Category Archives: Election

Guest Editorial: Gaming companies placed a $62 million bet against Florida voters. Don’t let them win

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various attempts to expand gambling in Florida.  After a successful Amendment to the Florida Constitution, new gambling in the state must be approved by the voters.  So far, 4 different initiative potions dealing with gambling have been successfully funded to find their way on the ballot.  The Miami Herald Editorial Board has come out strongly in opposition and is warning Florida voters to avoid being deceived by all these gambling expansion measures.  Read below and for the full article, click HERE:

Consider yourself warned, Florida. The door has been flung wide open for more gambling and everyone is scrambling to get a piece of the action. How else to explain this astonishing piece of news: Gambling interests pumped a whopping $62 million in political contributions last month into groups and efforts that could influence the future of sports betting and casino gambling via ballot initiatives in 2022, according to a Miami Herald story.

With that kind of money on the table, the potential market in Florida must be huge. No doubt much of this interest springs from the Legislature’s easy approval this year of a $500 million gambling deal negotiated between the Gov. Ron Desantis and the Seminole Tribe.

Out-of-state, sports-gaming companiesFanDuel and DraftKings are each in for a cool $10 million, money they put into a political committee pushing to expand online sports betting across the state. They were iced out of the Seminole deal.

The Las Vegas Sands, a powerful new player, dropped $17 million into a political committee linked to two ballot issues for more casinos. Sources told the Herald that the company is interested in purchasing existing parimutuel licenses to open casinos in Jacksonville and other northern Florida spots.

Miami’s Magic City Casino anted up $15 million for its own political committee, official purpose unspecified. And the Seminole Tribe, winner of the last round of Gambling Gone Wild in this state, put $10 million into yet another political committee, mostly likely to defend its crown…

The timing of this slew of cash isn’t a coincidence. A new law was supposed to go into effect July 1 to limit contributions for signature-gathering — a requirement to get a proposed amendment on the ballot — to a paltry $3,000 per organization. But a lawsuit was filed, and a federal judge temporarily blocked the law just as it was about to go into effect…

It’s not completely clear yet which organization wants what next year. But the Miami Herald sketched it out this way:

FanDuel and DraftKings are looking for their own online sports betting deal to be approved by Florida voters. The Seminole Tribe wants to be ready to defend its 30-year gaming deal, which is still awaiting approval from the federal government. The Sands organization is eyeing casinos in northern Florida. And Magic City’s stake is designed to make sure parimutuels have a place at the table.

If that sounds like the state is being carved up like a roast at Sunday dinner, well, we agree…

But more gambling is not yet a done deal in this state. Getting a constitutional amendment onto the ballot in Florida isn’t easy. And any amendment must pass with at least 60 percent of the vote. No matter how much money the gambling companies throw at Florida, voters still have the final say.

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


Florida Voters Pass Amendment 3 to take Control of Casino Gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the evolution of the Voters in Charge which later officially became know under the title Amendment 3The Amendment sought to give the final approval of expanded gambling to the voters. If passed, new gambling would require approval of 60% of all Florida voters, which is clearly aimed at taking the power away from the politicians. The Amendment required 60% approval to pass and the Amendment 3 pass by an overwhelming amount. The Tampa Bay Times reports: 

Floridians will retain exclusive rights to authorize and potentially expand casino gambling in the state, including slot machines and electronic betting games.

Amendment 3, which garnered about 71 percent of the vote Tuesday, was proposed by Voters in Charge — a political committee largely financed by the Seminole Tribe and Disney.

The ballot initiative came about after the Legislature failed to agree on gambling decisions in recent years — particularly in the House, which is more opposed to gambling than the Senate.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports the amendment.

