Monthly Archives: February 2009

How HB 566 is attempting to usurp the Missouri Constitution and the will of the people by expanding gambling to the entire state

Casino Watch Focus first reported that HB566  was introduced by Rep. Ray Salva.  This bill allows fraternal organizations to allow class II type “bingo” slot machines.  The Missouri Constitution limits gambling to just the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, so how could slot machines be allowed anywhere else?  This bill looks to exploit a technical distinction that has worked in some states but may be a challenge in Missouri.

Bingo is allowed at sites throughout the state and a simple permit is required to hold bingo games.  What bingo slot machines attempt to do is play bingo in an electronic form.  In the states where they have been legalized, the machines attempt to fit the definition of bingo in those states. The machines are on a network to play against each other, like a typical game of bingo, and they have an electronic dealer or number caller. Besides looking virtually identical to normal slot machines, the speed of these slot machines is the same as normal slot machines so the amount of money that can be lost and the level of addition is the same as normal slot machines.

Its clear that this bill looks to disregard the Missouri Constitution and the will of the people who voted to restrict this kind of gambling to Missouri’s two major rivers.  Politicians and slot machine makers are attempting to expand gambling beyond the will of the people and we must take a stand.  Can you imagine our state expanding gambling to every single neighborhood without a vote of the people?  If no action is taken then this could literally happen overnight.  Please contact your local Senators and Representative and urge them to vote against HB566.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Hypocritical Actions or Misguided revenge – the question of the proposed mini-casinos

During the campaign against Proposition A Representative Ray Salva took a very aggressive stand against the casino industry and Proposition A.  In the beginning, it was clear that Rep Salva was looking to stop Proposition A because it would stop a casino from being build in his communities; a casino he not only supported, but believed his constituents were entitled to.

Over the course of the campaign, Rep Salva tried to make it very clear that his opposition was not because of the casino.  He said publicly many times that the casino deal was over, and that now he wanted to protect Missouri from the casino industry.  It was clear during the campaign that he was looking to make the casinos lose, but was he sincere in wanting to protect the people of Missouri?

With the introduction of HB 566 into the Missouri Assembly, we may have an answer.  As reported by Casino Watch Focus, Rep. Salva has proposed a bill that would establish mini-casinos all over the state.  At first glance, the intention of the bill may seem to help those of Missouri.  The intent is to keep all the profits of charitable gaming in Missouri, but the reality is much worse.  This bill would expand gambling to the entire state and bring gambling addiction  and tragedy to our communities.  So why would a Representative who claims to be looking out for the people sponsor such legislation?

Only Rep. Salva truly knows the answer to that question but it appears its because he thinks is will hurt the casinos.  Rick Alm of the Kansas City Star reported that the casinos are opposed to the measure:

Troy Stremming, an executive with Ameristar Kansas City Casino and Hotel and a lobbyist for the Missouri Gaming Association, said the casino industry does not favor the measure but also said it hadn’t paid much attention to it.  “I’m surprised it’s gaining momentum,” said Stremming.

“From a competitive standpoint I’m not worried about a couple of machines in an American Legion hall,” he added.  “But you’re talking about spreading hundreds if not thousands of machines around the state…without regulation” by the state on the premises like casinos must have.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said…. Auditors cautioned that sponsoring organizations’ own members might also be attracted away from heavily taxed riverboat casinos, putting downward pressure on those tax collections as well.

Perhaps Rep. Salva thinks this bill will help local charities, or perhaps he thinks it’s a way to bring a mini-casino to his constituents, or maybe its simply a way to get revenge on the casinos by expanding gambling throughout the state and by removing profits from the big casinos.  The motivation behind the bill can only be known to its author.  The sad reality is that no matter how you look at this bill, the people and families of Missouri lose.  While politicians play their games, real people with real gambling addictions will be devastated.  Please take a stand on HB566.  We are no longer talking about isolated gambling acts on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.  We are talking about mini-casinos in your back yard.  Please take action and contact your local Senators and Representatives and warn them of the dangers of HB566!!!

