Category Archives: Gaming Commission

Florida House Democrats to Block Deal with Seminoles

Casino Watch Focus reported that this year’s Florida Legislative session was moving at its typical quick pace and the House had already passed a gambling bill to create a new gambling commission a Gov. Rick Scott asked the Senate to hold off passing similar measures until he had a chance to finalize a gambling compact with the Siminole Tribe. The State’s compact with the Siminoles will have a big impact on the direction or financial impact of gambling in Florida.  Now Florida Democrats have said they will block any new compact that doesn’t conform with their specific gambling demands.  An online source is reporting the demands:

House Democrats say they will kill a new gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe unless it includes more games for South Florida pari-mutuels.

Without the support of the Democratic caucus’ 44 members, the chamber won’t be able to ratify an agreement, House Select Committee on Gaming Chairman Rob Schenck acknowledged.

“The fate of the compact is in serious jeopardy if we do not have some bipartisan support. It?s a basic principle of math,” Schenck, R-Spring Hill, said.

Schenck’s arithmetic lesson is grounded in history. The House has historically balked at expansions of gambling and, as in the past, now includes more than a dozen conservative Republicans who will vote against any gambling-related legislation. That makes putting together a bipartisan coalition critical to get to the 61 votes needed for ratification.

If Gov Scott acquiesces to their demands, it builds in even more expanding gambling worries for Florida’s families.  If, however, Gov Scott doesn’t and the Democrats don’t ratify the new treaty, its possible no gambling bills will get through this session.  The online source explains:

The elements of any deal hinge on the tribe’s exclusive rights to have certain games, even if only in certain geographic areas, and revenue paid to the state. Federal law requires any revenue-sharing agreement with the state to include something of value for the tribe, and the feds have to sign off on any compact struck between Florida and the Seminoles.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, is insisting that his chamber won’t authorize any legislation unless Scott finalizes a deal with the Seminoles.

Jim Shore, the Seminoles’ general counsel, wrote in an op-ed published in the Sun Sentinel newspaper earlier this month that the state should reject destination resort casinos included in a Senate gambling proposal and instead stick to its agreement with the tribe.

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States Outsource Casino Policing to Private Firms

##For Immediate Release Feb 22 2014

NoCasinos.org

LAS VEGAS — When Springfield, Mass. needed to choose who would build its first casino, the city hired an outside adviser to help with the process.

The consulting firm Shefsky & Froelich recommended that the deal go to MGM Resorts International. At the same time, the consulting firm was also working as a registered lobbyist in Illinois for MGM Resorts.

The arrangement highlights an often-overlooked trend as more cities and states embrace legalized gambling around the country: Private companies are being hired to write regulations and vet casinos, even as the same firms work the other side of the fence, helping casinos enter new markets and sometimes lobbying for their interests.

States hoping to make money quickly from legalizing gambling have few options as speedy as outside contractors, which allow them to get casinos up and running without having to hire and train a cadre of staff regulators.

But letting consulting companies with deep ties to the gambling industry decide how casinos are run — and who runs them — is a significant departure from how more established gambling states, including Nevada and New Jersey, do things.

Regulators in states that maintain control over their own rules say the move toward privatization is unnerving.

“How do you vet your consultants? If a lot of these consultants at one time or another have worked for the people that you’re in charge of regulating, at some point, you’re going to have issues with the purity of the investigation,” said Illinois Gaming Board spokesman Gene O’Shea.

Casino opponents are skeptical. John Sowinski, spokesman for the Florida nonprofit No Casinos, says that Spectrum often paints an overly rosy picture of the boon casinos might provide, overshooting tax revenue estimates in studies conducted for Ohio, and calling New Jersey’s Revel project “just the tonic that Atlantic City needs.” (The state-subsidized casino filed for bankruptcy 10 months after opening.)

Sowinski believes states in need of consultants should hire experts and firms with no connection to the casino industry.

“The gambling industry is the one industry that seems to get away with this conflict of interest carte blanche,” he said.

For the Complete Article CLICK HERE

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Missouri Gaming Commission chooses Cape Girardeau for the 13th Casino

Casino Watch Focus reported that the citizens in Cape Girardeau voted to allow a new casino.  It was reported at that time that the Missouri Gaming Commission would likely approve the proposal, even though there were clear reasons reported why the MGC should not give the 13th casino license to any company or city.  Now the St Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that the MGC decided to award The Isle of Capri the 13th license in Cape Girardeau:

The Missouri Gaming Commission voted unanimously and without discussion to choose Cape Girardeau over proposals for St. Louis and for Sugar Creek, which is near Kansas City. A casino license became available this summer when the President Casino in downtown St. Louis went out of business. Missouri law since 2008 has capped the number of casino licenses at 13.

The commission’s decision Wednesday clears the way for a casino in Cape Girardeau, but a license is not awarded until a facility is ready to open. This is the first time regulators have mulled a new casino since the limit on casino licenses was enacted.

Opponents of that ballot measure expressed disappointment with the commission’s decision Wednesday. “My heart is absolutely broken. I cried this morning, but that’s over,” said Doug Austin, who lives in Cape Girardeau and helped to organize opposition to the casino.

