Archive for August, 2009

Harrah’s Casino Corporation has more gambling facilities across the United States than any other casino company. There is a Harrah’s casino in each major casino jurisdiction and in many other places as well – Atlantic City, Laughlin, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Reno; the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, and Colorado; and New Zealand. Harrah’s operates many Native American casinos as well. Until the Hilton casino group (Park Place Gaming) and Caesars Casinos merged in 1999, Harrah’s was the biggest gambling company in the world. Harrah’s gambling revenues are well over $1 billion a year. Harrah’s markets to middle America and features many tour packages for its customers.
The founding father of Harrah’s casinos started his gambling activities at Venice Beach, California. William F. Harrah was born in southern California in 1911. His father ran bingo halls and carnival gambling games in Venice Beach. Father and son discovered that gambling activities in a jurisdiction that really did not want gambling could be rather tenuous. The Depression years were also hard on them. They sought to practice their business activities elsewhere. When Nevada legalized casino gambling in 1931, it certainly appeared to be the place to go. Both Harrahs came to Reno in 1937, but by the time they did, young Bill had bought out his father’s interest in the business. Bill Harrah first opened a bingo parlor, but then turned to casinos.

Harrah, William F. - Gambling in America

William Harrah and his car collection.

Bill Harrah had learned lessons in California that he applied in Reno, lessons that the rest of the casino industry had to also learn if survival in a competitive world was desired. When others were operating downmarket “joints” that sought to extract money from players any way they could, including cheating, Harrah made customer service a top priority. He also was the first to put carpets on the casino floors. He sought to make casinos more respectable by having windows to the outside and by having women dealers. He also took new measures to control all flows of money at a time when other properties were victims of skimming by employees and others.
In 1955, Bill Harrah built a casino on the south shores of Lake Tahoe. He was warned that the location was too remote, but he took the chance that people would enjoy staying near the most beautiful lake in the Sierras. Harrah did find that the casino had a seasonal problem, as winter could restrict travel for all but those coming to the area to ski. In response to the problem, Bill Harrah developed a busing system to bring in players from all over California. This was an innovation that has now been imitated in almost all other U.S. jurisdictions.
Bill Harrah was a solitary owner of his property, and he mixed his private life into the business.  He had been indulged by his father from the time he was a small child, and with the casino profits he continued to indulge himself. He was a playboy (he was married seven times), he built personal retreats, and he developed an exquisite collection of automobiles that he maintained as a business expense. As he became older, he neglected his properties, and his excesses affected his bottom-line profits. In desperate need for funds, in 1971 he converted his personal empire into one of the first publicly traded corporate gambling properties. This gave him the funds to develop a high-rise tower at his Lake Tahoe casino. Every room in his tower had windows facing the lake and its surrounding mountains.
His personal excesses hurt his company through the 1970s, however. Harrah’s associates tried to persuade him that he should sell his assets, but he steadfastly refused. Months after he died in 1979, his executive attorney, Mead Dixon, negotiated a deal to sell all of Harrah’s properties to Holiday Inn for $300 million. Much of the money was used to pay estate taxes. Although the price was considered excessive at the time, Holiday Inn was able to realize over $100 million from selling Harrah’s car collection. A new management team led by Holiday’s Michael Rose and Dixon introduced management controls and policies that emphasized both financial responsibility and property upgrades. Existing casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City that carried the Holiday Inn name changed their signs to carry the Harrah name, and the empire began to move into every major casino jurisdiction in the United States and many beyond the borders of the country.

Tags: ,

Comments No Comments »

Haiti achieved its independence in a revolution against the French army in 1804. Haiti is the oldest black republic in the world, and, next to the United States, it is the oldest independent country in the Western Hemisphere. The “independence” must be qualified. The people of Haiti have not enjoyed a democratic freedom during many of its years. Most of its rulers have been dictators, and the country has remained under the commercial domination of many nations during its history.
In 1915 U.S. President Woodrow Wilson feared that other countries might invade Haiti because of its foreign debt.  He sought to enforce the Monroe Doctrine before it could be breached. Therefore, he had the U.S. Marines invade Haiti. They occupied the country until 1934. Although depriving the people of their autonomous status, the presence of U.S. troops did lead to an eradication of yellow fever and also to the construction of roads and a sewerage system. Governmental instability ensued when the marines left, but in 1957 stability returned with the election of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier as president. In 1964 he declared himself president for life. Upon his death in 1971, his son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, became the dictator.
In 1960 Papa Doc Duvalier guided the national legislature in passing a casino law. The timing was appropriate. Operators who were being thrown out of Cuba were seeking new venues. In truth the 1960 legislation was just a piece of paper that would justify Duvalier’s invitation for new casino entrepreneurs to come on in and make an offer. One casino, the International, had been established on the waterfront in Port-au-Prince in 1949. It had a reputation of being a Mob house from the start.
The 1960 law was not intended to be followed to the letter, if at all. The law provided that casinos could only be in hotels with 200 rooms. There were no such hotels in the entire country then, and there are none now. At least two casinos, in addition to the International, were free-standing gaming halls unattached to any hotel. The casinos could have only seven table games, and the games allowed were specified. The major casinos in operation in 1989 during my tour of the country had fifteen or more table games. They also had games that were not authorized. Additionally the casinos had slot machines.
Licenses for casino gaming were supposed to be granted by the minister of commerce. At the time of licensing the operators were supposed to present a deposit of $50,000 to the government to be held in the Central State Bank. This earnest money was to be returned to the operators when the casino actually began conducting gaming activity. One of the operators in 1989 had gone through the licensing procedure for his property. When I asked about the law, he laughed. He said the deposit was not $50,000, it was $250,000. The deposit was not given to the minister of commerce; it was given directly to Baby Doc Duvalier (when he was in power). The deposit was not returned to the casino when it began operations; it was never seen again.
The law provided that the casinos would pay an annual fee of $1,000 plus a tax of 40 percent on the gaming win. Individual casinos would work with the government to negotiate certain expenses that could be deducted from the tax obligation. The tax had been paid in the past. When Baby Doc was deposed in a coup d’etat in 1985, the tax collectors no longer came to the casinos. The operator that I interviewed in 1989 indicated that he had not paid taxes since the Duvaliers had been exiled. During the earlier years of the law, an additional 5 percent tax had been levied on players when they cashed in their chips – when they won. This tax was earmarked for the construction of the Duvalier International Airport in Port-au-Prince. When the airport was finally constructed, the tax collector no longer asked for the player win tax.

