Hold ’em Harmless?

high7

The following letter was sent by US mail on 26 October 2015 to the Delhi District office of State Senator John J. Bonacic.  An electronic version  with attachment was transmitted to the  Senator’s  e-mail three days later.

 

 

Dear Senator Bonacic,

At the hearing you held Sept 9 regarding S5302 there was good news: you gave at least a little time to the important question of whether legalizing i-poker would have an impact on problem gambling and gambling addiction. The bad news was that you readily accepted a “negdec”   from Mr Pappas of the Poker Players Alliance. I fear your questioning was to get this assurance of no harm onto the record.

Your questioning of Mr Pappas did not show the trial lawyer skills that Mr Featherstonaugh accorded you later in the hearing. Was this just a lapse in preparation, or was it deliberate? Whichever it was, your “OK” to Mr Pappas’s reply surely gave most listeners the false impression that internet gambling — of all kinds – has been well-studied and found not to be worse in any dimension for individuals or populations than other kinds of gambling. Not so.

I would be glad to meet with you and your staff to go over some basic principles of epidemiology and public health that should be applied to the important work you and your colleagues do. They are explained in the enclosed 12-page critique. Sad to say, the approach in the September hearing to this basic science  is no more valid than evaluating a corporation by whether it declared a profit or loss in the most recent annual report.

Sincerely,

Stephen Q. Shafer MD MPH

Chairperson,  Coalition Against Gambling in New York  917 453 7371

Below is the critique that was enclosed with the cover letter

Considerations of Internet Problem Gambling in the New York State Senate i-Poker Hearings of September 9 2015: an Epidemiologist’s Critique

Stephen Q. Shafer MD MA MPH                                              27 October 2015

 

The author is a retired Clinical Professor of Neurology, Columbia University and Chairperson of Coalition Against Gambling in New York, a non-profit all-volunteer organization registered in Buffalo.

 

During the Sept 9 2015 hearing on legalizing i-poker held by Senator Bonacic there was scant mention of the potential for i-poker or other forms of i-gambling to cause addiction or problem gambling or to sustain these conditions when they had developed in another setting such as a b and m [bricks and mortar] casino. Below is the nearest approach.

At about 15:50 Mr Bonacic, chairing, asked Mr Pappas, CEO of the Poker Players Alliance and the first person to testify, “Is there a ratio for the amount of people that play on line poker, gaming, as opposed to those that get addicted? Is it one in three hundred, one in five hundred?   Is it ascertainable?”

Senator Bonacic seems here to be groping for the prevalence of gambling addiction among persons who do i-poker or i-“gaming.” I expect he meant to make the ratio as he set it up  500 to one, not one in 500. He is certainly leading the witness towards a very low proportion of addicted gamblers among all on-line gamblers.  Note also that the question does not separate poker from other types of i-gambling. This is likely intentional, to blur distinctions in readiness for the transition I think he and associates plan, from two particular forms of i-poker to all forms of casino-type “gaming” on the internet and ultimately to i-betting on sports.

 Mr Pappas responded that he didn’t have notes in hand but that his written testimony gave backup. He summarized,    “There is not a discernible increase, not any increase.” Mr. Bonacic replied “OK. ”

Note well: Mr Pappas did not answer the question Senator Bonacic asked, which was about a “ratio,” not an increase. His response belonged to a question not put. Perhaps he had been expecting something like one of the following:

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A Christian Faith Perspective on Gambling

Where there's Muck there's Brass 2295584401_e68196285a_m

 

Sermon – September 29, 2013 by the Rev. Michael Phillips, Interim Rector,  Trinity Episcopal Church, Saugerties,  New York

Consider these two scenarios:

Number 1: Four men gather at the club house of a local golf course for their monthly outing.  They have been playing together for years and always make a friendly wager.  Each golfer puts $20 into the kitty and then at the end of the round they tally their scores, weighted for each player’s handicap, and distribute the money like this: out of the $80 total, the golfer with the best score gets $50, the second place golfer gets $20, the third place golfer gets $10, and the loser gets nothing.

