New MA study on citizen addiction to state-sanctioned gambling will lead to nowhere

Most lottery profits are extracted from daily lottery players. Gambling addiction studies like this one create the public appearance that state governments and problem gambling councils are helping the millions of Americans who are being harmed by state-sanctioned gambling. But in reality, they provide political cover for the blatant exploitation of the desperate and the addicted. http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/03/30/daily-lottery-play-linked-gambling-addiction-study-finds/YIZgURmy0YnNznJHQIMEbP/story.html?event=event25  

The Aroma of the Mob

The Mob has long since given up direct investment in casinos, but the mentality of the Mob still lingers with the leadership of various casinos. On December 28, 2016 an alleged Mobster told a person who owed $30,000 to a Mob boss that if he were not white he would be dead. He was given a week extension to get the money. The Mob allegedly runs loansharking and illegal gambling from Massachusetts to Miami. The Mob still is around making money. The Sands casino in Bethlehem seems to have the same mentality. They are the only Pennsylvania casino that has refused to honor a ten million dollar agreement made with Lehigh valley governments. The PA Supreme Court struck down the agreement and while the other casinos in the area have agreed to honor the payments until the Legislature can rewrite the law, the Sands has not agreed. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli indicated prosecutors could be selective on which cases they brought to Court, and if the Sands did not make the payment their cases would fall to the bottom of the pile. The Sands would have to pursue some cases in Civil Court at their own expense. Some casino friends have suggested that Morganelli is behaving unethically while others believe the Sands is. Whenever, casinos move into a state, the number of legal cases increases. And the legal system is always on the edge of distress to keep casinos operating legitimately.   http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-morganelli-sands-crime-standoff-20161227-story-html  

Downsizing Harness Racing

In Lawrence County, Indiana the end of 2016 has seen the demise of a twelve year effort to gain financing for harness track with a casino. On July 13, 2016 the Gaming Control Board turned down a casino/track application on the basis that the applicant Endeka Entertainment did not have adequate finances to build the facility. The proposal had been on the table for twelve years since the harness Racing Commission turned down Carmen Shick on the basis that his grandfather had done legitimate business with organized crime figures. Shick sold to Centaur Gaming which gained a harness license in 2008 but was refused a slots license when it lost a billion dollar line of credit when it missed a bank imposed deadline. The two major investors in the current project declined to appeal the Gaming Control Board decision, closed up shop and the project was dead. Meanwhile in Maine the action was heated. Bangor has a racetrack casino and Churchill Downs owns a racetrack casino. York County has fielded a proposal for a casino, which both existing casinos are opposing. Scarborough Downs was approved for a casino several years ago, but was never able to convince the local community to approve it. Expansion is unlikely.   http://www.ellwoodcityledger.com/news/local/news/year in review/ December, 26, 2016. See also http://bangordailynews.com/2016/12/23/news/bangor/bangor-leaders-denounce-latest-york-county  

The Pressure is on Virginia

The completion of Maryland’s National Harbor Hotel and Casino, just across the river from residential Virginia, has applied pressure upon Virginia to stop the flow of bettors over the river and add their own casinos. The arguments on both sides of the debate are familiar. Those who cannot afford it frequently lose large amounts of money, money that should have been used for household and family expenses. Americans refuse to believe that the house edge of eight percent or so will ultimately take all their money. The casino is betting on a sure thing unless it is extremely poorly managed or there is too much nearby competition. The selling points are tax revenues and jobs. The politicians ignore the source of the money and pretend that welfare costs won’t increase. The jobs turn out to have varying shifts and high stress for relatively low pay, often just a $15 an hour. Many conservatives have jumped on the casino bandwagon in recent years, rationalizing that the gamblers are personally responsible to resist the temptation to gamble. This ignores the powerful incentives offered to gamblers by the casinos, and the various addictive ploys used to keep them playing longer than they planned. Saying the government has no responsibility to protect gamblers from themselves ignores that the government seeks to prevent violent crimes, drunk driving, cigarette smoking, and driving without a seat belt. Once again, we must point out that states can only ignore the tremendous cost to the state because the benefits are public and easy to see: Jobs and taxes. The costs, which even conservative estimates place at figures much higher than the benefits, are borne by private citizens, the families of addicted gamblers. They suffer the loss of homes, jobs, income, security, and the break-up of the family. It is too late for Virginia. Look around the area. West Virginia casinos are stagnate. Five of New Jersey’s thirteen casinos have closed. Both of Connecticut’s casinos have declining income. The average amount of time that new casinos boost revenue is now below two years. The economic dream days are over.   Alex Brandon, “Editorial: Casinos a bad bet for Virginia,” http://www.fredericksburg.com/opinion/editorials/ December 21, 2016.

Illinois calls for investigation

A week ago the Chicago Tribune reported that the Illinois Lottery had not awarded 40% of the biggest prizes. The games started in mid-2011 and several of seventeen big games did not award at least one big prize, and three did not award any. The games then ended when sales lagged and prizes were not awarded. The rate of awarding big prizes was lower than other state lotteries, and lower than when Illinois ran the games themselves. Since the revelations, player disillusionment has increased, and state lawmakers are calling for an investigation. Because the games ended prematurely the state was short-changed on revenue as well as the players. One of the games that called for two $46 million grand prizes was ended early and the state only received 61% of sales revenue predicted. Other states say they print only as many tickets as they can expect to sell, whereas Northstar had increased ticket printings, some largely. The vendors claimed they ended the games early in the best interests of the state and the players. That is difficult to believe, since if the big prizes were not awarded and tickets worth less than the prizes were remaining remained unsold the state could have lost money. If the prizes had been awarded earlier sale would have been boosted and the game might have reached target sales, The Illinois Lottery is trying to replace Northstar by early next year. Arguments between vendor and the State have been ongoing, and the relationship appears to be ending. The Lottery is a poor method for improving the life of the poor on Illinois.   Joe Mahr and Matthew Wallberg, “State Lawmakers call for investigation,” jmahr@chicagptribune.com/ or mwallberg@chicagotribune.com/ December 15, 2016.    