Haiti - Gambling in America

The Chaucon, a thatched roof casino in Petionville, near Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Foreigners were permitted to own the casinos; in fact, that was the desire of the government. They could have foreign dealers, but to do so, they had to get special work cards from the government for an undetermined price.
In 1989, during my visit, there were five casinos in the Port-au-Prince area. One, the Club 54 in the suburb of Petionville, was owned by Haitians. It was operating but in poor condition. As I entered the gaming area, a hen and four little chicks walked across the floor. The leading property was the El Rancho. It was also located in Petionville and was attached to a hotel with 125 rooms. A thatched-roof casino without a hotel was located on the main square of Petionville.  The Chaucon was owned by Mike McLaney, an American who had previously been involved with Cuban and Bahamian casinos. He had held the concession for the International from 1969 to 1976. In the capital city a small casino operated at a Holiday Inn, and a larger casino was at the eighty-five-room Royal Haitian Hotel. The casino, which opened in 1973, was also owned by McLaney. The International, enclosed by a chain-link fence, was in disrepair and out of business. It had been closed since McLaney gave it up in 1976.
In 1989 there were very few players at any of the facilities. In previous times – during the stable years of the Duvalier dictators – cruise ships touring the Caribbean would stop in Port-au-Prince, but by 1989 they no longer did so. A few stopped on the northern coast of Haiti, but there were no casinos there. Cruise ships ceased stopping in Haiti at all later in 1989. One week after my tour of the casinos, there was a coup d’etat, and gunfire filled crowded streets on which I had walked from the national palace to the International. Any chance of growing markets for the casinos ended with the gunfire.
Since 1989 there have been almost no tourists in Haiti. I may have been the last casino tourist. The government disintegrated into near anarchy, and in 1994, the U.S. Marines once again landed in order to preserve something – certainly not the U.S. casino property. The marines are still there.
Casino gaming is no longer of any importance. There may be some play from local residents, but the outward signs of poverty suggest things would be otherwise.

Tags: ,

Comments No Comments »

Guatemala - Gambling in AmericaGuatemala’s penal code of 1880 prohibits all gambling. One exemption to the law is given to the National Lottery organization that conducts a monthly game that benefits poor persons (both as employees of the lottery and as beneficiaries of programs supported by the lottery).
The penal code has also been totally ignored by others running gambling operations. In 1979 the brutal and corrupt regime of General Lucas Garcia authorized the opening of Club Monja Blanca in the penthouse of the Hotel Guatemala Fiesta in Guatemala City. A private group of operators consisted of expatriates from Cuba and Costa Rica. General Garcia’s military “henchmen” were quite interested in the daily revenues of the casino, as they took their “share” along with the government’s tax share. Very little of the take filtered down to the poverty programs that the casino was ostensibly supporting. The casino remained opened for three years. In 1982 General Rios Montt overthrew the Garcia government. Montt was a Fundamentalist Christian and was morally opposed to casino gambling. Even when he was overthrown by Mejia Victores in 1983, the casino remained closed. There is no casino gaming today, although certain business interests seek to keep the issue alive with the current civilian government.
Although casinos are closed, there is other authorized gambling that seems to violate the letter of the penal code. Private charities are permitted to run raffles and lottery games that include weekly drawings and instant tickets. Also, there is a large private bingo hall on the Avenida Reforma just one block from the Hotel Guatemala Fiesta.

Tags: ,

Comments No Comments »

The island of Guadeloupe in the French West Indies is a department of France.  With 687 square miles of land, it has 330,000 residents. Casino gaming appears to be a very small part of its tourism attractions. One gaming facility is located near the Meridien St. Francois and Hamak hotels and another on the grounds of the Hotel Arawak. The Gosier Beach Community also offers the Casino de Gosier Les Baines. The casinos do not have slot machines, and players must pay a fee to enter the gaming rooms.

