Monthly Archives: February 2008

A new meaning for charitable gambling

An article published in the Weekend Herald out of New Zealand brings startling news. They point to research by BDO Kendalls, one of Australia’s leading accounting and business advisory firms, which indicates charities are losing millions of dollars to internal theft by staff to fund gambling addictions. The average amount stolen by staff was $180,643, almost five times higher than those who stole to maintain a certain lifestyle. They indicate that of the money stolen from charities 53% is for gambling, which is undeniably alarming. The Herald explains:

Problem Gambling Foundation CEO John Stansfield said he knew the figure would be high, but was shocked that gambling related fraud was hitting charities worse than the private sector.

“Effective charities are very dependent on trust,” he said. “The public and the funders need to have confidence that they are using funds wisely and clients need to feel the organisation (sic) helping them has integrity.” Mr. Stansfield said fraud and theft by employees undermined those relationships and posed a real threat to credibility and effectiveness for the whole non-profit sector.

Considering the countless examples of embezzlement and fraud that comes with expanded gambling, and the fact that the New England Journal of Medicine says that “pathological gambling is the fastest growing mental heath problem in the western world,” it would be no surprise if similar research found the exact same results here in America.

The results of this study should also give pause to legislators seeking to expand gambling and remove the Missouri Loss Limit. The consequences of removing the loss limit will be felt by a variety of citizens and even charitable organizations.

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Legislator who proposes loss limit removal received nearly $1,700 in casino lobbyists’ gifts in 2007

Hat tip to Randy Turner at the Turner Report for his vigilance of campaign contributions in Missouri, including contributions from gambling special interests.

As legislation to remove the loss limit is now being considered in the Missouri Senate and House, it is important to understand the motivation of several legislators seeking the removal of a restriction that has never been requested or popular among the voters of Missouri.

Make sure to read the entire story from the Turner Report and search his archive for other related stories.

Used with permission from the Turner Report:

In fact, Shannon Cooper received $1,696.88 in gifts from Ameristar lobbyists William Gamble, Jorgen Schlemeier, Sarah Topp, and Betsy Morgan in 2007.

This might not be such a big deal. After all, each time The Turner Report prints its Hall of Shame listings for legislators who take the most in lobbyists’ gifts, there are many who probably are just taking the freebies to be taking the freebies, no matter how distasteful that may be to some of us.

But in this particular instance, Cooper is proposing legislation that will directly benefit Ameristar Casinos. On Thursday, Cooper filed a bill which would remove the loss limit for casinos and limit competition for casinos currently operating in Missouri. HB 2043 has many items concerning the placement of gambling funds in education, but the key parts of this legislation, mentioned in the last sentence, would give the casino interests everything they want.


Why are we doing this again?

California is no stranger to Indian Gaming, it represents a $7 billion a year industry and with the passage of props 94-97 it’s soon to grow.  The original intent of legalized Indian Gaming was to help tribes develop economically and socially.  Ralph Stone, a retired attorney living in San Francisco, revisited the issue in a recent commentary.  He points to “An Impact Analysis of Tribal Government Gaming in California,” published by the Center for California Native Nations at the University of California, Riverside (January 2006) to help examine if these casino’s are in fact helping Native Americans.

I encourage you to read the article as it provides some very reveling statistics that leads Stone to conclude:

Clearly, gaming revenue has not been the cure-all for the economic and social problems in the Indian community. Hopefully, future gaming revenue will be judiciously spent to eliminate the economic and social disparity between American Indians and the general population.


planting the proverbial seed: how our youth is in danger

The Oregon Lottery launched what would seem like a thoughtful and well-intentioned event called “Scratch-it for Schools.” It’s a way to promote the lottery to achieve revenue for the state while providing proceeds to local schools. Last year the Lottery raised about $86,000 on the event, but the states school budget is over $6.2 billion. An increase in the budget of .00014 percent hardly seems very beneficial to Oregon Schools, but that’s hardly the point. The Oregon Lottery claims that the event is not about helping schools; it’s a promotional program for the Lottery.

The real problem is not that the Lottery is choosing to promote its self-interests with a slick PR campaign. The problem is that Scratch-it for Schools invited K-12 public schools to participate in the event. They encouraged the schools to register online from their personal computers because most schools block the Lotteries website. Teams of eight adults will then be selected to scratch as many tickets as possible with the school keeping the proceeds.

This type of promotion is careless and is designed specifically to plant the seed in children early that gambling is acceptable. As Chuck Sheketoff, executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy said:

Scratch-it for Schools is nothing but a public relations scam peddling the lie that lottery games can be a panacea for schools’ funding shortages, all the while validating gambling in the eyes of our kids.

Instead of helping promote the fantasy that playing the lottery will solve life’s challenges, schools should teach kids the facts of life: taxes, not gambling revenues, are responsible for 90 percent of school funding


harmless super bowl wagers?

Guest Article:

Super Bowl Sunday brings about lots of excitement with the electricity of stats and facts, and a perfect season riding on the line. But a lesser-known fact is that Super Bowl Sunday is one of the largest social gambling events in the nation. The Morning Sentinel points to the 2007 Super Bowl as having an estimated $8 billion in wagers placed on its outcome. This flashy, center-stage event brings out several “social” gamblers, some of whom consider placing little bets here and there harmless. The article explains that experts have information to the contrary.

Guy Cousins, acting director of Maine Office of Substance Abuse, is referenced as estimating that 3 to 5 percent of those who participate in wagering will become problem gamblers. Another expert mentioned, Lee Thompson, president of the Maine Council on Problem Gambling explained, “We’ve seen an increase in the calls from Maine to the Nation Council on Problem Gambling hotline, from eight calls a month in 2003 to over 100 a month in 2006.”

It appears that the glitzy glam of the Super Bowl attracts people to make social wagers, a harmless bit of fun in their mind. But the dollar amount waged on the Super Bowl climbs each year, as does the number of problem gamblers. The Super Bowl garners over three times the amount wagered on NCAA basketball’s March Madness.

Is this a harmless Sunday addition to one of America’s most popular day of sports? The numbers show it only to be a growing problem.