Best Gambling Guide from Gambling Headquarters

Best Gambling Guide for online gambling reviews, best gambling bonuses, gambling games, and gambling tips. Our gambling guide features

rules for baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette & slots.. Best gambling payouts and best gambling bonuses are featured in this gambling guide.

Best Gambling Guide for online gambling reviews, best gambling bonuses, gambling games, and gambling tips. Best gambling payouts and best gambling bonuses are featured in this gambling guide.

 

Gambling News by Gambling Headquarters

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Almost 30 video gambling machines seized

 

A video gambling machine raid in Ashburn Wednesday night proves successful. Police seized 28 machines at six different stores. Police say some customers were using their welfare checks to gamble on the machines. "This was something that was just taking their money and is a violation of the law. This is the first successful operation. This is not the first time we've tried something like this but it's been the first successful operation that we've had," says Chief Ben Sumner. The store owners have not been arrested and police wont say if they will be.

Partygaming looks to buy Empire gambling sites

 

Sector leader PartyGaming said on Thursday it was in talks to buy part of Empire, which confirmed it was selling gaming assets to become an investment company. "It'll include Empire's Noble Poker and Club Dice casino sites," said one industry source, adding that the deal was expected to be completed by the end of this week. PartyGaming is leading the race to consolidate the on-line gaming sector, having moved into bookmaking by buying Gamebookers in August and having held talks to buy 888. The group once towered over rivals with a market capitalisation of nearly STG5 billion ($NZ14 billion), but when the United States banned on-line gambling in November it lost over three quarters of its value and began seeking ways to recover mass. Another source said that after any deal was concluded, PartyGaming could strike a software licensing deal with Playtech, which already powers Empire's sites. It would be Playtech's first deal with PartyGaming. PartyGaming shares gained 2.5 per cent to 30½ pence by 1245 GMT on Thursday, while Empire's shares rose by as much as 7 per cent, but were later down by 2.3 per cent at 43 pence. The two companies have previously been partners, but suffered an acrimonious split last year when PartyGaming ring-fenced its own poker players from those of four affiliates including Empire, which relied on PartyGaming software. The split hit Empire hard, knocking 10 per cent off its profits, and causing it to sue PartyGaming last December. That dispute was settled in February when PartyGaming bought assets including Empire's damaged EmpirePoker business for $US250 million. Empire's Internet casino generated revenues of $US30.2 million in the first half of 2006, while its poker site generated $US8 million, but like most of its peers it has since quit the world's most lucrative gaming market, the United States. PartyGaming is planning to take on board some of Empire's marketing experts who have helped it stand out against bigger rivals in the past, sources said. Empire has been seeking to distance itself from on-line gaming since September. On Thursday, Empire said, "Following any such disposal, the company's intention is to become an investing company." "The proceeds of any disposal would be used together with the company's existing cash of approximately $US250 million to invest opportunisticly in both private and public businesses and across the small, mid and large-cap range of companies," it added.

Gambling Probe Discovers Drugs, Fireworks, Costa Rica Wire Room

 

Suffolk County, Long Island gambling probe uncovered more than just money from illegal gambling proceeds. Newsday reports that Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota stood yesterday before a table covered with more than $1 million in neat stacks of hundreds and several large bags of marijuana, and said that the seized loot may be just a hint of "three major criminal enterprises" uncovered by Suffolk investigators. "Spota announced the results of a yearlong investigation that began as a sports gambling sting, but grew to uncover multimillion-dollar marijuana and illegal fireworks trafficking rings operating in Nassau, Suffolk and Queens." 17 suspects were taken into custody on assorted gambling and conspiracy charges, and continue to search for one more - a Freeport attorney charged with helping run "hundreds of pounds" of pot from California to Long Island, according to Newsday. Among those arrested were Salvatore Gerrato, 45, of 2337 Hampton Ave., Seaford, who authorities said ran all three rings; Frank Lonigro, 33, of 745 Terry Rd. in Hauppauge, who helped run the marijuana and gambling operations, and accountant Stephen Tarnofsky, 59, who Spota said earned $6,000 a week running a Costa Rican wire room for the gambling ring. The arrests come just one month after a heavily publicized gambling raid by the Queens District Attorneys office, considered the "biggest of its kind". While both cases have connections to the offshore gambling world (call centers and servers based in both Costa Rica and St. Marten, respectively), the two organizations are widely viewed as thriving in the shadows of an otherwise legitimate billion dollar online gambling industry. These types of businesses, which thrive primarily on the use of "agents" employed within the United States to collect and pay out customers who bet via credit, are not representative of the online gambling industry as a whole. Law enforcement agencies throughout the US have orchestrated investigations into these types of operations long before the advent of the World Wide Web. But with the new technology, "criminal enterprises" have fully capitalized through the creation of websites for gambling purposes. Local US law enforcement has especially begun cracking down on "gambling call centers" that claim not to handle any gambling cash transactions but rather act as facilitators to manage local bookmaking businesses offshore, similar to that of US corporations utilizing inexpensive call center contract employees in countries such as India. Unlike the arrests involving Florida resident James Giordano and other alleged co-conspirators, the Long Island case would not require extensive jail time - 1 1/2 to 4 years maximum (Giordano is facing close to 10 years in prison and has not been able to make bail). Spota said prosecutors will convene a special grand jury "to conduct a much more extensive investigation" and likely bring more serious charges, according to Newsday. "Spota said 30 search warrants uncovered computer and paper records indicating that the criminal operations go far deeper than investigators knew. "Spota said nine tons of illegal fireworks, transported from Maryland to Long Island, were seized in May, and that the gambling ring alone took in an average of $165,000 a week in bets. During one trip, the marijuana traffickers were found on their way to California with $300,000 cash in a Winnebago recreational vehicle - much of it in a hidden "trap" compartment. "The owner of the vehicle, Jeffrey Ackerman, 43, of 9 Trapper Lane, Levittown, was charged with conspiracy. His attorney, Edward Burke Jr. of Sag Harbor, declined to comment. "Spota said during each trip, the suspects returned with marijuana worth $1 million to $1.5 million on the street. "Investigators used phone and electronic surveillance, including a first-of-a-kind in Suffolk computer wire tap to collect data from suspects' computers that uncovered "details that we've never seen before" on a sports betting operation."

Gambling duo prove there's no tax on luck

 

Brian and Terry Leblanc were once a couple of average guys, spending their days washing windows and their nights drinking beer and watching sports on television. In the late 1980s, the brothers won about $90,000 at Toronto's Woodbine race track and decided to put that money toward more sports betting. Within a few years, the Leblancs were managing a full-time betting operation from their home in Aylmer, Que., wagering up to $300,000 a week mostly on games such as Pro-Line. Their strategy was simple: bet huge amounts on events with incredibly long odds. Naturally, they lost most of the time, but, when they won, they won big. They pocketed $1.7-million three times - on two bets in 1996 and one in 1999 - and won about $5.5-million from 1996 to 1999. During that period, they wagered $52-million. It wasn't long before the Canada Revenue Agency took note. In 2000, the agency sent them a notice of reassessment for the years 1996 to 1999, saying their gambling was a business and subject to tax. The case ended up at the Tax Court of Canada and, last week, Mr. Justice Donald Bowman ruled in favour of the Leblancs. "It is true, they won but to say they won because they had a system has no basis in the evidence at all," Judge Bowman said in his ruling. "They won in spite of having no system. If one is looking for a pattern, it is that they bet massively and recklessly and in those games where they could, they bet on long shots. Certainly it meant that if they won they won big, but the converse is that if they lost, they lost big and, given the astronomical odds against winning, their chances of losing were far greater than their chances of winning." The judge said the Leblancs were compulsive gamblers, but they were not running a business and their winnings were not taxable. William Vanveen, an Ottawa lawyer who represented the brothers, said the ruling was an important victory for gamblers everywhere. "What it boiled down to was that luck is not taxable," Mr. Vanveen said Wednesday. In order to win its case, he said the CRA had to prove that the men developed a system to minimize their risk, something like a pool shark who practises by day and then takes on unsuspecting drunks by night. "The mistake CRA made was they just looked at the volume [of betting] and said all this volume amounts to a business," Mr. Vanveen said. "These [lotteries] are advertised and are accepted to be tax free. [The brothers] have a big win, they don't work after that, so what's the problem?" The lawyer representing CRA was unavailable for comment. The CRA could still appeal the ruling. They grew up in the Toronto area and had little more than high-school education when they joined their father's window-washing business in the 1980s. After winning money on the track, they decided to jump into Pro-Line, which was launched in 1992. They lost about $10,000 in their first year, but soon scored big with two $1.7-million wins in January and February of 1996. By the mid-1990s, they moved to Aylmer, near Ottawa, so they could play both Ontario and Quebec lotteries. They kept their lives simple, driving old cars and eschewing flashy jewellery. "They spent their time playing lottery games or watching sports on television," the judge noted. "They also played Ping Pong and golf and sat around the house drinking beer and eating pizza." Not everything went well. Around 1996, Terry Leblanc fell in love with a stripper named Josée Dubreuil and showered her with gifts, including an $850 engagement ring, $2,000 for breast implants and $14,000 in cash, according to court records. The relationship ended after Ms. Dubreuil stole $124,000 worth of winning lottery tickets from a jar the Leblancs used to store winning bets (the theft prompted them to buy a safe). Ms. Dubreuil was later convicted and given an 18-month suspended sentence. In 2000, they also got into a spat with dog-racing regulators in Australia who withheld nearly $200,000 the brothers won via an online bet. The Australians alleged manipulation but eventually backed down and gave the Leblancs their winnings. Brian, now 35, and Terry, 41, were not available for comment yesterday. According to Mr. Vanveen, Terry still lives in Canada while Brian has moved to Britain.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Take the buyout or stay at Ford? Either way, workers are nervous

 

DETROIT Scott Swiercz smoked a cigarette and drank a beer at The Final Score lounge in Brownstown Township, Mich., mulling the biggest gamble of his life. Ford Motor Co. had offered him and its 75,000 other U.S. hourly workers a choice of buyout packages. One option: A $100,000 lump-sum payment to sever his relationship with Ford. Taking the money would mean no job and no health care. For Swiercz, 40, who has two ex-wives and pays $157.50 each week in child support for his 14-year-old son, taking the buyout would be the equivalent of a third divorce. The math just didn't work. The cheapest health insurance he found cost $450 a month. With child support, he'd pay $1,080 each month before he paid rent or put gas in the car. Like all hourly workers, he had to make a decision by Nov. 27. He chose to stay on the production line at Ford's Woodhaven Stamping Plant, where he's weeks away from hitting 11 years seniority. He's gambling that the plant will stay open. He's gambling that, if it does, enough workers will take buyouts so Ford can avoid layoffs there. He's gambling that a worker from a closing plant who has more seniority won't bump him off the job. For hourly workers at Ford, making a decision on the buyout offers required a combination of economic calculations and soul searching. Some 38,000 Ford workers roughly half of Ford's U.S. hourly work force said they would take one of Ford's eight buyout packages. The workers who are staying are every bit as nervous as those starting over. The buyout and the future have been the dominant topic of conversation at the Woodhaven plant for six months, Swiercz said. "You talk to 25 people a day, that's what 10 people are talking about," he said. "Not, 'How are your kids?' or 'What are you doing for Christmas?' (It's) 'You taking the buyout? Everybody's worried about everything now." Hard times at Ford, General Motors Corp., DaimlerChrysler and their suppliers mean hard times for Michigan, where all three are based and where the auto industry dominates the economy. The state is on track to lose 336,000 jobs between mid-2000 and the end of 2006, the longest stretch of job losses since the Great Depression. Contracts expire between the United Auto Workers and the Big Three in 2007, and some argue union concessions are the only way the Big Three can compete with Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

UAW critics say union work rules make it nearly impossible to fire a bad worker. A 21/2-hour lunch for a union worker at one of the bars near a plant wasn't unheard of. And union workers didn't pay a penny for health insurance until last year; now a family pays only $700 a year, said Donald Grimes, an economist at the University of Michigan's Institute for Labor and Industrial Relations.

Auto workers counter that it's punishing work.

Cynthia Allison was a single mother raising a daughter, Donielle, and getting welfare before she got a job at Ford's Dearborn Truck plant. Nothing had prepared her for how physically punishing it would be.

Her first day, "I kept saying, 'The money, Cindy, the money. A future for you and for Donny.' When I got off that 4 a.m. shift, each step I took, my head said, 'Boom. Boom. Boom.'"

She's stayed at Ford 12 years. She's popped her knee, she's popped her back, she cut herself, she got hit in the head with a Mustang.

Allison, 41, who also raised one of her nieces, is taking the $100,000 buyout.

"I think I would be more afraid to stay than I am nervous to leave," she said.

Gambling duo prove there's no tax on luck

 

Brian and Terry Leblanc were once a couple of average guys, spending their days washing windows and their nights drinking beer and watching sports on TV. In the late 1980s, the brothers won about $90,000 at Toronto's Woodbine race track and decided to put that money toward more sports betting. Within a few years, the Leblancs were managing a full-time betting operation from their home in Aylmer, Que., wagering up to $300,000 a week mostly on games such as Pro-Line. Their strategy was simple: bet huge amounts on events with incredibly long odds. Naturally, they lost most of the time, but, when they won, they won big. They pocketed $1.7-million three times -- on two bets in 1996 and one in 1999 -- and won about $5.5-million from 1996 to 1999. During that period, they wagered $52-million. It wasn't long before the Canada Revenue Agency took note. In 2000, the agency sent them a notice of reassessment for the years 1996 to 1999, saying their gambling was a business and subject to tax. The case ended up at the Tax Court of Canada and, last week, Mr. Justice Donald Bowman ruled in favour of the Leblancs. "It is true, they won but to say they won because they had a system has no basis in the evidence at all," Judge Bowman said in his ruling. "They won in spite of having no system. If one is looking for a pattern, it is that they bet massively and recklessly and in those games where they could, they bet on long shots. Certainly it meant that if they won they won big, but the converse is that if they lost, they lost big and, given the astronomical odds against winning, their chances of losing were far greater than their chances of winning." The judge said the Leblancs were compulsive gamblers, but they were not running a business and their winnings were not taxable. William Vanveen, an Ottawa lawyer who represented the brothers, said the ruling was an important victory for gamblers everywhere.

"What it boiled down to was that luck is not taxable," Mr. Vanveen said yesterday.

In order to win its case, he said the CRA had to prove that the men developed a system to minimize their risk, something like a pool shark who practises by day and then takes on unsuspecting drunks by night.

"The mistake CRA made was they just looked at the volume [of betting] and said all this volume amounts to a business," Mr. Vanveen said. "These [lotteries] are advertised and are accepted to be tax free. [The brothers] have a big win, they don't work after that, so what's the problem?"

The lawyer representing CRA was unavailable for comment. The CRA could still appeal the ruling.

As Judge Bowman noted, the Leblancs led unusual lives.

They grew up in the Toronto area and had little more than high-school education when they joined their father's window-washing business in the 1980s. After winning money on the track, they decided to jump into Pro-Line, which was launched in 1992. They lost about $10,000 in their first year, but soon scored big with two $1.7-million wins in January and February of 1996. By the mid-1990s, they moved to Aylmer, near Ottawa, so they could play both Ontario and Quebec lotteries. They kept their lives simple, driving old cars and eschewing flashy jewellery.

"They spent their time playing lottery games or watching sports on television," the judge noted. "They also played Ping Pong and golf and sat around the house drinking beer and eating pizza."

Not everything went well. Around 1996, Terry Leblanc fell in love with a stripper named Josée Dubreuil and showered her with gifts, including an $850 engagement ring, $2,000 for breast implants and $14,000 in cash, according to court records. The relationship ended after Ms. Dubreuil stole $124,000 worth of winning lottery tickets from a jar the Leblancs used to store winning bets (the theft prompted them to buy a safe). Ms. Dubreuil was later convicted and given an 18-month suspended sentence.

In 2000, they also got into a spat with dog-racing regulators in Australia who withheld nearly $200,000 the brothers won via an online bet. The Australians alleged manipulation but eventually backed down and gave the Leblancs their winnings.

Brian, now 35, and Terry, 41, were not available for comment yesterday. According to Mr. Vanveen, Terry still lives in Canada while Brian has moved to Britain.

Both are still gambling, he said. "Not like they were before."

Compact with Spokane Tribe paves way for video gambling

 

The hottest gambling action in Washington would get even hotter under a new compact proposed between the state and the Spokane Tribe of Indians. Under the deal, to be announced at a news conference in Seattle today, the tribe would be the first in the state to legally operate cash-operated, single-push-button video-gambling machines that have been popular cash cows elsewhere but have been banned in Washington. For the Spokanes, the compact would end 15 years of litigation over the tribe's gambling operations, which have been running without a formal compact. And that would help the tribe expand to better compete with neighboring tribes. "This is a real good day for the tribe," said Gerald Nicodemus, secretary of the Spokane tribal business council. It may benefit other tribes, which could also make a play for the new machines, potentially triggering an explosion in the video-slot business statewide. Washington's tribal casinos are generating about $1.2 billion a year, or 65 percent of all annual gambling revenue, using the older, more cumbersome machines that take paper tickets instead of cash. That's one reason the proposal has some powerful detractors, such as state Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Seattle, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee and sits on the State Gambling Commission that will vote on the compact. Wednesday she called the proposal "really offensive." "This is way beyond what the public wants to swallow," Prentice said. "I can't imagine how we can possibly approve this."

Friday, December 29, 2006

Gambling lessons

 

Although youth appears to be in charge at both Allegheny County and Pittsburgh city government levels, the "Old Boys' Network" is alive and well -- along with some poor math skills. Let's revisit some key points related to the awarding of Pittsburgh's slots license: Why did the state award a slots license for $50 million that many gaming experts agreed would fetch between $300 million and $500 million? I have to suspect that $250 million to $450 million would have built a nice arena and left several million for developing the lower Hill District. Because of the political allies that Forest City engaged for its Station Square bid and its ties to our political leaders, neither County Executive Dan Onorato nor Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (who personally favored the Isle of Capri casino proposal) had the wherewithal to support the Capri bid for fear of upsetting their political friends. They also lacked the foresight to strategically negotiate Plan B. While Don Barden's bid and Majestic Star's North Shore location may ultimately appear to be the best plan for the region, does anyone at the county and city understand the time value of money? The sum of $290 million today is worth a whole lot more than $7.5 million a year over 30 years. If Isle of Capri could afford to offer $290 million to build an arena, did anyone think that asking the other two casino companies for $7.5 million a year over 30 years might be too low? Now that the license has been awarded, Barden is under no pressure to increase his contribution. Maybe we should have asked before the license was awarded? Now Dan and Luke are upset that the Pens will not return their phone calls. THEY are willing to negotiate. Negotiate with whose money? If the original intent was to use slots money to reduce property taxes, I am glad to hear that my relief is now being reduced because our visionary leaders cannot add.

Village upholds old gambling rule

 

A small village in Lishui, Zhejiang Province, has been following a special rule since 1843 anyone in the village who wants to gamble must invite all the local families for a meat-filled meal. The rule was established by the ancestors of the village's Xie family during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and has been duly followed since. Senior residents read the rule to villagers on December 10 every year. According to one senior resident, the rule was set up in the 19th century because the villagers had become impoverished through gambling. Inviting all the other families to eat a meal of meat would have cost any gambler dearly and was considered a hefty punishment.

Top 5 Gambling Stocks for 2007

 

In this column, we'll unleash the best gambling stocks in 2007 and give you the 5 companies we believe will help your portfolio. Each stock is evaluated and assessed based on a variety of factors, including management philosophy, growth opportunity, risk and price per share. We'll give you company background, contact information, stock and ticker symbols, Web site addresses, as well as insider tips on reasons to purchase, possible shortcomings, and a snapshot of historical financial figures. 1. Churchill Downs Current Price >> $40.65 With the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in October 2006, the United States horseracing industry stands to benefit the most. There is no other company better positioned than Churchill Downs. Over the past 5 years, the company has traded in a tight range between $35-$45 per share. The new law blocking financial transactions to offshore gambling companies stands to benefit the racing and pari-mutuel companies. We believe Churchill is poised to break out of the 5 year trading range. Churchill Downs 2007 expectation: $54.50 2. Las Vegas Sands Current Price >> $89.03 Sands is the largest gambling company in the world, with a total outstanding market cap of around $31 billion dollars. They own and operate The Venetian, The Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, and The Sands Macao Casino in Macao, China. The Company is also in the process of developing additional casino resorts and properties in Las Vegas and Macao, including The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino, which will be connected with The Venetian. There is no other gambling company that possesses the shear cash as Sands. Their return on investment (ROI) in Macau has been unbelievable. We expect them to continue their dominance throughout 2007. Las Vegas Sands 2007 expectation: $112.80 3. Penn National Gaming Current Price >> $41.59 Penn is probably the most diversified gambling company in the industry. They own and operate top-notch casinos in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Ontario and West Virginia. Penn National Gaming also owns 1 racetrack and 6 OTWs in Pennsylvania, a racetrack in Ohio, a racetrack in West Virginia and a racetrack in Maine, and through a joint venture, owns 50% of a racetrack in New Jersey. This Pennsylvania based gambling outfit has all the makings of an industry leader. We expect continued growth in 2007 and additional real property investment for the company. Penn National Gaming 2007 expectation: $51.29 4. Harrah's Entertainment Current Price >> $82.79 What would the industry be without Harrah's? They are the flashiest casino-entertainment provider in the world, owning 39 gambling casinos in the USA. They operate gambling casinos primarily under the Harrah's, Caesars and Horseshoe brand names, and include 20 land-based gambling casinos, 11 riverboat or dockside casinos, 4 casinos on Indian reservations, 2 casinos on cruise ships, a combination greyhound-racing facility and casino, and a combination thoroughbred racetrack and casino. The Company's facilities have an aggregate of approximately three million square feet of gaming space and 40,000 hotel rooms. They're strategic acquisitions around the world make them a viable candidate for 2007. We expect a 10-15% growth rate from the company next year. Harrah's Entertainment 2007 expectation: $95.00 5. Isle of Capri Casinos Current Price >> $26.77 We feel the most underpriced stock in the group is Isle of Capri. They have consistently proven themselves year-in and year-out. At just under $30 dollars per share, ISLE is a bargain. They are a developer, owner and operator of branded gaming facilities and related lodging and entertainment facilities in markets throughout the United States and internationally. Isle of Capri Casinos wholly owns and operates a pari-mutuel harness racing facility in Pompano Beach, Florida, a location with double and possibly triple digit growth rates for 2007. The company is based out of St. Louis Missouri and manages casinos all across the US and in the Bahamas. They're CEO, Bernard Goldstein, is considered one of the most intelligent executes in the entire industry. Isle of Capri Casinos 2007 expectation: $33.60

Gambling boss selling firm to rival company

 

Noam Lanir, owner of the Empire Online, will sell his remaining shares in the gambling company to rival PartyGaming for USD 40 million. A year and a half after the company was put up on the London Stock Exchange, Lanir seems to be heading out of the gambling business. Lanir will use revenues from the sale of Empire, which total USD 300 million, to invest in real estate. The sale deal with PartyGambling, the world's largest operator of gambling Web sites, is expected to be finalized by the end of the week. Experts said Lanir's decision is a signal that the two remaining Israeli online gambling companies traded on the London Stock Exchange, 888.com and Playtech, will be selling their shares in the future over US law banning online gambling. The US Senate approved a the law on September 29, making it illegal for US banks, credit card and companies to make transactions carried out in the US to online gambling companies. Empire was worth USD 928 million when first traded in London, but its shared fell significantly in recent months. The company is estimated at USD 244 million today after its shares fell by 80 percent.

Buyouts dominate holiday talk at Ford

 

Ford Motor Co. had offered him and its 75,000 other U.S. hourly workers a choice of buyout packages. One option: A $100,000 lump-sum payment to walk away forever. No job and no health care. For hourly workers at Ford, making a decision on the buyout offers required a combination of economic calculations and soul searching. For Swiercz, 40, who has two ex-wives and pays $157.50 each week in child support for his 14-year-old son, taking the buyout would be the equivalent of a third divorce. The math just didn't work: The cheapest health insurance he found cost $450 a month. With child support, he'd pay $1,080 each month before he paid rent or put gas in the car. He chose to stay on the production line at Ford's Woodhaven Stamping Plant. The decision feels "100 percent" like a gamble, he said. He's gambling that the plant will stay open. He's gambling that, if it does, enough workers will take buyouts so Ford can avoid layoffs there. He's gambling that a worker from a closing plant who has more seniority won't bump him off the job. "A lot of people I talk to say, 'It's just like craps: It's a roll of the dice,' " he said. Some 38,000 Ford workers -- roughly half of Ford's U.S. hourly work force -- said they would take one of Ford's eight buyout packages. The last will be gone by fall. Workers who are staying are every bit as nervous as those starting over. The Woodhaven plant still runs three shifts. Workers there got good news the Friday before Christmas that it will stay open. The buyout and the future have been the dominant topic of conversation there for six months, Swiercz said. "You talk to 25 people a day, that's what 10 people are talking about," he said. "Not, 'How are your kids?' or 'What are you doing for Christmas?' (It's) 'You taking the buyout?' "Everybody's worried about everything now," Swiercz said. Auto workers, who can make $60,000 a year without overtime, and more than $100,000 with it, "know they're never going to make this kind of money again," said Denise Brooks, who has worked for 131/2 years at the Brownstown Ford plant. Cynthia Allison was a single mother raising a daughter, Donielle, and getting welfare before she got a job at Ford's Dearborn Truck plant. Nothing had prepared her for how physically punishing it would be. Her first day, "I kept saying, 'The money, Cindy, the money. A future for you and for Donny.' When I got off that 4 a.m. shift, each step I took, my head said, 'Boom. Boom. Boom.' " Allison is taking the $100,000 buyout and planning a future without her $27 an hour salary. She's moved from a $1,200-a month apartment in suburban Southfield to a $700 apartment in Detroit. She has no home phone, no cable, she's stopped shopping for everything but necessities, she no longer eats at restaurants and she's bartending nights. She's not bitter, saying: "Thank you. Thank you, Ford, for helping me raise my daughters, making it possible as a single parent. I don't want them to think I didn't appreciate the time. Without them, I couldn't have done a lot of the things I did for my daughters, or my family."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tide, Cowboys handling gambling concern differently

 

Alabama football players in town for the Independence Bowl didn't waste time getting into one of the prime attractions in Shreveport: casinos. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has prohibited his team from visiting the gambling halls. But The Oklahoman newspaper reported Tuesday that some Crimson Tide players spent Christmas Eve in casinos after arriving for the game, which will be played Thursday afternoon. The newspaper said Alabama players age 21 and older were seen ordering alcoholic drinks and betting at blackjack, roulette and poker tables. Alabama's interim coach, Joe Kines, advised his players not to waste their money but didn't prohibit them from visiting casinos. "We set up a box at the door and told our players to drop their money in and we'd give it back (after the bowl game)," Kines said. Informed that several Alabama players were seen with a stack of chips, a few turning a profit at the Horseshoe Casino, Kines smiled: "I didn't hear that," Kines said. "Three-fourths of our team is under 21 which shows you how young this team is." Only about one-third of Oklahoma State's 90 or so players who made the bowl trip are 21 or older, which is the legal age for gambling in Louisiana. State law mandates two days in jail and a $500 fine for minors who try to visit a casino. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy prohibited his players from visiting casinos. "If our guys want to play poker or gamble, they have the rest of their lives to do that," Gundy said. "I don't have anything against it. But they're still on our time. "Our opinion is this isn't a professional team. They're representing a university and they're students. We're down here to enjoy each other and win a football game."

Oklahoma State linebacker Rodrick Johnson said he would resist the temptation of sneaking out to a casino.

"All the guys were pumped because we knew casinos were here, and then they told us we weren't allowed to go," Johnson said. "I guess it's for the best. But I'd love to go to the casino one day and play a little poker. Blackjack is my game."

Israeli Police Crackdown Could Have Impact Worldwide

 

Israeli police have begun to crack down on internet gambling operators, including those who run backgammon websites. Some of the more prominent online gambling firms are run by Israelis including PokerStars, 888.com and Titan Poker. While the majority of Israeli owned online gambling businesses are based out of places like Gibraltar and The Isle of Man (similar to US businessmen running internet gambling companies from Costa Rica and Antigua), many of these websites contract employees within Israel for marketing purposes. According to OnlineCasinoNews.com, reports suggested that Major General Yohanan Danino, head of the Police Investigations and Intelligence Unit, had notified Interlogic, which operates the Play 65 internet site, that both the police and the attorney general consider the operation of a gambling site for backgammon games a criminal offence. The official warned the company that it must cease to allow players on the site to gamble real money on the results of the game, even though the game of backgammon itself, or gambling with virtual money, is not prohibited.

Sheriff's dealings outlined in papers filed in gambling case

 

Documents filed in a criminal gambling case in Grady County indicate that Sheriff Kieran McMullen and his wife paid more than $10,000 to the Elks Lodge during the year preceding a September gambling raid. Helen McMullen also received numerous payments ranging from $50 to $550 for winning on the lodge's electronic gambling machines, records indicate. The documents are among nearly 600 pages of discovery filed last week by District Attorney Bret Burns. Attorneys for the McMullens and seven other law enforcement officers facing criminal charges also received downloadable hard drives showing 20 hours of video shot inside the lodge during a yearlong undercover investigation. Kieran McMullen, the sheriff since 2003, faces felony charges of conspiracy, conducting illegal gambling and engaging in illegal gambling as a peace officer, along with two misdemeanors. The felonies carry punishment of up to 10 years in prison upon conviction. Facing the same charges are his wife, Helen, 51, who was a Chickasha police lieutenant until her firing earlier this month; sheriff's deputy Robert Clinton Cacy, 57; and Jerry Don Tyler, 51, who retired as a Chickasha police officer after his indictment. Three Grady County deputies face charges of engaging in illegal gambling, a felony, and neglect of duty, a misdemeanor. A fourth faces only the misdemeanor neglect of duty charge. Earlier this month, a judge denied a defense motion to remove Burns from the case. The defendants and their attorneys have alleged Burns has a long-standing feud with Kieran McMullen, 57, and that he frequented the Elks Lodge and sometimes participated in the lodge's lottery drawings. The judge agreed to consolidate the preliminary hearings for the McMullens, Cacy and Tyler. All face hearings Jan. 5. The others' preliminary hearing will be Jan. 4. Burns has claimed that Sheriff McMullen tipped off lodge members of an impending inspection after an Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission agent notified him that he was in Chickasha.

Lodge secretary Don Stephens conceded in a Sept. 12 interview that the sheriff suggested turning off the machines before the inspection.

"Nothing was said like ABLE's coming...He said, uh, I think that uh, you know, we need to make sure that everything is copasetic and that might include um, just to be on the safe side, shut down the machine room," Stephens was quoted as saying.

Stephens, a state Department of Human Services employee, estimated the machines produce $4,000 to $6,000 per month in revenue. The sheriff, who is an Elks Lodge trustee, told investigators the lodge takes in $25,000 to $30,000 per month from a membership of about 360 people.

Contacted Friday, Kieran McMullen said, "We haven't done anything wrong. The truth will come out." He declined further comment, citing advice from his attorney.

The sheriff told investigators he never has played the lodge's electronic games. Several other lodge officials backed that claim.

Bank records filed in the case show Kieran and Helen McMullen wrote checks totaling $10,453 between August 2005 and July. In many instances, Helen McMullen wrote multiple checks of $100 on the same night, records show.

The court discovery also includes copies of several dozen slips for cash the lodge paid out to winning gamblers in late June and July. It includes 14 payouts totaling $3,160 to Helen McMullen.

Legislation would raise RI minimum gambling age

 

A new bill being introduced in the General Assembly next week would raise Rhode Island's minimum gambling age from 18 to 21. The bill is being introduced by Deborah Fellela, a Johnston Democrat who was recently elected to her first term. She says the legislation is aimed at helping teenagers steer clear of gambling addiction and preventing them from wasting their money. The bill would raise the minimum age required to gamble in the state's licensed betting facilities, to buy state lottery tickets, and to bet at racetracks or play Keno. Similar legislation failed when it was introduced in the House in 2002.