Tags: ,

Comments No Comments »

Jackie Gaughan is very much Mr. Downtown Las Vegas. He is the principal owner of two anchor properties at the ends of the Fremont Street Experience: the Jackie Gaughan Plaza (formerly called the Union Plaza before he bought out his partners) where Fremont Street ends at Main Street and the El Cortez, a property built in 1941 and the oldest property in Las Vegas still bearing its original name. In between these gambling halls he owns the Western, the Gold Spike, and the Las Vegas Club. He operates only in downtown Las Vegas, where his five properties offer 37 percent of all the slot machines, 36 percent of the casino floor space, and 24 percent of the hotel rooms. He is a hands-on manager; he walks through each property every day, and he even lives in the penthouse of one of his casino-hotels – the El Cortez. The measure of his success is customer service.
Jackie Gaughan was born in Nebraska on 20 October 1920. He learned his gambling in the Midwest, and even today he especially caters to middle-class players from the Midwest. He is considered the biggest Nebraska Cornhusker football fan in Las Vegas. His grandfather had been a policeman who grew up in Ireland. His father strayed a bit from the line of law-abiding behavior – just a bit. He owned race horses, and he was a bookmaker. One of Jackie’s brothers was a bootlegger.
When Jackie was only sixteen years old and working as a messenger for other bookies, he started to take action on his own. He has been in the gambling business ever since. Soon he owned two bookie shops in Omaha. He also participated in casino gaming in the area. A change in the course of the Missouri River had left an enclave of Iowa on the Omaha side of the river.  Therefore, the Iowa authorities had to travel an inconvenient distance to patrol the area. A wise entrepreneur established the Chez Paris – an illegal casino. It was run by Jackie’s uncle. Jackie participated in the business.
Gaughan attended Creighton University before he joined the Air Corp in World War II. His gambling activity did not skip a beat, as he was soon running his games on a base near Tonopah, Nevada. That assignment brought him close to Las Vegas, and in 1943 he visited the city, stayed at the El Cortez, and established some lifelong contacts. By 1943 he was married; his son Michael was born the same year. In 1946, after the war ended, he borrowed money from his mother to purchase a small stake in a little Fremont Street casino called the Boulder Club. He remained in Omaha, keeping his fingers in “the business” there until 1951. When he came back to Las Vegas, he purchased a small piece of the Flamingo, which he held until 1968.
His tale became one of working incredibly long hours at several properties and slowly acquiring shares of the businesses where he worked. He especially liked sports betting, and he started the first exclusive sports and race book in the downtown area. Sports betting was always a part of each of his ventures.
In 1959, he bought the Las Vegas Club, and in 1963 he acquired the El Cortez. In 1971 he joined with several other local interests – Sam Boyd, Frank Scott, Kell Houssels, and Walter Zick – to create the Union Plaza casino. This was the most expensive new property up to that time in the downtown – costing $20 million. It was also the largest, with over 500 rooms and a 66,000-square-foot gaming floor. It was themed as a railroad casino, because it actually was (and still is) the station for the railroad that ran through Las Vegas. In the early 1980s the property added a second tower with a convention center and another 500-plus rooms. Until the Golden Nugget added two towers and a convention center, the Union Plaza was the only convention property downtown. In 1990 Gaughan acquired full control of the Union Plaza and changed its name. By then he also had the Western and Gold Spike – two smaller downtown casino hotels.
As a hands-on customer-oriented casino owner-operator, Jackie Gaughan has been an innovator. If he did not invent the Las Vegas Fun Book (a coupon book with bargains such as low-cost meals, free souvenirs, and chances for double money bets), he certainly perfected it and made it a basic tool for promotions in the community. He also started a constant line of promotional giveaways. He discovered that there were “professional” contest players who seemed to win most of the prizes while his out-of-town players and other regulars were left out. So he devised a special contest that has become synonymous with the El Cortez – the Social Security number drawing. By definition, no player could have more than one entry in the contest, and the players would have to come in every day to check the prize list. He also developed what he calls the Season Pass for players who win jackpots on his machines. The pass holders are given three weeknights free at one of his hotels quarterly for the next twelve months. It keeps ’em coming back.
Jackie Gaughan is one of the “old-timers” of Las Vegas. His methods are tried and true, and they still work in the market he goes after. The new breed of corporate gamers looks at operations a little differently. Michael Gaughan, Jackie’s son, has moved his attention to the Strip and also to the edges of town where he appeals to a new kind of “local” gambler and tourist. He has partners in his Coast Casino’s operations. He also has a major riverboat in the St. Louis market. Michael Gaughan is college educated, holding a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California, where he also studied computers. Computers drive Michael’s operations, but perhaps he is the bridge to the future, as he has not abandoned the basic lessons his father has taught – Michael talks the corporate game, but he walks the old timer walk with hands-on management. Despite the difference in their education, there is little doubt but that Michael is his father’s son.
Some time ago when I encountered Michael Gaughan at the Barbary Coast Casino in order to interview him for a customer service book, he was breathing hard and speaking rapidly in stop-and go-phrases. He had just completed his daily walkthrough of the casino, and he was reviewing and explaining the daily computerized report on each of his slot machines. He was indicating how each part of his property contributed to the bottom line, but mostly he was telling about the individual players he had just greeted by name. He told how he was striving to keep them happy and to keep them coming back time and time again. It was the kind of personalized service that one would not expect at a casino on the Las Vegas Strip, let alone a casino on the major corner of the Strip – Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard South.
Michael Gaughan carries on a strong family tradition – his younger brother works with his father’s properties – of being strong contributors to good causes in Las Vegas. The Gaughans are not only good gamers; they are good citizens for Las Vegas.

