What business would ever say that about their product or service?
Only one. Casinos.
When The New York Times’ Gary Rivlin asked a slot machine designer at International Gaming Technology if he ever plays the machines he builds, “he acted as if I had insulted him. ‘Slots are for losers,’ he spat.”
Three in four casino patrons say they go primarily to win “a really large amount of money,” according to a Roper survey – this despite the mathematical certainty they will lose their money over time. The more frequently they gamble, the more money they will lose.
Government’s casino policy is based on perpetrating this blatant fraud and it has been taken to the extreme. In early 2011, Ron Baumann, general manager of a Harrah’s casino in Pennsylvania said the customers in his database visited an average of 4.5 times a week. That’s almost 250 times a year. Robert DeSalvio, president of Sands Casino in Bethlehem, acknowledged similar if slightly lower numbers. Wendy Hamilton, general manager of SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, said that a “large number”of her casino’s customers came “three, four, five times a week.”
The actions of the I.G.T. employee are not an isolated incident. Predatory gambling is the only “product” or “service” where most of the people who own it and promote it don’t use it and don’t want to live near it.
It’s like the executives of the failed energy giant Enron – infamously known as “The Smartest Guys in the Room” – standing in front of their employees assuring them their retirement funds invested in the company are a good bet, even though they were selling millions of dollars of their own stock because they knew it was a loser.
The owners and promoters of predatory gambling are “The Smartest Guys Not in the Room.”
While “The Smartest Guys” don’t lose their own money in casinos, millions of American citizens like Sandy Hall do and their stories are much like hers. Hall had the courage to be interviewed as part of a 2011 60 Minutes investigation into slot machines. Her life was reduced to almost nothing because of a slot machine operated in partnership with government, promoted by government and “regulated” by government. Her enormous gambling losses were simply considered part of government’s revenues.
While slot machine designers literally spit and call people like Hall “losers,” the most disturbing truth is government’s failed policy of predatory gambling smears all of us with the spit of shame.
Let’s look at the list of some of “The Smartest Guys:”
Caesars CEO Gary Loveman, the man who was paid $40 million in one year for encouraging millions of Americans to lose their money during this severe financial crisis, does not gamble. As Wall Street Journal Christina Binkley reported in her book “Winner Takes All” (Pg. 177):
“There was a fundamental disconnect between Loveman and his customers. The professor believed that people were gambling for recreation, so he didn’t expect them to feel so upset about losing their money. He believed gambling was games. Loveman isn’t a gambler and has never been a gambler. He can analyze customers’ behavior but he doesn’t get them deep in his belly.”
But does The Donald lose his own money gambling?
According to a New York Magazine article titled “Fighting Back: Trump Scrambles off the Canvas” from November 9, 1992 (page 42):
“He [Trump] does not gamble.”
Wynn told Charlie Rose in this 2009 60 Minutes interview:
“The only way to win in a casino is to own one.
And he says, even when people are lucky, they usually gamble away their winnings.
“Have you never known in your entire life a gambler who comes here and wins big and…walks away?” Rose asked.
“Never,” Wynn replied.
“You know nobody hardly that over the stretch of time is ahead?” Rose asked.
“Nope,” Wynn said.
In this June 2011 story by Casino Enterprise Management, Adelson, the casino billionaire, says he gambles only on vacation when he is on an island and takes only $500 with him – a far cry from those local citizens who are now gambling at his Bethlehem (PA) Sands Casino between 150 to 200 times a year. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
I wondered if the majority shareholder of LVS is a gambler himself. He responded, “Yes and no. I am not a gambler commensurate with my ability to gamble, but I like to gamble. When I lived on the East Coast, I used to select an island to visit based on whether or not they had gambling. I wouldn’t visit an island that didn’t have gambling, because after dinner I like to be entertained a little bit. So I take $500 to $1,000 and go down to the casino and play.” His favorite game is blackjack, and when asked if he was good at it, he chuckled mischievously and simply said, “No,” but adding, “I enjoy it, and that’s all that matters. Gambling is not to win money. Unfortunately, there are people in the world who believe that it is, and that it’s a war between them and the house. They feel that they must win or they’ve lost the war. It has an effect on how they feel and who they are. It’s never gotten to me like that. I’m what they call today a mass-market player. I was never a high roller.”