Number 2: The four golfing buddies decide to take a Saturday and drive to a casino resort where they can try their luck.  When they arrive, they find a parking spot in the huge lot and walk to the casino entrance past rows and rows of buses and cars.  They enter the bright, lively, bustling main room of the casino and wonder where to start.  Each one of the men decides to gamble with $20 and keep gambling until it’s gone.  One guy starts by taking $10 and getting a roll of quarters for the slot machines.  He goes through most of his quarters until he hits a jackpot and walks away with $50.  He takes the $50 and moves to the black jack table where after a few games, wins again, this time $2,500.  He takes his $2,500 to the roulette table and by the end of the night walks away with $50,000.  His buddies were not so fortunate.  One went home with $50, and the other two, after a lackluster evening of ups but mostly downs, lost everything.

What’s the difference between these two scenes? Both have winners and losers.  Both involve making an initial investment with the hope of gaining more.  However, they also have significant differences.  For example, in the first scene, the winnings are modest, at the most $50.  The second place golfer gets his ante back and the third place golfer gets half of his orginal investment back.  Only the last place golfer loses everything.  But also and more importantly, the winning is based upon the skill of the golfer.  Even though they have handicapped the scoring, it turns out that the winner is the golfer who spent hours at the driving range and on the putting green, working on the details of his game.  The loser is the guy who only plays a few times each summer and doesn’t really take the game that seriously. With his handicap he sometimes comes in third and once on a really good day he actually came in second. But for the most part, the dedication and commitment of the serious golfer pays off.

In the second scene, gambling, it’s a “no skills required” environment.  Practicing pulling the lever of a slot machine does not increase or decrease your chances of winning. Winning big at gambling is a matter of pure, dumb, luck.  The other difference is that one person won big, really big, $50,000 big, while most of the thousands of people who came to the casino that night walked away losers.  But even though the one guy won $50,000, the truly big winner, consistently, every night, at every casino without question is “the House.”  The House never loses.  The House will share some of its profit with a few random individuals to keep people coming back, and when I say “people,” I mean, contributors to the House coffers.  The House knows exactly how much to share to keep gambling appetites whetted, and how much to keep for itself.  Casinos do not exist for the gambler.  They exist for the House.

So let’s take a look at the proposed casino legislation in New York State from a faith perspective.

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New York State is Addicted

Despair

New York State is addicted to revenues from gambling.  This is not just a figure of speech. Below are hallmarks obvious in the state’s behavior over the 47 years since its Constitution was amended to allow a lottery with periodic drawings and paper tickets.  In November another amendment, to permit “up to seven” casinos, will be on the ballot statewide. Intervention is needed.

  • craving
  • upping the dose
  • seeking short-term rewards e.g. “aid to education” without an uptick in personal or business tax rates.
  • discounting adverse effects  Problem gambling in New York drains from society  more than 3.5 billion dollars a year in quantifiable socio-economic costs like judicial administration, lowered productivity, and abused dollars.  This amount excludes suicide, proceeds of crime and psychosocial harm to the dozen or so individuals who are betrayed by every problem gambler in “the chase.”  No state official ever acknowledges the size of this problem.  The econometrics are in Gambling in America (Cambridge University Press, 2004) by Earl L. Grinols, Distinguished Professor of Economics at Baylor.
  • denying long term liabilities (e.g. spectre of fiscal flop with saturation, need for bailout à la NJ or DE, future inroads by internet gambling)
  • scoffing at the diagnosis “There’s nothing wrong with me!”
  • dismissing prospects of recovery  
  • cheating (e.g. allowing as if they are video lottery terminals (VLTs) hybrid electronic table games with outcomes not under the control of Lottery’s central processing unit.  See New York Daily News May 5 and 12, 2013. Another more recent example: rewriting the text of the amendment   to be on November ballot to make it an advertisement for a yes vote and boosting the proposal from the sixth slot where it belongs by date of passage into the “number one” slot.
  • deceiving e.g. pretending  increased regional cash throughput is “economic development”  Another example: saying that government regulation of commercial casinos will prevent the creation and exploitation of problem gamblers. In fact, government wants tough regulation to protect itself from being cheated, not to end problem gambling.   Half of casino revenues flow from the 4% of adults who are problem gamblers.  The casino owners don’t want to stop mining this mother lode, nor would tax-collectors like a 50% drop in revenues to the state. Even the most credulous person will realize that “regulation” in this situation is  programmed to fall far short of stated intentions.
  • scheming and manipulating  item, conceding money due to the state, localities and private citizens to deflect Indian opposition to potential competitors; item, promising a piece of commercial casino revenues not to “education” nor to “local property tax relief” but to horse-breeding and tracks if legalized casinos “cannibalize” racino gambling
  • conniving “If a law is in your way, get rid of it.”
  • dealing in a desperate and dishonorable way to keep “the connection.”  The Upstate NY Gaming Economic Development Act of 2013 authorized additional video gaming establishments under Lottery if the casino amendment does not pass.  A spokesperson for the Governor (see Wall Street Journal June 15) offered ball-park figures: three to four “upstate” facilities with up to 5000 machines each.  This would more than double the state’s current battery.  The same bill enacted, regardless of the amendment’s outcome, additional VLT facilities “downstate.” Curious, for a bill denoted “Upstate.”