Tags: ,

Comments No Comments »

John W. “Bet a Million” Gates, who was born in 1855, became a fabulously wealthy man as a producer of barbed wire as the West was opening up for farmers and ranchers. He was also a big player and winner on the stock market, controlling the flows of wheat in the economy. Gates was not happy just being a businessman; he wanted more action. He found it in gambling activity. During the Gay Nineties and the few years afterwards, he became known as the biggest player anywhere. Gates would bet on anything: the flip of a coin, which piece of sugar would draw the most flies, which raindrop on a window pane would fall to the bottom first. He would bet up to a dollar a point at bridge. Although he probably never bet a million dollars on a single play, he certainly won and lost several hundreds of thousands of dollars at a single sitting. A 1902 game of faro at Richard Canfield’s Saratoga Casino cost Gates $400,000 one afternoon. The same evening he won back $150,000.
Gates dressed like the millionaire he was (until his later years), wearing several diamonds on his shirt. He played with other millionaires, such as Cornelius Vanderbilt and Diamond Jim Brady, usually on cross-country train, or in exclusive hotel rooms. He also loved the horses.
Gates was very philosophical about his play. He explained why he had to wager such large amounts of money: “For me there’s no fun in betting just a few thousand. I want to bet enough to hurt the other fellow if he loses, and enough to hurt me if I lose”. A lot of people got hurt when he played. He hurt the most. Like the other “big players,” he lost more than he won, and he often was “the sucker”. He played the stock market heavily until he lost most of his fortune in the panic of 1907. Soon afterwards, he swore off all gambling, suggesting of the stock market that “sometimes the bulls win, sometimes the bears win, but the hogs never win”. In 1909, he testified to a group of Methodist ministers in Texas, pleading: “Don’t gamble, play cards, bet on horses, speculate on wheat or the stock exchange, and don’t shirk honest labor. Don’t be a gambler, once a gambler, always a gambler”. Preaching to the choir. Tom Grey, of the National Coalition against Legalized Gambling, could not have expressed it any clearer. “Bet a Million” Gates died a humble man at the age of fifty-six in 1911.

Tags: ,

Comments No Comments »

Alberta Gaming Research Institute
Recommendations came from the Alberta Lotteries and Gaming Summit ’98 for the government to spend more money on gaming research. The Alberta Gaming Research Institute was established in November 1999 in response to those recommendations. The purpose of the institute, which is a consortium of the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, and Lethbridge, is to sponsor research of gaming-related topics such as the social impacts of gaming, aboriginal gaming issues, and trends in gaming.
The institute supports the collaborative research efforts of faculty researchers, graduate students, visiting scholars, and postdoctoral fellows. The Alberta Gaming Research Council directs most of the Institute’s research activities. Its fourteen members, who represent both the public and government sectors, have been appointed to serve for three years.
For the first three years, $1.5 million per year has been allocated to the institute from the Alberta Lottery Fund. The Alberta government earmarked an additional $3.4 million from the Alberta Lottery Fund for 1999–2000 to go to the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) to provide support for the prevention of problem gambling, education, and treatment programs.
The Alberta Gaming Research Institute has a web site that provides some basic information, including historical background, the purpose of the institute, its organization, budget, and how it operates. The site also has links that provide access to information about gaming in Alberta, research and education, legislation, various reports, business plans, news releases and updates, and forms.

The Canadian West Foundation
The Canadian West Foundation (CWF) – a nonprofit research institute – was established in 1970 to pursue research and to promote civic education in Canadian public policy. The CWF sponsors conferences on myriad policy issues and has an active publication program. In 1998, the CWF embarked upon a three-year “gambling in Canada” project. They have explored:
(1) the impact of gambling on the nonprofit sector;
(2) opinions, attitudes, and public policy implications of gambling;
(3) the history and scope of gambling in Canada;
(4) the socioeconomic impact of gambling on communities. A series of monographs has been published as a result of the project.
The CWF is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. The gambling research project has been directed by Jason J. Azmier and has been supported by researchers including Garry Smith, Harold Wynne, and Colin Campbell.

Australian Institute for Gambling Research
The Australian Institute for Gambling Research (AIGR) is a research center located at the University of Western Sydney (UWS).  It is the only independent national center of gambling studies in Australia. The AIGR has an advisory board with representatives from both the community and academia. It has a worldwide reputation for in-depth gaming research, including the areas of policy and social impacts.
The AIGR was established in 1993 with a grant from UWS and was supported through the collaborative efforts of experienced Australian researchers. UWS was instrumental in appointing Australia’s first faculty Chair of Gaming, and in January 1997 Prof. Jan McMillen was named executive director of the AIGR, broadening the research focus of the Institute.
The AIGR has received various research grants from the Australian Research Council as well as Australian and international governments. This has resulted in the publication of articles in scholarly journals, as well as books and research reports. The AIGR is involved in community service and engages community groups in its research programs. AIGR researchers also provide voluntary service to the community.
The Library and Information Services of UWS supports the needs of the AIGR. Its gambling collection has over 1,000 items, including reports, videos, journals, games, books, and newspaper clippings. The AIGR sponsors various annual conferences related to gaming issues.

European Association for the Study of Gambling
The European Association for the Study of Gambling (EASG), located in the Netherlands, strives to improve communication among its members, who represent many different areas of the European gaming industry. It also provides a forum for the study, discussion, and dissemination of knowledge about European gambling issues.
The EASG is concerned with promoting comparative studies of questions regarding: historical, economic, and social impacts of gambling; developmental and regulatory gambling issues; ethical management and marketing of gaming; and pathological gambling issues, including prevention and treatment programs.
EASG membership is open to both individuals and institutions affiliated with the gaming industry, either within or outside Europe, as well as to academic researchers. The association is governed by an executive committee, which includes a chairman and several subordinate officers.
The association’s web site provides some pertinent information about gambling and gaming literature.  It also highlights several international gaming conferences and provides links to related web sites.