Las Vegas Sands move in the online gambling market is a positive sign

 

Mitch Garber, Chief Executive of PartyGaming, said he was unfazed by the threat of Las Vegas casino operators stepping into the online gambling market in Europe. "It's a very positive sign for our business and should be for our stock," he said. Garber also commented on PartyGaming's appetite for mergers and acquisitions. "We will continue to pursue deals that are accretive and can add either management or product expertise to any of our operational lines, and we will be pushing further into new territories as a main and key objective of M & A and in our organic business plan," he said. Dresdner Kleinwort, PartyGaming's company broker, reduced the share price target from 56p to 50p, while Swiss broker UBS upgraded its advice on the online poker operator to 'neutral' from 'reduce'.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Holidays provide opportunity for gambling

 

While the holidays are supposed to be a festive time, they can often be problematic for people who have a gambling addiction, researchers say. "People gamble when they have time on their hands," said James Whelan, an associate professor and psychologist who researches and treats problem gambling at the University of Memphis. Though no known statistics link gambling to the holidays, Whelan's colleague Andrew Meyers, said "people often use vacation time to focus on gambling." Whelan and Meyers founded The Institute for Gambling Education and Research in the University of Memphis psychology department in 1998. The program includes The Gambling Clinic, which offers five-session treatment for problem gamblers for $150 with a promise of $75 back if the patient returns in six months for a follow-up. The clinic, which is one of two research-based clinics in the country, has treated more than 300 gamblers. Whelan said the clinic often sees an increase in business after the holidays because "breaking bad habits is usually a priority for people following the New Year." To help their patients do that, the researchers say they use a method similar to one used in dieting. "The assumption is that people can change and that they canregulate behaviors," Whelan said. "They can learn to take control of their lives." Whether it's gambling or another type of addiction, Whelan has outlined some strategies for taking control. One of them, he said, involves looking for alternatives to the addiction. For example, he told the story of a man who gambled while his wife was away. To kill the urge, Whelan said the man turned his attention to reading books because "this guy could read and be entertained." "Addictions can be impossible to replace, but not impossible to find alternatives to," Whelan said. New research from the University of Connecticut Health Center inFarmington found that people who gamble are more likely to develop health problems, such as heart and liver disease. The study surveyed 43,000 Americans and found that people who gamble at least five times a year showed higher rates of liver disease, high blood pressure, and high heart rate and chest pain caused by blocked arteries. It also found that gamblers had increased rates of obesity and alcoholism and were more likely to smoke.

Happy Holidays To All Online Gambling Fans

 

Online Gambling Insider wishes everyone a very happy and prosperous festive season. May all your dreams come true, may the reels stop in the right places, the cards fall right and the right teams win when you want them to....Merry Christmas and plain old happy holidays from all of us here at Online Gambling Insider! We will soon announce our "Best of 2006", so stay tuned! In the meantime if you haven't played there, we recommend you click here to visit the All Slots Casino website, or read our All Slots Casino Review.

Pro-gambling legislation expected to be a loser again in Austin

 

Despite a lot of gambling buzz around the Capitol, it's probably safe to bet that the latest effort to give Texans more opportunities to lose their money closer to home will fail. But the gamblers have friends in high places, enough friends to make some gambling opponents nervous and the upcoming legislative maneuvering interesting to watch. The Republican majority in the Texas House has been a huge obstacle to gambling proposals in recent years because the GOP officially opposes gambling. Add to that some Democratic lawmakers who don't like it either, and a two-thirds vote for the necessary constitutional amendment has been out of reach. Speaker Tom Craddick's position on the latest push to either legalize video slot machines at racetracks or establish wide-open casino gambling in Texas (the gamblers aren't united on their goal yet) isn't clear. But the speaker's chief of staff, Nancy Fisher, is a former lobbyist for dog track owners, and her sister, Nora Del Bosque, is a lobbyist for Multimedia Games Inc., a major provider of gaming devices. Bill Messer, one of Craddick's closest friends in the lobby, also has represented dog track owners. Do those associations mean Craddick (if he survives a challenge to his speakership) will actively promote gambling legislation? Not necessarily. Are they enough to trouble gambling opponents? You bet, particularly since the speaker also is suggesting that he is at least open to more gambling. "I have always believed that the issue is an important one that should get thorough review and debate, so that all Texans can get a clear picture of exactly what is at stake," he said in a statement issued through his office. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst "personally opposes the expansion of gambling in Texas," said spokesman Rich Parsons. Less clear, however, is whether Dewhurst would attempt to block a gambling vote in the Senate. Gov. Rick Perry, who angered fellow Republicans by endorsing video slot machines at racetracks as part of an unsuccessful school funding proposal in 2004, now opposes expanded gambling. "I think that with a record budget surplus looming, that some say will be $15 billion or more, the governor is going to be hard-pressed to entertain ideas about a massive new revenue source," spokesman Robert Black said. It is interesting to note, though, that retiring state Sen. Ken Armbrister, D-Victoria, who will be the governor's new chief lobbyist with the Legislature, was a strong proponent of expanded gambling as a lawmaker. And Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff, will be a major force in the pro-gambling push as a lobbyist for Sam Houston Race Park, the horse track in Houston. But Perry, not Armbrister, will set the governor's legislative priorities, Black noted. And he dismissed the notion that Toomey will have any influence with Perry on gambling. "Just because a particular individual who has known the governor for a long time proposes an idea doesn't mean the governor is going to go along with it," Black said.

In previous unsuccessful efforts, advocates promoted expanded gambling as a major source for new education funding. But that horse has been ridden to death, mainly because the Texas Lottery never has lived up to the public's expectations that it was going to forever put the public schools on Easy Street.

This time, gamblers are proposing the state spend a huge chunk (as much as $2 billion a year) of new gambling revenue on expanded health care for the poor and maybe to help young people with college tuition payments.

Democratic Rep. Garnet Coleman, whose inner-city Houston residents are some of the poorest people in Texas, is a strong advocate for more health care, but he isn't buying the pitch.

More gambling, he said, would make "a few people very, very rich, and they're not going to be my constituents."

High stakes when gambling on life insurance

 

Penny Mann was just 15 years old when her father died in an automobile accident. William Tejes, 45, was the manager of the water-treatment plant in South Beloit, Ill., and a school board member. He was on his way to Chicago for work when he lost control of his truck on an unsealed, wet county road and hit a tree. In addition to daughter Penny, Tejes left behind a wife and a son in college. But he also left behind a good life insurance policy, one that carried the stricken family financially. "We could just grieve him and not ... worry about the financial stuff," Mann said. "I knew [my dad] had done what he needed to get done." But insurance agents say many Americans put off buying life insurance. Nearly a third have no coverage at all, according to a survey by LIMRA International, an industry trade group. It's not surprising why: Few people are eager to consider their own mortality. Cost is another reason why many people avoid buying an individual policy. Wage earners need insurance most when their families are young, precisely the time when they're most strapped, said Don Thompson, a Prudential Financial agent who worked with the Tejes family. That's why term insurance is so popular. A $500,000 policy for a young, healthy nonsmoker can cost less than $300 a year. Term insurance allows level payments for the length of the contract, usually 10, 20 or 30 years. The drawback is, once the term is up, there is no more insurance. Although buying term young keeps the premiums low, trying to get a new term policy in middle age can be much more expensive, especially if health problems such as diabetes or heart disease have cropped up.

Permanent insurance avoids those problems, but it costs a lot more. Several different varieties -- whole, universal and variable life -- all use premiums to build a cash value that can be borrowed. Different types provide choices such as flexible premiums, investment options and guaranteed returns.

After her experience as a teenager, Mann is a big believer in life insurance. She has a $100,000 term policy that she bought with her husband when they got married.

The couple are divorced, but her ex-husband became diabetic and would now find it difficult to get an affordable policy, Thompson said.

Gambling Zone in Primorje to Appear in 2009

 

State Duma adopted in the final reading the law on the organization of four gambling zones in Russia, one of which will be organized in Primorje. Pursuant to the law, the organization of gambling outlets outside such zones is prohibited. In Primorje, the borders of the zone will be set by the government in accordance with the proposal of the territorial administration. The activities of gambling outlets outside the zones will be terminated starting from July 1, 2009.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Don't be in a huge hurry to privatize Hoosier Lottery

 

It is hard to fault Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels for wanting to improve funding for higher education. Whether privatizing the Hoosier Lottery is the way to accomplish that, however, remains to be seen. It's a complicated proposal. Daniels wants to franchise the lottery for a fixed term. The contractor would be licensed and regulated, just like casinos and racetracks, and would continue current payment levels to the state. In addition, the state would seek an up-front payment and a percentage of the operator's revenue above a certain amount. The current funding levels for police, fire and teachers' pensions as well as motor vehicle excise tax replacement and state and local capital projects would continue. Sixty percent of the amount paid up front would be placed in a permanent endowment, with the interest paying for scholarships that could be forgiven if the student stays in Indiana for three years after graduation. Of course, there are many other strings attached to the scholarships. The remaining 40 percent would be used to attract outstanding faculty to public colleges and universities in the state. Attracting top talent takes money. The plan has distinct benefits, including improving the state's lagging educational attainment level, improving the quality of education and keeping the brightest high school graduates in Indiana. However, there are many questions that need to be asked. The state's funding for higher education hasn't increased at the robust level it ideally should. But the universities and colleges have rapidly increased tuition and fees, citing reasons like the need to attract top talent. With this boost from the privatization of the Hoosier Lottery, what guarantees will be made by the universities' trustees to hold tuition increases low and for how long? Without a guarantee, there's no way to know college costs will be controlled to help students ineligible for the scholarships. And what does this outsourcing proposal mean for controlling the expansion of gambling in Indiana? While the lottery would still be regulated by the state, a pause to reflect on the state's already high reliance on gambling as a revenue source is worthwhile. To what extent would additional products and perhaps marketing efforts be regulated?

What would be the effect on the casino industry? What would be the effect on society?

Why would a private company be able to operate the Hoosier Lottery more efficiently than the state? And if it cannot, and if a gambling expansion is not in the offing, why would privatization make sense?

There are many other questions that need to be addressed. That cannot easily happen if the lottery privatization is rushed through the General Assembly at the same hectic pace as the Indiana Toll Road privatization.

Police break up major gambling ring, seize over $400,000

 

After putting the gang under watch for a period, the police, assisted by forces from the central police department, moved in with 100 officers, simultaneously raiding 13 premises. They caught bookies taking billions of dong in bets. The 14 offenders confessed they were bookies working for a major gang with close connections with betting firms abroad. The police said some of the arrested men were skilled at using computers and were in charge of classifying and summing up bets before sending them abroad. The gang's clients were from the city and nearby provinces. The 13 offices in districts 10, Binh Thanh, Phu Nhuan, and Thu Duc were all well-equipped with high-speed Internet, LCD monitors, and laptops, the police said. They are continuing with their investigations.

Video Gambling Is Making Comeback

 

Inside this arcade, with its dim lights and cigarette smoke, 70 game machines are running non-stop with their brilliant screens and electronic sounds. There are 15 customers in the arcade. However, each customer is using four, five machines at a time, so none of the machines are idle. Across a two-lane road, not even 20 meters away, is a police box that belongs to the public safety division of a police station nearby in charge of gambling arcade regulation duties. After the "Sea Story" sensation this June, gambling arcades disappeared following the nationwide extensive crackdown drive by the prosecution and the police. However, they are back now, and they are thriving. As gambling arcades begin to make their comeback, people who had lost large sums of money on games such as Sea Story are again gathering at the arcades, hoping to win back what they lost. Consequently, the arcade owners are doing extremely well to the point that there aren't enough machines to go around. Most arcades do not have signboards outside and have covered their windows with black vinyl so that the inside cannot be seen. At another arcade around the same time in Donam-dong, Seongbuk-gu, a female employee is explaining in detail to the customers about various functions such as "foreshadowing" or "successive hits." "If you see a white diamond in the middle, you get the highest score, and if the screen becomes dark with sounds like water bubbles popping, it's a "foreshadowing" of a big score that is soon to come. We have "successive hits" as well. It's really not that different from Sea Story." "Foreshadowing" and "successive hits" are standards for judging whether or not the game is a gambling game, and are subject to regulation. The games that have become widely popular after the Sea Story incident are "Diamond" and "Iceland Adventure." The titles and screens are slightly different but the game process is nearly identical to Sea Story. Illegal exchanges of gift certificates used as prizes into cash are also still going on. At an arcade near Yeongdeungpo Station, a small change booth is located right next to the entrance of the arcade. There, gift certificates with a face value of 5,000 won were being exchanged for 4,500 won in cash.

Most of the people who frequent these arcades are small business owners in their 30s to 50s, and people who do manual labor. A few matrons in their 40s or 50s could also be seen. Most of them said, "I've come to win back the money I lost playing Sea Story."

A man we met in an arcade in Bongcheon-dong, Gwanak-gu, who said he was in his 40s and did manual labor, said, "I lost 10 million won playing Sea Story. I've come back in hopes of winning back my capital."

Following the recent reopening of such gambling arcades, the prosecution and police have decided to extend the crackdown period, which had been scheduled to end by December 31, until April 28, 2007, when the gift certificate system will be abolished.

Gulf Coast Casinos Draw Holiday Gamblers

 

The only sign of Christmas on the casino floor is the poker dealer in the Santa hat, and Darren White is glad for that: the subcontractor from Georgia didn't come here to be reminded of the holidays, or anything, for that matter, outside these flashy, noisy walls. He came for the distraction. And Boomtown Casino in suburban New Orleans, like other casinos along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi, is glad to provide it. Casinos, some of which emerged from last year's damaging hurricanes as bigger, better properties, are trying a range of tactics not only to draw players in _ and make them feel at ease _ but also to get an edge in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Heading into what is traditionally one of industry's busiest weeks, halls are decked with decorations, both tasteful and gaudy, holiday music is in rotation and casinos are trumpeting traditional giveaways, dance parties and invitation-only soirees to bring in players. "It's been a hell of a year," Boomtown's general manager, Dave Williams, said in an interview at the casino in Harvey, La. This time last year, many of the casinos, particularly in Mississippi, had not yet reopened. Those that had, like Boomtown, had all the business they could handle: construction workers here for the post-hurricane reconstruction played Christmas Day, and folks in line waited, six-wide, to board the riverboat on New Year's Eve, Williams said. Riverboat gambling revenue in Louisiana hit a post-Katrina peak last December of $177.3 million, up from $124.7 million in December 2004, said Wade Duty, executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association. Since then, and as more casinos have come back online, revenues have dipped nearer to pre-storm levels, he said. Meanwhile in Mississippi, where there's an all-out effort to market Gulf Coast casinos with hotels and other amenities as tourist destinations, gross revenue is seemingly on pace to top last year, in spite of dips recorded this fall by that state's tax commission. There are also two fewer casinos open now on the Gulf Coast than before the hurricanes, 10 versus 12, said Becky Clark, a staff officer with the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Casino operators are confident heading into 2007, when further industry expansion is set to help fill what some managers see as an almost insatiable appetite for the kind of escapism _ from gambling and shopping to pampering _ casinos are peddling. Boomtown is eyeing both a new gambling boat and hotel as part of its proposed, $145 million expansion. One more casino also is set to open on Mississippi's Gulf Coast sometime next year, Clark said. Casinos hope to draw in crowds this coming week, building from low-key Christmas buffet specials to pull-the-stops New Year's parties, meant as much to hail the industry's rebirth as to draw in new customers with music and drinks and to-be-announced promotions. Some casino hotels are completely booked leading to New Year's Day.

"New Year's Eve sets the tone for your property," said Kerry Andersen, a spokeswoman for southwest Louisiana's L'Auberge Du Lac casino, near the Texas border.

This year, the offerings will include, among other things, an invitation-only show with The Temptations and The Four Tops and a dinner. The night tends to be the casino's biggest of the year, she said.

"You want to have the Golden Ticket," Andersen said, "the party everyone wants to be at."

That's true nationwide, said Andy Holtmann, editor of the Casino Journal, a trade publication. "For a lot of casinos, it's kind of a necessity," he said of a New Year's Eve bash. "You have to take some marketing risks here," and aim to set the casino apart from the competition, he said.

Some Gulf Coast casinos are preparing for an influx of customers as early as Christmas Eve, a traditionally quiet day, and certainly by Christmas Day. Many places are decorated, if not on the playing floor, where Christmas lights would almost surely be dimmed by the flashing lights of slot machines anyway. Visitors to Boomtown are greeted by faux alligators pulling Santa and his sleigh.

For many families, cooped up in close quarters such as a federally issued trailers, "It's almost like a savior thing," said Beverly Martin, executive director of the Mississippi Casino Operators Association. "'The casino's open, let's go down there, because there's a limit on what we can do here.'"

Higher tax for gambling activities in Bulgaria

 

That daily game of toto might just become 10 per cent more expensive. Organiser of chance events, toto, lotto and betting games will pay a 10 per cent income tax on the outcome of sport competitions and chance events, Bulgaria's Parliament resolved, giving final approval to the new Corporate Income Tax Act. The National Assembly budget and finance committee proposed that the rate of this tax be eight per cent, but the Cabinet, which moved the bill, proposed a 10 per cent tax rate for all gambling activities, Bulgarian news agency BTA reported on December 18. Deputy Finance Minister Georgi Kadiev told Parliament that about 25 million leva were collected in income tax from gambling organisers in 2005. A reduction of the tax rate to eight per cent for all types of gambling activities would lead to a 2.5 million leva loss for the exchequer, while a 10 per cent rate for all such activities would result in an extra budget revenue of 5.5 million leva, two million of which would come from the Bulgarian sport totalisator, leaving a net revenue of 3.5 million leva, Kadiev said. The rate of tax on income from organised lotteries, raffles, bingo and keno games will be 12 per cent, the MPs resolved. The same rate will apply to income from organised games of chance where the value of the bet consists of an increased charge for a telephone or other telecommunications link. Parliament also set taxes on organised games of chance played on gambling devices. Meanwhile, an entirely new Value Added Tax (VAT) Act and regulations for its application were voted on in view of Bulgaria's European Union membership. The VAT rate remains 20 per cent and will apply to all realised goods and services on Bulgaria's territory, excluding the tax-exempt ones. After Bulgaria's EU accession, the mandatory threshold for VAT registration will stay unchanged at 50 000 leva. Some of the existing provisions in the current VAT Act are also present in the newly adopted law. New names have been introduced for many of the concepts, such as: place of delivery, tax event, internal delivery in the community and internal acquisition within the community.

Bulgarians are already talking about taxable deals and zero-rate taxable deals. VAT shall be charged on almost all goods and services that are bought and sold within the EU.

However, a number of countries have accepted, in addition to the standard VAT rate, a reduced tax for more sensitive groups of commodities.

Therefore, Bulgarian firms trading with EU companies should be aware of the procedures and rates followed by other EU members.

The VAT rate cannot be lower than 15 per cent, while reduced tax cannot be lower than five per cent, according to EU legislation. On goods and services exported from the EU, there will be no VAT charged.

VAT is calculated on the imported commodities and services to equalise their value with that in the community.

VAT is levied on goods imported from third countries to any EU member state, from which moment they become internal for the community and are VAT exempt when moving within EU territory. The new VAT Act eliminates the customs offices at Bulgaria's borders with EU countries. From January 1, they will only function in case of export to or import from third countries.

Two new concepts will be introduced for the trade between EU firms registered under VAT - internal delivery in the community that will supersede the export, and internal acquisition within the community that will supersede the import. In fact, that means that when a Bulgarian company supplies commodities to another country and the recipient is also registered under VAT, that delivery shall not be treated as export any more but as internal delivery, taxable by a zero VAT rate. In this case the Bulgarian supplier will have to issue an invoice without charging VAT. The tax will be calculated by the recipient in compliance with the efficient rate in the country for which the goods are intended.

The situation will be the same in the reverse example. The European supplier will effect an internal delivery in the community without calculating VAT and the Bulgarian company that will receive it will charge VAT in compliance with the efficient VAT rate in this country.

But if a firm registered under VAT supplies commodities to another country and the recipient is not registered under VAT, the regime of internal deliveries in the community and acquisitions cannot be applied.

Distant sale will be then the case, i.e., the supplier sells the commodity with VAT calculated according to the rate efficient in the country of its registration.

When a firm from the EU effects supplies to Bulgarian companies, which are not registered under VAT and for each one of the previous and the current years the turnover of distant sales exceeds 70 000 leva, that company will have to register under the VAT Act in Bulgaria.

The new VAT Act maintains the threshold for obligatory registration - annual turnover of 50 000 leva, including in it already taxable by zero-rate deliveries.

The possibility for voluntary registration, irrespective of the size of turnover remains, i.e., non-registered persons engaged in economic activities who did not have grounds for that by the end of 2006, will be able to register under the VAT Act as of January 1 2007.

After Bulgaria's EU accession, all companies registered under VAT will be given a new unique identification number that will replace the existing VAT numbers. For Bulgarian companies it will be formed as BG + BULSTAT of each company.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Xmas brings gambling dangers

 

Parents are being urged to think about the gift of time, rather than materialistic items this Christmas. The Problem Gambling Association says it is very common for people to gamble in an attempt to get themselves enough money for presents but they often end up in a worse position. Youth Services Project team Leader Lauren Cundall says many people underestimate how valuable time spent together is. She says things such as reading stories and parents talking about how they spent Christmas as a child can mean so much more than the latest ipod or CD. Ms Cundall says homemade vouchers for something like a day at the beach, is a great idea which could create memories to last a lifetime.

Pinnacle owns Admiral

 

Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. said Thursday that it has completed its purchase of President Riverboat Casino-Missouri Inc., which owns the President Casino on the Admiral. Pinnacle said in a statement that the "effective purchase price" was about $45.7 million, subject to adjustments. The President Casino is situated on the downtown riverfront. It is within walking distance of Las Vegas-based Pinnacle's Lumière Place development, which is expected to cost about $1 billion. That development, which is under construction and is scheduled to open next year, will include a casino, luxury hotel, spa, business center, restaurants and convention space.

Gambling on restraint

 

"The cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza appears to be holding even after militants fired rockets into Israeli territory." This was how the BBC's Radio Four described the situation around the Gaza Strip a couple of weeks ago; in other words, the new definition of a cease-fire is one in which the Palestinians continue firing Kassams while the IDF holds its fire. This quote was originally noted by Charles Moore in The Spectator magazine, but while he used it to pillory the BBC, it is now obvious that it is also the way that the Israeli leadership understands the cease-fire. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with the backing of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who in recent months has been receiving a much wider place in the national decision-making process, has decided - despite the opposition of Defense Minister Amir Peretz, most of the other ministers and the IDF's high command - that Israel can afford to absorb two or three Kassams a day falling in the western Negev, in return for a general feeling of relative calm and a favorable international climate. Olmert's calculation is that the firings are mainly haphazard, with little chance of hitting a civilian target and causing major damage. Most of the rockets on Thursday fell within the Palestinian territory, and at this stage, it is better to keep the IDF on a leash. He's being helped also by the mainstream press which has been content over the last few weeks to relegate the Kassams to the back pages; Benny Sela and the murder of Tair Rada are sexier stories. The feeling among Israel's diplomatic corps is that this is a period of grace for the country. The major enemies - Syria, Hizbullah and Iran - are beginning to suffer from international isolation and all that the world is currently demanding of Israel is that it lends Abu Mazen a helping hand. The argument is that the Kassams are being fired by Islamic Jihad and other groups opposed to the Palestinian president and retaliating with a large-scale attack will just be playing into their hands. Israel apparently has more to gain by staying put. Much better not to cause any new problems for George Bush, who is busy right now burying the Baker-Hamilton report's recommendations and gearing up for the US's last big push in Iraq. If we manage to keep our backyard quiet, there's also a chance that the powers-that-be will finally get serious about the Iranian nuclear program. All this seems to make perfect realpolitik sense, especially since the IDF hasn't achieved that great a track record in dealing with the Kassam threat, even when it was allowed to roam and fire at will. Every resource was used - manned and unmanned aircraft, artillery, tanks and special forces, backed up by every available intelligence asset. Hundreds of terrorists were killed, but the firings didn't stop and Israel's image suffered when the international media preferred to focus on civilians killed in Beit Hanun rather than on the people of Sderot living under constant bombardment.

The only problem is that we tried this policy before and it blew up in our faces. Ten months of restraint around Gaza ended with the capture of Gilad Shalit in June.

Two weeks later, six years of ostensible calm on the Lebanese border were ended abruptly by the Hizbullah attack at Zarit, the death of eight soldiers, the abduction of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser to an as yet unknown fate and the rest of the summer's disasters.

Not retaliating might create the illusion of quiet for the majority of the local population and a few temporary points in the diplomatic arena, but in the rough neighborhood we live in, it's merely interpreted as a sign of weakness. The Kassams might be mainly a demonstration of opposition to Abu Mazen's weak attempts to establish control, but the longer they're allowed to get away with it, others are going to take advantage and join in.

Bettman gambling with NHL's future

 

It may be early to judge, but Gary Bettman might have really done it this time. You never know with the NHL owners of course, but this latest fiasco over the Pittsburgh Penguins just might be the one clanger that will open their eyes to who is running their league. Research in Motion head Jim Balsillie was all set to pay a monstrous amount of money to buy a team with very low revenues, even though if everything went well and the rink had been built by the casino group, it would have been several years before he saw any type of return. Here was a guy so keen to buy a team that he was going to put up $175 million US for a franchise that has exceptional players playing cheaply right now, but with a collective bargaining agreement in place whereby he would have virtually no chance to hang onto all those players once they reach their free-agent freedom date. And what happens? Bettman steps in at the last minute and puts 24 conditions on the deal, the most onerous of the bunch being that he couldn't move the franchise for at least seven years after competition of the sale no matter what the outcome of the arena situation in Pittsburgh. Apparently he was terrified Balsillie was going to move the team to Kitchener, where a new rink is planned. According to Balsillie, these conditions came right out of the blue and were introduced at the last minute and as such he walked away from a deal that would have raised the value of virtually every franchise in the NHL. If the Penguins were worth $175 million, how much are the Rangers, Wings, Avalanche and Canucks worth? And Penguins owner/front man Mario Lemieux, who was finally looking at his dream of putting hockey behind him for good and getting his money out of what he never wanted to be involved in, saw it all blow up in his face. No matter what happened after the sale, Mario would have been a good guy who fought the good fight to keep the team in Pittsburgh. If it moved, it would have been the ugly Canadian owner's fault, not his. He would have had his money and been the town hero. Now he's looking at still trying to peddle this team elsewhere, likely for a lot less money, all because Bettman wasn't confident of being able to discourage Balsillie from moving later in the process. And Lemieux is so stunned, he's blaming the guy who wanted to pay him all that money for what happened, blaming Balsillie for walking away from the deal.

At what point do the owners figure out they might be further ahead with a commissioner who knows something about the game and the degree to which it's still suffering under the dominance of these coaches, 70 per cent of whom insist on playing some sort of roving trap whereby nobody even attempts to score five-on-five? They just hang around and wait for penalties which come in droves courtesy of a sea of officials who appear to be paid by the call.

At what point do the owners notice that their fan base is disappearing for very good reason? The game is almost totally lacking action and emotion, an entertaining game a surprise instead of the norm.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Philadelphia wins approval for casino gambling

 

Pennsylvania gambling regulators cleared the way Wednesday for Philadelphia to become the nation's largest city with a casino, while rejecting Donald Trump's bid for a slot-machine parlor and plans for another casino near the Gettysburg battlefield. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board chose from among 13 groups of casino giants, politically connected investors, celebrities and nationally known developers when it awarded five licenses for standalone slot parlors. Philadelphia will surpass Detroit as the largest U.S. city with casinos. Winners include groups led by billionaire Chicago-based developer Neil G. Bluhm and the Connecticut-based Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation; each plans to build on the city's riverfront. "We're thrilled and delighted. We're very excited and we're going to build a great project," Bluhm said. "We want to do something really special here." The gaming board rejected an application by Trump's casino company for a casino in northwest Philadelphia. And it rejected a proposal by Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. to build a gaming house in Pittsburgh. The board awarded 11 permanent slots licenses, each allowing as many as 5,000 machines. Six licenses are earmarked for the state's horse-racing tracks. So far, two racetracks -- Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and Philadelphia Park -- have opened slot parlors under conditional licenses, and racetracks in Chester and near Erie are expected to open slot parlors in the next two months. Gov. Ed Rendell rejuvenated a 25-year drive to legalize casino-style gambling in Pennsylvania by promising that slot revenues will help reduce property taxes and revive the state's declining horse-racing industry. The law passed in 2004 authorized up to 61,000 slot machines at 14 sites.

Italy Set To Hand Out Online Gambling Licenses

 

The USA might have tried to ban online gambling simply to regulate it down the line, at least that's what Italy is in the process of doing. The latest news from that government is a plan to auction off as many as 17,000 gambling licenses including permits for online casinos and poker rooms. The start of 2007 will mark a complete turnaround by the Italian administration on online gambling. The biggest European gambling firms are lining up to bid for licenses in this rapidly growing sector of the market. Coral have an Italian-language sports betting website up and running and also have established a B&M presence in Genoa, while William Hill is partnering up with Codere in Spain and is known to be very interested in the prospect of moving into Italy. Finally Ladbrokes has already done a deal with Pianeta Scommesse several months ago and followed that up in November with the purchase of three betting shops in Turin (home of Juventus). There is a split down the middle in the EU when it comes to online gambling. In the one corner we have the United Kingdom now joined by Italy, Belgium, and Spain as proponents of the regulation of the industry. On the other side with rapidly diminishing support we find Germany and France (what a surprise for anyone with a knowledge of European history) with a reactionary stance of local protectionism. Our pick? The Allies will win this one as well - besting the Hun and his Froggy pals on the battlefield of free trade! The small European nations will fall into line once the big guns have decided which way to go and sooner rather than later Europe will be the global leader in online gambling.

Gambling with Freedom

 

Your after-tax income belongs to you. You are free to spend it, invest it, waste it, burn it, or tithe it--and none of that is any politicians' business. But if some lawmakers have their way, soon you won't be able to gamble your money away on the Internet. In October, the Senate passed a bill enhancing port security, and attached to the bill is a title banning acceptance of credit cards or other payment instruments to process gambling transactions. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law on October 13. Earlier versions of the anti-gambling legislation would have required banks and Internet service providers to essentially spy on their customers, sifting through all financial transactions. Unsurprisingly, credit card companies didn't want to be deputized as online hall monitors, responsible for ensuring that outfits for which they process card services remain gambling-free. Thus, the latest version of the bill no longer obliges credit card companies and banks to identify firms engaged in gambling. Instead, the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve would be required to collect a list of online gambling Web sites within 270 days. After that, banks and credit card companies would be prohibited from making payments to companies on the list. Dressed Up as a Security Issue This new approach might address privacy concerns, but it runs roughshod over individual freedom and fails to address another argument by the legislation's advocates. As Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), argues: "Internet gambling is a national security concern because it can be used to launder money, evade taxes, and finance criminal and terrorist activities." In the post-September 11, 2001 world, politicians should be concerned about shady financial goings-on on the Internet. But legislation that enjoins cumbersome government bureaucracies to determine which companies are officially considered gambling operators will punish legitimate online businesses. Just as there have been plenty of false positive identifications in the federal airline no-fly list, it is highly probable some non-gambling sites will end up on the government's list. Meanwhile, the measure practically invites phony, fraudulent operations, whether or not credit card firms work with them--there is more to the Internet than above-board Web sites, and lots of places to hide in cyberspace--and new gambling sites are sure to pop up as soon as the government lists the old ones.

And even if the government were to correctly identify all gambling sites, punters could still bet using credit cards from foreign banks and other non-U.S.-based payment methods.

Gambling Web sites are best monitored not by regulators but by online gamblers themselves. Consumers have the incentive to look for endorsements and seals of approval of the businesses with which they transact, and to avoid fly-by-night operators. Most people who choose gambling as a pastime realize the odds of winning are long and that the house usually wins. And while gambling is a problem for some, others enjoy the challenge or just think it's fun, and are able to contain addictive impulses.

Legislation is notoriously slippery. What constitutes "gambling" is often in the eye of the beholder or legislator. Earlier versions of the bill had exempted such activities as fantasy sports. Even investing can be a "gamble" in the sense that "the opportunity to win is predominantly subject to chance," as the legislation defined "gambling."

'Principle of Autonomy'

Apparently, only some gambling is bad. One gets the impression the real motive behind the legislation is not to protect against crime or terrorism but to legislate behavior. As Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) noted in opposing earlier anti-gambling legislation: "If an adult in this country, with his or her own money, wants to engage in an activity that harms no one, how dare we prohibit it. ... The fundamental principle of the autonomy of the individual is at stake."

Government should not turn vices into crimes--even granting the notion that gambling is a vice, which is questionable in the context of today's Congress. Perhaps pork barrel spending is a more serious vice, one to which Congress should direct its attention. How significant are gambling losses, really, when compared to wasteful government spending for which citizens are forced to foot the bill?

Once we travel down the road of regulating behavior on the Internet, there is essentially no limit to government's ability to regulate behavior anywhere. Washington should mind the federal budget casino instead.

DA Walker orders video gambling machines closed

 

District Attorney Spence Walker has put operators of "sweepstakes" video gambling machines on notice that they should shut the machines down immediately. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Dec. 1 that the devices at a greyhound dog track in Birmingham are illegal gambling devices, no different than slot machines. The 8-0 ruling reversed a ruling by a Jefferson County circuit judge who said the Birmingham machines were not a lottery and did not involve the use of slot machines or gambling devices. District attorneys and lawmen around the state are interpreting the ruling as having statewide affect. In the First Judicial Circuit of Choctaw, Clarke and Washington counties the machines seem more numerous in Choctaw where they are located in convenience stores and a gaming room had been set up in the old Lisman school, owned by the town. It has recently closed. Walker's notice says that operations are to cease immediately "upon the managers'/ owners'/operators' receipt of this notice." Further, "failure to cease operations of these machines immediately will result in the arrest of those having responsibility for their use. Any such machines remaining in the premises after the passage of one hour after receipt of this notice by any of the above-named parties will be confiscated, condemned and further appropriate criminal action may be taken."

