Category Archives: Loss Limit

Missouri Casinos Now Offer Thousands in Loans to Gamblers

Casino Watch Focus has repeatedly reported on a unique protection that used to protect Missouri families from devastating gambling loss known as the Loss Limit. This protection would only allow any one person the ability to purchase $500 in gambling chips every two hours. This law protected families for most of Missouri’s legalized gambling era until it was defeated with a well-orchestrated and funded ballot initiative. The leading argument was to allow for an expanded opportunity to bring in high rollers to Missouri. Once the Loss Limit was removed though, it also opened the door for more money to be lost by the everyday local gambler and in doing so, it put more families at risk. The removal of the Loss Limit has apparently not been enough for the casino industry as they have now pushed and succeeded at passing legislation that will allow loans up to $10,000 to gamblers. An online source provides some key information to how this may hurt those with addiction:

 

Missouri casinos will be able to loan gamblers at least $10,000 after Governor Nixon allowed a bill to become law.

Community Counseling Center Therapist Rick Strait said, “Some of the clients I work with, I see this putting them at a greater risk for depression and anxiety, and I think it’s going to have a very negative impact on those addicted.”

Those that are true “high-rollers” will have no need for such a credit line. To them, it wont really be enough for them to matter much. However, casinos offering credit lines up to $10K to the average gambler can cause serious problems. The online source explains that the loans must be paid back quickly, so the casinos will use some discretion when it comes to credit worthiness, but if someone needs a line of credit and can qualifying for an on the spot loan instead of them needing to leave the casino to obtain funds and having a cooling off period to rethink their decision, then it opens the door for all kinds of financial burden on families including the potential for suicide:

Representatives from the Missouri Gaming Commission said the loans must be paid back quickly.

“It has to be by statute a zero percent loan and it has to be due within 30 days the loan has been taken out,” said Grewach.

“If they can’t pay it in 30 days , the anxiety and desperation it may cause, it may cause somebody to have suicidal thoughts…’there’s no way I can pay this back now, I borrowed $10,000 and can’t pay it back; I don’t know the consequences of not paying it, is it going to be collections or is this going to put their house or bank account in jeopardy as well,” said Strait.

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


In a questionable political move, Missouri Rep. Scott Largent attempts to allow loans at casinos

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times that even though casino gambling is legal in Missouri, the legislature has taken many steps to safeguard its citizens from the dangers of gambling.  The Legislature successfully prevented all legislative attempts at removing a unique safeguard, the $500 loss limit, which essentially caped the amount of money that was able to be gambled and lost at one time.  The loss limit and other safeguards existed until the casino industry waged an expensive ballot initiative that removed it.  One past legislator, who was known for accepting large amount of money from the casino industry and in turn, proposing countless bills to remove these safeguards, was Rep. Shannon Cooper. His replacement, Rep. Scott Largent, appears to have picked up where Rep. Cooper left off.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that Rep. Largent has managed to get an amendment into a bill that would allow loans at casinos.  This move appears to be politically unfavorable to his colleagues and it creates serious pitfalls for problem gamblers:

House Financial Institutions Committee added the change onto a banking bill Wednesday with no debate. Committee members endorsed it by a 13-1 vote, sending the measure to the full House after the Rules Committee approves it.

Gamblers who pass a credit check would be able to borrow money and exchange it for electronic tokens and chips for wagering.

Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat, said lawmakers should try to help protect problem gamblers from themselves. Nasheed voted for the bill but now says she would have voted “no” if she had known what the amendment did.

“I made a mistake,” Nasheed said. “I don’t think gamblers should take out loans. You have gamblers who are addicted. It hurts their family. They lose their property. The divorce rate is high.”

Passage in the House would send the bill to the Senate, which has been less inclined to pass gambling bills. In fact, the sponsor of the underlying bill, Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, wasn’t unhappy to learn of the credit amendment.

Casino Gambling was originally passed in 1992 with multiple safeguards in place.  The original plan was to simply allow a short, two-hour riverboat cruise on the Missouri or Mississippi river, which would allow for select and controlled gambling.  Now, virtually every aspect of what Missouri citizens originally voted for has been stripped clean, leaving full-blown casino gambling, on land, with no loss limits.  This bill would remove one of the last safeguards and expose Missouri families to serious gambling problems.  The Post Dispatch continues:

The credit ban was also part of the original law. Under the bill, customers would have to qualify for a line of credit of at least $5,000. Bill proponents say that would weed out those with gambling addictions and others who couldn’t afford to go into debt to gamble. But critics say casinos entice people to wager more than they can afford.  “Any time you make it easier for people who have gambling problems to increase their debt, then you make the problem worse for them,” said Keith Spare of the Missouri Council on Problem Gambling Concerns.