He is also a strong proponent of legalizing online gambling, especially in social media.
But how likely is this multimillionaire to lose his own money gambling?
The New York Times reported in this December 24, 2006 story: “Murren doesn’t play the tables or slot machines.”
As the head of Genting, Lim has helped to drive well-financed, relentless lobbying efforts to allow casinos in several states including New York, Florida and Massachusetts. Worth close to a billion dollars, does Lim regularly lose any of his personal fortune on his own “product?”
According to The Business Times Singapore on December 2, 2006, Lim said: ” Life is full of gambles but I’m not a hard-core gambler.”
Bluhm owns many casinos, perhaps most notably Sugarhouse Casino in Philadelphia and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. Does this billionaire lose any of his fortune gambling inside casinos? According to this excerpt taken from The Chicago Tribune, July 17, 2011:
As Neil Bluhm walked through the sophisticated high-roller lounge of his newest casino Thursday, I asked him, “Do you ever gamble?”
“No,” he said, prompting his gaming chief to remind the Chicago billionaire about a trip to Las Vegas last fall. So Bluhm supplied a different answer.
“I gamble putting one of these deals together,” he said with zeal. “I spent millions of dollars not knowing whether we were going to have a casino. So do I gamble? Yes.”
Stanley Ho is an Asian billionaire casino magnate who is considered the father of modern gambling in China. (New Jersey casino regulators found Ho had extensive ties to organized crime in China and their suspicions led MGM Mirage to agree in 2010 to sell its half of Atlantic City’s top casino — rather than abandon the lucrative Chinese market, where it has a joint venture with Ho’s daughter.)
Ho was interviewed by CNN TalkAsia which aired on October 2, 2004. Here is the full interview and below is what he told the interviewer about his frequency of losing his own money on gambling:
LH: Welcome back to TalkAsia. Some call Stanley Ho the patriarch of Macau. That’s because in the past forty years, he’s developed some of Macau’s most famous landmarks and key infrastructure, including the main bridge and international airport. In recognition of his contributions, the government has named an avenue after him. But I can’t help wonder what the man behind the businessman, is really like.
SH: What am I like? Well I am very normal; the only difference is I don’t gamble.
LH: For sure right?
SH: I don’t gamble at all, all my life. I am only interested in sports.
LH: Even the king of gambling?
SH: Well I enjoy this name, but to be very frank I don’t deserve this casino king, I don’t gamble, how can I be the casino king?
Cordish profits from a business that makes more than half its money from gambling addicts and spends millions of dollars marketing to gamblers who chase their losses- those gamblers who lost the money they came with and then hit the casino ATM to withdraw their savings to lose even more.
Yet in this Baltimore Sun Magazine article, Cordish reveals he is barely a gambler himself. If all his casino patrons gambled like he does, his casino would be out of business:
“When I go to gamble, I take $100. When the $100 is gone, it’s gone. If I get ahead, at some point I quit. I think that’s how 99 percent of the world gambles. [Gambling] is just a form of recreation.”
The late Si Redd, the man known as “the King of Slots” for designing the modern slot machine, did not even play the machines he invented, according to this excerpt in The Las Vegas Sun from June 25, 2001:
Si Redd says he listens intently to, and reads reports of, the gaming device that has become known as the “crack cocaine of gambling” because of its highly addictive nature.
“Of course it hurts me when such things are said, I guess because it is kind of the truth,” Redd said. “I never intended it to become that way, and I never could have dreamed of how successful the video poker machine would become.
Although he is a member of the Gaming Hall of Fame, Redd today has little to do with gaming. He sold his interest in IGT as an octogenarian and opened a rival company, International Technical Systems Inc., which is no longer in business.
He does not even play the machines he invented.
Redd’s concept of the 99 percent payout on dollar slots drew millions of people who otherwise never would have put a coin into the one-armed bandits.