Kentucky Update

Time for a look at events in the “Horse Capital of the World.”   Our struggling horse track that “needs casinos” is planning a $37 million expansion. The expansion calls for 36 additional luxury suites, 1800 more seats next to the Jockey Club Suites, the building of a seven story Starting Gate Suites which will start in January 2017, pause for the Spring Meet (The Derby) and resume afterward. The new tower will add interior dining rooms, 110 third floor grandstand seats, and three suites that will accommodate 1,140 patrons EACH , with an interior bar and tiered outside seating at the starting line. Tickets for 2017 are on sale, as are tickets for the 2018 opening of the Starting Gate Suites, assuming there are no delays. With a tongue-in-cheek twinkle, President of the track Kevin Flannery said, “This sweeping new addition will be a terrific benefit to our facility on many levels. This is a time of much hand-wringing in Kentucky. Will Trump really crack down on illegal immigration? One of the dirty little secrets of the lovely tracks and the beautiful horse farms is that they couldn’t operate without the cheap labor provided by immigrants, some legal, some not. Of special concern are those who come as guest workers. The bill that will keep the government operating through April failed to include the visa exemption for H2B workers that allows them to return for seasonal work. As a result there could be a shortage of exercise riders, hot walkers and grooms. This will be one of many tests to see if Washington will go on operating as usual. The horse farm owners moan that they can’t pay what U.S. workers demand. On top of these problems, the states that add new gambling are only reaping a revenue boost for only one to two years, and then revenues begin to sink below the level before the new gambling. I would suggest you look elsewhere for leadership on solving problems. Here in Kentucky we lead in whining when we can’t have illegal workers.   Janet Patton, “Churchill Downs plans $37 million expansion,” Lexington Herald Leader, p. 7A, November 16, 2016. Tom Eblen, “Will Trump’s immigration policies cause labor shortagein Kentucky horse industry,” Lexington Herald-Leader, p. 1C, December 11, 2016.

Nevada Gambling Accounts

QUIZ: What is the purpose of gambling regulations in Nevada? a) To make money, b) To make money, c) To make money, d) To make money. Did you get it right? The Gaming Control Board is asking the Legislature to approve one account for all types of gambling, instead of an account for each type. This is for the “convenience” of the customer so he/she can spend money seamlessly and faster. The new universal rules would be based on changes to the law passed in 2015. The main claim is that it is easier for the patron (especially when drunk), and more profitable for the casino, sport book, or whatever (not mentioned). This will also allow electronic vouchers when the gambler wins. The bottom line is that all gamblers will be farther removed for the sense of money fleeing their hands. In October Nevada casinos experienced a double digit rise in casino revenues. These regulations would attempt to lock in the increases. The October increases were encouraging (to $887.5), but still did not match the September figures of $949 million. Nevada sport books also saw increases to $42.3 million, up 26% from October a year ago. This was the fifth consecutive year of Fall sports increases, based on the second highest handle in history. This is not the end of increasing the take of casinos. Years ago observers said that the number of players who made money gambling on sports could be counted on the fingers of two hands.   Jasmine Solana, “Nevada mulls allowing wagering accounts for casino betting,” http://calvinayre.com/tag/nevada, December 7, 2016.  

Nevada Wagering Accounts

QUIZ: What is the purpose of gambling regulations in Nevada? a) To make money, b) To make money, c) To make money, d) To make money. Did you get it right? The Gaming Control Board is asking the Legislature to approve one account for all types of gambling, instead of an account for each type. This is for the “convenience” of the customer so he/she can spend money seamlessly and faster. The new universal rules would be based on changes to the law passed in 2015. The main claim is that it is easier for the patron (especially when drunk), and more profitable for the casino, sport book, or whatever (not mentioned). This will also allow electronic vouchers when the gambler wins. The bottom line is that all gamblers will be farther removed for the sense of money fleeing their hands. In October Nevada casinos experienced a double digit rise in casino revenues. These regulations would attempt to lock in the increases. The October increases were encouraging (to $887.5), but still did not match the September figures of $949 million. Nevada sport books also saw increases to $42.3 million, up 26% from October a year ago. This was the fifth consecutive year of Fall sports increases, based on the second highest handle in history. This is not the end of increasing the take of casinos. Years ago observers said that the number of players who made money gambling on sports could be counted on the fingers of two hands.   Jasmine Solana, “Nevada mulls allowing wagering accounts for casino betting,” http://calvinayre.com/tag/nevada, December 7, 2016.

Illinois lawmakers call for investigation

A week ago the Chicago Tribune reported that the Illinois Lottery had not awarded 40% of the biggest prizes. The games started in mid-2011 and several of seventeen big games did not award at least one big prize, and three did not award any. The games then ended when sales lagged and prizes were not awarded. The rate of awarding big prizes was lower than other state lotteries, and lower than when Illinois ran the games themselves. Since the revelations, player disillusionment has increased, and state lawmakers are calling for an investigation. Because the games ended prematurely the state was short-changed on revenue as well as the players. One of the games that called for two $46 million grand prizes was ended early and the state only received 61% of sales revenue predicted. Other states say they print only as many tickets as they can expect to sell, whereas Northstar had increased ticket printings, some largely. The vendors claimed they ended the games early in the best interests of the state and the players. That is difficult to believe, since if the big prizes were not awarded and tickets worth less than the prizes were remaining remained unsold the state could have lost money. If the prizes had been awarded earlier sale would have been boosted and the game might have reached target sales, The Illinois Lottery is trying to replace Northstar by early next year. Arguments between vendor and the State have been ongoing, and the relationship appears to be ending. The Lottery is a poor method for improving the life of the poor on Illinois.   Joe Mahr and Matthew Wallberg, “State Lawmakers call for investigation,” jmahr@chicagptribune.com/ or mwallberg@chicagotribune.com/  December 15, 2016.    