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


Who should vote No on Florida Amendment 13? Those who oppose radical expansion of gambling and Those who want to join over 90 Dog Adoptions Agencies because they believe it hurts the best interest of Greyhounds

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the dangerously deceptive Greyhound Amendment and with the election right around the corner, its critically important that voters see through the deception.  Whether you are a dog lover or one looking to curb excessive gambling,  you should vote No on Florida Amendment 13  There are two reasons for a No on 13 vote and they are intertwined. 

The first reason to vote No on 13 is because it will result in a radical expansion of gambling.  As previously noted, Circuit Judge Karen Gievers calls it outright “trickeration,” because the decoupling issue is largely misunderstood by the public at large.  Right now, the only way these tracks can offer slot machines and other forms of gambling is if they operate a full racetrack.  This bill doesn’t simply stop dog racing.  In fact, it doesn’t stop racing at all, as races from other states will still be simulcast to the tracks.  However, the need to house a full track and care for the greyhounds in the proper and well regulated manner the law provides for today will no longer become necessary to have that other gambling.  This effectively means that tracks can operate as freestanding mini casinos and the only requirement is they simulcast races from other states. 

 The reason we don’t see a massive expansion of these mini-casinos now, is because it takes very qualified operators to raise and care for the dogs and maintain the space necessary for such races to physically occur.  Absent the need for an actual track, its infinitely easier for a “greyhound” parlor to start up, because it can simply fill the building with slot machines and provide a few TVs for simulcast dog racing.  It has been claimed that this could lead to the largest expansion of gambling in Florida, and it’s easy to see why.  If you would ordinarily be opposed to gambling expansion, then don’t be deceived.  This bill won’t reduce gambling by stopping dog races as you think.  It will expand gambling in the worst ways.

 The second reason to vote No on 13 is because of the wellbeing of the dogs involved.  At face, the amendment seems to get rid of dog racing as previously discussed, but its clear racing will still happen.  In this scenario however, the amendment will have negative impacts on the dogs.  This is precisely why over 90 dog adoption agencies are voting No on 13.  The following article, Guest Opinion: A No on 13 Vote is a Yes to the Best Interest  of Greyhounds, comes from an avid dog lover and greyhound enthusiast.  It is incredibly informative and explains from a dog lover’s perspective why a voter would want to oppose this amendment:

As one who has adopted two retired racers, I was initially torn when I saw this amendment. A ban on racing sounds like a good thing on the surface to a dog-lover.

Shouldn’t all dogs be spoiled like mine with couches for beds and baskets of chew toys? My first clue that this might not be the case came in my email inbox. I received my usual newsletter from the Greyhound adoption agency that we had used. The email stated their opposition to the amendment.

Quite frankly, I was shocked that this volunteer run organization, who put our family through an extensive adoption process which included thorough home visits, vet background checks, multiple references and intense education, was now explaining how the claims made by the proponents of the deceptive ban and Amendment 13 were unsubstantiated. They, along with 90+ adoption agencies, are in opposition to the amendment and encourage a “NO” vote.

After receiving the email, I went on a quest myself to find out more facts….

She goes on to outline very key points that dog lovers will want to learn, including the fact that there are absolutely no provisions in the amendment for dealing with the 8,000 or more greyhounds that will be displaced when live racing is banned.  Please click on article to get all the information and share as much as possible.

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


Former Florida House of Representatives Will Weatherford provides a politicians perspective for giving the power to the people with a Yes on Amendment 3 vote

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing progression of Florida Amendment 3.  As the election approaches, its important to understand they wide array of support for Amendment 3.  Former Florida House of Representative Will Weatherford provided a much needed perspective in a guest article published by Florida Politics:

I am writing today to deal with unfinished business.

After spending eight years in the Florida Legislature, the last two serving as speaker of the House, I came to a conclusion about the future of casino gambling in Florida.

Some decisions are better put into the hands of the people.

So, in 2014, I proposed a constitutional amendment giving voters control over gambling. The idea never made it through the Legislature and on to the ballot, but the need for it has not diminished. So, Florida voters took matters into their own hands.

