MGC Leads New England in Addiction Help

Follow the signs of problem gambling.

Once each year, I pause the gambling news and hype to be sure we look at the seriousness of problem gambling. March is Problem Gambling Awareness month. For the 14th year, PGAM, the Problem Gambling Awareness Month, is a national public awareness and outreach campaign established to bring awareness to issues associated with problem gambling and to also highlight the national and local resources available to provide individuals and families with support.

As any vice/leisure activity allowed in our society, certain responsibilities should be followed.  However, some people are not able to resist the overwhelming dark sides of their actions.  Whether for moral, economic, or basic human caring reasons, we try to provide help to those who cannot help themselves.

Types of Casino Gambling throughout the U.S.

Types of Casino Gambling throughout the U.S.  Massachusetts & D.C. have commercial casinos as of 2017.

You might find it odd to have a post dealing with the “dark side” of gaming, but it is with an objective responsibility that NETime Gambling covers it all, and that includes the awareness of problem gambling. Consider this:

  • According to an info-graphic released by the NCPG, problem gambling accounts for $7 billion in the US annually due to addiction, bankruptcy, and crime.
  • Of the estimated five million Americans who already meet the criteria for gambling addiction, three in four have problems with alcohol, 38 percent use or have used illegal drugs, and 20 percent have attempted or committed suicide.

For more information on problem gambling, go to the National Council on Problem Gambling website.

In recognition of PGAM this year, the  Massachusetts Gaming Commission presents the following initiatives:

  • PREVENT: This month, MGC will introduce an updated version of its Responsible Gaming Framework. Originally published in 2014, the RGF is intended to inform gaming regulation in Massachusetts and provide an overall orientation to the responsible gaming practices and policies adopted by MGC and its licensees. After a comprehensive review process which included participation of independent experts and members of the recovery community, the latest RGF now includes updated key principles, expanded strategies and is grounded in the most up-to-date research.
  • EDUCATE: MGC is currently developing a new marketing and advertising campaign for the GameSense program, MGC’s innovative and comprehensive responsible gaming strategy to encourage responsible play and mitigate program gambling. Expected to launch this summer, the new outreach campaign will extend to Western Massachusetts in anticipation of the MGM Springfield opening.
  • COMMUNICATE: Throughout the month, MGC will implement a targeted social media campaign to increase awareness about problem gambling prevention and the resources available.
  • COLLABORATE: Working closely with MGC, GameSense Advisors at Plainridge Park Casino will conduct a series of training and awareness-building activities for casino employees.
  • RESEARCH: MGC remains committed to its robust research agenda and using findings to further inform problem gambling intervention, prevention and treatment strategies. View MGC’s latest research report about problem gambling. Last month, the MGC released the first significant report of the Massachusetts gaming impact cohort study. Information from this study provides new and much-needed information about problem gambling incidence rates and behavioral trajectory. This study will yield important information leading to tailored treatment and prevention programs.
  • SUPPORT: MGC supports the Cambridge Health Alliance’s Gambling Disorder Screening Day. On 13 March 2017, the Cambridge Health Alliance’s Division on Addiction and Outpatient Addiction Services are sponsoring a Gambling Disorder Screening Day as part of the Cambridge Health Alliance Readiness for Gambling Expansion (CHARGE) Initiative

Other New England States have the following to help gamblers with addiction problems:

Connecticut – The Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling

Rhode Island – Play Responsibly, The Rhode Island Council on Problem Gambling

Maine – Problem Gambling Links at Maine Gov

Help each other if your friends, family or children seem to be spending money they don’t have.  If you have questions or concerns about your own gambling, take the 20 Question Check at Gambler’s Anonymous.  Wouldn’t it be great to not have to worry?

Sincerely,

Binbin

 

Connecticut’s 3rd Casino Approved – MGM Objections to Continue

It seems we have come full circle concerning MGM and their opposition to Connecticut’s casino expansion.

It was March of 2015 when the two tribes in CT asked for permission to build a casino off I-91 near the Massachusetts line to intercept patrons on their way to MGM Springfield, hoping it would be done and open by 2017.  MGM Springfield, a $950 million casino is a major threat to force more declining revenue of Connecticut’s gambling industry and impact the local economy by reducing employment opportunities.