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


Update: Missouri Families at Risk as Pinnacle Entertainment makes a surprise move and agrees to close the President casino despite their first favorable court ruling

Casino Watch Focus reported that Pinnacle Entertainment filed a motion in court to prevent the unprecedented decision by the Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC) to pull the President Casino’s license because of declining revenues.  The St Louis Post Dispatch reported that an appeals court in Kansas City ruled in favor of Pinnacle:

In the fight over the fate of the President Casino, Pinnacle Entertainment finally won a round. A state appeals court in Kansas City on Tuesday sided with the casino company in a lawsuit filed last fall against Missouri casino regulators. In its order, the panel called the Gaming Commission’s approach “confusing,” and said “such confusion raises concern that this was a contested case without sufficient process.” It sent the matter back to the commission, “for further proceedings.”

The ruling has no direct bearing on the Gaming Commission’s more recent effort to strip the President’s license over its weak financial performance. In that matter, Pinnacle has requested a hearing, which is likely to happen later this spring. But it could open a window for Pinnacle to propose improvements to the President, or even, potentially, to move it to a new site.

The issue was sent back to the MGC and a meeting was held on Wednesday, March 10th with the only item on the agenda being the President Casino’s license.  The result of the meeting came as a surprise as Pinnacle Entertainment agreed to close down the President Casino.  The St Louis Post Dispatch reported:

After eight months of staring down powerful Missouri regulators over the fate of the President Casino, the Las Vegas-based gaming company agreed Wednesday to close the ailing downtown riverboat by July 1. The move comes as a surprise, one that could have broad implications for St. Louis’ $1 billion-a-year casino industry.

In the last few weeks, McNary said, Pinnacle general counsel Jack Godfrey reached out to the commission and proposed a deal. Pinnacle would give up the license. The commission would drop its disciplinary proceedings. Everyone would move on. It is unclear what changed Pinnacle’s mind.

Some reasoned that the decision to stop fighting the Missouri gaming regulators might be, in part, to not wanting to alienate state regulators, not just because of the two other casinos they own here, but also because of casinos they operate in other states. The Post also pointed to statement made by Pinnacle:

Godfrey said the decision came simply from shifting priorities. Pinnacle has opened two big, new casinos in St. Louis in a little more than two years. Pouring time and money into the President was no longer smart business. “We looked at the situation and decided to allocate our resources to productive pursuits,” he said. “We’ve sort of agreed to disagree and to resolve this matter,” Godfrey said. “

Many people voted in favor of Proposition A because of the mistaken belief that a cap of 13 casinos in Missouri would keep one out of Cape Girardeau, Sugar Creek or Chain of Rocks.  Countless times during the campaign against Prop A, every effort was made to explain this very scenario, yet so many people voted ‘Yes’ thinking they were keeping a casino out of their back yard.  Missouri families find themselves in a situation where a new mega casino can be built anywhere along the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers, putting them in terrible risk of serious gambling related problems.  Now, more than ever, you need to contact your local Missouri Senators and House Representatives and encourage them support new legislation that prevents any new casinos from being built.

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


Proposition A has opened the door to underage gambling

With the passage of Missouri Proposition A, the ability to guarantee that State ID cards are being checked as patrons enter casinos has seriously diminished. Before Proposition A passed, an ID was required to get a boarding pass and each and every patron who wished to board the boats had to have a boarding pass. Now, Proposition A simply requires that identification be checked if a patron looks underage.  Unfortunately, underage gambling has increased and The St Louis Post Dispatch is reporting huge fines against some of Missouri’s biggest casinos:

Missouri casinos have seen an increase in underage gamblers since identification requirements changed as part of Proposition A last fall.  And on Wednesday, the Missouri Gaming Commission made two of the state’s biggest casino companies pay for it.  Commission members voted to fine Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. $60,000, for underage violations at its Lumière Place Casino in downtown St. Louis, and Ameristar Casino $25,000, for violations at its facility in Kansas City.

The casinos are attempting to keep underage gambling to a minimum, but Prop A has no uniform guidelines for checking identification.  Its obvious that the current patchwork of regulation by each casino is not very effective.  The Post Dispatch explains the Missouri Gaming Commission’s position:

[E]ach casino handles ID checks a little differently, and that’s a troubling sign, commissioners said.  “We need to move forward on a unified system of checking IDs,” said James Mathewson, chairman of the commission. “We’ve got a problem. And we seem to be addressing it. But we’re addressing it in six different directions.”  The commission plans to discuss the matter further at its October meeting.”