More than 1 million Floridians signed petitions to put Amendment 3 on the ballot. It puts the voters in charge of gambling decisions.

I would like to claim I was ahead of the curve in promoting this idea four years ago.

But back in 1968, my predecessors in the Florida Legislature had the same idea. They recognized that gambling wasn’t just another issue. The impact casinos could have on communities and the state warranted a higher authority than the Legislature to sign off on gambling expansion decisions.

And so they deferred to the people, putting a provision in the Florida Constitution that prohibited most forms of gambling, unless voters passed an amendment to allow them.

Five times, from 1978 to 2004, voters weighed in on gambling initiatives. They rejected three proposals to build Las Vegas-style casinos, but they also approved the Florida Lottery as well as slot machines in Broward and Miami-Dade pari-mutuels.

The conclusion might be voters were open-minded, yet understandably cautious.

If only Florida lawmakers left well enough alone. But instead, in more recent years, state legislators went in the opposite direction of their predecessors from 1968. Faced with conflicting legal opinions, the Legislature considered dozens of proposals that would greatly expand casino gambling in Florida without voter signoff.

From my personal experience, I can tell you this was a mistake. Casino interests have become one of the most powerful special interest groups in Tallahassee. The pressure they apply to the political process is nonstop. It is why, almost every legislative session, we see casino expansion on the agenda.

The Legislature only meets for 60 days every year, so there is much to do and little time to do it. The time, energy and resources spent on gambling bills have made them an ongoing diversion. It is frustrating to see the priorities of Floridians — such as jobs, education, health care and the environment — take a back seat to the priorities of casinos.

I have heard many times the call for Tallahassee to come up with a “comprehensive solution’’ to gambling — that we can allow a resort casino here or there, open the door to more slot machines outside South Florida and then call it a day. It is a mythical concept. No matter how many casinos are approved, no matter how many forms of gambling are allowed, the demand for more will come as quickly as the next legislative session. It is what I once called the drip, drip, drip of gambling expansion.

In watching this process play out, I began to appreciate the wisdom of our predecessors in 1968. Tallahassee is not the place for gambling decisions.

If nothing more, taking gambling off the political agenda will allow lawmakers to focus on the issues that matter most to their constituents.

Florida certainly wouldn’t be alone in allowing voter control over gambling. About half of the states have a similar requirement.

In the past few years, voters in states such as New York, New Jersey, Maine, Ohio and Maryland have weighed in on gambling expansion. If there is a trend in how they decide, it is that they weigh each proposal on its individual merits, approving some and rejecting others.

Consider New Jersey. In 1978, voters there became the first in the country to approve a major expansion of gambling, allowing casinos in Atlantic City. After multiple casinos there went bankrupt in 2014, gambling interests and their political supporters pushed for more casinos in northern New Jersey.

Almost 80 percent of voters rejected the idea, the most lopsided referendum result in the state’s history.

Voters know when to say when. They serve as a check and balance on the political process.

Voter control works. That is why I proposed restoring it in 2014 and why I support Amendment 3 now.

___

*Will Weatherford* served in the Florida House of Representatives from
2006-2014 and was House speaker from 2012-14.

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


Yes on Amendment 3 – Voter Control of Gambling in Florida

Casino Watch Focus has reported the ongoing progression of Florida Amendment 3.  The Amendment found itself on the Nov ballot with easy and the polls have shown overwhelming support.  That said, it’s still important to clearly understand the three reasons why you should vote Yes on Amendment 3.  The Voters in Charge website provides great resources for those looking to dive deeper into the issue.  Luckily, it’s an extremely straight forward amendment that requires any gambling expansion decisions by the Florida legislator to be approved by voters before it can become law.  Voters in Charge provided three clear reasons why this is a very easy Yes vote:

  1. Amendment 3 empowers voters—not politicians and lobbyists.For decades, Florida voters decided casino gambling issues in the Sunshine State.  Then, politicians took that power for themselves.  Amendment 3 simply returns control of casino gambling issues to the voters.  That’s how it used to work in Florida—and how it still works in states across the country.  Most Americans already have the power to vote on casino gambling issues—you should, too!

