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Archive for January, 2007

January 31st, 2007

A winning bet in land of the blues: the miracle of gambling, US-style

Driving down Highway 61 from Memphis, Tennessee to Tunica, Mississippi, the
fields are flat, with occasional bursts of swampland, and cotton balls
blowing on the tar. As you edge south, the billboards grow more insistent,
offering endless variations on the notion of chance: “Best cash back!”,
“Best dealers”, “$10k Fridays”. Follow your luck, and you end up riding
towards Mississippi’s tallest building, the Gold Strike, and into the
parking lot in front of the old Vegas frontage of the Horseshoe. A vintage
car is marooned between red ropes and the foyer echoes to the sound of “96
Tears”. There, I ask a security guard for directions to the historic town of
Tunica. “It’s not very historic,” he replies. “The old town, then?” “You’re
not going to see much there,” he says. “Have y’all been up to Memphis to see
all the Elvis Presley stuff?” Traditionally, the traffic along Highway 61
has gone north. Long before Bob Dylan celebrated the roving gamblers of the
road in song, Mississippi’s black population was heading out towards Memphis
and Chicago in search of work and freedom, taking their music with them.
That migration spawned soul and rock ‘n’ roll. But today, if you keep
driving along the casino roads, out past the western facade of Sam’s Town,
with its saloon and its bathhouse, and on beyond the RV park, you come to a
point where the tarmac ends in a circle. It is a junction between the
commerce of Tunica’s present, and the colour of its recent past. Twenty
years ago, this area would have been nothing but fields; the view across the
levee would have been as it was when the most famous of the delta bluesmen,
Robert Johnson, lived here. The centre of the Johnson myth is the crossroads
where, in exchange for the gift of his talent, he sold his soul to the
devil. The location of this mythical gamble is understandably imprecise, and
several delta crossroads lay claim to it, but Dick Taylor, executive
director of the Tunica Museum, believes the cemetery, out where the
Crosstown Road meets the Bonny Blue Road, has as good a case as any. “If
Robert Johnson’s ghost is still walking around his birthplace then he can
look at the casino lights any night,” he said. “He was born right there next
to the levee at Robinsonville, and grew up right there. He would see Sam’s
Town, looking right across the levee. “I have no iron-clad proof that he
sold his soul to the devil at the Crosstown cemetery but he was very well
acquainted with it, and my experience with the devil is that you don’t have
to travel tremendous distances to meet him. All you have to do is express
some kind of desire to see the cloven hooves and the horns and the
pitchfork, and he’ll come to you. Crosstown cemetery probably has the best
claim on being the most sincere place that he would have found the devil.”

A certain pragmatism on matters of public morality has long been a feature
of life in the Mississippi delta, so it is perhaps not surprising that the
area embraced gambling with evangelistic fervour. The economic impact of
that decision, which crept though the legislature in a little-noticed
amendment to a spending bill in 1991, is as obvious as the statistics of the
“Tunica Miracle” are startling.

In 1985, when the Rev Jesse Jackson visited Sugar Ditch in the town of
Tunica, he proclaimed it a national disgrace, dubbing it “America’s
Ethiopia”. The mechanisation of agriculture meant that unemployment was
endemic. “Sugar Ditch was as much a mindset as a physical location,” said Mr
Taylor. “It was the depths of despair that caused our citizens to say, here
we are and it’s hopeless. The influx of casino money and the jobs and
opportunities and the hope that the casinos brought for some people has
broken this never-ending circle of poverty.”

When the first casino, Splash, opened at Mhoon Landing in 1992, there was no
indication that gambling would transform the economy. Corporate studies had
detected no appetite for gambling in the delta, and the founders of Splash,
Rick and Ron Schilling, were unable to persuade the power companies to
supply electricity to their converted barge. (A peculiarity of Mississippi
gaming law is that the casinos must be partially built over water).

