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Archive for March, 2007

March 31st, 2007

Gambling Raid at House on Keystone Ave.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police raided another alleged gambling house
Tuesday, this time on the city's northeast side. "I'm not robbing, killing
or stealing. I am working to feed my kids that's all I'm doing," said
suspect Rodney Wallace. But metro police say what 49-year-old Wallace was
doing is illegal. Police arrested Wallace and two others, 51-year-old
William Clinkscales and 51-year-old Clarence Michael Johnson. "Come down
here bust in on us the way they did stepping all over people and I think
that's ridiculous, it wasn't called for," said Johnson. "All that wasn't
called for. It's like they were looking for a mass murderer or something.
That's ridiculous." Police say a tip from neighbors led them to what looks
like a run down house in the 3700 block of North Keystone. But they say this
is a gambling house called "The Shack" that is wired with video surveillance
equipment. "I go there every day, every day. Shake, I'm there every time.
It's how I pay my rent when I don't go to work. It's how I pay my rent, it's
how my kids get clothes on their back," said Steve Fields. Police gathered
evidence from inside the house while some admitted patrons of the gambling
house watched from the parking lot. "There people out here that sell drugs
and get misdemeanor charges, but you get caught in there it's a felony for
what? We ain't doing. Nothing. We ain't shoot nobody and we don't hurt nob
ody nothing. It's just an honest living you know what I'm saying," Fields
said. This is the fifth gambling house IMPD officers have raided in the
past couple of months. "We are going to continue to do everything we can to
shut these things down," said IMPD Sgt. Matthew Mount. Clinkscales and
Wallace were arrested on preliminary charges of promoting professional
gambling, a D felony, unlawful gambling, a B misdemeanor and maintaining a
dive, an A misdemeanor. Johnson was arrested on preliminary charges of
promoting professional Gambling, a D felony, and illegal gambling, a B
misdemeanor. "This is a job. This is a job. I've got to work just like
you've got to work," Wallace said.

Post at 3:16 am UTC by Jerry

Anti-gambling Groups Want A Slowdown On March Madness

Anti-gambling groups are asking companies to take it easy during March
Madness. Some researchers say companies could make someone who is addicted
to gambling relapse. Let's face it. Very few of us actually do really well
with our NCAA college basketball brackets. David Letterman must have really
taken a pounding this year. "My prediction, in the final it will be Butler
University and Weber State," Letterman said. Of course, Letterman was
kidding. After all, UCLA is a lock this Saturday. But, even if I really
believed that, some people say you should not bet on them to make the final.
In fact, they are saying you should not bet at all. Institute of Change
Operations Director Frank Roberts said, "I don't think there would ever be a
'sure thing.' There's still an element of risk, there." Roberts says just
the act of participating in a tournament bracket won't turn you into a
problem gambler. But, anti-gambling groups are asking companies not to take
that chance. "It's the illusion of control that's operating in the brain,"
Roberts said. A new study by Bensinger, Dupont & Associates says more people
look for help to stop their sports gambling during March and April, at the
height of March Madness. Roberts says he's treated many clients for gambling
addiction, and they all say it started with something small, even by an
office pool. "Yeah, it can be even smaller than that. One's own triggers are
kind of unique to themselves," Roberts told KSL Newsradio. There are other
risks to the companies involved. Researchers say companies can be sued by
employees for any financial losses if the company started the betting pool.
Also, the BDA survey says productivity goes down, and 10 percent of workers
have called in sick to see a sporting event. Plus, they say betters are more
likely to borrow money from their coworkers. Roberts says gamblers think
they'll be able to pay of their debts after they win. "It's not going to
work, but, yet, the person of addiction continues to be in what we call
denial, or uses defense mechanisms to continue to convince themselves that,
'I can make it work,'" Roberts said. In fact, Roberts says one of the worst
things that could happen to a gambling addict is to win. "The winning would
perpetuate the denial and defense mechanisms that one is using," Roberts
said. Roberts says the cases of someone becoming addicted to gambling are
relatively rare, and usually someone is only triggered by March Madness if
they're already at risk. However, the National Council on Problem Gambling
says four million to eight million people could be considered problem
gamblers every year, and two million can be classified as pathological
gamblers.

