Is casino gaming under attack?

Jun 18, 2002 10:50 AM

COMMON CAUSE TARGETS CASINOS! Though nothing has been filed yet, casino insiders are circling the wagons against possible class action lawsuits similar to the ones that were filed against the tobacco industry.

"The bleeding heart liberals are at it again," reports an insider. "Common Cause attorney Scott Harshbarger is looking for new headlines to conquer."

Harshbarger was among the first to go after the tobacco industry. Now, he claims gaming presents "a potential public health crisis." By failing to warn people of the potential pitfalls of gambling, casinos "are in the same position as the tobacco industry," Harshbarger said.

"Bull!" says Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association. "There is no way you can make any sort of analogy (between smoking and gambling). They’re not even on the same planet."

We’ll see if any of this comes down to earth.

DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY: Baseball’s Bad Boy, Pete Rose, continues to thumb his nose at Bud Selig and the Major League Baseball hierarchy. Last week, Rose showed up at the new stadium being built for his old team, the Cincinnati Reds, and took five minutes of batting practice.

Obviously, he didn’t check with the league before making the move that some felt challenged his lifetime ban from baseball for his gambling Âí­activities.

From Rose’s point of view, he was just doing some good public relations work for the game he loves. He was quoted as saying that he couldn’t worry about what the baseball overseers would say. "I’m not doing anything (wrong). I’m here selling baseball. That’s something they should be doing."

Rose’s appearance, condoned by county officials who are in charge of the construction, developed into a big hit with the construction workers. Dozens of hard hats were offered by workers for quick autographs.


COULDN’T HAPPEN IN VEGAS: London bookmakers were caught in a scam recently because they took bets on the outcome of one of those reality shows. The show’s called "Big Brother" and each week one of the participants is evicted by vote of the show’s viewers.

Ladbroke opened the wagering on one participant at 33-1 but in just 24 hours the odds dropped to 7-1 because of the heavy action. That’s when the bookies, including those at the Coral and Allison shops realized something was definitely wrong.

Seems the scam artists had planned to flood phone lines when they were opened to the public to determine which participant would be dropped.

Back in 1980 when the popular TV show "Dallas" closed its season’s finale with the shooting of star, J.R. Ewing, legendary Las Vegas bookmaker, Sonny Reisner, put up odds at the old Castaways stand-alone book on "Who killed J.R."

The betting prop bothered some members of the Nevada Gaming Control Board who promptly banned all such wagering where the outcome is not determined by a sporting event.


THE TAXMAN COMETH? Gambling interests from coast to coast are concerned after Illinois last week upped the ante on gaming taxes, sending stocks plummeting. Also cause for alarm is the threat of potential increases in Indiana and Iowa, as well as other markets.

Hold on, says an insider. "The fundamentals are still solid," said a source close to Bear Stearns, which last week met with key gaming executives. "Gaming operators are still focused on the basics such as growth through capital expenditures, getting the most out of their assets, shrinking their capital base through debt pay down and returning money to shareholders through repurchases."

The Indiana legislature is expected to wrap up by Saturday, but analysts still contend that second quarter earnings could provide a positive catalyst for stocks, despite the fear over real and perceived tax increases.


"GOT THE HORSE RIGHT HERE:" That’s what the Arabs are saying now that Godolphin’s Street Cry has romped in the prestigious Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. With Jockey Jerry Bailey giving the four-year-old an old-fashioned "rockin’ chair" ride, Street Cry annihilated the opposition about the same way he cruised to victory earlier this year in the $6 million Dubai World Cup.

The Dubai Sheiks spend tons of money breeding and buying thoroughbreds but they don’t believe in racing that often. Last year, Street Cry started three times and really didn’t impress anybody.

But, things are different in 2002. He is three for three and each win was in a graded race.

Bailey knew he was on a powerhouse. "I worked him twice," he said after the race, and he worked lights out." In the Stephen Foster, Bailey positioned the colt on the outside entering the stretch and merely shook the reins at him to move into another gear. Wow, what a performance.

Reservations can now be made for Arlington Park and this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. But it might be worth a futures bet at one of our local emporiums.