James Gravenmier, now graphic designer at Sam’s Town, worked on the first
advertisements for Splash, and recalls the impact of that casino. “They
opened for about three days, then the gaming commission shut it down for a
couple of days ’cause they had so much money piled up,” he said. “Great big
bales – they were putting it in stacks and tying it together. They couldn’t
count it fast enough. They made more money than they had any dreams of. They
made $850,000 (£430,000) just on the admission. Ten bucks a head. They made
$150m in their first year.”

Mr Taylor added: “People would wait at the Splash for up to eight hours for
the opportunity to come onboard. There was one lady whose job was to welcome
you, and click a little clicker, and when it got to 800 she said, ‘Not until
somebody leaves’. Now they did keep you well-oiled while you waited, so it
wasn’t a terrible ordeal, but it was a long wait.”

The success of Splash alerted the gaming corporations to an untapped market,
and a gambling gold rush followed. The price of land rocketed. “They started
throwing money in here and they went to these landowners and offered ‘em so
much money for these cotton fields that they couldn’t say no,” said Mr
Gravenmier.

Not all the casinos have been successful. Some have closed, and some have
been re-branded. Circus-Circus came and went, and Fitzgerald’s is currently
moving upscale with the slogan “gambling just got better”.

There are nine supercasinos in Tunica, and each makes a pitch for a
particular market. The ideal visitor to Sam’s Town is said to be a cowboy
boot-wearing, Nascar racing fan. Hollywood offers a kind of Hard Rock
proximity to fame; the Batmobile and the DeLorean car from Back to the
Future are parked by the one-armed bandits. The Horseshoe has a blues museum
where you can admire Neil Sedaka’s 1998 microphone and one of Albert King’s
favourite hats (circa 1986).

No one visits a casino to admire the scenery but the numbers are impressive.
Webster Franklin was president of the local Chamber of Commerce during the
early years of the “Tunica Miracle”, and is now president and CEO of the
Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. Under his watch, Tunica has gone from being
the poorest county in the US to the country’s third biggest gaming centre,
behind Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

“No one ever dreamed, when Splash opened, that 15 years later, this would be
a $1.3bn-a-year industry employing 16,000 people. That’s more people than
live in Tunica County. We only have a residential population of 10,000, and
a workforce of 5,500 that live in the county.”

Before the casinos came, there wasn’t a stop-light in Tunica County. Now
there is a new Interstate, I-69, and the two-lane highways have been
broadened to four. There are new schools, sewers and drains, and the airport
has been expanded.

The casinos pay a 12 per cent gaming tax, with 8 per cent going to the
state, and 4 per cent to the local economy. That 4 per cent comes to $45-50m
a year. In an attempt to diversify the economy, a 2,200-acre site has been
prepared, so the area can tender for industrial projects, such as a proposed
Rolls-Royce aeroplane engine factory. “Never in our wildest dreams wou
ld we
have thought of putting Tunica and Rolls-Royce in the same sentence had it
not been for the opportunities created by gaming,” said Mr Franklin.

The poverty of Tunica County overrode moral and religious objections to
gambling in a way that was not replicated in neighbouring counties. Clearly,
the benefits have not been shared equally. Despite the casino jobs,
unemployment is still about 10 per cent, and there are some alarming
statistics, such as a 1,600 per cent increase in court cases in the first
five years of legal gambling. Mr Franklin said the crime figures can be
explained by the huge increase in visitor numbers. “I live in the town of
Tunica,” he said. “I rarely lock my doors. There is little to no crime.
Sure, the bicycles get stolen, just like any other place.”

Mr Taylor said the benefits outweighed the bad side-effects. “Having been
raised as a Baptist, my imagination led me to believe that this was the
worst thing that could happen,” he said. “In my mind I could see the bars
and the liquor stores, tattoo parlours and topless dancing ladies, and all
of the vices I associated with gambling and organised crime. None of that
has materialised. We laughed before the casinos came and said if we could
have organised crime at least we’d have some organisation. But that didn’t
occur.

“I’m sure there are people that have become habitual gamblers, and perhaps
are addicted to it – and that would weigh on the bad side. But the fact that
we have allowed most of the population to be employable, and we have been
able to improve the basic lot of all of our citizens makes it more good than
bad.”

