Monthly Archives: March 2009

Missouri’s moral mandate to protect problem-gamblers

As previously reported, MO House Rep. David Sater wants to divert money raised for problem gamblers to fund other programs.  Rick Alm of the Kansas City Star reported the views of local gambling counselors:

Kansas City area gambling counselor Keith Spare is alarmed and said the decision could cost the state more money in the long run.  “If you don’t treat problem gambling there are economic consequences … the destruction of the family unit,” said Spare, director of program development at Lakewood Counseling Service in Lee’s Summit, and president of the Missouri Council on Problem Gambling Concerns.

“It is just unconscionable to do away with the loss limit and then, in the same year, do away with the minuscule amount of services that are available for problem gambling treatment in Missouri,” said Spare. “It’s not ethical or responsible.”

The Kansas City Star also reported that MO lacks the money for proper treatment, and MO has a moral mandate to protect those who are victims of problem and pathological gambling:

According to Missouri Gaming Commission data, 13,722 Missourians have self-banned themselves for life from the state’s casinos since the program, which includes free counseling and has been copied by other states, started in the mid-1990s.

Spare estimates the number of self-banned gamblers may represent no more than 20 percent of those who are in need. But he said the state didn’t have enough money now for public education and outreach programs to reach them all.

[A]round 370 individuals or families currently are in counseling, at an average cost of around $1,000 per case annually.  “This money comes from gambling revenues,” added Spare. If the state is going to allow casinos, he argues that the state also has “a moral mandate” to care for and treat those harmed by the activity.

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

MO State Rep David Sater wants to pull money away from problem gambling programs

An online article is reporting that Rep Sater wants to move money away from problem gambling programs to put extra money in the general fund:

State Representative David Sater, a Republican from Cassville, has downplayed the importance of problem gambling addiction.  Sater is proposing that the state move money that was earmarked for counseling to problem gamblers to the state’s general funds. Other programs, Sater, feels, are more important that problem gamblers receiving the help that they need.

Where the $368,000 is coming from is the ironic part of the story. Casino admission fees are the money that Sater is targeting to move. The proposal by Sater has many shaking their heads.

“This guy (Sater) must have come from a family with no addiction problems. How he could consciously take money from casinos that was supposed to be used to help problem gamblers., and just move it somewhere else is unfathomable,’ said counselor Trudy Hopkings.

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

President Obama joins in March Madness and promotes gambling

An article entitled “President Obama Smiles on Online Sports Gambling,” explains how he is disregarding online gambling laws and is showing a favor for online gambling:

As is usual this time of year, the hottest online wagering is sports gambling on the college basketball championship tournament. The latest fan to come clean with his picks for the March Madness brackets is President Obama.

Barack Obama showed he shares the people’s disregard for online gambling laws by appearing on ESPN to make his own bracket picks. The President has acknowledged enjoying playing poker, has shown visionary use of the Internet in his campaign, and now flirts with online sports gambling on national television. Observers say the future for Internet gambling and sportsbooks may be bright with Obama in charge.

Gambling on the NCAA tournament is not only illegal in all areas other than Las Vegas, it costs us billions in lost productivity.

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

the madness of march gambling

As we enter into another year of March Madness its important to understand the impact that office pools have on employers and the communities. Obviously, not all office pools will result in gambling, however, a vast majority do involve illegal gambling. A USAtody article points to reports of online pools that take an entry fee and award cash and prizes. These pools may seem harmless but FBI spokesman Ross Rice explained that,‘“There could be a violation if there’s a payout and if the operators take a cut.” One such online pool the FBI is looking into is the social network giant Facebook. An online gambling publication reported that Facebook is collecting $20 entry fees that the FBI believes violates the interstate gambling laws. The FBI is still unsure whether they will allocate the resources to do a full investigation.

But how many people will engage in office pools this time of year and how will it impact work productivity? The St Louis post dispatch provides some good insight:

Nearly half of U.S. workers have participated in an office pool, and nearly a quarter have watched or followed sports events on their computer at work, according to a recent survey. 10 percent of employees have called in sick to watch or attend a game. 11 percent of workers aged 18 to 24 have participated in an office pool, compared to 77 percent of those 65 and older.

Very few employers offer guidance in their policies regarding office pools, even though it may mean taking a hit in terms of productivity, said John Heins, chief human resources officer for recruiting and staffing company Spherion Corp.

In terms of cost to employers, the Charlotte Observer points to a Chicago-based survey which says as much as $1.7 billion will be lost by employers in productivity, which breaks down to $109 million lost for every 10 minutes spent following the tournament. They believe there will be over 37 million workers participating in pools with 1.5 million watching games and results online from their desks.

The Charlotte Observer went on to quantify the financial impact of just the gambling.  On the low estimates they point to Terry Elman, acting executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling in New Jersey, who said “As much as $750 million is wagered on the tournament in office pools each year.”  On the high end, Lazer wager, an online sports, casino and entertainment gambling website, was reported claiming that, “with bracket pools ranging from $5 to $25 per person, office pools are now worth an incredible $2.5 billion.”

