Monthly Archives: June 2008

Kansas Supreme Court provides ruling in Gambling case

The Kansas City Star reported the ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court on the issue of state owned casinos in Kansas:

The case focused on one central point: Did the new law meet the Kansas Constitution’s definition of a “state owned and operated lottery” when casino developers would run the business and own the facilities? In a unanimous ruling released Friday morning, the court said it did.

The Supreme Court rejected the argument that KS does not really own anything but the profits because they won’t purchase the equipment, market their product or absorb any expenses related to doing business. The Kansas City Star article explained:

“While the state is not the exclusive owner and operator of all aspects of the lottery enterprise under (the law), the state owns and operates the enterprise itself and owns and operates key elements of the lottery,” the ruling states.

The Court’s view of ownership seems to differ from that of every other state who’s model and system is the same as KS. Deference without distinction? Yes. A surprising ruling from a state facing serous economic shortfalls looking for to be bailed out by gambling revenues? No

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Related Stories:

Kansas Supreme Court upholds stupid gambling law by Yael T. Abouhalkah, Kansas City Star Editorial Page columnist

Kansas court upholds law to expand gambling by CARL MANNING, Associated Press

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Why some “burdens” help protect our children

In 2006 Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.  UIGEA made it illegal for online gambling companies to accept money for unlawful Internet gambling transactions and it called for regulations on the banking and payment processing industry. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System board of governors released proposed regulations for UIGEA on October 1, 2007.  Unfortunately the Federal Reserve and Treasury have used the excuse that they can’t finalize the rules because they are unclear on what is illegal online gambling and what is legal online gambling.

The AP is reporting the latest move on Capitol Hill:

The House Financial Services Committee voted Wednesday on legislation to require federal regulators to write a uniform definition of which types of gambling should and should not be allowed on the Internet, followed by new rules implementing the ban. The tie vote, 32-32, meant the legislation failed under committee rules.

Financial institutions have been upset with UIGEA from the beginning because they feel it’s a burden to monitor gambling transactions, but one Representative spelled out why such “burdens” are so necessary:

The committee’s top Republican, Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, argued that gambling is the fastest-growing addiction in the United States and having it online makes it accessible to children.  “The banks have decided that this is a financial burden,” Bachus said. “We have decided, on the other hand, that our children are worth protecting.”


MO Ethics Commission makes clarification on Lobbyist Gifts to Elected Officials

In an effort to expose the influx of gifts and political contributions from gambling special interest, we have posted documented stories of elected officials accepting concert tickets, cruises, meals and other monetary gifts. With that aim below is an interesting story from The Turner Report.

From Randy Turner at The Turner Report:

Though the names are carefully blacked out on the opinion, it appears an elected official who has been accepting tickets to entertainment events from lobbyists tried to get a ruling which would allow him or her to accept the tickets, keep one, report that one, and then spread the tickets around to others without having to count them as gifts.

That effort failed.

The opinion, issued June 5, indicates the person requesting the opinion asked the following question:

“If an elected official accepts more than one ticket to a sporting event or an entertainment performance, uses one ticket for his or her use and then give the remainder to another person, not related to him or her and not employed by him or her in an official capacity, does the lobbyist disclose only the value of the ticket used by the elected official or the total of all tickets received and accepted on behalf of the elected official?”

The opinion said that the lobbyist must report the value of all tickets.

Of course, the value of all the tickets must be reported. The whole idea of reporting gifts is so the public can know which lobbyists are lavishing gifts on which elected officials. If the lobbyists are giving the gifts to the elected officials and then those officials turn right around and provide them to others, it is still something that ultimately leaves the elected official feeling kindly toward the lobbyist and whatever special interests he or she represent.

When we see our elected officials trying to get around those reporting requirements, it becomes obvious why the requirements are necessary. Of course, banning all gifts from lobbyists would be the best solution. That would not keep them from exercising their constitutional right to petition the government, it would just allow the public’s business to be conducted in a more businesslike fashion.


How Norway got it right – The principles of the loss limit at play

The Herald Times is reporting some drastic, yet effective measures that Norway has implemented to safeguard its citizens from gambling addictions:

The government has been concerned about the increasing number of Norwegians reported to be addicted to gambling machines, and in July 2007 it banned all privately owned machines while it looked for a way of regulating them effectively.

Following the ban, the number of people who called a national gambling help line plunged, from 2,276 in 2004 to 330 so far this year.