These arguments will be welcomed by the British government as it prepares to
nominate a site for the first British supercasino. But Mr Franklin added a
note of caution. One supercasino isn’t enough, he says. Success requires
competition.

“If we had said one casino, or even two or three, could locate here, you
would not have seen the infrastructure improvements, the four-laning of the
roads, the new buildings, the factory-outlet shopping, the golf courses, the
entertainment facilities. You would not have seen an area that has grown
from cotton fields to what it is today.”

What would Robert Johnson make of it? In life, he was a gambler. In death,
he has three graves, none of which is guaranteed to house his bones. The
odds are, he isn’t spinning in any of them.

Post at 4:01 am UTC by Jerry

WTO backs Antigua over US

The United States government has shown a chink in their armor during their
war against online gambling. On Friday they admitted that the WTO had ruled
against them in the most recent stage of their long standing dispute with
Antigua. Gretchen Hamel, a spokeswoman for the US Trade Representative at
the WTO, said the interim report “did not agree with the United States that
we had taken the necessary steps to comply”. Antigua’s representative Mark
Mendel said “America’s prohibition in the provision of gambling services
from other countries violates the US commitments to the WTO”. The US
government considers online gambling to be illegal, however they have
created loop holes that exclude horse racing and various state lotteries.
Antigua accused the United States of protectionism against international
online gambling companies. Antigua is a small Caribbean island that is home
to several online gambling companies. Antigua successfully argued their
case, in front of the WTO, that the United States government allows online
gambling on horse racing, but unfairly forbids international companies from
competing in their market. The final ruling on the case is expected in
March 2007. Once the final ruling is disclosed, Antigua will be able to
introduce sanctions although the US still has the right to appeal. Legal &
Trade Experts do not believe that Antiguan sanctions will help to drive
change in US policies regarding online gambling, however the European Union
could take up the cause. If the EU gets involved, Washington will begin to
listen more intently out of fear of being sanctioned by larger trading
partners. One lucky benefactor of the ruling could be David Carruthers.
Carruthers, the former CEO of BetonSports PLC, is currently on house arrest
awaiting trial in a Missouri Federal Court on money laundering and tax
evasion chargers stemming from his duties with BetonSports. BetonSports was
licensed by Antigua as an online gambling operator. Carruthers, a British
Citizen, was arrested in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport while on a layover
between Costa Rica and the UK back in July 2006. The Carruthers arrest was
one incident that clearly showed the US had no intention of complying with
the WTO ruling. Since then, the online gambling industry has been under
constant siege by the US government. In the middle of the night, the
Republican led congress tacked legislation banning online gambling financial
transactions to a “MUST PASS” Port Security Bill. In November, the
President signed UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006)
into law. UIGEA bars financial institutions from knowingly allowing online
gambling financial transactions.

The most recent blow in the US goverment’s war on online gambling came this
month when the Canadian founders of NETeller were arrested on tax evasion
and money laundering charges. NETeller’s e-wallet money transfer solution
was widely used by operators to take in deposits and process withdraw
requests. The arrests triggered a ripple effect with other companies such
as Citadel Commerce leaving the US market out of fear of indictment.

Many within the online gambling industry are hoping that the WTO ruling will
help pave the way for regulation in the $15 Billion dollar US market. The
big question is: When will the United States realize that prohibition does
not work?