All the while, Redd had to overcome his knowledge that his mother did not approve of the fortune he was making off customers of the gaming industry. “I kept sending her more and more money, yet she would just give it away to people as poor as she was,” Redd said.
”It’s the slot machine that drives the industry today,” Fahrenkopf said in this 2004 New York Times story. Yet despite being the lead spokesman for the predatory gambling operators of America, here is what he had to say later in the same story about his trade’s primary money maker:
“Fahrenkopf is reportedly paid in seven figures to praise all things casino, but he can’t seem to help taking a poke at the slot machine. He views the transition from table games to slots as symptomatic of the dumbing down of American life. Playing craps means learning a complex set of rules. Blackjack may be easy to learn, but it still requires skill and concentration, and it’s not uncommon for the novice player to feel stupid in front of strangers. ”I don’t know if it’s the education system, or maybe it’s that we as a society have gotten intellectually lazy,” says Fahrenkopf, who headed the Republican National Committee under Ronald Reagan. ”But people would rather just sit there and push a button.”“
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Fahrenkopf, the head of the predatory gambling trade lobby in America, said he would oppose a casino near where he lives in Virginia.
From The New York Times Magazine cover story written by Gary Rivlin, May 9, 2004:
“Most of the people I met inside I.G.T. told me they never played slot machines on their own time… Even one corporate P.R. staff member couldn’t resist shaking her head in disbelief as she described scenes of people lining up to play a new machine. ”It was unfathomable to me,” she told me. When I asked one I.G.T. artist if he ever plays, he acted as if I had insulted him. ”Slots are for losers,” he spat, and then, coming to his senses, begged me to consider that an off-the-record comment.”
From a column written by The Providence Journal’s M. Charles Bakst, May 13, 2004:
Former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones, a top aide at Harrah’s Entertainment, the Narragansetts’ partner, said yesterday that she’s offended by the notion that casinos are filled with “unhappy, depressed, sort of hypnotically drugged people.”
Jones said, “Sometime I’ll take you to the movies in Las Vegas. I want you to look at the people sitting in there. And, you know, some of them are grossly overweight and a lot of them don’t look that happy and some of them aren’t as attractive and well dressed as they should be. But should I make assumptions about all moviegoers because some of them aren’t what you would expect?”
Jones said she doesn’t gamble. “I’d rather spend my money on shoes. And houses.” (She has three homes.) So she wants you to gamble, but she’s too smart and thinks you’re stupid? Jones laughed, “That’s like saying I like to go out and buy Manolo Blahnik shoes but you don’t. Does that make you stupid or does that mean you just aren’t into shoes?”
Reilly is a key leader of the NCRG, a wing of the casinos’ main trade group, the American Gaming Association, that funds most of the scientific research on gambling addiction in the United States. The NCRG has enabled predatory gambling operators to trumpet extravagant conclusions from the studies, helping casinos gain a legal foothold across the country — and covering up the ways casinos profit from gambling addiction.
Does Reilly lose any of her casino-funded salary using slot machines?
According to this story that appeared in Salon titled “Gambling with Science: Determined to defeat lawsuits over addiction, the casino industry is funding research at a Harvard-affiliated lab” on June 16, 2008, Reilly said:
“I play a slot machine for ten minutes and I’m so bored I want to shoot myself.”
Cuomo has tried to brand himself as a man with “a vision for a progressive future” yet legalizing commercial casinos has been a top priority of his administration. Cuomo doesn’t lose his own money gambling in casinos, though.
From The New York Post:
“Cuomo himself yesterday revealed that he last gambled in a casino “many, many years ago — and I lost.” He also told reporters he’s never laid down a wager at any of New York’s nine racinos and hasn’t played the state-sponsored lottery in ‘months.’”
As Governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell spearheaded the drive to legalize casinos in that state. In 2010, he famously called the 60 Minutes team “idiots” and “simpletons” after being pressed by Lesley Stahl to explain why government is creating new gambling addicts and pushing people into deeper personal debt in an ultimately failed attempt to fund public services.
Regarding whether he frequently loses his own money in the casinos he helped create, here is what Rendell said in a story that appeared in The Erie Times on February 7, 2008:
On criticism from anti-gambling groups who say he doesn’t go into the state’s casinos: “He’s ashamed of what he’s created,” Rendell said, quoting them. But Rendell said he would also be criticized if he were to visit the casinos.
When he was the Florida governor, Crist made the expansion of casinos one of his top priorities.
Does Crist lose his own money on government’s gambling program?
The answer is no, according to this story excerpt from The Orlando Sun-Sentinel, October 27, 2009:
He laughed. “I don’t gamble,” he (Crist) said.
In a state already saturated with electronic gambling machines, Markell has proposed to legalize sports betting in Delaware. Here is what he told ESPN The Magazine about his gambling habits in a column written by Chad Millman:
A prediction: Sometime soon—after Tim Tebow brings peace to the Middle East but before the Lions become contenders—you’ll walk into your local deli and bet on sports. You won’t get pinched. You won’t go on the lam if you can’t pay up. Seriously. It’s a lock.
For this, you may have Jack Markell to thank. Which is funny because Markell, Delaware’s governor-elect, is not a betting man. Hasn’t been to Vegas in 15 years, can’t remember ever playing one of his state’s slot machines, never gambles on football or basketball.
And yet, soon after he’s sworn in on January 20th, there’s a chance he’ll start an avalanche of unprecedented gambling reform, and become the betting man’s biggest hero since Charles McNeil invented the point spread.”
On February 8, 2011, Chafee told WPRI Channel 12: “I don’t go to the Twin River myself but having toured it, when you see the acres of machines in there, you think what’s the difference between live tables and what’s here? So I don’t think it’s a significant change from what exists there.”
Chafee’s position on government’s predatory gambling program is even more of a head-scratcher when you look at the position he posted on his own campaign website. He fully acknowledges gambling is an addictive behavior yet he says he supports offering more extreme forms of gambling if “business” gets siphoned off to Massachusetts. You have to see it for yourself to believe it (click on the screen shot below taken from his website. It reads: “Chafee considers gambling an addictive behavior, but says he would support turning slot parlors in Lincoln and Newport into full-fledged casinos if Massachusetts builds casinos that siphon business from Rhode Island.”)
In addition to his support for casinos, he also expanded the state lottery to Sundays and added Keno games as well as proposed bringing in video slot machines at the state’s seven racetracks as a way to bridge a $3.2 billion budget deficit.
Prior to being elected Governor in 2006, Strickland was a United Methodist minister – a denomination which strongly opposes predatory gambling in their Social Principles.
While Barton has said he is an occasional poker player in a social setting, he said he does not gamble online with his own money. He has no personal experience with the incredible speed, the intensity of the high, the frequency of play, the enormous amount of money lost and the highly predatory marketing involved with internet poker.
Campbell is a vocal co-sponsor of legislation in the U.S. House that would open the door to predatory internet gambling by legalizing for-profit online poker sites. He has said that legalizing and regulating online poker would create jobs in the U.S.
But while he is working hard to allow gambling interests to target his constituents through the internet, Campbell has acknowledged he does not lose his own money on gambling.
Congressman Frank has been one of the leading proponents of legalizing internet gambling in Congress but he says he does not lose his own money on gambling. Below is an excerpt from a front page story on internet gambling that appeared in The Boston Globe, July 13, 2008:
“Barney Frank does not play poker or blackjack. The games bore him, and he thinks he would be terrible at them even if he tried. He’s never played a slot machine, doesn’t go to casinos, and has never tried to gamble online.
“I wouldn’t place a bet with your money,” he said. And yet, over the past year, the Democratic congressman from Newton has quietly become a cult hero for poker players and the online gambling industry – the pit boss of poker politics – by championing their cause on Capitol Hill. “
Does he lose his own money in government’s gambling program?
According to this excerpt from a profile in The New Republic, December 31, 2007:
“I don’t gamble, but I’m the gambler’s best friend,” he says, boasting of his support for online casinos.
In his role as Maryland’s Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation for Governor Martin O’Malley, Perez was the administration’s public face to legalize slot parlors across the state. He is now is the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. Does Perez lose his own money on government’s slot machine program? According to The Washington Post, November 12, 2007:
Prior to studying the issue for O’Malley, Perez said he had never been to a gambling parlor. “This is not how I’d choose to spend my entertainment dollars,” he said.
Not surprisingly, Perez has left off his leading role in legalizing slot machines in Maryland on his Wikipedia page.
When asked if he’s a gambling man himself in this interview on a Chicago news program from Sept. 19, 2011, Cullerton responded:
In 2011, Madigan shepherded a bill through the Illinois House that called for five more casinos in the state and slot machines at the horse tracks. He has called government’s gambling program the most politically “viable” way of raising capital dollars.
Yet will he personally lose any of his salary to help fund these needed capital projects? Does he believe it is in the best interest of his constituents to become habitual gamblers?
According to this Illinois newspaper from November 2, 2007:
“I don’t gamble, I don’t go to casinos, I don’t go to racetracks, I don’t play cards, I don’t bet on sports. Gambling is something to be avoided – by everybody.”
Lang has been a relentless pusher for casinos in Illinois for years. But is he someone who will frequently lose his own money gambling, causing him to go into severe personal debt as a result of this government program like thousands of other Americans?
According this Chicago News story from June 24, 2011:
“Mr. Lang is not a regular gambler but enjoys betting occasionally.”
Wright has been at the forefront of recent high-profile efforts to legalize online gambling including sports betting in California- a state that already has 58 tribal casinos , more than 80 poker casinos and a lottery.
Does he lose his own money like his constituents do on government’s gambling program?
During his appearance at the 2010 Global iGaming Summit & Expo, Wright said:
“I am the consummate shopper. I’m not a gambler. I need to provide a vehicle by which you (operators) can make money and I can get money (for the state).”
Campaigning as an outsider in 2006, Patrick railed against gimmicks and challenged citizens “to wish for your neighbors what you wish for yourself.” Shortly after his inauguration, Patrick declared with much fanfare he would study the issue of casinos but in reality it proved to be nothing more than a roll out strategy. Patrick officially ushered in casinos four years later in November 2011.
How much personal experience does he have with the policy that will represent his primary legacy as governor? Virtually none. According to a State House News excerpt from November 22, 2011: “Patrick said he used to take his mother to gamble at Foxwoods and recalled spending time at a Las Vegas casino when he worked at Coca-Cola. “It was glamorous,” Patrick said, remembering the meals and taking in a Cirque du Soleil show.”
Since assuming the role of Speaker of the Massachusetts House, DeLeo’s number one priority has been to legalize casinos and slot parlors in the state. How many times has he been to a casino in his life? In a WCVB TV interview on September 25, 2011, the 61-year-old conceded that “I’ve only been in a casino twice in my life and one of those times was for a boxing match.”
While many of his constituents will be losing money at casinos more than 200 times a year like what is happening in Philadelphia, how likely is he to lose his own money at one of the casinos he has pushed so hard to legalize?
According to this Boston Globe story from April 11, 2010:
“But DeLeo learned other lessons from his father, too, ones he has not spoken about as publicly.
Even though Al DeLeo loved the track, he recognized its dangers, to the point that he forbade his son from gambling. Robert DeLeo remembers one occasion when he bet on a horse, won, and bragged to his father.
“I was as proud as a peacock,” he said in a recent interview. “I said, `Hey, Dad, I won a race.’ And he looked at me and said, `You’re going to lose too many. I don’t want to hear it. Don’t even go there, pal.’ ”
Senator Rosenberg has been a key supporter of legalizing casinos in Massachusetts and described by some in the media as the “State House’s casino expert.” How much personal experience does he have with intense forms of gambling like slot machines? How likely is he to lose his own money in the government’s predatory gambling program?
Here is an excerpt from an interviewin The Ideas section of The Boston Globe on January 10, 2010 titled “Inside Man”:
Inside Man: An interview with Stan Rosenberg, the State House’s casino expert
IDEAS: Do you ever gamble?
ROSENBERG: Nope. Never put a coin in a slot machine. Well you don’t put coins in them anymore, you play by putting a card into the slot. I buy a lottery ticket every now and then when the jackpot gets really large, just for the fun of it. But no, I’m not a gambler.
IDEAS: Not even a nickel slot machine?
ROSENBERG: I don’t even play poker with friends. When we play card games there’s no money involved. The only game I’ve played with money is Monopoly.
Even though much of the rationale to bring in casinos is based on the trumped-up narrative that some citizens are already going-out-of-state, how frequently does Murray himself go out-of-state to lose his own money at the Connecticut casinos?
In an interview with WUML (Lowell) radio on September 17, 2007 he said:
“I have not been down to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun.”
According to this excerpt taken from a story titled “House passes casino bill” that appeared in The Boston Globe, Sept. 15, 2011:
“Personally, expanded gambling, I suppose I could take or leave,’’ said Representative Joseph F. Wagner, a Chicopee Democrat and the lead sponsor of the bill, who confessed his gambling experience is limited to the “occasional game of Keno.’’
Crosby accepted the position to lead the state’s predatory gambling program even though he told The Wall Street Journal on July 30, 2010 he “thought it was a regressive and thoughtless and unproductive way to raise money.” He later changed his position because “eventually I decided that as the need for money got greater and greater, it’s a little silly to be making a point of principle when you’ve got gambling casinos all around you.”
OK, so he thinks it is regressive, thoughtless and an unproductive policy. But at least he must a gambler, right? The answer is no, according to a State House News story from December 13, 2011: “Aside from a few scratch tickets and a visit with his family to a casino in Cripple Creek, Colo., Crosby said he is not a gambler…”
As a highly visible advocate for casinos, does Cromwell lose his own money on commercial gambling?
According to this Boston Magazine excerpt from December 2011:
“I’m not a gambling man.” Casinos aren’t really Cromwell’s thing — actually, risk isn’t his thing. “When I walk across the street, I try to make sure that there are not too many cars,” he says. “I’m a business person and a leader of a tribal nation.”
Does Cahill lose any of his own money on government’s predatory gambling program?
Here’s what he told Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen in this Sept. 24, 2007 story:
“I don’t gamble,” Tim Cahill said. “I never have.”
Ted’s Stateline Mobil is the King Kong of Massachusetts Lottery agents. The store sold $12.6 million worth of lottery tickets in 2007, millions more than any of the other 7,500 or so bars, restaurants, and convenience stores that sell lottery tickets in the state. Owners Ted and Tony Amico earned a staggering $625,000 on the standard 5 percent commission lottery agents receive for all lottery ticket sales, not including a 1 percent commission on all his customers’ winnings. The average store owner made about $37,000.
As for Tony Amico, he said he does not play the lottery much. When he was a bartender, he said, he didn’t drink, either. “Once in a while, when the jackpot’s really big, I buy a ticket like everybody else,” he said. “That’s it.”
But does he lose his own money on the government’s program of predatory gambling?
According to The Wall Street Journal, March 2, 2009:
“Mr. Ellis said he doesn’t gamble, but that a lot of his constituents do — and he doesn’t want them spending that cash in neighboring Louisiana or New Mexico.”
But does he lose his own money on government’s predatory gambling program?
Here is what he said in his presentation at the Texas Lyceum, Corpus Christ, TX on August 5, 2011:
“I don’t gamble.”
But does he lose his own money on the government casinos he helped create?
Here’s what The Baltimore Sun reported on August 24, 2008:
“I’m not a gambler, but I’m a realist,” said Robey, a former county executive and police chief.
Yet does he lose any of his own money on the business he so desperately wants to operate?
From a column written by The Providence Journal’s M. Charles Bakst, May 13, 2004:
Does he patronize casinos? Rarely. “I’m not a big gambler.”
As mayor, Elia supported casinos but she did not gamble herself. According to a story in The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle written by Jim Memmott on Sunday June 24, 2001:
“Mayor Irene Elia of Niagara Falls, a supporter of the casino, said she too, is concerned about possible impacts. “We have to monitor it -we have to make sure the casino has a positive impact.” Elia added she is no gambler.