  2. Amendment 3 reduces casino corruption.In the last decade, powerful casino gambling interests gave over $50 million to Florida politicians.  Today, they control many politicians—but they can’t control   Amendment 3 ends casino corruption by putting voters—not politicians and lobbyists—in charge of gambling decisions in Florida.

  3. Amendment 3 allows our elected officials to focus on more important issues.Unfortunately, casino interests have so much money and influence that they often “set the agenda” in Tallahassee.  Amendment 3 takes the power away from Tallahassee, so our elected officials can stop focusing on gambling and start working on issues that affect all of us, like: education, traffic, healthcare, jobs and the environment—just to name a few!

 

For more information, please watch the following brief video and visit the Voters in Charge website

 

 

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


‘Leave it Be: Until Amendment Three’ – Florida’s Voters in Charge Amendment Group Releases New TV Spot while it sees Overwhelming Local Support for the Ballot Measure

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing progression of the Voters in Charge Amendment , with the most resent update reporting enough signatures had been collected to guarantee it would appear on the ballot. Since then, a very telling poll was released that showed overwhelming support for the amendment, now officially known as Amendment 3. Florida Politics reports: 

Lawmakers, take note: More than three-quarters of likely Florida voters favor a proposed state constitutional amendment “that would require voter approval to authorize casino gambling in the state,” according to poll results released Thursday.

“When initially asked about the amendment, 76 percent of respondents supported it, compared to 19 percent in opposition,” a press release said. “After hearing a balanced dose of arguments both for and against Amendment 3, support for the measure increased to 84 percent with only 14 percent opposed.”

“For nearly a century, it was voters—not politicians—who decided whether to authorize casino gambling in our state,” said John Sowinski, chairman of Voters In Charge, the group sponsoring the amendment. “Voters overwhelmingly support Amendment 3 because it will return control of casino gambling decisions back to the people, rather than gambling lobbyists and Tallahassee politicians.”

On the heals of such overwhelming support, Voters in Charge released their first television advertisement in support of Amendment 3 with the campaign slogan, Leave it Be: Until Amendment 3. The commercial can be viewed on YouTube HERE

 

 

 


Florida Initiative Petition Amendment to Require Voters to Approve Gambling Expansion clears Florida Supreme Court Challenge

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling amendment proposed by Voter’s in Charge. The petition seeks to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot giving voters the last vote on gambling expansion. As it stands now, the Florida legislature can pass gambling expansion even when the vast majority clearly supports leaving gambling where it is or ever reducing current gambling levels. The amendment would leave the final decision to the voters. The petition was challenged and the Supreme Court reviewed submitted briefs. After entertaining all arguments, the Supreme Court has ruled the petition doesn’t violate any state provisions and can proceed to the voters once the appropriate amount of signatures are gathered. The SunSentinel explains:

The court ruled 4-2 that the amendment’s wording was not misleading and sticks to one subject. The amendment gives Florida voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling.”

Backers of the amendment will still need to gather more than 700,000 signatures to make the 2018 ballot. They had submitted 74,626 signatures as of Thursday, according to the state Division of Elections.

Each chamber has passed their own gambling bills this month and they differ quite a bit. When that happens, they come together to produce a final bill that both sides can agree on. This ruling has caused the Florida legislature to cancel plans for a conference between the House and Senate to discuss their respective gambling bills. The SunSentinel continues:

Both the House and Senate have passed gambling bills this session, which ends May 5. The two bills are vastly different, forcing the two chambers to go into a conference to iron out the details.

That conference had been tentatively set for 4 p.m. Thursday, but the court’s decision to allow the constitutional amendment to go forward indefinitely postponed it, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

“The Supreme Court ruled today on voter control of gaming. I want to digest the decision before moving forward,” said conference chairman Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.