Lionel, Sawyer, and Collins
Lionel, Sawyer, and Collins, a Las Vegas law firm, is the world’s leading gaming law firm. The firm was founded in 1967 by Samuel Lionel and Grant Sawyer, the retiring governor of the state of Nevada (see Sawyer, Grant). One of their first functions was conducted under the leadership of attorney Robert Faiss. He helped pen significant amendments to the Nevada Gaming Control Act. In subsequent years, the firm continued its assistance in drafting gambling regulatory bills for legislative consideration. The firm has also been the leading sponsor creating the International Gaming Law Association, and attorney Anthony Cabot served as a coeditor of the Gaming Law Review (with Joseph Kelly). No other law firm has published as many law materials on gambling. Cabot is a leader in the publication efforts, having served as the senior coeditor on three editions of International Casino Law. He also has been the author or senior contributor to Nevada Gaming Law, Federal Gaming Law, Legalized Gambling in Nevada, Casino Gaming Policy, Economics and Regulation, and Casino Credit and Collection Law.

Conclusion
As worldwide interest in gaming grows, it is expected that many more institutions will be formed to study, teach about, and manage the industry. Proponents and opponents of gambling will continue to coexist and to debate the social, political, and economic gaming issues. Gaming research education, regulation, and lobbying by gaming organizations will continue.

Tags: ,

Comments No Comments »

The Special Collections Department at UNLV’s main campus library serves as a central research repository for information relating to gambling and commercial gaming as it developed in Las Vegas and became an international model for the industry. Special Collections houses materials that provide important documentation of the history of gaming, casinos, and entertainment in Las Vegas. The collections document the history and statistical basis of games and gambling; the economics and regulation of the gaming industry; psychological, social, and political effects of gambling; and the history of specific Las Vegas hotels and casinos.  Significant collections have been developed in the related fields of organized crime and prostitution. Cultural aspects of gaming are represented in collections of literature and periodicals concerning Las Vegas and gambling, as well as in photographs and motion pictures. The Taxe Collection is an important resource for the study of nineteenth-century gaming.

Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming
The Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming was established by the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1989. It was the first academically oriented program of its kind. The institute promotes the understanding of gambling and the commercial gaming industries and encourages research and learning.
William Eadington is director of the institute. He has international recognition as an authority on the legalization and regulation of commercial gambling and is a prolific author concerning economic and social impacts in the commercial gaming arena.  Professor Eadington organized several conferences, including the International Conferences on Gambling and Risk Taking, between 1974 and 1997. He has also edited a variety of gaming publications.
The institute serves as an important resource for Nevada’s major industry. It also responds to public information and research requests, maintains contact with domestic and International media, and directs an annual Executive Development Program, as well as gaming management education for the College of Business Administration.

Centre for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming
Located at the University of Salford, Manchester, England, the Centre for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming was established by a consortium of companies to actively research and encourage serious discussion of the gaming industry and to offer university students options for pursuing careers in gaming. The increasing attention to the national lottery in England has led to the perception that the country is deficient in academic- and government-sponsored research on gambling. The centre is a response to the need for examining policy alternatives and economic issues with respect to the gaming industry.
The objective of the centre is to encourage scholarly research and teaching in all aspects of gambling and commercial gaming. It provides a reference point for individual scholars and researchers interested in the economic, social, cultural, and mathematical studies of gaming, and emphasis is given to its policy, regulatory, and organizational aspects. The centre provides a sequence of courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels that fall under the area of business economics with gambling studies. The series of courses introduces students to some of the practical problems associated with gaming and gambling and provides a firm foundation in the basic principles of economic theory and quantitative economics. The degree course of economics and gambling is designed to establish a good base for a career in management, finance, or marketing.

National Indian Gaming Association
The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) was established in 1985 as a nonprofit organization. As of 2001, its members include 168 Indian nations and 55 nonvoting associate members representing organizations, tribes, and businesses engaged in tribal gaming enterprises from around the country. NIGA has an executive committee headed by a chairman and other officers, including delegates from tribal nations around the United States. The association’s headquarters are located in Washington, D.C. NIGA’s common commitment and purpose are to advance the lives of Indian peoples economically, politically, and socially. Its stated mission is to protect and preserve the general welfare of tribes striving for self-sufficiency through gaming enterprises in Indian country.  To fulfill its mission, NIGA works with the federal government and the U.S. Congress to develop sound policies and practices and to provide technical assistance and advocacy on gaming-related issues. NIGA also seeks to maintain and protect Indian sovereign governmental authority in Indian country.
NIGA operates a Library and Resource Center that houses and provides educational research materials related to Indian gaming and other issues affecting Native Americans. To facilitate its research objectives, the center is attempting to gather data to document the historic impacts of Indian gaming on tribal communities and governments as well as on their non-Indian neighbors via the development of a National Indian Gaming Survey. The National Indian Gaming Library’s education goal is to become the most comprehensive library of printed material on Indian gaming in the country. The center also has a web site that includes basic information about Indian gaming, a searchable database, and an impressive set of links to other Native American web sites. Its “virtual library” has more than fifty research and impact studies related to Indian gaming available online. NIGA also publishes a monthly newsletter that provides updates on legislative activities, Indian gaming casinos, and related national events.

