Monday, May 23, 2011

Governor Jindal Waffles On Anti-Gambling Pledge racing wagering bill clears House; Gov. Bobby Jindal not opposedPublished: Friday, May 20, 2011, 11:30 AMUpdated: Friday, May 20, 2011, 5:00 PMBy Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune The Times-Picayune
Gov. Bobby Jindal has said since he was a candidate that he opposes any policy that expands gambling. Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said last week that the governor's philosophy does not require him "at this time" to oppose a Louisiana House bill that would add to gamblers' options at Louisiana horse tracks outside New Orleans.Current law restricts "account wagering" -- allowing bettors to wager on races at other tracks around the country -- to the city of New Orleans, home to the Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots. House Bill 420 by Rep. Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas, would delete the restriction, extending account-wagering eligibility to any live horse racing facility licensed by the Louisiana State Racing Commission.The House approved the bill 61-30 this week. The measure awaits action in the Senate Judiciary B Committee. Lawmakers said during floor debate that the Family Forum, which often includes gambling measures on its annual published assessments of legislators, is officially neutral on the measure.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gambling Is Not Economic Development-2

Southern casinos struggle back from recession 11/28/2010 8:28 AM By Alan Sayre, AP Business WriterNEW ORLEANS — As a new reality — casinos are not recession-proof — sets in, gambling in Louisiana and Mississippi is staging a slow comeback from the economic meltdown of 2008, aggravated for a time by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that chased away some tourists.But at least for the rest of 2010 and into 2011, industry analysts expect many players to keep a tight grip on their wallets because of uncertain economic times — and those who watch casinos are largely unwilling to predict when full recovery might come."Gamblers, like other people, have to feel comfortable about their financial situation," said Joseph Weinert, senior vice president of Linwood, N.J.-based Spectrum Gaming Group. "There had been the perception that the industry was largely recession-proof, but we saw what happened a couple of years ago. When the economy got tanked, the industry got whacked."For the first three quarters of 2010, revenue at Mississippi's state-licensed casinos totaled $1.83 billion, down 12.9% from the first nine months of 2008 — the period leading into the U.S. economic freefall. Still, the decline has slowed.

According to the Mississippi Department of Revenue, casino takes dropped only 3.3% from the first three quarters of 2009.In the latest count, the 11 casinos across the Mississippi Gulf Coast were down 12.7% from the first nine months of 2008, but recorded only a 1.3% drop from 2009, indicating that the oil spill had only a small effect on gambling. The 19 casinos on the Mississippi River, including Tunica in the Arkansas-Tennessee corner, were down 12.8% from 2008 and 5% from last year.

In Louisiana, the 13 riverboat casinos, Harrah's downtown New Orleans casino and the four race track casinos, for the first three quarters of 2010, recorded a 7.7% drop in gambling revenue from the first nine months of 2008. The 2010 tally was down 5.3% from 2009."I'm reserved, but optimistically reserved. The numbers appear to be stabilizing," said Dane Morgan, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.But sustained growth is a question mark, regionally and nationally.

Recently, at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, American Gaming Association head Frank Fahrenkopf said gambling revenue in state-licensed casinos rose 1.3% — to just over $8 billion — from the second quarter to the third quarter of 2010. But that's still about $100 million less than casinos took in during the same period last year. Fahrenkopf blamed that on reduced discretionary spending by consumers.Earlier this month, Jefferies & Co. analyst David Katz said he expected Louisiana and Mississippi casinos owned by Penn National Gaming Inc., Pinnacle Entertainment, Boyd Gaming and MGM Resorts International to report mixed results during fourth-quarter revenue reports, saying the region's recovery still lags behind other markets."Right now, the gaming industry is largely a function of the regional and national economies," Weinert said. "It depends upon whether you see those economies flatten out or start showing some life. The casinos will follow that."

A large chunk of Louisiana's casino business is pointed at Texans. Shreveport-Bossier City gambling revenue, for the first three quarters of 2010, fell 10.5% from the first nine months of 2008. The recent tally is down 4.4% from 2009. The five riverboats and the track casino in that market have been facing increased competition from Indian nation casinos in Oklahoma.In Lake Charles, where direct competition is more isolated for three riverboats and a track casino, the tally is just about the same in comparing 2008 and 2010, although down 5.8% from 2009. The 2008 figures were skewed by September when two major hurricanes chopped at as much as $20 million from the historic monthly count.I

n the New Orleans area, which has two riverboats and a track casino along with the land casino, gambling revenue is down 9.4% in the three-quarter comparison of 2008 to 2010 and down 2.9% from 2009. The boats and the track casino generally appeal to a local market, while Harrah's — more aimed toward tourists and the convention business — typically posts big months during such events as Mardi Gras, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Essence Festival and big-ticket sporting events.But more outlets want to get into the competitive fray, despite the slower times.

Pinnacle hopes to open its $357 million riverboat casino-hotel project in Baton Rouge in December 2011. That market, which currently has two gambling boats, has seen a 13.3% drop in revenue from the first three quarters of 2008 to the first three of 2010."I think a new casino will grow that market, but it will be at the expense of the other operators," said industry analyst Cory Morowitz of Galloway, N.J.-based Morowitz Gaming Advisors. "There's not enough room otherwise."Three groups have filed for the 15th and final riverboat license allowed by Louisiana law. Two want another Lake Charles casino, while the other wants another suburban New Orleans boat.Louisiana regulator Morgan said he hopes a decision on the winner will be made by March.

In Mississippi, Gaming Commission executive director Larry Gregory said no new projects are near fruition, but investors continue to express interest in the state, especially along the coast."We have had a lot of interest over the past year. People coming down here and looking and wanting to move forward with something. But in today's economy, it's difficult to fund these projects," Gregory said. "The coast is prime for development. But it's not just us. You look at mature jurisdictions all over, not new ones, there are just not many projects."Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Speaker Tucker Announces New Wind Turbine Plant In Michew

Speaker Jim Tucker spoke to the Monroe Chamber of Commerce Wednesday. He reviewed the Tucker Commission on Higher Education, the LaGrad Act of 2010, the Louisiana state budget, and redistricting at the federal and state level. Tucker took credit for killing the BP contingency fee legislation proposed by Senate President Joel T.Chaisson and other trial lawyers.

Absent from the meeting were Senator Francis Thompson and Senator Bob Kostelka; house members Rick Gallot. Noble Ellington and "Rozz" Jones.

There was no mention of the v-vehicle.

The loudest applause line was when Tucker announced that he would try to keep two congressional districts in the north part of the state.

Just in passing, Tucker mentioned a new wind turbine construction company was opening Michoud. To be built by a British Company called Blade Dynamics, it promises to create 600 jobs by the year 2015 (

Accompanying Tucker to the north Louisiana meeting was District 105 Representative Ernest D. Wooten who announced he will probably be running for the senate soon, presumably against Chaisson.

Friday, August 27, 2010

University of Louisiana System Votes To Do Away With Tenure

The University of Louisiana System Board could vote to weaken its tenure policy at its meeting Friday morning. Instead of declaring financial exigency, which it clearly could do in view of the predicted post stimulus cuts for next year, the Board may vote instead for the death of a thousand cuts for the eight colleges they oversee.

Randy Moffitt is the person proposing this change and he no doubt has tenure himself coming from the faculty at Southeastern Louisiana University with Dr. Clausen. If the Board declared financial exigency he could not return to a classroom if he was relieved of his duties by the Board. And that goes for all of the academic vice presidents, deans and department heads in the system that have always had a tenure safety net to fall back on.

Once the word gets out in the higher education community that University of Louisiana System has weakened its tenure policy, it will be more difficult for its universities to recruit capable faculty to teach and do research without paying a lot more money. And that is exactly the opposite of what Board will say they are trying to do which is save money.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pit Bulls and Cock Fights Used as Networking Tool for Drug Traffickers

AUG 09 -- LAKE CHARLES, La. + The main organizer and supervisor of a lucrative drug trafficking organization responsible for transporting kilogram quantities of cocaine and marijuana from the Brownsville, Texas area, was sentenced on August 5, 2010 to 12.5 years in federal prison, followed by five years supervised release. Pedro Mendez Ramos, 41, of Church Point, La., was sentenced by U. S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi for Continuing a Criminal Enterprise and Money Laundering Conspiracy.

Ramos and seventeen others were indicted on a variety of drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms charges following an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed “Operation Fowl Play” and “Rio Gallo.” While under Ramos’ direction, this drug trafficking organization was responsible for transporting and distributing cocaine and marijuana from the Brownsville, Texas area to the Church Point, La. area. From Church Point, the drugs would then be distributed to Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and other parts of Louisiana. Large amounts of drug proceeds would then be transported back to Brownsville, Texas and ultimately, Mexico. Ramos, an avid pit bull and cock fighter, with over three hundred gamecocks and sixty fighting pit bulls of his own, utilized these illegal events as a networking tool in order to recruit members to transport and sell cocaine and marijuana for his organization. The organization utilized various methods to conceal their cocaine, to include tractor trailers and trucks with hidden compartments and gamecock cages with false bottoms. The Ramos organization was supplied cocaine and marijuana directly from members of the Gulf Cartel, a multi-national drug trafficking organization located in Matamoros, Mexico.

At one point, the Ramos organization had amassed so much cash from the sale of cocaine that Pedro Ramos attempted to purchase Canal Oil Refinery, an oil refinery located in Church Point, La. in order to launder the organization’s drug trafficking proceeds. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies, seized approximately 111 kilograms of cocaine and approximately 1.8 million dollars from members of Ramos’ drug trafficking organization, along with real property with an estimated value of one million dollars located in both Louisiana and Texas.

Special Agent in Charge Jimmy S. Fox III of the New Orleans Field Division stated, “The coordinated efforts of this investigation not only exposed and dismantled a sophisticated drug trafficking organization, it also helped to cease the brutality and unspeakable cruelty of animals at the hands of inhumane individuals.” U. S. Attorney Finley stated: “Organized drug trafficking threatens our safety, disrupts our communities, and destroys lives. This case is an example of how federal, state and local partnerships can succeed in dismantling large international criminal organizations. Our office is committed to combating drug trafficking in this district.”
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Alabama Gambling Lobbyist "2 million. It's only a drop in the bucket"

Report: Ala gambling interests gave $2.2M to PACs2/22/2010, 1:06 p.m. CSTKIM CHANDLERThe Associated Press(AP) — MONTGOMERY, Ala. - During the last three days of 2009, Alabama gambling interests wrote checks for more than $2.2 million to political action committees, according to campaign finance reports.The money flowed as the state gears up for election season and a legislative and legal battle that could decide the fate of electronic bingo in the state.

Gambling opponents say it's difficult for them to compete with the deep pockets of bingo operators, while a lawyer for the state's largest casino downplayed the contributions, calling them "a drop in the bucket" compared to what's given overall in a major election cycle.Dog track and bingo casino owner Milton McGregor, along with his two tracks, was the largest contributor among the gambling interests, according to a review of 2009 campaign financial disclosure reports.McGregor and his two tracks gave nearly $1.6 million spread out among more than 30 PACs run by lobbyists and political consultants, according to a sampling of campaign finance records.

Almost all of the money was given in the final three days of 2009.McGregor owns VictoryLand in Macon County, the state's largest bingo casino with more than 6,000 machines. McGregor also owns the Birmingham Race Course -- which could be allowed to have bingo machines under legislation pending in the Alabama Legislature.The state Senate might vote as soon as this week on a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow 10 non-Indian bingo casinos across the state. The measure would be subject to voter approval in a November referendum.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians gave more than $600,000 to political action committees run by their lobbyist, John Teague. Most of those contributions were dated Dec. 31. The Poarch Creeks operate bingo casinos in Montgomery, Atmore and Wetumpka. Teague also handled nearly $1 million of the contributions from McGregor's tracks.

Other contributors included Greenetrack and Ronnie Gilley, developer of the Country Crossing entertainment center and bingo casino in Houston County.The review of campaign records included 86 PACs that frequently have handled contributions from casinos and their owners. It did not include money contributed directly to candidates or any contributions by lawyers or public relations firms that represent the casinos, because those individuals and firms also represent other clients.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," said gambling opponent Joe Godfrey, executive director for the Alabama Citizens Action Program. Godfrey said he believed bingo operators will invest tens of millions of dollars in campaigns and advertising because they stand to make "hundreds of millions" off gambling.Godfrey said the casino donations make it difficult for gambling opponents to contend for influence in the halls of the Alabama Legislature. And he said much more money will be poured into a statewide public relations campaign if the bingo measure goes before voters."We can't compete with the advertising and everything else," Godfrey said.

But a lawyer representing McGregor and VictoryLand said the contributions by his clients are "a drop in the bucket in a general election cycle in Alabama" during which every major state office is up for election."VictoryLand and Mr. McGregor's contributions are a matter of public record and so is his position on gaming, but ultimately he is only one man with one vote," John M. Bolton III said."VictoryLand and Mr. McGregor firmly believe that the people of Alabama should have the right to vote on a constitutional amendment that clearly defines bingo, strictly limits and regulates its operation, and generates significant revenue for education, social services and each county in the state," Bolton said.Gov. Bob Riley has been fighting to shut down the bingo operations, arguing the slot machine look-alikes are not what was intended when voters approved constitutional amendments allowing charity bingo operations.

McGregor and other bingo operators contend their machines are legal and that technology allows gamblers to play quick games of bingo electronically.Three of the state's major casinos -- VictoryLand, Country Crossing and White Hall Entertainment Center in Lowndes County -- closed after Riley's Task Force on Illegal Gambling sent large numbers of troopers to raid VictoryLand and Country Crossing last month.The task force did not have a search warrant during the raid attempts, but Riley's task force commander argued a search warrant was not needed if law enforcement officers witnessed a crime in progress.___Information from: The Birmingham News,© 2010 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

colorado community college headmaster grossly overestimated revenue to sell ammendment 50 to Colorado voters.

New gambling revenue falling far short of forecastBy Andy Vuong The Denver PostPosted: 12/20/2009 01:00:00 AM MST

Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System, says community colleges may receive just $2 million to $3 million from gambling taxes during the first year of new games and table limits. The 2008 ballot measure that eased gambling regulations was pitched as a way to bolster the ever-slimming budgets of the state's community colleges.

Much of the additional tax revenue generated from higher bet limits, 24-hour gambling and new table games would go to the schools, an estimated $29 million during the first year and $222 million over five years."Anything that's going to add over $200 million over the next five years . . . is very good for us," Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System, said in November 2008 shortly after it was disclosed that voters had approved Amendment 50.

Now, more than five months after the gambling changes took effect in July, McCallin says community colleges may receive just $2 million to $3 million from gambling taxes during the first year. Despite a sparkling first month, the Amendment 50 changes — which came as gamblers were cutting back on casino trips amid the economic recession — haven't boosted revenue by nearly as much as initially projected.

A Denver Post analysis based on the first five months of data shows colleges could receive $4.4 million during the first year, if business stays at the current pace."We knew that it was going to be a year where we didn't have a whole lot of information, and so we knew that any of the projections were going to be a guesstimate, at best," McCallin said last week.Community colleges won't receive gaming funds until September. As required by the measure, the money has to go toward classroom instruction and financial aid.McCallin said she won't make plans on how that money will specifically be used until May, when the budgeting process for fiscal 2011 begins.

This year, state funding for community colleges was cut from $142 million to $106 million, though much of that was made up with one-time federal funding, she said.For fiscal 2011, community colleges face an $11 million cut, with no assurance that federal funding will cover the gap."That's happening the same time when our enrollment is surging, so we're going to see some substantial cuts next year," McCallin said.

Casino revenue is up 8.5 percent this fiscal year, which began in July. Industry officials initially projected growth of 20 percent to 25 percent.In November, only Black Hawk casinos saw a revenue gain, posting a 13 percent increase, according to data released last week by the Colorado Division of Gaming. Central City and Cripple Creek casinos each reported declines of about 5 percent.

Even with lower-than-expected revenue from the changes, there are concerns among historic-preservation officials that community colleges are set to receive too much of the gambling tax. When voters approved casino gambling in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek nearly two decades ago, the intention was to use the tax revenue to help restore and preserve the historic mining towns.Dan Love, president of the board of directors of Colorado Preservation Inc., said community colleges stand to receive "a disproportionately large share" of the revenue.

As it stands now, existing recipients of gambling tax revenue, which include the state historical fund and general fund, would receive $97.7 million this fiscal year (a 3 percent increase from fiscal 2009), before regulatory expenses are subtracted. Anything generated above $97.7 million is earmarked for Amendment 50 recipients, with 78 percent going to community colleges and the rest going to the various casino cities and counties.

With a projected $106 million in gambling tax revenue for fiscal 2010, based on five months of data, Amendment 50 recipients would receive $8.3 million, before regulatory and other charges. After those charges, the Amendment 50 pot drops to an estimated $5.7 million."We weren't doing this for a single increase in funding," McCallin said. "We were in this for the longer term. And longer term, we know that the gaming industry will turn around as the economy turns around and we'll see increased revenue."