Post at 3:16 am UTC by Jerry

Senate passes gambling bill

After a 13-hour filibuster, gambling proponents found the Senate votes they
needed early today to expand casino gaming across the state. Following
speeches that dragged late into Wednesday night, the Senate voted 21-19 -
the minimum needed for passage – just after midnight to allow casinos in
Sedgwick and three other counties and as many as 2,800 slot machines at
horse and dog racetracks, including Wichita Greyhound Park. Key swing votes
were cast by Sens. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, and Greta Goodwin, D-Winfield.
Schodorf has voted against gambling for her seven years as a lawmaker, but
said she switched because "I believe strongly, so strongly, in the people's
right to vote." Goodwin, a longtime opponent of gambling, told The Eagle on
Monday that she planned to vote against expanded gambling because of the
potential social costs. She was on the Senate floor and not available for
comment early today. Chamber of commerce interests in Goodwin's district
strongly supported the bill, which offers a chance that a casino could go to
Sumner County if Sedgwick County voters don't want one. Under the bill's
provisions, Sedgwick County voters must decide in a special election before
the end of the year. Sumner County voters have already said yes to a casino.
Regardless of whether the casino ends up in Sedgwick County or Sumner
County, both will share in the revenue. Gambling opponents, who had been
confident of victory early in the day, said they were dismayed. "What we've
done is given away the farm," said Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, who thinks
the state could get more from casino developers than the $25æmillion license
fee the bill specifies. She also pointed out that the bill had never been
put to a public hearing. "This is a poorly written bill, written behind
closed doors." In a political drama the Statehouse hasn't seen in decades,
gambling proponents tied up the floor for hours in a desperate fight to keep
a House-passed gambling bill alive. Opponents bided their time and waited
for the proponents to run out of things to say. Meanwhile, in the House,
Speaker Melvin Neufeld, a gambling opponent, sequestered himself in his
office, declining to appoint members of a conference committee – an action
that could have brought the extended Senate debate to a close.

That left House members sitting in their seats hour after hour, waiting for
either the senators to stop talking or their speaker to let them appoint
conferees.

Longtime members said it was the longest filibuster they could remember -
exceeding a legendary six-hour speech on taxation that then-Rep. Kerry
Patrick delivered in 1988.

With hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, the issue emerged as the
most controversial bill to cross legislators' desks this session.

It passed the House about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, sending it to the Senate.

Wednesday began with a series of parliamentary maneuvers as gambling
supporters tried to ward off attempts to kill the bill.

First, Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood and Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, teamed
up to control the Senate floor and force a vote to appoint a conference
committee -three senators and three House members who could negotiate a
final bill for both houses.

Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, spoke for 25 minutes against sending the
bill to conference. At the time, his fellow legislators thought it was
lengthy.

The motion eventually passed 22-18.

But immediately after that vote, Sens. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, and Wagle
teamed up to engineer a vote to kill the gambling bill.

That action launched the filibuster.

Across the Capitol rotunda, House members sat in their seats and stewed -
unable to do anything but unable to leave without giving potential advantage
to their opponents if the logjam were to break.

They read and played solitaire or listened to basketball games on their desk
computers.

By 10 p.m., tempers were starting to fray.

"This is dumb," said Rep. Dale Swenson, R-Wichita. "There's no reason for
the House to even be here. There's no strategy to this."