American Gaming Association
In 1993, major gaming/casino executives discussed forming a trade association to represent their industry to the nation and the powers that be in Washington. As a result of these talks, the office of the American Gaming Association (AGA) opened in Washington, D.C., in June 1995. Its primary purpose is to promote a better understanding of the gaming entertainment industry by providing the general public, elected officials, other decision makers, and the media with facts about the industry through education and advocacy.
The AGA represents the commercial casino entertainment industry by speaking to federal legislative and regulatory issues that affect its members and their employees and customers. Some of these issues include federal taxation, regulation, and travel and tourism.
The AGA has an aggressive public education program designed to convey the industry’s message to key audiences in Washington and throughout the country. It provides leadership and guidance when new issues emerge and in developing industry-wide programs in response to important issues such as problem and underage gambling. As the industry’s first national clearinghouse, the AGA provides timely and accurate gaming industry data to the media, elected officials, other decision makers, and the general public.
The association has approximately eighty members from different organizations affiliated with the gaming industry, including casinos and equipment manufacturers, suppliers and vendors, companies that provide professional and financial services, a pari-mutuel/sports book, and a variety of associations, publications, and unions. The AGA’s membership also includes some of the most recognizable names in the industry, including Harrah’s Entertainment, International Game Technology, Mandalay Resort Group, MGM Mirage, Park Place Entertainment, Gtech, and the Nevada Resort Association. The AGA is supported by dues from its member casinos and organizations.
The AGA’s web site has a section on its publications, which includes selected articles from the AGA’s membership newsletter, Inside the AGA, and third-party newsletter, AGA Ally. There is a library of AGA documents and studies, which can be received through the mail. The web site also includes gaming industry videos available for viewing online; Media Updates, which contains the AGA’s latest press releases, speeches, op-eds, letters to the editor, and archival materials from 1995 to 2000; and Member Services, which contains information about member benefits. The American Gaming Association was also instrumental in establishing the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) in 1996.

National Center for Responsible Gaming
The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG), located in Kansas City, Missouri, is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 1996. It is the first and only funding source dedicated solely to scientific research on gambling disorders, particularly problem and underage gambling. Its mission is to assist individuals and families affected by problem gambling disorder and eliminate underage gambling by:
Supporting the finest peer-reviewed basic and applied research on gambling disorders.
Encouraging the application of new research findings to improve prevention, diagnostic, intervention and treatment strategies.
Enhancing public awareness of problem and underage gambling.
The NCRG is a division of the Gaming Entertainment Research and Education Foundation and is governed by a board of directors. The membership of the board includes representatives of the gaming industry and leaders from the civic, charitable, educational, community, and public service sectors.
The center is supported financially by the commercial casino industry and has received pledges of over $7 million from gaming and gaming-related organizations. The NCRG administers its research grant program using peer review panels. Panel members, who are recognized as experts in their areas, follow review procedures and criteria guided by rigorous standards established by the National Institutes of Health to evaluate the scientific merit of proposals submitted to the NCRG (a list of members who have served on the panel from 1997 to 2000 is available on the NCRG’s web site). The center has granted $2.5 million to renowned research and medical centers, such as Harvard Medical School, in support of research in the fields of neuroscience, behavioral and social science, and epidemiology. Ideally, these research projects will help to expand our knowledge about gaming disorders and lead to effective prevention and treatment programs.

The National Coalition against Legalized Gambling
Tom Grey is the leading spokesperson against the spread of gambling in North America. He is director of the National Coalition against Gambling.The National Coalition against Legalized Gambling (NCALG) is the creation of its executive director, Tom Grey. Grey, a Vietnam infantry veteran and a United Methodist minister, became concerned about gambling in 1991. Grey was a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, and he had led four congregations. He was pastoring a Methodist church in his hometown, Galena, Illinois. Illinois has authorized riverboat casinos, and an operator expressed interest in running a boat out of Galena. Grey supported a local referendum vote against the proposal. Over 80 percent of the local voters said no to the idea of a local casino. Nonetheless the county commissioners supported the casino, and in 1992, the Illinois Gaming Board ignored local opinion and awarded a license for the Galena site. Grey was incensed, and very soon he found that a lot of people around the country were faced with the same problem – having casinos placed near their communities in face of local opposition. Grey decided to organize these opposition forces.
In May 1994, Grey brought together a group of opponents as the NCALG, and he structured a network of people in almost every state as well as in Canada. He began holding annual conferences and issuing a newsletter. The NCALG established the National Coalition against Gambling Expansion to serve as its political activity arm. The NCALG makes education its top priority.  It provides research, information, and technical support to those battling the expansion of gambling. Staff leaders – especially Grey – travel the country helping local groups organize in grassroots efforts to oppose gambling. They help build bridges to other local groups that do not want legalized gambling. The e-mail net of the NCALG serves as a clearing house for antigambling information.
Tom Grey and his groups have challenged gambling proponents wherever they have appeared. The campaigns are ongoing, and Grey finds himself traveling about the country, usually driving by himself, popping into communities, dining at church suppers, and being a house guest of local clergy. He then energizes the local population by providing facts and speaking with the local media and key community leaders. He offers a zeal that is usually associated with the pulpit. One political consultant labeled the sixty-year-old Grey (born in 1941) as the gambling industry’s nemesis: “Our most dangerous man in America” (U.S. News and World Report, 15 January 1996, 52). Grey and his coalitions have seen major victories as well as defeats. He was instrumental in getting Congress to establish the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which began work in 1997. The efforts of the groups defeated casino gambling in Ohio, Arkansas, and Florida but fell short in Michigan. They were key in the fights to defeat a lottery in Alabama and to close down slot machine operations in South Carolina.