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


Turner Report: New Gaming Commission Director has long ties to gambling industry

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon appointed Jim Mathewson as the new Missouri Gaming Commission Director.  Mathewson, a Democrate, served in the State Senate from 1980 to 2006.  The Turner Report is explaining that Mathewson has ties to the gambling industry that go back to 2002, when pushed a bill to remove the $500 loss limit, on top of receiving more than two-thirds of his campaign contributions from gambling interest:

Mathewson’s 2002 reports filed with the Ethics Commission show he received $15,800 in contributions. Of that amount, $11,124 either came directly from casino interests or can be connected to a gambling industry lobbyist.

The October 2002 report shows Mathewson receiving $9,225 in contributions, with $5,475 coming from gambling interests. The contributions include

Isle of Capri $350
Isle of Capri-Boonville $575
Harrah’s Operating Company $575
Isle of Capri Casino-Kansas City $350
Ameristar Casino-Kansas City $1,000
Missouri Gaming Company, Argosy Casino $1,175
St. Joseph Riverboat Partners/Frontier Casino $587.50
Ameristar Casino-St. Charles $725
Mark Twain Casino LLC, $587.50
Aztar Missouri Riverboat Gaming Company, $500

To Read the Complete Turner Report Click Here

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


Loss limit repeal is not translating into big revenue for Missouri casinos or our schools

The St Louis Business Journal is reporting that the removal of the loss limit has not been the economic panacea that supporters claimed it would be:

The state repealed a $500-in-two-hours loss limit at casinos in the hopes of generating much needed revenue for the education system. The projections had the repeal being the key to over $100 million in additional revenue, according to the Missouri Gaming Commission.

Now, the Commission has lowered that projection to only $30 million after factoring in what the economy has done to the casino industry.

The gaming commission has tried to blame the economy for why they cant provide the “guaranteed money” to our local schools they promised the voters of Missouri.  The Business Journal continues:

They insist that their original projections were correct, but that the recession changed everything.  “Those were pre-recession projections,” said Executive Director of the Missouri Gaming Commission, Gene McNary.

The gaming commission and casino lobby started back peddling on their promise right after the election.  But Casino Watch explained that the reason the figures were not going to be realized was because the commission used false numbers and statistic to sell the $100 million lie to the voters.

Is anyone actually surprised that our schools wont get the money they were promised?


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


Ameristar lays off 5% of work force after Prop A Passes

During the Proposition A campaign, we heard countless times that Prop A would protect jobs in Missouri.  The Yes on A campaign even played a commercial with an employee asking people to vote Yes on A to help save her job.  Casino Watch pointed out that market forces would impact job loss not the loss limit yet the casino’s continued to promises job protection with the passage of Prop A.

Unfortunately, the St Louis Post Dispatch reported that 120 employees have lost their jobs at Ameristar St Charles.  This represents 6.5% of their local workforce and 5% of their National workforce.  Unfortunately, Ameristar Kansas City also laid off 75 workers.  Remember that it was Ameristar and Troy Stremming who drafted and funded Prop A.  And it was Ameristar who said that Prop A would save jobs.  Yet the first casino to start laying off its employees is Ameristar.  This proves that even Troy Stremming knew Prop A could save jobs and they intentionally made more false promises, if not outright lies.


More sources casting doubt on the casino’s ability to provide money to schools

In a recent article by the Columbia Tribune, the Missouri Gaming Commission and the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education explained why Prop A money should not be counted on:

[Gene McNary, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC)] visited casinos in St. Louis and Kansas City last week and said managers are “feeling that people are cutting back on the amounts they will lose and the number of times they’ll play.”

The casino initiative went into effect immediately after the election, which means casinos already have begun paying higher taxes. But school districts don’t expect to see any new revenue until summer.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) “told us not to expect a penny until July 1 at the earliest,” Quinley said.

“We’re telling” districts “not to appropriate any of the money yet,” [DESE Associate Commissioner Gerri Ogle] said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

So the earliest schools could see money is after July 2009, but that assumes the casinos even provide enough money to schools to make a difference.  With the casinos’ chief lobbyist, Mike Winter, backpedaling on the casinos’ ability to meet their promise of money to schools, and now with MGC’s Executive Director making the same statement, combined with DESE’s “wait and see” statement, the outlook for Missouri schools doesn’t seem too promising.


