Monthly Archives: March 2008

Kentucky’s Casino Dreams Waning…

Guest Article: 

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s last hopes of pushing his pro-casino bill through the legislature seem all but lost this week, as Hastings Wyman of the Southern Political Report notes.  Holding a press conference on Monday, Beshear made a final, yet seemingly hopeless plea for the passage of his bill.

Wyman reports, “’I don’t see any hope at all for [the governor’s proposal],’ says Kentucky Roll Call editor Lowell Reese, who covers the legislature up close.  The governor’s one hope says Reese – and a small one at that – is that when the House and Senate conferees try to iron out differences in their recently passed budget bills, they will come up against the hard truth of not enough revenue.”

Beshear’s promise of up to $500 million in new state revenue apparently isn’t enough incentive for the House to vote to pass his bill.  Because Beshear’s bill is a constitutional amendment his almost fifty pledges falls short of the required sixty votes for passage.  Wyman relays that “House Speaker Jody Richards says he wants 62 pledges before he’ll bring it to a vote, to provide a safety margin.”

With the state legislature’s adjournment drawing near, Beshear’s casino hopes seem to be all but lost—a dangerous failed promise from his victorious Gubernatorial campaign.

the harm statistics will never tell

In the world of gambling it can be hard to get policy makers and the general public to look to the hard facts of the gambling industry. And for those involved in the process who do, they too often look at statistics alone and not to the part of the story that the statistics will never tell. One great example of looking beyond the statistics comes in a story from the Daily Telegram out of Minnesota. They report the story of a fire chief who embezzled almost a quarter-million dollars over six years from a local fire department to fund his gambling addiction after “he ran up large credit card debts, refinanced his home and took out large loans, but ran our of options to pay for his addiction” . The embezzlement statistic, however, does not tell the entire story. The Daily Telegram continues to explain:

Gotelaere headed a department with just 34 firefighters. In spite of the personnel cuts, the department’s responsibilities grew to include emergency medical and hazardous material response, gearing up a dive team and fire prevention and education. Grant money given to support some of those activities funded the scheme.

“I would hate to think he was lining his pockets while firefighters were being cut,” Matheson said in a statement to the court. “During his tenure as fire chief, I also witnessed our fire stations deteriorate. I’ve seen the purchase of lower-grade equipment. I’ve heard him say we would have to bypass the training of firefighters because of overtime costs. I have witnessed Steve not purchase firefighter gloves required by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) … The firefighters purchased the gloves on their own. This in a period of time he was stealing from the department.”

How many people in that town were affected by the struggling fire department because of just one man’s gambling addiction? Every time gambling expands more and more problem gamblers enter the fold. And every new problem gambler brings the risk of not only financial destruction of their own lives, but also all those around them including some that we would have never otherwise thought possible. The statistics will never tell the whole story but they cannot be ignored.

true colors

Harvard Law School formed an organization called the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society (GPSTS).  At the time they claimed it was simply an educational tool looking to use the strategic concepts of poker to learn about math, negotiations and other educational worthy material.  Today we learn the truth.  The CW 47 out of Columbia is reporting that the GPSTS is publicly opposing Gov Patrick’s legislation that would make online poker illegal with up to two years in jail and maximum fine of $25,000:

The group plans to demand that Governor Deval Patrick explain who wrote the provision of the casino bill outlawing poker, which a Harvard Law Professor called “crazy and non-sensical.”

“I don’t think filling our expensive jail cells with poker players is what Massachusetts voters had in mind when they elected Deval Patrick,” said Charles Nesson, the Harvard professor who founded the GPSTS.

Governor Patrick “owes the people of Massachusetts an explanation” as to how the anti-poker provision found its way into the bill, Nesson said.  “We intend to keep pushing this until we get answers from the governor,” Nesson added.

It is now completely obvious and clear that the organization is nothing more than a shell for the gambling industry who’s real purpose is to try to hook students early into supporting gambling so they can promote a political agenda.  It’s bad enough that Harvard’s educational system would seek to use gambling as a method of education, but to use students to be the gambling industry’s political arm under the guise of education is indefensible.