New York State is not addicted in the sense that its whole government is preoccupied each day with raising revenue from gambling. Nor is a large proportion of total revenue to the state from that source.  It’s less than 3%. That the state is a high-functioning addict still able to multi-task does not excuse its being addicted nor give assurance that its dependence will not get worse.

New York is not alone.  Many states and Canadian provinces are addicted too.  All show typical denial. Nowhere but in NY, however, do voters statewide have the chance in 2013 to call the addiction just that and say “Let’s start to ‘Recover New York.’”

Most people, even if they have never been in one, know what an intervention is, how it can launch recovery before catastrophe has struck.   New York needs an intervention now. Rejecting the proposed amendment at the General Election is a good start. Sad to say that’s all it can be.  The intervenors have no leverage here. The addict has a big stash locked in the garage and no intention of handing it over or entering treatment.

I personally regret NYS has the “casino referendum” because opponents may be outspent >1000 to 1 as is happening in Massachusetts and the public bamboozled.  Now that the Governor and his legislature have brought us the referendum, though, we can and must use it to confront our government, challenge it to lead recovery from gambling addiction the way it leads on recovery from natural disaster,

Photo image “Despair” from flickr creative commons 3503412461_815c19b748

Opinions in this piece are those of the writer, Stephen Shafer,  and do not necessarily reflect the views of any or all other members of CAGNY.  Permission to reproduce in whole or part is hereby granted as long as the permalink above is cited.

Fraud, Deceit and Corruption in the Gambling Industry

Real Economics of Gambling

             FRAUD, DECEIT AND CORRUPTION IN THE GAMBLING INDUSTRY

                            by Nelson Acquilano, LMSW, CASAC, CPP, MPA

     There has been more fraud, corruption and deceit with gambling than with any other social problem.  It is inherent is the nature of gambling and the extreme greed and money associated with gambling.  The OTB and several New York racetracks were notorious for their fraud and corruption, showing that gambling and ethical corporate practice are incompatible partners.

     Governor Cuomo prides himself on running an ethical government, yet the fraud, corruption and deceit with this gambling issue has been anything but ethical.

  • Common Cause reported in 2012 that since 2005 gambling interests had spent $47 million on lobbying ($40 M) and  donations to political campaigns ($7.1 M)  in NYS http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=5287775&ct=12188661 These outlays  included $2M  to the Committee to Save New York (a short-lived business-backed group closely aligned with Gov. Cuomo); Andrew Cuomo received $715,000; Eliot Spitzer $594,000; David Paterson $204,000; $3.9 million went to the candidates and committees of the State Legislature; and to other State Senators and Assemblyman and candidates. 

 

  • The Seneca Nation soundly voted DOWN a Gambling Compact on May 11, 1994, when Members of the Seneca Nation of Indians rejected a proposal to get into high-stakes casino gambling in an advisory referendum.  The casino proposal was defeated by a vote of 714-444; the nation’s leaders brought it back again and imposed it as “the will of the people” and it later passed on May 15th, 2002 because of passivity – not because it was the will of the people. 

 

  • Racinos now term themselves “casinos,” against the law, to increase crowds and profits; downstate racinos have now put in electronic table games in which the outcome is not determined by the Lottery’s central computer in Schenectady.  This violates the definition of lottery implicit in the opinion of the court in Dalton v. Pataki 2005 .   Deceit or fraud? http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/doubling-casinos-article-1.1340994

 

  • The gambling syndicate tells you that gamblers generated $5.4 billion in revenue in New York State in 2010, rather than telling you that New York residents and visitors LOST $5.4 billion that year.  They also do not tell you that much of that money was not “disposable income,” but monies taken and lost from family savings and family support, from child support, money borrowed against life insurance policies or college funds, monies lost from social security or welfare support, or monies embezzled from businesses and industry.

 

  • Spokespersons for “gaming” won’t tell you that as according to a 2006 NYS OASAS (Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services)  study,  there were already 668,000 problem gamblers in New York State; and that 10% of adolescents meet DSM-IV criteria for problem gambling; and another 10% of youth are at-risk of developing a gambling problem. 

 

  • Proponents of more casinos won’t tell you that adding  seven  new casinos to  New
    York State  could (depending on siting)  create up  to 82,000 new pathological gamblers (a 47% increase), and  202,000 new problem gamblers.  They also “neglect” to say that quantifiable socioeconomic costs  related  to  ONLY new gambling addicts and problem gamblers are more than double than the tax revenues due to the state from licensing up to seven new casinos and taxing them (at 20% overall) on the take from all users. http://cagnyinf.org/wp/new-casinos-equal-1000s-of-gambling-addicts/

 

  • Slot machines are illegal under the NYS Constitution, thus, soon after 2001 they were re-termed VLTs (Video Lottery Terminals) in the courts to get around the law !

 

 

  • The May – June 2013 arrangements  re tribal casinos and exclusivity zones are expedient, intended  to  head off  opposition by the operators of tribal casinos to the proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize non-tribal casinos.  The pact with  the Oneida Nation of Indians is going to litigation,   with the towns of Verona and Vernon as plaintiffs.     Days after the Oneida agreement, Gov. Cuomo’s administration  forgave  the Senecas $209 million dollars  that the State had previously held were due  it under a compact that the Seneca Nation of Indians viewed as having been violated when VLTs came to racetracks in western New York State.  

 

  •  The very fact that the casino amendment was rushed through on the last day of teh legislative seesion without either a Health Impact Study or a formal cost-benefit study is a deceitful practice!

     Permission is hereby given by Cagnyeditor to reproduce this post by Nelson Acquilano in whole or in part as long as the permalink above is cited.  Photomontage by Nelson Acquilano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem Gambling Misery Summated

 

Graphic by Dave Colavito

Graphic by Dave Colavito

      The central statistic of casino finances is that 50% of taxable revenue comes from pathological and problem gamblers, about 4% of adults.  One evil of casino gambling is that almost none of the money that these unfortunate persons leave at casinos belongs clearly to them alone unless they have recently, and legally,  become very rich, without dependents.  Thus 50% of pre-tax revenue, more than 50% of profit, has been diverted from persons who may never have gambled, innocent bystanders or co-dependents.  Spouses, children, siblings, parents, employers, employees, clients – these are just a few examples.  The typical gambling addict is into eight, twelve, fifteen other people whom he or she will serially sacrifice to “the chase,” usually until it has consumed the gambler and destroyed all good social and emotional relationships.

     Most residents of the U.S. can recite that gambling addiction is a true addiction. Secretly, however, many believe it is a moral failing or a defect in reasoning that deserves catastrophe.  They rationalize that, if everyone can avoid a small increase in  personal tax outlays by the exenterating exploitation of the 4% who are problem gamblers,  that’s a win for the other 96%.   This “devil take the hindmost” approach may look utilitarian.  It does not take account of the dozen or more people around each problem gambler who are wrung out fiscally and emotionally in the quest for “more revenue to education.”  See the April 15 post “Robbing Peter” on this web site. 

      To comprehend the total misery dealt out by predatory gambling to a specified group of individuals would need much study. Consensus would be unlikely.  Economists like Earl Grinols have painstakingly  presented harm in terms of dollars.  While we respect this completely for cost-benefit analysis, we have always noted that  it understates the total impact, which is a stew of fiscal loss and emotional hurt.  Quantifying in an entire population the cumulative lifetime misery associated with problem gambling so as to reach consensus is impossible.  There are two aspects, however,  that everyone can agree on qualitatively.  First, the problem gambler alone does not sustain or mete out all the damage; second, not all the damage can be measured  econometrically.

          The graphic above, realized by Dave Colavito,  is an abstraction, not data-based.  It shows that the high casino profits due to problem gamblers,  which are taxed into “revenues to education” via gambling “regulated” or operated by state government come at the expense  — literal and figurative — of many more parties than those individual gamblers.  The “iceberg”  (actually it looks  more like a volcano rising above the waves from the ocean floor ) schematizes lifetime gambling-related cumulative misery as a function of psychosocial closeness to a problem gambler.  The problem gambler is the red apex.  The strata of adjoining locations represent lifetime cumulative misery of other parties at varying psychosocial distances from the problem gambler.  The anguish of a wife who has seen the furniture sold, the children made homeless and the husband she still tries to love gone  or jailed will be more than that of a client cheated or a friend whose loan to “help pay my kid’s doctor bill” is never repaid.  There are, however,  more clients and friends around a problem gambler than spouses.  Integrated  over all these more distant persons, the totality of hurt and loss is likely to exceed that of the very nearest and dearest. 

          However we define misery –as pure fiscal deprivation or that plus emotional damage  — it is not “just” the problem gambler who loses something lifelong  in the havoc of out-of-control gambling.  It is a dozen or more other people, whether innocent,  trusting, co-dependent or any combination. To the  casinos that prey on problem gamblers and governments that get income therefrom, these people are chopped liver.

Three references about impact on families http://s3.amazonaws.com/publicationslist.org/data/philip.darbyshire/ref-36/JGS%20gambling%20paper.pdf 

http://www.problemgambling.ca/gambling-help/support-for-families/effects-on-families.aspx

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17667890 

Permission is given by Cagnyeditor to reproduce this in full or part as long as the permalink above is cited and the graphic is attributed to Dave Colavito.

“Poison pill” in Upstate Gaming Act of 2013

5329333422_f79c211100_m alien            Surrender ! Resistance is futile !

The upcoming referendum on whether to amend the NYS constitution and allow “up to seven casinos as prescribed by the legislature” has been subverted by  Governor Cuomo, turned into  an  ultimatum  to all who oppose the  amendment for its expansion of  predatory gambling.  ” Heads I win, tails you lose.”    New Yorkers, even those who favor the amendment,  should be  horrified.  This behavior  belongs to a despot or a cartoon  alien invading the planet, not to a Governor who proclaimed he wants  the people to say yes or no to amending the constitution.  What  happened ?  

Simply put, if the amendment fails, Lottery gets carte blanche to expand instead.   The “Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act of 2013,”  passed on 21 June as S 5883 (same as  A 8101), provides in section 32 a. (3)  that if the amendment does not pass referendum, Lottery is authorized to operate  an unspecified number of new Video Lottery Terminal (VLT)   facilities of unspecified size,  not necessarily at race tracks.  The VLT facilities provided for in this  hedge plan would go into the three “regions” of “zone 2” that are not excluded by compacts with Indians, viz. Catskills + Hudson Valley,   Eastern Southern Tier and  Capital Region.  An article originating with AP in Albany  http://online.wsj.com/article/APbabc9a4fefdc488cb8a30eb9ec800e12.html    cites possible numbers (three or four upstate) and possible sizes (up to five thousand VLTs each).  These numbers are not in the bill, but were softly confirmed by a spokesperson for the Governor on June 19. 

Thus a successful  fight against  the amendment would be punished by the imposition of a gambling system probably no better  for New York’s people than  “up to seven” casinos.  [There is no reason to think Lottery would stop at four new slot barns; that was a trial balloon on one day in June.]