Court Rejects Sportwetten Gera Complaint Against Ban

 

Germany's highest court dismissed a complaint by Internet sports betting company Sportwetten Gera GmbH against a ban imposed by the state of Saxony-Anhalt two years ago. ``Sportwetten Gera wanted the immediate ban to be abolished,'' Rainer Nitzschke, director of the German association of private sports betting companies, said by telephone today. ``This didn't happen. Customers from Saxony-Anhalt will therefore be excluded from the company's services.'' Germany's Federal Constitutional Court rejected the complaint because the company didn't suffer a ``major disadvantage'' as a result of the immediate ban, according to a statement published on the court's Web site today. The complaint was filed after Saxony-Anhalt's government ordered the company to stop accepting wagers in the region, it said. The court on March 28 ruled that the German states can uphold their monopoly on the country's gambling industry until the end of next year. After that time, they will have to boost efforts to fight gambling addiction. State governments have already banned Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG, an Austrian Internet sports betting company, from operating and are boycotting Fluxx AG, an Internet lottery agent, to drive out competition.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Moscow Sends Gambling Industry a Bill

 

The Moscow City Duma amended a law on Thursday that manages gambling industry, making requirements for owners of casinos and slot-machine halls stricter. The gambling industry is unfazed by the changes as no laws can surpass the new federal law which nearly bans gambling in Russia in 2009. The Moscow legislature passed the city law a day after the State Duma passed a similar federal blueprint, moving all casinos to four gambling havens in 2009 and laying down requirements for the operation of casinos and slot-machine halls until this time. Moscow has made the federal norms even harsher, binding city casinos to have the area of at least 3,000 sq. meters (800 sq. meters in the federal law) and no less than 200 sq. meters for game arcades (100 sq. meters in the Russian law). A casino in Moscow must have at least 30 gaming tables and slot-machine halls must have at least 60 machines. Currently 32 casinos and some 140 gambling halls in Moscow meet these requirements, Moscow Deputy Mayor Iosif Ordzhonikidze says. The official noted that the city budget would not suffer after some gambling establishments are closed down because most small gambling firms evade tax paying. Lavrentiy Gubin from Storm International which operates slot-machine halls says that "requirements of Moscow authorities are quite feasible, though the minimal area for casinos is probably set too high." Gambling companies are more worried about the margin of net assets for their companies. "Not all of the 32 casinos will be able to drive up their assets to $23 million," Gubin noted. Boris Belotserkovsky, co-owner of Ritzio Entertainment Group, estimates that the Moscow law will halve the number of casinos in the city and will leave only 25 percent of slot-machine halls working.

Italy to Auction 17,000 Online Poker & Gambling Licenses

 

Seen as yet another indicator towards liberalization of gambling restrictions in Europe, the Italian government has announced that it will auction off 17,000 licenses for betting shops, kiosks, casinos as well as for online casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks. This is in preparation for January 1st, when all Italians will be able to legally play online poker. In spite of not being sure what the potential for the new Italian market is, initial reports say that Betfair, William Hill and Ladbrokes are poised to grab their share of the auctioned licenses. In fact, the European Union Commission just Dec. 20 cleared William Hill's proposed joint venture with Codere to enter the Italian gambling market. This enables them to exploit betting licences being issued by the Italian regulatory authorities in the new year. Europe's 50 billion euro (approximately $65 billion US dollar or 130 billion pound) market has become even more critical to the gambling sector since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was signed into law by the USA in October, making it illegal for financial institutions to handle online gambling transactions from US residents. The loss of US players caused many legally-licensed companies to lose upwards of 50-60% of their value overnight. It also caused many publicly-held companies to either sell off US-facing parts of their companies or go private to avoid shareholder lawsuits. Many companies are now regrouping around Europe with new games offered in a variety of languages. Several large U.K operators appear well-placed to take advantage of the new European laws. Gala Coral already operate an Italian-language site and a betting shop in Genoa, William Hill has a venture with Spanish firm Codere for Spain, and Ladbrokes completed a deal with Italian firm Pianeta Scommesse back in August as well as buying three betting shops in Turin last month. Meantime, many other countries such as Spain and Belgium, who had formerly viewed gambling as marginally acceptable, are now moving toward regulating the sector. This is due in large part to increased access to gaming brought about by advances in technology, because more people have access to the Internet, and because of now-possible controls for regulation, enforcement and protection of minors and at-risk users. Greece, Ireland, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are watching closely to see how early adopters fair.

Simultaneously, the European Commission is trying to ensure that any changes to gambling laws across Europe comply with rulings by the EU that countries not interfere with healthy competition. According to a judgment by the EU's highest court, member states may place curbs on private gambling operators, but these must be "non-discriminatory, proportionate and consistent".

This especially presents a challenge to countries, including Germany France and Poland, to justify that present laws are not simply there to protect state-owned gambling and lottery monopolies.

Charlie McCreevy, EU internal market commissioner, has already brought infringement proceedings against at least half a dozen countries for restrictions on betting markets.

Last month McCreevy told the European parliament that there is "Not a chance," for consistent Europe-wide legislation on internet gambling at this time.

German gambling ban upheld

 

A German court has announced that it has rejected a constitutional challenge to a ban on online sports gambling from an internet sports betting company. The company was not named in court papers. The nameless company has quoted a March 1990 judgment in the state of Thuringia, going back to the days of East and West Germany, which permitted sports betting. However, a following ruling in 2004 banned internet betting with immediate effect. Although the name of the company has been kept under wraps, news that shares in Austria's Bwin.com fell 2.8 per cent perhaps offered some light on the identity, particularly after Bwin has been at odds with the German state officials recently. Germany's 16 states are currently in the process of drawing up a law to prevent internet gambling completely in an effort to protect the monopoly enjoyed by its state-run lotteries. The reasoning behind this decision seems to go against the desire of the European Union to open up the market, with Bwin claiming that if the law goes ahead their business model would become obsolete. However, Bwin, who are currently the biggest bookmaker in Germany, received some slightly better news earlier this week as a Bavarian regional court suspended an order which attempted to ban Bwin from accepting bets from Bavarian residents. "Bwin can continue to offer sporting bets in Bavaria and to accept bets from Bavarian customers," Bwin said in a statement. The ruling, one of many pending court cases with German states, means that Bavaria cannot enforce a ban before the main court case is heard.

Gambling shop ordered to close

 

Rotorua gaming machine venue Whiskey Jack's has been ordered to close for breaching the Gambling Act. The Gambling Commission backed a Department of Internal Affairs' decision not to renew the venue's licence. First Sovereign Trust, which operates the machines at Whiskey Jack's, has been told to shut up shop immediately. Internal Affairs decided not to renew Whiskey Jack's licence because the venue continued to be used as a gaming shop, which the Gambling Act forbids. The trust appealed, but the Gambling Commission endorsed the decision. There had been serious breaches over a long period of time, the commission said.

Gambling Bill Passes Reading

 

A bill that would close most casinos and slot-machine halls in the country - including Moscow and St. Petersburg - cleared a third and final reading Wednesday in the State Duma. To become law, the bill still needs the approval of the Federation Council and of President Vladimir Putin, who submitted the draft in October. The bill received the support of 428 out of 450 deputies, indicating that the law is certain to be adopted. The bill calls for the creation of four zones for legal gambling - the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, the Primorsky region on the Pacific coast, the Siberian region of Altai and the southern Krasnodar-Rostov area. Casinos and slot-machine operations elsewhere in the country would be banned as of July 1, 2009. Gambling experts have have voiced doubts that the areas will be able to draw enough visitors to make gambling viable there.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Gambling proposal calls for an alliance between long-time competitors

 

Why am I not surprised that on Wednesday, the Austin American-Statesman, Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram all reported that a proposal to broadly expand gambling in Texas is in the works in Austin? Hey, gambling-expansion proposals have emerged every two years in Texas since the early 1990s, just before each Legislature convened. What is different about this proposal? This plan would authorize casinos on the state's three Indian reservations - presumably, Class 3 casinos where players play against the house and not each other - and it would put video lottery terminals in the state's ailing horse and dog tracks. The plan would also authorize 12 "resort-style casinos," two each in Houston and Dallas, one each in Bexar, Tarrant and Travis Counties, one in Galveston and another in South Padre Island. Three more would be in places chosen by the Texas Gaming Commission, the über-gaming agency created under the proposal. Unlike earlier proposals, this plan teams up Indian reservations, horse- and dog-track interests and full-blown casino developers, interests that have been competitors in the past - always unsuccessful ones. According to proponents, the whole package will generate $1.6 billion annually for the state, money they envision spending on college tuitions, which have been skyrocketing since they were deregulated, and children's health insurance in a state that leads the nation in uninsured kids. Anyone familiar with the Texas budget will tell you that $1.6 billion per year is not chump change. And arguments already being advanced by gambling proponents are familiar ones that aren't really in dispute. Texas provides Nevada more gamblers than any other state except California, its neighbor, and there are more direct flights from Texas to Las Vegas than to any other destination. The Lone Star State is also surrounded by states with legal gambling. Go to any of these state-line gaming emporiums and you are likely to find Texas plates on well more than half the cars in the parking lots. Nor is it difficult to find places to risk money in Texas. Eight-liner emporiums are everywhere and pro-sports betting is ubiquitous in virtually every larger workplace and many watering holes. And yes, there's no shortage of gaming still available online. But what are the chances of this proposal moving forward? In a phrase, it won't be a slam-dunk. Winning two-thirds margins in both House and Senate to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot won't be easy for lawmakers who plan to return to the local church to talk about their service to the community. Then, winning voter approval won't be simple or easy. Pari-mutuel betting finally made it on its eighth try on the ballot. And however overstated, there will be the talk about the criminal element casinos bring. And far more reality based, there are also very real connections that will be made between widely accessible gaming and obsessive-compulsive disorders and low-grade property crimes. Hardest to get around, however, will be that none of Texas' previous gambling expansions - bingo, pari-mutuel race tracks and the Texas Lottery - have delivered the revenue promised.

Gambling pushed to fringes in Russia

 

Garish or goofy or grim, Russia's casinos and slot-machine halls are some of the most vivid testimony to communism's collapse. But, under legislation approved Wednesday by Russia's lower house of parliament, the $6 billion industry is to be driven out of Moscow, St. Petersburg and most of the rest of Russia. Once the bill is signed into law, gamblers will have only until mid-2009 to lay their bets in Russia's major cities. After that they'll have to go to a remote part of Siberia or three other regions distant from Moscow. "These are repressive measures - essentially they amount to a ban," said Yevgeny Kovtun, vice president of the Association of Gambling Businesses, which unites about 30 gaming companies. With the exception of a drab national lottery, Soviet citizens had no outlet for their speculative urges. That changed with the chaotic arrival of capitalism: Neon-decked casinos sprouted in big cities, some offering prizes of luxury cars or $1 million in cash. Slot-machine halls have appeared throughout the country, sometimes even next to schools. Russia's oil-driven economic upswing of recent years sent new cash to the gaming tables. But a public backlash has grown. "This is a business based on vice. It brings no good," said Vladimir Medinsky, deputy chairman of the parliament committee that drafted the legislation. "It hasn't been banned altogether, because it is a natural vice and should therefore be controlled," he said. The zones, which are currently infrastructure-free wilderness, are in the Altai region in Siberia, the rainy Pacific coast region of Primorsky, the Kaliningrad area along the Baltic coast and an area in Russia's south between Rostov and Krasnodar. Industry players say that while limitations are needed, a complete ban except for the gaming zones is harsh and could kill the industry. The restrictions, they say, assume Russians will be ready to jump on a plane and fly to the taiga - the sub-Arctic forest region - to make a bet. "In the U.S. people know about Las Vegas from childhood, but in Russia gambling tourism doesn't exist," Kovtun said. "Before, a person would pop into a casino or slot-machine hall between the metro and his house. Now ... the gaming companies will have to entice him to the Pacific coast."

Under the new legislation, no new gambling institutions will be allowed to open as of the new year, and by summer only those with assets worth more than $23 million will be allowed to continue working, killing off smaller operations.

Dr. Zurab Illiich Kekelidze, deputy director of the Serbsky Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry, said citizens of the former Soviet Union are more vulnerable to gambling's pull.

"They have no psychological immunity to casinos and to slot machines, because in Soviet times they didn't exist," said Kekelidze, who treats patients with pathological gambling dependency.

While Kekelidze welcomed the creation of gambling zones, he said efforts should be made to educate people about gambling and provide better treatment and counseling for addicts. Otherwise the gaming zones could act as "levers of psychological instability," in poor regions like Kaliningrad, he said.

Lavrentii Gubin, a spokesman for Storm International, which runs six casinos and 26 slot-machine halls across the country, warns that only big gaming companies will survive the tough new rules, allowing illegal gambling to flourish.

Although the government has said it is willing to allocate billions of dollars to build infrastructure, "so far not a single company has said it is interested in the project," Gubin said.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Papajohns.com Bowl Joins Gambling Bonanza

 

December and January are Arnie Wexler's busiest times. Four more bowl games, including the Papajohns.com Bowl, increase the angst for Wexler, a recovering compulsive gambler in New Jersey who works with addicts. "When I stopped in 1968, all of the games were on Jan. 1," Wexler said. "Now they're all spread out. It's not good for the gamblers. As long as they have another day, they still have their dream alive and can bail out." ESPN purchased the inaugural Papajohns.com Bowl in Birmingham mainly to add television programming. One million or so TV sets won't be tuned in simply for the joy of watching East Carolina play South Florida. Birmingham's bowl will attract three times the betting action than if this matchup was a regular-season game, said Jimmy Vaccaro, an oddsmaker at American Wagering in Las Vegas. South Florida is a four- to five-point favorite. The time slot (noon Central) is conducive for early action in Las Vegas at 10 a.m., setting up "a perfect three-ring circus," Vaccaro said. Birmingham's bowl kicks off a Saturday with three college games and one NFL game. "For the people who don't understand and bet to bet, if they win that first bet, they have money in their pocket and they'll bet San Jose State-New Mexico. If they lose, they'll be even and have one more (college) shot with Tulsa-Utah," Vaccaro said. "It's what we call in the industry `churning the money.' It's like a mini-NCAA Tournament Thursday. It's all on television and it spurs interest because it's one after another." Eighty-five percent of people that illegally bet on sports do so on football, said Danny Sheridan, USA Today analyst and oddsmaker. "If you think somebody's going to watch the conclusion of South Florida and East Carolina if they don't have a bet on it, you're crazy," he said. "You could have 100 bowl games and people would watch. The school names are irrelevant if you're a bettor." Bowls provide networks with relatively cheap programming that produces enough viewers to keep sponsors happy. Only one of the 28 bowls last year drew a TV rating less than ESPN's average rating for a 2006 regular-season major league baseball game (1.2). Sixteen of 28 bowls improved their TV ratings in 2005-06, even as 18 of 28 decreased in attendance. College football's postseason now stretches from Dec.19 until Jan.8, a 32-game, 21-day bonanza for gamblers leading into the NFL playoffs. Ten years ago, the college postseason was 18 games over 15 days.

Vaccaro said the increase in bowl games represents, at the very least, the indirect result of networks and colleges feeding America's gambling habit.

"If the game wasn't on TV, it would draw less attention and less money on it, but there would still be money bet on it," Vaccaro said. "We keep feeding this big monster and it gives us a return on this investment."

Sheridan said the bowl system - in which only the national championship game truly matters - is designed to attract gamblers.

"If you have a competitive game, if the spread and over/under are in doubt throughout the game, you will have a highly rated game," Sheridan said.

"It's not to say everybody who watches bowls bets. But you've got 40 million people betting on these games."

The chair of the NCAA postseason football licensing subcommittee, Southern Mississippi Athletics Director Richard Giannini, disputes the argument that the influence of gambling impacts bowl TV ratings.

"I may be naive. I don't see how that plays a part," Giannini said. "I don't gamble. I have no idea how it works. I don't see the correlation other than I'm sure in Las Vegas you see a line on the game. I don't see any correlation between the bowl games and the gaming industry, nor have I ever been asked the question."

Alabama is the biggest betting state per capita in the country, said Sheridan, who lives in Mobile.

"They bet on high school sports in this state," Sheridan said. "I'd be surprised if you don't see a plane flying over Birmingham's bowl promoting off-shore betting."

Gambling funds to boost tourism

 

FUNDS from gambling would be channeled to tourism as one way of boosting infrastructure in the sector, an official from Malawi Gaming Board (MGB) has said. But government has advised operators in the tourism sector to desist from externalising foreign currency generated from the industry. The current set up empowers the board to collect 7.5 per cent of gambling revenue from operators part of which would now be channeled to tourism. Speaking when Deputy Minister of Information and Tourism John Bande toured the board's secretariat, MGB Chief Executive Officer Master Maliro said tourism was a sector likely to push the country out of economic doldrums. He said most one of gambling spots, Colony Casino in Blantyre was planning to construct a hotel including a cultural heritage centre Lilongwe and Blantyre. "Pirates Casino in Lilongwe committed itself to construct a 100 bed hotel and they have been allocated land, while Colony intends to build a cultural heritage centre right here in Blantyre," Maliro said. He said the board would also face lift tourism information offices in Blantyre and at Kamuzu International airport and Chileka estimated to cost K1.8 million. The deputy minister commended the board for mobilising resources to boost the sector, but urged the watchdog to ensure operators do not abuse foreign currency. "It is good that you are working according to plan, but you should make sure operators who do business using foreign currency handle it properly since it is prone to abuse," Bande said. As of November 2006, the board had bagged K75 million in gaming levies and government got K71 million from import duties on gaming machines.

CRM Vendor PacificNet Raises Bet On Macau Gambling

 

Tony Tong, Chairman and CEO of PacificNet, said although the company cannot divulge the specifics on these sales "due to the highly competitive current market in Macau," he does want to convey the company's "rapid progress in the Macau gaming market to our shareholders and the gaming world." Initial sales and acceptance of installed units are showing that PacificNet's machines are "right for the Macau market," according to Tong, adding "we are happy to see that our multiplayer EGM installation base is seeing steady growth in Asia." According to recent Reuters reports, multiplayer gambling machines have proven to be very popular in Macau, as the trend is away from traditional, individual terminal games towards multi-player, shared experience games. Electronic adaptations of popular table games are proving exceptionally popular, both by gamblers and casino operators. Gamblers like a private betting terminal over a crowded table while casino operators enjoy greater accuracy, dealing speed, and cost savings of not having a human dealer. "A powerful and developing trend over the next two years will be the movement toward multi-station, communal play gaming devices," said Merrill Lynch analyst David Anders in a note quoted by Reuters. Last week PacificNet Inc. announced it has acquired an additional six percent interest in PacificNet Games Limited (PacGames). Prior to this, in connection with the acquisition of Able Entertainment previously announced during the Q3 earnings conference call, PacificNet owned 45 percent of PacGames. PacificNet now owns 51 percent of PacGames. Tony Tong, Chairman and CEO of PacificNet, said in recent board and management meetings "we evaluated the early success of our gaming technology operation and were very satisfied with the rapid progress and financial performance of the gaming operation. The board of directors and management team has approved our new strategy to focus on the rapidly growing gaming market in greater China, Macau, and Asia." In September 2006, PacificNet opened an office in Macau to focus on the rapidly expanding gambling and entertainment industries in that region.

Macau is one of the fastest-growing gambling markets in the world and is predicted to surpass Las Vegas in total revenues by 2007. According to recent statistics provided by Macau government, in 2005, Macau's gambling revenues reached $5.8 billion, second only to Las Vegas gambling revenues of $6 billion.

Macau borders Zhuhai City of Guangdong Province of China, one of the country's wealthiest and most developed regions and is an hour away from Hong Kong via ferry. The number of tourists visiting Macau reached 18.7 million in 2005, of which 56 percent or 10.5 million visitors were from mainland China. By 2010, the number of tourists is expected to double to nearly 30 million visitors per year.

Auditor vows to be gambling watchdog

 

A dispute might be brewing among state regulators over who will oversee Pennsylvania's multibillion-dollar casino industry. Auditor General Jack Wagner on Tuesday told the Gaming Control Board he intends to be the "fiscal watchdog of gaming operations and related state programs." As the board prepared to vote today on awarding 11 slot machine casino licenses statewide, Wagner said he plans to issue a report card on each casino -- showing what portion of their workforces is hired from within Pennsylvania as well as how well those operations met diversity goals and conducted background checks on employees. Wagner's statement "gives us pause because it appears that the Auditor General's Office is seeking to also gain oversight of the gaming industry," said Doug Harbach, a board spokesman. The board "has sole regulatory authority over the gaming industry in the commonwealth," Harbach said. But he said the board welcomes the "interest of the auditor general in monitoring the work of this agency" and would cooperate as required by law. "We have the legal authority to audit the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, every way and backwards," Wagner said. The state's 2004 slots law does not require casinos to hire Pennsylvanians, but Wagner said his priority in an audit would be measuring to what extent the gambling industry fills jobs from within the state's borders. It's fair game, because slots proponents promised 10,000 to 15,000 industry jobs in the state when the law was passed, said Wagner, a former state senator. Jobs are important because most of the casinos will be located near the borders with West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York, Wagner said. "All of that is well and good, but secondary to the real problem, which is the legislation" legalizing slots, said gambling opponent Dianne Berlin, coordinator of CasinoFreePA. The first audit might be available by the end of 2007, Wagner said. Asked how he would access the private personnel records of casino companies, Wagner said he expects to get the information from the Gaming Control Board.

Gambling addict robbed bank in hopes police would kill her

 

A Truro woman was in such despair over her gambling addiction that she robbed an Amherst bank in September hoping police would shoot her dead. "I thought death was my only option," a sobbing Margaret Alice Baldwin said Tuesday in Amherst provincial court before Judge Carole Beaton sentenced her to 59 months in prison for robbing the Scotiabank branch on South Albion Street of $100,000. Ms. Baldwin, 61, also received a concurrent 12-month sentence for having a weapon - bear spray - during the robbery. The court was told the robbery was the second time Ms. Baldwin had attempted "suicide by cops." In 1999, she robbed a takeout restaurant in Miramichi, N.B., of $540 hoping that she would be killed. She was sentenced to three years for that robbery. Ms. Baldwin told the court she spent 25 years in the military as a nurse before a neck injury ended her career. After her medical discharge, she had a tough time adjusting to civilian life. "Little did I suspect on Oct. 19, 1994, when I used that first VLT for some social gambling, that I was doomed to spiral to the depths of hell," she told the court. "I lost $600,000. I've lost my dream home, my car. I lost my values, my self-respect and my family. I became a piece of garbage." She attempted suicide by hanging and by crashing her car. Ms. Baldwin said she tried to get help for her gambling addiction on an outpatient basis but it didn't work. After she was released from prison after the Miramichi robbery, she entered an in-patient program at a Toronto clinic and was treated successfully. But she couldn't afford to continue with the clinic's outpatient rehab program and fell back into gambling after moving back to the Maritimes. By last August, she had hit bottom and figured the only way out of her desperate situation was to return to the Ontario clinic. She said she asked for financial help from the Nova Scotia government but was refused. "That put me into a full-blown crisis," she said. "I decided the only way to stop it was to stage another robbery. I thought if they (police) wouldn't shoot me for $540, they might shoot me if I stole $100,000." Ms. Baldwin entered the Amherst bank on Sept. 5 and asked to see manager Maria Campbell. Once inside Ms. Campbell's office, Ms. Baldwin produced a handwritten note demanding $100,000 in unmarked, untraceable bills and warned that she had a bomb strapped to her waist that accomplices in the parking lot could set off. She was wearing a black veil covering her face and white sport socks on her hands.

Police arrested her within minutes after she left the bank and recovered all the money.

"It must have been scary for the people in the bank, but it was not my intention to scare or harm people," Ms. Baldwin said, dabbing at tears. "I only wanted to die.

"I hope Ms. Campbell can forgive me, not for my sake, but for hers. She needs to get on with her life and not think of me."

Bill on four gambling zones passed by State Duma

 

The State Duma has passed the bill on four gambling zones in the third reading Dec. 20. 428 votes were for, with 226 ones required. The gambling zones will be established in the Altai and the Primorie Territory, the Kaliningrad Region and on the borderline between the Rostov Region and the Krasnodar Territory. It is banned to do gambling business out of the precincts of these zones. The boundaries of the zones shall be determined by the federal entities. Gambling business will be prohibited from July, 1, 2009. All the gambling establishments having licenses in accordance with laws will have the right to work until June, 30, 2009. All the gambling establishments will be closed on July, 1, 2007.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"Roll the Bones" gets inside the mind game of gambling

 

Last year an executive for a major slot-machine manufacturer gave me a tour of his Las Vegas headquarters. Don't be misled by the dozens of flashing, clanging slots in the showroom off the lobby, he told me. His wasn't a gambling company. "We're an entertainment company," he said. Unlikely as it may sound, slots, with their bright video screens and realistic sound systems, have become curiously sophisticated minimovies, complete with engaging characters (sly geishas, say, or crafty penguins) and plot twists (an unexpected game within a game), all built upon a deep understanding of the human-machine interface. Slot designers are forever searching for the precise combinations of sight, sound and potential payoff that will keep a player handing over cash, all the while ensuring the experience is not so intense that it induces seizures. Is that really so different from Hollywood? This collusion of advanced mathematical modeling, Pavlovian conditioning and multiplex smarts is intriguing. But what's even more fascinating is how this whole enterprise can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamians rolling sheep hucklebones to see which of the four sides would come up. That's the tale told in "Roll the Bones" by David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Studies at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Schwartz starts in the foggy borderlands between augury and chance, when prognosticators looking for clues about the future would roll the bones and interpret the results. It wasn't a huge step to start wagering on the outcome of these rolls. And it may be that humans are genetically hard-wired for such behavior: Dice arose independently in various civilizations. The first dice in India were fashioned of brown nuts; Native American dice often were made from shells or beaver teeth. Among the many telling facts Schwartz touches upon: Dice carved with symbols actually predate the use of numerals. From dice, it's onward to playing cards and wagering on the outcome of everything from insect fights to basketball games, from lottery drawings to wheels of fortune.

This tour takes the reader from ancient ages of superstition through to the Enlightenment, which gave rise to the science of probability; from seedy Western saloons to the gilded gambling halls of Monaco; and inexorably onward, as you might have guessed, to a patch of scrappy desert in southern Nevada.

It's an epic story with an engaging cast. You'll learn a bit about Denmark Vesey, a Charleston, S.C., slave who won a lottery and used his earnings to purchase his freedom (successfully) and fund an insurrection of some 9,000 slaves and freemen (unsuccessfully). And there's John Morrissey, the bare-knuckle fighter turned gambling baron turned nearly respectable congressman, who was a major figure behind the rise of Saratoga Springs as a mid-19th-century gambling resort.

Chronicling a tale with such sweep has its challenges, not all of which Schwartz has overcome. The evolution of gambling refuses to follow a linear path; you can't trace a neat line from dice to the OTB parlor. Schwartz leaps around to give each form of gambling its due, as if in a frenzied game of Whac-a-Mole. (Speaking of which, his detour through the world of crooked carnival games is among the book's more engaging sections.)

All that hurrying around can be a bit aggravating, giving the book a jumpy feel. Leonie Leblanc, "the most famous Baden-Baden female gambler," is given only two sentences. And will anyone not feel shortchanged by this brief note: "One man even proclaimed his 'killer duck' an interspecies champion and pitted it against all canine challengers."

The narrative finds a more satisfying pace about halfway through, when the spotlight swings to the origins of modern gambling in the United States. We begin in New Orleans (where craps and poker took root), then travel with cardsharps up the Mississippi on steamboats, then push on to San Francisco during the gold rush and then Las Vegas.

Schwartz makes little effort to draw any grand conclusions about what this 5-millennium-old habit can tell us about ourselves. He seems content to simply note the obvious: that gambling is an ingrained part of our everyday life. "Roll the Bones" could have used more analysis and less inventory.

Still, Schwartz, the author of two previous books on gambling culture, does manage to accomplish something remarkable: He's made Las Vegas seem like a vast repository of history, not a crash site of implosion, rebuilding and reinvention.

The book's last chapter describes a stroll through the splashy new Wynn Las Vegas, a $2.7 billion casino that is "the most expensive ... yet built." Schwartz sees a ghostly reminder of the past at every turn - from the rise of fancy casinos in Italy, which is reflected in an Italian restaurant, to the specter of the early-19th-century German spa resorts, as seen in a lavish indoor garden.

Gambling Critic Won Thousands

 

A recently appointed member of the Pennsylvania gaming board was a longtime critic of gambling when he was a legislator but he has won thousands of dollars at casinos, a newspaper reported Sunday. Former state Rep. Mark McNaughton voted against the state's slot machine law in 2004 and opposed gambling for years before that, but at the same time he won $15,500 from 2003 to 2005, according to tax returns obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer. The five-term Republican from Harrisburg disclosed his winnings on his federal income taxes but not on state ethics forms, the newspaper reported. McNaughton said he didn't report his gambling winnings on the ethics disclosure statement for lawmakers because he didn't believe it was required. However, the State Ethics Commission says it considers such winnings income, which legislators must note on annual disclosure forms if it exceeds $1,300. He said Friday that he was only acting on the wishes of his constituents when he opposed efforts to expand gambling in Pennsylvania. 'Gambling should not be everywhere. It should be a destination-oriented activity where you go there and enjoy the day or two and return,' he said. 'I don't believe it's in the best interests of citizens to be able to walk across the street and play slots.' He is due to take his $145,000-a-year, appointed position on the gaming board by the middle of next month. Ethics rules only bar board members from gambling or taking compensation from a licensee or an applicant in Pennsylvania, according to spokesman Doug Harbach. McNaughton said most of his winnings came from playing slot machines in Las Vegas and stud poker in Atlantic City, N.J.

New US law won't stop Internet gambling

 

When Congress specifically criminalized Internet gambling at the end of September by outlawing credit-card payments to the services, it failed to stop aspiring card sharks and delusional Oakland Raiders fans from parting with their paychecks, experts say. Offshore sites simply set up shop where U.S. law enforcers can't reach them, and domestic gamblers are finding alternative ways to pay them. People who bet online will not face criminal prosecution under the law because it does not ban Internet gambling; instead it requires that banks and other financial institutions block credit-card payments to gambling sites. "If you send a check in, you'll be fine. There's no way it's going to stop," says Frank Catania, a former New Jersey gambling regulator who currently lobbies for the online-gambling industry. The Federal Reserve is not expected to force banks to screen personal checks or other payment methods that are more difficult to track, experts say. Raking in billions U.S. residents have been placing bets over the Internet since 1995, and from the outset some members of Congress have been trying to ban the activity. Their past efforts failed due to opposition from dog tracks, state lotteries, and other interests worried that such a prohibition would hamper their operations. Internet gambling is booming. By last summer, U.S. gamblers accounted for half of the industry's US$12 billion in revenue, and online-gambling stocks such as that of PartyGaming were flying high on the London Stock Exchange. In July, Republicans in the House of Representatives passed an Internet gambling ban, but it encountered opposition in the Senate and appeared to be headed for yet another defeat until Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) attached it to an unrelated port-security bill--a move that guaranteed passage. When the bill passed in September, Frist denounced gambling as an addiction that "frays the fabric of society." In the wake of the law's passage, investors in London sold off PartyGaming and other Internet gambling stocks, erasing $7 billion from the stock exchange in a matter of days. Many of those British companies said they would no longer accept wagers from their most lucrative market across the Atlantic. But other gambling sites, such as the privately owned Bodog and PokerStars, say they will continue to serve American customers. Their Caribbean locales put them beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement--unlike gambling executives in Britain, who face extradition to this country under a 2004 treaty originally intended for extraditing terror suspects. Industry pundits don't expect the ban to end online gambling. "I have no doubt the private operators will pick up the slack," says Tejinder Randhawa, an analyst for Evolution Securities in London.