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


Florida Counties Vote to Expand Slots but Florida Supreme Court Ruling Likely to Prevent Implementation

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing impact slot machine gambling and its possible expansion has on Florida. Slot machine gambling has long been limited in Florida. Over the years, various Legislative expansions have taken place, as well as locations being legalized by constitutional amendments.   In 2010, the Florida legislature allowed counties to vote for slot machines, but only if prior approval by constitutional amendments or Florida Legislature were obtained. In this year’s election, two counties have voted to expand gambling by way of slot machines, but major hurdles still exist before such expansion can take place. Local Jacksonville Fox affiliate WOKV reports:

A major legal hurdle remains before voter-approved slot machines will be available to play in Jacksonville.

While Duval County voters resoundingly approved 2,000 slot machines for the bestbet pari-mutuel facility in Arlington, the Florida Supreme Court is still determining whether a state statute permits counties outside of South Florida to expand gambling through a referendum.

The referendum – passed with 54 percent support in the Nov. 8 general election – cites a 2004 constitutional amendment allowing slots machines at certain Miami-Dade and Broward County pari-mutuel facilities through a constitutional amendment to mean voters in Duval county have the same right.

Many believe the negative impacts of slot machines weren’t adequately represented during the election, but non the less, the Supreme Court is likely to void the results as prior approval is needed outside of just the county and the Legislature hasn’t approved the venues. WOKV continues:

The group No Casinos, an opponent of gambling expansion in Florida, says only one side of County Referendum No. 1 was represented – through millions of dollars put up by the owners of bestbet. “It’s not a full picture of what happens when slot machines come to a community,” said Paul Seago, referencing the touting of new jobs and government revenue from slot machines by proponents.

Seago believes the Florida Supreme Court will determine slot machines are only allowed in South Florida, per the state statute, or that a constitutional amendment is necessary for expansion of slot machine gaming in the state. Seago’s opposition to slot machines stems from the rejection that this form of gaming brings new revenue to cities. He says, money used on slots is actually taken away from local businesses. In the meantime, slot machines are on hold outside of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

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


How the Mid-term Elections Impacted Gambling Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported countlessly on the impact of expanded gambling in areas across the country. Gambling issues are raised on many fronts, everything from direct legislation prosed by state or federal lawmakers, to individual ballot initiatives that require a direct vote of the people. Gambling is typically a bi-partisan issue with both sides demonstrating support and opposition. However, elections often swing power one way or another for a jurisdiction and it can often have an affect on gambling expansion legislation. Sometimes its seen by one party pushing legislation through their respective lawmaking arenas, other times it’s the influence of the party to shape the language and process of direct voter ballot issues and other times it’s the difference in whether gambling initiatives are passed by the legislature that then require a vote of the people. This election cycle was no different and The Washington Post Blog outlines the winners and losers of this year’s mid term elections where voters directly decided various gambling issues: 

Voters in eight states went to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to expand casino gambling. In several cases, established gaming interests poured millions into state ballot referendum fights. 

*California* Voters rejected Proposition 48, which would have allowed the impoverished North Folk Rancheria of Mono Indians to build a new casino on land the tribe has bought…

Voters in Colorado roundly rejected[4] a state ballot measure to add casinos to racetracks in three counties. The measure failed by a 3-to-1 margin, the Denver Business Journal reported.

Voters in Kansas voted to let allow non-profit charitable raffles.

Voters in Massachusetts chose to keep legalized casino gambling and the three casinos that are already on the drawing board.

Voters in Rhode Island failed to approve table games at the Newport Grand casino.

South Carolina voters gave a thumbs up to non-profit charitable raffles.

