Monthly Archives: May 2008

Casino targets local colleges to recruit new employees

The Joplin Globe reported that the Downstream Casino Resort held a job fair at Missouri Southern State University.  The casino, being built by a tribe in Oklahoma where it borders Missouri and Kansas, plans to open on July 5th and is looking for those just entering the job market to promote there predatory industry.

It’s unfortunate that new graduates are being targeted to work in the casino industry.  Forbes magazine has rated some casino jobs among the worst paying jobs in America.  It’s also unfortunate that students are recruited to work in these environments without really thinking about what kind of product they are promoting.  Given how impressionable new students seeking their first job are, I doubt they think about the number of bankruptcies or suicides they will contribute to or the number of families casinos pull apart because of abuse and neglect caused by gambling addiction.

I just hope that those who are looking into jobs in predatory industries like gambling understand what they will be associating themselves with and that they are not unduly influenced because the casinos showed up at a local college looking for new young and impressionable employees.

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Starting the Last Week of the MO legislative session

As we enter the last week of the Missouri General Assembly’s legislative session, we wanted to take a moment and share some of our latest “Weekly Legislative Reports” from the main site.

We receive a great number of inquiries as to the status of a variety of gambling bills being considered by the General Assembly, so we have been diligent in educating our friends and supporters on the latest action from the halls of Jefferson City. Please take an opportunity to get caught up by reading some of our previous legislative reports.

We will be providing a detailed summary of this year’s legislative session next week.

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VIDEO UPDATE:  Jason Rosenbaum from the Columbia Tribune Politics Blog posted an interview with House Floor Leader Steve Tilley answering reporters questions about some of the legislation that may be brought up during this final week.


The laughable idea of a casino spending $8 million in an effort to “help schools”

Despite the fact that efforts to remove the loss limit have failed since its passage, the casinos keep trying to find new ways to expand gambling. We previously reported that the coalition of casinos was confident that they submitted enough signatures to place an initiative to remove Missouri’s $500 loss limit on the general election ballot in November. The St Louis Post Disptch is reporting that Pinnacle alone plans to spend $8 million on the petition. They hope the public will buy into the idea that this issue is about the helping the schools. The Kansas City Business Journal explained:

Hundreds of educators from throughout the state, businesspeople and concerned Missouri residents support the Schools First initiative, spokeswoman Anne Marie Moy said.

However, the Kansas City Business Journal explained just how much of a red herring this argument really is:

“The title is very suggestive of how deceptive they can be,” said Joseph Day, research director for CasiNO Watch Inc., based in Chesterfield, Mo. “It should be called Yes for Casinos. They know the only way they can get it done is by offering money to schools.”

An April 15 report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission lists the campaign contributors as Ameristar ($835,700), which has a Kansas City casino, and Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. ($592,000), which has a St. Louis casino and two others proposed for St. Louis County and Wyandotte County in Kansas.

“If this initiative was actually supported by schools, it would be funded by schools,” [Day] said. “It’s not fair to hold hostage students and their funding to gambling dollars.”

The truth of the mater is the casinos believe that a potential expansion in Kansas could lower their profits and they are looking for any way to expand gambling to secure their piece of the pie. Unfortunately for the casinos, removal of the loss limit wont bring those gamblers who will choose to go to Kansas back to Missouri because there are alternative reasons why gamblers choose one casino over another. The Missouri Gaming Commission’s own Market Survey explained those qualities and the least important factor was the loss limit. More importantly, the top factors are access time and distance of a casino, the quantity of slot machines and the quality of bars and restaurants.

Don’t think that removing the loss limit will make those gamblers come back to Missouri because if they leave in the first place, it will be for reasons other that the loss limits. And don’t think this issue is about helping the schools because that is simply laughable.


Missouri’s Loss Limit Keeps the Criminal Element Out…Again!

There are many reasons to support Missouri’s $500 loss limit, however, one of the most overlooked and forgotten reasons for its support is because it is an effective tool for law enforcement officials. The loss limit provides Missourians with unique protection from organized crime and money laundering.

A perfect example of such protections comes from the St Louis Post Dispatch. They reported the story of man who stole $1.6 million from investors in a pyramid scheme and then later robbed at least three banks when the money went dry. What’s interesting to note is that the man made rounds at the casinos in both Atlantic City and the Casino Queen in East St Louis.

He was caught in Kentucky robbing banks and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering, was sentenced to five years in prison and he was ordered to pay $3 million in restitution.

Because of Missouri’s loss limit he was unable to launder any of the money through our casinos and was forced to take his criminal behavior across the boarder and out of our state.