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Why the MGC should not award a new casino license during its Dec 1 meeting

The Kansas City Star reported that the Missouri Gaming Commission met last week in a closed doors session to review the financial information regarding each proposal.  The next regular meeting takes place Dec 1st, and its possible the MGC will make their decision during that time.  However, as reported by Casino Watch Focus, the MGC said they might not award a casino license at all, explaining that the law only sets the cap on licenses at 13, but requires no minimum number. Casino Watch Focus has outlined many reasons why a new casino would represent great danger to Missouri families, but an op-ed piece published in the South East Missourian explains that a new casino represents terrible consequences for those living in the region:

Public officials are often jubilant over the idea of casinos sapping every dollar they can from those same citizens whose welfare they are committed to protect. We saw it recently upon the license approval of the new “River City Casino” in St. Louis.  It was anticipated to produce $200 million a year … more than $500,000 a day … in gambling losses of the people to River City. Public official and the casino people — in an apparent “de facto” partnership celebrated together!

For years we have known from experience and from studies (such as in the St. Louis Law Journal, Winter, 1995, by Professor John Warren Kindt of the University of Illinois) that when gambling options increase in a region, so do the related problems: more compulsive gamblers, more crime, more thoughts of suicides by the inevitable numbers of area people who become addicted (with some actually committing suicides), more embezzlements, more corruption of public officials…  I could go on.

 

Adding a new casino in Cape Girardeau will expose an unimaginable amount of new families to gambling’s dangers.   Please read the entire article here and for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Cape Girardeau votes yes to allowing a new casino

Casino Watch Focus reported that the election in Cape Girardeau was being almost exclusively bought and paid for by Isle of Capri Casino.  So, its no surprise that when the SE Missourian reported the casino election results, they showed a clear win for the casino and potential loss for the families in southeast Missouri.  The vote was necessary but insufficient to guarantee a casino in Cape.  The Missouri Gaming Commission must still award the proposal to the Isle of Capri.  Considering the MGC has been positioning itself to accept a Cape proposal and has even gone as far to say they might not award a license at all if they didn’t find the location that would make the state a considerable amount of money, it’s very unlikely the Commission would reject a Cape casino.  Keep checking back to find out the fate of the state and our families.

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isle of capri attempts to buy the cape girardeau election by almost single handedly funding the pro-casino campaign

Casino Watch Focus reported that the Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC) will only consider three proposals for Missouri’s final casino license – one in Kansas City, one in St Louis, and one in Cape Girardeau should the vote to allow the casino pass.  It was also explained that the MGC favors the Cape location and they were positioning themselves to not give out the final license allowed by Missouri law should the vote in Cape not pass.  It’s clear that the battle for gambling expansion comes down to the this vote and its fair to say that the Isle of Capri casino agrees.  The South East Missourian reported they gave a sizable campaign contribution to the Yes for Gaming group in Cape:

Isle of Capri is gambling with house money, pouring $50,000 into the campaign coffers of the committee trying to convince Cape Girardeau voters to approve a $120 million casino in the Nov. 2 election.

Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. donated $50,000 to the campaign committee Yes for Gaming, according to a quarterly campaign report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. The only other donation to the committee was $4,000 from Jim Riley and David Knight’s Dream Big LLC. Riley and Knight are the Cape Girardeau businessmen who own property where the casino is proposed for North Main Street.

The Quality of Life group, which opposes the casino, has only received $5,000 in donations.  The SE Missouri explains that the group is not surprised by the amount given by Isle of Capri, but hopes their grass roots movement will be effected against this clear attempt at buying the election:

Doug Austin, who heads the opposition group, said he was not shocked about the amount that Isle of Capri donated. But he said it looks as if the company is trying to buy the election.

“It reeks to the high heavens,” Austin said. “Our money is coming from the citizens of Cape Girardeau, not the gambling industry. Fifty thousand dollars boggles my mind. It shows what kind of money they have available with money that they got from people losing in their casinos.”

Melvin Gateley, the treasurer for Quality of Life, said his organization is at a huge disadvantage when it comes to buying advertising, yard signs and fliers.

“I’m sorry to see it, but I knew it was coming,” Gateley said. “But we’re just going to be ourselves and keep doing our grassroots work and let people know what we think a casino would do to this community.”

Those in the community continue to speak out against the casino.  The newspaper is one of those grassroots means that the opposition has used to send its message.  In an editorial titled “Casino vote will have severe implications” published by the SE Missourian, Mark Anderson outlines many key issues ranging from family issues to business issues.  Please take some time to read the entire article here and if you are in the Cape Girardeau community, please seek out the Quality for Life group to help the grass roots movement and take a stand against yet another casino looking to buy an election.

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And Then There Were Three

Casino Watch Focus reported that four companies remained in the hunt for Missouri’s 13th casino license and that the Missouri Gaming Commission was holding a meeting to hear a more in-depth proposal from each candidate.  Now the St Louis Business Journal is reporting that one of the four companies has now been eliminated from consideration following the meeting:

Missouri Gaming Commission Chairman Jim Mathewson told reporters that North County Development LLC was knocked out after not participating in Wednesday’s public hearings in Jefferson City.

Ed Griesedieck, a Herzog Crebs attorney who represents North County Development, said the group needed more time to raise money for the Riverview Casino project. He had sent a letter to the commission saying that, given the size and complexity of the proposal, significant additional funding and sophisticated operating and funding partnerships would be required. If the extension isn’t granted, “we will regretfully need to withdraw” at this time, he wrote.

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