CityCenter May Go Bankrupt by the Weekend

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
March 25, 2009

                The Las Vegas CityCenter casino and resort project, labeled by parent company MGM Mirage as the most expensive commercial development in U.S. history, may end in bankruptcy as early as the weekend, nine months before the center is scheduled to open its doors. The “city within a city,” developed by eight award-winning architects and allowing visitors to live, work and play on its grounds, is yet another example of the declining land casino market during the economic recession as compared to its online casino counterparts. It follows Harrah’s entertainment, an immensely popular casino brand, on the road to financial ruin.

                The bankruptcy may be the result of a lawsuit involving MGM Mirage that took place earlier this week, wherein its joint-venture partner, Dubai World, alleged that the casino company had improperly managed the 76-acre development plan for the project, and substantially increasing the cost. The initial estimated cost of the CityCenter was pegged at $7.5 billion, but reports from the Las Vegas Sun say that the cost has risen to $8.7. Another report from the Review Journal states that the cost has risen to $9.1 billion. The partners are reportedly forced to make a $220 million payment on CityCenter.

                Alan Feldman, and MGM spokesperson told VegasHappensHere.com, “The safest apples-to-apples would be our previously stated $9.2b less the just announced $600 million in savings.” He later told the news source, “The Sun is correct. $8.7 total, $1.2 of which we are hoping to finance.”

                “When completed in 2009, CityCenter will be one of the great urban places of the world, a reflection of the best of the life that we’re living today and tomorrow,” reads a description of the buildings on the website. “It will be a place of continual evolution, richness and diversity – a place people from around the world will desire to visit and experience.

                “Across the country and throughout the world, people are rediscovering the excitement of the city. The city is where the people are, where the action is, and where all that’s thrilling and new comes together – whoever you are. Las Vegas will soon have its own urban core – a 76-acre city-within-a-city that’s destined to redefine the skyline.”

                While MGM Mirage said in a statement that despite the lawsuit with Dubai World, the company was ready and willing to complete the center and the multi-million dollar payment, the Wall Street Journal said that lenders will not allow the casino operator to make its payment for the building unless Dubai World makes an additional contribution. If the company which has stated that it has concerns about the project’s viability does not make its contribution, CityCenter will be forced to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization as soon as the weekend. MGM said in a press release that the lawsuit was “completely without merit.”

                CityCenter has already been in the process of hiring some 10,000 full time employees and has accepted over 90,000 applications.  “We’re concerned about the jobs, but we don’t have any insight or details over what may or may not be going on over there,” said city council spokesperson, Steve Redlinger. “Rather than concentrate on what we don’t know, we’re going to concentrate on what we do know and that is (this) morning our workers are going to be back on the job building that project. If there is {sic} other plans in the future, we’ll deal with those once they become known.”

Online Casinos May Be Safer than Land Counterparts

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
March 24, 2009

                While anti-gambling activists have argued that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 protects gamers from the social ills of online casino gambling, it would seem that gambling online is safer than in a land-based counterpart. According to Bombay News, Goa police are investigating an incident at a land casino where a customer was not only denied his winnings, but was beat up when he tried to collect his money.

                The formal complaint, filed with the Anjuna police station, alleges that Abhijeet Vasco was assaulted by bouncers at the Casino Mint at the Riviera Resort in Arpora after apparently winning too much money. He and six friends had allegedly won RS 100,000 playing roulette.

                “When we went to claim the money, we were beaten up by bouncers attached to the casino,” said Vasco. “One of them hit my face with a knuckle-duster. I received 14 stitches on my cheek.”

                The resort was surrounded in controversy on Monday after having Mickky Pacheco, the Tourism Minister Francisco, promised an investigation into Casino Mint and a reconsideration of the resort’s five star status. Five star rated hotels are the only establishments permitted to set up casinos under the Goa Public Gambling Act.

