An article in the Boston Globe has become a flashpoint in the complex and endlessly fascinating casino situation in Massachusetts. The Globe reported that Connecticut casinos owned by Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, two of the applicants for licenses in Massachusetts, have placed liens on "dozens of homes" owned by customers to whom they had loaned money that, obviously, has not been repaid.
Not only is the collection tactic uncommonly aggressive — a number of industry specialists said they had never before heard of casinos using it — but the liens raise questions about whether the businesses allow or enable gamblers to extend themselves too far.The more disturbing issue raised by the Globe is the circumstance of some of the loans. The article focuses on one particular customer who was, for some reason, lavished with loans that were far beyond his means by both facilities .
“Frankly, I have not heard of any casino company that goes after homes,” said Whittier Law School professor I. Nelson Rose, an international expert on gambling law. “It’s really extreme.”
Green said it would be “ridiculous” to use a lien to chase a gambling debt. “From a PR standpoint, you can’t have it both ways.....If we’re going to argue to legislators and the public and to you guys in the press that we’re an entertainment business, we can’t at the same time be foreclosing on people’s homes.” [Boston Globe]
Cutler’s 2007 bankruptcy filing declared that his sole income was a monthly Social Security check of $640, yet two of the world’s biggest gambling palaces — both applicants in the Massachusetts casino sweepstakes — had lent him more than $66,000 to make bets, and then went after his house when he could not pay it back.Huh? Well, it took about 24 hours for Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley......yes, that Martha Coakley..... to step up to the plate to bash that softball out of the pahk.
‘‘Protecting against predatory lending and overly aggressive debt collection in the gaming industry is critical, because the odds are stacked against the patron being able to earn back the value of the loan."Meanwhile, Mohegan Sun has gone on the offensive against Steve Wynn, with whom it is competing for the Boston area license.
“Unlike Wynn, our commitment [to building in Massachusetts] is not contingent on anything,” Mitchell Etess, chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said in an interview at the Globe. He said that Wynn Resorts, the Las Vegas company run by billionaire casino developer Steve Wynn, has demanded numerous accommodations from state offices — on environmental regulations, taxes, access to his proposed site, and other considerations — and suggested Wynn may not proceed with his project if he does not get what he wants. [Boston Globe]Wynn has asked that the tax rate for his casino be reduced to be in line with that which would be charged to a tribal casino; and the accusations over environmental regulations relate to the fact that Wynn is cleverly proposing to build his casino on a contaminated former Monsanto site. On the other hand, Wynn questions Mohegan Sun's motives, suggesting that they have an incentive to drive customers to their Connecticut locale, where table games aren't taxed. (That's an accusation which has surfaced before.)
The vote in Revere on Mohegan Sun's proposed casino at Suffolk Downs is coming up on February 25.
Back here in New York, it was reported that NYGA President and Saratoga Raceway principal James Featherstonhaugh visited other prospective casino sites in the Capital District, including the possible competitor for the license in Rensselaer, where residents voted in favor of casino gambling. Can't say what he's up to; maybe looking for a backup plan, maybe trying to scare supporters of a Saratoga casino in order to light a fire under them, or maybe he's not happy about the notion of a Saratoga casino being of the scaled-down variety in order to appease residents. I suppose that the harness track could, in theory, apply for a license to build a casino somewhere else where they would be free to make it "Las Vegas" style.
A rough week for the Resorts World site at the Big A. On Friday, a patron in the racino, who was said to be on a winning streak, offed himself by diving head first 30 feet from the top of an escalator. Yikes. On the previous Sunday, there was a sexual assault in a bathroom on the racing side, which is described in quite explicit and disturbing detail in the criminal complaint which is contained herein on the Capitol Confidential blog.
What I'm wondering is why exactly was this story reported there, on the Albany Times Union's blog which covers matters of Albany politics and, therefore, mostly corruption and fraud. As one commenter queried: This relates to fraud/waste, how? Then we see that the entry is by James Odato, and the picture becomes clearer. Odato is probably the leader of the New York press corps' NYRA-bashing club, as we've documented here before on more than one occasion. And the inference here is clear when Odato leads with: A previously unpublicized report of a sexual assault in a women’s restroom was reported in Monday’s Times Union column. Oooo, smacks of a coverup, eh? Let's see, who wrote that column in Monday's Times Union? Oh, it was Odato; he was linking to himself.
A female attendant previously staffed the washroom, but because of cutbacks that hasn't been the case for a few years, according to a union official.Yeah, guess it's all NYRA's fault, how dare they not have every bathroom attended? Right underneath the story, after it notes that NYRA has dismissed its director of seating and parking, Jerry Davis, a longtime NYRA official who made $170,298 a year - thereby no doubt increasing the chances of a sexual assault in the clubhouse seats - is the signoff:
Do you have a story about waste and abuse of public funds? Contact James M. Odato at 518-454-5083, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @JamesMOdatoI'll be sure to keep that in mind. (And, by the way, Jerry Davis is still listed on the NYRA site as an active Racing and Operating Official as of this writing.)