MGM Springfield Downtown

Well it’s 2017, and CT is finally seeing it’s expansion come to life.  But, it will surely fizzle if MGM International has anything to do about it.

The two tribes that  were enemies and then competitors for centuries even when they were allowed to build two of the largest casinos in country, offering the only Las Vegas style resort gaming in the Northeast outside of Atlantic City, are now in it for the long-haul together.

Kevin Brown, left, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council and Rodney Butler, right, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council,

Kevin Brown, left, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council and Rodney Butler, right, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council,

A third casino in CT gets ready to move forward.  MMCT, the Mohegan Sun and Mashantucket Pequots tribes’ combined venture is soon to get the Governor’s backing, completing the state’s blessing for a new casino in East Windsor.

In two years of fighting, litigation, television commercials, community propaganda and interesting surveys to support their findings, MGM has thrown everything they could at the casino wall, hoping for anything to stick and sway the people of CT and their legislators.

The first attempt by MGM was a lawsuit challenging the exclusive right for the two tribes to jointly operate and build a competing casino. MGM insisted they could make money in CT (even though they pulled out of joint venture with Foxwoods) and that the casino bill violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. A federal judge in January of 2016 dismissed the company’s lawsuit to block the state of Connecticut’s 2015 tribal gaming act.

At the same time, MGM backed the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, in Kent, CT – officially recognized by the state but not the federal government – to sue the state of Connecticut’s bill, claiming they had a right to a casino.  But land claims, the lack of federal recognition and then the resurrection of the law suit all dismissed again recently seem enough to keep the Schaghticoke demands futile.

Seal of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs

Seal of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs

MGM then sought help from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, stating that a casino off tribal land would break the original agreement from 1993, saying that approving this bill would sever the pact for 25% of the slot revenue to the state. MMCT assured legislators that the proposed construction of a third casino would not jeopardize any gambling agreements reached between the state and the two tribes in 2016 & recently when the BIA agreed.

Officials from the two tribes provided legislators in 2016 with copies from a letter sent by the current Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the country’s Department of Interior stating that the existing gambling compact, under the terms of which Connecticut is provided with 25% of net revenue from slot machines in return for securing the two tribes with the exclusive rights to operate gambling venues within the state’s borders, would not be affected by the opening of a third casino.”

Two bills were eventually issued to the CT legislature earlier this year – one for the MMCT joint venture on the CT/MA border, and one outlining an equal bidding process for a casino in the southwest part of the state (where MGM could possily bid and build a casino). MGM continued to televise ads in CT under the moniker of MGMConecticut.org, trying to persuade CT’s residents of the need for equal bidding for a casino license, saying 71% of the state’s surveyed residents were in favor of an open bidding process.  All the local TV stations, all hours of the day were not enough to change the representatives vote.  Where is that 71% (of whatever sample size) when MGM needs them?

MGM has waged an all out war to try to save its interests across the border.  Whether or not is is to save MGM’s chances for a casino in CT, or just continuous stalling tactics while preparing for MGM Springfield to open,  MGM has had a five-prong attack:

  1. a legal fight in federal court,
  2. lobbying at the Connecticut State Capitol,
  3. bringing the fight to Congress
  4. instigating the Schaghticoke Tribe in Kent, CT to legally pursue it’s right to the casino pie – have proved fruitless in trying to block the construction of a third tribal casino thus far
  5. influence the people of CT to consider an open bidding process

Results?

  1. The federal court and the BIA has already thrown out MGM’s previous lawsuit
  2. Lobbying at the state capital didn’t succeed in bringing about the open bidding process
  3. The CT Senate, House, and soon Governor Malloy, approve the process for the MMCT casino in East Windsor.

I say MGM’s main purpose in all of this was to stall – because the urban casino they are building is a questionable success.  It will be great for MGM, but will it be good for Springfield?  Remember, MGM and CEO Jim Murren himself has said they are in the hotel and entertainment business, not the casino business.  How does Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission feel about their revenue being secondary in MGM’s plan?

Cinema in East Windsor for proposed casino.

Cinema in East Windsor for proposed casino.

MGM Springfield is in a much smaller city, and it will go up MMCT’s Mohegan Sun / Foxwoods casino in East Hartford and will continue to feel pressure from Plainridge Park Casino, the only open casino in Massachusetts. New York projects near western Mass. and Wynn’s Boston Harbor Casino/Resort will definitely tug at Springfield’s bottom line.  MGM said in 2016 that they didn’t believe in a ceiling on  gamblers discretionary funds and were not concerned with the possible saturation of casinos – do they still believe that?

Now, MGM is back to square one, leaning on the judicial branch to stop MMCT in East Windsor. I think I can still hear someone speaking in the wind from Springfield, “just stall, I don’t care how, just stall….”

And that, my friends is a complete circle.

Binbin

 

 

Massachusetts Casino Region C – “To Be or Not To Be,” That IS the Question

Massachusetts Regions for full casinos.

Massachusetts Regions for full casinos. Doesn’t include Mashpee Wampanoags in Taunton or Plainridge Park Slot Parlor in Plainville.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has its hands full, it seems.

Steve Crosby, Chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission

Steve Crosby, Chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission

MGC Chairman Steve Crosby seems to thing all plans have a chance to work itself out.  The problem is, many others are doubting it will all come to fruition.  In a previous post 5 Reasons New England Gamblers Will Decide Where the Casino Money Goes, John Kostrzewa points to important considerations in New England’s Casino future – something Mr. Crosby and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission should read.

Let’s look at their original plan:

Plainridge Park Casino

Plainridge Park Casino

SLOTS ONLY LICENSE – Plainridge Park Casino gets the revenue stream started, keeping Mass gamblers in state and luring way Rhode Island gamblers.  So far, it has been very successful while seeing a decline each month after its opening.

Wynn Everett Resort Everett, Mass

Wynn Everett Resort Everett, Mass

 

 

REGION A LICENSE – Wynn is hand picked after sending home Caesars, then allowing the glitz of Vegas to dismiss Mohegan Sun.

Wynn is now starting the clean-up of the old Monsanto waste site, in litigation with numerous parties, and considering changes to its proposal as this is posted.

MGM Springfield

New rendering of MGM Springfield’s

REGION B LICENSE – MGM Resorts is chosen in Springfield, only to have unapproved changes made, and delays estimated to put off the opening for three years.  Connecticut continues to pressure the MGM project with a third Casino of its own in a joint effort from Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods – somewhere withing the vicinity of 30 miles from Springfield.

Proposed Brockton Casino

Proposed Brockton Casino

REGION C LICENSE – Only Brockton remains, but hasn’t been given the license because of the rebirth of the Wampanoags Taunton project.  The MGC is taking a wait and see path, as Twin River bulks up with additional tables, added poker room, a hotel, and possibly moving Newport Grand to Tiverton – across the border from Plainridge Park in Plainville.

How is this all panning out?  Originally, four Mass. casinos would be looting & pillaging CT & RI casinos by 2017.  But it’s not looking like the plan is on track.

The main concern at this time for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is should a Region C license be awarded at all.  According to MGC Chair Steve Crosby, “They can coexist……They would cannibalize one another. Neither one of them would do as well.”

But the main concern here isn’t casinos, community involvement, traffic, or lawsuits.  It’s cash, moolah, the almighty buck.

The expansive Mashpee Wampanoag  Casino Proposal in Brockton, Mass.

The expansive Mashpee Wampanoag Casino Proposal in Brockton, Mass.

Under the compact between the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and Massachusetts, the state would collect 17% of the tribal casino’s gaming revenues, compared with 25% of revenues from the commercial casino. However, the tribal casino would not be required to pay taxes if a commercial casino were to open in the same region. Which would mean the same number of gamblers, but half the revenue to the state. Would the MGC deny Rush Gaming a chance in Brockton because the Mashpee Wampanoags project looks more likely to happen than three months ago? Is one large Tribal casino better than two casinos – tribal and commercial – co-existing?

Remember, the Massachusetts  Casino Law in 2011 didn’t become law because the Massachusetts legislature thought adding the devil of gambling to its list of tourist attractions, it was the greedy devil from within to get their Bay State money back that had been spent by Massachusetts patrons for years in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Spock in "Amok Time" - Star Trek.

Spock in “Amok Time” – Star Trek.

I guess it’s not that easy to build a casino and hear the stream of money drop into Massachusetts coffers.  Dear Mr. Crosby, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Or,  as Spock said in Star Trek, season 2, episode 1 (“Amok Time,” 1968) , ““After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but is often true.”

That’s all for now.

Binbin