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POLICY BRIEF: For more information on how the loss limit helps curb crime please read our policy brief entitled “Loss limits and law enforcement: How Missouri is uniquely protected” and check out all of our policy briefs at CasinoWatch.org. Or you can simply listen to the audio version of this Policy Brief below.


Kansas’ Difference Without Distinction

There has been plenty of criticism over Kansas’ decision to “own” state gambling and allow private business to run the operations.  However, recent developments involving slots and racetracks show exactly why such criticism is completely justified.  Rick Alm of the Kansas City Star explains why Wichita businessman Phil Ruffin pulled the plug on running slots at his dog track:

Ruffin, the owner of the Camptown dog track in Frontenac, Kan., said the state’s 40 percent tax bite on race track slots didn’t leave enough cash flow to turn a fair profit.

Ruffin said the final straw in negotiations came last week with the state’s insistence Ruffin pay the entire $12 million in estimated costs to purchase, install and operate the track’s proposed 600 electronic games that technically would be owned by the state.

“Making me pay for the slots put us over the edge,” he said.  Despite state “ownership,” Ruffin said Kansas isn’t willing to pay for gambling equipment, share advertising costs or absorb any other construction or operational expenses.

The story goes on to explain that the Woodlands in Kansas City, KS may also make the same decision despite a long desire to bring slots to their track:

“We have to be very, very careful and make sure we’re doing the right thing,” Woodlands executive Larry Seckington said Monday.

“We’re going to decide if it’s economically viable for us,” said Seckington. “It’s very close. If the numbers come back so bad that it looks like a total loss for us, it would be difficult to move forward.”

Its quite clear that KS is not really owning anything but the profits if they don’t purchase the equipment, market their product or absorb any expenses related to doing business.  The Kansas City Star is also reporting the that this argument is being presented in front of the Kansas Supreme Court:

In questioning the constitutionality of the law, the attorney general argued Kansas would “own” the apparatus of legalized gambling despite the fact it would hold title to no land, build or finance no buildings nor purchase slot machines or other gambling equipment or supplies.

“The right to own and operate those casinos will be sold to the highest bidders, with the state doing nothing more than collecting tax revenue and enacting regulations,” it said.

This simply feeds the belief that the only reason local governments make legal a practice that has been criminalized for over a hundred years is because they want in on the cut.  The Kansas legislature must think this method of “ownership” justifies such exorbitant taxes on gambling but it’s a difference without distinction.  States need to find better ways to balance their budgets and cut spending because it is disgraceful that they keep pushing the idea of making losers of its people to bring in a few more bucks.


MO Gaming Commissioners Reappointed by Senate Committee

This morning in Jefferson City the Senate Committee on Gubernatorial Appointments meet to appoint and reappoint several individuals to state boards and commissions. Among those seeking the approval of the committee were two reappointments to the Missouri Gaming Commission. As stated in the hearing schedule for the committee the commissioners being reconsidered for a new term were:

Darryl T. Jones, Democrat, as a member of the Missouri Gaming Commission (Bray)

Noel J. Shull, Republican, as a member of the Missouri Gaming Commission (Ridgeway)

The committee moved to approve all the appointments and reappointments, including Commissioners Jones and Shull. MO Gaming Commissioners serve three-year terms.


downfall of lottery winners

From Family News in Focus by Karen Johnson:

When it comes to winning the lottery, be careful what you wish for. A Florida multimillion dollar lottery winner in 1990 has died, leaving a wretched financial legacy.

Alex Toth was broke from spending his winnings years ago on luxuries, his marriage had broken up, and he was charged with federal tax fraud.

Plopping down hard-earned cash for a chance at getting lucky in the lotto is a 17 billion dollar-a-year scam for the 48 states with legalized gambling. Chad Hills of Focus on the Family Action says Toth’s story is actually quite common.

“It’s not unusual to hear them say I wish I had never won at all because it’s been a curse in my life.”

Bill Pomery is a Certified Financial Planner in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three of his biggest clients are lottery winners. He’s seen how front end euphoria can cause financial forgetfulness.

“Most of them need additional liability insurance, additional life insurance.”

The winner will start hearing from aunts, uncles and third cousins he never knew he had.

“The family starts calling and they end up paying off their boats and their cars and their houses.”

Paul Golden of the National Endowment for Financial Education says the largess leads to one more percentage.

“We talking about 70% will lose their windfall within just a few years.”

The lottery preys on the poor, who have no idea how to handle that type of money.

“People who live at poverty or at lower income levels spend proportionately more of their income on lottery tickets than do people in the middle class or the upper class because the lottery is in the business of selling hope.”

Utah and Hawaii are the only two states where gambling is illegal.