                It is not unheard of for a land casino to take similar action when a customer begins to earn too much money, or at least to detain the customer…as was the case with Ben Campbell and his series of card counters that were made into a 2008 film, “21.” While none of the team of friends were physically beaten like the film portrays, they were detained by security for questioning.

                It is not just the casino workers that are a danger when playing in a land casino. There have been countless cases of casino goers having been assaulted and robbed after collecting substantial winnings.  Just two months ago, 70 year-old Anthony Vastardis was attacked in an Atlantic City casino parking lot and robbed of his winnings. He has since been afraid to go outside.

                “I have dreams, I have nightmares, I have daymares,” he said in his first television interview since the assault and robbery. Vastardis suffered a fractured hip and other injuries and is confined to a wheelchair temporarily. The attacker, according to the surveillance tape, watched Vastardis play blackjack in the casino, followed him to an elevator and beat him in the garage before stealing $10,000 in casino winnings.

                “I walked about three or four steps and something hit me in the back of my head. I feel down and this guy was on top of me. And he was just beating me and just beating me,” Vastardis recalled. “He went right to my left hand pocket. He knew where {the money} was.”

                U.S. and other global legislators continue to oppose online casino gambling, whose biggest danger in most instances is a cap on earnings, while protecting domestic casinos which pose more of a threat. But it would seem that the social ills that government officials seek to protect their citizens from are more likely to occur in a land-based atmosphere.

Evangelistic News Sites Against Online Gambling

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
March 21, 2009

               Online casino gambling has received a great deal of criticism from several government bodies and religious organizations since it was launched in the early 90’s, and members of the industry recently fought back against Evangelistic websites that have denounced internet gambling. A recent influx of accusations against internet casino gambling, such as claims that it is detrimental to youth, has caused many online casino operators to form a rebuttal.

                One website, Onenewsnow.com, a Christian news outlet, made substantial claims that playing casinos online is an even more excessive risk than that of stock market investments. The site alleges, among other outrageously conservative accusations, that players are “investing their money in something that promises even less return.”

                The article, entitled ‘Online Wagering – It’s a Bad Bet,’ reads, “Tom Grey of Stop Predatory Gambling says gambling operators are largely scavengers who appeal to folks who may be struggling through job or family situations, for example. ‘What happens is they feed on despair, false hope {and promises of} we’re your ticket out of here if you’re in a ghetto or a barrio,’ he explains.”

                The article continues to spread wild accusations against the online casino industry, saying that the evil is growing throughout the U.S. in spite of government officials who have tried to stop it (and protect domestic gambling establishments.) Additionally, in an effort to gain support for the ban of online casino gambling, the article points out poor defenseless old ladies that are lured to gamble in allegedly mafia-run casinos.

                “We have grandmothers now who would have never gone into a mob casino or an illegal casino,” said Grey, barely able to form a coherent sentence. “They get on buses and drive to ‘em every day. So when you legalize something {and} make it more available and accessible, you increase dramatically the people who do it.”

                Rick Wilson, a social commentator disagrees with the allegations, having opined that if money spent on recreational gambling online can be considered an investment, so too can money spent on vacation or the movies. He also notes that many surveys show online casino gamblers are aware of the odds of winning at a casino.

                “Most players say they’d love to win a jackpot, but they are well aware the odds are against them. Very few think they’ll win, but they enjoy playing and like the idea they have a shot, however improbable,” said Wilson.

                The news website has made several false accusations against online casinos – the first and foremost being that they target those in desperate need for an alternative income. Aside from the fact that online gamers cannot wager more than has been deposited into an account, online casino websites provide multiple responsible gaming resources such as self-exclusion plans, hotlines and website resources, NetNanny guides to prevent children from accessing the casino and age verification processes. With the recent reimplementation of the UIGEA, many online casino operators have made the decision to entirely exit the U.S. market altogether.

                A similar website, Citizenlink.com has also made mistruths about online casinos, arguing that there is a substantial increase in U.S. gamers, while also applauding the efficacy of the UIGEA.