Now that the Norwegian government has regulatory control over gambling they are perusing measures to help prevent addiction and the principles behind a unique Missouri law are paving the way. Missouri’s $500 loss limit benefits us in many ways including its ability to help protect those with compulsive gambling problems by slowing down the process and breaking up the controlling rhythms experienced by compulsive and problem gamblers. The Herald Times explains just how Norway adopted these principles:

“There will be limits on how much an individual can lose, they will be closed at night and there will be a cooling-off period after one hour of continuous play,” the minister, Trond Giske, said.

The machines will not take cash or credit cards, and can only be used with a prepaid card sold by Norsk Tipping to registered players over the age of 18.

The system will limit the amount that can be bet per game to 50 kroner (US$10), and set a loss limit of 400 kroner (US$80) per day and 2,200 kroner (US$440) per month per player, even if they have more than one card.

Aggressive measures like this in place that truly safeguard those who gamble begs the question; Why are we dealing with measures that seek to remove the loss limit instead of looking to ways to better protect our families?


Today’s Missouri Gaming Commission Meeting Report

The Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC) held its monthly meeting today in Jefferson City.  There were several disciplinary actions taken including a $5,000 fine against Ameristar Casino Kansas City for failing to report a criminal theft from a patron and a $10,000 fine against Argosy Casino in Riverside for using old software in slot machines that had been revoked.

The MGC also negotiated down a prior fine, which they do each meeting by an average amount of 10 percent, this time against Harrah’s North Kansas City in which the casino used a deck of cards in a poker tournament that did not contain all the playing cards.

Before moving into a closed meeting, the commission approved a motion to transfer the control of the Horse Racing Rules from the Missouri Horse Racing Commission to the Missouri Gaming Commission; which was originally a motion made during the prior Missouri Horse Racing Commission meeting.


Voters Say It’s Time to End Smoking in Kansas City

Guest Article by Laurel Spencer

In a metro-wide attempt to curb public smoking, Kansas City voters and the North Kansas City Council approved smoking bans that would prohibit smokers from lighting up in restaurants, bars, and other businesses. Aimed to take place in August, the ban is complete with strict restrictions and heavy fines for violators, but what would appear to be a simple measure of public regulation may not be as cut and dry as it seems.

One item of particular interest is the effect that this ban would have on the casinos in the Kansas City area. Currently, the smoking restrictions would not extend to casinos, unless all of the surrounding gaming facilities enact similar laws. So far, downtown Kansas City, KS and Riverside are the only areas not conforming to the voice of the people, and it doesn’t appear that they are likely to change.

Billy Friend, second chief of the tribe that controls the 7th street casino located in downtown Kansas City, said that smoking is a big part of the establishment and the tribe plans to resist any attempts to implement such restrictions on grounds of tribal sovereignty.  However, there is some debate as to whether the 7th street casino would affect the surrounding area as defined by the current smoking bans.  The language of the bans seem to suggest that it does but there are a myriad of reasons why its should not factor into the decision including the fact the 7th street “casino” is actually defined as a bingo parlor.

Although there are potential legal issues concerning the tribal gaming facility, Riverside definitely is fair game in regards to the ban. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they are eager to implement it any time soon either.

The Kansas City Star reports that “Riverside officials also show no sign of a considering a ban anytime soon that might affect the Argosy Casino Hotel and Spa within its borders.”

Efforts should be made to contact downtown Kansas City and Riverside officials and remind them that the voice of the people has already spoken in favor of the ban. It is fitting that those representing the county should respect the wishes of the Kansas City, Kansas voters and the 7-1 majority ruling of approval from the North Kansas City Council by enacting the smoking ban.


gambling instead of eating

Guest Commentary by David Randolph:

‘Put your money where your mouth is.’ This is an adage that many Australians have apparently decided to ignore.  According to the Australian newspaper the Herald Sun, “In 2006-07, …(Australians) spent almost $91.5 million, or $4350 each, on food, Bureau of Statistics figures say.”

But gaming industry figures show that in 2005-06 (Australian) adults spent $148 million — an average of $9491 each — on gambling, though the figures do also include tourists

Statistics like these force us to question how far gambling addiction can take each one of us. Your money goes to what matters to you, and when gambling becomes more important than our basic neccesities it has come time to take a step back and have an honest discussion on the destructive effects of gambling. I hope that Australians will take a long hard look at these compelling figures and decide what must be done to eradicate gambling addiction in their country.