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

Self – ban lists help prevent suicides

Missouri is not alone when it comes to a self-exclusion list.  Casino Watch Focus has repeatedly reported on the benefits of self-exclusion lists.  Pennsylvania and New Jersey are examples of other states with a self-ban list.  The Associated Press has reported that the New Jersey’s list has doubled in the last three years, and these lists continue to provide huge benefits to those enrolled:

Evidence indicates that self-exclusion lists may continue to grow, especially with awareness campaigns on the rise. One study showed that some gambling addicts who join self-exclusion lists have truly run out of other options.

A study released in September found that gamblers of all ages have many reasons for putting themselves on the lists, such as “gaining control, needing help, and hitting rock bottom,” according to HealthDay News. But 14 percent of older gamblers said they chose self-exclusion because they wanted to prevent themselves from committing suicide.

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

Missouri University: ‘Gambling a silent addiction’

Last year Casino Watch Focus reported that Missouri University was part of a coalition of universities working to educated students about the dangers of gambling.  This year, the local MU paper, The Maneater, is reporting that the Partners in Prevention program is up to 13 members.  They highlighted the fact that gambling problems continue to impact students at alarming rates:

Informational tables, an online quiz and literature were all a part of National Problem Gambling Awareness Week on campus, a campaign to prevent problem gambling among college students.

The Wellness Resource Center sponsored the week, and the center worked with students to help prevent gambling, a silent addiction for college students compared to other types, such as drugs and alcohol.

Partners in Prevention senior coordinator Joan Masters estimates 2-7 percent of students can be classified as problem or pathological gamblers across the U.S.

The Maneater continued its report with an even more startling statistic; 50% of college students have gambled in the last year.  Unfortunately, gambling problems are so much harder to diagnose that other addictions:

Masters said one of the significant challenges of preventing problem gambling is the difficulty in detecting those students having trouble.

“Certainly gambling can be an addiction like alcohol, but you can’t see it, you know,” she said. “You can’t smell it on someone’s breath.”

Gambling Education coordinator Kristy Wanner said while alcohol and drug addiction is overt, problem gamblers often don’t publicly exhibit noticeable erratic behavior.

Kristy Wanner went on to explain that the impact of gambling reaches far beyond those with addictions.  She explained that one person’s addiction can affect up to 10-17 people around them.

For a complete break down on the warning signs associated with gambling addiction, please check out the article from MU, and visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

FL cruise ships looking to become local casinos

The Orlando Sentinel has reported that the Canaveral Port Authority is looking to legislators to allow gambling on their ships while in port.  Right now, cruise ships can only offer gambling three miles off the coast because they are in international waters.  The Orlando Sentinel explains:

Under the plan — being lobbied for by Canaveral’s two existing cruise-to-nowhere operators, SunCruz Casino and Las Vegas Casino Lines — as many as three ships would be allowed to run gaming operations from 7a.m. until 2a.m. every day at the port.

But the plan faces long odds. It will almost certainly generate intense opposition in the state Capitol from evangelical groups, competing pari-mutuels and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which runs its own casinos.

The Port Authority will also face a tough Republican controlled legislature and a major player who has consistently stood strong on the side of families – Disney.  The Orlando Sentinel continues:

Port Canaveral could face opposition from its signature cruise tenant: Disney Cruise Line, whose parent company has historically fought efforts to expand gambling in Florida.

Unlike rival cruise operators Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Disney did not include casinos when it built its two cruise ships.  Disney, which recently signed a 15-year contract extension to continue sailing from Canaveral, was never briefed by the port on the gambling plan.

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

Fl legislative session begins, and so do talks of gambling

The Florida legislative session has now begun and over 2,000 bills have already been filed.  Even though there is a wide range of issues, the primary focus seems to be on the economy.  Forbes is reporting that Fl is looking to all sources to find new money, including expanding gambling:

“The economy and the budget is going to drive almost everything,” said
lobbyist Mac Stipanovich. “It won’t be the only story but it will
certainly be the dominant story.”

It means lawmakers are not only thinking about what to cut, but even the
Republicans who control the Legislature are talking about how to raise
money. Among consideration will be raising the cigarette tax, getting rid
of some sales tax exemptions and finding new money from gambling.

Florida, like so many states that have access to gambling dollars, will face tough decisions this year.  Casino Watch Focus will highlight the legislative successes and failures this year in Florida and around the country, as our communities will be seriously impacted by government’s actions.
For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

URGENT: HB566 – Mini Casinos are one step closer

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times on the threat of HB566.  This bill, sponsored by Rep. Ray Salva, sets up mini-casino’s all over the state with little restriction and even less regulation.  This bill has now been voted “do pass” out of its committee, which means the bill is now able to be brought to the House floor for debate.  Now is a critical time to contact your local Representative and let them know you expect a NO vote on HB566.  Below is a recap of why it must be rejected:

Why a NO vote?

There will be NO increase in tax revenue to the state, and most estimates show that it will not only cost the state $1.3 million to attempt to regulate, there would actually be a tax revenue loss because people would leave the casinos to play in these untaxed mini-casinos.

The speed of these slot machines is similar to normal slot machines so the amount of money that can be lost by our families and the level of addiction is the same as normal slot machines.

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 – a clear disregard for the Missouri Constitution and will of the people.  All of this expansion would be without a vote of the people.

Missouri’s Bingo definitions are far more precise than those of other states and its very likely the bill would be rejected by the court.

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