Casinos May Compete for WSOP Rights

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
March 20, 2009

                Because bankruptcy might be eminent for Harrah’s Entertainment, the host of the World Series of Poker, a number of online casino operators are hoping to claim dibs on the major poker event. Harrah’s has already swapped a large amount of its debt for lower value interest notes, and online casino operators think that the WSOP may be one of the many assets that Harrah’s will sell to relieve the debt.

                Harrah’s has controlled the World Series of Poker since the company purchased the rights from Binion. The company has never exercised rights to the world’s leading poker tournament online, and rumors are circulation that an online casino carrying the WSOP logo would gain a great deal of registrants and revenue. While Harrah’s has expressed its wish to launch its own online casino once the UIGEA is overturned, its finances may prevent the company from doing so – forcing it to sell the rights.

                Selling rights to the WSOP may save Harrah’s from bankruptcy in the end, without having to shut down its numerous hotels and casino resorts. Speculation now is that Harrah’s will be forced to sell its infamous Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

                Harrah’s spokesperson have declined to comment on the company’s financial standing further than that the company is “in a quiet period,” but analysts expect bankruptcy by the end of the year.

                “We think this latest restructuring is an attempt to rearrange the deck of chairs on the Titanic,” said bond analyst Barbara Cappaert. “The company will very likely throw in the towel and reduce debt via debt/equity restructuring later this year to streamline its balance sheet.”

                She opined that Harrah’s decision to swap its $2.8 billion for notes of $250 million with parent companies Apollo Management and TPG would give Apollo control of “up to $675 million face amount of the December issued debt. This would represent one-third of those new bonds and that, interestingly enough, would be enough to block any restructuring plan in bankruptcy.”

                As it is, any online casino looking to expand into the poker market would have the strongest name in the industry with the addition of the WSOP logo. Existing online poker rooms would have a strong lead against rival companies were they to acquire the same.

                Bonds with lower priority have not been affected by the debt, with value remaining at 6 cents on the dollar. This is the second time in one decade that Harrah’s as been in danger of bankruptcy, having struggled severely with its debts in 2000, when analysts projected the same outcome. At the time, the debt was estimated at $622.3 billion.

                If earning reports follow the same pattern as the most recent quarterly loss of $4 billion, the sale of assets would be vital in keeping the company alive. Gambling websites like Rushmore Casino or perhaps PokerStars would be the first likely to compete for the World Series of Poker rights. While Harrah’s does not want to lose the WSOP, it may not have a choice if it wishes to stay open.

ASA Bans More Gambling Advertisements

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
March 19, 2009

                Australian officials say that a recent murder in the country gives more political clout to online casino gambling, due to the nature of the killing. A paroled murderer struck again this week, after having blown all of his grocery money on “the pokies.”

                The Supreme Court in Hobart says that Mark John Adams, 45, was “chillingly composed” after stabbing 78 year-old Barbara Doreen Risby to death in broad daylight after losing all of his grocery money at a poker table in an Australian casino. According to officials, the attack was “disturbingly similar” to his first murder in 1986, for which he was on parole.

                “Unfortunately this presents a most powerful argument for playing the pokes online and skipping some of the riff raff and undesirables who have a habit of frequenting traditional land based casinos,” said Greg Tingle, Media Man. “I think there’s good cause for more security offices to be present at traditional casinos. Of course one needs to be mindful of what online casinos to visit also, but I am pleased to give a clean bill on health on those brands showcased on websites like Gambling911.com”

                Adams claimed that “it came to him” that he needed money after losing it all in the casino, and that a robbery was therefore in order. Tamara Jago, Adams’ lawyer told the court that he regularly carried a knife with him and that “he produced the knife with the hope that the threat of it would cause the surrendering of a handbag.”