The Casinos are already backpedaling on their promises from Proposition A

In a recent article in the Springfield News-Leader Mike Winter, the executive director for the Missouri Gaming Association, said they may not be able to deliver on their promise of new money to schools:

While pushing Proposition A, which removed the $500 loss limit per two-hour “excursion,” proponents pointed to an estimate by the state auditor’s office that eliminating the cap would bring in an additional $105 million to $130 million in new money for schools.

That was before the economy went into a nosedive.  “We’re not different than other industries,” said Michael Winter, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Association. “There is the potential for individuals to re-evaluate whether they want to come to our properties.”

He said it’s also too early to know whether projections for increased ridership with the passage of Proposition A will be realized because they were made earlier in the year when the economy wasn’t so bleak.

It’s funny how quickly the casinos changed their tune.  Their argument is that the projections were made in early January and that they cant be trusted now in this current economic climate.  That argument was not being made just a few weeks ago during the campaign during the same economic conditions.  This is just another example of how the casinos lied to people to get what they wanted, followed by poor excuses for why they lied and why they cant deliver the money to schools.  I don’t know who is more at blame, the casinos for their deceptive methods, or the people who fell for their schemes not once, but now twice.


The Casinos Spent over $12 million Out of State for ‘Yes on A’ campaign instead of investing the money in Missouri Companies

The casinos have long claimed that they invest in our communities and help stimulate our economy.  But reports from the ethics commission reveal that 82% of the Yes on A spending went out of state.  Very little was spent in the state as $12,380,082 were sent out of state.  The biggest recipient was the Hollywood CA company they hired to run the strategy and commercials for their deceptive campaign –  Winner & Mandabach received $9,162,281.   A Seattle WA printing company received $2,056,922, National Petition Management in Michigan received almost a million dollars and they spend almost $200,000 in other miscellaneous charges out of the state.

The only real spending in the state was to a few PR firms, their spokespersons, and the law enforcement
and teachers they paid to endorse Prop A.  The casinos could even buy there promotional t-shirts here in Missouri; they paid the Las Vegas company Eagle Promotions over $30,000 for their shirts.

These spending habits are simply a microcosm of how the casinos do business.  Casinos don’t help our economy.  They take money away from small business and restaurants all around the state and instead of that money being reinvested in our community, its get shipped out to Las Vegas.  This information and more can be found in our Policy Brief entitled “Expanded Gambling & the Loss Limit: How its removal will impact Missouri”

Please vote NO on Proposition A, and tell everyone you know to visit www.NOonA.com


Clean Sweep: The SouthEast Missourian Rounds Out the State Papers for “NO” on Prop A Endorsements

On Sunday the SouthEast Missourian endorsed a “NO” vote on Prop A:

This proposition has been touted as a way to raise more than $100 million for public education in Missouri, but the estimates are questionable, particularly at a time when the economy is down, as reflected by casino revenue in recent months. The real aim of the proposition is to remove the state’s loss limit and limit the number of casinos, thereby reducing both competition and future casino development around the state. This is not a good plan.

Now every major paper from around the state that has taken an editorial position has endorsed a “NO” vote on Proposition A.  Endorsements include, The Kansas City Star and KC Tribune, The Joplin Globe, The Jefferson City News Tribune, The Columbia Tribune, The SouthEast Missourian and the St Louis Post Dispatch.  Pick your reason or pick your paper, they all lead to a “NO” Vote on Proposition A.


NOonA.com Campaign Hits the Airwaves with TV Ad “Rotten Proposition”

ST.LOUIS – Nov. 1 – Casino Watch Committee, the NOonA.com Campaign today released its latest television ad, entitled “Rotten Proposition.” The ad highlights the main endorsements and arguments against Proposition A.

The ad will air Saturday, November 1st through Election Day throughout Missouri on various cable networks.

VIEW THE TELEVISION AD BELOW OR ALL OF OUR ADS HERE: http://nopropa.com/watchads.html


Current Highway Patrol Capt: “Taking Away the Players Card Takes Away a Great Enforcement Tool”

Highway Patrol Captain Lester Elder is the supervisor of the 100 plus troopers in the gaming enforcement division, and he has a unique prospective on the $500 loss limit.  In a recent newspaper interview he explained that The Patrol doesn’t take official stands on election issues.  However, he was very open about the value of the player’s cards and the effects of removing the kinds of mandatory identification requirements that Proposition A removes.