Tags: ,

Comments No Comments »

The rapid growth of legalized gambling, both domestic and international, has been responsible for the number of organizations being formed in recent years to analyze, teach, manage, and research many areas of the gaming industry and to train personnel to work in the industry. There is a great need for understanding and planning when evidence of social, economic, and political effects is seen as a result of gambling. The associations and institutes presented in this entry vary in purpose and size, but all of them have the common objective of managing information related to the gaming industry.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, International Gaming Institute
The International Gaming Institute (IGI) is part of the College of Hotel Administration located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). The institute was started in 1993 to provide executive development programs, seminars, training, classes, and conferences for the gaming industry and for gaming regulators. The IGI utilizes experts in gaming and hospitality industries to provide a unique learning environment in its casino lab and support facilities as well as in Las Vegas casino/resorts and gaming-related businesses. The institute has five centers: Gaming Regulation Center, Publication and Information Center, Hospitality Research and Development Center, Gaming Management and Development Center, and the International Gaming Technologies (IGT) Gaming Resource Center.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, International Gaming Institute - Gambling in AmericaGaming Regulation Center
The purpose for the Gaming Regulation Center at IGI is to create a venue where gaming regulators can meet to discuss topics on public policy and the regulation of gaming. The center conducts seminars on law enforcement for gaming regulators, background and licensing investigation procedures, casino auditing, surveillance, and financial issues relating to casinos.
Publication and Information Center
The IGI has authored or sponsored several publications relating to the casino industry, and these are made available through the Institute’s Publication and Information Center. One objective of the IGI is to conduct research for the gaming industry, and toward this end, the IGI publishes a biannual academic journal, the Gaming Research and Review Journal. This professional journal is dedicated entirely to research and management of gaming operations, and it is designed to benefit gaming operators, industry consultants and researchers, government policymakers, and regulators.
Hospitality Research and Development Center
The Hospitality and Development Center (HRDC) is part of the University’s College of Hotel Administration, a situation that allows the HRDC to draw upon the experience of faculty members who are experts in the hospitality industry. HRDC provides nongaming educational seminars and workshops, customized executive programs, market research and customer surveys, expert witness testimony, and sessions on time management and team building.
Gaming Management and Development Center
The Gaming Management and Development Center designs, coordinates, and markets seminars as well as contracting conferences, seminars, and symposia for the gaming and casino industry. Seminar topics include table game management, mathematics of table games, slot volatility, game protection, casino marketing, analysis of customer game participation, rebates on losses, gaming financial issues, managing human resources in the gaming industry, several general management and leadership issues, and customer service. The center also offers a fast-track, rigorous Gaming Management Certificate Program, which focuses on several key areas of casino management.
The International Gaming Technologies Gaming Resource Center
The IGT Gaming Resource Center offers reference and referral services for researchers, businesspeople, and students. Referrals for questions beyond the resources of the center sometimes lead to gaming professors, government agencies, gaming organizations, and gaming resources in other libraries. The core of the IGT Gaming Resource Center is the Gary Royer Gaming Collection, an extensive compilation of documents and information relating to gaming.

Tags: ,

Comments 3 Comments »

