'Vice stocks catch fund managers'fancy!

Aug 27, 2002 10:21 AM

THE WAGES OF SIN CAN BE PROFITABLE! So says the managers of a new mutual fund that targets so-called "sin stocks." Aptly called the Vice Fund, the fund includes stocks in tobacco, alcohol and, of course, gaming. Companies under consideration for the portfolio include MGM Mirage, Harrah’s Entertainment, Philip Morris, and defense contractors such as Raytheon and Boeing (how’d they make it!).

The no-load portfolio has capped fees at 1.75 percent but investors who seek "redemption" from the wages of sin can expect to pay a 2 percent penalty in the first six months. The fund will officially open on Sept. 3 with assets initially invested in 40-50 sin stocks with hopes to increase the size of the portfolio once asset levels can support it. One thing that investors and fund managers are betting on: sin stocks, while somewhat antisocial in their nature, have always been considered recession proof! After all, as Abaham Lincoln once state, "It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues."

BEWARE GAMBLERS WHO ARE ON THE PILL! A University of Iowa researcher is studying a pill that could help gamblers know when to fold the cards, for good. Actually, the pill contains a new drug that is supposed to help compulsive gamblers quit. "Blocking the receptors in the brain, you’re going to block any of the pleasurable experience that gambling will give," said Donald Black, professor of psychiatry.

Other researchers are not so sure the pill is a good idea. "The idea that gambling is a disease that’s going to be cured by a pill is something of a stretch," said Drake psychology professor Scott Wood. "One thing’s for sure: when the odds are against you, the longer you play, the more you’ll lose."

It’s amazing what these professors come up with!

In any case, if they come out with that pill, let’s hope the antidote won’t be far behind!


GUNMAN TAKES BITE OUT OF PACKER: Billionaire Kerry Packer lost about six figures of his multi-billion dollar fortune when a masked gunman held up the high roller’s room at the Crown Casino in Melbourne. Packer, the Australian publishing magnet, owns the casino, as well as other Australian holdings. Thankfully, no one was injured in the robbery.

The robber reportedly left a "wad" of cash in the taxi, in which he fled the scene. The cab driver had to turn the money over to the police. Packer, whose forays into Las Vegas high roller rooms are legendary, probably made sure the cabby returned the cash.


MORE FROM DOWN UNDER: It seems all the feminists are up in arms over a busty cartoon character, Dolly, who has been appearing on Australian slot machines. Part of a campaign against problem gambling, Dolly is a well-endowed creature, much along the curvaceous lines of our own Dolly Parton.

But feminists aren’t amused. In its leaflet, the character urges problems gamblers to "Buy me a bit at a time. I like it that way."

Said one feminist, "The clubs may care about problem gamblers, but they certainly have a low opinion of women."


THAT TAXING ILLNESS IS CONTAGIOUS: It didn’t take long for Indiana to increase its gaming taxes after neighboring Illinois decided to increase its "sin tax" levy. In Connecticut, lawmakers reached into the gamblers’ pockets by making all winnings above a certain limit taxable. And, the made the law retroactive to Jan. 1.

For many years, gambling winnings were taxed by the federal government but many states didn’t want to discourage gamblers from attending their new gaming entertainment centers so they held off. But it seems that one state that taxes seems to encourage others to do the same.

Now, Missouri is thinking of copying the Connecticut plan and taxing gamblers lucky enough to hit something. Supporters point out that the IRS already mandates that winners of $1,200 or more for slots and $1,500 or more for keno have to fill out a federal tax form. How easy it would be to have the same winners fill out a state tax form as well, they claim.


RUNNING OUT OF LUCK: Don’t count on seeing ex-Gov. Edwin Edwards of Louisiana playing blackjack at your table on the Las Vegas Strip anytime soon. Edwards, loaded down with cash, was a regular visitor to Las Vegas in the early to mid-90’s. But that’s before Eddie De Bartolo, who inherited the San Francisco 49ers from his father, squealed to the feds that he had paid Edwards $400,000 to help him get a casino license.

Investigators set up wiretaps and bugged hotel suites in order to get enough evidence to prosecute Edwards but somehow he managed to elude his pursuers.

But, time ran out for Edwards and about a year ago he was convicted of racketeering and fraud. He was sentenced to 10 years in the pokie but he was permitted to remain free while his lawyers appealed the conviction.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit court of Appeals threw out all of Edwards’ arguments that he had been railroaded by an improper judge.


WOW, WHAT AN OPENING! How successful was Harrah’s Rincon Casino’s opening? In its first week the $125 million dollar casino and resort not only paid out nearly $9,000,000 in jackpots, it also racked up some impressive numbers:

”¡ Number of Guests: 98,200

”¡ Jackpots Paid Out: 29,702

”¡ Jackpot Dollars Paid Out: $8,790,473

”¡ Pieces of Linen Used: 28,020

”¡ Bottles of Toiletries Used: 2,400

”¡ Pool Towels Used: 4,032

”¡ Meals Served: 38,000

”¡ Pounds of Prime Rib Served: 17,200

”¡ Rolls Served: 7,000

”¡ Gallons of Coffee Served: 3,600

”¡ Eggs Used: 10,800

”¡ Pounds of Flour Used: 1,450

”¡ Pounds of Sugar Used: 1,085

”¡ Bottles of Water Used: 81,000