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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Lots of Slots

- More slot machines are coming to Rhode Island’s Lincoln Park greyhound track. How many more?

IN A YEAR or two, there could be as many as 4,752 slot machines at Lincoln Park.

That's more machines than all but one of Atlantic City's casinos. The Trump Taj Mahal had 4,419 machines as of Dec. 31. Caesars Atlantic City -- now owned by Harrah's Entertainment -- had 3,226. [Providence Journal]
Rhode Island governor Don Carcieri (R) and the state legislature signed off on a deal to facilitate the sale of Lincoln Park to BLB Investors. In addition to more machines, the buyers will also get a 15 year tax break in exchange for a commitment to renovate the track.

With the state already hooked on gambling revenue and with fears of expanded gambling in nearby Massachusetts in addition to existing casinos in Connecticut, the Providence Journal piece (; password-bugmenot) conveys a sense of helpless resignation about this latest gaming expansion, and certainly more to come. The governor conceded, “I'm not a big fan of gambling.... However, "we have Lincoln, it exists and we've got to provide for its future."
Rep. Nicholas Gorham, R-Coventry, said that because "we are afraid to raise taxes . . . we are expanding gambling, which is bad policy."

Gorham said it "shows how heavily . . . we are going to rely on gambling evermore, every day, from this day forward . . . and we are just going to keep going for more and more."

Gambling is the state's fastest-growing source of income. Only the personal income tax and sales tax provide the state with more revenue.

"This industry has to be protected because it is the third largest revenue stream," Rep.
Charlene M. Lima, D-Cranston, said Friday in support of the legislation...Whether or not you are in favor of gambling or against gambling is totally immaterial because we have come to rely on these revenue sources for many important programs."
The deal was reached at the 11th hour after a bit of gamemanship by BLB, who set a deadline of Friday night. The House and Senate were both called into special session and Carcieri stayed at the Statehouse into Friday evening while the bills were prepared for his signature. The agreement includes a clause to compensate BLB for "slippage" which BLB will be protected from a loss of revenue if the state approves a casino in West Warwick. Should a casino open and Lincoln Park's revenues are lower than state officials estimate they should be, the percentage of revenues the park turns over to the state would be lowered commensurately. [Pawtucket Times]
At the same time, the bribery retrial of executives of the soon-to-be former owner of Lincoln Park is getting under way with jury selection having been completed this past week in Worcester, Mass. The track and two of its former executives are accused of trying to bribe the state House Speaker in an effort to obtain more VLT’s and prevent approval of an Indian casino.

- Some guy won the big poker tournament, and I'm sure the Average Horseplayer will have some info on that. The LA Times' Peter KIng notes that the action is not as fast-paced as it might seem on TV.
As the tournament progressed and the stakes rose, the play seemed to slow to a cautious crawl. The last big-name player — Mike "The Mouth" Matusow — was the first of the nine finalists to be eliminated, and rather abruptly. His fellow celebrity professionals, present to provide expert commentary for ESPN, consoled him, describing his play as perfect and the opponent who ousted him as a lucky dimwit.

His departure seemed to suck energy from the room, and a night of tedium, broken by brief moments of drama, ensued. Make no mistake, whatever virtues it might have as a canned television show, tournament poker is hardly a spectator sport. Not for nothing does ESPN reduce 2,300 hours of taped play to 23 hours of programming.
Here were a handful of players — many of them college graduates who learned the game of Texas Hold 'Em on the Internet, some attired in shorts and sandals — positioned around a green felt table that bore the logo of a sponsor: a male potency enhancer. Cameras tracked their every move, and the crowd had the feel of what it was: a TV game show audience. [LA Times, via Yahoo]
- Things unraveled for 6-5 Delaware Handicap favorite Isola Piu Bella faster than Karl Rove's explanation of his talk with Matthew Cooper. She acted up in the gate and unseated John Velasquez; then she got off a step slow. Still, she was sitting in her usual 4th, and just came up empty in the stretch. For Island Sand, it was her first win since the 2004 Acorn as Bailey overcame the outside post. Trainer Larry Jones said "They came by the stands the first time and she was about eight wide and I said, 'Here we go again.' But (Bailey) got her tucked in about three wide – I don't know how. I'm really thankful." [Bloodhorse] Island Sand is by dead stallion Tabasco Cat, out of a Forty Niner half sister to 2004 Queen's Plate winner Niigon.