Maryland Teachers Union Backs Slots

From Family News in Focus by Steve Jordahl

The Maryland Teachers Association is funding a ballot referendum to bring slots to the state.

Even Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot thinks it’s a bad idea, saying, “Slots are the wrong way to pay for education. This is a regressive tax that brings crime, corruption, and the destruction of entire communities.” Still, union spokesman Daniel Kaufman says he is not sure.

“Frankly we haven’t really seen any hard evidence that’s the case.”

Chad Hills of Focus on the Family Action says the union could not have done due diligence.

“(It) did not look very hard. It’s readily available if you type in ‘gambling addiction’ on Google.”

Kaufman says they are hoping to get between four and six hundred million dollars a year if the slot referendum passes muster with voters in November. Doug Stiegler of the Family Protection Lobby says any money will come from those who can least afford it.

“Even where it’s being located shows that they’re going to be putting it into areas where the poor people can get most access to it.”

And what comes in the front door will be taken out the back.

“The money coming from the slots will not go to education, it will go to the general budget and education will get more or less depending on the budget, not on slots.”

Kaufman admits that could be the case.

“We can never 100 percent guarantee, unless it’s written into the constitution (the legislature) can pass new laws and make changes.”

Still, it’s a gamble the teachers union is willing to take. Then again, it’s not betting with its own money.

March Madness: Better Without Bets

From Focus on Social Issues – Gambling by Chad Hills:

Athletes, universities and businesses pay too high a price gambling on March Madness.

Mid-March marks the beginning of the NCAA college basketball tournament season. Teams from across the nation will play ball for 21 days straight. While the nation’s best collegiate athletes from the South, East, Midwest and West are competing in basketball, however, bookies are playing both the athletes and fans. No doubt you’ve had a bracket sheet slipped onto your desk or a stack of bracket sheets dropped on the lunch table. Unknown to many, betting on sports is only legal in the state of Nevada. Nonetheless, illegal sports betting is rampant in the United States. But are the athletes, universities, fans and businesses paying too high a price for these illegal wagers?

Read the whole story including statistics, the law and solutions by clicking here.

new video feature added

We have just updated this blog by adding a video feature on the right hand column below our “links” section. We will be adding our latest audio and video public service announcements and commercials in addition to interviews and important news updates.

You can view all of our current loss limit public service announcements right now in the video section.

The yin without the yang; not quite complete

Kansas City is not the only market considering expanded gambling and it’s certainly not the only one to consider hitting the breaks when looking at the economic data of new casinos’ entrance into the market.  The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission unanimously decided to hold off taking applications for new gambling licenses.  This decision was reported by the Des Moines Register and was based on the idea that an in-depth economic impact study should be commissioned before new expansion should take place.

This is a positive first step for those looking to expand gambling as the National Gambling Impact Study’s final report recommended a moratorium on all gambling until such economic impact studies were conducted and analyzed.  However, the studies to be conducted in Iowa will fall short of the mark for determining true economic impact:

The proposed study will examine the impact that granting additional casino licenses would have upon existing casinos and consider whether there are “underserved” pockets within Iowa’s gambling market, [Commission Chairwoman Kate Cutler of Council Bluffs ] said.

The research won’t examine the social ills caused by gambling addiction in Iowa, although it will explore potential negative impacts of gambling upon other Iowa retail businesses, such as Main Street restaurants in communities with casinos, she said.

How can you determine the economic impact of a casino if you refuse to look at both sides of the coin?  True economic impact is not just measured in benefits from tax revenues but also in the cost to states.  It is a well-documented fact that for each dollar a state collects in benefits from the casino, three dollars are spent cleaning up the social ills.

Studies like this are important when determining if a new casino will simply displace funds from other casinos, or other business, but they do nothing to determine the true impact the people of a state must deal with.  This is the kind of junk science that is perpetual pushed by the casino industry and it must be rejected.  It’s time to refocus the conversation.