Post at 4:01 am UTC by Jerry

Internet Gambling: Washington State Looks to Amend Law

For nearly the past year, Washington State has made it a crime to gamble
online. In fact, doing so is considered a Class C felony, with a punishment
no different than that of child molestation and drug dealing. Until now the
law has not been put into affect other than to harass one popular online
gambling affiliate webmaster residing in the state to remove all links to
internet gambling sites. That site soon plans to block out Washington State
ip addresses. Now the barbaric law is being challenged by Rep. Chris Strow,
R-Whidbey Island. “There’s a certain point at which policy can be perceived
as ‘nanny stateish.’ I think we reached that point with last year’s
legislation and I’m aiming to make amends,” said Strow, who is appealing to
Washington State citizens, though he would probably like to garner support
from those outside the state as well. Strow announced his legislation, House
Bill 1243, to quash the felony charge language in last year’s legislation
addressing in-home internet gambling. “My goal with this legislation is to
correct an element from last year’s online gambling bill, Senate Bill 6613,
that made it a Class C Felony to gamble recreationally in one’s own home if
it is done online,” said Strow. “While I do see the need for protecting our
citizens from online gaming that may be scamming innocent victims, I do
think that there is also a level of accountability, as an adult, to do as he
or she chooses in his or her own home,” said Strow. “Most certainly choosing
to gamble, or play a game of skill such as poker, should not have been made
a crime equivalent to possessing child pornography or threatening the
Governor.” House Bill 1243 is currently awaiting a hearing in the House
Commerce and Labor Committee.

Post at 4:01 am UTC by Jerry

Internet Gambling – Washington Gambling Law Challenged

Washington State Representative Chris Strow and his House Bill 1243, believe
that online gambling in the United States should be legal in the privacy of
your own home. In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was
signed into law by President George Bush, which makes online gambling
conducted in the United States a Class C Felony. Chris Strow plans to change
this law after introducing House Bill 1243 to correct what he considers an
inappropriate penalty for an activity responsible adults should be allowed
to do in the privacy of their own home. Strow said, “While I do see the need
for protecting our citizens from online gambling that may be scamming
innocent victims, I do think that there is also a level of accountability,
as an adult, to do as he or she chooses in his or her own home.” “Most
certainly choosing to gamble, or play a game of skill such as poker, should
not have been made a crime equivalent to possessing child pornography or
threatening the Governor,” he added. Strow made a plea for state residents
to call and write to the Chairman of the House Commerce and Labor Committee,
Representative Steve Conway, to ask him to schedule a hearing for House Bill
1243.

Post at 4:01 am UTC by Jerry

Prosecutor denies favoritism, vows to open gambling-probe files

Outagamie County District Attorney Carrie Schneider is tired of rumors that
she tabled a two-year-old gambling probe to protect families members.
So she’s promising to file charges in the next 30 days in the case. She says
she’ll also attach whatever information she has, to prove she has nothing to
hide.
The charges stem from a 2005 Super Bowl pool at the Legacy Supper Club in
Grand Chute. Agents with the state Justice Department investigated for six
months, and then turned the case over to Schneider’s office. The case
languished there, leading to rumors Schneider was trying to protect
relatives who were pool participants. She says her office was more focused
on homicide cases and felonies, not misdemeanor gambling charges.