                Jago claims that the murder was not pre-meditated, and that his victim happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, essentially, which was Hobard’s Domain. Risby, who was described by her family as being fit and active, put up some resistance to being robbed, which resulted in the eventual murder. The murder took plays just four years after serving a 17 year-long sentence in prison for stabbing to death his neighbor, Edna Jean Story, in her Risdon Vale home.

                “He says he didn’t specially seek out a victim but rather his victim was the first person who came into the area once he’d determined to do this,” said Jago.

                After killing Risby and taking her money, Adams bought new clothes, changed into him and then texted his girlfriend to tell her that he was on his way home with some groceries. Defense attorneys have requested a lifetime imprisonment without parole, although Jago argues that her client’s crime was not in the most “heinous category” for murder.

                “In 20 years from now he may well be an aged frail man and therefore his risk to the greater community is in a very different category than now,” said Jago, who has requested the usual 20 to 30 year sentence tied to similar crimes.

                Adams came from a family filled with violence and physical and sexual abuse. “He didn’t know how to live in the society of 2003,” Jago concluded. “Basic things like ATMS and the internet were not commonplace in 1986.”       

Murder in Australia Gives Powerful Argument for Online Casino Gambling

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
March 18, 2009

               Australian officials say that a recent murder in the country gives more political clout to online casino gambling, due to the nature of the killing. A paroled murderer struck again this week, after having blown all of his grocery money on “the pokies.”

                The Supreme Court in Hobart says that Mark John Adams, 45, was “chillingly composed” after stabbing 78 year-old Barbara Doreen Risby to death in broad daylight after losing all of his grocery money at a poker table in an Australian casino. According to officials, the attack was “disturbingly similar” to his first murder in 1986, for which he was on parole.

                “Unfortunately this presents a most powerful argument for playing the pokes online and skipping some of the riff raff and undesirables who have a habit of frequenting traditional land based casinos,” said Greg Tingle, Media Man. “I think there’s good cause for more security offices to be present at traditional casinos. Of course one needs to be mindful of what online casinos to visit also, but I am pleased to give a clean bill on health on those brands showcased on websites like Gambling911.com”

                Adams claimed that “it came to him” that he needed money after losing it all in the casino, and that a robbery was therefore in order. Tamara Jago, Adams’ lawyer told the court that he regularly carried a knife with him and that “he produced the knife with the hope that the threat of it would cause the surrendering of a handbag.”

                Jago claims that the murder was not pre-meditated, and that his victim happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, essentially, which was Hobard’s Domain. Risby, who was described by her family as being fit and active, put up some resistance to being robbed, which resulted in the eventual murder. The murder took plays just four years after serving a 17 year-long sentence in prison for stabbing to death his neighbor, Edna Jean Story, in her Risdon Vale home.

                “He says he didn’t specially seek out a victim but rather his victim was the first person who came into the area once he’d determined to do this,” said Jago.

                After killing Risby and taking her money, Adams bought new clothes, changed into him and then texted his girlfriend to tell her that he was on his way home with some groceries. Defense attorneys have requested a lifetime imprisonment without parole, although Jago argues that her client’s crime was not in the most “heinous category” for murder.

                “In 20 years from now he may well be an aged frail man and therefore his risk to the greater community is in a very different category than now,” said Jago, who has requested the usual 20 to 30 year sentence tied to similar crimes.

                Adams came from a family filled with violence and physical and sexual abuse. “He didn’t know how to live in the society of 2003,” Jago concluded. “Basic things like ATMS and the internet were not commonplace in 1986.”       

Rushmore Casino Implements More Effective Responsible Gaming Strategies than the UIGEA

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
March 17, 2009

               Rushmore Casino has continued to accept U.S. wagers, despite the reintroduction of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which in order to protect the well being of American citizens and their wallets (but most of all domestic gambling sites and casinos), prohibits the use of banking institutions in gambling transactions online. However, it would seem that Rushmore protects U.S. citizens more than the regulatory bill has.