A Patrick pick concerns proponents of gambling

 

After another year of dashed hopes in the Legislature, proponents of expanded gambling were looking forward to the new year. Shortly after Election Day, Governor-elect Deval Patrick promised to keep an open mind about gambling. Now, Patrick has chosen the fiercest opponent of slot machines in the House of Representatives as his chief economic development adviser. This has created uncertainty among gambling proponents, who wonder what the appointment might mean. Yesterday, state Representative Daniel E. Bosley said that he is still strongly opposed to gambling, and that he will express his views to Patrick. However, he said the issue did not come up during his conversations with Patrick when they talked about Bosley joining the incoming administration, and that Patrick has "got to keep an open mind" on the subject and come to his own conclusion. "He has to listen to the arguments and explore the issues and then figure it out on his own," Bosley said, adding that it was not clear whether the issue of expanded gambling would be part of his responsibilities. So far, in Massachusetts, discussion of widened gambling has generally involved slot machines rather than casinos. If Patrick took a strong stance in favor of expanded gambling, the issue might have a better chance of prevailing in the Legislature, where gambling bills have died in years past. But it is not clear how much influence even the incoming governor would wield. A bill to legalize slots cleared the Senate a year ago but lost by a large margin in the House last spring amid opposition from Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi. Patrick voiced serious reservations about expanded gambling during his campaign, citing concerns about gambling addiction and the effect it could have on the state lottery. But Patrick, who was quoted as saying in the Boston Herald he had played the slots with his mother at Foxwoods, also said that he has spent more time with gambling opponents than gambling proponents, and that he has promised to do more homework on the issue. Louis Ciarlone, the president and business manager of Local 123 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents about 200 workers at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, said legalizing slot machines could help Patrick pay for improvements in public safety and education, and help to provide more aid to cities and towns.

A report commissioned by the treasurer's office last year said Massachusetts could pull in almost $500 million by legalizing slots at the state's four racetracks.

Patrick will have plenty of pro-gambling voices to hear. Lieutenant Governor-elect Timothy P. Murray strongly supported this year's gambling bill, which would have brought 8,000 machines to the state's four racetracks, as a way of providing more local aid to cities and towns.

And Robert J. Haynes -- president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, which worked hard for Patrick's campaign last fall -- supports slot machines because of their potential to create jobs and to increase state revenue.

Haynes said yesterday, however, that he was thrilled with Patrick's selection of Bosley as his economic development adviser.

He said it would be parochial to assume that Patrick's appointment of Bosley signaled anything about Patrick's view on gambling, which he said amounted to "a small piece" of economic development.

Thomas G. Ambrosino , the mayor of Revere and a supporter of slot machines, said his first reaction to the news of Bosley's appointment was that "it doesn't bode well for the prospects of expanded gaming."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Venues to lose pokies in gambling crackdown

 

The Victorian Government has announced which gaming venues are to lose poker machines under its plan to cap machine numbers in 19 Victorian regions. The Government promised to move 543 gaming machines during the election campaign and they will come from venues in Dandenong, Hume, Latrobe, Maribyrnong, Monash and Warrnambool. Some clubs will lose only one or two machines and they can be moved to other regions not covered by the cap. Gaming Minister Daniel Andrews says it is part of a $132 million plan to reduce problem gambling. "A comprehensive plan to take action on problem gambling," he said. "This is the biggest package, the biggest policy and the biggest financial commitment in terms of addressing and taking action on problem gambling that Victoria has seen." Opposition gaming spokesman Michael O'Brien says the Government is simply moving pokies around instead of reducing the total number. He says it shows the Government is not serious about tackling problem gambling. "You can't solve the drug problem by moving drug dealers across the street and you can't solve gambling problems by moving pokie machines from suburb to suburb," he said. He says the caps will do nothing to help reduce problem gambling. "This decision means that there will not be one less pokie machine operating in Victoria, operating on one less day, taking one less dollar of revenue," he said.

Cash needed to tackle gambling

 

ILLEGAL gambling dens could spread in Redbridge unless the council gets more money to deal with the problem. Community protection officer, Alan Drake, fears the council will be unable to carry out its new licensing and enforcement responsibilities under the Gambling Act 2005, unless proposed funding levels are increased. He said: "We aren't currently equipped to enforce the legislation under the Act, and to be honest, the £20,000 of funding we will get each year will barely cover our administrative costs. "What this means in practice is that if we hear about a suspected illegal gambling den in the borough, we will not have the manpower or finances to take action against it." Speaking at a recent area one committee meeting, Snaresbrook ward councillor, Sue Nolan, dismissed the Act, which transfers full responsibility for the licensing of gambling premises to local councils from Wednesday, January 2007, as an example of Government incompetence. She said: "This Act just looks like more muddled policy and spin to me, with very little thought gone into the practicalities involved. "This is simply another example of the Government asking local councils to carry out new duties without giving us the finances to do so effectively. "It's essential the council has the capability to enforce the law when alerted to illegal gambling by the public." Councillors have forwarded a recommendation calling for the Government to increase the proposed level of funding.

Italy's gambling hand

 

As the whole of Europe seem to be debating the legality of gambling, Italy will announce shortly the details of its new stance on gambling. The Italian government will auction off 17,000 licences for betting shops, kiosks, casinos and online casinos and sportbooks. The decision by Italy has led to a deluge of applications, with Betfair, William Hill and Ladbrokes one of the first to seize the opportunity and be granted licences. Gaming firms now see Europe as an ideal market following the U.S crackdown on online gambling, but Nilay Patel, corporate finance manager for William Hill, remains pragmatic over the new legislations. "Essentially, this is a case of creating a new market or converting an illegal market into a legal market," said Patel. "We don't have the facts, figures and information on which to make sensible estimates of the potential size of the opportunity. "Until we actually have a couple years of operating experience in these markets, we really don't know how they're going to develop," he added. Some of the U.K's largest operators already appear well placed to take advantage of the new laws across Europe. Gala Coral already operate an Italian-language site and a betting shop in Genoa, William Hill have entered into a venture with Spanish firm Codere and Ladbrokes completed a deal with Italian firm Pianeta Scommesse back in August, as well as buying three betting shops in Turin last month. Many other countries, such as Greece, Ireland and the Czech Republic, will watch the effects of the law changes and will base their own decisions on its implications.

Overlooking all of this is the European Commission, who face the tough job of ensuring the changes in gambling laws, however flexible or stringent, do not restrict the promotion of competition. According to a ruling by the E.U's highest courts, member states may place controls on private gambling operations, but they must be "non-discriminatory, proportionate and consistent". In the last few days Germany appears to have ignored this notion, putting in place new laws to help protect its state-run lottery.

Spain is also set to follow Italy, with the various Spanish regions able to set up their own regulations as they see required. In essence, Spain will allow gambling in regulated locations, including online

Gambling faces few open ears in '07

 

Ottumwa, Fort Dodge and Tama are interested in state licenses for riverboat casinos. Officials in the three communities say they will likely bring their requests to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which regulates licenses, rather than ask for help from the Legislature. "At this point, we are going to follow the commission's lead. We feel that the Legislature has already spoken to this issue," said John Pavone, president of Signature Management Group, which is working with Tama County officials on plans for a Tama-area casino. Wapello County Supervisor Steve Siegel, who heads a nonprofit Ottumwa group that wants a casino, said he'll bank on Gov.-elect Chet Culver, a fellow Democrat, to help his community get a license. Culver has said that if new casino licenses are issued, Ottumwa and Fort Dodge should be next in line. The commission rejected proposals for casinos in those two communities last year. "We are hoping that will carry a little weight" with state gambling regulators, Siegel said. The gaming commission will meet on March 1 at Terrible's Lakeside Casino in Osceola to discuss additional licenses. The commission awarded four new casino licenses last year, and Chairwoman Kate Cutler of Council Bluffs said she wants to monitor all of those before more licenses are granted. Three of the casinos - in rural Worth County, Emmetsburg and Riverside - have opened. The fourth - a $175 million gambling complex in Waterloo - will be opened next spring by Isle of Capri Casinos. Iowa already has 19 casinos, including three racetrack casinos and 13 riverboats, plus three American Indian casinos on tribal lands, including the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel near Tama. Some Iowans oppose more gambling. "Leave it alone. We don't need any more casinos," said Ted Snell, 82, of Des Moines, a retired Western Electric worker who was recently playing slot machines with his wife, Pauline, at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona. He said he was glad state lawmakers last year banned the Iowa Lottery's TouchPlay machines, which closely resembled slot machines, because they provided too many opportunities to gamble.

Iowa House Speaker-elect Patrick Murphy, a Dubuque Democrat, said in a recent interview that he has no plans for a full-blown debate on either liberalizing or restricting gambling during the upcoming session. He said he is focusing on other priorities, such as education and the state's business climate.

"If there is some cleanup stuff, we might want to do it, but I don't want to say there will be a gambling bill," Murphy said.

State Sen. Jack Kibbie, an Emmetsburg Democrat, said he also doesn't expect a major debate on gambling, but he believes lawmakers may consider abolishing a provision adopted in 2004 that requires newly opened riverboat casinos to have water under their floors. The current rule means riverboats no longer have to operate on rivers or lakes, but they must be built over water so they can be considered "moored barges." One example is the $40 million Diamond Jo Worth Casino near Northwood that was constructed above an artificial basin that is nearly invisible to gamblers except for a wooden paddle wheel in a small pool near the entrance.

"If you are going to have a land-based casino, why have water under it? I mean, that's kind of ridiculous," Kibbie said.

Officials seeking casinos said they believe Iowa's gambling industry still offers a virtual pot of gold to communities in search of jobs and economic development.

"Having grown up and lived in Fort Dodge all my life, with the exception of going to school, I think it's an economic tool that we could use here," said Mark Crimmins, a Fort Dodge lawyer and a leader of the Heart of Iowa Foundation, a nonprofit group that hopes to obtain a casino license.

"It's a form of entertainment that we don't have here, and I just think it would help our community," Crimmins said. "We are a retail hub, and I think that it is just one more piece of the puzzle to help grow the city and the area."

Tama Mayor Chris Bearden said people in his community are thrilled at the prospect of launching a riverboat casino, which would operate at Cherry Lake. He views a local riverboat gambling complex as a complement to the nearby Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel, which averages about 5,000 customers a day.

"People are asking me what our chances are. They are very excited about it. All of Tama County is excited about it." Bearden said.

One person who doesn't share such enthusiasm is Tom Coates of Norwalk, an anti-gambling leader who also heads a credit counseling service.

"More casinos are probably in the offing, given the involvement of certain individuals on both sides of the political aisle and large campaign contributions," Coates said. "That's a concern because every casino that pops up devastates that many more families as it moves into their backyards."

Long Time Gambling Critic Won Thousands At Slots

 

A recently appointed member of the Pennsylvania gaming board was a longtime critic of gambling when he was a legislator but he has won thousands of dollars at casinos, a newspaper reported Sunday. Former state Rep. Mark McNaughton voted against the state's slot machine law in 2004 and opposed gambling for years before that, but at the same time he won $15,500 from 2003 to 2005, according to tax returns obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer. The five-term Republican from Harrisburg disclosed his winnings on his federal income taxes but not on state ethics forms, the newspaper reported. McNaughton said he didn't report his gambling winnings on the ethics disclosure statement for lawmakers because he didn't believe it was required. However, the State Ethics Commission says it considers such winnings income, which legislators must note on annual disclosure forms if it exceeds $1,300. He said Friday that he was only acting on the wishes of his constituents when he opposed efforts to expand gambling in Pennsylvania. "Gambling should not be everywhere. It should be a destination-oriented activity where you go there and enjoy the day or two and return," he said. "I don't believe it's in the best interests of citizens to be able to walk across the street and play slots." He is due to take his $145,000-a-year, appointed position on the gaming board by the middle of next month. Ethics rules only bar board members from gambling or taking compensation from a licensee or an applicant in Pennsylvania, according to spokesman Doug Harbach. McNaughton said most of his winnings came from playing slot machines in Las Vegas and stud poker in Atlantic City, N.J.

Monday, December 18, 2006

While European Countries Regulate Gambling the US Prohibits It

 

Spain has just announced plans to regulate Internet gambling. Italy has already begun to regulate Internet gambling. The UK's new laws to regulate Internet gambling will be implemented in 2007. The EU is putting strict guidelines on European nations to protect against protectionism. And the Bush led United States is sticking by its prohibitionist terms. The consequences of the United States not getting into this market while the market is hot might be detrimental to the future success of Internet gambling in the US once the country ultimately reverses the UIGEA. Party Poker, Ladbrokes, and many other major online casino, poker, sportsbook and gambling companies are scrambling to Italy, Spain, and the Uk. They are all searching for the place that offers them the most lucrative terms and standards for operation. According to an analyst from Shaw and Rays, an Internet gambling specialist firm based out of Canada, "the more competition between European countries, the better the circumstances will be for the Internet gambling companies." John LeQuire, the analyst from S&R, explained that if the US doesn't regulate soon the market may be too saturated once they do decide to regulate. As for the Las Vegas companies who wish to get in the game when America regulates, their success will depend on how long after the rest of the world has been in business. "If the world gets used to the brand names of the online companies based out of the EU," LeQuire said, "the brand names of Vegas companies that are very valuable right now, may no longer matter to regular players."

Using gambling revenue to pay for other needs is wrong

 

I don't understand the governor's agenda. I believe privatization is good, but to use gambling as a source of revenue to pay for other needs is wrong. Gambling needs to be removed from the government's protective umbrella. We know wherever there is gambling there are vice and corruption; we also know that reducing the size of government bureaucracy eliminates a source of corruption. Is he trying to be all things to all people? He's too smart to believe that. He should stay on the straight path.

Palu councillors caught gambling

 

Six Palu municipal councillors were arrested Thursday and charged with gambling. Police arrested the suspects in a hotel room and seized Rp 225,000 (US$25) in cash and playing cards. The councillors are being held for questioning at Palu Police Headquarters. Officers identified the suspects as Yos Sudarso, chairman of the Democrat Party in Palu, Arifin Labanu (Democrat Party), Andi Indra Adil, Paharuddin Sumang and Aswandi (Golkar Party), and Revi Arifin Pasau (National Concern Party). Police were acting on an anonymous tip that a group of city councillors were gambling in a room at the Sentral Hotel in South Palu. Palu Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Atrial initially declined to comment on the arrests, but on Friday said police were investigating the case and that the suspects would not receive any preferential treatment. The chairman of the Golkar Regional Executive Board in Palu, Rusdi Mastura, told The Jakarta Post he had asked police to handle the case as they would any other criminal matter.

Other forms of gambling already exist lawfully

 

In Sunday Stabroek of the 10th December 2006, the headlines read, "Religious leaders against casino gambling." I am simply astonished that these religious leaders' mindset is still immersed in the dark ages. A few years back, whilst living in the USA I would visit the race tracks daily. I was very surprised at first that racing would be allowed on Good Friday. I soon realized that America does not have the time for religious sentiments. For them Good Friday is just another day. It became abundantly clear to me why America is such a wealthy country. I am sure God will forgive the land of the brave their transgressions. For God helps those who helps themselves. As a nation, some of our religious leaders are morally bankrupt. They are more interested in driving in fancy four by fours and preaching in an air-conditioned church. What is so wrong with casino gambling when we already have horse racing, lottery, and many gambling clubs. Does the church ever refuse donations from people who win the lottery? Does the Church ever enquire if the donations given to them are from dubious sources? These religious leaders are living in a cocoon. They must look at countries like Curacao and Antigua which have thrived on casino gambling. Unlike Guyana, these countries do not have our huge resources which we have never truly utilised. They are strictly dependent on tourism, which is a facet of casino gambling or vice-versa. It is the same for Aruba and Bonaire. Guyana has to attract tourists, casino gambling goes with the territory. If the religious leaders are against casino gambling they must find jobs for the young people leaving schools. The horse racing betting shops have provided a great service to this nation by finding jobs for our young folk. Mr. Chetram Singh and Mr. Yusuf Mungroo, must be commended for their perseverance. These religious leaders must talk the talk and walk the walk. They must not forget how the Vatican acquired some of their wealth. Do you think that there are no casinos in Italy? These religious leaders need to focus on nation building and not try to get immersed in affairs that will affect the general populace's pockets. In closing, Jesus told the mob who wanted to stone the woman for adultery "He that is without sin cast the first stone."

ONLINE GAMBLING AD RESTRICTIONS PASSED IN ONTARIO

 

Would-be online gambling advertisers in the Ontario province of Canada will need to update their knowledge on what is and is not permitted following the passage of a consumer protection bill containing advertising restrictions, which was passed by the provincial legislature this week. According to an assessment in p2pnet.net News by Michael Geist, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, the new legislation contains provisions prohibiting the advertising of Internet gambling sites. The provisions underwent important changes at committee level, however, so that the final bill looks somewhat different from the one that was introduced in the fall. Geist writes that when first introduced, the bill contained a blanket prohibition on advertising an "an Internet site that operates an internet gaming business contrary to the Criminal Code." The bill defined advertising as: (a) the promotion by print, publication, broadcast, telecommunication or distribution by any means, of information intended to promote the use of an internet gaming business, (b) self-promotion and a contract under which one person obtains the services of another to develop or distribute the advertisement, (c) a link in a website intended to promote the use of an internet gaming business. However, after the committee stage, the bill contained some important changes. While the blanket prohibition remains unchanged, the definition of advertising has been narrowed to instances where the advertising originates in Ontario or is primarily intended for Ontario residents. In Geist's opinion, the positive effect of this change will be to exclude the vast majority of Internet gambling advertising, which neither originates in Ontario nor is primarily targeted at residents of the province. The prohibition against linking has also been narrowed by excluding links "generated as the result of a search carried out by means of an internet search engine." In other words, Google and other search engines won't be liable for links to gambling sites generated through search queries.

Geist concludes that most Internet gambling sites are therefore unaffected, unless they specifically target Ontario with their advertising. Instead, there are two obvious effects.

Offline, it seems likely that Internet gambling newspaper and radio promotion, common in some newspapers and on sports radio stations, will disappear.

Online, Internet search companies and websites will likely refuse advertisements that specifically target Ontario. Such targeting may occur either by way of the promotion itself or by using geo-identifying technologies.

This law may also capture Ontario bloggers and websites that focus on Internet gambling. Those sites won't be able to feature Internet gambling advertising and may even face liability for posting links to various gambling sites.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Video gambling machines could return to Indiana bars

 

The Indiana Licensed Beverage Association has proposed a bill that would allow Cherry Master video gambling machines in bars. For-profit businesses could have up to five machines, while nonprofit fraternal groups could have up to 10. All machines would be taxed by the Indiana Gaming Commission. The bill comes months after authorities confiscated video gambling machines from bars across the region. Danyelle Cross, part-owner of Timber's Lounge, has no problem with the idea of the machines coming back. "I absolutely think it should be legalized," Cross said. She said customers have approached her and suggested Timber's carry machines. Although she doesn't think the machines would increase business significantly, pleasing the customer is important to her. "They're used to having it, and you need to give the customers what they want," she said. Dee Jernigan, a bartender at Stirling's, said the machines can only be a good thing. "The more they drink, the more they play, and the more money you make," Jernigan said. Jernigan used to work at bars in Oklahoma, where the machines were legal. If the machines were legal here, money would benefit the state, she said. "I look at it this way: I think Indiana needs the money a lot more than what we do out in Oklahoma, so that's what they need to do - they need to bring the machines back," she said. The money isn't the only issue. Jernigan also wants customers to have a good time at the bar. "People get bored just sitting around drinking, you know, playing the jukebox. They've got to have something else to do," she said.

Russia considers gambling curbs

 

Russia's lower house of parliament on Friday backed sweeping gambling legislation force casinos across the country to relocate into four designated zones. The State Duma voted 425-0 on a key second reading to pass the Kremlin-backed legislation, which would set up the four special regions by July 1, 2009. All gambling and slot machine businesses -- including those in Moscow where casinos and slot halls appear to be virtually on every street corner -- would have to close and move to the Primorsky, Altai, Rostov/Krasnodar or Kaliningrad regions. Primorsky is a Pacific region, wedged between the Sea of Japan and China; while Kaliningrad is located on the Baltic Sea and cut off from Russia proper by Lithuania and Belarus. The Rostov/Krasnodar regions are located along the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, while Altai is a mountainous region along the borders with Kazakhstan and Mongolia. New rules would also go into effect on Jan. 1, 2007, setting up minimum age limits for casino-goers, a minimum number of gambling tables and slot machines for establishments to operate and other restrictions. Lawmakers in the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, which dominates the Duma, have long pushed for gaming halls to be located outside city limits, blaming a surge in cases of gambling addiction on companies that control the multibillion-dollar industry. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, gambling in Russia has exploded, with slot machines alone raking in an estimated $3.6 billion last year.

Former Officer Admits to Protecting Gambling Ring

 

He took an oath to uphold the law. But Thursday, a former Honolulu police officer went before a judge and admitted he helped protect an illegal gambling operation on Oahu's North Shore. Flanked by his family and friends, former Honolulu police officer Glenn Miram faces one of the toughest moments of his life. "It's killing him," Robert Prasser, Miram family friend, said. "It's been a tough year. You know, he has lost his job and he wants to move on." Move on, by admitting he broke the law. Miram was one of five police officers indicted in April, following a federal probe into illegal gambling on Oahu's North Shore. The indictment accused him of providing a Waialua gambling ring that ran cockfights a heads-up on police raids. "One of the co-defendants, who's a police officer, gave him a number of another co-defendant to give a call to," William Harrison, defense attorney, said. "And my client, unfortunately, made the call." In Federal Court, Miram admits he informed one of the defendants "that the Gambling Detail would be down at the Waialua fights that weekend." The judge asks, "You gave them advanced warning?" The former officer replies, "Yes." "There was a lot of soul searching on his behalf," Harrison said after the court hearing. "He spoke to his family. He thought it would be the best thing for him to do is to take responsibility." He pleads guilty to a conspiracy charge that carries a punishment of up to five years in prison.

Anti-online gambling ad law

 

The Province of Ontario has passed new consumer protection legislation that contains provisions prohibiting the advertising of Internet gambling sites. The provisions underwent important changes at committee (first reading, second reading after committee), however, so that the final bill looks somewhat different from the one that was introduced in the fall. When first introduced, the bill contained a blanket prohibition on advertising an "an Internet site that operates an internet gaming business contrary to the Criminal Code." The bill defined advertising as: (a) the promotion by print, publication, broadcast, telecommunication or distribution by any means, of information intended to promote the use of an internet gaming business, (b) self-promotion and a contract under which one person obtains the services of another to develop or distribute the advertisement, (c) a link in a website intended to promote the use of an internet gaming business. After committee, the bill contained some important changes. While the blanket prohibition remains unchanged, the definition of advertising has been narrowed to instances where the advertising originates in Ontario or is primarily intended for Ontario residents. The effect of this change will be to exclude the vast majority of Internet gambling advertising, which neither originates in Ontario nor is primarily targeted at residents of the province. Moreover, the prohibition against linking has also been narrowed by excluding links "generated as the result of a search carried out by means of an internet search engine." In other words, Google and other search engines won't be liable for links to gambling sites generated through search queries. So what gets covered by this law? Most Internet gambling sites are unaffected, unless they specifically target Ontario with their advertising. Instead, there are two obvious effects. Offline, it seems likely that Internet gambling newspaper and radio promotion, common in some newspapers and on sports radio stations, will disappear. Online, Internet search companies and websites will likely refuse advertisements that target Ontario. Such targeting may occur either by way of the promotion itself or by using geo-identifying technologies. This law may also capture Ontario bloggers and websites that focus on Internet gambling. Those sites won't be able to feature Internet gambling advertising and may even face liability for posting links to various gambling sites.

Affadavit sheds light on gambling case, pharmacist's alleged double life

 

Undercover IRS agents had several conversations with a McDowell County pharmacist about the way a gambling operation was run, according to a federal search warrant affidavit. The pharmacist, Saad Kamil Deeb, is under federal indictment on money laundering and gambling charges. Deeb, who owns and operates Citizen's Pharmacy in Welch, was indicted last month by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to evade reporting about $1.7 million in income he received from allegedly operating a gambling parlor, his own gambling profits and from skimming $250,000 or more a year from the business for four or five years. Deeb's accountant, Bluefield resident Charles "Bud" Donchatz, has been cooperating with federal investigators for more than a year and introduced the undercover agents to the pharmacist. Agents recorded a number of the meetings, including one at Donchatz' office in February where Deeb admitted he had been making deposits and withdrawals from a McDowell County bank in amounts just below the $10,000 federally-required reporting mark, the affidavit states. He also acknowledged doing Internet gambling, most of it in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, according to the affidavit. And, the affidavit states, Deeb said he did not want to pay taxes on his profits. "I'm taking about a quarter of a million a year," Deeb is quoted as telling the agent about skimming the pharmacy profits. "I don't like to report all this sh-- and pay taxes on it." But he also expressed reservations about his alleged illegal activities in February and seemed to have the feeling IRS agents were closing in on his activities. "I'm expecting any day they're going to come," the undercover agent reported Deeb told him. Investigators also went through the income tax returns of Deeb's former girlfriend, Sherrie Hickson, and his friend, state liquor inspector Jimmy Kemal Hazemey, the affidavit revealed. Both allegedly did banking and moved money around for Deeb, though neither has been charged. Federal agents also noted the pharmacy has 10 separate telephone lines and Deeb's residence has five. From December until June, more than 51,000 calls were made to or from those phone lines.

The agent who wrote the affidavit, IRS Special Agent Stephen Rowley, stated that "is consistent with large-scale sports gambling."

But Deeb didn't know what to do with all the cash. In one recorded meeting with Donchatz he allegedly told the accountant, "This between me and you. You know really kills me ... I mean, uh, this store's making so much money an' I can't, uh, know which way to f------g pocket all I can, you know what I'm saying?"

He then asks the best way to do that.

Rowley also wrote that Deeb agreed to place bets for the IRS undercover agent's supposed clients, saying he kept six cell phones for placing bets.

Deeb had purchased the former Moose Lodge in Welch, and an informant told IRS agents he paid a Charleston firm to install an in-floor safe in the structure, the affidavit states. He told the undercover agent he planned to open a bar on the first floor of the building and a methadone clinic on the second, according to the affidavit.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Stop gambling for Christmas, say Filipino bishops

 

Filipino bishops have decided to take on both illegal and state-run gambling for Christmas and have urged Catholics to remember the spirit of the season and not throw away their money. Launched by one of the country's most charismatic prelates, Mgr Oscar Cruz, archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, the campaign has targeted illegal and government-run games. For almost five years now, the prelate has been involved in an all out fight against betting and gambling which has earned him the enmity of game lords and death threats. His campaign received a boost in the last few days when the Bishops' Conference decided to join him. Its chairman, Mgr Angel N. Lagdameo, made an "urgent and ardent appeal" urging local and national officials, ordinary citizens and business leaders to say "No" to numbers game. His appeal was read in Catholic churches in last Sunday mass, the second Sunday of Advent. The prelate said that he was "happy and quite satisfied" when national authorities decided to join the bishops to fight the problem. "This way they show they are united against this social scourge". Mgr Cruz's main target is jueteng, the Philippines' most popular game. It has become a national phenomenon that generated gambling activities worth 13 billion pesos "over 185 million euros or close to 250 US dollars) last year, a business run by 14 or 15 gambling lords who divided up the Philippines 24 provinces among themselves and will do anything to protect their interests. The bishop told AsiaNews that "about 85 per cent of this money goes into payolas, kickbacks, to protect the 'gambling lords' and are paid out to government, police, army and even media. If you don't like it, you're not welcome in the country," the prelate explained.

For this reason, Archbishop Cruz has received threatening phone calls and letters as well as death threats. But he won't let up and give in to fear.

"In the country, the phenomenon is so widespread because Filipinos have bought into a gambling culture. We are an agricultural country and farmers have long periods of free time. This way, rackets can set roots and play on people's hope for the big one as they spend their time having fun," he said.

Gambling is not only widespread among the poor but also among higher social classes, who are "more narrow-minded and tight-fisted" and play a "game different from jueteng".

New gambling commission

 

A new shadow Gambling Commission, led by Graham White, has been set up in Jersey to prepare for the move to a more statutory Gambling Commission. The other members of the commission are Peter Cruickshank and Jeremy Arnold. The gaming industry in Jersey, with an excellent reputation as a well regulated jurisdiction, is hoping to expand further and attract more investment to the island. On top of this, the Commissions role will be to promote the region as an attractive proposition for remote gambling companies and to ensure that any potential harm is minimised, as well providing schemes to protect the young and vulnerable. Graham White, who was chief inspector of the U.K's equivalent commission from 1983 to 2005, well bring valuable experience to the role as Jersey look to compliment the mainland U.K upon the introduction of the new Gambling Act next September. Members will sit on the commission for a maximum of three years, during which time it is expected that Jersey's Gambling Commission Law and the Gambling Law will be changed, or at the very least, debated.

La Vergne Police arrest Murfreesboro residents; others on gambling charges

 

An anonymous tip lead to the arrest of 22 people on gambling and other charges and a gambling establishment was closed down in La Vergne Wednesday night. The operation took place less than 75 yards from a church. Of the 22 arrested at 121E George Chaney Blvd, five were for felony charges while 17 were given misdemeanor citations. "We received an anonymous call that there was gambling going on and when we went over there to do a welfare check, we noticed the security camera on the outside of the building," LPD Lt. Ted Boyd said Thursday morning. "Officers Russell Howell and Chip Davis knocked on the door and the owners let them in. Apparently, the owners tried to convince police that they had made a place for their friends to get together and play poker." The games stated at 8:15 p.m. and reportedly would go on until the next morning. There was a $200 entry fee to play, Boyd said, noting they'd only been operating for about three to four weeks. Three of the individuals - Steven Colbert, 42, of Shelbyville; Denny Kalinic, 33, of Columbia and Cathy McPherson, 23 of Shelbyville - were charged with the promotion of gambling and aggravated gambling. Two individuals ---Ashley R. Hayes, 38, of Rockvale and Tyrone L. Jackson, 30, of Nashville -- were charged with gambling and possession of drugs. Approximately 400 pills were confiscated, along with nearly ½ pound of cocaine and a small amount of marijuana. The pills were Oxycontin, Loratab, Xanax, Percoset and more. Charged with gambling were Landace Clackner, 26, of Nashville; Ernest Milton Darrett, 51, of Smyrna; Samuel B. King, 31, of Hermitage; Jefferson W. Morrill, 36, of Nashville; Van L. Ho, 22, of Lebanon; Millard Austin, 28, of Murfreesboro; Thomas James 31, of Smyrna; Robert Martin, 34, of Smyrna; Jerry K. Shadowens, 41, of Smyrna; Rangsit T. Iamsaard, 37, of Murfreesboro; Matthew M. Skaggs, 28, of Murfreesboro; Christopher S. Bissinger, 25, of La Vergne; Russell A. James, 30, of Murfreesboro; Allison Johnson, 27, of Antioch; Joycelyn Edwards, 27, of Antioch; Mark Pellatiro, 32, of Antioch and Gary Armstrong, 48, of Nashville. In addition to the arrests, LPD officers seized $15,063 in cash, two trucks - a 2005 Chevy Silverado 3500 and a Dodge Ram SRT 10 - two TVs, five guns, leather furniture, a refrigerator (which was used to store alcohol and food), gaming tables and a poker machine. Only the poker machine will have to be destroyed. If the owners of the trucks aren't able to get their vehicles back, they - along with the other items - will be sold at auction.

Ten officers from second and third shift responded to the call and Vice/Narcotics and LPD's Crime Scene Unit were called in to assist and process the scene.

According to Boyd, this is the largest bust by LPD officers on one call in one night.

"I'm proud of our department for the hard work they did in making these arrests and closing down this operation," Chief Steve Lindsay said. "This was a major operation and we're glad we shut the games down before they could possibly lead to more crimes within the city."

Germany imposes gambling monopoly

 

Sports betting machines in Germany got a reprieve - but only a temporary one - when the German states postponed a plan to impose a state monopoly on gambling, banning private lottery agents and sports betting companies. The postponement is only until next year, when ministers will ratify proposals to extend the states' monopoly for four years. The new law will take effect in January 2008. In March of this year the Federal Constitutional Court decided that the states can only insist on a monopoly if they amend their marketing techniques for their lotteries to conform with gambling addiction avoidance. The states have already taken action against some sports betting companies, notably based in Austria.

Gambling operation revealed

 

A McDowell County pharmacist under federal indictment on money laundering and gambling charges spoke freely to undercover Internal Revenue Service agents about how he ran the gambling operation and skimmed profits from his drug store, a federal search warrant affidavit unsealed Thursday revealed. Saad Kamil Deeb, who owns and operates Citizen's Pharmacy in Welch, was indicted last month by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to evade reporting about $1.7 million in income he received from allegedly operating a gambling parlor, his own gambling profits and from skimming $250,000 or more a year from the business for four or five years. Deeb's accountant, Bluefield resident Charles "Bud" Donchatz, has been cooperating with federal investigators for more than a year and introduced the undercover agents to the pharmacist. Agents recorded a number of the meetings, including one at Donchatz' office in February where Deeb admitted he had been making deposits and withdrawals from a McDowell County bank in amounts just below the $10,000 federally-required reporting mark, the affidavit states. He also acknowledged doing Internet gambling, most of it in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, according to the affidavit. And, the affidavit states, Deeb said he did not want to pay taxes on his profits. "I'm taking about a quarter of a million a year," Deeb is quoted as telling the agent about skimming the pharmacy profits. "I don't like to report all this sh- and pay taxes on it." But he also expressed reservations about his alleged illegal activities in February and seemed to have the feeling IRS agents were closing in on his activities. "I'm expecting any day they're going to come," the undercover agent reported Deeb told him. Investigators also went through the income tax returns of Deeb's former girlfriend, Sherrie Hickson, and his friend, state liquor inspector Jimmy Kemal Hazemey, the affidavit revealed. Both allegedly did banking and moved money around for Deeb, though neither has been charged.

