysis.”
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is scheduled to speak about the legal matter with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on March 15 during a public meeting at 1 p.m.
Look below to view a copy of the lawsuit filed by the Taunton citizens group against the U.S. Department of the Interior, over its decision to grant land in trust for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.