                Rushmore takes several steps to ensure the privacy and safety of its users, including self exclusion policies which allow users to willingly ban themselves from the online casino for a self-designated amount of time, age verification processing that requires valid form of identification, problem gambling resources as well as resources to parents to prevent adolescents from playing. Conversely, the UIGEA has had little success, leaving financial institutions to enforce the law without clarifying what the U.S. technically considers “unlawful internet gambling.”

                Advocates of the UIGEA pushed the bill as a way of protecting American youth from developing gaming addictions. However, since it has passed, statistics show that online casino gambling has grown steadily. While many online casinos exited the U.S. market after the UIGEA was passed, and even more since the recent domain seizure case in Kentucky (http://casinointensity.com/news_dtls.php?news_id=112), Rushmore has consistently remained open to U.S. wagers, determined to offer a reliable online casino run with transparency and integrity. Rushmore Casino has become one of the most trusted names in the industry, especially among website that accept U.S. players.

                “I love playing slots and blackjack online, but I would never want my children to explore adult gaming when I’m not there to explain to them the dangers. That’s why I play at Rushmore, which helped me use NetNanny to keep my kids safe,” said a regular player at Rushmore Casino, Scott P.

                Rushmore Casino boasts that it has the highest standards in internet safety.  “We have a reputation as one of the leaders in the ‘Responsible Gaming’ community,” reads a description on the website. “We have installed controls to ensure:

          There are no under-18 players

          That you can prevent certain members of your family from gambling

          There are no illegal players

          That our software is fair in the games that we offer

          That we follow a Code of Regulations in administering our games

“It is absolute against the law to gamble if you are under the age of 18. Rushmore Casino is opposed to gambling by minors, and has taken steps to prevent it.”

Since the implementation of the UIGEA, several financial institutions and U.S. legislators have fought, unsuccessfully, to have the terms of the bill redefined or made clearer. While the legislation has yet to be clarified, U.S. players continue to gamble online and banks are not likely to discover online gambling transactions. Instead the bill has deprived the U.S. of billions of dollars in tax revenue, while remaining very ineffective – until it is used to prosecute offshore online casinos and even those that exited the U.S. market, such as Party Gaming.

Nevada Reportedly the Third Highest State in Identity Theft

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
March 14, 2009

                Perhaps one of the causes for the mass migration of gamblers to online casinos from their land-based counterparts is the increasing reports of identity theft in Nevada. Statistics show that Nevada has the nation’s third worst identity theft problem, according to a federal study known to substantially underestimate the rates.

                A report from the Federal Trade Commission last week stated that there have been 2,930 counts of identity theft in 2007, enough to rank the state as the third in the nation, on a per-capita basis. Additionally, because victims of identity theft are not always known to report the crime to local police or the federal government, Metro Police said that number is closer to 9,000.

                In just last year, Nevada residents reported $20 million lost to identity theft, and Metro Police Captain Stavros Anthony said that it is “expected to increase every year for the foreseeable future.” Most people who discover a missing credit or debit card call their banks to report the identity theft, rather than the local police. For this reason, Nevada may rank higher than third in the nation for identity theft – with 9,101 cases reported to the Metro’s identity theft and forgery task force. Bob Sebby, a lieutenant in Metro’s financial crimes section estimates that only one in every ten local victims files a police report.

                Sebby claims that the casinos in Vegas are largely the reason for the higher counts of identity theft in Nevada, because of the large amount of cash casinos keep on hand. Using the right forged documents, identity pilferers can receive cash advances from casino cages with the credit/debit card or cashier’s check and trade them for chips and play at high roller tables. Unlike a local ATM which puts a withdrawal limit on a card per day, casinos tend to offer much larger cash bonuses, which in many cases is not even used to gamble.

                Unlike online casinos, which require a valid form of identification and protect any financial information using encryption software as well as offer multiple deposit methods, most land casinos do not have a specific account designated for each gambler in most cases, allowing for an easier method of penetration into one’s funding.

