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Help Paul Goldman Fight the RVA Casino!

Yes I said it! Help Paul Goldman! Why, Sanders!

Paul Goldman is a long-time Democratic Party activist and may be most famous for his support of an obscure state senator (NO not that one!) but rather L. Douglas Wilder for Lieutenant Governor.

Goldman communicates with me from time to time and now he is against the casino for Richmond. Here is his webpage.

Goldman says:

Dear Richmond Residents:

“Examining 15 types of legal gambling, the researchers came to a striking conclusion: Casino gambling had by far the most harmful effects on people at the lower end of the income ladder” declared a 2014 column in the New York Times. “The casino method is to induce low income (residents) to make a huge number of small bets per visit, to visit the casino (regularly), …to sustain this pattern over a number of years. The key to executing this method is the slot machine.”

As the studies for the Stoney Administration, the Casino backers, and the JLARC all show, the overwhelming bulk of the Richmond Casino revenue comes from slot machines. Surprise!

“Living within 10 miles or less of a casino doubles the risk of problem gambling” says an article on the website of the University of Buffalo Institute on Addictions.

But let’s be honest: Do you really need PHD’s to tell you the Richmond Casino will be predatory toward the poor, working families and the elderly? Most of us have been to the type of Casino being proposed for Richmond. The Richmond Casino is just a giant slot machine. It will have 2,000 slot machines! As the studies show, the overwhelming revenue will come from the 2,000 slot machines. That is 1 slot machine for every 45 households in Richmond.

I have reviewed the results of a poll of likely RVA voters on the proposed Casino. A most professionally done poll. I ordered it done earlier this summer prior to Casino backers and their political allies launching their current massive PR campaign fueled by millions in spending, the per capita sum of such spending in Richmond almost certain to dwarf what McAuliffe and Youngkin are spending per voter statewide.

The truth is clear: But for this massive Tsunami of gambling interest money, the Casino Referendum would lose.

Let me tell you a fact Casino backers will not tell you: the “business” model for the proposed Casino is based on the people of Richmond and our area LOSING the overwhelming bulk of $300 million dollars a year, every year. Casino backers call these LOSSES Gross Gaming Revenue. City leaders say the Casino is a “free lunch”, it doesn’t cost Richmonders any money.

But it does cost Richmonders: $300 million a year. I talked to those involved with Casino studies made for JLARC, Urban One and the City of Richmond. They all admitted this: few people are going to come to the RVA Casino from DC, from the North, from Tidewater, or North Carolina.

That’s right: the overwhelming bulk of the $300 million LOST will come from around here. Let me put this amount in perspective. (1) $300 million is equal to the total yearly utility bills of everyone in Richmond, the highest in the region. (2) $300 million is more than the total annual property taxes paid in Richmond, the highest property taxes in the region. (3) $300 million is roughly the total yearly rent payment of every individual renter in Richmond if you make the reasonable assumption that there are usually two people making rent money for a household.

I believe the proposed Casino is taking Richmond backward, not forward.

Admittedly, being outspent 50 to 1 is going to be very hard to overcome. The pundits say it is impossible to defeat the Casino Referendum.

But I believe we all do the right thing, we will win, for all the right reasons.
Paul Goldman
Vote NO on the RVA Casino Committee

Sign me up! Paul and I disagree on many issues. But he is right here.

So help him. I am told and sure enough, Paul is right, Senator Tim Kaine voted no on the casino.

I am not against gambling per se, but I do not trust the numbers (remember the 2015 Bike Race! How about the Lincoln movie? Amazon?) or some of the people behind it. I also think we have gone from too little gambling to too much. Goldman makes that very point in this Danville Bee column from 2020:

Casino for Danville has paid the local Democratic chair nearly $6,000 in August alone to spin their economic fairy tales. But here is the truth from the state report: “There are currently 14 casinos in operation that would compete with the Virginia market” (Page 4). Adding those planned for Bristol, Danville, Richmond, Norfolk and Portsmouth makes 19. Very few Virginians not living in the Southside area will therefore ever visit the Danville casino. Yet Danville is being promised a megamillion casino complex rivalling Norfolk and Richmond, two hugely bigger and wealthier regions. Does this seem realistic?

Casino backers answer: Danville could “generate a substantial portion of their gaming revenue … from out-of-state customers” in North Carolina (Page 14). But as the report points out, “Danville (is) most vulnerable to future out-of-state competition” once North Carolina and other states open casinos, as seems inevitable. (Page 15).

What if the ONE casino goes broke? Can’t happen with a hose of money every day? This interesting article at Casino.com suggests yes it can with this chilling opening paragraph (admittedly before the COVID lockdowns):

Gaming operators could eventually seek bankruptcy protection if they continue to burn through their limited money after shuttering operations because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to sector experts. A recent Macquarie Research report reveals US casino companies now have as little as 5.2 months to as much as 14.3 months before running out of cash.

How about this little gem from Ventura, People’s Socialist Republic of CA (click here if you just got to hear Ventura Highway from America!) :

After most of a year of not being allowed to operate, the Player’s Casino in Ventura has filed for bankruptcy and left its location on Auto Center Drive.

The Player’s Casino is the only licensed card room in Ventura County, and one of 86 in California. The owner, Monica Donohoo, inherited the business in 1996 when her husband, Pinky Donohoo, died after owning the club for more than half a century. She moved the card room to the Ventura Auto Center in 2011, trading up from a small building in West Ventura and changing the name from the Player’s Card Club.

A little more than a year ago, the Player’s Casino laid off 183 workers in what it said was a temporary closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the business has not re-opened, even though state regulations now allow it to open indoors with limited capacity, and on April 6 it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, or a debt reorganization.

Its bankruptcy attorney said the business is looking for a new location in Ventura.

Sounds like the PSRCA helped some. This upstate NY casino was near bankruptcy in 2019:

MONTICELLO, NY — Upstate New York’s largest and most lavish casino lost $73 million in the first six months of 2019 and has more than $400 million in debt, raising the possibility that it will declare bankruptcy and reorganize.

The $1.2 billion Resorts World Catskills near Monticello in Sullivan County is reportedly considering a pre-packaged bankruptcy. In that case, its publicly traded operator, Empire Resorts, could be bought out by its largest shareholder and taken private. Empire Resorts also operates the nearby Monticello Raceway.

What happened, Sanders? Wait for it!

But all four [upstate NY casinos] have failed to meet revenue expectations — none more disappointingly than Resorts World Catskills.

Genting [a Malaysian company] has had to pour in $40 million last spring, another $150 million in August, and $20 million more last month to enable the property to stave off bankruptcy.

***

Longterm sustainability? The formula for breaking even in the Catskills has yet to be found — with more competition coming in the next year or two.

Bankruptcy for the Richmond ONE casino will be a asteroid strike right in the part of the city that least needs it. And for all you Trump haters out there, remember the Trump Taj Mahal?

According to documents made public on Tuesday, the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City sold for 4 cents on the dollar, changing hands from billionaire investor Carl Icahn to Florida’s Seminole Indians.

Here is an anti-casino FB page. People will hate you now, but you will have just saved Richmond. Besides as a famous fictional character once said: You fight for the lost causes harder than for any others.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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