Ex-Minister Linked to Gambling Scandal

 

Prosecutors are tracing the bank account transactions of former Culture and Tourism Minister Chung Dong-chea as they investigate suspicions that government officials were bribed by businessmen looking for licenses to sell gift vouchers used as payouts in an illegal gambling scheme. A former assistant of Chung, identified only as Yoo, was arrested last month on charges of taking 137 million won ($149,000) from executives of CS Club Korea, one of the country's 19 companies authorized to issue the gift certificates used at adults-only game arcades. ``We are looking into Chung's financial transactions to confirm some suspicions. We have not found anything as of yet worth commenting on,'' said an official from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office. ``We are looking into Chung's financial transactions to confirm some suspicions. We have not found anything as of yet worth commenting on,'' said an official from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office. Since the end of August, the prosecution has mounted an investigation into allegations public officials at the Culture Ministry and its sub-organizations were lobbied by companies applying for licenses to sell game machines and gift vouchers. With the investigation entering its fourth month, prosecutors have arrested more than 30 government officials, businessmen and members of organized crime units involved in operating what were essentially gambling parlors. Baek Eeek, a former director at the Culture Ministry arrested for taking 35 million won from a gift voucher issuer, was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 36 million won by the Seoul Central District Court Wednesday. Chung, a lawmaker from the governing Uri Party, was at helm at the ministry from 2004 to March this year. During his tenure, the country saw the video slot machine empire grew beyond recognition, with the ministry loosening business restrictions on game arcades. Pressured by calls for an easier reviewing process, the ministry, under Chung, introduced a permit system for companies applying for licenses to sell the vouchers in March last year. The certification process allowed any applying company to issue the vouchers by meeting certain requirements in revenue and market coverage.

However, authorities were forced to scrap the new rating methods just three months later, after it was found that some companies obtained licenses by manipulating their sales records.

There have been suspicions that ministry officials rushed the introduction of the permit system after being lobbied by the companies.

Prosecutors are pushing their probe further into politicians, planning to summon Uri Party lawmaker Cho Seong-lae sometime next week for questioning about his relationship with the owner of Friends C&M, one of the voucher issuers. Investigators are currently tracing his bank account transactions.

Prosecutors could also call in Grand National Party (GNP) lawmaker Park Hyung-joon for the second time next week. Park was summoned Wednesday after it was found that he received 100 million won from a company issuing the vouchers to fund a culture event he chaired.

The Culture Ministry's decision in 2002 to allow arcades to provide certain types of gift certificates as payouts, has been widely blamed as the cause of the rapid expansion of gambling, with most arcades unlawfully trading the vouchers for cash.

Before the police clampdown in August, government authorities counted about 20,000 adults-only game arcades doing business around the country, most of them providing gambling games _ that is double the number of 24-hour convenience stores.

The recent gambling scandal first erupted in late July when prosecutors indicted the chief executives of the two companies that manufactured and distributed ``Pada Iyagi'' (Sea Story) video slot machines.

Most of the machines were illegally reprogrammed to allow higher payouts than the legal limit of 20,000 won. ``Pada Iyagi'' is the country's most popular slot machine game by far with more than 45,000 units sold.

Speculation of influence peddling mounted when it was found that Roh Ji-won, one of President Roh Moo-hyun's nephews, worked as an executive of a company acquired earlier this year by Zico Prime, the game's distributor.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christchurch reported to have most gambling-related crimes

 

Chief executive John Stainsfield says the foundation has been monitoring reports of crime in the country. He says the number of gambling facilities in Christchurch is one of the problems. Mr Stainsfield says operators need to take more responsibility, but the community also needs to recognise the signs of problem gambling. He says the city council's decision not to lift a moratorium on new pokie machines is a victory for the 2,000 submitters who opposed the move.

German states set to ban Internet gambling

 

Germany's federal states plan to ban Internet gambling, according to draft documents to be discussed by the country's state premiers on Wednesday. Reports in the German media are suggesting that Germany's states will meet this week to outline plans for banning Internet gambling in the country. Despite pressure from the European Commission to open up Europe's gambling market to competition, ministers from most states want to sign off on new rules aimed at protecting their lucrative monopoly as lottery operators, said Handelsblatt. German lottery company Fluxx AG has joined fellow online compatriots Tipp24 AG in saying that it may have to abandon its native market if the country's 16 states pass a new law effectively banning private operators. Fluxx's CFO Stefan Haenel said that the company would not give up on Germany without a fight, but warned that it would be going to 'use opportunities' outside the country. It was also reported that the mainly private firms, such as Tipp24 and Fluxx, would be granted a one-year transition period. The ministers will meet in Berlin on Wednesday morning. The state of Saxony and two other states imposed a ban earlier this year on commercial betting. That was directed mainly at Austrian Internet betting firm bwin.com whose German unit is the country's biggest commercial bookmaker. Bwin and its peers are facing increasingly stringent regulations in the United States and Europe, where governments are curbing Internet gambling to protect customers and state-run lotteries. The European Union's commissioner for internal markets and services has already said that the current German state monopoly breaches EU law and said that the government needs to pass laws that apply to everyone, both private companies and state-run gambling operations, equally.

Russia proposes far-flung gambling zones

 

In post-Soviet Moscow, hundreds of neon-spangled casinos and slot-machine halls illuminate a city once dominated by Stalin-era skyscrapers and golden-domed Orthodox Churches. Under the proposed law, the gambling halls would be shut down by 2009. Casinos would be allowed only in four gambling zones located in less populated areas of the country, including two zones in European Russia, one in Siberia and one in the Russian Far East. The Kremlin has yet to name the specific zones. Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave tucked between Poland and Lithuania, the Black Sea resort of Sochi and the Siberian region of Lake Baikal are a few of the areas being proposed. Gambling industry officials say the sweeping legislation would cripple a $6-billion-a-year business. In Moscow alone, there are 540 gambling businesses, from large casinos to small slot machine halls tucked along alleys. Creating the four zones would require significant investment and time in a country where red tape and overwhelming bureaucracy often stall business projects. Many gambling industry executives say the two-year deadline to close casinos in the cities and rebuild them elsewhere would be impossible to meet given Russia's underdeveloped hospitality industry, dilapidated roads and Soviet-era airports outside of the large cities. "It certainly took more than one or two years for (Las Vegas) to develop," said Yevgeny Kovtun, vice president of the Gambling Business Operators Association. Even if the federal government provided incentives for investors, building the Vegas-styled zones "will require at least 10 years," he said. Supporters of the bill say the proposed zones are necessary to protect the Russians from the evils of gambling. In October, President Vladimir Putin likened gambling to "the spread of alcoholism." Lawmakers also accuse the gambling industry of taking advantage of poor Russians. "Lonely mothers, low-paid workers and people who see no future for themselves - these are the victims we are obliged to protect from the vices of gambling because they are trapped by huge advertising," said Alexander Lebedev, a parliament member and billionaire businessman who has lobbied for gambling reform for several years. "Those in the gambling business are highly unethical. I think gambling is not a normal business and is certainly one that we don't require in this society."

In Soviet times, gambling was outlawed, seen as a capitalist vice in which only the greedy indulged.

But 15 years after the fall of communism and with a rising economy, Russia has provided fertile ground for the gaming industry. Slack regulations and licensing fees of less than $20 made it easy for just about any entrepreneur to install a slot machine in a corner grocer or kiosk. By the late 1990s, gambling had become a hobby of both the elite, who visit the top-notch Moscow casinos, and the working class, who can easily slip into a neighborhood slot machine hall.

The gaming industry contributes about $1 billion of tax revenue each year to the Russian government.

Casino owners say they have been calling for a change in the unregulated gaming industry for years. Higher license fees and a gaming commission to oversee regulations would better serve the industry and be more feasible than forcing all casinos to relocate to remote areas of the country, they argue.

The proposed zones will be "like going from one extreme to the other," said Michael Boettcher, an Englishman and former blackjack dealer who moved to Moscow in 1992 and now runs some of the city's top casinos. His company, Storm, also manages Moscow's popular slot machine hall chain, Super Slots.

"The federal government just came in and let the hammer drop instead of listening to what we had been suggesting for years," he said.

Lebedev and other lawmakers say they expect the bill to pass before the end of the year.

Opinion polls show support for the proposed law. In an October survey conducted by the All-Russian Opinion Poll Center, 65 percent said they were in favor of removing casinos from city centers and relocating them to special zones.

For gamblers such as Artur Luzin, 24, a waiter who frequents the tables and slot machines of the Golden Peacock Casino in central Moscow, closing the city's casinos will be a disappointment.

"These places make the city an attractive place to visit for young people like me," he said. "I agree that they should close down the smaller, seedier places. But let us spend our money they way we want."

In post-Soviet Moscow, hundreds of neon-spangled casinos and slot-machine halls illuminate a city once dominated by Stalin-era skyscrapers and golden-domed Orthodox Churches. Under the proposed law, the gambling halls would be shut down by 2009.

Casinos would be allowed only in four gambling zones located in less populated areas of the country, including two zones in European Russia, one in Siberia and one in the Russian Far East.

The Kremlin has yet to name the specific zones. Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave tucked between Poland and Lithuania, the Black Sea resort of Sochi and the Siberian region of Lake Baikal are a few of the areas being proposed.

Gambling industry officials say the sweeping legislation would cripple a $6-billion-a-year business. In Moscow alone, there are 540 gambling businesses, from large casinos to small slot machine halls tucked along alleys.

Creating the four zones would require significant investment and time in a country where red tape and overwhelming bureaucracy often stall business projects. Many gambling industry executives say the two-year deadline to close casinos in the cities and rebuild them elsewhere would be impossible to meet given Russia's underdeveloped hospitality industry, dilapidated roads and Soviet-era airports outside of the large cities.

"It certainly took more than one or two years for (Las Vegas) to develop," said Yevgeny Kovtun, vice president of the Gambling Business Operators Association. Even if the federal government provided incentives for investors, building the Vegas-styled zones "will require at least 10 years," he said.

Supporters of the bill say the proposed zones are necessary to protect the Russians from the evils of gambling. In October, President Vladimir Putin likened gambling to "the spread of alcoholism."

Lawmakers also accuse the gambling industry of taking advantage of poor Russians.

"Lonely mothers, low-paid workers and people who see no future for themselves - these are the victims we are obliged to protect from the vices of gambling because they are trapped by huge advertising," said Alexander Lebedev, a parliament member and billionaire businessman who has lobbied for gambling reform for several years. "Those in the gambling business are highly unethical. I think gambling is not a normal business and is certainly one that we don't require in this society."

In Soviet times, gambling was outlawed, seen as a capitalist vice in which only the greedy indulged.

But 15 years after the fall of communism and with a rising economy, Russia has provided fertile ground for the gaming industry. Slack regulations and licensing fees of less than $20 made it easy for just about any entrepreneur to install a slot machine in a corner grocer or kiosk. By the late 1990s, gambling had become a hobby of both the elite, who visit the top-notch Moscow casinos, and the working class, who can easily slip into a neighborhood slot machine hall.

The gaming industry contributes about $1 billion of tax revenue each year to the Russian government.

Casino owners say they have been calling for a change in the unregulated gaming industry for years. Higher license fees and a gaming commission to oversee regulations would better serve the industry and be more feasible than forcing all casinos to relocate to remote areas of the country, they argue.

The proposed zones will be "like going from one extreme to the other," said Michael Boettcher, an Englishman and former blackjack dealer who moved to Moscow in 1992 and now runs some of the city's top casinos. His company, Storm, also manages Moscow's popular slot machine hall chain, Super Slots.

"The federal government just came in and let the hammer drop instead of listening to what we had been suggesting for years," he said.

Lebedev and other lawmakers say they expect the bill to pass before the end of the year.

Opinion polls show support for the proposed law. In an October survey conducted by the All-Russian Opinion Poll Center, 65 percent said they were in favor of removing casinos from city centers and relocating them to special zones.

For gamblers such as Artur Luzin, 24, a waiter who frequents the tables and slot machines of the Golden Peacock Casino in central Moscow, closing the city's casinos will be a disappointment.

"These places make the city an attractive place to visit for young people like me," he said. "I agree that they should close down the smaller, seedier places. But let us spend our money they way we want."

ONLINE ONLY LETTERS: Court right on gambling; Moore should go

 

I read with great delight your story regarding the Alabama Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that "video sweepstakes games at a greyhound dog track in Birmingham are illegal gambling devices, no different from slot machines." Mark White, Milton McGregor's attorney, according to the story, said "the ruling means that Alabama will continue to lose money to neighboring states that offer lotteries or casino gambling operations." The article further quoted White in saying," Again, our state is inhibited in its ability to compete with our neighboring states for revenues and funding that support local education, business and growth." Why are they giving so much attention to lotteries and casino gambling operations as competition for revenues and funding to support local education, business and growth? Are there other wholesome business opportunities for Alabama that can be competitive enough to produce revenues and funding for local education, business and growth besides lotteries and casino gambling operations? How about toothbrush manufacturing plants in which toothbrushes are made, distributed and sold worldwide? More paper companies that produce tissue, paper towels, writing paper, copier paper and etc. (especially since timber is one of Alabama's top industries and there is such a great demand for paper goods worldwide)? More quality assisted living facilities for the elderly in areas where they once lived? More appropriate recreational facilities for the young and not-so-young in their own communities? Organic farms that supply healthy and life-sustaining food to the world? Treatment facilities in communities throughout the state where they are needed to address the problems of addictions, including gambling?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Put a hold on gambling

 

This letter is to confirm a desire by people across the state for a moratorium of at least a year on slots licensing. Pennsylvania citizens have been put at a disadvantage from the outset re slots and casinos. The lack of transparency has been a serious problem from the beginning and continues as the Gaming Board rushes to hand out these licenses. Gambling is the kind of enterprise that calls for ultimate transparency. Gambling legislation should have maximum citizen input. A moratorium may provide us that input. An executive order for at least a year's moratorium on slots licenses would indicate your concern for the health, safety and well-being of the citizens our government is to protect. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission recommended against bailing out tracks with slots, and called for a pause in gambling expansion so the impact could be studied. We don't even have an independent study on how gambling has already affected our citizens, communities and the state. A moratorium would offer a chance for this and allow for a prudent discussion of gambling expansion or rollback. A recent report from Nova Scotia shows that at least half of the domestic violence cases involved gambling. This is a red flag for those concerned with reducing crime. An independent study shows the per capita costs of a casino to be $190 and the per capita benefits at $34 (IF the gambler is not local)! This kind of information is critical to the social and fiscal well-being of those who have to pick up the gambling tab and for expansion decisions. Communities targeted by gambling interests made citizens feel like they are under siege. Invasion should not be the way that casinos come into communities. A moratorium would also allow for changes to Act 71 that might result in casino license fees having to be returned, saving litigation against the state.

Sibling rivalry halts Macao gambling IPO

 

Winnie Ho claims Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau owes her about 3 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $386 million, in dividends for the past five years for her 8 percent stake. Winnie, 83, has filed more than 30 lawsuits against her brother over alleged debt, defamation and the shareholding structure of the companies. "We don't need all these lawyers if he plays by the rules and the law and pays me back the money he owes me," Winnie Ho said in an interview with Bloomberg television. "But that's just Stanley, always thinking he can just walk over anybody." Sociedade de Turismo's casino-operating unit has delayed plans to raise 15 billion dollars selling shares in Hong Kong because of the court actions. The Macao casino market has boomed since Ho's four-decade monopoly ended in 2002, as Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts built casinos and tourists flocked from mainland China. Stanley Ho's law firm, Herbert Smith, said in a letter that he and his company "refute entirely all of Madam Winnie Ho's allegations." Stanley Ho will not comment further because of ongoing legal proceedings, the letter said. A spokeswoman for Stanley Ho, Janet Wong, did not immediately respond to an interview request. Winnie Ho helped run the company's casinos for 25 years before being fired as executive director in December 2001. She alleges that shareholder meetings held by Sociedade de Turismo were improperly convened. Stanley Ho has said the company lost the shareholders' registry. Stanley Ho tried to buy his sister's stake in 2005 "at a very unreasonable price," she said in the interview on Dec. 5. "So I told him 'why don't I buy out your share instead.' He claimed he was not optimistic about the company's future." Sociedade de Turismo controls 80 percent of Sociedade de Jogos, or SJM, which operates the casinos. SJM had 5.56 billion patacas, or $690 million, of net income in 2005, up from 4.04 billion patacas a year earlier, according to the company's filing to the Macao Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. The company paid 11.4 billion patacas in dividends to shareholders last year. Stanley Ho's stake in Sociedade de Turismo is about 25 percent, though the family owns more. The Forbes 2006 Rich List estimates his net worth at about $6.5 billion.

Macao, the only place in China where casinos are legal, awarded casino licenses to a Las Vegas gambling tycoon, Stephen Wynn, and a Hong Kong property developer, Lui Che Woo. Each license holder can issue a subconcession license. Lui's was given to Las Vegas Sands, the world's biggest casino company by market value.

Macao, a former Portuguese colony, was returned to China in 1999. Since then there has been an influx of gamblers from mainland China.

The Macao economy expanded 11.4 percent in the third quarter. The city, a special administrative region of China, attracted more mainland Chinese visitors on individual visas than Hong Kong for the first time in September, government statistics show.

SJM's share of Macao gambling revenue plunged to about 59 percent in less than three years since Las Vegas Sands opened the first foreign-controlled casino in the city, Anil Daswani, an analyst with Citigroup in Hong Kong, wrote in an Oct. 12 report.

"We expect SJM to suffer market share losses for the rest of the year," wrote Daswani. SJM "is the biggest loser from the liberalization of the industry."

The SJM market share may drop to 42 percent by the end of next year and to 20 percent by 2009, Daswani wrote.

"I know there's a lot of competition coming, but there's still a role for SJM," Winnie Ho said. "The most important thing is for Stanley to give up control of the company and get out."

Macao is vying with the Las Vegas Strip as the world's biggest casino gambling hub. Macao took in 45.1 billion patacas in gross gambling revenue in the first 10 months of this year, according to the government. The Las Vegas Strip revenue for the year ended June 30 was $6.39 billion, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Wynn Resorts earned $45 million in sales from the first 25 days of operations of its debut Macao casino. The $1.2 billion Wynn Macao, which opened Sept. 6, derived more than 81 percent of revenue from 212 gambling tables.

New eCOGRA team to monitor UK online gambling

 

A new team has been established to monitor online gambling in the UK. eCOGRA's new team will monitor all 91 online casinos and 21 poker rooms accredited with the body's Play It Safe seal to ensure online gambling in the UK is as safe as possible. The new four-member team, all of whom have experience in the gambling and audit industry, will conduct on-site assessments of online casinos and poker rooms to ensure casinos adhere to its standards and regulations. They will take over the role previously outsourced to third party auditing firms. eCOGRA's independent directors, meanwhile, will continue to oversee the accreditation process and compliance issues, while also administering the assessment process. Andrew Beveridge, eCOGRA's chief executive, explained: 'Although the auditors have provided us with an outstanding service in the past, we now have the necessary skills, reputation and player recognition to undertake this work ourselves, giving it our closer and more immediate attention. 'This is in line with the way other independent standards organizations and regulators operate. These dedicated resources will allow us greater flexibility to meet the continually varying demands of our industry and to respond to the players' demands for a safe and rewarding online gambling experience.'

Germany to ban internet gambling

 

Germany's federal states plan to ban internet gambling, according to draft documents to be discussed by the country's state premieres on Thursday. Despite pressure from the European Commission to open up Europe's gambling market to competition, ministers from most states want to sign off on new rules aimed at protecting their lucrative monopoly as lottery operators. It also reported that the mainly private firms, such as Tipp24 and Fluxx, would be granted a one-year transition period. The ministers will meet in Berlin on Thursday morning. The state of Saxony and two other states imposed a ban earlier this year on commercial betting. That was directed mainly at Austrian internet betting firm bwin.com whose German unit is the country's biggest commercial bookmaker. Bwin and its peers are facing increasingly stringent regulations in the US and Europe, where governments are curbing Internet gambling to protect customers and state-run lotteries.

Alberta gambling losses program not enough to cure addiction

 

Treatment program aimed at managing their addiction rather than quitting can help problem gamblers cut their losses by hundreds of dollars a month, says a new report. But health officials in north-central Alberta say it's tough finding enough people to sign up. A year-long review by the Capital Health Region in Edmonton found the Gambling Decisions program developed in Alberta can help reduce average monthly losses from $832 to $69. It's the second trial of the program which was originally developed in 1998. About eight per cent of Albertans are problem gamblers. "We want to reach more people with this program," Dr. Gerry Predy, the region's medical health officer, said Tuesday. "We want to help them in the early stages of their addiction before it is too late."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Group gears up to oppose Lehigh Valley gambling plan

 

A group opposed to the development of a Lehigh Valley slots parlor is gearing up to monitor plans to build a casino on the former site of Bethlehem Steel Corp. The Bethlehem Defense Fund last week announced plans to hire attorneys, engineers and traffic consultants to keep an eye on the Sands BethWorks Gaming LLC plan to build a casino. Bethlehem attorney James D. Rawlings II was retained by the group with Allentown attorney Timothy T. Stevens. Rawlings said the goal is to block the Sands from getting a state casino license. "The group retained us in order to, shall we say, pursue all possible avenues" with respect to preventing gaming and casinos in the area, Rawlings said told The Express-Times of Easton. Should the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board choose the Sands proposal from among five applications for two available licenses, Rawlings promised "a very close and meticulous oversight of any and all operations as relates to the city of Bethlehem."

Online gambling poised to pull $528bn

 

Internet gaming is now the fastest growing segment of internet commerce, according to a report from Gamingpublic.com, an industry trade publication. Revenue in the sector is growing at a rate of 22 per cent per year. Gamingpublic.com cited a Merrill Lynch study that concluded the global internet gaming market could reach - wait for it - $528bn annually by 2015. Although the market as a whole is currently estimated by most analysts to be between $12bn and $30bn per annum, and overall growth is strong, fallout from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed by the US Congress last summer continues to plague the industry. Sportingbet PLC, one of the leading British companies in the gaming industry, recently posted a $471m loss as a result of the closure of its American operations. After its CEO, Peter Dicks, was detained in New York by American authorities, Sportingbet PLC unloaded its American operations for a mere $1.

Rhode Island police bust alleged gambling ring connected to Mob

 

Rhode Island police have arrested a dozen people in a sports betting ring that allegedly generated about $675,000 in illegal wagers in just two months, all under the watch of a man whom detectives call a ranking member of a New England Mafia family. The man accused of being the ring leader, Edward Lato, 59, of North Providence, is a longtime member of the Patriarca crime family, a syndicate that traditionally dominated criminal rackets in Providence, Boston and beyond, said Maj. Stephen O'Donnell, a spokesman for the Rhode Island State Police."He's as high as you can go before you get to the bosses," O'Donnell said Monday.Investigators said they gathered evidence using court-approved wiretaps that allowed them to listen to telephone calls and read text messages sent between accused ring members.Charged with racketeering, organized criminal gambling, conspiracy and bookmaking, Lato was released Monday after posting bail.The arrest alone could land Lato behind bars. He was sentenced in 1999 to five years, 10 months in prison after admitting that he made extortionate loans to gamblers and businessmen, then hired strong-arms to collect debts.Freed from federal prison in 2004, Lato is still serving three years of supervised release. Getting arrested again violates the terms of that release, although authorities at U.S. District Court in Providence haven't decided whether to detain him, said Barry Weiner, the court's chief probation officer.An attorney for Lato could not immediately be reached for comment.O'Donnell said police arrested Lato in a home as he was examining betting records with Rocco Falco Jr., 59, of Smithfield, who was sentenced to more than four years in prison during the same extortion case that earlier snared Lato.Detectives accuse Falco and Gary Cedroni, 38, of North Providence of serving as underlings for their alleged Mafia boss. Both men are charged with racketeering, criminal gambling and bookmaking. Ring members largely solicited bets from around Rhode Island, although Texas authorities arrested 39-year-old Kevin Lisi of Houston as part of the probe. He's now held in a Texas jail pending extradition to Rhode Island, where he's charged with gambling offenses.

During raids, police seized roughly $20,000 in cash in bills as small as $2 and as large as $1,000. They also confiscated an ounce of cocaine, Vicodin pills, steroids and syringes, gambling ledgers and six vehicles.

Internet Gambling at Casinos, Poker Rooms, and Sportsbooks is Safe

 

Internet gambling has not diminished in popularity since the United States passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in October of 2006, however, many people who enjoy playing at online casinos, poker rooms, and sports books are seeking information on whether it is legal and safe for them to play online from places like their local newspaper, and many are receiving wrong information in reply. One such question recently asked to an editor of a Miami, Florida paper was 'is it safe to play online', which the editor replied with the answer that now that BetOnSports has run away with money, players can no longer trust online offshore operators. Although it is true that BetOnSports screwed over their players, they are merely one example of the 2,300 gambling sites online and should not be seen as the norm of the industry. When the gambling bill passed and London companies bailed out of the US market, they did NOT screw over their players. The major gambling operators, such as 888.com, Party Poker, and others walked away gently from the US market after respectably refunding every US player. Even the shadier casinos that are operated by Playtech software paid out their players before they left the market. BetOnSports was an individual case in which their executives were arrested and detained in the US, as a result they shut down their business and ran for cover, screwing over everyone in their path. That is an extremely atypical case. So to answer the question that many non-addicted regular US gamblers who simply enjoy a bit of online gambling entertainment every once in a while have, 'is online gambling still safe', this author is saying a resounding 'yes'. Internet gambling is still a competitive market where if a casino were to cheat a player they would go bankrupt and be blacklisted so fast it would make a dog's head spin.

12 people arrested in alleged gambling ring

 

A dozen people are arrested in a bust into what police say was a large-scale gambling operation with ties to the Patriarca crime family. Police say they recorded about 675-thousand dollars in bets on professional and college sports games in the 45 days they were listening in on phone calls with wiretaps. State Police Major Steven O'Donnell says the suspected ringleader is Edward Lato, a man who O'Donnell says has a long history of running gambling rings. Lato is charged with racketeering, bookmaking and other crimes. Authorities also arrested Kevin Lisi, of Houston, Texas. He's accused of taking bets from Texas. The arrests happened yesterday.

Pats take away fun for gambling fans

 

Pats bettors took a pretty good whack yesterday, watching the Patriots fall, 21-0, to the Miami Dolphins as 3 1/2-point favorites, dipping to a miserable 6-6-1 against the spread this season. In a lifetime of pathetic performances in Miami, this one might be the worst because the Pats were 9-3 heading in. Offense, defense, special teams, stat men and the waterboys all contributed nothing to a team whose cracks get wider with each passing week. It's hard to pinpoint any one specific area, for there were a bunch of them, some quite visible (Matt Light and his linemates), some rather invisible (coaching) and some far, far away (Deion Branch). It's hard to believe Pats bettors still can muster the courage to back this team in any way. Barely able to beat the Lions last week (another losing wager), the Patriots did not give their backers any hope yesterday - not a jolly way to head out Christmas shopping this week. And someone please tell punter Ken Walter to retire again!

Pats take away fun for gambling fans

 

Pats bettors took a pretty good whack yesterday, watching the Patriots fall, 21-0, to the Miami Dolphins as 3 1/2-point favorites, dipping to a miserable 6-6-1 against the spread this season. In a lifetime of pathetic performances in Miami, this one might be the worst because the Pats were 9-3 heading in. Offense, defense, special teams, stat men and the waterboys all contributed nothing to a team whose cracks get wider with each passing week. It's hard to pinpoint any one specific area, for there were a bunch of them, some quite visible (Matt Light and his linemates), some rather invisible (coaching) and some far, far away (Deion Branch). It's hard to believe Pats bettors still can muster the courage to back this team in any way. Barely able to beat the Lions last week (another losing wager), the Patriots did not give their backers any hope yesterday - not a jolly way to head out Christmas shopping this week. And someone please tell punter Ken Walter to retire again!

Protesters arrested outside Pa. gambling board headquarters

 

Eighteen people were arrested today during a nonviolent protest outside the headquarters of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board after they arrived to conduct a search for information about proposed gambling halls in Philadelphia. The activist group Casino Free Philadelphia organized the event to draw attention to its claim that the board has not released sufficient information about the slot-machine parlors that could be located near its members' homes. "They have a negative impact on neighborhoods and families," said protester Morgan Jones, of Philadelphia's Fishtown neighborhood, as he was led away in plastic zip-tie handcuffs. "We feel that these were allowed in the dead of night without any public input." About 50 demonstrators, including students from a Philadelphia charter school, attended the event, chanting such slogans as "Hey, hey, ho, ho, the public has a right to know." Demonstrators read aloud from a "citizen search warrant" as they sought entry to the gaming board's offices, which are in a privately owned office building across the street from the Capitol. Security officials kept the protesters out of the agency's fifth-floor offices by closing a set of glass doors in front of the elevators. Demonstrators remained at the building's security desk, and police arrested those who ignored their requests to leave. Harrisburg City Police Capt. Pierre Ritter said those arrested were being charged with disorderly conduct and released. A Casino Free Philadelphia organizer, Anne Dicker, said the event went according to plan.

Gaming board spokesman Doug Harbach said the protesters were not allowed to go inside the agency's offices because they intended to search the offices for documents, which Harbach said was illegal.

Harbach contends the agency has released much of what the protesters were seeking, such as transcripts of public hearings on slots licenses and the public presentations by slots applicants.

The gaming board plans to vote next week to award up to 11 licenses to operate slots parlors. There are five applicants for two licenses set aside for Philadelphia.

Asked Friday about protests against the gaming board and slots parlors, gaming board chairman Tad Decker said the board understands that the slots parlors will have an impact on communities, but he said the protests will not have an effect on the voting.

He also said the board will not put off the vote to allow for public comment on the final proposals by the slots applicants.

"At the end of the day, we've been picked to vote and we're going to fulfill our statutory obligation to vote," Decker said.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

SA regional gambling 'excessive'

 

A report has found there are too many gambling machines in South Australian regional areas and it is having a negative effect on communities. The Centre for Economic Studies tabled the report at a Provincial Cities Association meeting on Friday. It found the state-wide reduction in the number of poker machines has not reduced problem gambling in country areas. Chief executive Ian McSporran says the association is getting final comments on the report from country councils and will ask the Independent Gambling Authority to address the problem. "The number of gaming machines within provincial cities has been excessive as compared to those per capita in the Adelaide metropolitan area and we see it as a regressive taxation on the people," he said.

Ex-mobster pays big for scams

 

Michael Franzese's hand was cut and bleeding, symbolic of the blood covenant he had entered into. In his cupped palms burned a prayer card, a saint lit aflame in front of a ring of men that was to become his lifelong brotherhood. In a darkened room he heard these words: "Your allegiance to La Cosa Nostra is bound by blood. Should you ever violate this oath your blood will be shed." It was Halloween 1975. At 24, Franzese was no longer just a young man, he was a sworn member of the Colombo crime family - a mobster. "I vividly remember that night," he said. "I became a part of what my dad was a part of, and it meant a lot. I belonged to a union of men. It was exhilarating." At the height of his mob involvement, Franzese's gas tax schemes and sports gambling scams brought in between $6 million and $7 million a day. In 1985 he was indicted on charges of racketeering, extortion, embezzlement and conspiracy. He served less than four years of his 10-year prison sentence, but was sent back in 1991 for violating probation.

Lawyer for James Giordano Sees Flaws in Queens DA "Gambling" case

 

When James Giordano and 24 others were indicted by the Queens District Attorneys office last month, many in the online gambling world immediately feared the worst. The first "take down" of a "significant" internet gambling business since President Bush signed a bill into law that would attempt to prevent some forms of gaming transactions. The Queens DA himself through spokesperson, Kevin Ryan, said it himself: "The arrests by prosecutors and police in New York City represent the first time that Internet gambling charges have been brought since President Bush signed into law last month the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act." This case is similar in nature to that which went down a few weeks ago in Montreal where a number of individuals with suspected "Mob ties" were arrested. They too had a connection with a gambling enterprise that just happened to utilize an online website. Neither the Queens or Montreal cases actually signal an escalation in online gambling industry prosecutions but rather demonstrate an increasing focus on gambling enterprises that operate at least partially from North American soil through use of agents (also known as "runners") and do so by offering a website to clients. The vast majority of online gambling industry companies operate exclusively off North American shores. The charges made public by the DA's office are felony violations of the Penal Law, and, nothing related to the recent law passed related to internet gambling. Authorities said they broke the case wide open last year when New York Police Department investigators secretly hacked into a laptop computer that James Giordano had left in a Long Island hotel while attending a wedding. Giordano, 52, was arrested Nov. 15 by FBI agents who scaled the walls of his fortress-like Florida compound. He was indicted along with 26 others, including three family members, on charges of running an online gambling scheme that rivaled casino sports betting. Prosecutors allege that since 2004, Giordano had run a $1 billion-a-year operation involving tens of thousands of bettors and 2,000 bookies. One of Giordano's attorneys says the numbers derived at by investigators is "mathematically incorrect".

Ex-mobster pays big for scams

 

Michael Franzese's hand was cut and bleeding, symbolic of the blood covenant he had entered into. In his cupped palms burned a prayer card, a saint lit aflame in front of a ring of men that was to become his lifelong brotherhood. In a darkened room he heard these words: "Your allegiance to La Cosa Nostra is bound by blood. Should you ever violate this oath your blood will be shed." It was Halloween 1975. At 24, Franzese was no longer just a young man, he was a sworn member of the Colombo crime family - a mobster. "I vividly remember that night," he said. "I became a part of what my dad was a part of, and it meant a lot. I belonged to a union of men. It was exhilarating." At the height of his mob involvement, Franzese's gas tax schemes and sports gambling scams brought in between $6 million and $7 million a day. In 1985 he was indicted on charges of racketeering, extortion, embezzlement and conspiracy. He served less than four years of his 10-year prison sentence, but was sent back in 1991 for violating probation.

Lawyer for James Giordano Sees Flaws in Queens DA "Gambling" case

 

When James Giordano and 24 others were indicted by the Queens District Attorneys office last month, many in the online gambling world immediately feared the worst. The first "take down" of a "significant" internet gambling business since President Bush signed a bill into law that would attempt to prevent some forms of gaming transactions. The Queens DA himself through spokesperson, Kevin Ryan, said it himself: "The arrests by prosecutors and police in New York City represent the first time that Internet gambling charges have been brought since President Bush signed into law last month the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act." This case is similar in nature to that which went down a few weeks ago in Montreal where a number of individuals with suspected "Mob ties" were arrested. They too had a connection with a gambling enterprise that just happened to utilize an online website. Neither the Queens or Montreal cases actually signal an escalation in online gambling industry prosecutions but rather demonstrate an increasing focus on gambling enterprises that operate at least partially from North American soil through use of agents (also known as "runners") and do so by offering a website to clients. The vast majority of online gambling industry companies operate exclusively off North American shores. The charges made public by the DA's office are felony violations of the Penal Law, and, nothing related to the recent law passed related to internet gambling. Authorities said they broke the case wide open last year when New York Police Department investigators secretly hacked into a laptop computer that James Giordano had left in a Long Island hotel while attending a wedding. Giordano, 52, was arrested Nov. 15 by FBI agents who scaled the walls of his fortress-like Florida compound. He was indicted along with 26 others, including three family members, on charges of running an online gambling scheme that rivaled casino sports betting. Prosecutors allege that since 2004, Giordano had run a $1 billion-a-year operation involving tens of thousands of bettors and 2,000 bookies. One of Giordano's attorneys says the numbers derived at by investigators is "mathematically incorrect".

Cellphone betting a ringtone away

 

Online and cellphone gaming will become legal for the first time in SA if a draft amendment bill adopted by the cabinet last week is finally passed into law. The South African gambling industry has been frustrated by the length of time it has taken government to come up with regulations to legalise internet gaming. Foreign operators, particularly British operators, have been waiting for internet gaming to be legalised so that they can enter the domestic market, while provincial governments have been losing out on an additional source of tax revenue. The draft bill proposes a licensing system for both the players and the online gaming websites. The manner in which gaming proceeds would be taxed still had to be determined, trade and industry deputy director-general Astrid Ludin said yesterday. She said a key challenge in drafting the proposed legislation was to find a way to effectively regulate anything on the internet and how to prevent money-laundering. Additional resources would be required for the proposed regulations to be enforced by the National Gambling Board. The department also had to look at the economic effect of interactive gambling and attempt to restrict access to a select audience, which would exclude young people. A proposed way of limiting the scope of online gambling would be to make it illegal for advertisers to advertise on gambling sites, Ludin said. Interactive gambling was outlawed by the National Gambling Act of 2004 because government considered that more time was needed to conduct research into this form of gaming, which has assumed massive proportions worldwide. The act gave Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa two years to draw up regulations to govern internet gambling, which will be regulated in terms of the proposed Gambling Amendment Bill. The long-awaited regulations stem from a report compiled by a National Gambling Board committee and the recommendations of a national gambling policy committee consisting of Mpahlwa and the provincial MECs responsible for gambling.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Progress Made in Video Gambling Probe

 

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office is allegedly confirming the circumstantial evidence surrounding whether a senior lawmaker of the ruling Uri Party ran a company issuing gift certificates used for gambling arcades by operating a partner company under a different name. Prosecutors allegedly found evidence showing that the lawmaker co-operated Sammi Corp., an issuer of gift certificates, and shared profits from the business. The lawmaker was known for his significant contributions to Roh Moo-hyun's presidential campaign in 2002. Prosecutors assume that the lawmaker was the company's owner or deeply involved in the business, though certificate issuing was operated under the name of Sammi Corp. and the partner company was registered with a different name. The investigation is proceeding on the basis that the company was disqualified for being designated as a certificate issuer. This year in late January, Sammi Corp. failed to be designated as an issuer, but applied again finally to be chosen on March 15. The second selection process came last March 2 when Park Won-yang, chairman of Sammi Construction Co. and majority shareholder, played golf with then-Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan on March 1, Independence Movement Day. Seoul Guarantee Insurance created controversy in its issuer-selection process as it owned 30,493 shares or 0.42% of the firm. Prosecutors are investigating whether the lawmaker requested or pressured Seoul Guarantee Insurance, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Korea Game Development & Promotion Institute to get approval. However, prosecutors claim that it is not illegal for the policymaker to issue and distribute certificates and make profits from the fake company. The office is expected to investigate into the background of his involvement in the business. Meanwhile, the chairman of Sammi Corp. was fined 30 million won for illegal political funds to Mr. Roh's camp of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) in the 2002 presidential campaign.

Online Gambling Firms Face Football Red Card

 

It's been a tough year for online gambling to say the least and now the British Gambling Commission is investigating the legality of shirt sponsorship deals for English Premier League football clubs. All bets could be off for companies such as Mansion and 888 Holdings to continue sponsoring Premiership clubs like Spurs and Middlesbrough. There are four premier league teams sponsored by online gambling companies: Aston Villa, who have a two-year deal with 32Red; Blackburn, who along with Leeds United are sponsored by Bet24; Tottenham, whose deal with Mansion was worth over $84 million; and Middlesbrough, who are in the final year of a big contract with 888. The concern raised by the British Minister of sports is that children are exposed to this advertising as many of them purchase the kit of their favorite team. Naturally these shirts are branded with online gambling logos. Earlier this year France arrested two executives of the Austrian sports betting giant BWin when they gave a press conference to announce a similar sponsorship deal with Monaco, one of the largest football clubs in the country. One cannot help but feel that this is a petty response based on specious logic. Billboards which can be seen throughout every football game played around the world frequently show products that are unsuitable or illegal for children. Children watch these games on television so why should companies promoting alcohol consumption be allowed advertising space? Double standards are once again being applied to the online gambling industry, but hey, there's nothing new with that - it's becoming a global epidemic in 2006.

Ladbrokes says bid talks with 888 continue

 

UK bookmaker Ladbrokes PLC said it is continuing discussions with 888 Holdings PLC over a possible takeover of the troubled online gaming group but declined to confirm a press report claiming the pair are finalising a 490 mln stg deal. 'We're still in discussions with 888 and no decision has been made at the moment,' said a Ladbrokes spokesman. The Daily Mail newspaper, quoting a source close to the situation, today reported the companies could strike a deal -- valuing 888 at anywhere between 140 pence and 145 pence a share -- as early as next week. At 11.48 am, 888 shares were up 2.5 pct at 132 pence, while Ladbrokes shares were up nearly 1 pct at 405.50 pence. Ladbrokes last month said it is in the 'early stages' of negotiations with 888, gatecrashing merger talks between the online betting group and rival PartyGaming PLC. 888 confirmed in October it entered into preliminary discussions with unnamed parties following the suspension of its main US operations.UK bookmaker Ladbrokes PLC said it is continuing discussions with 888 Holdings PLC over a possible takeover of the troubled online gaming group but declined to confirm a press report claiming the pair are finalising a 490 mln stg deal. 'We're still in discussions with 888 and no decision has been made at the moment,' said a Ladbrokes spokesman. The Daily Mail newspaper, quoting a source close to the situation, today reported the companies could strike a deal -- valuing 888 at anywhere between 140 pence and 145 pence a share -- as early as next week. At 11.48 am, 888 shares were up 2.5 pct at 132 pence, while Ladbrokes shares were up nearly 1 pct at 405.50 pence. Ladbrokes last month said it is in the 'early stages' of negotiations with 888, gatecrashing merger talks between the online betting group and rival PartyGaming PLC. 888 confirmed in October it entered into preliminary discussions with unnamed parties following the suspension of its main US operations.

Kansas senator proposes expanded gambling

 

As reported by the Lawrence Journal-World: "They've tried slots for tots and busted. "But a key state senator said Friday that expansion of casino gambling to pay for a backlog of repairs at regents universities might hit the jackpot. ".The six public universities have said they need $727 million to repair and maintain their facilities, including $285 million at Kansas University and KU Medical Center. "Last year, the Kansas Board of Regents proposed a tax increase to address the problem, but that went nowhere in the Legislature. ".Expansion of casino gambling is a perennial issue before the Legislature but has so far failed to advance, including proposals tied to raising funds for public schools and reducing property taxes."

Isle of Capri Sinks on Singapore License

 

Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. shares fell sharply Friday after the company's bid for a Singapore gambling license was rejected, crimping plans for overseas expansion. Isle of Capri, based in St. Louis, watched its shares plunge $1.14, or 3.8 percent to $28.91 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was heavy. Earlier Friday, Singapore awarded its second gambling license on the Sentosa Island resort to Malaysia's Genting International. Singapore reversed its decades-old ban on casino gambling last year, hoping to double visitor arrivals to 17 million by 2015. The first contract was awarded in May to Las Vegas Sands Corp., which plans to open its $3.6 billion casino resort by July 2009, based on expectations that it will attract convention and business visitors. The news prompted Morgan Joseph analyst Adam Steinberg to cut his rating on Isle of Capri to "Hold." We believe investors would be wise to take some money off the table," he wrote in a research note Friday. Nollenberger Capital Partners analyst David Barteld kept a "Sell" rating on the stock. "In our opinion, investors must refocus their attention on Isle's core operations, which have deteriorating fundamentals," the analyst wrote in a note Friday. Isle of Capri is also bidding for a license to operate a casino in Pittsburgh, with a decision expected on that by Dec. 20. Wachovia's Brian McGill thinks Isle of Capri is a slight favorite among the three bidders there. He added that the share price run-up since October indicated investors priced in Isle of Capri winning licenses in both Singapore and Pittsburgh. He rates the stock "Market Perform."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Singapore's First Casino School Grooms Future Dealers

 

It doesn't exactly look like Casino Royale, tucked into a far corner of a hardly glamourous shopping centre far from Singapore's glitzy Orchard Road. The smell of fat used by cheap food stalls lingers in the air, and the array of shops offer kitsch and knick-knacks at bargain prices. But behind the thick glass door and past wood-panelled walls and heavy, upholstered chairs waits everything that makes a passionate gamblers' heart beat faster. There are roulette, blackjack and baccarat tables, poker games and chips as far as the eye can see. But none of the players are James Bond imitators, nor are the vast sums being bet on the tables genuine: Real money is taboo in this casino. The dealers are freshmen practising the arts of sorting chips, spinning roulette balls and shuffling decks of cards - students at Singapore's first casino school, gearing up for the approaching casino era in the city-state. Ignatius Sharma stands at the roulette table and juggles a tall stack of chips from one hand to the other without dropping a single one. He pushes 10 stacks of 20 chips each across the table, first with his left hand, then with his right. None of the stacks topples. "Now four stacks of 20," Sharma advises his students, and the future dealers must follow his order, using precise finger movements to push the stacks across the table. "Now six, then eight!" Sharma instructs. Students who topple any of their stacks must start from the beginning. "I'll never be able to do this," groans one. Another appeared to have overslept and didn't have time for his morning shower, prompting a look of contempt from the teacher. "Hygiene is an important part of the training course," Sharma says. Hairstyles, makeup, fingernails and attire need to be neat. "Casino guests are expecting well-groomed staff," Sharma stresses. Singapore will move into the domain of gambling paradises by 2009 with the construction of two casino resorts after having argued over the plan for years because of concerns that the rigid city-state might degenerate into a sinful place. But the tiny country wants its slice of the lucrative pie. It is estimated that the two planned casinos would contribute more than 1.4 billion dollars per annum to Singapore's gross domestic product, and a minimum of 35,000 staff will be needed to run them. And the recently established Club Gambling Training Centre is where many of them will learn the tricks of their new trade with the first class slated to graduate in January.

Unlike the motley new group of chip jugglers, the pioneering class is smartly dressed in black slacks or skirts, white shirts or blouses, waistcoats and bow ties. Their advanced level of skill is apparent as well.

The motto for all students is "practise, practise, practise." One day, all the calculating and hand movements will come naturally.

The school's director, Ramachandar Siva, sets high standards with his six-month training courses, which costs each student about 5,000 Singapore dollars (3,300 US dollars).

"We not only teach dealing techniques, but we also advise our students how to handle gamblers who have just lost their shirts," he says.

"Don't joke about players' losses, not even after work, because he might eventually learn about it," Siva warns.

The students also are taught an array of cheating tricks so they will be able to recognize and prevent them.

"Many casinos are not doing that because they are afraid croupiers might teach those tricks to their uncles," Siva smirks.

Students also learn to expose the palms of their hands after each handling of cards or chips and to never accept either directly from the hands of anyone else. Everything must be laid down on the table.

"During shopping, I sometimes jerk back my hand in shock when the cashier wants to give me my change. I'm just so used to it," chuckles instructor Darwin Cusi.

Students are also being taught to detect compulsive gambling.

Singapore's casino laws are rather strict. Gambling houses are obligated to identify gamblers who have become addicted and get help for them.

Most of the students who will graduate in January want to try to find employment in casinos in neighbouring Malaysia, Macau or Australia to gain further experience.

When things finally kick off in Singapore in 2009, these young people already want to have climbed up the management ladder.

Among them is talented Eddie Goh, 39, who is already talking like he has a number of junior dealers under his wings.

"It's important in a casino to start at the bottom because it helps to be better than my junior croupiers," he says.

Illegal Gambling Machines Seized

 

Officials from the Gambling Commission with police officers, customs officials and Burnley Borough Council officers raided seven businesses across the borough last week after tip-offs that machines were being supplied and operated illegally. The machines had no permits and many had jackpots of £25, but current laws dictate that these machines can only be situated in pubs, amusement arcades and clubs that hold valid permits. Gambling Commission inspector Pippa Coombes said: "We are determined to crack down on the suppliers and operators of these illegal machines and are grateful to Pennine Police and Burnley Borough Council for their support. "The illegal supply of gaming machines is a key concern to the Gambling Commission, the police, and local authorities nationally. Multi-agency operations like the one in Burnley are proving to be crucial in targeting uncertified suppliers of illegal gaming machines." The new Gambling Act comes into force next year and gives new powers to the Gambling Commission to fine operators and to prosecute illegal gambling. She continued: "This operation took place under the existing laws, but it demonstrates the vigour with which we will use our powers in future. "The protection of children and vulnerable people is a major concern for the commission. Illegal gaming machines are often situated in premises such as chip shops and takeaways which are frequented by children. "Additionally, these machines are unlicensed and unregulated and may have had their mechanisms tampered with and this puts the public at risk of being ripped off." Coun. Charlie Bullas, the council's Executive member for community safety, said: "This enforcement action was necessary in order to halt the spread of illegally sited gaming machines in the borough and to fully support the principles of the new legislation."

Gambling phone line opens

 

People seeking information about help with problem gambling may begin calling a state toll-free information line starting today, at 1-877-565-2112. The phone line will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and messages may be left at other times. The Pennsylvania Department of Health was directed in the 2004 law legalizing slot machines to create the information and referral service. Staff members handling the phone lines will mail brochures to callers and refer them to counseling services, among other help provided. The assistance will be provided to relatives and friends of gamblers, as well as those with the addiction themselves.

Gambling banned at day centre

 

Members of the Fordsfield Centre in Bury Road have been barred from the practice - because those who run the service claim such games encourage gambling. Linda Croxell, who uses a wheelchair and has suffered from depression, is one of its registered clients. She returned last week after an 18-month absence - and was dismayed by what she found. We'd like to hear your views on this story. You can send us your comments by simply clicking on this email. Please give a reason if you do not wish your email address to be published.This is what I think

Football faces loss of gambling sponsors

 

SPONSORSHIP deals between online gambling companies and football clubs could be banned in the UK if it is decided that they encourage children to gamble. The news comes after the Gambling Commission announced that it will investigate whether shirt sponsorship deals - such as those at Middlesbrough and Tottenham Hotspur - unfairly expose young fans to online casinos or gambling sites. Companies such as 888 Holdings, 32 Red, Bet24 and Mansion are at risk of losing deals with Premiership clubs if a ban is brought in, while the clubs face being stripped of multi-million pound sponsorships. According to marketing consultants Brand Rapport, online gambling interest has helped drive shirt sponsorship deals in Premiership football up by 25 per cent to around £70 million - with Spurs, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough the main clubs to benefit. The commission has said that the whole issue of football shirts would be examineds. Ministers are also being put under pressure to prevent problem gambling and to stop gambling influencing children and vulnerable people. Any sponsorship ban would be in line with the position taken in France, where representatives of Austrian gaming company Bwin were recently arrested and charged with illegal promotion of gambling after agreeing a sponsorship deal with Monaco FC.

Anti-gambling pill fails to end urge

 

A San Diego pharmaceutical firm said clinical trials were a flop for an orally administered drug aimed at blunting addicts' urge to gamble. "The results . are disappointing," Ken Cohen, president and chief executive of publicly traded Somaxon Pharmaceuticals Inc., said in a prepared statement. Somaxon two years ago was the first U.S. firm to take formal steps toward marketing an anti-gambling pill. It obtained North American licensing rights to a Finnish firm's treatment for impulse-control disorders using the drug nalmefene hydrochloride. Researchers for years have been trying to unlock the root causes of addictive behavior. In its statement Wednesday, Somaxon said tests on human subjects at various dosages "did not demonstrate a statistically significant difference compared to placebo" treatment. The company also reported adverse side effects, including insomnia, nausea and dizziness. The company said it will "evaluate the results from these trials before making determinations regarding the future of the nalmefene program." An intravenous version of the chemical compound is permitted for use in the United States to counteract morphine and other opiate drug overdoses.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Gambling Addict Jailed for Stealing $3.5 million

 

Australian mother of two Kate Jamieson was jailed today for a maximum of seven years by Judge Roland Williams in the Victorian County Court. Jamieson pleaded guilty to 13 counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception and 23 counts of theft. The court was told that while she was working as a loans officer for a bank between 2001 and 2004, she illegally shifted AU$22 million, which netted her AU$3.5 million. She then developed a gambling addiction fueled by a VIP casino membership and its rewards of Grandprix tickets and limousines. The judge said her crime was a 'massive" breach of trust, and questioned why Jamieson was given VIP membership to Melbourne's Crown Casino.

Casino bosses gamble on faiths meeting

 

Casino bosses have met Luton's faith leaders as they seek to pave the way to a large, new gambling den at the former Vauxhall site. Grosvenor Casinos' chief Paul Armitage held talks with the town's Council of Faiths and Churches Together as a way of smoothing community relations for its bid to run one of the nation's new wave of casinos. The meeting, held at the Salvation Army Hall, Vicarage Street, was just the latest step in the industry's efforts to make Luton a centre for gambling in the region. But Luton's faith leaders maintained their opposition to the proposal. Luton Churches Together's Mike Thomas said: "We are in no doubt there would be increased debt within a community which has a very big problem already." Luton Borough Council has applied to be one of the local authorities able to licence either one of the large or small casinos introduced under the Gambling Act 2005 and a number of companies are eyeing the possibility of moving into the renovated space near the airport.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rendell widely underestimates gambling addiction ...

 

How many ''problem'' or disordered gamblers are boarding the bus from Philadelphia to Atlantic City? Gov. Ed Rendell implies hardly any per bus. The research, however, suggests as many as 15. The governor recently told the Lancaster New Era editorial board that for every one person addicted to gambling or who lost a pay check to gambling, he can show us 500 who go and have the time of their life. Let us compare the governor's numbers with those produced by national experts regarding the prevalence of gambling problems in the general adult population. For every 500 people there are about five pathological gamblers and 14 at-risk and problem gamblers. So, the governor's number is nearly 20 times smaller (1 vs. 19) than what one would expect to find based on the national research. Using estimates of the number of disordered gamblers among all adults in Pennsylvania, the scenario becomes even more distorted. Results from our Mansfield University State Survey of 2006 suggest that among 500 adult Pennsylvanians, there are 2.5 pathological gamblers and 21.5 at-risk and problem wagerers. Compared with these numbers, the governor's number is nearly 24 times smaller But wait - the comparisons above were made using problem gambling rates among the general population. Among the gambling population, the rates of disordered gambling are much higher. In the governor's scenario, only gamblers are described. So, if we stick only to gamblers in the state population and use their prevalence rate of disordered gambling, for every 500 gamblers there are about 56.5 at risk, problem and pathological gamblers. Now the governor's number is more than 50 times smaller It can get a lot worse. Research shows that gambling addiction increases as the proximity to gambling decreases and the ease of gambling increases. The governor asks us to go to Philadelphia with him to see the people boarding the buses. We surveyed people in Philadelphia and found that for every 500 Philadelphia gamblers there are about 117 at-risk, problem and pathological gamblers. Now the governor's number is more than 100 times smaller than what the research shows (1 vs. 117). It cannot possibly get any worse can it? Oh, yes it can. The governor did not tell us about the demographic characteristics of people boarding the bus in Philly. Research shows that teenagers, males and disadvantaged members of society are more likely to have gambling problems. Taking one of these subgroups, our results suggest that among 500 African-American gamblers there would be about 153 who experience gambling problems.

It's even worse than that. The above discussion was based on people who report gambling problems within the past year. If I were to include people who have ever had gambling problems in their lifetime, a lot of the numbers above would likely double in size. Moreover, if we look at combinations of risk factors, such as being male and a minority group member or being male and a Philadelphian, then again the rates above would increase. Don't even ask about the problem of people underreporting (or denying) their gambling problems to survey researchers like me. That will lead me to underestimate the extent of the problem!

I believe that leaders in our state really need to become educated about and should take seriously the numbers and percentages of people who become problem gamblers in society. The national experts have shown us that these numbers are far from trivial. They rival those of people who abuse and are dependent on drugs. Who is going to fight the war on gambling addiction when we all are pushing for profits from gambling to lower our taxes? As we have done as a society with drugs and alcohol, we - especially top government servants - need to properly inform and educate people about the risks connected to gambling.

Let us start down this road by immediately setting up a task force to investigate and reduce gambling dependency. Perhaps we should even call it the ''Pennsylvania Gaming Addiction Board'' before the rest of the expected 60,000 slot machines are put in our backyards. And, don't use a percentage of the profits from casinos to support this group!

Special prosecutor named in gambling raid case

 

A judge appointed a special prosecutor to handle the case against a former state Teamsters union president charged with operating a multi-county video gambling ring at nearly two dozen bars. Henry County Prosecutor Kit Crane will oversee the charges against John L. Neal and 38 other people charged in the operation. Madison Superior Court Judge Thomas Newman Jr. appointed Crane on Monday because Thomas Broderick, who takes office as Madison County prosecutor Jan. 1, has been Neal's attorney in an unrelated matter. Neal, 69, of Yorktown, was arrested Sept. 18 on felony charges of professional gambling, promoting professional gambling, money laundering and corrupt business influence. He was originally held on $2 million bond, but he was released after his bond was reduced to $75,000. The arrest came about 1 1/2 years after Neal's release from federal prison. He pleaded guilty in 2000 to charges of illegal gambling, money laundering and tax evasion. Neal is expected to appear in U.S. District Court on Jan. 26 to face charges he violated his federal probation. A message seeking comment was left Monday evening at the office of Neal's defense attorney, Richard Kammen. Authorities shut down 23 taverns in Madison, Delaware and Henry counties during the raids connected with Neal's arrest. Some have since been allowed to reopen.

Madrid to Begin Licensing Online Gambling Sites

 

Following the lead of Great Britain, Spain is the latest country to embrace online gambling and it is only a matter of time before the United States does so to....or we can dream it does. According to IGamingBusiness, Madrid's regional government is set to regulate gaming through the introduction of licenses. "The move comes in the wake of Italy's decision to regulate gaming, which prompted a flood of applications from UK bookmakers and online companies such as Ladbrokes, William Hill and Gala Coral, who are also expected to bid for licenses in Madrid along with Sportingbet and PartyGaming in the online sector. "Madrid's regional government announced that it was allowing minimum ?1 bets in games locations as well as telephone and online bets, covering sports and other competitions, as well as allowing internet bets on bingo and casino games. "The licenses will last for five years and be renewable if the Madrid regulator's conditions are met. The announcement will also include strict regulations to prevent the participation of young and mentally ill people.

Race Track Owner Defends Video Gambling Machines

 

The man who brought sweepstakes gaming to Alabama came to its defense. Last week, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that the video gaming machines are illegal, but Birmingham Race Track owner Milton McGregor fired back. McGregor said that last week's 8-0 decision by the Alabama Supreme Court was based on politics, not the law. Ten months after a Jefferson County judge ruled sweepstakes machines were legal, the state Supreme Court overturned the decision. The court claims that the machines are a disguised version of slot machines, which violate state gambling laws. This decision is not only affecting the Birmingham Race Track but dozens of smaller operations all over Jefferson County, and on Monday, McGregor accused at least half the justices of being influenced by Mississippi's casinos, which are McGregor's biggest competition. "What the court (did by) issuing this decision on sweepstakes in Alabama is intellectually dishonest and wrong, and they know it," said McGregor. NBC 13 contacted Chief Drayton Neighbors' office to get his reaction to McGregor's claims and he had no comment. McGregor plans to ask the court to reconsider its decision regarding the machines and until there is a decision made on that request, the sheriff's department will not enforce the ruling.

Grady County prosecutor can continue on gambling case

 

CHICKASHA, Okla. A Grady County judge rules that District Attorney Bret Burns can continue prosecuting a case against the county's sheriff and seven others charged in a gambling case. Special District Judge Ken Harris says he made the ruling yesterday because he did not have enough information to remove Burns from the case. Sheriff Kieran McMullen says the judge's decision doesn't hurt or help his case, but McMullen says he thinks Burns should be dismissed from the case. McMullen was charged along with five of his deputies and two Chickasha police officers -- one of which is his wife -- after a September 6th raid at the Chickasha Elks Lodge by Burns, the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Investigators say the lodge had illegal slot machines, poker tournaments, blackjack games and cash drawings.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gambling and business - liberal style

 

An old saw, of the un-entrepreneurial classes, claims that business is like gambling: both are bad for you, and both make you lose in the end. Like the old superstition about bad luck awaiting the person who walks underneath a ladder, it does serve a protective function, even if the unintended spillover of the equation of business with gambling does make gambling seductive when entrepreneurship is respectable and is also called for. Any economist can explain why business is not like gambling, relatively easily. Gambling games are always zero-sum; when the games are all over, money has changed hands, but nothing of any transferable value has been created. The only value in gambling, for the average gambler, is in the thrill of the game itself. Thus, gambling is a consumer's good, and the gaming industry is like any other kind of entertainment industry. A consumer is not an entrepreneur; the consumer is the ultimate recipient of entrepreneurial effort. To the extent that a consumer acts entrepreneurially, he or she does so through shopping around. Thus, an "entrepreneurial gambler" is one who seeks out the casino where the house's take is lowest, and/or one who seeks out a game where the odds are most in his or her favor. When seen in this perspective, the card-counter or the system player is like the consumer who sees an edge in, say, buying computer components and putting together a working computer from them. The "edge" in this case is a lower overall price for the resultant computer system. This can be categorized as a kind of entrepreneurship, but it is clearly entrepreneurial consuming. Profit, in the regular sense of the word, is not the goal; cost saving is. In this sense, a supposedly entrepreneurial gambler is someone who seeks to minimize the cost of the gaming experience, which puts he or she in the category of a consumer with initiative. Yes, it's true that there are such things as "professional gamblers," ones who are put up with by the gaming houses, or in quite a few cases encouraged by them. These kinds of people are rare, and are easily classified in the same category as the person who's given, say, a free BMW on condition that he or she flashes it around. (More broadly, professional gamblers, not to mention lucky jackpot winners, are comparable to celebrity endorsers.) A free Beemer makes for quite a net income. Some may not be convinced; they may insist that a gambler is an entrepreneur, and that every act of entrepreneurship is a gamble. The fellow who walks into the casino with a stake looks an awful lot like a fellow with a grubstake, and his priorities - his intentions - are an awful lot like the money-seeking businessperson. So, for the rest of this piece, I will assume that appearances and intentions are not deceiving, and grant that there is something to the comparison between the gambler and the entrepreneur - with this ponder point added:

What about the (as of now, online) gambler who gets a free subsidy-stake to start off with, or whose own contributed stake is augmented by a limited "matching grant" by the friendly casino? What kind of entrepreneur is this lucky fellow like?

The kind of businessperson that is every Liberal's pride and joy. The State-supported entrepreneur.

I myself had a chance recently to experience what life is like for the "assisted gambler," thanks to a mailed promo from Captain Cook's Casino. With the casino CD came an hour of free play, with $500 of free chips, as well as with certain conditions attached. These conditions made the experience similar to government-assisted business, instead of a welfare payday.

The conditions were: the $500 had to be deployed in the casino over the course of one hour's worth of casino operation, and there's no way for me to freeze the clock. In the course of that hour, I have to place a minimum of 100 bets. This minimum gets adjusted upwards, depending upon the kind of game I play. Two examples: for slots, every bet I make counts as one bet; for blackjack, every bet counts as 0.2 bets. By agreeing to play the hour-long freebie game, I put at risk the chance of claiming the $50 welcome bonus - but this risk comes with a nice guarantee: if I walk away from the free session a loser, or (as I found out) an insufficient winner, I get to claim the welcome bonus anyway. This supposed peril is merely a way of euchring out "double dipping," and nothing more. Quite a guarantee, this is, and it's even sweetened by the casino offering the player the option of shutting down the free play early and claiming whatever bonus is mandated by the pot's size, provided that the 100-bet criterion has already been met.

Of course, with floors usually come ceilings, and there is a ceiling attached to the offer I'm describing. No matter how lucky or successful I become in that hour, I can only claim $200 of winnings as a welcome bonus. So, anything above $700 in the pot is essentially brag money; it can mean nothing financially.

This calculus sounds a lot like the not atypical government-business dealie: go into business with the State, get your costs recouped if the business goes bust, but at the opportunity cost of a 100% surtax on "super-monopoly profits." Now, why would anyone object to a deal in which the only real cost comes for the "supremely lucky?" Especially if it's structured as a "welcome bonus" for the newbie entrepreneur? If you accept the business-gambling analogy, the dealie I got from Captain Cook's casino is like the hypothetical assistance program I've just described, provided that the payouts are limited to micro-enterprise levels. It's also a fun set of constraints for an economics major to sink his or her teeth into. (Entertainment, after all, is subjective.) Consider the set of incentives and disincentives I faced:

No matter how lousily I play, or how unlucky I am, I still get the $50 bonus. This entails no loss, except for opportunity loss and possible consumer's enjoyment loss, for me going bust. So, there's less incentive for me to be prudent than there would be had I had to pony up the $500 myself. My lucky bounty has a ceiling, though: $200. I need to play 100 games, or else I can't claim anything, except for the nice $50 welcome bonus. I need to make those 100 bets within an hour, and the clock don't stop. I do, on the other hand, have the option of shutting down early, and can claim whatever bonus I rate at that time, provided that I have made those 100 bets. Since I have dial-up, and since the clock runs while both the casino itself and any game I want to play are downloaded, the hour allocated to me did get run down during downloading time. I got less than 47 minutes of playing time, for one downloaded game. Had I switched to (download) another game, approximately seven or eight minutes would have been shaved off the clock during the additional downloading wait. So, given this additional constraint, the most rational choice for me was a slots game: there's no more than ten seconds between bet and outcome, and each bet counts as a full one for the fulfillment of the 100-bet criterion. In addition, the more bets I make, the greater chance, overall, that I will hit a very low-odds jackpot, the kind of lucky payoff that would net me the entire $200 bonus.