                Because of this, finding identity thieves is often a matter of excruciatingly long investigations than in many cases go unsolved. “We’re always searching for a ghost in the beginning,” said Sebby. “We have to take nothing and turn it into a live human being.”

                The majority of the cases reported in Nevada of identity theft can be traced to the owner’s mailbox or trashcan that was pilfered for credit card information. In one instance, waiters had been skimming credit cards and selling the numbers to accomplices who would tap the account. Metro Police have fallen victim to similar techniques, Sebby reported. “It’s pretty brutal out there.”

                Sebby suggests that credit or debit card users never let their cards out of their sites, and change their PIN number regularly. He also referred Nevada residents to a website, lvmpd.com, which offers advice on how to protect your identity.

France Opens Doors to Online Casino Gambling

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
March 13, 2009

                While the European Union has not had much success entering the United States’ online casino gambling market, France announced last week that it will allow online casino transactions within its country. Eric Woerth held a press conference in which he discussed the future of internet gaming in France.

                “It’s no use denying the reality of online gambling and the expectations of French people,” said the French Budget Minister.

                The European Commission has made several attempts to allow online casino operators within in France to compete with state monopolies, adhering to E.U. jurisdiction. Sports betting in particular has been the focal point of pushing France into the internet gambling market.

                According to Reutors, Woerth met with EU internal markets commissioner Charlie McCreevy last week in order to prevent the EU taking action against France for restricting internet gambling. Woerth told the press that France will open its doors to online casino gambling by the second half of 2009, sooner than the previously reported 2010.

                “Proceedings against France for our monopoly as regards to online betting have been open since June 2007. In these circumstances, either we dig in our heels or we change our position,” he told Reuters.

                Prior to the press release, the EU had issued France a final warning about changing its internet gambling laws, threatening the country’s government with court action if it did not comply. Preparing for the eventual legalization, a number of French casinos have dought and won the approval of eCOGRA, a non-profit industry standards body and free arbitration platform. The Vegas Partner Lounge Group, which owns a number of online casinos and poker rooms, owns www.casinofrancenet.com and www.goldenrivierapoker.com, which it has successfully obtained an eCOGRA Seal of Approval.

                “Leading online casino and poker room brands recognize that players care about the ‘Play It Safe’ seal, and that seal=bearing casinos attract more players and create additional revenue opportunities,” said Andrew Beveridge, the CEO of eCOGRA. “We applaud these operators for their efforts and encourage others to help us reach our 100 seals goal by committing to the eCOGRA principles of fair gambling, responsible conduct and player protection.”

                The European Commission has been involved in a number of infringement proceedings. In addition to France, Sweden and Greece where it has had the most success, the EC has cases against Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy and the Netherlands. After Denmark, Finland and Hungary replied to the EC’s written request for information, the EC resolved their cases.

                Along with the bill to legalize and regulate online casino gambling in France, Woerth shared the tax structure which will accompany the text. He foresees a 2 percent tax on online poker and 7.5 percent tax on sports and horse racing. The gambling legislation is said to be voted on before the 2009 summer parliamentary recess, and released by the end of the month or in early April. The gambling market is anticipated to open by the end of 2009, and licenses will be distributed on a five-year contract basis.

National Gambling Awareness Week

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
March 7, 2009

                Jim Bassage, prevention director of the Steuben Council on Addictions in Bath, has called for more attention to gambling addictions that result from land casino and lottery ticket gambling in light of National Gambling Awareness Week. According to Bassage, Steuben County, NY has lost its Gamblers Anonymous Center, and unlike online casinos, land casinos and national lotteries do not provide appropriate means for seeking treatment of problem gambling.

                “Because we don’t have that focal point like the Salamanca casino or Tioga’s raceway to bring the problem to head I don’t think we recognize the problem because it doesn’t come home to roost,” said Bassage, whose program is part of Catholic Charities in Steuben County.