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

HB 566 – “bingo slot machines” and mini-casinos coming to a neighborhood near you

Rick Alm of The Kansas City Star has reported on a very devastating piece of legislation being proposed in Missouri that would allow fraternal lodges and halls to establish “untaxed mini-casinos:”

Introduced last week by Sugar Creek Democrat Rep. Ray Salva, the measure would allow any fraternal, veterans, religious and other organization licensed by the Missouri Gaming Commission for bingo games to also offer one Class II slot machine for each 40 people on its membership rolls.

A Class II slot machine looks exactly like a garden-variety cherry master slot machine, but they play against other machines like a bingo game.  They are virtually identical to a slot machine and cause the same tragic addiction and family devastation as a typical slot machine.  These devices are currently found in tribal casinos.

Not only will these mini-casino’s be devastating to our families and communities, it will cost the state millions of dollars to regulate:

Auditors with the state’s Oversight Division estimate passage would require the hiring of 16 additional gaming commission employees plus other regulatory changes at an estimated annual cost of around $1.3 million.

The auditors also noted fraternal slots also might draw away traditional bingo players, slashing the state’s annual $2.1 million in bingo taxes on game suppliers by as much as 25 percent.

Historically, every time a new community allows bingo slot machines, charitable bingo is harmed and the fraternal organizations take a big cut before the “profits” go to other charities.  HB 566 will expand gambling, hurt our families, and hurt current charities.

We are no longer talking about expanded gambling isolated to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.  We are talking about mini-casinos throughout the entire state.  The old Missouri attitude of ignoring the problem because it’s “Not in My Backyard” is a thing of the past.  This bill will effect you no matter where you live and it can’t be ignored.  Please take action and contact your local Senators and Representatives and warn them of the dangers of HB566!!!

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Appellate court upholds Proposition A

The Kansas City Star has reported that an appellate court panel has rejected the notion that Proposition A was unconstitutional:

Plaintiffs alleged the ballot question amounted to unlawful “logrolling” that forced voters to decide yes or no on multiple unrelated issues by casting only a single vote.  A three-judge panel of judges from the Western District Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City disagreed.

They said Proposition A, which eliminated Missouri’s unique loss-limit rule that restricted gamblers to a buy-in of no more than $500 every two hours, raised casino taxes by one percent to 21 percent of gross revenues, eliminated mandatory use of identity cards by gamblers, and capped the number of casinos statewide at 13 all fell under the broad umbrella of “regulation of gambling.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Details of FBI wiretaps on Impeached Blagojevich’s alleged gambling related “pay to play” policy released

Casino Watch Focus has reported that the “pay to play” allegations of now Impeached Gov Blagojevich were centered around gambling.  Now, The Kansas City Star has reported on the content of the FBI wiretaps that lead to Blagojevich’s impeachment:

[I]mpeachment jurors were able to listen to FBI wiretaps of conversations in which he seems to demand campaign contributions in exchange for signing legislation.

One person on the recordings assures Blagojevich that a horse-racing track owner “is good for it” and just has to decide “what accounts to get it out of.” Another assures him the track owner knows he must keep his “commitment” soon.

Blagojevich replies with comments such as “good” and “good job.” Legislation sought by the racing industry had been sent to the governor’s desk, and on the tapes, he says to reassure a racing lobbyist he hopes “to do this so we can get together and start picking some dates to do a bill-signing.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Horse racing Bill part of Blagojevich’s alleged “pay to play” policy

As we all know, Gov Rod Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges and then later impeached and removed from service.  What many people may not be aware of however, is how gambling has lead to these allegations.  The Olympian, a local Washington paper, has explained how gambling is behind the alleged “pay to play” actions which have lead to the impeachment of Blagojevic:

A 76-page FBI affidavit released Tuesday reported that wiretaps captured recent telephone conversations Blagojevich had with fundraisers and lobbyists. According to the affidavit, phone calls recorded Nov. 13 and Dec. 3 revealed that a lobbyist told Blagojevich that a contributor needed to make a contribution before questions were raised over the timing of the contribution and the governor signing a bill that would benefit the contributor.