Post at 4:01 am UTC by Jerry

More on organised gambling

am writing to express my thanks to Mr Peter Browne for his published letter
entitled “Organised gambling will only create more poverty and crime.” I
find his letter rather intriguing and needless to say I share most his
expressed views on this issue. Incidentally, on the same day Mr Hudson
George’s letter (“Organised gambling can erase poverty”) was published; the
BBC website published an article entitled “Britain’s Streets of Debt.” The
sub-header went on: “From the hidden story of the elderly and debt, to the
explosion of online gambling which is causing financial misery to thousands
and the story of the loan sharks and doorstep lenders, BBC one’s Britain’s
streets of debt explores five stories of individual debt. Personal debt in
the UK is over £1.1 trillion and is growing by £1 million every four
minutes.”
From the Caribbean to the UK I have has some experience of what gambling can
do to some of us. In Grenada as a child I had seen people on more than one
occasion running out of a particular gambling establishment with bloody
clothing and others chasing after them with sharp objects; in Trinidad as a
young man; someone I had known in a personal capacity died as a result of
gambling. The Union Park horse racing circuit was not too far away from
where I lived in San Fernando, so I knew a lot of the regular punters; none
of which became better off. They were always short of a dollar or two;
always living from hand to mouth. Same in Britain; some regulars even have
accounts with their local betting shops referred to as the bookies; some
people I have known even have shares in race horses. However, none of these
people are rich or well off. Most, if not all, are living yet again hand to
mouth as we say in Britain. Going back to Mr Browne’s article, it is the
misery that organised gambling inflicts on families that one should be aware
of. Some of us believe in the get rich quick philosophy; others are weak and
vulnerable while most people who are hooked on gambling are addicted to it
and cannot help themselves. They borrow as much as they can from credit card
companies; families; friends and loan sharks to feed their gambling habit.
Some even get involve with drug trafficking; breaking and entering into
other people’s properties. This spiral escalates to the point where it
causes family and marriage break ups; people loosing their jobs; their
homes; their friends and acquaintances and even their self respect. Too
often in Britain the Social Services; the Volunteer Services sector and the
Welfare Services (all funded by the hard pressed taxpayers) have to pick up
the pieces. Some of the most depressing aspects of this dreadfulness are
where children are involved and in the worst cases they have to be taken
into Social Care for their own welfare and safety as family life
disintegrates. In the UK a lot of thoughts are put into legislation that is
then used to regulate; control; and monitor gambling at almost all levels.
Political parties are generally very nervous about the effects gambling is
likely to have on citizens especially the poor; the weak and vulnerable.
They also work closely with and take notice of the Police Service; Probation
Service; and concerns expressed by various pressure groups. One can say the
gambling industry in the UK is regulated and closely monitored. From time to
time new legislations are passed by parliament to tighten up on what can be
seen as loop holes in existing legislations that control particular parts
the industry. They are also limitation on growth; locations; mix;
operational hours; and a gambling age limit for punters. The legislations
also give local communities the opportunity to voice their concerns through
their local Borough or District Councils who are usually the Planning and
Licensing Authority for the areas concern.

As a business; organised gambling or gambling of various forms for that
matter does provide some sort of employment; they are also spin offs to the
supply and service industries however; one must ask the question. Does the
limited employment it provides for the lucky few erase overall poverty?
In setting up business; the person or persons involve will want to know (a)
is there a market? And (b) how big is it? Then consideration is given to
growth etc.

Before sovereign states in the Caribbean consider passing legislation for
organised gambling, perhaps their governments should, like most business
people, consider (a) who is the market, i.e. who is the target? And (b)
where will the money come from?

Finally, within weeks of the British National Lotteries started operating
they were an outcry from most of the charitable organisations such as the
Red Cross; Oxfam and many others. Their complaints were the shortfall in
financial donation receipts. Apparently, most of the money some volunteers
donated to these charitable organisations was used instead to play the
lottery. You see, in most cases our income remains the same therefore if our
habits or tastes should change for what ever reason something has to give
and this is exactly what Mr Browne meant when he said “organised gambling
will only create more poverty and crime.” If our income is spent on
gambling, then our standard of living and our family lifestyle is most
likely to end up in a collapsed state.

Post at 4:01 am UTC by Jerry

January 30th, 2007

Gambling Bill Set for House

Odds are this year’s table gambling bill will be introduced Tuesday in the
West Virginia House of Delegates. “We’ve got one pretty well put together,”
said Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, who is expected to introduce
the bill. “It’s not out there together yet. We’re putting together the final
details.
“I’d say Tuesday is pretty accurate.” The table gambling bill, if passed,
would allow officials at the state’s four racetracks to petition their
respective county commissions and ask that a referendum to allow table
gambling be placed before the county’s voters. The racetracks are located in
Ohio, Hancock, Kanawha and Jefferson counties. This will be the third
consecutive year that table gambling legislation will be introduced in the
West Virginia Legislature, but neither of the first two bills ever came up
for discussion or vote on the House floor. A table gambling bill did pass
the West Virginia Senate in 2005. The 2007 legislation contains some changes
from past table gambling bills. For starters, the amount of state tax placed
on gross proceeds generated by table gambling has been doubled – from 12
percent to 24 percent. It is expected this rate could be as raised to as
high as 34 percent while in the House Finance Committee. Secondly, if a
table gambling referendum were to be approved by a county’s voters, the same
voters could petition again five years later to recall the measure if they
find table gambling hasn’t been beneficial to their community. What remains
the same in the bill is just who gets to vote on a table gambling
referendum. Opponents to table gambling had asked that any measure
pertaining to the issue go before all voters in the state – not just those
living in counties where the racetracks are located.
The proposed bill continues to carry the provision that a table gambling
vote be by local referendum – one voted on by residents in a specific
county.