Genting and South Florida

  Malaysian giant casino company has been seeking entry to Miami-Dade County since 2011.The company apparently views Miami as prime casino development territory, despite the presence of Seminole enterprises in the region. The latest move by Genting is to contract to operate a casino on the north county line. Gulfstream Park owns a casino and has hired Genting to run it. Genting bought the Miami Herald building in 2011 for $236 million, with the intention of opening a casino/hotel complex, but has never been able to obtain a license to own a casino. The Hallandale Beach property owned by Gulfstream Park is the next best thing for Genting, although it is the smallest operation in the Resorts World empire of ten large casinos around the world. Genting plans to modernize the gaming operations into a “best in class” level seeking to make Gulfstream Park the top casino location in South Florida.. The intent is to match the track as a top attraction. Frank Stronach bought the track in 1999 and has raised purses and introduced incentives for South Florida breeders. All of this has squeezed the profits of Calder race track owned by Churchill Downs. One of the great principles of casino owners and managers is that double talk confuses the opponents. Stronach, who is now eighty-four, has called casinos a tax on the poor even as he built some of the largest in the world. Gulfstream claims that it hopes to not depend on the casino in a few years. That seems unlike any story I have heard. Usually it is the horse track that is phased out. Stronach recently purchased through a subsidiary the cruise line Crystal Cruises, and opened a ferry to Bimini where he controls a casino. With all these efforts it does not soon appear that South Florida will be free from pressure the Stronach or Genting. The casinos are persistent if not always truthful.   http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article119507353.html

New Jersey Poll

A Quinnipiac University poll found that a majority of New Jersey residents said gambling had been bad for New Jersey and would resist additional casinos in the state. When asked whether gambling had been good for New Jersey 62% said no and only 29% said yes. A second question about whether casinos had been good for Atlantic City, 60% said no and 35% said yes. Chris Christie, who has supported casinos with state money, has historically low approval ratings. Trump Taj Mahal recently closed after 26 years. It is the fifth casino to close in the last two years, out of the original thirteen. In November, the state took over the city government due to its financial shambles. Despite this voters between 18 and 24 indicated they thought gambling had been good for Atlantic City. Voters surveyed opposed moving casinos into other parts of the state by 79% to 19%. Pennsylvania casinos received record revenue in fiscal 2015-16. This competition explains New Jersey’s problem, namely competition. For those Kentucky legislators drooling over casinos in Kentucky, they need to look at New Jersey’s problems and remember that Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, and Missouri all have casinos. Indiana is suffering from competition the most, and Kentucky would follow suit. Kentucky has four supposedly pari-mutuel horse based casinos, but the novelty has not yet worn off. Soon the decline sets in and further calls for expansion will come. This is standard operating procedure.   http://www.phillyvoice.com/poll-most-new-jersey-residents-say-gambling-bad-state-oppose-casino-expansion/ December 13, 2016

Gamblers and Integrity

These two words do not ordinarily fit together. The longer you bet in a casino or on the Lottery the more likely you are to be a loser. There are many ways the gamblers scam the players. One of the common ones is the casino that rushes to a slots winner and says, Stop playing! That machine has mal-functioned.” They put up a sign and shut the machine down for several hours and offer you a twenty five dollar credit or a meal instead of the several thousand dollar prize. Casinos also scam card games by sending in a special dealer if you have too many hot hands. The new dealer has a number of ways of insuring that your hot hands evaporate. When you think about it, if casinos can fix the machines so that you see a lot of near misses, they also can program how often the machine will pay off. If they can advertise that they have the “loosest slots in town,” that means they can set up how often you win. The goal is for you to enjoy losing you shirt by experiencing an occasional win and some near misses. There are many ways Lotteries also scam their patrons, especially with instant games. There have been cases where, even though all the major prizes have been awarded, the advertising remains the same and the tickets continue to be sold until they are gone even though there is zero opportunity for a big win. Another method is to print many more tickets than the Lottery expects to sell. Then, if sales start to taper off, especially if the large prizes have not been awarded, the game is withdrawn. Illinois turned over management of the Lottery to a vendor in 2011. Since then Illinois has perhaps the worst record in paying out the big prizes. Since leasing the Lottery in 2011 Illinois has had seventeen games with huge prizes up to $46 million. Three of those games did not pay out a single big winner. Overall 40% of the grand prizes in these seventeen games were never paid. One would be tempted to think the prizes were heavily back loaded. The seventeen games (one-eighth of the instant games during the five year survey) accounted for one-third of the sales. This means that the chances of winning a grand prize is even smaller than any stated odds, when 40% of the grand prizes are not awarded. Gambling games are not presented by corporations that want you to become rich. They want you to “play to extinction” and give them every dollar you can earn, borrow or steal. They do not care if you lose your family, they go hungry, or develop gambling problems or other mental issues themselves. What is causing the slowness of recovery? Perhaps it is the ever growing pool of the destitute that is dragging the nation down.   Joe Mahr, Mathew Walberg, and Angie Lourgos, Illinois Lottery's biggest scratch-offs didn't award 40% of grand prizes, Tribune Finds, Chicago Tribune, December 10, 2016.

Digital Danger for the Young

A basic foundational principle of the gambling interests is attracting and addicting the young to guarantee the next generation of gamblers, to keep the money flowing to the empire. The latest innovation has caught most of us off guard. Most parents relax when their kids are locked on to their smartphone or glued to a video screen, failing to realize that what the children are playing is extremely important. While we have felt relief, 23% of teenage boys gamble online, more than smoke or do drugs. Warning youth of the danger of “pay to play” as a first step toward a lifetime of destructive addiction is difficult. They cannot see pay to play as gambling. But many parents who have found strange deductions on their credit cards have had rude awakenings to the easy transition from pay to play to competitive gambling. It is not enough to take away the screens. Many reasons are offered for teen and child addiction: distraction from stress, depression, anxiety, school pressures, separating parents, worries about physical appearance, and bullying. If parents do not know about these problems, they leave their children vulnerable to predatory gamblers. Gambling initially provides a calming, trance-like state which blocks out distressing thoughts and feelings. The kids are buying self-soothing when they gamble. They are buying numbing from emotional pain. If you do not know that, you will find out when they commit crime or fraud to get the money to sooth the pain. According to British therapist Liz Karter the keys to protecting children from gambling is a strong identity, healthy relationships and mental and emotional resilience. Most of us have no clue about how to develop these vague characteristics. Time invested with our children may open what they are thinking about and feeling. Clearing out gambling from our own lives is also crucial. We must teach our children how to deal with the painful things and the painful people in life and set a good example ourselves.   https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/01/children-online-gambling-addiction...