Gambling Systems - Gambling in AmericaAs gambling is as old as human existence, so too are the attempts to beat the game. Players have used cheating schemes and have also used more or less legitimate systems and strategies for winning from the first moment that cards were dealt or dice were rolled. Although the basic truth is that an honest random game cannot be beaten, systems can indeed be effective.  At times they can produce wins that are beyond normal expectations. But more often systems can be used to protect a player from excessive losses or to maximize playing time when the player is seeking game play for entertainment.
The most effective winning systems are tied to games in which skill is a greater factor than luck in determining winners. Applications of systematic play can produce results in live poker games, at blackjack tables, and with sports and horse-race betting. The most important part of systematic play is having a full knowledge of the odds in the game; for instance, knowing the likelihood that particular cards will be dealt at a particular moment. In a player-banked game such as poker, the systematic player will also be cognizant of his or her bankroll and the bankroll of opponents. Systematic skills at poker also involve being able to “read” the other players; that is, finding “tells” or mannerisms that might reflect the strength of their hands. Another essential skill at poker or at other games involving calculations and interpretations of situations is the ability to have a clear head; for instance, the skill to remain fully sober during play. In blackjack, good playing strategies keep the house edge down to one or two percentage points. Card-counting strategies, however, if properly executed, can give the player a positive return, as discussed in Edward Thorpe’s book, Beat the Dealer.
Sports bettors can gain an edge over the casino by carefully studying records of teams and game situation histories. The sport bettor can use information to assess the likelihood that one team will win a game or the likelihood that it will win by a certain margin. The sports bettor has an advantage over the casino in that the casino oddsmakers are not assessing the results they feel will occur in the game but rather are assessing how the betting public will play the game. For instance, the casino knows that players will favor teams such as Michigan and Notre Dame in their betting. Given this situation, the casino will add greater handicaps to these teams. When the oddsmakers think Notre Dame will beat Northwestern by eleven points, they put the point spread at fifteen points, knowing that half of the public will bet on each side of the game at that level. The true student of the game with no emotional attachment to either team will see that Northwestern has a definite advantage in the betting situation. That player is getting an extra four points by betting on Northwestern. As long as the betting is balanced on both sides, the casino does not care who wins or loses. The casino is hurt only if the betting is heavily on one side. In such cases, it will move the point line to seek an adjustment. If the casino move the line too much—more than two or three points – the smart, skillful bettors will bet when the spread is low on one team and when it is high on the other team and hope they can win on both sides.
In horse-race betting, most systems are also based upon having full information and records about a horse’s pedigree and prior experiences in similar situations (dry track, muddy track, long race course, short race course). Again, the odds that will be given on a particular horse are balanced, according to how other bettors are making wagers on the race. If one bettor gets better information or can better analyze information, he or she can make money on the wagers. One system assumes that the bettors on first-place horses – the win bets = are knowledgeable. Therefore, the system player analyzes betting on the board (at the track or at an offtrack betting parlor). He or she sees the possible return on the favorite. It might be two for one – a $4 payout for a $2 wager. The next best horses may pay off $10, $12, or $14. The bettor then looks at the bets to show – that is, that the horse will finish in one of the first three places. This is a different pool. The other bettors might overlook the favorite here, and that horse’s return could be $3 compared to $4, $5, and $6 on the other horses. This is proportionally much more favorable to the favorite. Under the system, a bettor placing his or her money on the favorite to finish in one of the top three places can gain a very good edge on the others and even on the track, which takes away up to 20 percent from the pool of bets.
In games involving skillful choices, systems can provide an edge, as most of these games – even when house banked (as sports betting is) – pit one player’s skill against that of other players. In luck games such as roulette, baccarat, or craps, however, the player is foolish to believe he or she can sustain an edge over the house with any system. Of course, with luck, any system can provide short-term winnings, but so too can luck do that for a nonsystem player. Systems can help with managing the player’s money, but every system first directs the player toward finding the best bets on the table. For instance, system players at craps would avoid all but the pass/come bets combined with the odds bets.  Blackjack betters would avoid insurance bets, and roulette bettors would seek out wheels with only one zero and would not bet on a five-number combination at a double-zero wheel. The optimum bet would be one offering en prison on a single-zero wheel, preferably in England, where tipping is prohibited.
Bettors playing total chance games have pursued several systems with some frequency over the centuries wherever the games have been played. One very simple system is called flat betting. Under this system the bettor simply bets the same amount every time. At games such as blackjack, the player would double down and split when it was advantageous to do so. At a roulette game, such players would bet on even-money choices such as red and black. Which way they bet would make no difference. They could bet pass or no-pass on a craps table whether they thought the table was hot or cold, but it would make no difference. Using this system or strategy, the player can be assured that over the long run, he or she will lose at the rate of the house percentage. As the house edge is 5 percent or less, the system can sustain a long time of play. A streak of luck can provide the player with a win. And the one big advantage all players have, but reluctantly use, is that they can walk away from the game at any time. The casinos really cannot do that.
The most popular system, one that has broken many players but never a casino, is called the Martingale Progressive System. In this system the player raises bets by doubling them after losses. If the first bet is $1 on red and it is a loss, the player next bets $2 on red. A player who wins goes back to betting $1 dollar the next time. If he or she loses again, the next bet is $4. Another loss and he or she bets $8, then $16, then $32 if there are five losses in a row. The player is now putting $32 at risk. A player who wins is $1 ahead. A player who loses is risking in turn $64 and then $128, all in order to get ahead by $1. This system is very much dependent upon the nerve of the gambler. Will he or she really be willing to put out $64 in a bet after losing six in a row, when he or she started out with a $1 bet in hopes of winning $1? But even more than nerve, there is the question of house limits. The limits usually involve a spread of 100 times or less. In this case, if the player has seven losses, he or she is forced to bet $128 to get the $1 win. A $1 table will probably have an upper limit of $100 for bets, so the system can no longer be used. The laws of probability and streaks indicate that with thousands of rolls of dice or wheels, there will be streaks occurring with some regularity. Wheels turn up red seven or eight times every night. The same is true for odds and evens and for high and low numbers. The streak can kill the system player, wiping out his or her bankroll very quickly. If, on the other hand, the player is betting with the streak, he or she wins only $1 each time. In a streak of seven, the player loses $131 if he or she is on the wrong side but wins $7 on the right side.
Cognizant of these facts and the fact that wheels and dice do indeed follow streaks, some of the Martingale Progressive System players will watch a wheel (or dice table) several minutes and wait for a streak to develop. Then depending upon their disposition, after five or six reds in a row, they will start their system by playing black, or if they sense a wheel bias, by continuing to bet on red. All of this is a futile exercise, assuming that the casino does monitor its wheel against biases, because the wheel does not remember what it has rolled the previous five times, ten times, or ten thousand times. The casinos with roulette and baccarat games encourage these Martingale System players by furnishing them with pencils and paper so they can track the numbers on the wheels. They also publish books of numbers for the past month, or past year, to try to get players to practice their systems. Evidently, the casinos are not afraid of the Martingale. Nor are they afraid of Great Martingale systems that find the bettor tripling bets after losses.
A cancellation system is offered as a sure winner. The bettor writes down three numbers, 1, 2, and 3. He or she now bets $4, the total of the first and third digits (1+3). A player who wins cancels out the 1 and 3 and bets $2. A winner cancels out the 2 and starts over. If he or she loses, he or she adds the $2 loss to the 2 and now bets $4. A player who wins crosses off 4 from the total and starts over. A player who loses adds the 4 to the 1, 2, and 3 and bets 5 (4 + 1). Wins bring the player back to the 1, 2, 3. Although under this system one can show a profit with an even number of wins and losses, streaks can be as deadly as with the Martingale.
Another more simple system suggests that the player should go with the flow, raising bets one unit whenever there is a win and lowering them one unit (or keeping the original bet amount) when there is a loss. Under this method, over the span of play the player should be able to keep his or her losses within the house percentages.
Casinos as an entertainment experience offer play at house games. The best systems cannot change that fact. Good money management demands the ability to set limits. The player should determine his or her budget before play begins and be willing to walk away from the tables when the budget is spent. If the player wishes to sustain play over a period of time for enjoyment of the games, the initial bet should not exceed 1 percent of his or her bankroll. The player should also consider a winning limit. If with a $100 bankroll the player achieves wins of $20, he or she should remove this amount from the bankroll and play it no more during that session. A player who experiences a streak of more than five or six bets should pause and consider going to another table or game.

Tags: ,

Comments 1 Comment »