When asked about the Highway Patrols ability to solve 95.8 percent of almost 1,700 crimes at the casinos, Capt. Elder said there is something to be said for he status quo:

“We have a good case solvability rate,” he said. “We do utilize the Player’s Card for identification of criminals when that situation arises. That’s not something we access on non-criminal issues, but if there’s an assault or a theft or some crime that occurs, we’re able to identify on that casino floor who that person said they were when they came in to get their Player’s Card.

“There are always thoughts that if the loss limit’s not there (then) there may be your larger criminals coming in because there’s more opportunity for them to gain more money by cheating at gambling. I don’t know. We’re going to have to wait and see.

Proponents of Proposition A claim that they are unnecessary and have even provided retired Officer Larry Buschjost with over $13,000 in an attempt to undermine the Highway Patrol’s facts.  But the unpaid, and current highway Patrol Captain disagreed:

“Obviously there’s video of everything that occurs on the casino floor. Video is great, but when you couple that with the Player’s Card, not only do you have a video but now you also have a possible identity of a person. Without that possible identity via the Player’s Card then, sure, you take away a large tool for criminal enforcement.”

If the Player’s Card/loss limit distinction is eliminated from the equation by means of a yes vote on Nov. 4, Elder said he and his troopers will still try to maintain their current high standard of effectiveness.

“We’re going to do the most professional job we can do with the tools that we’re given,” he said. “Any time we investigate a crime, you can rest assured the Highway Patrol is going to devote its best resources to do that—to be able to try to solve that, to protect the citizens of the state. Now taking away the Player’s Card, does that take away a great enforcement tool? Yes, it does.”

Please don’t put our families at risk or put our law enforcement in a situation where they have fewer tools to keep Missouri safe: Vote No on Proposition A


Yes on A campaign paid retired Patrol Captain $12,000 in an attempt to undermine facts from current Highway Patrol

(Oct 31, 2008)  ST LOUIS – According to Missouri ethics reports, the Yes on A coalition has paid retired Highway Patrol Captain Larry Buschjost $12,000 plus $1,668 for expenses.

The Yes on A coalition faces opposition from the NOonA.com campaign as they released figures from the current Missouri State Highway Patrol.  Those statistics indicate the Highway Patrol was able to solve 95.8% of almost 1,700 crimes at the casinos last year alone, because of the player’s cards which Proposition A would do away with.

The Highway Patrol distributed those statistics at the State Capitol during this year’s legislative session in an effort to urge lawmakers to keep the player tracking cards.

Examples of crimes solved include: 303 crimes involving theft or stealing, 215 crimes involving ID theft, forgery and counterfeiting, 29 crimes involving sex offenses, drugs, assaults.  They also apprehended illegal aliens, bank robbers, a child sex offender, a rapist, and a murder suspect.

Evelio Silvera, spokesperson for the NOonA.com campaign said he is not surprised they paid a retired officer in attempts to refute the damaging facts being released by the current Highway Patrol.

“The casinos have spent over $15 million dollars in an attempt to buy a law that benefits their bottom line.  It comes as no surprise that they have paid retired law enforcement in a desperate attempt to undermine the damaging evidence from our current law enforcement officials.” Silvera said.

Current Highway Patrol Captain Lester Elder is the supervisor of the 100 plus troopers in the gaming enforcement division, and he recently explained in an interview that the Patrol doesn’t take official stands on election issues.  However, he was very open about the value of the player’s cards and the effects of removing the kinds of mandatory identification requirements that Proposition A removes.

“We’re going to do the most professional job we can do with the tools that we’re given,” he said. “Now taking away the Player’s Card, does that take away a great enforcement tool? Yes, it does.”

Larry Buschjost, the paid law enforcement official, has argued that good police work could solve those crimes and that the removal of the players cards would have little to no impact.

Captain Elder disagrees.  “Obviously there’s video of everything that occurs on the casino floor. Video is great, but when you couple that with the Player’s Card, not only do you have a video but now you also have a possible identity of a person. Without that possible identity via the Player’s Card then, sure, you take away a large tool for criminal enforcement.”

Related Information:
Missouri Highway Patrol  – Facts and Figures (2 pages)
http://nopropa.com/dox/hp.pdf
http://nopropa.com/dox/hp2.pdf

Yes on A coalition  – Ethics Commission Report
http://www.mec.mo.gov/Ethics/CampaignFinance/CFCommitteeInfo1.aspx?MECID=C071387&Year=2008

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