Post at 3:16 am UTC by Jerry

Consider the cost of expanded gambling

The Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill this week allowing casinos
and slot machines. Lawmakers are betting that gaming will be a cash cow for
the state. If you listen to supporters, "destination" casinos will attract
people from around the region, and their money will boost the state and
local economies. That's enough to sway many legislators. What they're not
looking enough at, though, is how much the increased revenue will cost their
constituents. According to a 2004 study by GVA Marquette Advisors for the
Wichita Downtown Development Corp. and the Greater Wichita Convention and
Visitors Bureau, most participants of a casino in Sedgwick County would live
within a 50-mile radius of Wichita and would provide 75 percent of the
revenue. That money would likely come at the expense of other local
businesses. A study of gambling in Iowa by Loretta Fairchild and Amy
Stickney of Nebraska Wesleyan University and Jonathan Krutz of the Nebraska
Hospice Association showed that gambling has adverse effects on local
economies. Midsize Iowa cities that had casinos had an average growth of 0.7
percent, while cities that didn't have casinos grew 3.4 percent. Another
troubling aspect of casinos is ownership. Even though private entities would
run them, Kansas would be the only state to own casinos. What place does the
state have owning a business that offers so much collateral social damage?
The bill would allot 2 percent of an estimated $200 million in revenue for
addiction treatment. That's $4 million for the Sedgwick County area, and the
money would go first to Topeka, not the local area. That's a skimpy budget
considering the projected social cost. The 2004 local study estimated that
between 1 percent and 1.5 percent of adults "are susceptible to becoming a
pathological gambler." Projected on the metropolitan Wichita area, that
means that 5,000 to 8,000 people may become addicted.

The study estimated the social cost at $13,586 for each person, with an
annual burden on the community ranging from $71 million to $106 million. In
spite of these estimates, the study concluded that "while this community
social burden could be significant, its quantified estimate is still
surpassed by the positive economic impacts measured in this study."

That is a hard sell to families of the addicted.

A study in 2004 by Christiansen Capital Advisors for Harrah's found that 26
percent of players were contributing 82 percent of the profit. A similar
study commissioned by the state of Connecticut in 1997 found that nearly
one-third of gamblers interviewed at casinos were problem gamblers.

In other words, the industry feeds on addiction.

During the House debate, a tearful Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, recounted
the toll a gambling addiction took on a close relative. He convinced casino
supporters to add an amendment to ban the use of credit cards or ATMs within
the casinos and impose a weekly loss limit of $500.

But when the same legislators realized the restrictions might jeopardize
efforts to attract casino operators, they regrouped and removed the
amendment.

The Senate is now preparing to debate the bill, which Gov. Kathleen Sebelius
supports. But let's hope the appeal of fast cash from casinos won't blind
legislators and Kansans to their negative effects.

Post at 3:15 am UTC by Jerry

Bill hits gambling in clubs and bars

Senate President Pro Tem David Long said Wednesday that he plans to expand
his proposal to crack down on illegal gambling, suggesting that the state
should add a special prosecutor just to handle those cases. Long, R-Fort
Wayne, said too many county prosecutors view illegal gambling –
particularly by bars, clubs and other retailers using video machines with
names such as Cherry Master — as not worth pursuing. A state prosecutor
based at the Indiana Gaming Commission could solve that problem, he said.
"The number of these machines in the state has exploded," Long said. "I
think we need to do something about it. We need to draw a line in the sand."
The Senate Rules Committee, which Long chairs, already is considering his
proposal to provide nearly $2 million to fund 25 excise police officers
dedicated to investigating illegal gambling and increase the criminal
penalties for people charged a second time with promoting professional
gambling.
It also would authorize the state to revoke lottery contracts, retail
merchant permits and state licenses for the sale of tobacco and alcohol for
any companies or organizations found with illegal gambling machines. The
proposal will be considered as an amendment to House Bill 1510, which makes
changes to the state's charity gambling legislation, when the Rules
Committee reconvenes Monday. Long, one of two senators pushing the plan,
said that he has enough votes in the committee and perhaps the Senate to
approve the proposal. In the House, however, support is unclear. House
Speaker Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, said he is uncomfortable creating a state
prosecutor and prefers to leave illegal gambling investigations to local law
enforcement. But he said that Gov. Mitch Daniels has made the problem a
state issue by sending excise police officers who regulate alcohol
establishments in search of video gambling machines. "We may have to take a
look at some of these ideas," Bauer said. Long said he's still working on
details, but the state prosecutor would take cases from excise officers and
other law enforcement from across the state. The cases likely would be filed
in Marion County. Sen. Vi Simpson, who serves on the Senate Rules Committee,
said that she's unsure how to vote on Long's overall proposal. She supports
legalizing and regulating video gambling machines for bars and fraternal
clubs but said if lawmakers don't do that, the state should enforce the law
it has. "I plan to spend my weekend at VFWs and American Legion posts to see
how they feel about this," Simpson said. "Cherry Masters in certain areas of
the state support the charitable causes of these service clubs. I want to
make sure the bill does enough to help them so they can continue those
activities."