Voters [in South Dakota] backed amendment Q, which would authorize the legislature to allow roulette, keno and craps at gambling houses in Deadwood…

Voters [In Tennessee] agreed charities to hold annual lotteries. The charities in question are namely veterans groups that wanted to hold gaming fundraisers…

This election cycle also had an impact on one of the most hotly contested gambling expansion issues, online gambling. An online, gambling-reporting site listed the areas where the issue was impacted:

Tom Corbett’s defeat in Pennsylvania’s governor race can be characterized as a loss for those who would like to see regulated online poker and casino games come to [Pennsylvania]…

The defeat of Pat Quinn [Illinois] is likely a win for online gambling proponents. Like Massachusetts, Illinois politicians have clearly placed online gambling in line behind land-based expansion.

Rick Scott’s re-election in Florida represents a clear setback for online gambling supporters. Scott has been a recipient of Sheldon Adelson’s largess (directly and indirectly) and publicly called on Congress to support an online gambling ban earlier this year. His re-election calls into question what momentum online gambling regulation may realistically have in Florida, a state frequently mentioned as one of the next wave of potential markets for regulated online poker.

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


Poll Indicates Florida Voters Want Final Say in Gambling Expansion

Casino Watch has reported on the ongoing efforts by those hoping to expand gambling in Florida. Most of those efforts have been unsuccessful and now that an election nears, legislative hopefuls should pay close attention to the results of a recent poll. The Tampa Bay Times provides access to the press release that explains that voters don’t want the legislature passing pro-gambling bills and they favor a Constitutional Amendment to require statewide support prior to expansion: 

Any discussion of expanded gambling, or limited gambling, may be on hold until after the election but a new poll out by No Casinos says legislators should keep voters in mind before making any commitments. Here’s the press release:

Florida voters don’t want elected officials who represent them to support more gambling in the state, and they heavily favor a Constitutional Amendment that would require voters statewide to have the final say on whether or not a form of gambling is legal in Florida. The poll of 604 likely voters was conducted by Hill Research Consultants, and is part of a candidate pledge package being sent by NoCasinos.org to all candidates running for the Florida Legislature.

“It is good public policy and smart politics to be against the expansion of gambling in Florida,” said NoCasinos.org President John Sowinski. “Floridians don’t want their elected officials to legalize more gambling, and Florida voters want to have the final say on this issue through a statewide vote of the people.” The poll consistently showed strong bi-partisan consensus on these issues.

The highlights of the polling are as follows: 73% of Florida voters support a proposed Constitutional Amendment requiring a statewide voter initiative for authorization of any form of gambling.

Voters are overwhelmingly less like likely to vote for candidates for office who either:

Support expanding gambling in Florida
Support expanding gambling without a statewide vote of the people
Support proposals to allow slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities

75% disagree with the statement that more gambling will improve our quality of life.

By a 63% to 28% margin, voters want gambling laws fixed before the legislature discusses any future expansion.

Voters think the creation of a new regulatory agency for gambling is more likely to expand gambling industry influence than reduce it.

Voters prefer that gambling issues be determined by statewide referenda, not local votes.

Voters overwhelmingly oppose the legislature granting new forms of gambling to pari-mutuel facilities. 

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


Gambling Expansion Moves Forward for Some Florida Communities but Requires Additional Legislative Action

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many gambling expansion efforts in Florida.  Most of the attention has centered on bringing full Vegas-style gambling resort casinos to the family-centered state.  However, several local communities have been debating expanding gambling through slot machines.  With the elections over, a few of those communities have passed referendums to allow for slot machines in one form or another.  However, those battles are far from over as local communities need approval from the legislature to move forward. An online Florida source explains:

A day after convincing Lee County voters to pass a referendum allowing Las Vegas-style slot machines at their facility, Bonita Springs dog track owners prepared for a more difficult challenge: convincing Tallahassee.

