Bill Kearney's, presentation at the "NCALG Conference", Sept. 27, 2003, answers the Frank Fahrenkopf challenge to Tom Grey.
Frank Fahrenkopf, President, American Gaming Association and former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Interview in FRONTLINE
"Fahrenkopf: T that's part of the cannibalization argument that he's constantly making. I always say to Tom, "Tom, it's easy to say that, but put your money where your mouth is from the standpoint, what evidence do you have? Let's put it up. Let's look at it. Let's let this commission decide it. You come in, Tom, with whatever evidence you have -- or anti-gaming opponents. Make your case to this commission. We'll come in with ours. And they can get independent people to look at -- and I'm willing to let the cards lay on the table. And what it shows is what it shows."
frontline: easy money: Pro/Con: Frank Fahrenkopf | PBS
Bill Kearney's, presentation at the "NCALG Conference", Sept. 27, 2003
My name is Bill Kearney I'm from Philadelphia, Pa. I am 52 years old, a baby boomer, which means the latter part of my teenage years, were spent in the '60s, during the time when the hippie movement arrived. At first it was pretty neat, everyone dressed the same, talked the same, and for entertainment we listen to albums, underground FM radio stations that play a new type of music, it was psychedelic.
And what made it even more entertaining, is when we learned how to get high. And believe me when I tell you, being a so-called hippie wasn't cheap. The clothing, music and drugs cost plenty. But the highest cost came to the families who bore the loss of a loved one. During that time, I lost more friends to this drug plague than in the Vietnam War.
When I think back to those days, I often wonder why the leaders of our country let this drug thing get so out of hand. And what if I could go back in time, knowing what I know today, what would I do? Would I sit idle, or would I spread the word, and stop at nothing, until I convince the people running our government of the cost we all will pay by letting this
drug culture run its course.
But who would listen to a person who says they're from the future. Surely not the younger generation using the drugs, or their parents, who wouldn't believe their children would do such a thing. Can you imagine what a burden it would be living in that world, carrying such a heavy cross?
Well, I'm not from the future, and far from a prophet, but I am carrying a heavy cross. The reason I bring up those times and that scenario, is because I see a similarity, between, what went on back then, and what goes on today, in this Gaming industry. The only real difference I see, is that when the drug plague hit, it was the children not the parents who found it entertaining. Can you imagine what this country would be like today, if it were the opposite? Well, that's what I see today, when I walk through the casinos of Atlantic City, those same parents along with their children, entertaining themselves, and getting high.
There are many people who justify Casino and Racino gambling, by calling it entertainment. It's hard for me to believe that they sincere, so I go on the ascension that they're just clueless of what goes on in those Dens of Inequity. So today, I'm going to give you guys, the real deal on casino gambling, which comes from my own personal experience.
My credentials are that I am a veteran, and a casualty, after the first assault of the expansion of legalized casino gambling outside of Las Vegas. My story is of Atlantic City, and it's not unique. I'm just one of many who were courted by the casinos and fell in love with gambling and the "COMPED" treatment. Recreation, and what they call, Entertainment, that turned to compulsion; the loss of everything -- from family to business -- and the eventual realization that life didn't deal me a bad break; the casinos did.
Before the casinos opened in Atlantic City, the only gambling I did, was with my business, and in that, I was compulsive! I was a manufacturer in Philadelphia, and in the late '70s, I was the first one in my industry, to open up his factory to the public. It was beautiful. "Buy Direct From the Manufacturer." The public loved it, and within two years, I opened two more factory outlet stores. I was rolling in the cash. I had a beautiful family and lived in a single home, in my driveway were parked Mercedes. On the street it's called living large.
By the early '80s at the age of 32, I was a self-made millionaire. All of my childhood dreams had come true, but unfortunately, some dreams turn into nightmares, and that came, when I first walked through the elegant brass and glass doors, of what was once known as, The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino.
Within a few months, I walked through every casino door Atlantic City had to offer, and was considered, (Especially in my head) a "High Roller." The title lasted less than one year, and for another two years, I spent in what is known as the chase, which means trying to win back my losses. And when my casino career was over, along with a life that most people could only dream of, I was left on empty, with only anger and self-pity to fulfill my existence.
How could I be so stupid, letting myself get sucked in like that! Something like that's not supposed to happen to guys like me! I may have only a ninth grade education, but on the streets of Northeast Philly where I got my schooling, I was a scholar. I knew the hustlers and the cons. Where I grew up . . . they didn't rob you with a gun . . . they used a phone. And just like with drugs, I saw a lot of people destroy their lives betting with bookies, or at the track. But once I had bitten the casino apple, nothing could stop the overwhelming power that had overtaken me. And as I am speaking today, there is someone taking a bite.
That scenario I brought up . . . if I could go back in time, what would I do to stop the drug plague . . . would I sit idle . . . or would I step up to the plate. Well, there's no way of ever knowing that, but I can tell you, that back in the late '80s I decided to step up to the plate, and my first swing at this casino plague, is when I started to write my novel, "COMPED. The title is short for complementary. There are many messages in my book, but the one that I stress the most, is when I say, what happen to me, can happen to anyone, when casinos open up, in your backyard.
I'm not here today to promote my book. I get annoyed when I see people cashing in, on those who have, what I call, a casino addiction. Over the years I've seen a lot of shingles hung up. And I suppose, if the insurance industry were to acknowledge compulsive gambling as a disease there will be many more. I have to be honest, there were times when my street smarts kicked in, and I thought about hanging up a shingle myself. But then I would come across something as ridiculous as what the "CCPG," The California Counsel on Problem Gambling is doing this coming week.
They're one of those nonprofit organizations that the casino industry supports. They say they are dedicated to promoting awareness, education, research, prevention and treatment for problem gambling.