Post at 3:15 am UTC by Jerry

Broker on trial also charged in gambling ring

A former Merrill Lynch & Co. broker was arrested on state gambling charges
in New York, postponing his federal trial for selling access to trading
information broadcast over his firm's office intercom. Sign up for: Globe
Headlines e-mail | Breaking News Alerts Timothy O'Connell, 42, of Carle
Place, N.Y., was one of 17 people charged yesterday in connection with an
alleged $30 million online sports gambling ring, Kevin Ryan, a spokesman for
the Queens district attorney, said. "He was a runner," said Ryan. "He was
responsible for soliciting new bettors to the operation, maintaining the
relationship with bettors, and meeting with bettors to collect gambling
losses and pay out winnings." O'Connell's arrest brought his trial in
Brooklyn, N.Y., federal court to a halt this morning. U S District Judge I.
Leo Glasser later adjourned the case for the day. The trial will resume
today. O'Connell is one of seven defendants charged with conspiring to trade
on information broadcast over internal "squawk boxes" at top Wall Street
firms. He and brokers at Citigroup Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
allowed day traders at A.B. Watley Group Inc., an online brokerage, to
eavesdrop on large institutional orders, according to prosecutors.

Post at 3:15 am UTC by Jerry

March 30th, 2007

Joint Release from Salvation Army and Methodist Church Ahead of Gambling Vote

In advance of Wednesday's votes in Parliament on the geographical
distribution of casino premises licences, The Salvation Army and the
Methodist Church have re-stated their general concerns relating to increased
gambling opportunities, particularly the potentially devastating effects on
the vulnerable. 'Evidence suggests that the new casinos, the increasing
popularity of online gambling and the general drift towards the
"normalisation" of gambling within British culture, could result in many
more people developing a serious gambling addiction over an extended period.
We are not convinced that increasing gambling opportunities is a good thing
for our nation and all of us who live here,' said Alison Jackson, Secretary
for Parliamentary and Political Affairs for the Methodist Church. The 'super
casino' will house up to 1,250 highly addictive unlimited jackpot machines.
The other 16 new casinos will be larger than anything currently operating in
the UK. While the Methodist Church and The Salvation Army have welcomed the
Government's recognition of the need for protection under the Act for
vulnerable people and children, they believe there are still some
fundamental issues to be addressed in this debate. 'The Salvation Army and
the Methodist Church would have preferred to see no new casinos allowed
under the Gambling Act 2005. We therefore welcome any debate which allows
space for a further consideration of the overall impact of increased
gambling opportunities,' said Captain Matt Spencer, of The Salvation Army.
It is estimated that there are already around 400,000 problem gamblers in
the UK and the super casino will house some of the most addictive forms of
gambling. Problem gambling can result in relationship breakdown, financial
ruin, homelessness and in extreme cases, suicide. Its effects are
far-reaching, impacting not only the individual gambler, but also their
family, friends, and the wider community. The Salvation Army and the
Methodist Church campaigned during the passage of the Gambling Bill,
requesting greater measures to protect children and vulnerable people The
Gambling Act includes provision for the proper monitoring of the effects of
these increased gambling opportunities and the two Churches have recently
reminded the government of the need to keep to its commitments to properly
evaluate the effects of the new casinos, wherever they may be sited.

The minimum casino evaluation period of three years must be measured from
the opening of the new casinos, rather than from the awarding of the
licences, as there could be a considerable amount of time between the
license being awarded and the casino actually opening.

The Salvation Army is an international Christian church and registered
charity working in 111 countries worldwide and is one of the largest, most
diverse providers of social welfare in the world.

The Methodist Church is the third-largest Christian church in Great Britain,
with over 300,000 members and regular contact with 1 million more people. It
has over 6,000 churches in Great Britain, and also maintains links with
other Methodist churches totalling a worldwide membership of 70 million.