The Legislature must pass a bill allowing slots in Lee before any machines can be installed. Attorney General Pam Bondi ruled in January that local slots referendums such as Lee County’s were illegitimate and gambling in the state can only expand through a change in state law. The state Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which awards slot machine licenses to pari-mutuel wagering tracks, is following Bondi’s opinion.

The decision for the state legislature is not simple.  The state’s agreement with the Seminole Tribe prevents such slot machines.  The source continues:

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has a 20-year, $1 billion deal with the state. The deal gives the tribe a slots monopoly everywhere but Miami-Dade and Broward counties, which approved slots before the Seminole deal was struck in 2010. The tribe’s attorney, Barry Richard, said the Seminoles would stop payments to the state if the deal is broken and slots are allowed in places such as Lee.

The tribe, which worked on getting a gambling deal with the state for 19 years before signing it in 2010, pays the state $233 million annually. Part of the compact expires in 2015 but that involves authorization for table games such as blackjack. Slots payments run until 2030.

Many among Florida’s leadership have argued that gambling expansion is not the answer to solve the state’s economic issues.  Time exists to contact your local representative and urge them to oppose any bills that come up to formally allow these narrowly won victories to become official state law.

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


Study Confirming Near-Misses Fuel Gambling Addiction Highlights Need to Stay Focused on Slot Machines

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times on the dangers of slot machines.  The psychology behind why slot machines are so effective at addicting players has been the subject of many researchers.  A recent study has examined the idea of a “near-miss,” or coming one icon away from a win.  The conclusion of the researchers is that these near-misses fuel gambling addiction.  An online source explains:

Canadian researchers have provided new evidence that gamblers interpret near-misses as frustrating losses rather than near-wins. This frustration stimulates the reward systems in the brain to promote continued gambling that, in turn, may contribute to addictive gambling behavior.

Studies to date have shown that near-misses support persistent gambling and activate brain areas that reinforce certain behaviors. If near-misses are seen as near-wins, then they should be pleasurable. If, however, near-misses are highly frustrating losses, then they should be unpleasant.

The analyses showed that progressively larger wins led to longer pauses between spins and increased arousal levels. Near-misses with jackpot symbols landing on the first two reels led to significantly larger skin responses than regular losses and other types of near-misses. In addition, the gamblers were compelled to repeat the spin as quickly as possible after this type of near miss.

“By activating what we call the appetitive component of the mesolimbic rewards system, these near-misses may help a player develop a hopeful, subjective impression that the next win is imminent,” Dr Dixon said. “This might ultimately contribute to the sensitization of the appetitive system, which plays a key role in addictive behavior.”

This type of research helps to illustrate how people can become addicted to slots.  As elections near, its research like this that demands close attention to the types of gambling that could be exposed to communities.  Natasha Shull, a cultural anthropologist and associate professor in MIT’s Program on Science, Technology and Society, has spent the last 15 years researching and studding the slot machines.  In an MIT article, she explains how slot machines are designed to addict gamblers and create tremendous profits for casinos:

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.

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.”

Natasha Shull had published a new book Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas. Her book and research will be the feature of many articles on Casino Watch Focus and more information on her book can be found here.  As elections near in your communities, please remember that there’s a reason gambling companies spend so much money to influence elections and to expand gambling.  Its not because they plan to make winners of everyone in the neighborhoods, its because they have designed a method of revenue collection for high profits that are fueled by addiction.

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


Hungary Views Slot Machines as a Threat to National Security

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling expansion efforts in Florida.  As the election draws near, many local communities will be voting on a myriad of gambling initiatives, most of which involve slots.  The dangers of slot machines can be devastating to a community and one nation has more than recognized their danger.  Hungary is viewing slots as a threat to their national security.  The Wall Street Journal explains:

Hungary’s government decided Monday urgent action is needed to crack down on gambling because it eats into people’s incomes and poses a threat to national security.

State secretary Janos Lazar said that slot machines present a serious hazard, especially for the rural poor who spend sizable chunks of their small salaries and welfare benefits on one-armed bandits.