That bill is believed to be the one that would pump millions into the state horse racing industry. The legislation passed the Illinois House and Senate two weeks ago and has been sitting on Blagojevich’s desk, awaiting his signature.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Blagojevich’s financial advisor pleads guilty to gambling related corruption

Casino Watch Focus originally reported on the relationship between Impeached Gov Blogojevich and his fundraiser and chief financial advisor, Chris Kelly. The Kansas City Star has reported that Chris Kelly has pleaded guilty to those corruptions charges:

Impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s former chief fundraiser has admitted he illegally used corporate funds to pay gambling debts and personal expenses.  Christopher G. Kelly also pleaded guilty on Friday to illegally structuring financial transactions in an effort to hide them from the federal government. The indictment against him did not touch on politics.

Kelly is a roofing contractor and consultant. He has helped to raise millions of dollars for Blagojevich’s campaign and he could give federal prosecutors an inside look at the workings of the governor’s administration.  Blagojevich has been charged with using his position to get personal and professional favors, including trying to sell off the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

How gambling seed money elected and controlled an impeached Gov Rod Blagojevich

I suppose people have come to expect a certain degree of corrupt political behavior from the Chicago Political Machine, but few realize just how much influence gambling has on Chicago corruptions.  The Sun Times does a great job connecting the dots by explaining Blagojevich’s connection to a man named Chris Kelly:

Kelly had been finance director of Blagojevich’s successful campaign — the main man helping raise the money that allowed the then-Northwest Side congressman to end a quarter century of Republican control of the governor’s office.

In the early days, Blagojevich made Kelly an unpaid adviser in his administration, his influence so blatant that legislators made him file an official economic-disclosure statement as a “special government agent.”

So Chris Kelly was seen as the man who raised the money that elected Blagojevich and then influenced his policy.  Blogojevich officially assigned Kelly to advise on gambling and The Kansas City Star reported that Kelly was later charged with gambling related fraud:

The federal indictment says Christopher G. Kelly, 49, placed millions of dollars in wagers with a bookie in Chicago and casinos in Las Vegas, then paid the debts out of corporate funds from his business, portraying the payments as legitimate business expenses. He also is accused of hiding $1.3 million in taxable income.

The Sun Times further explained:

The man Blagojevich entrusted to represent him on gambling issues was a high-roller in hock to a mob bookie…In the two years he filed public ethics statements, Kelly disclosed receiving unspecified “gifts of personal friendship” from Rezko and Blagojevich and said he’d provided them “similar gifts of personal friendship” as well.

Add to that the fact that Blagojevich himself was an alleged bookie and received political contributions directly from Illinois casinos, and the influence of gambling becomes crystal clear.  Too often people say that gambling doesn’t hurt anybody, and as long as they don’t go gamble, they are not being influenced.  But gambling can corrupt the very people who influence our lives on a daily basis – no one is immune from its impact.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH

Allegations surface that impeached Gov Rob Blagojevich was a former mob bookie

A truly shocking story has been reported by ABC Channel 7 News in Chicago.  Robert Cooley, an attorney who went undercover for the FBI, came forward claiming Blagojevich was running an illegal gambling operation.  ABC Channel 7 News explained:

Cooley says that before Rod Blagojevich got into politics he was a bookmaker on the North Side who regularly paid the Chicago mob to operate.  “When I was working with government wearing wire, I reported, I observed Rod, the present governor, who was running a gambling operation out in the western suburbs. He was paying street tax to the mob out there,” said Robert Cooley, federal informant.

So how trustworthy is Robert Cooley?  ABC news explained:

Cooley was a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago in the late 1980’s who became one of the most potent witnesses against Chicago corruption, testifying for federal prosecutors in cases that resulted in dozens of convictions. During Operation Gambat in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Cooley’s undercover work and testimony put away 24 crooked politicians, judges, lawyers and cops.

A spokesman for Governor Blagojevich said on Tuesday evening that he cannot comment on Cooley, the bookmaking allegation or the mob payoffs.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH