Man .vs slot machine

July 16, 2012 9:46 am

Casino supporters, including many elected officials, argue that gambling is just another form of entertainment. But this story in The New York Times underscores how much more is at stake than a fun night on the town. In short, many gamble to pay bills and many slots players quickly become addicted.

When gamblers lose – which is inevitable over time - they often take their anger and frustration out on the slot machine. Since a slots barn opened at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens last October, the police have arrested 41 people accused of damaging slot machines. (There have also been 19 arrests of casino customers for larceny, mostly picking pockets, and 19 arrests for assault, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.)

Those accused of beating up a gambling machine are charged with criminal mischief in the third degree, which carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail, according to the Times. “I hit the machine because I lost five grand,” a 34-year-old man, identified in court records as Jashim Uuddin, said after he caused $2,000 in damage with a punch in January, according to the authorities. He was sentenced to 70 hours of community service.

Last week, Douglas Batiste, 59, was arrested for disturbing the peace at a casino in Louisiana. Upset by a losing streak, Batiste urinated on the offending slot machine, according to authorities.

Even when some gamblers win, they lose. In 2010, a court ruled a truck driver from Des Moines could not claim nearly $10,000 he won at an Iowa casino because at the time he was banned for punching a slot machine.

So much for the fun and games.

NY casino strikes gold

June 19, 2012 2:09 pm

The racino at the Aqueduct race track in Queens is taking in almost $2 million a day from gamblers. The average daily haul makes the New York casino the highest grossing slots joint in the country. (Since the racino is owned by Genting, much of the profits end up in Malaysia where the company is located.)

The Resorts World racino at Aqueduct generated $57.5 million in revenue in May, down slightly from the $59 million it made in March. However, the May figure surpassed the $55.4 million in revenue gamblers dumped in the slot machines at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. That made Resorts World the highest grossing casino in terms of slots revenue. That also means the casino is stripping nearly $2 million a day in wealth from the pockets of New Yorkers.

The racino’s success is due largely to its New York City location. It also underscores why Genting and other casino operators are salivating at the prospects of expanding or locating in New York. Resorts World currently only offers slot machines.

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports the expansion to full-blown casinos, which would likely attract even more gamblers. That explains Genting’s huge financial support for a nonprofit with close ties to Cuomo. The New York Times recently reported that Genting gave $400,000 to the nonprofit advocacy group called the Committee to Save New York. While that figure may seem like a lot it is less than one day’s haul from the slots in Aqueduct.

In addition to Genting, unknown gambling interests gave another $2 million to the Committee to Save New York. The donations poured in just as Cuomo ramped up his support for legalizing casinos in New York. The idea for casinos reportedly came during a fundraiser for Cuomo in Westchester. (See the excellent Times editorial here calling for more sunlight on the gambling process.)

As a candidate for governor, Cuomo didn’t even mention casino as part of his policy initiatives. Now he is busy trying to change the state Constitution to allow casinos, a move that will generate increased social and economic costs across the state. The shift shows how the casino industry’s deep pockets are driving public policy in Albany.

More casinos in New York is not the answer

January 5, 2012 10:35 am

Not even all of the gamblers in New York want casinos. Clyde Hyberman details how more casinos hardly the answer for New York in his fine piece for The New York Times today.

Here’s the money quote from a woman who just got done losing money in a slot machine at a racino at a racetrack in Queens: “I’d rather keep it all in Atlantic City,” she said. “It’s too tempting to have it close to home, especially for younger people who don’t have much money.”

Hyberman also pointed out how revenues from casinos are an unreliable way to fund a government: ”A report last month from PricewaterhouseCoopers said that Atlantic City’s gambling revenue, which totaled $5.2 billion in 2006, had shriveled to $3.3 billion in 2011, and would shrink further, to $2.8 billion, by 2015.”

He keenly pointed out how casinos have tried to turn gambling into “gaming” and upscale entertainment when in reality it’s about taking money from the most vulnerable: “The image that casinos try to project is one of glamour, as if they were filled with James Bonds and Carrie Bradshaws. The reality is more like that of the state-run numbers game known as the lottery. Customers tend to be the working poor, praying that God has nothing else on his plate but to smile on them,” Hyberman wrote.

“Gambling is, and always has been, all about finding ways to get suckers to part with their money,” said E. J. McMahon, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “And the poor suckers are usually poorer or, at best, subsistence.”

Horse racing .vs casinos

December 14, 2011 11:53 am

You can practically smell the stale cigar smoke after this New York Times reporter spends a day at the Aqueduct Racetrack painting a vivid, but sad picture of a father and son who go their separate gambling ways at the old track and new adjoining casino.

What’s most striking is how fast slots gamblers blow through their money compared with those at the track. The story also shows the addictive and destructive nature of casinos. The Aqueduct slots parlor opened Oct. 28 and already Anthony Monk Jr., the son featured in the story, is hooked.

“Unemployed since April after not getting enough work as a chimney sweep, Anthony called electronic craps his new job,” The Times reports. “He relies on previous winnings and his earnings from infrequent odd jobs to finance his play. He used to travel in from Newark or Brooklyn three days a week, but he started gambling every day after being one of 65,000 people to pack the racino on its opening weekend.”

It’s a joke for someone to think they can make a living playing slots, given how bad the odds are stacked against them. Monk’s father at least got a day of entertainment from the $20 he spent at the racetrack. None of gamblers featured in the piece seemed to turn much of a profit but at least the track was not bankrupting Monk’s father, Tony Sr. The same probably can’t be said for Anthony Monk and the thousands of other gamblers wasting their time and money at the slots parlor.