A real-life narrative about Quick Draw
In describing certain measures the nascent Responsible Play Partnership proposes to police gambling by under-age persons, the RPP states tamely “violations could result in fines, suspensions or revocation of an entity’s license.” The verb is “could,” not even “may,” much less “will.” The url for the press release about the RPP is shown below. http://www.gaming.ny.gov/pdf/press_022013.pdf
The following true story instances a shocking lack of oversight circa 2002-2008 of the lucrative New York State Lottery “game” Quick Draw in one small city. It could be entitled “ ‘Regulation’ In Action;” alternatively, “Regulation Inaction.” Considering that legislation is pending as of March 2013 to relax rules about Quick Draw, more stories like this – if not quite as infamous – may be expected unless regulatory policy can get out of the conditional mood.
Summary: a Quick Draw addict with unfettered access to his stepdaughter’s earned fortune gambled away a large part of it “playing” at a favorite bar. The local newspaper investigated how the bar’s owner could have permitted this abuse of trust to run for years. The owner then surrendered the QD license. This ended official enquiry. Three years later he told the Lottery Licensing authorities that the newspaper had maligned him for political purposes. The license was restored without investigation.
From mid-1998 well into 2002 the Speak Easy Bar at 557 Pearl St. Watertown NY had an habitué who played Quick Draw there over and over and over – and over. A real estate agent, he was locally famous as the stepfather of a high-paid supermodel who had grown up in Watertown. Not everyone in town, however, knew he had induced her in 1998 to have him replace the outside financial manager she had recently taken on.
In 2002, after four years of near-daily multi-hour “play” the Quick Draw aficionado started to bounce checks. According to the local newspaper, instead of warning him to stop playing or (within their rights) prosecuting him, the owners of the Speak Easy Bar and of other Quick Draw locales in town borrowed money from their friends to let him keep “playing” until he could cover the bad checks. They of course were profiting from his losses. In fact the owner of the Speak Easy had received a “Top Agent Award” from Lottery in 2001.
In January 2003 the Quick Draw addict told his stepdaughter that he had been using her money to “play” and had lost a lot of it. He was prosecuted for writing bad checks. When he pled guilty to that charge and others in October 2004, his stepdaughter’s losses 1998-2002 were estimated in documents submitted to the court at 7 million dollars, nearly all of her assets. In early 2005 the stepfather was sentenced to prison. After the newspaper ran a story on the bar-owner’s role in enabling the stepfather’s addiction and consequent abuse of entrusted funds, the bar owner “opted to surrender” his Quick Draw license as of March 2005. This ended investigation by Lottery.
In May 2005, the model brought suit against her stepfather and the bar owner. After more than a year, the latter was removed as a party. Later, he changed the name of the bar and applied to get the Quick Draw license back.
Writing in 2007 to the Licensing Director of the NY Lottery, the owner of the Speak Easy Bar said that all published charges of his enabling the gambler’s addiction after bad checks began were false. His letter, published in the Watertown Daily Times of May 18 stated “I cut him off [from Quick Draw at the Speak Easy].” He did add a sort of apology (quoted below) which implies in the passive voice that someone had failed in a duty to “cut off service.” This contradicts his assertion that he had refused to allow the habitué to continue Quick Draw at his establishment.
“Clearly there is a lot to be learned from such an incident, including the need to impose restraint on customers in the same way we would cut off service of alcohol to the obviously compulsive drinker. There is also a need for those who sell tickets not to get caught up in playing such games. I understand that. “
After no investigation Quick Draw was re-installed at 557 Pearl Street in early May 2008. Just ask in town for “The Mayor’s Bar.”
Notes: For a description of keno (the generic name of Quick Draw) go to http://preview.tinyurl.com/awf3yvb
The opinions in this post are those of the writer, Stephen Q. Shafer MD MPH, and are not necessariy shared by any or all other members of CAGNY. Permission is given here to quote from this piece at any length as long as the source is made clear using the permalink address above.