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Tracks seeking huge, destructive casino expansion

A video poker table at the Casino at the Fairgrounds in Albuquerque. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

A video poker table at the Casino at the Fairgrounds in Albuquerque. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

The five New Mexico racetracks have enlisted a financial analysis from Union Gaming Analytics regarding a proposed massive expansion of gambling. They have also generated a 38-page piece of legislation outlining the compact-busting proposal.

As is the case with all gambling industry economic forecasts, the projections for employment, income and tax revenue are unbelievable and fantastic. Union predicts that there would be a $40 million increase in tax revenue from the tracks, but if the state approved the track plan, the tribes would be excused from making their $70 million a year in revenue sharing, resulting in a $30-million-per-year loss to the state.

And it just gets worse. Passing the legislation would result in changes in casino operations that would make their gambling much more addictive. A partial list of the proposed changes includes the following:

Alcohol on the casino floor. Allowing alcohol on the casino floor would reduce healthy inhibitions and result in irresponsible increases in gambling.

ATMs available on the casino floor. Stepping off the casino floor to get cash can often bring a gambler to his or her senses and encourage him or her to keep on walking.

Markers (casino credit) available to casino gamblers. Casinos in Illinois and other states have been known to go after a gambler’s home to capture their delinquent casino loan amount.

Unlimited numbers of slot machines. Sometimes waiting in line to get a favorite slot machine, or any slot machine, can discourage a gambler from initiating a gambling binge.

24-hour gambling . A casino is much more likely to have a higher proportion of gambling addicts on the floor at 2 a.m. than during the day. Where 24-hour-a-day gambling is allowed, gambling addicts have been known to spend 18 to 30 hours straight at a slot machine, with drinks and snacks provided by the casino.

Real-time Gaming Control Board central monitoring of slot machine activity terminated. Live monitoring of slot machine activity, now required, helps to prevent fraud at the casinos.

Online casino gambling. This is the most dangerous of all the proposed changes. Setting up a gambling account with a racetrack online or via telephone doesn’t look too challenging for an enterprising teenager. Once the account is set up and cash appropriated, online gambling would be available on any smartphone, tablet, pad or computer. Your own personal, portable online casino.

Studies at the University of Connecticut in the U.S. and at the University of Lethbridge in Canada have both shown online gambling to be the most addictive form of gambling. Both studies indicate that you are likely to get addicted if you regularly gamble online.

In the U.K., where online gambling is legal, online promoters have been shown to particularly target teens and young adults. Twitter users under the age of 18 who follow popular sports accounts in the UK are being “bombarded” with online gambling ads, according to an investigation by The Times of London. Researchers have previously found that more than half of 16-year-olds in the UK have gambling apps on their smartphones – two years before they are legally allowed to place bets. And 450,000 UK children aged 11 to 16 bet regularly, more than those who have taken drugs, smoked or drunk alcohol, according to the UK’s Gambling Commission study.

There is much, much more reporting on the enticing of young people to gamble online in Britain, Canada and Australia. All that scary scenario could become the normal for our teens and young people in New Mexico if this legislation is enacted.

Stop Predatory Gambling New Mexico is taking this legislation very seriously, will oppose it with every means possible and encourages all decent citizens to express opposition to this legislation to public officials involved.

It’s time for the government to get out of the predatory gambling racket.

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