“There’s been a lot of behind the scenes work,” Swartzmiller said.
“Everybody has had a seat at the table to discuss their concerns.”

He believes the majority of those in the state think those in racetrack
counties should have the right to decide whether there is table gambling in
their community.

Post at 4:24 am UTC by Jerry

WTO Adds Another Twist to Internet Gambling Roller Coaster Ride

Internet gambling has been on a roller coaster ride since the Unlawful
Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed back in October. The Neteller
arrests last week and the following pull outs of all major third party
billing companies has seriously damaged the $12b a year industry. The roller
coaster ride got another twist as a result of the report that follows. The
United States has suffered a new setback in a four-year-old legal battle
with Antigua and Barbuda over U.S. restrictions on Internet gambling, a U.S.
trade official said on Thursday. At issue is an April 2005 World Trade
Organisation ruling against U.S. prohibitions on online horse race betting.
Since then, the U.S. Congress has passed additional legislation to ban
betting over the Internet. Gretchen Hamel, a spokesman for the U.S. Trade
Representative’s office, confirmed press reports that a WTO panel “did not
agree with the United States that we had taken the necessary steps to
comply” with that ruling. At the same time, Hamel downplayed the decision
contained in a preliminary, confidential report to the two parties. “The
panel’s findings issued today involve a narrow issue of federal law” and the
United States will have opportunity to submit comments to the WTO before it
issues its final, public report in March, Hamel said. “Nothing in the
panel’s interim report undermines the broad, favourable results that the
United States obtained from the WTO in April 2005,” she said.
The issue is a touchy one for the Bush administration, which supports free
trade but whose conservative allies in Congress pushed through a bill late
last year to ban most forms of Internet gambling. Gretchen Hamel, a
spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, confirmed press
reports that a WTO panel “did not agree with the United States that we had
taken the necessary steps to comply” with that ruling. At the same time,
Hamel downplayed the decision contained in a preliminary, confidential
report to the two parties. “The panel’s findings issued today involve a
narrow issue of federal law” and the United States will have opportunity to
submit comments to the WTO before it issues its final, public report in
March, Hamel said. “Nothing in the panel’s interim report undermines the
broad, favourable results that the United States obtained from the WTO in
April 2005,” she said.

The issue is a touchy one for the Bush administration, which supports free
trade but whose conservative allies in Congress pushed through a bill late
last year to ban most forms of Internet gambling.

Antigua and Barbuda, with few natural resources, has sought to build up an
Internet gambling industry to provide jobs to replace those in its declining
tourist industry.

It argued in a case first brought to the WTO in 2003 that U.S. laws barring
the placing of bets across states lines by electronic means violated WTO
rules.

An April 2005 ruling by the WTO’s Appellate Body, which both sides claimed
as vindication, focussed on the narrower issue of horse racing, saying that
foreign betting operators appeared to suffer discrimination.

Antigua and Barbuda complained the United States had not complied with the
decision and the WTO agreed in July 2006 to look into the matter, resulting
in the ruling on Thursday.

The United States will decide after the final panel decision ruling in March
whether to appeal.

The Bush administration may not have to ask Congress to pass new legislation
in any case, Hamel said.

“The panel report clarifies that compliance does not necessarily require new
legislation, but could instead involve other steps, such as administrative
or judicial action,” she said.