                While nearly every online casino promotes its commitment to responsible gaming by providing resources for gambling addictions, Bassage notes that several local agencies organize trips to casinos and gambling is available at any convenience store in the form of lottery tickets and scratch off tickets – but that there is no means for local treatment of gambling addictions.

                “One of the unfortunate things about (Steuben County) is that we don’t have anybody providing gambling counseling services,” Bassage continued.

                He notes that those with problem gambling habits are prompted to contact DePaul Addiction Services in Rochester, NY, because there are no county programs available as the Gamblers Anonymous program recently disbanded due to a lack of participation. According to Joyce Bassett, who worked with the Steuben County GA, and now councils gambling addicts in DePaul, most gamblers hide their addictions and therefore have trouble seeking help.

                “It’s not different than alcohol or drugs. It shows no discrimination and people hide this addiction. The compulsive gambler is there until the last dollar is spent,” said Bassett, who was a compulsive gambler for nearly 27 years, having developed an addiction to bingo at age 9, moving up to Pokeno, blackjack and video poker.

                “What started out in quarters turned out to be hundreds of dollars daily. In a matter of two and a half years I was $80,000 in debt. I was one day from prostitution and one day from dealing drugs, writing bad checks and not paying back any of the money I owed,” she continued. “I don’t even flip a coin today. Not to say that it’s easy, the addiction is still there.”

                Bassett feels that young people, who frequent the world wide web, are more prone to gambling addictions than were in her day, although there are more resources available for help. But because a gambling addiction is often hidden by the person suffering from it, not all problem gamblers take advantage of these resources.

                “With gambling online all you need is a credit card,” said Bassett. However, just as with land casinos, there are age restrictions in online casino websites, and any reputable site will require a valid form of identification before allowing a person to gamble for real money.

Bassett noted that land casinos provide plenty of ways to lure gamers. “Out west they provide free oxygen and transportation to senior citizens to keep them going.”

Some 14 percent of New York youths are at risk of developing a gambling addiction, and studies show that suicide rates are higher with compulsive gamblers. “The suicide rate is higher with this addiction than any others. One, financial drain causes people to think right away that people will be better without them. Two, self esteem is a big part of it. They don’t like who they become. I know I never tried to commit suicide, but I didn’t care if I lived or died. If I didn’t wake up it wouldn’t have mattered,” Bassett recalls.

Gambling addictions are described as an impulse control disorder, a personality disorder characterized by an inability to resist the impulse to perform an action that may be harmful to one’s self or others. The most common impulses associated with ICD are intermittent explosive disorder, kleptomania, pyromania, compulsive gambling and trichotillomania.

Pathological gambling occurs in roughly 1-3% of the population and involves excessive gambling despite heavy monetary losses. The loss may in actuality motivate the individual to continue gambling to attempt to earn back some of what was lost.

While the cause of impulse control disorders is not fully understood, researchers say that individuals with serious head injuries and epilepsy are at a higher risk for developing them. In 2004, several study groups claimed that older adults with Parkinson’s disease become compulsive gamblers as the diseases progresses and it is thought that the gambling addiction is the side effect of dopaminergic drugs used to treat the disease.

Carcinoid syndrome is also associated with impulse control disorders. In a group of 20 consecutive patients with the syndrome, 75 percent met DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for one or another impulse control disorders. The study group surmised that the excessive amounts of serotonin produced by carcinoid tumors may lead to the disorder.

For a diagnosis of pathological gambling, five or more of the following symptoms must be present:

1. The individual is preoccupied with gambling (i.e. preoccupied    with reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble.

2. The individual needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement.

3. The individual has repeated unsuccessful efforts at stopping.

4. The individual is restless or irritable with attempting to cut down.

5. The individual gambles as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (i.e., feeling of helplessness, guilty, anxiety, and depression).

6. The individual after losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even ("chasing" one’s losses).

7. The individual lies to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling.

8. The individual has committed illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement to finance gambling.

9. The individual has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, education or career opportunity because of gambling.

10.The individual relies on others to provide money or relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling.