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Casinos and state lotteries are the most predatory business in America and their windfall is coming at your expense.

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Rhode Island casino seeks greener pastures

A casino plan to move from Newport, R.I. to Tiverton won locally by just 368 votes, but won easily state wide. The casino corporation spent $3 million on the election, gainst no formally organized opposition. The move for the casino is to a site just 400 feet from the Massachusetts border and the city of Fall River. The site is near the Interstate network and will be the closest casino to the Interstate running out to Cape Cod. It will also make travel easier to Providence and Boston. The intent from the casino perspective is that they gain ease of access to a much larger population. Voters are wising up to the promises of revenue. Foxwoods which has been losing revenue for the past several years, and defaulted on a loan, is a stark example of the effects of competition. While the Tiverton casino will have more access to population, it will also move closer to competition in Massachusetts and Connecticut. After the initial surge sustained revenue will be problematic. The town is promised $3 million a year and the state gets a cut, but if the casino suffers a shortfall, the state makes up the difference to the town of Tiverton. Such concerns led to the tight vote. A newly elected Tiverton Town Council includes some casino skeptics, and the casino must satisfy the Council about drainage and traffic problems that the casino will cause. Former US Congressman Bob Steele warned the town about becoming too dependent on uncertain revenue, and called it a “bad recipe for building a state’s economy and society. Gambling is the third largest revenue source in Rhode Island and the legislators are hoping revenue rises over the long run rather than declines. This is unlikely with new competition coming on board in Massachusetts.

American Gaming Association wants repeal of PASPA

The American Gaming Association (AGA) wants more gambling regardless of the consequences to families and economies. In 1992 the U.S. Congress passed and the President signed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which sought to eliminate gambling on sports that would lead to attempts to fix the games. The law has been largely successful in making sports gambling private or underground until the advent of Daily Fantasy Sports betting. Now the AGA is on a five year campaign to have Congress repeal PASPA and open up gambling on sports. The AGA has organized gamblers, sports figures, media representatives and states’ rights entities to push Congress.  Some lobbyists and Jack Abramoff, former “super-lobbyist” say that may be more difficult than expected. While the third of Americans who gamble regularly seem to support the AGA position, the two-thirds who don’t gamble on s regular basis seem mildly threatened by the repeal of PASPA, content with the current situation without wondering if the game they are watching is on the level. While the Millennial Generation seems less interested in gambling that their parents and grand-parents, they also are less interested in government regulating the “purity” of anything. On the other hand sports seems to be the last place that previous generations are concerned about purity, and so there will be resistance to repeal of PASPA. We know that gamblers come back year after year until they wear resistance down and get what they want. So those of us who oppose sports gambling want to see DFS shut down as illegal , and must gird up for a long battle to save PASPA.“tectonic-shift”/

The Casino Trap for the Elderly

There is no doubt that casinos target the elderly. Seniors have access to money until they run out. They respond positively to attention they do not get at home. They come during the day which is often a slack time at casinos. They enjoy small perks, free plays, free lunches and once they are addicted a free room will keep them at the casinos longer. The seniors play until they lose their retirement savings, cash in their insurance policies, mortgage their home, and run up cash advances on multiple credit cards. Many are forced to declare bankruptcy. Many of the elderly are seeking to escape loneliness, recover from the loss of a spouse, or other source of grief. This makes them especially vulnerable to the friendliness of the casino. The casinos supply free shuttles for senior centers on the day Social Security checks arrive. The casinos also provide walkers, wheelchairs, and extra handicapped parking. Some casinos stock restrooms with senior diapers and disposal receptacles for diabetic insulin needles. One casino even ran a pharmacy for a time where credits could cover the cost of the copay. An older 2005 study at the University of Pennsylvania found that one of every eleven seniors lost more than they could afford in the previous year. Estimates are that more than four million of those over 65 have a gambling problem. Slots are addictive by design, with features to maximize time on machine until you have lost all you can access. Dementia especially keeps the sufferer pushing the button as long as the casino lets them play, The casinos send seniors birthday cards, other cards, free tickets to programs, and of course weekly free plays. For a senior high roller the casino lavishes attention from hostesses, who are often the best friend the patron has. Hostess bonuses are based on how much their client spends. Casino mouthpieces say they are providing needed entertainment for a neglected portion of the population. This may be true but it is at great expense, and exposes the neglect we devote to our seniors. Invitations to put their name on an exclusion list seldom overcome the enticements of the freebies. It takes family support to quit gambling which is often not there. The tragedy of senior addicts is one of the strongest indictments of our selfish society.   John Rosengren, AARP Bulletin, October 2016. patrons.html

Are 12 Step programs successful?

There has been controversy over how successful 12 step programs are. Early proponents claimed that they were as high as 50%. Some critics have suggested they are ineffective, helping only 5% overcome an addiction. There are many 12 step programs available for various addictions: alcohol. gambling, sexual addictions, Crystal Meth addictions, etc. They are not all exactly the same, but nearly all involve invoking a higher power beyond self. Bringing God or something more powerful than self is what offends some of the critics. Both sides of the debate are probably right because the success rate goes up the longer the person sticks with the program. Of those in their first month of AA meetings, only 26% will be there and sober at the end of the year. Of those in their fourth month 50% will be there and sober at the end of a year. AA says that a 1983 survey showed that 25% were sober after 5 years, while a 2004 survey showed that 50% were sober after 5 years in the program, suggesting that the program was becoming more effective. The average rate of sobriety for members of AA is 8 years. Gamblers Anonymous does not seem as successful. Of those who attend GA initially only 8% are still abstinent and in the program after a year. Another group, the Crystal Meth Anonymous claims that the use of casual partners and unprotected anal intercourse has dropped by two-thirds, The results vary by group, and by how long the person stays with the program. And then there are those who stay in a program for a year or two but then remain abstinent for many years afterward. These tend to drop out of the statistics. There is no doubt that the programs help a sizable percentage of those who last a year in the programs. So the critics may be right that for those who attend an initial meeting only 5% (or a little more) last a year. For those who attend for five to ten years, 50% or more may stick with abstinence for life.

Why Sheldon Adelson Opposes DFS

Sheldon Adelson is the owner of the largest gambling empire in Las Vegas, the Sands. He is the main mover behind the $1.9 billion football stadium planned for Las Vegas and the move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. While he makes his money extracting money from casino players, he sees a difference between what he does and the exploitation of the young and the poor through DFS games. He is opposed to legalizing them and he claims that his opposition is not just based on not wanting the competition. Nevada recently determined that DFS is gambling, did not outlaw it, but required that providers of DFS must seek a gambling license. Most DFS companies will not do that because they claim they are not providing gambling. One small vendor has applied for a license and has opened lounges in a few Vegas casinos. But, effectively DFS is banned from Nevada. Adelson is temporarily satisfied with Nevada’s action because he believes that DFS is immoral, preying upon the poor and the young. Adelson differentiates his own predatory gambling as being upon the wealthy an middle class who go to Las Vegas to gamble and for whom the casino can refuse to serve them if they are exhibiting signs of getting too deeply engrossed in the games. The distinction between a predatory casino and a predatory DFS provider may seem vague to most of us, but to Adelson the distinction between what he regards as controlled gambling and gambling without controls on who loses and how much, is a difference between a moral business and an immoral one. This author disagrees. Twenty-eight NFL teams have cut deals with Draft Kings or Fan Duels. Adelson says the league is involved with gambling already. The claim that DFS is not gambling is fallacious. DFS makes everyone with a cell phone a potential gambler, and a potential addict. Adelson views that as immoral because of the access to the poor and the young because the DFS sites cannot card their patrons. When asked if he would provide lounges for DFS players in his casinos as some Las Vegas casinos have done for a share of the profits, he replied, “NEVER!”   Daniel Roberts, September 9, 2016.

Types of Legal Gambling and the rates of Gambling Behaviors

The June 2016 issue of the Journal of Gambling Studies carried an article about the relationship between availability of legal gambling and gambling problems. Five authors contributed to the article and the results were pretty much what you would expect. The basic issue is whether more types of legal gambling are associated with higher rates of problem gambling. The answer is yes. Gambling exposure was defined as the sum of the number of years that all types were legal. This was significant because the number of problem gamblers increased the longer a given set of gambling types were in place. Three aspects of problem gambling increased as the available types and length of time they were available: problem gambling itself, frequent gambling and past year gambling. The study was based on data from telephone surveys conducted during 1999-2000, and 2011-2013 that used the same questions. For states with increased types and length of operation, the rates of problem gamblers increased. For the very few states that had fewer types of gambling in the second survey, the rate of frequent gamblers went down. There were a few irregularities in the data. The closer and more ubiquitous the gambling the worse for families.  
  1. W. Wells, . “The Relationship Between the Number of Types of Legal Gambling and the Rates of Gambling Behaviors and Problems Across the U.S.States,” Journal of Gambling Studies, 2016 Jun, 32(2):379-90.

A new wave of gambling may be coming through eSports

If you are not a regular player of video games then you are probably unaware of eSports. This word represents competitive video gaming, complete with tournaments, leagues, professional level players, large prizes, teams and even cheating. There is also betting on the outcome of matches which is flirting with going mainstream and causing a surge in gambling at regulated sports books. eSports is not to be confused with Daily Fantasy Sports which is devoted to the usual sports such as baseball, basketball, football, soccer and tennis. eSports is about video games. While online and off line tournaments have been around for at least three decades, the commercialization and professionalization growth has risen rapidly in the last decade. The most informative site for information about eSports is the Wikipedia article by that name. There were ten tournaments in the year 2000, but that had grown to 260 in 2010. Some of the leading tournament organizers in this growth decade were World Cyber Games, Intel Extreme Masters, and Major League Gaming. The most thoroughly organized location was Korea which has two dedicated TV cable 24-hour channels. In the US DirecTV broadcast the Championship Gaming Series for two seasons in 2007 and 2008, and CBS aired video recorded portions of the 2007 World Series of Video Games from Louisville, KY. US television networks have been slow to accept video gaming as a sport. Betting without knowledge of teams and leagues is a quick way to lose your money. As tournaments have drawn increased numbers of spectators, they now have referees to prevent cheating. The amount of money in prizes has also grown. As of this past July 4, one of the tournament sponsors, Data 2 has awarded $63 million in prize money with eleven competitors winning over a million dollars. The growth in prizes has led to banning some players for inappropriate behavior such as verbal abuse, unfair access to information, and the use of performance enhancing drugs. Some offenses have been worse in Korea than here. Another problem has been discrimination against women, who in the earlier days were not allowed entry to tournaments. Despite all this the experts are expecting a growth spurt in spectators for telecast tournaments and a spurt in bets at legitimate sports books. The betting on eSports is expected to reach $7.4 billion this year, 12 times what is bet legally, mostly in Europe and the Orient. The methods of extracting your money seem endless and ever changing. Only you can protect yourself by staying away. Eben Novy-Williams, “Legal Sports Books Get Ready for Billions in E-Sports Betting,” August 26, 2016. See also

Federal Court Blocks New Jersey Attempt to introduce Sports Betting at Casino and Tracks

New Jersey’s plan to legalize sports books at casinos and racetracks was rejected by the United States Court of Appeals, which upheld the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which prohibits authorizing sports betting. Of the twelve justices hearing the case in February, ten voted to uphold the Federal law. New Jersey wanted the exemption to build up revenues at the casinos and tracks which have been hard hit by competition from gambling in other nearby states. Nevada, the only state that has legal sports books, took in $4.2 billion last year. The estimates of illegal sports book gambling was $150 billion. As a result of this decision, a lobbying effort will begin next year for the withdrawal of the 1992 law that the judges upheld. The claim of proponents is that the illegal bets with bookies is sometimes dangerous, while the sports leagues and the NCAA argue that legalizing will lead to even more attempts to fix games to gain a gambling edge. The professional sports leagues are sending mixed messages, however, since the NBA is pushing for legal gambling on basketball games, the National Hockey League has awarded a franchise to Las Vegas, and the National Football League is considering moving the Oakland Raiders to Vegas as well. Two football owners have stakes in Fantasy Sports companies. As we all watch the continuing expansion of gambling, we wonder just where it will end, and how seedy the institutions of government and sports in this country will become. While the percentage who gamble and approve expansion has remained stable for several years, the amount of our national wealth that is going down the drain to the gamblers continues to increase. Between our national debt and our gambling losses, it remains to be seen how long our wobbly economy can last.   Joe Drape, “Federal Court Blocks New Jersey Plan to Legalize Sports Betting,” The New York Times. August 9, 2016.

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