Rationally, therefore, my best strategy is to concentrate upon one specific game, a slots game, which I did. Once prepped, I should divide the amount of time I have left by the time it takes for a single play of the game, to get the number of plays I can make in the allotted timeframe. Once gotten, I should bet an amount equal to $500 divided by the number of plays I can squeeze into that allotted time. All it takes is one lucky jackpot to put me into the winner's circle, relative to the standard $50 bonus I would get anyway. This implies that I should put myself in the hands of Fate by picking one line per game, and going for the largest amount of the bet mandated by the earlier calculation of bet amount. Betting multiple lines - placing multiple bets on a single outcome of a game - and shaving the bet amount per line to match this splitting, by intuition, is a way to make my winnings closer to the average take, which is 100% minus the house's cut. (Recall, though, that a multi-line bet is many bets on a single outcome, much like drawing several cards from a deck instead of drawing one and reshuffling is.) Since there is no need for me to be "prudent" in that way, why should I?

Old habits do die hard, mind you. Those who know of the late Milton Friedman's pool-player analogy wouldn't be too surprised by the revelation that it took me 20-or-so minutes to make this intuitive calculation: bet a dollar on the single line, as quickly as possible, until the clock runs out.

As the hour continued, I did, briefly, get above $550 in the pot, but only slightly above. For most of the game - unsurprisingly - I was below $500. For a short stretch of time, early in the gaming session, I was below $250.

But, as I indicated, why should I care? If I have enough time for 500 single-line slot bets at $1 a crack, the difference between the pot going to $250 and the pot going to $0 means nothing - nada. The same conclusion applies to a pot of any size below $550.01. A real Chicagoite would consider me to be too prudent, for refraining to factor in any expected winnings. This criticism would be decisive had it not been for the (debatable) one-line reasoning above and the fact that $1 was the biggest bet I could make.

If the analogy between gambling and business is accepted, then the above calculus can be transferred, whole cloth except for specific details, into a micro-grant government program model. If I have $500, or $5000 or $50,000, of government money to start a micro-business, with no obligation to kick in any of my own money but the obligation to roll the first $50, $500 or $5000 (respectively) in profit into a "welcome matching grant" for another business-assistance program, then I may as well go for the lucky, if high-risk, score - the kind of business which gives me the greatest odds of getting a gross payback of $700, $7000, or $70,000, respectively. It could be considered irrational for me to shoot for a "welcome bonus payout" greater than 40% of the original stake, but there is a long-term compensation for me if I do so, in the verifiable claim that I not only was no "freeloader," but indeed was a more-put-upon-than-thou taxpayer, thanks to the 100% surtax! The welfare gains resulting from this brag are, of course, quite a challenge to quantify, but they are potentially there.

And, of course, to continue the analogy, I not only would have no potential losses, except for possible losses of time and reputation, but would qualify for the regular governmental "welcome bonus" anyway, no matter how I do. Shrewd economizing on my part can even minimize the reputation and time losses should such a business go down the toilet.

Unfortunately for me, though, I have to claim that I'm not a superb economizer at all. At the end of my frantic play, the pot stood at $507.01. The $50 welcome bonus was all that I rated. In addition, the allocated $500 was "replaced" by $507 plus a penny. Yes, I have to admit that I was sap enough to feel good about "returning" $500 plus a little to the "treasury."

Lake Stevens tackles gambling tax

 

Gambling businesses in Lake Stevens would pay one of the lowest tax rates in Snohomish County if a proposal before the City Council is approved. The council is expected to review the proposal tonight . According to a 2005 study conducted by Lake Stevens, only Sultan has a lower gambling tax than the proposed 5 percent tax Lake Stevens officials are considering. The city wants to impose the gambling tax before it annexes the Frontier Village area - including the Highway 9 Casino - on Dec. 20. If passed, the tax could bring in as much as $139,000 each year to help provide police services at gambling businesses, Police Chief Randy Celori said. The gambling tax proposal, first presented in October, sparked an outcry from some businesses saying a tax could force them out of business. Since then, the city has floated a number of proposals, all less than Snohomish County's current tax - 5 percent on pull tabs and 10 percent on card tables' gross earnings. The Lake Stevens proposal is much less, Mayor Vern Little said. "We set it less than half what they're paying in the county," he said. The Lake Stevens proposals would introduce a tax at increasing amounts over three years, he said. Many of the business owners asked for a tax on net earnings - after they deduct their costs -rather than a tax on gross earnings. Under a gross tax, a customer could spend $100 and win that money back, but the business would be taxed on the $100 in revenue. A net tax would tap into only the business' actual gambling earnings. Businesses are required to file quarterly earnings reports to the state Gambling Commission. Those reports detail gross earnings and net earnings on card tables, officials said. The net earnings reported to the state are the gross minus poker prize payoffs, Highway 9 Casino general manager Carol Henry said. Determining the true net - the number that reflects the entire business proceeds - would be difficult short of having city accountants audit the business' books, Henry said. That's not a business the city wants to get into, city finance and administration director Jan Berg said.

Through negotiations, the city decided to stick with a net earnings tax based on numbers filed with the state, Celori said.

The only other Snohomish County city to have approved a net gambling tax is Sultan, according to the report.

Of the eight other cities that have a gambling tax, all tax gross earnings and some, such as Marysville, tax card tables as much as 20 percent.

The Lake Stevens proposal is for a 5 percent tax.

Billy Tackitt, the co-owner of the Buzz Inn restaurant in downtown Lake Stevens, which sells pull tabs, said he's fine with the current proposal.

"As long as a tax is reasonable, I don't think too may people will object to it," he said.

On Friday, city officials met with the Highway 9 Casino, the city's only card table business, and a representative from Barclays North, the building's landlord.

At the meeting, the group discussed a slightly lower tax for the card table, Celori said.

"We feel pretty confident that (the city is) trying to work with us," the casino's Henry said.

The revised proposal is good for the casino business, said Blair Anderson, the president-elect of the Greater Lake Stevens Chamber of Commerce and a Barclays North representative.

"We think it will keep the casino in business, so we're actually pretty excited about it," he said.

The City Council is scheduled to review the proposal tonight but likely won't vote until its next meeting, Celori said.

The council next scheduled meeting is Dec. 11, but the city could call a special meeting before then.

Tribe sees a big prize in a riverfront casino

 

In the 17th century, ancestors of the Pequot Tribal Nation lost their position as the dominant culture along New England's Atlantic Coast. Today, the Pequots - now owners of the world's largest casino - aim to secure a position along Philadelphia's Delaware riverfront to build a $560 million slots palace. If Foxwoods Development Co. wins a license Dec. 20 to build on the 161/2-acre site on South Columbus Boulevard in South Philadelphia, its Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia will be the tribe's first gambling venture outside Connecticut - confirming it as a major player in the casino industry. "It's certainly the next step for this tribe," Foxwoods chief executive officer William Sherlock said in an interview in his office next to the sprawling casino in Connecticut. "Philadelphia could be that first step for a plethora of projects throughout the United States." But Philadelphia presents some special challenges. Five companies are competing for two casino licenses in the city. And Foxwoods' plans are opposed by community groups fearing the impact of the big slots parlor on South Philadelphia. For Foxwoods, the stakes are enormous. The tribe was made wealthy by its Foxwoods Resort Casino - a 5-million-square-foot gambling destination on a 1,200-acre reservation in southeastern Connecticut. The casino, which started as a high-stakes bingo hall, is now a $1.2 billion enterprise contributing 25 percent of its slots revenue to the state. The tribe established the Foxwoods Development Co. in 2003 to oversee expansion of its Foxwoods brand. It has its eye on Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Biloxi, Miss. It's also building partnerships with other gambling companies, including MGM Mirage. And it assists other Indian tribes. In June, Foxwoods Development signed a seven-year management contract with the Pauma Band of Mission Indians to manage its $300 million casino north of San Diego. Last year it had a consulting contract with the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, a tribe that runs a central California casino. "They've blazed the trail in a new arena for gaming in this country," said Howard Dickstein, an attorney who represents large tribes with casinos in California. "They've earned the respect of other tribes." In Connecticut, Foxwoods averages 40,000 visitors per weekday, and up to 55,000 on weekends. About 1.3 million arrive on buses each year. It employs 10,300 in three hotels, 30 restaurants, numerous retail shops, entertainment venues and two golf courses.

The Pequots and other tribes began gambling operations on reservation land under the 1988 Indian Gaming Rights Act. In Connecticut, the tribe was permitted to offer bingo and table games, such as poker and blackjack, which were legal in the state. Slot machines were not, so the Pequots opened a table games casino in 1992 by expanding the original bingo hall. The tribe entered into the slots revenue sharing agreement a year later in exchange for also being allowed to offer slot machines.

For the 12 months ending June 30, Connecticut took in $204.5 million from Foxwoods, according to the state Division of Special Revenue, the agency that tracks all forms of gambling in Connecticut. It received an additional $224 million from nearby Mohegan Sun - another casino operated by the state's Mohegan Tribe - under a similar compact.

Foxwoods now has 390 game tables and 7,400 slot machines - the most of any U.S. casino. It will soon add 1,500 slots with its eighth expansion, and a hotel tower featuring a 4,000-seat theater and 824 rooms with MGM Mirage. The MGM Grand hotel, set to open in spring 2008, will allow the resort to compete with Las Vegas for conventions and top concert acts.

"In the early days, it was more about 'just build it and they will come,' " Foxwoods Casino president John O'Brien said. "Today, it's much more strategic."

The bingo hall, now the world's biggest with 3,500 seats, attracts devotees such as Maria Marcinko, 51, a state government worker from Harrisburg. Marcinko makes the 51/2-hour trip to Foxwoods at least four times a year to take part in the big tournaments.

"Yes, I'll go to the slots parks in Pennsylvania," Marcinko said as she marked her game sheet with a lavender dauber on a recent Saturday. "But I won't stop coming here - because of this bingo hall. There's nothing like it anywhere."

Foxwoods, which draws clientele mainly from New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, does not report its earnings. But industry experts say the casino is one of the most profitable in the business.

Andrew Zarnett, an analyst with Deutsche Bank AG, estimates the tribe has generated about $350 million in cash flow - money left over after operating expenses but before taxes - per year. "They clearly have the ability to expand beyond Connecticut, and have been aggressively looking for opportunities in the last two or three years," he said.

Their golden ticket

The Pequots became one of the most powerful American Indian cultures in southern New England in the early 1600s, controlling much of the region's coastline and currency - the Wampum, a bead made from a hardshell clam. But a series of conflicts with European settlers reduced their population to about 2,500 from 4,000, according to historians.

Income from their casino has helped the Pequots to rebuild their community, create jobs, and provide health care, education and other services for the members, who now number about 900, according to tribal chairman Michael J. Thomas. Gambling has paid for a community center, a fire and police department, and new housing. It also financed the $250 million Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, which documents the tribe's history.

The money has also helped the Pequots to build political and casino industry allies. Since 1995, the Pequots have given $3.1 million to Democrats and Republicans - from individual donors and through the tribe's political action committee.

"The world has clearly changed, and we certainly need every ally we can get today," Thomas said. "We've returned to this position of influence, and we hope to keep it alive for a long, long time."

Sherlock, the Foxwoods chief executive officer, said Foxwoods Development began looking at Pennsylvania in summer 2003 - a year before the legislature approved slot-machine gambling.

Under the casino's ownership structure, local investors would own 70 percent, and Foxwoods Development would own 30 percent and manage the casino.

Sherlock said Foxwoods fielded more than one offer to partner with a Pennsylvania slots license applicant, but found the group including Comcast-Spectacor chairman Edward Snider, developer Ronald Rubin, and Lou Katz's daughter, Melissa Silver, to be the best fit.

Snider said that his family is close with the Rubins and the Katzes. He said the three families agreed to become involved with a casino development when the legislature first considered legalizing slots.

"We decided that if this was going to happen... we could step in and invest in one of them, and give back to the community," Snider said. "That's what motivated us."

Snider said 42 percent of profits would benefit underprivileged children in Philadelphia and South Jersey through trusts established by the investors.

Foxwoods backers hoped that would sway community groups.

Still, of the five applicants for a city license, Foxwoods has generated the most controversy and community opposition.

Cracking Down On Illegal Gambling

 

An Eastern Oklahoma county is cracking down on illegal gaming machines. Authorities in Wagoner County have told local business they have until the end of the year to remove any machines that allow customers to gamble for money. News on 6 reporter Chris Wright explains. Within a month, these electronic slot machines at Glen's Restaurant in Wagoner will be gone. The ones down the road at Fast Trax convenience store will also be removed. On Wednesday, Wagoner authorities informed the owners of the businesses that they have to get rid of the machines or they will be confiscated. "If they're there in operation, they've got a problem, and I've got the state statute to quote them," said Sheriff Johnny Cannon. That state statute says that any machines that "cash out" are illegal. Many of the slot machines issue receipts that can be redeemed for money, and the FBI recently told Wagoner police that they need to crack down on the illegal gaming. All the machines have to be removed by December 31st. The owners we talked to say they will comply with that, but it doesn't make it fair. "It's really not hurting anyone, it helps us, it helps the Wagoner community," Fast Trax owner Sherry Rose said. Sherry Rose, who thought the machines were legal, says her business takes 50 percent of the profits from them, the other half goes to their manufacturer. She estimates that the slots bring in $300 to $400 a week, money that goes toward paying bills. "It's not a lot, just enough to help pay a bill, it's not the casinos, this is pennies compared to the casinos," Rose said. But Sheriff Johnny Cannon says that if anyone in Wagoner County wants to gamble, they will now have to head to those casinos. "They need to go where they're legal, there's plenty of them." The Wagoner County Sheriff's Department says it has never received any complaints about the gaming machines, but it had no choice but to comply with the FBI's wishes.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

State shouldn't gamble on treatment for addicts

 

It's been a little over two weeks since the first legal slot parlor in Pennsylvania opened at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs racetrack. Three more slots parlors are expected to open at other racetracks within the next three months. Ultimately, 14 parlors are expected to open in Pennsylvania, bringing in what is hoped will be sufficient additional revenue to school districts throughout the commonwealth, and at the same time easing the burden on local taxpayers. But in all the hoopla the state has put into the establishment of casino gambling in Pennsylvania, one disquieting little side fact has sprung up. Despite the fact that one casino is now drawing in gamblers, and others will soon be up and running, Pennsylvania does not yet have a gambling addiction program in place to handle the expected increase in compulsive gamblers seeking treatment. When the legislation for the slots program was approved, one of the provisions was that Pennsylvania set aside at least $1.5 million per year for programs to provide compulsive gamblers with assistance and treatment for their addiction. By law, casinos must advertise the existence of such services. But the Mohegan Sun can't advertise a state-run service because none are in place at the moment. The Pocono Downs casino is complying with the law by providing a telephone number for the Council of Compulsive Gambling, a Philadelphia-based organization. However, those calling the hotline may get a recording, because the council does not have the money necessary to staff the telephone at all times. Gene Boyle, the director of Pennsylvania's Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs, has indicated that a state-based program to treat compulsive gambling addictions will be established within the next several months. We certainly hope so. Because the number of people with gambling problems is definitely going to increase, given the fact that new outlets to fuel their addictions are in the process of being set up throughout the commonwealth. It also strikes us that Harrisburg could have better used the two years it took for the first slots casino to open by making certain a state-wide and state operated program for gambling addiction was up and running in that time period.

A state-wide program to treat compulsive gambling will not eliminate the addiction, but it will provide those suffering from the sickness an outlet to help them deal with the problem. Which makes it very important that such a program be put in place as soon as possible. At the moment, the state is relying on existing providers, such as the Council of Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania to fill the gap. But such a gap is wide indeed given the fact the council - and other similar organizations -- have only limited funds to provide such services. Only when the state fulfills its obligation mandated by law to provide counseling and other services for compulsive gambling will some of those suffering from the addiction have the means of obtaining treatment to prevent them from recklessly throwing their money away in the slots casinos, as well as other gambling outlets.

Sheringham speaks out on gambling

 

West Ham United striker Teddy Sheringham has expressed his fears about gambling. Speaking in London, Sheringham said that this addiction is becoming more of a danger for younger players starting out in football. He sited the reasons for this problem being the amount of leisure time that players had added to the amount of money that they have available for gambling. He is very much of the opinion that players nowadays are not as disciplined as they ought to be and perhaps didn't focus as much as they ought to on becoming true professional footballers. Sheringham himself is an avid poker player, but said that his main focus was always on his football.

Packer game on gambling pursuits

 

It could also prove the defining event in his personal corporate and business development -- cementing his commitment to a Pacific and then global gaming future. For the first time, we can reveal the full detail of this extraordinary resort casino proposal, dubbed "Harry's Island", on Singapore's Sentosa Island. Ostensibly, the "Harry" is mid-20th century Howard Hughes-style adventurer Harry O'Brien, who "discovered" Sentosa. Observers though have pondered whether it is entirely coincidental that Harry is also the affectionate family name of the founder of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. Whatever, the Singapore Government decides next week between the "Eighth Wonder" consortium, of which Packer and his Macau casino partner Lawrence Ho are members, and two tough competitors. One is the Malaysian Genting group, which has teamed with Universal Studios in a themed resort. The other is the Bahamas-based Kerzner casino group, which has teamed with a Singapore company backed by the government-owned Temasek investment arm. The Eighth Wonder proposal is far bigger than the other two and way, and I mean way, over the top. It's already been revealed that the group has possibly the world's best known sportsman -- soccer legend Pele -- to headline its sports offer. But that's only the start. You want to promise the world's best restaurants? Roll out Alain Ducasse and his 14 Michelin stars. Spectacular entertainment while the guests are chowing down? That will come from Franco Dragone, who was the creative director behind much of Cirque du Soleil. An oceanographic water world? It has to be Cousteau. Well, it can't be the late Jacques, so instead it's grandson Philippe. A wellness centre after a night at the tables? Deepak Chopra. Adventure park? Who else: Mr Universal Studios Bob Ward. Spectacular events? The man behind the 2006 Winter Olympics ceremonies, Marco Balich. Fashion? Vera Wang. You want to make sure the tables run on time? Good old German engineering in Siemens. Oh yes, and these days security is a basic requirement. So who else to oversee that but Mr 9/11 himself, Rudy Giuliani.

The main player in the consortium is Mark Advent, who built the New York New York casino in Las Vegas. But Packer and his Hong Kong partner bring an absolutely critical regional component.

Two points about Packer and his PBL group are to be made if the consortium wins. The commitment will be less than half a billion dollars, soaking up only a small part of the $4.5 billion released from the half-sale of the local media assets.

SO IT does not itself preclude Packer/PBL going deeper into media if he wanted.

In financial terms, it's not an either-or. But if he wins, it will cement his focus on building his gaming-resort business around this side of the Pacific -- from Macau through Singapore to the two casinos in Australia, at Burswood in Perth and Crown in Melbourne.

This would irresistibly build into a push into gaming and resorts in the US. And it would absolutely bury any possibility of going deeper into 20th century media in Australia, where the focus is decidedly online.

What tends not be understood is the way Packer actually inherited a business that he had created. At least remarkable, quite possibly unique.

Very pointedly, not the media side, but the gaming side which he and Peter Yates -- first as a Macquarie adviser and then as PBL CEO -- built over father Kerry's rather grudging acceptance.

If you've inherited a company you take great pride in having yourself built, why would you be that committed to the part you only inherited?

Reputed mob underboss arrested in gambling-extortion probe

 

A reputed underboss of the New England Mafia was arrested Friday on gambling and extortion charges, authorities said. Carmen Salvatore DiNunzio, 49, was arrested by state police in Boston's North End after being indicted by an Essex County grand jury on charges of extortion, maintaining and operating a gaming operation, and conspiracy to maintain or organize a gaming operation, the Essex District Attorney's office announced. DiNunzio, an East Boston man known as "The Big Cheese," operated a cheese shop in the North End. He allegedly rose through the ranks of local organized crime to become underboss about four years ago, running Boston rackets, The Boston Globe reported. A state police officer testified in federal court last year that Arthur Gianelli, a Lynnfield bookmaker and brother-in-law of former FBI agent John Connolly Jr., was paying DiNunzio $2,000 a month for permission to operate his gambling business. Gianelli is facing trial on federal racketeering charges. The Essex County District Attorney's office said authorities have been investigating alleged mob-related extortion of bookmakers involving DiNunzio since 2001. William Angelesco, 35, of Chelsea, was arrested earlier this year in a related case, charged with promoting and organizing a gambling operation. Angelesco was acquitted last year in an alleged revenge slaying at a Revere strip club in December 2001. DiNunzio is held on $250,000 bail at the state police barracks in Danvers pending his arraignment on Monday in Salem Superior Court. He could face up 15 years in prison if convicted.

NKorean nuke test and Japanese gambling habits intersect at pachinko

 

Gambling at pachinko was a lot more fun for Reiko Kuzuhara before she started wondering whether maybe -- just maybe -- her losses were helping North Korea build nuclear weapons. Pachinko, a form of pinball deeply loved in Japan, is an industry run by ethnic Koreans, and experts have long believed that the revenues are a vital source of hard currency for the impoverished regime in Pyongyang. Now, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's nuclear weapons program gathers pace, Japan's attitude is hardening, and that includes shutting out the ferry on which the gambling money is believed to be hand-carried from Japan to North Korea. "I really don't like that the money I spend could be helping them with those sorts of things," said Kuzuhara, 55, who works in the printing industry and was interviewed on a Tokyo street near several pachinko parlors. "It's making me think twice and cut back on how often I play." The pachinko connection is facing increased scrutiny as tensions rise following North Korea's ballistic missile tests in July and its first test of a nuclear device on Oct. 9. Pachinko is an upright pinball game played at tens of thousands of brightly lit parlors across the country. Success is measured in little steel payoff balls, which can be exchanged for cash or other prizes. The machines are believed to rake in more than 27 trillion yen a year, some of which finds its way to North Korea. Official figures put the sum of remittances to North Korea from sources in Japan at 3 billion yen in fiscal 2005, more than 90 percent of which was hand-delivered. But the bookkeeping is murky and some think the real sum could be as high as to 10 billion yen. No one knows how much of it derives directly from pachinko and how much from another major source of income for North Korea in Japan -- imported methamphetamines.

"It's very difficult to say how much cash is actually going from Japan to the North," said Toshio Miyatsuka, a specialist on North Korea at Yamanashi Gakuin University in central Japan who has written a book about the pachinko industry.

"But it does seem certain that a lot of it is winding up in the hands of the North Korean government and military, and that includes money earned from drugs and pachinko," he added.

The Ministry of Finance requires reports for large sums of money going to the North, but only for 300 million yen or more for wire transfers and 10 million yen or more for money delivered in person.

With much of the money going to North Korea hand-delivered, the banning of the Mangyongbong ferry from Japanese ports in July has almost certainly put a crimp in the cash flow.

Government officials, however, say it's hard to track money delivered through third countries, in person or through bank accounts. Cash from the drug trade traveling through Japan's underworld is likewise hard to monitor.

For the pachinko industry, however, North Korea's image problems and the sanctions have not been a business issue, officials say.

While ethnic Koreans may worry about how relatives in the North are faring without the cash they used to take to them, their main concerns as businessmen lie elsewhere.

"Yes, there are a lot of ethnic Korean operators, but the industry is not at all concerned about the sanctions issue," said Takaaki Sasaki, spokesman for Zennichiyuren, an industry organization. "We're not hearing about anyone losing business because of the missiles or the nuclear test."

Still, the connection between pinball revenues and North Korea makes some Japanese pachinko players uneasy.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Rendell signs bill allowing free drinks at slots parlors

 

Gov. Ed Rendell on Wednesday signed legislation to let Pennsylvania's slot-machine parlors serve unlimited free alcoholic drinks to gamblers - a measure that allows an exception to the state's current limit of one free drink per person. Rendell, however, said he expects state gambling regulators to include "control mechanisms" in licensing agreements with the operators of gambling establishments, such as possibly limiting the per-person distribution of drinks to one per hour. "Virtually every gaming operation around the world has this amenity, but there are rules and regulations that control it and limit it," Rendell said at a news conference on another topic. "There is a tendency ... to think that these gaming institutions or gaming businesses want people to get falling-down, sloppy drunk so that they'll lose more money. That isn't the case." The bill passed 27-22 in the Senate and 112-75 in the House on Nov. 21, before the Legislature adjourned for the year, ending its two-year session. Proponents of the measure say it is necessary to allow Pennsylvania's gambling establishments to compete with those in other states where around-the-clock free drinks are customary.Under current law, the state's horse racing tracks cannot serve any free drinks, and other licensed establishments, such as bars and restaurants, can serve up to one free drink per patron.The bill will allow 14 slots parlors, including the ones at racetracks, to serve free drinks during the hours that licensed liquor establishments can serve them, from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Lawmakers who opposed the bill called it both irresponsible and unfair to other establishments that serve alcohol.

Nemacolin Resort Drops Slots-License Bid

 

FARMINGTON, PA-Nemacolin Woodland Resort has withdrawn its application for a slot-machine gaming license. Seven Springs Mountain Resort in nearby Champion withdrew its application a month ago. The exit of both leaves the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board with no applications for the two Category 3 licenses that were set aside for established resorts that would permit 500 slot machines at each. Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corp., which had applied for one of the two Category 2 licenses to be granted for what the board calls "tourism-enhanced" locations, has also dropped out of the running. This category allows for up to 5,000 slots over time. As a result of the withdrawals, the board will be able to issue just 11 of the 14 licenses to be granted by the state. The reasons for the three withdrawals are varied. According to a statement by locally based Nemacolin, it dropped its bid because the gaming board required that patrons of the resort would have to spend $25 on non-gaming purchases each visit before being permitted to play the slot machines for the resort's planned Wild West casino. "The law clearly indicates that these Category 3 licenses, which allow just 500 machines, are to be an added amenity for use by guests of an existing resort," Doug Harbach, with the board, tells GlobeSt.com. "It's always been written that way, but it became obvious a month ago that Nemacolin hadn't interpreted it that way. Their decision to withdraw was a business decision." Seven Springs "was a very different matter," Harbach says. This June, as reported by GlobeSt.com, the resort was acquired by the Nutting family, which also has ownership in the Pittsburgh Pirates. Major League Baseball prohibits team owners from also owning gambling venues. The Nuttings' "attempted to re-formulate the ownership structure to avert the MLB ban, but the family was still at the top of the ownership chain," Harbach says, adding, Seven Springs' withdrawal "was an MLB issue." Boyd planned to develop a $325-million casino in Limerick Township. Faced with opposition from the community, the township's board of supervisors failed to endorse the plan. Six Category 1 licenses that apply only to horse-racing tracks have been granted. The board will vote on the remaining applications on Dec. 20. "Sometime in the future," Harbach says, "the board will announce plans for filling the three open applications." Meanwhile, State Rep. William DeWeese, who is expected to become speaker of the state House of Representatives in January, has announced that he will introduce a bill to legalize poker, blackjack and other table games in the state's gambling venues. The current law allows only for slot machines. Gov. Ed Rendell has promised to veto such legislation.

EU Spokesman: Bulgaria's Gambling Law Must Apply to Everybody

 

Oliver Drewes is spokesman for the internal markets commissioner, Charlie McCreevy. He was approached by Darik Radio to comment amendments to Bulgarian law on gambling. Tsvetana Minkova from Darik News spoke to Oliver Drewes. Q: Do you think changes in the law for gambling might lead to some impediments for competition in this area in Bulgaria? A: We have a policy of not commenting on amendments of specific laws before we've seen the law or the particular amendment so it is very difficult for me to comment something, which I haven't seen. I can tell you what the general point of view of the Commission is on the issues concerned. It is a matter, which is governed by the basic treaties along with some case law of the Court of Justice. This means we have no harmonization of that area on the European level and each member state can have its own proper policy as long as basic treaty provisions are not violated. For example if you think of classical treaty obligations in respect of free movement of services that means within the EU you can deliver services across borders. That is the basic freedom. On the other hand you can restrict that freedom for certain purposes, for example for protection of minorities or certain health concerns. That's generally accepted, also for prohibitive actions so that people don't get addict or whatsoever. Member states can design their own policy in that respect but when they do so they have to really respect the principle of non discrimination. So that when you introduce these restrictions they must apply to everybody in the same way. Q: The EC has started some legal actions against some cases of violation in member states. A: We did start legal actions in up to ten cases involving at least nine member states. You can put restrictions on services in this area if it is for example a bar, or as you know, there are also special polices designed for bar opening hours or drunk people being allowed into bars. There are different views on that in member states and it is allowed that you restrict people under 18 or 21 for going in a bar. But when you put these restrictions, you have to set up a system where each and everybody is treated in the same way. Q: Are these restrictions valid for both state institutions and the private sector? A: The government may put limits and obligations that everybody is treated the same. For example the government may say the state operator must pay certain amount into the public finance, for the public good you can put the same obligations for the private operator.

Q: Are there examples of violation on the laws?

A: Certainly there are examples for that and it is not against European law. Everybody has to pay taxes so at least companies have to pay taxes too. It's generally accepted practice in case law.

Q: What is the aim of these measures?

A: Those are measures to protect minors or people from getting addicted to gambling activities and that is a policy which the member state can set up. That should be a general policy that should apply to all operators.

Q: What penalties can be imposed on countries for violations on the law?

A: There is one common line in all the cases, that is, the preferential treatment is given to certain operators and not to others. According to the treaty rules and principles you have to respect free movement of services. Of course you can put certain restrictions. The common procedure that goes between the Commission and the member states is that the state has to put in line with community law and is then obliged to change its law. There could be punishment, but it is applied in a very small number of cases. Usually of the country does not change the law, it is imposed a fine.

Don't forget counseling for addicted gamblers

 

State regulators and lawmakers eagerly have been counting the take from the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, the first slots parlor in the state. It is abundantly clear already, in this new era of gambling as a primary source of state revenue, that the state government cares little about the negative aspects of the new industry - so little that it allowed casinos to open without establishing a crucial aspect of the state's own gambling law. That law requires the establishment, by the state government, of a treatment program for gambling addicts to be funded by part of the state's gambling take. No such program is in place, even though the law itself requires the casinos to advertise the state program to its customers. According to the state Department of Health, a program will be in place six to eight months from now, but it does not even know if it will operate the program itself or contract it to a private treatment center. In the meantime, the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has advertised the number of a private treatment program in Philadelphia. But, due to a lack of funds, that program often does not have enough personnel to provide counseling, so callers are greeted by a recording. Even when the state manages to meet its legal obligations by establishing a program, that likely will be underfunded, as well. The state expects to collect $1 billion a year from the casino operations, but has mandated a minimum contribution for addiction treatment of just $1.5 million a year, which could rise depending upon the total take at the slots. From 4 percent to 6 percent of all gamblers develop gambling addictions, according to Gamblers Anonymous. And the likelihood of addiction doubles for people when a casino opens within 50 miles of their homes. All this should be alarming to state lawmakers . . . but wait - lawmakers are counting on addiction to help fuel the state's take. These are the same people, after all, who passed a bill in the dead of night, without debate and minutes before the end of the legislative session, which would allow casinos to serve unlimited free alcohol to patrons.

Gov. Ed Rendell should veto that utterly irresponsible bill, and expedite the creation of an effective program to treat the addicts that the state is about to help create.

Deal Struck In Gambling Ring Aimed At NHL

 

An alleged accomplice in a multimillion-dollar New Jersey betting ring catering to NHL fans plans to testify against a reputed ring leader, reports say. James Ulmer, alleged to have taken bets for the ring, was expected to plead guilty in Superior Court to promoting gambling and conspiracy, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Ulmer then reportedly would testify against Rick Tocchet, a former NHL player and assistant coach. Ulmer, 41, would expect to serve 364 days in county jail, an official said, and return money earned from the ring during its five-year run. Ulmer, Tocchet and former State Trooper James Harney were charged with accepting more than 1,000 wagers worth $1.7 million during a six-week period last year. Activity ended after last season's NFL Super Bowl. The investigation implicated some of the top National Hockey League players, in addition to the wife of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

Chambers seek gambling revenue for major attractions

 

A coalition of Iowa chambers of commerce is asking the Legislature to set aside a chunk of new gambling revenue to help pay for major attractions across the state. This would be a renewal of sorts for the Vision Iowa program. The Iowa Chamber Alliance announced this proposal, and a dozen others, at a Statehouse news conference. The alliance represents 16 regional groups, including the Mason City Chamber of Commerce. "For successful revitalization, community leaders need a wide variety of tools," said Nicole Christian, senior vice president for DavenportOne, an organization that includes the Davenport Chamber of Commerce. Vision Iowa is a program started in the summer of 2000 that earmarked more than $200 million for 13 projects, with most of the money spent in the state's largest metro areas. The program gave out the last of its money in December 2004. Legislative leaders have talked about renewing it or replacing it with a similar program, but no action has been taken. Not only do Chamber Alliance leaders want a new program, they want it to have more favorable terms than Vision Iowa, with no cap on the amount of money that can be given to individual projects. The Chamber Alliance plan would allocate 25 percent of new gambling revenue for such a program. On other issues, Debi Durham, president of the Siouxland Chamber, said the Legislature needs to find a way to lower property taxes for businesses. "Property taxes in the state are very uncompetitive for commercial and industrial property," she said. The reason for the problem is the so-called rollback, a decades-old tax discount for homeowners that puts a disproportionate share of the tax burden on businesses. Incoming House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, in mid-November said the Legislature will make it a high priority to deal with property taxes, though he had no specific plan. Among the other recommendations of the Chamber Alliance: * The state law passed this summer restricting eminent-domain powers should be reconsidered to take into account the law's potential harm to the economy. The high-profile law was passed by the Legislature in an override of Gov. Tom Vilsack's veto.

* The state should simplify its income tax formula by reducing the number of tax brackets in a way that will not alter the amount of money raised.

* Federal, state and local governments should work together to encourage the development of renewable-fuel production in Iowa.

* The state should reduce the wage requirements needed for employers qualify for aid from the Iowa Values Fund. Right now, employers must pay well above the average wage for their region. The Chamber Alliance wants to lower the requirement to employers will only need to meet the average.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Veteran Moderate Moves On

 

The House of Representatives wastes no sympathy on defeated members. So at the beginning of this week, Jim Leach of Iowa sat in an office almost devoid of furniture, the walls stripped bare of the mementos of his 30 years of service -- with just a few hours remaining before the painters moved in to prepare his domain for its new occupant. Leach, who once was chairman of the Banking and Financial Services Committee, would have been in line to head the Committee on International Relations in the next Congress, had Republicans maintained their majority and had he been reelected. But he lost, 51 percent to 48 percent, to college professor David Loebsack, as Democrats won top-to-bottom victories in Iowa this month. Leach, noted for his independence, was the only Iowa legislator to oppose going to war in Iraq. That kind of record helped him prevail in past races despite his heavily Democratic district, which gave a higher percentage of its presidential vote to John Kerry than any other district held by a Republican. But this year two special factors helped tip the balance against him. First, he became a target for crafting the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which passed Congress as part of a larger bill in October and was signed into law just before the election. The Poker Players Alliance, which had fought the measure banning banks and credit card companies from servicing Internet gambling firms, targeted Leach and other sponsors with e-mails to its members and publicity in poker magazines. A post-election survey paid for by the gambling group found a net 5-point swing against Leach attributable to that issue. John Pappas, the spokesman for the alliance, said it is putting together a presentation for the new members of Congress using Leach's experience to show that "this issue is not a winner for them; in fact, the main proponent was hurt by it." The alliance wants poker exempted from the Internet gambling ban or the ban lifted in favor of government regulation and taxation. In addition, the Christian Coalition criticized Leach for his support of embryonic stem cell research and for his insistence that the national GOP drop a planned mailing attacking Loebsack on the issue of gay marriage.

"But the big force," Leach said in a conversation in his nearly empty office, "was the accountability thing -- the overwhelming dissatisfaction with the Republican Congress."

Because he can understand and even sympathize a bit with that feeling, Leach said, "I am probably the least disappointed defeated member" of the vanished Republican majority.

On the other hand, the man who was known as "the conscience of Congress" because of his personal high standards -- no PAC money or out-of-state contributions -- said he regrets not being part of the policymaking at "a really critical moment for the United States in its relations with a changing world."

And he worries about the political dynamics of a Congress that is more and more polarized -- and therefore less and less representative of the American mainstream.

Leach was one of eight members of the dwindling tribe of Republican moderates who lost their seats this election, unable to separate themselves from the public rejection of a conservative-dominated White House and Congress.

In Leach's view, while presidential races tend to pull candidates to the center, in Congress the abundance of "safe" seats, gerrymandered to guarantee victory to one party or the other, makes party primaries the critical elections. And in those low-turnout primaries, it is the activists -- usually no more than "one-quarter of one-third" of the electorate -- whose views prevail.

"The Republicans have been governing from within" their party base, rather than reaching out to the other party, he said, and now that Democrats have the majority, they will be tempted by electoral dynamics to do the same thing.

It is possible, Leach said, that a new president could change the pattern, and he is rather hopeful that his early picks for the nominations -- Mitt Romney and Barack Obama -- might do that.

Rendell should have vetoed 'free drinks' bill

 

Coins have been dropping for less than a month at Pennsylvania's first slots parlor, and already, the General Assembly has made the first of what will certainly be many heartless concessions to the casino cartel, citing ''competition'' from neighboring states. What is this heartless concession, you ask? Well, now that Gov. Ed Rendell signed the new bill, casinos will be able to ply their customers with a mind-altering, judgment-impairing drug, 19 hours a day - for free! Yes, the latest turn in Pennsylvania's downward gambling spiral is the legalization of free alcoholic drinks to slots users. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Sean Logan, D-Allegheny, passed the state Senate by a vote of 27-22 and the state House by 112-75. This follows a vote by the state Senate just last month to exempt casinos from smoking bans enacted by local municipalities. (Thankfully, that measure then failed to pass the state House.) Some lawmakers said that they wanted to exempt casinos because they feared that bans on cigarettes would reduce the number of slots players and thus reduce the amount of revenue. Apparently, there's no such special concern for the business impact on the myriad of mom-and-pop taverns and restaurants that are affected by the smoking bans already in place in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties. It's a gambling protection program at work here. It is equally appalling that one United Way chapter recruited hundreds of gamblers from among its volunteers for the pre-opening test-run of the first slot machines at Pocono Downs on the weekend before opening day, with proceeds promised to compulsive gambling programs. Press reports said that the local United Way of Wyoming Valley was excited about the opportunity to thank volunteers in that way. Funding notwithstanding, it's the United Way agencies that should know that dual and triple addictions are common, such as alcoholics who are also hooked on gambling and smoking. It's the social service world that will be forced to handle the fallout from the new crop of local citizens who become gambling addicts. It has happened in every other state, including those states our lawmakers say that we need to ''compete'' with. Imagine, if you will, allowing a car dealer to offer free booze to a customer while he tries to close the sale and get the customer to sign on the bottom line. Or a stock broker who leads an investor into the latest deal after plying him with drinks during a version of happy hour!

Most people would deem those business practices unthinkable and in fact, they might create unenforceable contracts. Under Pennsylvania's common law, a person may avoid contractual obligations if the contract was formed while he was visibly intoxicated. In other words, they are assumed to be victims of the deal since they signed the bottom line while their judgment was impaired by alcohol (or drugs).

Of course, the tragic actions of our General Assembly with regard to casino gambling didn't start with the vote on free booze. These concessions to the casinos will become all-too commonplace as one addiction literally feeds another.

It's a double-minded government that has its state police rightfully warn the public to ''Click it or Ticket'' to get us to buckle up, especially for holiday travel and meanwhile seems to abandon its concerns for safety and well-being of certain citizens when it comes to casinos and the almighty gambling dollar.

Perhaps our General Assembly and the Gaming Control Board should take a lesson from another state agency, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. For years, the PLCB has warned us against drinking and driving with a bumper sticker that says, ''Impairment begins with the first drink.''

Regular gambling is linked to poor health

 

People who gamble also have an increased risk of health problems such as angina and liver disease. Gambling can be as serious an addiction as substance abuse or alcoholism. The latter are both associated with other health problems and so, also, is gambling according to a new study from the University of Connecticut. Their data comes from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which covers more than 43,000 Americans. More than a quarter of the participants gambled five or more times a year. Forms of gambling included playing cards for money, betting on horses, dogs or sport, buying lottery tickets or playing the stock market. Around one per cent were considered to be problem gamblers and 0.5 per cent were addicted to gambling. Those who gambled were more likely to have high blood pressure or suffer from alcohol abuse or obesity. The problem and pathological gamblers also had an increased risk of angina and liver disease. The findings show that gambling should be taken as seriously as other addictions - not only for the social and psychological problems it brings, but also because of its effect on physical health.

Don't Bet on Fiscal Restraint

 

Good news! The proceeds from new table games at the state's racetracks will go to help the elderly and infirm stay at home instead of being trundled off to nursing homes. What a relief. I thought the cash was headed for gambling operators and political pork projects. Gov. Joe Manchin suggested this week at a press conference that if a measure is approved that would clear the way for table games at the state's racetrack casinos, he'd like to see some of the cash go to keep the old folks at home. That tells us a couple of things: 1) the measure will be approved and 2) the new games will mean extra money, not just a replacement for the cash that will be lost now that the state of Pennsylvania will be fleecing its own flock at the video slots, at least at first. Gambling expansion generally comes tied to something happy sounding -- schools, education, seniors, veterans, wayward panda bears ... whatever. You could just as easily say that gambling money funds the restoration of the Governor's Mansion or the salaries of every hack politician's brother-in-law hanging onto the state payroll. But by putting the slot shekels in a special account, we can kid ourselves into thinking that our budget wouldn't be busted if it weren't for gambling, but that is only a contrivance. You can tell yourself that your pay for Tuesday goes to your mortgage while your pay for Friday goes to your grocery bill, but if you got cut back to three days a week, Kroger and the bank both would know it. Since labor Democrats rolled up some key victories on Election Day, I'm not betting on any spending cuts in the session to come. Our continually swelling budget will get more swollen still as our governor and legislators keep thinking of new initiatives. That means we'll need lots of cash on hand. And as we learned in 2001 when Bob Wise used what little political capital he brought into office on making state government the top dog in the neighborhood gambling business, you've got to offer something, like free college tuition, for instance, to get things rolling. It's particularly piquant for Gov. Manchin to use in-home health care for seniors as his enticement for passing table games. Keeping people out of nursing homes was one of the marquee issues for anti-gambling Sen. Russ Weeks, R-Raleigh. Manchin worked hard on behalf of Mike Green, the greyhound breeder who beat Weeks. Now, Weeks' favorite cause -- and an issue on which he sharply criticized Manchin -- will be used to sell a gambling expansion he fought so hard against. That's what I call sending a message. One of the problems that the gambling interests have had in Charleston, aside from perennially overstating their odds for success, has been that we've done every gambling expansion in the most screwy, backdoor fashion imaginable. Lawmakers have never come clean on gambling. I remember when I would tag along with my Catholic buddies to parish street fairs to get in on the best blackjack games, which were always run by the priests. I assumed until I moved south of the Kanawha that it was like that everywhere. It is not. The rest of you good people seem to be opposed to a friendly game, even if done with the benefit of clergy.

But even so, according to our polls, there seems to be little complaint around the state, even in the most ecclesiastical corners, about having table games at the tracks. If people like me and my Wheeling brethren like to roll dice or play blackjack and vote to allow it, the rest of West Virginia seems content to leave us to our own wicked business.

The legislative math is easy to do, and it seems pretty likely that table games will really be attained this year, especially with the governor giving the initiative a little do-good gloss.

What people don't approve of are Gov. Wise's little neighborhood scholarship generators, which look suspiciously like slot machines.

They're a blight on the state, and the money mostly comes from people who can ill afford to lose it. Then we get to pay the bill when their lives flounder on the rocks of state-sponsored convenience gambling.

For a brief moment before the election, it seemed like a compromise was working itself out. Bring in the high rollers at the tracks with table games and let the licenses for those dingy little slot parlors gradually expire. The revenue would more than replace what was lost, and we'd be free of the moral shame of having the state living off of the addictions of pensioners.

The best part is that we finally could come out in the open on gambling -- destination gambling at luxury racetrack casinos, lottery tickets and nothing more. It would let us finally stop lying to ourselves.

But the people who are making money off those machines and those pensioners have decided that they weren't going to let a good thing go.

They've formed their own lobbying group, led by some politically powerful players from around the state, people like the mayor of Wheeling's brother, Anthony "Herk" Sparchane, who runs a lot of the slots in his brother's jurisdiction.

The argument they're no doubt making to the governor is along these lines: "Why replace revenue if you can just triple it. If you're helping the people with $50 million, think of how much more helpful you'd be with $150 million."

One pleads guilty in gambling ring, four others expected

 

One of nine men indicted for running a gambling ring that took bets on football and basketball games pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court afternoon. And Joesph Saladino's plea may be the first of several guilty pleas from men whom prosecutors allege were connected to a conspiracy that runs as far back as the 1980s. "There's a total of five" guilty pleas in the works, including Saladino, said Assistant U.S. Attorney John Scully as he left Judge Philip Reinhard's courtroom. The other possible guilty pleas are John P. "Tiger" Frisella, Joseph F. "Pep" Fiorenza, and Joesph's two sons, Nicholas and Rick. Wednesday, Reinhard set Friday afternoon hearing dates for the four. Their trial was initially scheduled to start Dec. 11.It's still not clear what will happen with the other men who were indicted in the case. They are Charles A. Purin, Frank C. Giardono, Nick Provenzano and John F. Salamone. A tentative trial date for them has been set for Feb. 12.All of the men, except Saladino, were indicted and arrested in early February, just days before the Super Bowl, on gambling charges.Federal prosecutors have been characteristically tight-lipped about details of the alleged conspiracy, but court papers filed this week list some of the evidence the Justice Department plans to present if the case goes to trial.The documents say that Frisella and Saladino had, at least by 2001, set up a "wireroom" in a Rockford apartment building at 1912 17th Ave. where they would take bookmaking calls from bettors over two telephones that were listed under the name of a woman known to Saladino. The feds also obtained phone records that show hundreds of calls made from the men to 800 and 888 numbers. A government wiretap that was placed on one of the phones in the wireroom was activated Nov. 26, 2001, according to court documents.

"It was immediately apparent that Joseph Saladino was involved in a sports betting business and there were ultimately several thousand conversations intercepted on this phone," the documents read. "Some of the calls were with the defendants and other conspirators, but the majority were with bettors."

The Justice Department is also apparently prepared to present witnesses that placed bets with the members of the alleged ring or could identify some members as people who picked up or delivered gambling payments.

Among these witnesses is a person identified only as "a family member of Charles Purin" who would testify that they helped drum up business for the bookmaking operation run by Saladino and Frisella.

Saladino, who did not file an official plea deal with the court, faces up to five years in prison and the government is seeking to seize $500,000 in assets.

Animal cruelty, gambling alleged

 

A Summerdale man faces allegations of setting up a cockfighting ring outside his home where dozens of people bet on battles between the birds, a law-enforcement official said. Francisco Hurtado, 34, is charged with cockfighting, conspiracy to promote gambling and cruelty to animals. All three of the counts are misdemeanors. Baldwin County sheriff's deputies received an anonymous call Sunday morning about illegal gambling on Woodhaven Dairy Road East, near Fish River, according to Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. John Murphy. They arrived to find a large number of cars and about 50 people crowded around an outdoor pit lined with plywood, he said. A few people scattered into a wooded area nearby when deputies approached, Murphy said. "Through the course of several interviews, it was determined that they were gambling on the chicken fights," Murphy said. The cockfights may have been ongoing for some time, he added. "You could tell that it was something that hadn't just been put up," Murphy said. "The pen had been there, there were chairs out there, garbage, beer cans, a fairly decent amount of people there for some time greater than just that morning." Deputies found at least 20 birds on the property, several of which were "aggressive" birds, but did not have the means or authority to confiscate them, according to the spokesman. "You can't just turn them loose," he said. One rooster was dead, and two of the birds had been injured. Raising such birds is legal and, Murphy added, "pretty common throughout the county and throughout the region." Hurtado posted a $5,000 bond and was released, according to jail officials. No court date has been set. Conspiracy to promote gambling is a Class A misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to a year in jail, while cruelty to animals is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. The penalty for cockfighting is a fine between $25 and $50.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

No bail in NYC online gambling case

 

A professional poker player accused of running a $3.3 billion illegal sports gambling operation was ordered held without bail Wednesday. The balding and bearded James Giordano stood silently with hands cuffed behind his back at his arraignment in Queens Criminal Court as his lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Giordano, 52, was arrested Nov. 15 by FBI agents who scaled the walls of his fortress-like Florida compound. He was indicted along with 26 others, including three family members, on charges of running an online gambling scheme that rivaled casino sports betting. Prosecutors allege that since 2004, Giordano had run a $1 billion-a-year operation involving tens of thousands of bettors and 2,000 bookies. The bookies would assign bettors secret codes to track their wagers and monitor point spreads and results through a restricted Web site. Bets were taken on all kinds of sports, including football, baseball, basketball, hockey, car racing and golf. Authorities said defendants laundered and stashed away "untold millions of dollars" using shell corporations and bank accounts in Central America, the Caribbean, Switzerland, Hong Kong and elsewhere. Giordano's wife, daughter and son-in-law also were arraigned Wednesday and pleaded not guilty. Like James Giordano, they were extradited from Florida, where they live, to New York on Tuesday. His wife, Priscilla Giordano, was released on $1 million bail. His daughter, Melissa Clarin, was released on $500,000 bail. Daniel Clarin, his son-in-law, was held without bail. "This is obviously a significant case. We are trying to get our hands around it," the Clarins' lawyer, Roger Adler, said outside the courtroom. Attorneys for the other defendants declined to comment Wednesday.

James Giordano, who won a Texas Hold 'em tournament worth nearly $100,000 in Las Vegas earlier this year, and Daniel Clarin were scheduled to return to court Dec. 7 for another bail hearing.

The 27 defendants, from New York, New Jersey, Florida and Nevada, were charged with enterprise corruption, money laundering, promoting gambling and other counts following a 28-month probe led by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Among those indicted is Frank Falzarano, a former scout for the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants who is accused of being a top earner in the network. Falzarano, arraigned earlier this month and released on $500,000 bail, is scheduled to reappear in court Jan. 3.

Authorities said they broke the case open last year when New York Police Department investigators secretly hacked into a laptop computer that James Giordano had left in a Long Island hotel while attending a wedding.

Panagiotakos: Revisit casino gambling

 

Tuesday night's broadcast of SunTalk Live is now available on www.lowellsun.com or by dialing 978-364-4098. On the weekly phone-in show, Sun Editor Jim Campanini and state Sen. Steve Panagiotakos discussed how Gov.-elect Deval Patrick's victory will reshape legislative priorities. Panagiotakos, a power broker on the Senate's Ways and Means Committee, lauded many of Patrick's ideas but noted that the state has limited financial resources and will have take care of the most pressing problems like education aid, higher-ed funding and job creation initiatives. He also said Patrick and the Legislative should revisit the expanded gambling issue. "How can we leave $400 million on the table?," when the state struggles to fund important programs," inquired Panagiotakos. In addition, Monday night's sports talk show hosted by Sun blogger Teddy Panos can be heard on www.lowellsun.com or by dialing 978-364-4099. The broadcast features New England Patriots' beat writer Dave Pevear discussing the team's win over the Chicago Bears and the NFL

DEFINITIVE ONLINE GAMBLING BUSINESS DIRECTORY NOW AVAILABLE

 

Casino City Press announced the availability of the Winter 2007 edition of the Gaming Business Directory this week. Widely viewed as the definitive business directory for the industry, the publication is a 750-page reference containing the most current information available on over 3 500 gaming properties around the world, plus 500 property owners, with detailed property profiles and 25 000 casino and gaming executive contacts including names and titles across 40 departments. To ensure the Directory's accuracy and timeliness, Casino City's research team makes more than 1 000 updates a month, including over 8 000 executive contact changes since the last edition. The Directory is an indispensable resource for anyone doing business in the gaming industry. Suppliers use it to grow their business by marketing to casino executives or gaming manufacturers, and casino executives use it for competitive analysis and to identify key players in every jurisdiction worldwide. The new edition features expanded, up-to-date information about individual properties. In addition to location and contact information, names and titles of executive contacts, number of table games, gaming machines, hotel rooms, square footage, entertainment venues and attractions, and names and types of facilities for bars and restaurants, the Winter 2007 Directory includes cross-reference lists of Class II and Class III tribal gaming facilities, riverboat casinos, casino cruises, cruise ships, racinos, and tracks plus top casinos ranked by number of gaming positions, slots, table games, and hotel rooms. The information in the Gaming Business Directory is available in print, on CD and through the web with Casino City's Gaming Directory Online Service, which allows for instant access to up-to-the-minute data with powerful report building tools, saved searches, immediate downloads, and a who's who lookup.

UK Releases Gambling Licensing Codes

 

The U.K. has taken another step to allow most forms of gambling within its borders. A document containing general codes and conditions for the gambling industry was today released by U.K.'s Gambling Commission. The "License Conditions and Codes of Practice" document outlines everything from technical specifications of gambling equipment to pool betting. Also starting next fall, people will be able to play poker in pubs that choose to allow it. By next fall, the U.K. will have all the rules and regulations in place to have both online gambling companies — including poker sites — brick and mortar establishments,
located there. All gambling operators who want to work in the U.K . must be licensed through the Gambling Commission. "Another milestone has been reached by the Gambling Commission in publishing these conditions and codes today," said Peter Dean, the Commission's chairman. "The conditions and codes set out the rules which operators must observe to meet our three licensing
objectives of keeping crime out of gambling, ensuring that gambling is fair and open, and protecting children and other vulnerable people." In October 2005, British lawmakers established the Gambling Commission to collect taxes from both online and land-based card rooms and casinos, and to also ensure that consumers are protected at all times. This, of course, goes against the stance that the U.S has recently officially taken when it passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to target the cash flow to and from American accounts.

The U.K.'s Gambling Commission held a symposium a few weeks ago that included
representatives from more than 30 countries around the world. The conference was held to
jump-start dialogue among the attending countries to figure out the best way to regulate
online gambling.
Representatives from the U.S. did not attend. The codes that were published today did
not include any details about how online gambling will be taxed and regulated. These
rules will be in place by next fall.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Pull 'misleading' scratch tickets, gambling watchdog group urges

 

A national gambling watchdog group has raised new concerns about lottery scratch cards sold in Ontario, charging that current practices are unfair and misleading to the consumer.The Gambling Watch Network filed a letter with Ontario's ombudsman complaining that scratch tickets are sold even after the top prizes have been won. Brian Yealland, the group's spokesman, said retailers should stop selling tickets if the buyer has no chance of winning the jackpot.(CBC) "People go on purchasing those tickets although they have no chance of winning, and it seems to us that this is a breach of the understanding one has in buying a ticket," Yealland said. This practice has been the subject of scrutiny and lawsuits in the United States, causing some state lotteries to include disclaimers on the tickets explaining that some prizes may already be won. In Iowa, instant win tickets are pulled from stores once the grand prizes have been claimed, said Tina Potthoff, a spokeswoman for the Iowa State Lottery. "We want to make sure our players have a chance to win the top prize every time they purchase a ticket," Potthoff said. "If by chance a top prize is missing and they only have a second- or third-tier prize, we feel that's false advertising." A spokesman for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation said players can call a toll-free number printed on the back of each scratch and win ticket to find out which prizes are still available to be won.

Study gives snapshot of casino gambling

 

A multi-year study has given the first glimpse into the impact of increased casino gambling in Surrey and Langley The socio-economic impact study being conducted for the provincial government is tracing the effects on local residents of the spring 2005 opening of the Langley Cascades casino and of slot machines at Fraser Downs racetrack in Surrey, plus two facilities in Vancouver. Researchers surveyed residents at random as well as patrons in casinos. Their first-year findings show the percentage of problem gamblers in Langley City climbed from 2.5 per cent in 2004 to 4.9 per cent last year. The rate climbed from 5.6 to six per cent in Surrey, but actually fell in Langley Township from four per cent to 2.6 per cent in 2005.
The firm behind the study, Blue Thorn Research and Analysis Group, concluded the change was not statistically significant.
"The venues appear to have produced new gamblers," the report found. "Some people are now gambling at the venues that previously did not gamble. It is possible that some of these new gamblers may develop problems." Researchers also interviewed nine counsellors who work in the region with problem gamblers. Obvious impacts were limited because the facilities are new, the counsellors said, adding their clients "were already in trouble well before these facilities opened." The report said the counsellors believe the casino in Langley may have led to an increase in the number of mental health clients there, because of the casino's proximity to low-income housing and residents without ready transportation. The counsellors also suggested the addition of new gambling sites creates "enormous temptations" for problem gamblers, and the increased convenience and visibility increases the risk of relapse. Overall, the report concludes that based on the first year's findings the new casinos have had a relatively small impact on general gambling behaviour. In 2004, about 76 per cent of Langley City residents surveyed said they never played slot machines. That number fell to about 60 per cent in 2005 after the casino there opened (versus about 64 per cent for Langley township.)

About 40 per cent of Langley City residents surveyed said they gambled at the casino after it opened, versus 30 per cent of Langley Township residents.

In contrast, 74 per cent of Surrey residents surveyed said they didn't play slot machines in 2005 – actually up slightly from 73.7 per cent in 2004 prior to the installation of the Fraser Downs slots.

Surrey residents who do gamble at slot machines don't automatically go to Fraser Downs – it was fourth on the list of where they normally play slots, behind Las Vegas/Reno casinos, River Rock in Richmond and Cascades in Langley.

Eleven per cent of those surveyed in Surrey said they did gamble at Fraser Downs in 2005 and spent on average $54 per visit.

Langley City residents spent an average $36 per visit, but more – nearly six per cent – said they go every day.

Just 0.6 per cent of Langley Township residents surveyed said they're daily customers at the Cascades, but they spend more — $63 per visit on average.

Of the combined Vancouver-Surrey-Langley residents surveyed, 20 per cent said they don't gamble. Sixty-five per cent are rated as non-problem gamblers – the classifications were based on their survey responses – while a further 10.5 per cent are ranked "low risk," 3.7 per cent are ranked "moderate problem gamblers" and 0.7 per cent are ranked "severe problem gamblers."

The report found there was "no discernible impact" on crime or traffic near the casinos.

It also concludes the casinos haven't attracted measurable numbers of tourists from outside B.C.

"At present it appears the overwhelming majority of patronage is local," the report says.

It does note residents surveyed aren't travelling out of B.C. to destinations like Las Vegas to gamble as often, adding money now spent here is being "recaptured."

Officials with B.C.'s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch say they're satisfied the initial findings show no significant impact from the new gambling venues.

"Many of the measures of problem gambling remain statistically the same," said assistant deputy minister Derek Sturko.

"Obviously we've got to watch the longer trend," he said. "But in general there was no massive shift in circumstances."

South African judge rules against online gambling

 

As reported by the South Africa Citizen: "Online gambling is still outlawed in South Africa, even though the service is offered from outside the borders of the country, a Pretoria High Court judge has ruled. "Judge Willie Hartzenberg decreed yesterday that an application launched by Casino Enterprises Swaziland, which runs Piggs Peak Casino in Swaziland, disclosed no cause of action because it wanted the court to declare gambling actions in Gauteng legitimate, which were prohibited by local legislation. "…The casino maintained its online gambling took place legally in Swaziland and did not contravene the Gauteng Gambling Act…"

Gambling on the Hill II

 

As a black man born and raised on the Hill, I applaud poet-scholar Kimberly Ellis for her courage and love for our people and her opposition to Isle of Capri Casinos putting a casino on the Lower Hill. I remember as a child of 8 how I came home from school and saw a notice on the door that we had to move because of the construction of the Civic Arena. Now, 50 years later, the old wound is being opened again. Black people in Pittsburgh are being robbed of our heritage for gambling, slots and hockey. Pittsburgh has always been a cruel city for blacks, which is why many like myself were forced to leave the city we love. Through tricks and the help of Uncle Toms and Aunt Lucilles we are being robbed again. I support Kimberly Ellis in her noble fight and I tell Isle of Capri Casinos to back off with the threats against my sister. The only jobs blacks will get from the casino are dishwashers, janitors and prostitutes.

Poker player held without bail in New York online gambling case

 

A professional poker player accused of running a $3.3 billion illegal sports gambling operation was ordered held without bail Wednesday. The balding and bearded James Giordano stood silently with hands cuffed behind his back at his arraignment in Queens Criminal Court as his lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Giordano, 52, was arrested Nov. 15 by FBI agents who scaled the walls of his fortess-like Florida compound. Authorities said they broke the case wide open last year when New York Police Department investigators secretly hacked into a laptop computer that Giordano had left in a Long Island hotel while attending a wedding. Giordano was indicted along with 26 others, including three family members, on charges of running an online gambling scheme that rivaled casino sports betting. Among them was Frank Falzarano, a former scout for the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants, who was arrested at his Seaford, N.Y., home. Falzarano was accused of being a top earner in a network of 2,000 bookies who took cash wagers from tens of thousands of customers nationwide. He was arraigned earlier this month. He was released on $500,000 bail and told to return to court Jan. 3. The $1 billion-a-year scheme, hatched in 2004, involved placing sports bets through bookies, who would assign bettors secret codes to track their wagers and monitor point spreads and results through a restricted Web site. The bets were taken on all kinds of sports, including football, baseball, basketball, hockey, car racing and golf.

Authorities said defendants laundered and stashed away "untold millions of dollars" using shell corporations and bank accounts in Central America, the Caribbean, Switzerland, Hong Kong and elsewhere.

Giordano's daughter and son-in-law also were arraigned Wednesday. Both pleaded not guilty.

His wife, Priscilla Giordano, was released on $1 million bail Wednesday. Daniel Clarin, the son-in-law, was held without bail. The daughter, Melissa Clarin, a mother of two young children, was freed on $500,000 bail.

Roger Adler, the Clarins' lawyer, said outside the courtroom: "This is obviously a significant case. We are trying to get our hands around it."

Attorneys for the other defendants declined comment Wednesday.

Giordano and Clarin were scheduled to return to court Dec. 7 for another bail hearing.

All four were extradited from Florida, where they live, to New York on Tuesday.

The 27 people, from New York, New Jersey, Florida and Nevada, were charged with enterprise corruption, money laundering, promoting gambling and other counts following a 28-month probe led by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Know the signs of problem gambling

 

When a person continues to gamble, despite the fact it is causing financial, marital, family, legal, employment, social, or school difficulties, it is a problem.Last week's article depicted an example of how a woman's gambling behaviour destroyed many aspects of her life, as well as those of others. That was a true story. She would not have stopped if she had not been forced to. No one in this woman's life knew that she gambled. Gambling is described, simply, as playing a game of chance for stakes. It occurs in many forms, such as lotteries, break-open tickets, casinos, sports betting, horse track betting, Bingo, table games, and the stock market. Pathological gambling is a progressive disease that is devastating to the gambler, as well as everyone who he or she has a significant relationship with.The American Psychiatric Association identifies pathological gambling as a "disorder of impulse control." It is an illness that is chronic and progressive. But it also can be diagnosed and treated. According to Robert L. Custer, M.D., there are three phases identified in the progression of gambling addiction:

    •The winning phase

    This occurs when gamblers experience a big win, or a series of wins, that causes them to feel (unreasonable) optimism that their winning will continue.

    •The losing phase

    During this phase, gamblers will brag about their wins, start gambling alone, think more about gambling, and borrow money legally or illegally. They may start lying to family and friends and become more irritable, restless, and withdrawn.

    Home life becomes unhappy and they are unable to pay off debts. Gamblers begin to "chase" their losses, believing they must return as soon as possible to win back their losses.

    •The desperation phase

    During this phase there is a marked increase in the time spent gambling. This is accompanied by remorse, blaming others, and alienating family and friends.

    Eventually, the gamblers may engage in illegal acts to finance their gambling.

READY TO GET STARTED AT OUR PREFERRED GAMBLING SITES?
  • To see our Best Gambling Guide picks, visit or Best Gambling sites list.
  • To find reviews of the Best Gambling Guide, visit our Best Gambling Sites Reviews.
  • For the best bonuses available, please read our Best Gambling Bonuses Offers.
  • For access to our list of gambling payouts visit our Best Gambling Payouts section.
  • Gambling Rules & Strategies, select from Poker, Baccarat, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette or Slots.
  • For news stories on the Best Gambling Guide industry, read our Best Gambling Guide News Articles.
  • Copyright© 1999 to 2009 - Best Gambling Guide from Gambling Headquarters

    Gambling Guide Menu

    Home
    Best Gambling Sites
    Casino Reviews
    Best Gambling Payouts
    Best Gambling Bonus
    No Deposit Bonuses
    Monthly Bonus
    High Roller Bonus
    Biggest Jackpots
    Progressive Slots
    Live Dealer Casinos

    Gambling Resources

    New Players Guide
    Ten Commandments
    House Edge
    Gambling Articles
    Probabilities
    Money Management
    Gambling Psychology
    Gambling Guide News

    Gambling Rules

    Poker
    Baccarat
    Blackjack
    Craps
    Roulette
    Slots
    Betting Systems

    Gambling Software

    Microgaming
    Cryptologic
    Playtech
    Real Time Gaming
    Boss Media
    Viper
    Odds On
    Other Software

    Gambling Groups

    Belle Rock Gaming
    Fortune Lounge
    Bright Share
    Casino Partners
    Vegas Partners
    Casino Profit Share
    Gambling Rewards
    Casino Coins

    Banking Methods

    Firepay
    Neteller
    Citadel
    more...

    More Gambling

    Poker
    Sports
    Bingo
    Casino Affiliates

    Misc.

    Best Gambling Directory
    Webmasters
    Contact Us

    Best Gambling Guide for online gambling reviews, best gambling bonuses, gambling games, and gambling tips. Our gambling guide features

    rules for baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette & slots. Best gambling payouts and best gambling bonuses are featured in this gambling guide.

    Best Gambling Guide from Gambling Headquarters