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.   http://www.thewesterlysun.com/news/latestnews/p663429-154/casino-project-raises-concerns.html

The state AGs appeal to VP Elect Pence to reverse the DOJ action on internet gambling

There are a wide variety of internet gambling approaches to draining the pockets of American families. Those who support internet gambling say it is an issue of personal rights, although those rights have only existed since 2011. They also blame it all on Sheldon Adelson who doesn’t want the competition for his casinos, although if that were the only reason, he could enter the marketplace himself. To the gamblers the current issue is that ten attorney generals have sent a joint letter to Trump and Pence requesting a return to the 1961 Wire Act in effect until December 23, 2011. The gamblers conveniently ignore that the enabling action was taken by the Department of Justice under the Obama Administration and not appropriately enacted by Congress. They requested that Trump overturn the DOJ action. This would shut down operations in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware, and prevent possible action in Michigan, New York, California and Massachusetts. Interestingly, the AGs of Michigan and Nevada signed the letter. In the most ridiculous statement on the part of the gamblers is that the bill called the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) would impair states ability to ”protect their citizens.”  In reality it would aid in the protection of citizens and their families from predatory web sites, scammers, identity thieves, under-age gambling and fraud. They also claim that the AG letter is asking for “filling the swamp, rather than draining the swamp.” That is ridiculous as well, since the Congress is being ask to correct actions by the administration. Most of us fear the bureaucratic swamp more than the legislative swamp. Hooray for the AGs!!!!   Jennifer Newell, “Poker,” Newell is a free-lance writer on poker and sports. http://www.pokerupdate.com/news/law-and-legislation/1251-states-push-vp-elect-pence-online-gambling-ban/

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.   http://www.cdcgamingreports.com/commentariesd/ex-superlobbyist-abramoff-says-paspa-repeal-will-require-“tectonic-shift”/

Ellis Park (KY) changes gambling machines

While the court sits without judgment the state of Kentucky moves on toward full blown casinos. Ellis Park has joined Kentucky Downs in switching to the Exacta System (formerly Encore) which appears even less to have anything to do with horse racing. The reason for the switch is that the machines play faster and make more money per machine, which increases the take for the track. The Horse Racing commission did not even approve the machines. The staff allowed them since they had been approved for Kentucky Downs earlier. The Family Foundation of Kentucky has been seeking for over two years to have the machines declared illegal, but the courts have been playing volleyball with the issue sending it from court to court from Circuit Court to Appeals Court to Supreme Court and then back to Circuit Court. Meanwhile Kentucky Downs is taking in over a million a month. Transparency is apparently not an issue since the function of random number generators is not clear. If the rng plays any role in who wins, the machines are simply slot machines. RaceTech which is owned by the Stronach Group’s Pari-Max has sued Exacta System in Wyoming claiming the machines are not pari-mutuel. The Family Foundation claims neither is pari-mutuel. Even if the courts eventually approve the machines, it will not make them pari-mutuel. In this age when something can just be renamed to make it legal, the truth seems irrelevant.   Janet Patton, “Ellis Park switching from Instant Racing games to Exacta Systems,” Lexington Herald-Leader. December 2, 2016, p.7A.  

Author John Grisham stirs up the National Indian Gaming Association

Author John Grisham has ruffled the feathers of the National Indian Gaming Association leaders. In a CBS interview promoting his new book “The Whistler,” Grisham made some overstatements including, “Ninety percent of all the money that comes in is in cash, and it’s unregulated, nobody’s watching, and they don’t pay taxes. There’s no oversight….No one knows how much they make, they don’t have to report to anybody.” The Indians argue that while the 90% cash operation may be near the truth, the rest of his statements are “recklessly and inexcusably” wrong. The Indians refute the other statements with evidence of regulation. They state that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (1989) created the National Indian Gaming Commission which mandates “significant state and tribal” regulation. The leaders claim this is expensive and time consuming. For 2015 the NIGC indicated that Indian Gaming produced revenues of $29.9 billion for the tribes that have casinos. The critical letter to CBS was over the signature of Ernest L Stevens, Jr. Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association. At this point a little misguided literalism creeps into the Indian argument. He says that Grisham accuses the tribes of printing money. This is a common description of a lucrative business. The Chairman interprets this as an accusation of counterfeiting, which he refutes, but which misses the point. While the Indian defense of their casinos was needed, Stevens ignores the early history of the infiltration of a few casinos by members of the Mafia in the early 1990s. He also ignores that the present relatively well regulated operations are a three decades long process and were not present from the beginning. Grisham certainly exaggerated and painted all operations with the same brush. The Indians certainly indicated that taxes to non-Indian agencies amounted to less than ten percent of revenues, and were required to pay for regulation or were agreed to in compacts with the states. The problems of the past were minimized. Grisham was promoting a book, the tribes were worried about damage to their customer base. In the end it is all about money.   http://www.pechanga.net/content/national-indian-gaming-association-puts-cbs-morning-notice-misrepresentation

Casinos are in the wind again in Alabama

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Alabama’s only Indian tribe, has responded positively to the Governor’s new Gambling Advisory Council. The Governor failed to get a lottery through the legislature to solve a budget shortfall in the 2016 session, and is trying again in the new session that begins in February. The Poarch Band has three electronic Bingo parlors and wants a casino. It says it is willing to share between $50 and $75 million with the state if allowed to open a casino exclusively. Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling testified against the bill citing evidence that it lowers the standard of living for the poorer segment of society that gambles the most. Rep. Craig Ford (D) told Bernal that Alabama already had gambling (Bingo) with the state receiving no benefit. He also dragged out the old chestnut about all the dollars going over the border to states with casinos. Recent studies show that only 1-2% of a states’ budget comes from gambling and this is an ineffective means of solving shortfalls. Legislatures tend to increase spending by more than the gambling brings in. Alabama has stood firm for years against expanded gambling. The legislative time spent on gambling will dramatically increase if it is approved. Controversy will not go away as the pressure to expand gambling, once approved, increases.   http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/politics/southunionstreet/2016/11/17 http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/11/poarch_creeks_willing_to_negot. http://www.wivy.com/content/news/Indian-casinos=in-Alabama-might-be-willing-to-share  

Trump calls on Casino Cronies for Inauguration

    You will never guess who Trump is calling to help with the inaugural. That’s right, the casino crowd. On the twenty person committee are Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts, Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam of the Las Vegas Sands, Phil Ruffin owner of Treasure Island Casino, Gail Icahn wife of Carl Icahn who runs Tropicana Entertainment, and Tom Barrack, former owner of Hilton Casinos, who is the chairman of the committee. What the committee may lack in class, it certainly makes up in wealth. Wonder how much influence these cronies may wield after the inauguration. Wonder how cultured the party for the new president will be. Trump may have done this to get help lining up performers for the events since many of the Hollywood crowd backed Hilary.   http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2016/11/15/for-best-inauguration-party-ever-trump-calls-on-his-casino-industry-pals