Post at 4:23 am UTC by Jerry

Now Labour wants to turn pubs into gambling dens

The historic ban on betting in pubs could be swept away after ministers
announced plans for a gambling free-for-all. Pubs, bars and clubs will be
allowed to stage poker games without a gaming licence. The proposal was
condemned as an “atrocious” encouragement to problem gambling. Experts said
the mix of drinking and betting would be disastrous. Golf clubs, political
parties and working men’s clubs will also be able to host betting events in
what amounts to the most radical overhaul of drinking and gambling for four
decades. Under plans outlined by Sports Minister Richard Caborn yesterday,
gamblers will be allowed to join low-stakes poker games, paying £5 to join a
poker or cribbage tournament in pubs and up to £10 in private members’
clubs. MPs claimed the new rules could not possibly be policed effectively,
opening the door to high stakes gambling on the High Street and the prospect
of drunken players losing money long into the night.
Landlords will be allowed to offer poker prizes worth up to £100 a night and
up to £500 a week as long as they do not take a cut of the winnings or
charge gamblers to play. Private members’ clubs can offer tournaments paying
£200 a night and up to £1,000 a week. That means pubs could stage a
tournament where 20 people pay £5 to enter, or 100 people pay £1 to enter on
five nights of the week. Crucially, clubs and bars will no longer have to
apply for a formal licence to stage gambling events as they do at present.
Landlords who allow high stakes gaming could be stripped of the right to
host poker tournaments – but would not face the loss of their liquor
licence. Experts expressed dismay at Labour’s determination to press ahead
with the liberalisation of the gaming laws and combine them with longer
drinking hours, which have already been blamed for a rise in alcohol-related
violence. “It’s appalling, but it is completely in line with everything this
government have been doing,” said Dr Emanuel Moran, adviser on pathological
gambling to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. “There is a tremendous
amount of evidence indicating that alcohol interferes with people’s
judgment. The combination of alcohol and gambling is liable to be
disastrous.” Dr Moran, who helped set up Gamblers Anonymous, added: “The
stakes may be low but people can easily accumulate tremendous debts and then
chase their losses. There is not going to be a council official monitoring
every game.”

Tory culture spokesman Hugo Swire warned that the controls on pub gambling
would be too lax. The only body policing the regulations will be the already
overworked local licensing authorities.

“There is no way landlords will be able to control the amounts staked and in
practice these limits will be totally ignored,” he said.

Under the plans, which could come into force in September, pubs and clubs
will be allowed to offer bingo but the total prize money that on offer will
be limited for the first time to £2,000 a week.

Casino games which involve a banker or croupier, such as pontoon, blackjack
and roulette, will still be banned. Each pub will still be allowed to have
two slot machines taking stakes of up to 50p and paying out jackpots of up
to £35.

The changes were made after lobbying by the pub industry, which believes the
pull of poker will bring in more customers.

Mr Caborn said: “These proposals set out a comprehensive set of rules
governing gaming in pubs and clubs that will keep it fair, crime-free and
ensure children and the vulnerable are protected.

“Many people have enjoyed low stakes games like bingo, cribbage and dominoes
in clubs and pubs for decades and there is no evidence of an increase in
problem gambling or crime as a result. But we now need clearer rules and
limits on stakes and prizes to keep it that way.”

Post at 4:23 am UTC by Jerry

Charges laid in illegal gambling investigation

Members of the Organized Crime Section, Illegal Gambling Unit with the
assistance of Windsor Police Service executed a Criminal Code search warrant
at Sai Gon Billiards located at 922 and 926 Wyandotte St. W. in the City of
Windsor on the 24th of Jan 2007. As a result, a number of individuals have
been charged with illegal gambling offences. Acting on a Crime Stoppers tip
regarding illegal Video Gambling Machines, an investigation was commenced by
the Illegal Gambling Unit West team. The investigation confirmed the
existence of the machines where members of the public would attend to play
games of chance. This location was seeking to gain monetarily from the
gambling activity. The OPP Organized Crime Section, Illegal Gambling Unit is
in partnership with eight other police services in Ontario including London,
Toronto, Niagara, Peel, York, Windsor, Hamilton and Ottawa. The partnership
is responsible for the investigation of province-wide illegal gambling
investigations pertaining to Part VII of the Criminal Code, with an emphasis
on Organized Crime.

Post at 4:23 am UTC by Jerry