The hedge plan unveiled in June was probably  mostly  a “poison pill” for two readily identifiable groups to which  the amendment could bring damaging competition.  One was the Seneca Nation, which as of June 12 was  not yet  “in good standing.”  The next day, however,  the Nation  moved into that status. http://www.indianz.com/IndianGaming/2013/026500.asp    Now assured of no new competition in their territory,  they would cease to  threaten  the amendment.  The  pill was no longer toxic to them.  The other group, the  New York Gaming Association (the racino lobby)   had come out on June 10th  against the Governor’s Program Bill, as it was then called.  [To see that press release, which on the web site is undated,  go to their web site and click on press releases .  http://www.newyorkgaming.org/Home.aspx    ]  NYGA  voiced fears that new casinos would take away 85% of their action.  They  were quickly placated with changes ensuring that the horse industry would not take a loss in  the large (> $200 million last year) income stream it counts  on from racino  VLTs.   Any new casinos  would have to pitch in to keep parity.  Not long before June 21, the NYGA reversed its stand in a second press release [also on their web site, undated].

The “poison pill,”  in Section 32 was made by developments around mid-June less baneful  to the two richest groups that want predatory gambling in NYS but not competition.  It still  had   had potency as of voting day, June 21.  It could  deter opposition to the  amendment  that might spring up if any of the May-June agreements with Indian casino operators fell through before Election Day.  On out-of-state casino interests, however, it would probably have little effect.    Though expected by many to work [under false flags]  against the amendment, these groups  would would not see section 32 as virulent to them.   They  would surely prefer that if NYS must  boost its  predatory gambling it go with slot barns, not  full-scale casinos. 

The constituency to which the poison pill is most bitter and potentially paralyzing is opponents of predatory gambling.  We are perhaps collateral casualties of the Governor’s tactics  to neutralize, or actually turn,  rich profit-seeking opponents of the amendment . Or (this may be  folie de grandeur)  the Governor  sees us as a threat to his objective, a threat that needs to be squashed.   We don’t need to know.   In either case,  the Governor and those who craft his bills  have done  their utmost to make the referendum meaningless.      Instead of a plebiscite on whether to amend the constitution it has become a double bind: casinos or  VLT barns.    See the New York Post http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/gambling_man_FRWmSBGiGVE5KXK1w58IcM

The  VLT  barn  hedge plan has been latent since September  2001, when the legislature  at the urging of Gov. Pataki  authorized   thousands of  VLTs  at racetracks as  “racinos.”  In the words of Gov. Cuomo (May 9 press conference)  “The racinos were created to get around,  frankly, the existing state law and they were in many ways created as a loophole, but for all intents and purposes they are a casino.”     Why VLT proliferation was not Gov. Cuomo’s plan  A  for gambling expansion is for speculation.  Let’s suppose that in early 2012 he truly  believed  (unlike us) that casinos bring “economic development”  that VLT barns would not.  Let’s credit him with a desire to play by the rules and respect the Constitution,  as long as he looks like winning. This wish foundered in June 2013 when polls showed his approval rating going down and no clear margin of victory for a future amendment.   Time for the ace in the hole.  

Coalition Against Gambling in New York will oppose the amendment even if the hedge plan in section 32  forces  an odious alternative to casinos.  If the amendment fails as it deserves to, we and other groups allied against predatory gambling will seek legislation  to amend  section 32 and defang it.

The opinions expressed herein are those of the writer, Stephen Q. Shafer and do not necessarily reflect opinions of all members of CAGNY.  Permission  is granted to reproduce this text in whole or part as long as the permalink attached is cited.

Buying Silence

    

West Canada Creek 8648883400_05b7c72b4bwestcanada

West Canada Creek 8648883400_05b7c72b4bwestcanada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     NYS  Legislature should not approve the  pact between NYS and the Oneidas  

     The provisional deal (ref.  6, below) of 16 May between the State and the Oneida Nation of Indians, if not literally vote-buying, is arrant influence-peddling. Dead set on adding   commercial casinos to his legacy for New York, Gov. Cuomo has sold  out the rights of several parties for the contracted silence of the Nation about  his proposed “casino amendment.”  Those  non-ONI parties, historically discordant,  differ on why they object to the pact.   They agree it is a bad deal for everyone except the ONI.  Casino promoters elsewhere could also benefit; so might some residents of the proposed ten-county exclusivity area who sensibly  don’t want another casino close to home but myopically  don’t mind it somewhere else.  

     The county governments of Oneida and Madison Counties have acceded to the pact, under duress.  (ref. 2)  The NYS Legislature, the Attorney General  and the Federal Government must also approve it.  There are good grounds why they should not.

     Opposition to all or some terms of the pact has come from the Cayuga Nation (ref. 5); from traditional Iroquois besides Cayugas (ref. 1); from the Conservative Party of NY; from Republican Assembly Member Claudia Tenney (ref. 3) ; and from the towns of Vernon and Verona.  (ref. 5)  For most of these entities, however,   the implications for expanding predatory gambling are not  the crux of their opposition.   

     To the Coalition Against Gambling in New York (CAGNY), a statewide organization, it is obvious that the  pact was crafted  just to prevent  the ONI  from using its money to fight the “casino amendment,”  some outcomes of which could bring  competition to Turning Stone.  CAGNY totally opposes the proposed amendment.  We thus oppose the ONI pact,  which if ratified at all levels would make passage of the amendment more likely than  if the  ONI were against it.  Our dismay with the pact, however,  is  less that it could smooth the path to more casinos in the state than that it gives further evidence our  Governor will stop at nothing  to gain his ends by any means.    

     To paraphrase  Cornelius Murray,  Esq. , attorney for Verona and Vernon, as he spoke  in a press conference on June 4, “This is not about gambling.  It’s about Constitutional law.”  Mr. Murray’s concerns about the law are detailed in his letter to the NYS Attorney General (link in ref. 5).    This is not a “win-win.”  It’s a “win big-lose big.”

     Read further  for brief summary of the proposed terms of the pact is below and for the listed references.

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Invest in Recovery

 

Dusk on the Neversink 8745715895_222d9cfde0_mNeversink

Dusk on the Neversink
8745715895_222d9cfde0_mNeversink

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave Colavito, at a CAGNY press conference in Albany on 4 June  2013,  presented this outline of a just scheme that would save NYS more than the hidden quantifiable socio-economic costs generated by legalized gambling each year.

  • The first step in helping local economies: Don’t make them worse.  Yet the Gov.’s plan will do just that, because it ignores the financial cost of gambling disorders.
  • Socioeconomic costs of gambling in NYS are now estimated at $3.7 billion annually
    • Exceeds revenues from all Atlantic City casinos in 2012
    • 381,000 Problem and 172,500 Pathological gambler costs burden all NYers
    • Gov.’s plan will produce more people (and costs) with gambling disorders.
    • FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE ALTERNATIVE: NYS INVESTS in RECOVERY, not CASINOS
      • Stop Denying the Problem
      • State share of tribal casino proceeds isn’t restricted for education
        • § Dedicate $600 million escrow & future proceeds: Recovery, Prevention
  • Fund Professional Training, Staffing, and Siting to Address the Need
  • Fund Aggressive Marketing Campaign: Promote Addiction Prevention & Recovery

SOCIAL Implications

 Gov. Cuomo Claims NYS is the Progressive Capital of the Nation

 FIVE CONSIDERATIONS:

 1. NYers afflicted with a disorder (Problem & Pathological gamblers) classified by the American Psychiatric Association exhibit measurably different brain function than the general population.

2. Predatory Gambling incites  those differences in brain function  

3. Symptoms of those afflicted worsen uncontrollably when re-exposed to Predatory Gambling   

4.Vendors of Predatory Gambling derive  50% of their revenue from  these afflicted persons and from those who trust(ed)  them and lost their resources too.

5. NYS actively promotes predatory gambling via Lottery including video lottery terminals and electronic table games; Gov. Cuomo now wants to increase that promotion with added full-blown casinos.

New Yorkers could almost zero out the hidden costs of gambling if the State invested to guide all problem gamblers (and their families and friends) to become again the people they  were before the first bet.  This would save money and save lives, not take away money and take away lives.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author, Dave Colavito, and do not necessarily represent the opinion of any or all other members of CAGNY.  Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute in whole or in part as long as the above permalink is cited.

