Monthly Archives: May 2009

Representative Jim McDermott introduces Internet Gambling Tax Act as complement to Rep. Franks bill

Casino Watch Focus reported that Rep. Franks introduced a bill to legalize internet gaming.  Now, an online gambling source is reporting that a complementary bill has been introduced:

Shortly after Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced comprehensive internet gambling legislation on Wednesday, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act, HR 2268.

The companion legislation to Frank’s bill will allow the United States Government to extract tax revenue from the internet gambling industry… Individuals are expected to pay income tax on any internet gambling winnings.

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


US Representative Barney Frank introduces bill to legalize internet gambling despite opposition from National Football League and others

An online news magazine is reporting that Representative Frank introduced the bill earlier this month, and it would require online gambling sites to obtain a license from the Treasury Department.  Of course Rep. Frank claims the games would be fair and children wouldn’t be allowed to gamble, but the he faces serious opposition.  The online news magazine reports:

Opponents are not about to give up, They include the National Football League, which says Internet gambling threatens the integrity of its games. Family groups are also taking up the fight. “Research finds that problem gambling is three to four times higher with Internet gamblers than non-Internet gamblers,” said Chad Hills, analyst for gambling research and policy at Focus on the Family Action. “But Barney Frank doesn’t care. He continues to push policy legalizing the most predatory, addictive and exploitive form of gambling to invade 91 million U.S. homes using the Internet.”

Even if the bill passes in the House, it faces a major obstacle in the Senate. A similar bill has not been introduced there, and Majority Leader Harry Reid says he is against Internet gambling.

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


M.I.T. expert explains the “zone” and how gambling machines are designed to exploit gamblers for casino and state profit.

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the importance and qualifications of Natasha Shull’s research and commented on how problem gamblers are often the focus, not the the problem machines.  In the same MIT article, Natasha comments on the flawed rational of local governments who seek to exploit people for budgetary gain:

In an effort to pull in revenue for state coffers, Massachusetts, along with several other states, including Kentucky, Illinois, and Maryland, recently had plans to license casinos, she says. “If you actually do the math, it’s not really a viable economic solution to the woes of state finance. What it offers, though, is a very tempting immediate injection of cash.”

She goes on to explain the “zone” these machines create and how they exploit gamblers:

Schull herself is not a gambler, but says she can relate to gamblers when they talk about the repetitive, absorbed relationship they enter into with the technology. “I think many of us understand what it’s like to zone out on machines.

“The experience they describe is not unlike the sense of flow people experience when they dance, paint, or write. It’s sometimes a glorious thing to be swept away by something for hours. Sometimes you come out with a wonderful product. But the gamblers don’t have a product. They emerge from the zone totally depleted — physically, mentally, and financially. They feel drained and empty. In effect, these machines exploit the very human desire to become absorbed.”

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


Why do we focus on problem gamblers but not problem machines?

Natasha Shull, a cultural anthropologist and assistant professor in MIT’s Program on Science, Technology and Society, has spent the last 15 years researching and studding the gambling industry and more specifically, the machines they develop to make big profits.  Natasha has written a book, Machine Zone: Technology and Compulsion in Las Vegas, and created a documentary film, BUFFET: All You Can Eat Las Vegas, which has aired on PBS.  In a recent MIT article, Natasha makes several key observations that are often lost in the debate about gambling’s true impact on our society and families:

“What they’re trying to do is maximize profit. But when you mix maximizing profit with the design of a human-machine interface, and then you add people who are looking for escape, it’s a perfect storm of elements to produce a situation of dependency.” Schull thinks it’s telling that we speak about problem gamblers but not problem machines, problem environments, or problem business practices.

“Since addiction is a relationship between a person and an object or activity, it makes sense to take a close look at the gambling technology — not just the gamblers.”

She goes on to explain that these machines are designed in every possible way to make people losers not winner:

As Schull explains, today’s machines are much different from ones of the past. Visual graphics are now calibrated so the gamblers’ eyes won’t get tired so quickly. Sound is manipulated as well, to reduce the stress of cacophony in cavernous spaces. To facilitate faster play, today’s machines have buttons and touch-screens instead of handles and mechanical reels.

Instead of coins, they accept player credit cards. Instead of a few games per minute, it is now possible to play hundreds. Inside the machines, complicated algorithms control the odds.

“Every feature of the machines is geared to keep people playing until they’re broke.”

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


Local gambling expert explains the cost of gambling far out weighs any benefits

Casino Watch Focus reported that local experts point to easy casino access as a key reason why the Joplin area is experiencing an increase in problem gambling.  The same Joplin Globe article addressed why the costs of casinos far out weights their benefits:

There are four “steps” or levels by which a person becomes addicted.

In the first phase, gambling is treated as an occasional, recreational activity. From there, the gambling becomes more preoccupying and more frequent. The third phase is where gamblers experience some sort of “impact” in their lives, says McDonald. The impact could be financial, such as using household money to gamble, or social, such as arguing with a spouse. In the final phase, the gambling becomes an obsession. McDonald describes this phase as one of desperation.

“People can’t get it off their mind, the idea that ‘I’ve got to get this fixed,’” he said.  McDonald believes the problems casinos bring outweigh the benefits.

Help is available, as the Globe concludes:

Problem gamblers use the Voluntary Exclusion Program provided by the Missouri Gaming Commission. The program is a way for problem gamblers to acknowledge they have a problem and to take personal responsibility for it by agreeing to stop visiting casinos.

Help is also available by calling (888) BETSOFF to learn about free counseling services or Gamblers Anonymous meetings in the local area.

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


Local experts say Problem gambling growing in Joplin due to easy access of Casinos

Casino Watch Focus previously reported that a new Oklahoma casino, which is located on the boarder of Oklahoma and Missouri, would be aggressively targeting the Joplin market for employees and would be gamblers.  Now, The Joplin Globe interviewed local gambling experts to determine the impact of the new casino and local experts are explaining that the proximity of the casino is causing an increase in problem gambling:

There are a number of casinos or gambling locations within a 30-mile radius of Joplin. [Mark McDonald, a compulsive-gambling counselor at Ozark Center] says there’s been an increase in problem gambling in the area because of easy access to casinos.

“It used to be the closest place people had to go to was in Kansas City on the river boats,” he said. “The availability of the casinos is going to cause its own criminal activity and damage to the community.”

The Globe goes on to report that those who suffer from gambling problems experience a “high” similar to drugs and families often suffer the consequences:

Problem gambling doesn’t discriminate. McDonald says it crosses all social and racial lines. What problem gamblers have in common is the “high” they get from gambling. McDonald says it’s similar to the high an alcoholic or drug addict gets.

Nora Bock, clinical director for the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse at the Missouri Department of Mental Health, says gambling becomes a problem when a person begins to experience “adverse consequences” as a direct result of gambling.

“Because of their preoccupation with gambling, they start to let other aspects of their lives suffer, like family, friends, career, school,” Bock said. “These things are ‘replaced’ by the person’s gambling.”

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


Florida Update: Seminole tribe allowed to expand gambling

A local Florida paper provided the summary of what deal the legislature passed to allow gambling expansion in the state:

[T]he House and Senate voted to let Gov. Crist negotiate a gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe.  Crist had tried to negotiate his own deal but his proposal was overturned by the state Supreme Court, which ruled the governor needed legislative approval.

Under the agreement, which would bring the state a minimum of $150 million a year, the Seminoles would be allowed to have blackjack and other card games at their three Broward County casinos and the Hard Rock in Tampa. They would be able to install Las Vegas-style slot machines at all seven of their casinos, which also include locations in Big Cypress, Immokalee and Brighton.

Governor Crist has until August to come to the exact terms of the gambling expansion pact with the Seminoles.

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