Keeneland Fall Breeding Stock Sale hints at future of racing

BLOG NO 116 NOVEMBER BREEDING STOCK SALE November 22, 2016   Keeneland conducted its annual breeding stock sale over a thirteen day period. Strong sales at the top end of the market could not offset declines in gross sales, average price and median price. The number of horses sold was up by 78. Unrivalled Belle, in foal to top ranked sire Tapit, sold for $3.8 million, the highest price paid for a horse in Kentucky this year. Nineteen horses sold for one million or more. Gross sales for 2,653 horses was a little over $215 million. Last year 2575 sold for $219 million. This meant the average price was $81,121 or 4.6% lower than last year. The real problem was that the bottom dropped out of Book IV, leading to the median price dropping to $25,000 which was down 16 2/3%. You too could own a racehorse for under $20,000. The problems with the bottom half of the sale indicated there were not enough buyers, especially the bargain hunters. Many breeders did not cover their costs for stud fees, foaling costs, and feed. The sale was indicative of the shrinking demand for racehorses as tracks scale back the number of race days. It also meant that a Korean company bought 63 horses for a cumulative $1.5 million and was the largest buyer. The average price the Koreans paid was $23,810 which means the bottom of the sale would have suffered even more without them. This is just another indication that horse racing is dying, except at the top.   Janet Patton, “November sale at Keeneland dips despite strong top end,” Lexington Herald-Leader, November 22, 2016, p. 6A.

Do casinos improve lives? The Atlantic forcefully says no

The Atlantic, one of America's most influential magazines, has ripped the curtain off predatory gambling in its December edition. It's one of the most compelling and revealing stories ever written about the issue. Please read it and then share it widely on Facebook, Twitter and your email networks. The country's political establishment (both on the Left and the Right) has forced predatory gambling onto working class, rural and urban Americans alike over the last twenty years, casting it as "an economic engine." One of the major results has been a lower standard of living for almost all of us, regardless whether you gamble or not. Another tragic result has been the destruction of millions of American lives. Scott Stevens, the primary focus of The Atlantic story, is one of them. It's inevitable that predatory gambling will be sunset in the United States. It's not a question of if but when.

Gambling Interests Lose Big on Election Day

Thanks to concerned citizens from all political persuasions, one of the biggest losers on Election Day was America's gambling interests. The voting results show that in the face of almost limitless spending by big gambling operators, more and more citizens understand that commercial gambling has been a spectacular failure and it does not improve people's lives: 1) New Jersey voters crushed a high profile ballot question to expand casinos into the northern region of the state by a 79% to 21% margin according to reports late Tuesday night. 2) In Massachusetts, voters soundly defeated a ballot question to bring a slot machine parlor into Greater Boston by a 60.8% - 39.2% margin. A special thanks to those who led the opposition effort, especially Celeste Meyers and her team who spent almost no money but sacrificed their time and talents for this just cause. 3) In another high profile predatory gambling fight, citizens of Tiverton, Rhode Island can declare victory after overcoming more than $4.6 million of campaign spending by a gambling operator trying to force a casino into their town. Citizens opposing the casino spent no money yet achieved a virtual 50%-50% tie on the ballot question. After spending millions of dollars in what may have been the most lopsided campaign in the country, only the willfully ignorant would conclude the community "wants" a casino. 4) The State of Arkansas squashed a proposed ballot question to push casinos into the state. The Arkansas Supreme Court, in language that rings true in every state where predatory gambling has been thrusted into the lives of everyday people, ruled that the ballot question title “does not honestly and accurately reflect what is contained in the proposed amendment. The voters are entitled to a ballot title that is honest, impartial, and intelligible and will give them a fair understanding of the issues presented." The reason why this political practice is used repeatedly by gambling interests is because when a business is dishonest, the people who benefit from it need to promote it dishonestly. The American Gambling Association did a big public relations campaign in 2016 to create the illusion that "gaming votes." As these election cycle results show, "gaming" doesn't vote. They attempt to buy the vote. And citizens still stand strong against them because predatory gambling does not improve people's lives.

Gambling over the Internet Part II

As we noted in Part I while the two largest companies, Draft Kings and Fan Duels, received over $3 billion in “entry fees” in 2015, they did not make a profit. They were plagued by employees playing on the other site with inside information that gave them an edge. One employee won over $6 million with as much as $350,000 at a time. The large prizes were dominated by less than 1% of the players who posted hundreds of entries using sophisticated “scripts.” Then they were faced by millions in legal fees and lobbying costs as they sought approvals from state legislatures. In addition, when revenues declined during the second half of the 2015 Football season, valuations of the big two were halved and investors lost money. The legal issue remained whether DFS was a game of skill or a game of chance. The only skill seemed to be deep pockets and excellent computerized scripts. The 250 members of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association rejected the formation of a Board to field complaints and police integrity, fairness and transparency. This was self-defeating in the long run as it became apparent that anyone playing fewer than 90 entries in a given game would be a loser. The decline of DFS began in July of 2015 when a US Attorney in Florida informed both companies that they were under criminal investigation. This was followed by a report that only 1.3% of the players were consistent winners. The report predicted that the winners would soon eliminate most of the casual players. The next blow came when ESPN decided to remove all Draft King elements from its shows. The big two then decided to apply for licenses in England as gambling entities, which undermined their claim to not be gambling. On November 10, 2015 the New York Attorney General issued his cease and desist order. The DFS companies responded by pushing for legal status for the games in state legislatures, including New York. The next problem came in the form of over 40 lawsuits filed by customers who believed that unfair advantages were granted by the companies to big players using scripts. They compared the DFS companies with the casinos who spread perks around to all levels of players, even though large losers got larger perks. In DFS large winners got the perks. The suits were consolidated into a class action suit. Two dozen state AGs opened investigations. By the end of 2015 38 states were considering legislation to legalize DFS games. Illinois casinos managed to kill legislation there. In CA, FL, CT, OK and AZ Indian casinos marshalled enough clout to kill the legislation. At the end of this round eleven states did not allow the sale of “entry fees” in those states. By March 2016 Virginia became the first state to legalize DFS followed by IN, TN, MS, CO, MO and MA. New York settled with the big two DFS companies, with the result that they closed out baseball, basketball and hockey while being allowed to offer football games. For several months the big two have talked about merging. To reduce costs they have renegotiated contracts, reduced the number of large prizes, reduced advertising dramatically. To improve relations with smaller players, they have been offering more information to all players, limited entries to 150 in any given game, and introduced “beginners” area where successful players are not allowed. They are identifying the successful players by tags no matter what games they play. They are preventing third party scripting, and have prevented employees from playing on rival sites. New taxes are also an issue with New York having the highest rate at 15%. These appear to be passed on to the customer in either a larger hold or higher entry fees. New investors are scarce and the old ones are impatient with the leadership of the companies. It remains to be seen if the changes are sufficient to enhance the culture of DFS, and the target date for turning a profit is still future and unknown. So far, the biggest sports gamble is a dud.   Data from Don Van Natta, Jr., “ Welcome to the Big Time” Outside the Lines and ESPN the Magazine, August 24, 2016.

Survey of Sports gambling, Part I

Two days ago we surveyed casino and horse racing casinos. Today we begin a two part survey of internet and sports gambling. The third major form of gambling is a combination of private and illegal gambling. I will not survey these because so little reliable information is available, although some experts believe that illegal gambling has grown as legal gambling has grown. The biggest US sports books are maintained in Nevada, yet they brought in only $170 million to the casinos last year. Only two other states have limited sports books, one of which is Delaware. New Jersey waged a two year battle in the courts in an effort to add sports books to their casinos and racetracks. The state was unsuccessful. So this type of sports gambling remains in the background leaving the rest of that form of gambling in the hands of illegal sports books. The basic law governing sports betting was the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed in 2006. This law sought to bring sports betting, especially at overseas sites, under control by preventing banks from paying credit charges to gambling sites. The law has been fairly successful, except for a carve-out to allow the immensely popular (57 million players) season long fantasy games. Daily fantasy games did not exist in 2006 so they were not prohibited. What this meant was that Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) games were a potential growth area. By 2011 Fan Duels had migrated from its European base and was leading the pack. A Boston startup called Draft Kings jumped into the competition for customers who would pay an “entry fee” (place a bet) to enter a game. The result was an idiotic competition for customers based on hubris, ignorance, and by 2015 $750 million in advertising (EVERY 90 SECONDS) that exceeded the entire beer industry. As a result neither company has turned a profit to the present, investors have become impatient, new investment money has dried up, and the companies are cutting costs, reducing the size of prizes, and now talking merger to cut operating expenses. So far the egos of the leaders of the two largest fantasy companies have prevented a merger. Then the legal problems began. Several state attorney’s general initiated investigations, including the state with the largest fan base, New York. Over 40 individual lawsuits by customers claiming unfair practices were combined into one class action suit in Massachusetts. The New York Attorney General issued a cease and desist order that shut down Draft Kings and Fan Duels in that state. The two fantasy leaders began a campaign state by state to seek approval for offering the games in those states. This involved spending millions more that prevented profitability. The companies claimed that the games were based on skill, but 1.2% of the players won all the big prizes. They spent as much as $200,000 on entry fees and used elaborate computerized “scripts” to select their teams. They also preyed upon new and small players and overwhelmed them. Complaints after the 2015 NFL season led the companies to label the advantaged players for the protection of others in head to head matches. They also gradually limited the number of entries a player could make and established a system of tiers so that players were playing against others of essentially the same skill level. These steps were necessary to avoid wiping out the casual players. By the start of the 2016 NFL season the valuations of the companies had been halved. Many of the lawsuits could have been avoided by a strict “Board of Governance” to field complaints and enforce integrity, fairness and transparency. While the 250 member Fantasy Sports Trade Association proposed such a Board, the members rejected it. Any player with fewer than 100 entries in a given games will be a loser. By 2011 the entry fees has reached a million dollars. Projections in 2015 had indicated that entry fees would reach $20 million by 2017. However, the problems resulted in the beginning of a drop off about half way through the 2015 season, and the projection was clearly erroneous. Most of the problems of this gambling industry are self-inflicted. (Continued tomorrow)   Most of the data came from Don Van Natta, Jr. “Welcome to the Big Time: The implosion of the daily fantasy industry,” Outside the Lines and ESPN the Magazine, August 24, 2016.  

The State of This Gambling Nation

Today I am surveying the state of the gambling enterprises in the U.S. The mainstay of gambling is the casinos. The most useful information about commercial casinos was from the State of the States, published by the American Gaming Association. The last year this document was published was 2013 with data from 2012. Gamblers losses in 2012 were $37.34 billion at commercial casinos in 17 states. This was the second highest amount lost up to 2012, but has most likely been exceeded in the years since. Indian casinos do not publically have to report earnings in most states, but estimates range as high as $28 billion in 28 states. These estimates may be high since many Indian casinos are smaller. Fourteen states have racetrack casinos, 5 states have cardrooms with legal gambling, and 7 states have electronic gambling machines in non-casino venues. Illinois now has the most of these machines with over 4000 spread out with a limit of five per establishment. Eleven new commercial casinos opened in 2012, with fewer in the years following. While casino revenue is climbing a little, there is a definite leveling off in the general trend over the years. Ohio in 2012 was the last state to undergo a large expansion with three big casinos and several racetrack casinos in 2012 and 2013.

Illinois is Slipping into Addiction

Illinois is slipping away into the depths of gambling. Innocent eyed reporters who believe everything they are told by a nice suit, are reporting on the “hot hand” the video gambling machines have in the state. There are 24,000 of them in the originally intended small businesses, but also in businesses set up specifically for the five allowed machines, with drinks as an incidental sideline. The state taxes the machines at a low 30%, with 25% to the state and 5% to the local government. That leaves 70% to the owner and the machine provider. Chains have developed. Dotty’s has 60 locations state wide that look like coffee shops, and have over 350 employees statewide. But there is another way of looking at those same statistics. Dr. John W. Kindt, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, points out that the 24,000 gambling machines spread over 5600 mini-casinos around the state is more than the state of Nevada has. The machines, if gathered into casinos would be twenty more added to the more than a dozen existing casinos.  So, it is no wonder the machines are bringing in money to the state. The 30% tax rate may be the lowest in the country, with most casinos paying 35 to 60% of gross receipts in taxes after payouts to “winners.” This is a tremendous loss to the state which is trying to finance repair of roads and bridges. From a different angle, in the four years the machines have received $34 billion in bets, a sum nearly equal to the $36 billion in one years’ state budget. Kindt points out that Canadian governments keep all the receipts and pay the casinos a management fee. It is, however, hard to see how that could work over 5600 locations. It remains to be seen how much of the $811 million the state has received over four years will be directed to roads and bridges. The saddest unmentioned result is the thousands who have become addicted, lost their liquid assets and gone into debt to feed the machines. No one seems to be paying attention except for the few stalwart opponents (e.g. Kathy Gilroy and Dr.Kindt).   Becky Yerak. “Video Gambling has hot hand in Illinois,” The Chicago Tribune, October 22, 2016. See also Phil Ciciora, “Four Years later, what effect has expanded video gambling had on Illinois?” University of Illinois News Bureau, October 20, 2016.

00 Slots in Lexington

In a rare moment of cooperation the Red Mile harness track and Keeneland, a thoroughbred track, opened a joint historical racing venue at the Red Mile which is near downtown and the University of Kentucky campus. The two tracks installed nearly 900 slot like machines that have little or no identification with horses. They were expected to generate nearly a million dollars in play per day after one year. The facility cost the two tracks nearly $42 million to build with the expectation of paying off about half the cost of the facility in the first year. Hasn’t happened. So far the slots barn has generated $12 million in revenue for the two tracks. At the six month mark the tracks claimed the machines were meeting expectations and would be in the $25 million to $35 million range per month by the end of the first year which we have now reached. That hasn’t happened either. The handle (the amount bet) was $21.7 million in May, $18 million in June, $20.5 million in July. The first year was expected (by mid-September) to reach $220 million, but for the year the figure will be closer to $197 million, or an average of over $16 million per month. The two tracks said they were satisfied and expected the growth to continue as a large percentage of players are still new. The machines are a poor method of raising taxes. Since the start of Historical Racing, $!.9 BILLION has been bet on them, with only $28 million in excise taxes raised and only $8 million going to the general fund of the state. That works out to 0.4 of 1%. That is an obscene tax rate in a poor state that could use a fair tax rate. While the $28 million is rasied by the state, $20 million goes to the horse industry.   Data from Janet Patton, “A year later, is the Red Mile/Keeneland gamble on historical wagering paying off?” The Lexington Herald-Leader, p. 1C, September 12, 2016.

Casino Stagnation

The carpet may be a little more garish, the machines a little fancier, and money a little easier to access from the casino floor. But basically they are still offering slots and table games. When the recession hit is 2008 many of the casinos had high debt from leveraged expansion. A few of them failed. Others shifted emphasis away from gambling to shows and hotel rooms. The casinos that had spread beyond Vegas and Atlantic City became very conservative, cutting perks and freebies. A few Indian casinos could not repay their notes when they came due, but they Over the past 22 years casinos have changed little in the so called entertainment they offer. could not be forced into bankruptcy because of Indian sovereignty. Recently the casinos discovered their clientele was aging, when surveys revealed that half the patrons of casinos were over 50. Even worse was that the millennials, raised on computer games, are uninterested in slots which is where the casinos make most of their money. The result has been rows of empty slot machines, even in Vegas. Game providers were also hurt by the recession as well, suddenly having masses of leased slots returned at the end of their contracts. With casinos risk and investment adverse and revenues declining and manufacturers with unsold product, few were willing to invest in the new need for skill based slots. Only two major casino companies, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, seem willing to invest in new skill based and multi-player slots, which have been slow to arrive. A few startups have been working on skill based machines, but it is not yet clear that the millennials will be attracted to play in the casinos. The days of massive casino expansion appear to be over, with new casinos only stealing customers from old ones. Since I believe that part of the reason for the slow recovery of our economy is due to the $50 billion commercial casino drain and the nearly $30 billion Indian casino drain on our economy the problems for the casinos is actually good news. Reduction of the regulation load, especially on small businesses and reduction of the wasted money on gambling could lead to improvement of our economy.   “Putting it all on grey,” The Economist, October 8, 2016. http://www.economist.com/news/business/21708278

New York Lawsuit

Stop Predatory Gambling (Les Bernal) and three other plaintiffs have filed suit with the New York Supreme Court seeking a summary judgment to stop implementation of Daily Fantasy Games. They claim the legislature erred in stating that DFS is not gambling, since there is a consideration (the Ticket purchase), the prize, and the element of chance. The main skill involved is having deep pockets to pay for multiple entries assuring that the player will win. The plaintiffs argue that they or family members have suffered addictive behavior and large losses from playing the games. They seek a judgment that the games violate the Constitution, and a permanent injunction from further implementation of the games. The introduction of DFS must follow all other gambling efforts like the seven recently approved casinos in seeking a Constitutional amendment and a statewide referendum. The lawyer for the plaintiffs says that the legislature cannot unilaterally amend the Constitution by declaring DFS is not gambling, when it is. Pursuit of the normal amendment process is necessary to approve the games. The DFS group used a large group of lobbyists to push through the bill to allow the games, from which the state hopes to gain $4 million in taxes. The rule of law is seriously undermined when legislative bodies can simply redefine gambling as non-gambling.   http:buffalonews.com/2016/10/05/lawsuit-seeks-to-stop-online-fantasy-sports-contests-in-new-york/

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. http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2016/casino-traps-older- patrons.html

Millennials have low interest in Gambling

The Millennials are defined as those born between 1980 and 2000 A.D. They constitute the largest group of the population, over 83 million or 25% of the U.S. population. The next largest group are the Baby Boomers at 75 million or 22.6% of the population. This smallish survey involving 300 Millennials and 150 non-millennials from 22 states with a preponderance of participants from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The study was paid for by the Borgata, Tropicana Casino, Resorts Casino Hotel, Harrah’s Resort and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. The research team was from Stockton University in New Jersey. The results include that only 21% Millennials think gambling is important, while 42% of other age groups think it is. Also, Millennials spend 8.5% of their money on gambling, while Non-millennials spend 23.5% of their money on gambling. Only 44% of Millennials play slots while 72% of Non-millennials play slots. A nearly equal percentage of the two groups play table games (57-58%). The study provided the casinos sponsoring it with suggestions for increasing play by Millennials, with the main factors being the presence of an element of skill in the slots and the capacity for group play. With no interest in the morality of enticing more to play and lose, this study offers the casinos help in growing participation by a specific age group. This is called targeting. There is no concern about addiction or other byproducts of increased gambling. In the late 1800s we called the owners of exploitative factories that paid pitiful wages “Robber Barons.” Hardly anyone is concerned about exploitation currently, and as a result we have a new set of Robber Barons who own the casinos.   http://www.cleveland.com/casino/index.ssf/3016/09/

Gambling kills one Australian pre Day

Australians spend A$761 per capita per year on gambling, the highest rate in the world. As a result nearly 400 per year commit suicide over gambling debt. Australians spent A$23 BILLION last year, over half of it on slot machines. There is no excitement over reform because the states reap over A$5.8 BILLION per year. With only a half percent of the world’s population, Australia has 20% of the world’s slot machines. One in six Australians who plays regularly is addicted and spends an average of A$21,000 per year. The social cost of gambling is about A$4.7 Billion per year compared to the A$5.8 Billion the states receive in taxes. Reform movements are overwhelmed by gambling lobbying, and generally go nowhere. Gambling seems to be part of Australia’s national character, but at a hideously high cost. With casinos in 40 states the US seems headed in the same direction but spends the 7th ranking amount per capita per year. Gambling is out of control and beginning to run politics for the benefit of the casino owners.   Jason Scott and Michael Heath, “Gambling Disease Kills On Australian a Day, But It’s Too Lucrative to Cure.” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-27/  

SPG helps to file constitutional challenge of NY’s internet gambling law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       CONTACT: Les Bernal October 5, 2016                                           (202) 567-6996 ext. 1 GOVERNMENT REFORM GROUP FILES CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE TO NEW YORK'S NEW INTERNET GAMBLING LAW (ALBANY, NY) - New York citizens filed a lawsuit with the New York State Supreme Court Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of the new internet gambling law recently passed by the state legislature. The law includes the legalization of daily fantasy sports (DFS) gambling. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is already on record declaring that daily fantasy sports gambling violates the constitution and a large number of New York citizens share his concerns. A May 2016 statewide poll by Siena College showed voters oppose allowing daily fantasy sports companies to operate in New York 45-37 percent. The state’s constitution prohibits gambling, except those forms specifically granted exemptions, such as wagering on horse races, charitable contests, a limited number of commercial casinos and state-operated lottery. Attorney Neil Murray of the firm O’Connell and Aronowitz filed the litigation. “The plaintiffs seek to protect the public from predatory gambling consistent with the Constitution,” Murray said. “They also intend to stop FanDuel, DraftKings and other internet gambling operators from exploiting the financially desperate and the addicted in New York.” The lawsuit focuses on two key points. The first is daily fantasy sports gambling is prohibited by the State Constitution and the Legislature cannot unilaterally amend the Constitution. Only the citizens of New York can do so in a statewide referendum after votes by two successively-elected State Legislatures. The second point takes aim at how DFS has been misrepresented as a game of skill rather than chance. Many types of gambling have an element of skill such as blackjack, but skill and chance are not mutually exclusive. If chance is a material element of the transaction, then it is gambling. A full copy of the litigation can be downloaded here. New York supporters of Stop Predatory Gambling (SPG), a government reform group, helped bring the lawsuit. “We believe in improving the lives of the people of New York,” said Les Bernal, SPG’s National Director. “Daily fantasy sports gambling is a huge rip-off for all citizens, regardless whether you gamble or not.” Robb Smith, Executive Director of Interfaith Impact of New York State and a member of SPG’s New York network, strongly endorsed the lawsuit to overturn the new internet gambling law. “The Legislature legalized internet gambling in every home, every dorm room, every place of employment and on every smart phone in New York,” Smith said. SPG raised the money to fund the litigation from individual supporters and citizen groups in New York. The organization does not accept any financial contributions from gambling interests. -30-

Blog No 100 New Lottery Game

The Georgia Lottery has launched the latest gimmick to lure players. This time they are after the Millennials and their Smartphones. For $2 per play the person buys a chance to win up to $10,000 electronically. The game was released Friday. September 16 and is expected to attract younger technosavvy players who don’t normally buy lottery tickets. LottoInteractive, the game producer of Star Match, officials predict that customers will spend more and have the opportunity to win real cash instead of the virtual prizes most mobile gamers win. In July a Gallup Poll revealed that about 49% of Americans play the lottery spending $20.9 Billion on tickets. This will only increase the losses for the players. Opponents of lotteries and gambling are disturbed by the threat of even greater losses by lower socio-economic players who disproportionately play the lottery. Now they will not have to leave their couch to lose their money. The Gallup Poll also showed that 11% of lottery players gambled excessively with the games. This new wrinkle will only make things worse. No one really knows to what extent electronic gambling will grow with this innovation. Mike Snider, “Candy Crush type game for state lotto debuts,” USA Today. September 16. 2016

Long term Leadership

When I first became involved with opposing gambling in 1992, The Rev. Tom Grey was the Executive Director of the Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, a small Board directed the organization and Dr. Guy Clark was a Board member.   Now, twenty four years later, the organization has changed to Stop Predatory Gambling, Les Bernal is the Director and Dr. Guy Clark is still a Board member and the leader of Stop Predatory Gambling New Mexico. Dr. Clark recently wrote a letter to the Albuquerque Journal opposing the approval of Daily Fantasy Games (DFS) on the basis of the NM Gaming Control Act which prohibits “an activity in which, upon payment of consideration, a player receives a prize or other thing of value, the award of which is determined by chance even if accompanied by some skill.” DFS fits that definition. The evidence according to Dr. Clark is that over 90% of DFS players consistently lose. The greater problem is that DFS is the crack in the dam that admits a flood of online sports gambling, online poker, and eventually online casinos. Stop Predatory Gambling New Mexico requests The Attorney General to honor the law by ruling DFS illegal and preventing the invasion of every computer, smartphone and tablet in the state. We appreciate you Dr. Clark!!!   https://abqjournal.com/847727/dfs-may-open-nm-to-online-gambling.html