Post at 8:21 am UTC by Jerry

Cary Police Bust Up Poker Gambling Hall

Cary Police say they have broken up an illegal poker gambling hall that was
housed in a nondescript warehouse and have arrested over 40 people on
various charges. Acting on an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip, the Cary Police
Department served a search warrant at 233 "M" East Johnson St. on Friday,
March 23rd shortly after midnight. The bland looking warehouse where police
say the gambling operation was located is in the Adams Industrial Park
around the corner from Woody's Tavern in downtown Cary next to Happy Jap's
Auto Repair. The auto repair shop was not involved in the poker operation,
say police. In a report on WRAL-TV, the owner of the Japanese car repair
shop said he often saw a 100 people or more go into the building. In
Friday's bust, Cary Police cited more than 40 people with various charges
related to drugs, alcohol and gambling. No one was hurt during the raid,
say police. Upon entering the unit, Police say that the lessee of the
warehouse space Matthew McCoy, 25, of Bulon Dr., Cary was found to be
"running an illegal poker gaming operation." In a phone interview with the
Raleigh Chronicle on Tuesday, Cary Police Captain Dave Wulff said that the
operation had been going on for at least a month and that the warehouse had
been hosting large poker games up to five times a week. "This was not just a
friendly game of poker, this was a high stakes game for profit," said
Captain Wulff to the Chronicle. According to Captain Wulff, the operation
took a cut of the games to make a profit and also sold liquor to players
without a liquor license for additional revenue. Wulff said there were six
tables present with 10 to 12 seats at each table where the players played
hands of poker. But there were no other gaming tables and regular casino
items such as slot machines or roulette tables were not present, Wulff said.
According to a report on WRAL-TV, over $20,000 in cash was siezed from the
operation. Although many folks play poker for fun, the operator crossed the
line when it was turned into a for profit business, said the police.

"While we realize and appreciate that many friends and neighbors enjoy
playing cards and other games in good fun as part of their recreational
activities, doing so for money simply isn't legal in our state," Wulff said
in a statement to the media.

Police cited NC General Statute 14-292 which says, "any person or
organization that operates any game of chance or any person who plays at or
bets on any game of chance at which any money, property or other thing of
value is bet, whether the same be in stake or not, shall be guilty of a
class 2 misdemeanor."

The warehouse lessee Matthew McCoy was charged with several misdemeanor
charges including one count of gambling, one count of possession for sale of
any alcoholic beverage without permits and one count of unauthorized
possession of liquor.

The Cary Police also say that one of the players present was arrested on
drug charges. William Tillman, 45, of Valley Ct., Raleigh, was charged with
one count each of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana,
and gambling.

Thirty-nine other men and women from around the Triangle and state were
charged with a single gambling charge (listed below).

"We were prepared for anything, given that the tip we received suggested
that we might encounter weapons, drugs, and large amounts of cash," said
Captain Dave Wulff in a media statement about the bust. "Thanks to the
assistance of our partnering agencies Alcohol Law Enforcement, the Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Wake County District Attorney's Office
and the National Guard RAID unit, we were able to halt the illegal activity
without incident."

The Cary Police also said that heroin was found at the scene, but could not
be linked
to any of the arrestees, so no one was charged with possession of it.

The Cary Police said that the gambling violations, alcohol violations,
possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of marijuana charges are
all class 2 misdemeanors. A class 2 misdemeanor carries a maximum of 1 to
60 days in jail, a fine and court costs.

The following people were each charged with just one class 2 misdemeanor
charge of gambling:

Post at 8:21 am UTC by Jerry

Calls to gambling helpline not often from addicts

A telephone helpline for problem gamblers set up a year ago by North
Carolina lottery officials has received plenty of calls, but not from its
targeted audience. Up to 85 percent of the calls haven't been from people
with gambling problems, officials said. Instead, callers want to know the
winning Powerball numbers or have questions about their scratch-off tickets.
In February alone, about 300 people called the helpline, but 250 of the
calls came from people who didn't have a gambling problem. The 24-hour
toll-free helpline number is printed on every lottery ticket and scratch
card, along with another telephone number people can call with questions
about the games. The same confusion happens in other states, said Smith
Worth, director of the North Carolina Problem Gambling Program.

Post at 8:21 am UTC by Jerry

June 9 big day for gambling forces

Three of four West Virginia racetracks aim to have voters decide June 9
whether to allow table games in their slots-only casinos, but executives say
the timing of votes in Hancock, Ohio and Kanawha counties is more about
urgency than strategy. "I don't think it was really organized. It's just the
first available day we could get,'' Bob Marshall, president of Wheeling
Island Racetrack & Gaming Center, said Tuesday. There will, however, likely
be some advertising coordination between Marshall's Ohio County operation
and the nearby Mountaineer Racetrack & Gaming Resort in Chester. "We would
certainly not want to confuse the media market,'' Marshall said, predicting
the launch of what both tracks call a public education campaign by the end
of April. But a conservative Christian activist group hoping to stop the
referenda says the simultaneous votes are more than coincidence; they are an
effort to divide and conquer the opposition. "I didn't ride in on a turnip
truck, I can assure you,'' said Kevin McCoy, executive director of the West
Virginia Family Foundation. "They know what they're doing. They know our
resources are limited, both in personnel and financial,'' he said. "I see
this as a way to get us off balance, to keep us from being able to organize
effectively in those counties.'' Opponents of gambling would have stood a
better chance of defeating table games if a vote had been held statewide,
McCoy said. But the bill Gov. Joe Manchin signed last week gave only voters
in Hancock, Ohio, Kanawha and Jefferson counties the right to decide whether
their racetracks should become full-blown casinos. After pushing for years
to get blackjack, poker and other games legalized, the owners of West
Virginia's tracks are eager to confront growing competition from
Pennsylvania's new slot parlors by offering something fresh. Wheeling
Island, a subsidiary of Delaware North Companies of Buffalo, N.Y., and
Mountaineer, owned by MTR Gaming Group Inc., face the most immediate
pressure. But two other tracks also stand to benefit — Tri-State Racetrack
and Gaming Center in Nitro, owned by Michigan-based Hartman & Tyner Inc.,
and the Charles Town Races & Slots, owned by Penn National Gaming Inc. of
Wyomissing, Pa. Track owners can either have the question placed on a 2008
primary or general election ballot or seek a special election this year at
their own expense. Election costs range from $30,000 to $250,000, according
to clerks in the host counties.

Only Charles Town, which has a healthier economy, a booming population and
no immediate threat of competition, has yet to set a date for a vote. John
Finamore, vice president of regional operations for Penn National, could not
immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

But Daniel Adkins, vice president of Tri-State's parent company, said the
three tracks that are moving quickly all "just want to go sooner rather than
later.''

Though there have been no formal discussions yet, he said it's likely the
tracks will find some way to pool their resources for the months ahead.

"We're right now putting the pieces together,'' Adkins said, so it will be
several more weeks before Tri-State starts to call press conferences and
advertise.

Though Mountaineer has requested and will likely get a June 9 election date,
Mountaineer spokeswoman Tamara Cronin said the Hancock County Commission
won't vote on the request until April 5.

"Each county is unique as far as how they handle their elections and voters,
so I think it's an individual decision,'' she said of the simultaneous
dates.

"When it comes right down to it, this is something we're going to handle as
we do all elections here,'' she said. "All politics is local, and this is
going to be about getting to each and every voter.''

Turnout on election day will be key, and that's where the track's 1,500
employees come in.

"I believe the people who will get this passed are our employees,'' Cronin
said, "because they're the ones who are impacted.''

But the West Virginia Family Foundation is determined to stop the votes by
seeking a court-ordered injunction in one or more counties.

McCoy said he believes table games as part of the state's lottery system are
unconstitutional. The lawsuit he intends to file may also challenge gambling
on moral grounds.

"We're not going to allow a vote,'' he vowed. "We will take whatever action
is necessary to stop it.''

Post at 8:21 am UTC by Jerry