“Gambling is explicitly dangerous and harmful for society,” Mr. Lazar said. Games of chance in general go against the credo of his conservative political family, he said, which is why the government considers the matter a key priority.

The country is so adamant about the dangers of slot machines, that they are taking swift measures to outlaw them. The Wall Street Journal continues:

Mr. Lazar said the ruling majority will rush the necessary legal changes. A group of representatives from the governing Fidesz party will submit legislation Monday with a final vote coming as soon as Tuesday. The urgency is warranted by new information on a national security risk from groups in the gambling industry, Mr. Lazar said while declining to divulge any details regarding the nature of the risks.

Under the legal revision, slot machines will no longer be put into operation and those currently in use would be recalled, the only exceptions being casinos that have concessions from the state. If adopted, the measure will have widespread effects on many low-range bars and pubs, which operate slot machines that generate a considerable part of their revenue.

Mr. Lazar said that the revenue shortfall to the budget resulting from the slot machine ban will be made up through new regulations and taxes on online gambling.

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


Genting attempts to buy casino expansion in Florida

Casino Watch Focus has reported  on the on going attempts of Genting Group to bring mega-resort, destination casino gambling to Florida.  After failed attempts in the Florida legislature, the Genting group has decided to take the issue to the ballot box.  Casino Watch Focus has also reported on the strong support that has already come out against the ballot initive, most recently an advertisement stating what happens in Vegas should to stay in Vegas.  However, Genting isn’t putting all it’s eggs in the ballot initiative basket.  The Miami Herald is reporting  that the Genting group has been busy paying for as many Florida legislators as possible:

Genting’s political check writers, who had taken a bit of a break since the legislative session ended without passing their casino resort legislation, have been busy. The Malaysian-based casino giant has written a whopping $431,000 in campaign contributions since July 16, during the run-up to the primary.

The largest chunk of money — $189,000 — went to the company’s newly formed political committee as it prepares to put a constitutional amendment on the November 2014 ballot. (Presumably they are polling ballot language to give to petition gatherers on election day.) The rest of it went to mega contributions to the political committees of some key legislative players such as Sens. Jack Latvala and Joe Negron. Who is the Republican to watch in the casino-resistant House? Jason Brodeur of Sanford.

The Miami Herald has been critical of Gentings intentions to expand gambling in the Sunshine State.  In a recent article they explain that the company is looking to go beyond helpful development of the land they purchased and are instead being motivated by greed:

[F]or Genting, it’s not enough to offer a world-class hotel and restaurant complex a stone’s throw from the Port of Miami and a hop across two causeways to world-famous South Beach.

It’s about the cash generated by gambling — risky to the players and to the cultural destination Miami has become, but a win-win for the conglomerate across the globe.

Otherwise the gaming giant wouldn’t be fighting so hard and spending so much to ram casino gambling resorts down our throats.

Here’s a better idea, free of charge: Flip the property.

It’s not the right neighborhood. Genting bought low in hard times, but with real estate bouncing back, they can make a decent penny on the investment.

And we’ll be rid of the poltergeist.

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


Mid-term elections deal a blow to pro-online gambling interests; Rep Barney Frank is out of power

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga by Rep. Barney Frank to attempt to legalize online gambling.  Now that the Mid-term elections have change the balance of power in the house, an online source explains that some major changes are imminent:

Online gambling’s biggest ally is expected to be replaced by the industry’s most outspoken opponent.  With the Republicans taking control of the House, Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus would probably be named the new Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, currently chaired by Barney Frank.

Bachus has been in staunch opposition to legalized online gambling, including Internet poker.  Frank has attempted to pass legislation that would license and regulate the multi-billion dollar industry within the United States.

It is not a guarantee that Bachus would take over the position, but if he does, he has a track record in various leadership roles of obstructing attempts to legalize gambling related activities.  It seems quite clear that internet gambling will remain illegal for the next few years.

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