Two Downstate Racinos Are Downstate Casinos Now

spin

spin

     

 

 

        For  practical purposes, there are at least two non-tribal full-service casinos operating today in New York State. If that surprises you, read on.   The facilities at Aqueduct  and at Yonkers call themselves casinos yet pose as “racinos.”  In my opinion they are real casinos, cleverly disguised as “racinos.”   They don’t have human croupiers or dealers, but offer table games in which the outcome of a play is governed by the same  laws of physics that determine the outcome of a throw or spin  by a human being.  Such table games are billed as part of lottery.  I say  they are illegal.  What’s your opinion?   

     An editorial in the New York Daily News May 5 showed that at Resorts World Casino (Aqueduct Racino) “electronic table games” of craps, Bo-Sic, roulette,  and baccarat are bringing in a good part of the “video gaming” revenues. 

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/playing-games-law-article-1.1334713

     I am not a lawyer, but was persuaded by the carefully-researched editorial and by my own reading of the opinion of the Appeals Court in 2005 that these games are not permitted under the present New York State Constitution.  Though operated by NYS Lottery, they do not meet the definition of “lottery” in the same way as do video lottery terminals (VLTs).

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The Albany Gambling Diet

albanydiet  The Albany Gambling Diet

Thoughts on Healthier Eating

by

David Colavito

 

 

 

     When you consider how injurious the socioeconomic consequences of state-sponsored gambling are, compared to its benefits, you have to ask why Governor Cuomo is promoting the expansion of casino gambling, let alone as economic development.  Sure, “gambling is already here” and “New York needs jobs” – neither is in dispute.  And used as they are to promote the Governor’s plan, they’re certainly appealing.  That’s the sweet side of half-truths many of us prefer to our vegetables.  But if Albany isn’t serving a balanced meal, it’s in our interests to understand why.  I’m suggesting it’s a failure of imagination. 

    The thesis has been with me for some time and came into sharper focus recently while reading False Idyll, an essay by J.B. MacKinnon.  Dealing with an unrelated topic, MacKinnon’s words struck me as eerily apropos to the social injustice inherent to the casino economy – “…  the way you see the world determines much about the world you are willing to live in …“ 

    And because I choose to be generous in spirit, I choose to believe Governor Cuomo’s promotion of the casino economy is rooted more in how he sees the world rather than in the belief he can make it better.  It’s an unfortunate conclusion, considering what life would still be like if others before him had constrained their own imaginations when confronted with the same choice on important public policy matters: emancipation and suffrage to name just two.

    And though you might argue Mr. Cuomo’s recent policy commitments to gun control and gay marriage render my thesis flawed, I’d respond by saying perhaps you’re correct, but unlike for example integration in the south, I don’t think either would have occurred without strong political winds blowing at Mr. Cuomo’s back.  Regardless, what really matters is the facts of the casino economy, their implications for social injustice, and Mr. Cuomo’s refusal to acknowledge either in his pursuit to fill state coffers.  All of which is also to say, his fixation on the gambling economy is apt subject material for an as-yet conceived book to be titled after MacKinnon’s essay.

    So, what might we imagine if enough people in Albany saw the world more through the lens of what it could be rather than the way it is?   Given that the majority of casino gambling revenue dollars come from the minority of gamblers with serious gambling disorders, would lawmakers continue to endorse expanding that predatory business model to increase state revenues?  And given the well-established relationship that increased opportunity to gamble produces more people with serious gambling disorders, would they continue promoting state policies that cultivate making people sick to balance budgets?  Or, might they instead work to formulate policies that mitigate the interstate impacts of gambling so often used to conscript state residents in a race-to-the-bottom casino economy?  I think we know what they’d choose.  And there’s also recent precedence for pursing equally important objectives.  Consider, for example, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Regardless of where you come down on the 2nd amendment debate, Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t just believe in the need for federal gun policies that don’t undermine those of states; he’s a fierce advocate for them in Washington.

    Still shooting for the stars you say?  How about then just punting for the moon?  Albany could acknowledge a false premise it uses to pursue expanding the failed policy of state-sponsored gambling, though I suspect it isn’t spoken aloud there often.  It’s the keystone for the arch of my thesis – “we’re desperate; what else can we do if we don’t promote gambling?”

    The answer is, plenty. 

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