Plainridge Park defies the odds; Gaming advocate’s conflict unearthed

States with lotteries are loath to let casinos in their borders. It’s an idea that’s D.O.A. in Nevada and Kansas protected its flank by making the casinos the property of the state lottery. However, a study by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission finds that lottery-ticket sales not only failed to decline around Penn National Gaming‘s Plainridge Park, they continued to grow, albeit at a slower rate than other parts of the Bay State. There also has been little incidence of increased crime in the area. The MGC is keeping a watching brief on the issue and plans to monitor similar social phenomena in Springfield and Everett. Reports the American Gaming Association, “One oddity in the report is that while towns surrounding Plainridge had slower growth in lottery sales, Plainville, where the casino is located, had substantial growth.” Do casinos and lotteries coexist better than previously believed?

* Florida state Senate President Bill Galvano (R) seems to have put his foot in it when he proposed a wide-open expansion of gambling in the Sunshine State. Three years ago, he moonlit as a lawyer for Turnberry Associates, owners of the Fontainebleau Hotel, which covets slot machines and was lavish with cash “including money that went to a political committee controlled by Galvano.” Oops. Galvano insists his Turnberry association had “no impact” on the new bill, while Turnberry itself went into ostrich mode, stonewalling media queries.

In other Florida news … “As I told the lawyer for the state, I don’t recall in my career an opposing party working so hard to keep my client from paying it hundreds of million of

dollars – and it still is,” Seminole Tribe attorney Barry Richard says of Gov. Rick Scott‘s perverse attempt to pull the legs out from under Seminole blackjack. The tribe continues to collect the state’s share and put it into the General Revenue Fund. But Scott wants those games pull, regardless of the (negative) economic consequences and has filed suit with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Given the counterproductive nature of his handling of the Seminole issue, one wonders how Scott got anywhere in life.

* Since the legalization of daily fantasy sports is coming before the Washington State Legislature, the tireless Poker Players Alliance is spotting an opportunity to get online poker before lawmakers, too. There’s no bill on the table but the PPA will testify in favor of one. Washington State solons have weighed Internet poker in the last two legislatures but come up short this time. That’s discouraging but it also shows that the issue has some persistent appeal. To demonstrate that poker is a game of skill, state Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R) took testimony from “math stud” and high school teacher David Schick, who plays online — a felony in Washington. Schick bearded the lion, testifying, “I realized that the state law was just an absolute joke. Nobody was being arrested. And so here I am admitting that I’m a Class C felon. If that means I’m going to be arrested, I guess I could be the first one.” Let’s hope note.

* Business is so good at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh that Neil Bluhm is pitching a second, $35 million, 214-room hotel. Designed to harmonize with the nearby Carnegie Science Center, it would open in 1Q18.

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