Their idea of support this week, is by having an evening of Comedy and Camaraderie. And guess where they're having this little shindig? Where else, but the beautiful, Crown Plaza Hotel at the Commerce Casino in Commerce, Ca.. And guess who's going to be honored, that night? Who else, but the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, for their continuous contributions and service in addressing the impact of problem gambling, within the state of California.
When I first saw this . . . I thought it was one of those misprinted add jokes," that Jay Leno holds up on the Tonight Show.
And speaking about comedy, why is it, that in this country, we find so much humor in gambling addictions. Just this summer, The Fox Network aired a show called "Lucky." The story line was about a compulsive gambler in Las Vegas. I don't know if any of you guys saw this show. When I first heard about it, I thought to myself, don't tell me Hollywoods finally going to exploit the darker side of the casino industry, but as usual they blew it. They made it, a "dark comedy." I contacted one of the producers of this show, and asked him if he be interested, in doing a "dark comedy," about an alcoholic, or drug addict, he asked me if I was nuts, and hung up on me. "I guess he didn't see the humor."
Let me get back to why I'm here today, because believe me, we could spend the whole day looking into how the entertainment industry is intertwined with the casino industry.
Today I'm here, because I need help. I've got to get this cross off my back. And please, if there's any people here today, who use initials for their last name, because you want to be anonymous, think about this for a moment!
Guys like Donald Trump, and Steve Wynn, are sitting in their plush penthouse suite, with their feet up on their marble desk, smoking Havana's, drinking brandy, and laughing their butts off, thinking about this wonderful industry there in. They put people, like you and me, on what I call the casino ladder. They bat us with COMPS, as they move us from prong to prong, until we're on empty.
And what do we do when our gambling career is over? We go to meeting rooms throughout the country with other poor souls like ourselves, looking to relieve the pain, and find a cure to stop gambling. If that's what it takes to stop you from gambling, then go for it.
I've been to GA. meetings, and I've met a lot of good people. But now is the time to come out of the closet and tell your story, don't let what happened to you happen to others.
And if there's any investigative reporters here today, it's about time you guys stood up to the plate. I mean, come on, it's been 25 years since the expansion of legalize casino gambling outside of Las Vegas, and in all these years, I have yet to come across one book, newspaper article, investigative report or movie that has told the true story.
I'd like to know where, CNN, the crew from 60 minutes, 20/20, Dateline, Geraldo Rivera, and Fox's Bill O'Reilly's been. Don't tell me there's nothing here to report. Thousands of people's lives have been destroyed in Atlantic City Casinos. And most of these people had never gambled, until it became legal. Now if you take those thousands of people, multiply it by their family members, friends, business associates, employers, employees, and lending institutions that were also affected with this casino addiction, then the thousands turn into millions. And the sad part about those numbers, is that a good percentage of those people, the ones who weren't doing the gambling, have no idea how something like this could happen. "That buy itself should be enough for a story."
But if the addiction horror stories, along with white and blue-collar crimes, murder and suicides, don't warrant an investigation. Then how about looking into the phenomenon of how our society perceives these joints. You would think they're the Vatican, a country within a country. Okay, so they have their own currency, "which is in the form of casino chips" along with a unique banking system, that can give interest-free loans, but again, "in the form of casino chips."
I don't get it. With what they get away with, you would think they're a religious order, or government agency. The only difference between casinos and any other, retail business, is that they have a license to steal.
Let's not forget the pioneers of this industry, or should I say hoodlums, shysters, con-men and gangsters. Does the name "Bugsy Siegel," ring a bell?
I do believe that most of those characters have been weaned out of the casino industry over the years. But look who's taking their place, corporate America, guys like Donald Trump, and Frank Fahrenkopf, who happens to be the top gambling lobbyist in Washington.
I'm sure you know Donald Trump story, but if you not familiar with Frank Fahrenkopf, let me give you some of his credentials. He's the president and CEO of AGA, the "American Gaming Association." He served as chairman of the Republican Party for six of president Ronald Reagan's eight years in office. He sits on the Board of Directors for four New York Stock Exchange public companies.
He's been a frequent commentator on political and gaming issues, on TV shows, like, Crossfire, Inside Politics, Meet the Press, Hardball, Face The Nation, the Today Show, This Week, and Good Morning America.
And who was there when the former drugs czar, Bill Bennett, went belly up in Atlantic City, and Las Vegas. Yes, it was Frank. Man, would I have like to been a fly on the wall that day. Can you imagine that conversation? I mean, do you think Bill told Frank, about how addictive, those one thousand dollars a pull, slot machines are. And did Frank tell him, to quit complaining, and to get at there, and let the public know, you stopped gambling. And make sure you don't mention about that addiction thing, you wouldn't want anyone to think, that you're amongst the one percent of the population that has a gambling problem.
Isn't it a shame, that a guy as influential as Bill Bennett, wasnt man enough to address his casino addiction for what it really was. I guess, he figured, that it would have been damaging to his political career.
"I hate to inform you Bill, but the damage is done, so you might as well come out of the closet, and do some real good."
When Frank Fahrenkopf and his boys presents this drug with its financial benefits, how can state legislators turn it down? And if anyone should question the impact, on the problem of compulsive, or problem gambling, they will refer them to those bogus statistics and research that their experts come up with.
Don't get me wrong, when they pitch the financial benefits, they're on the money. But when they say things like, their researchers are close to developing a "pill," that is going to help pathological gamblers, and that compulsive gamblers who live close to casinos or racinos, do not gamble anymore then those, who live farther away. . . . "Now that's just ridiculous."
Maybe it's not fair for me to be bashing Frank, and his crew, without them here to defend themselves, so what I'd like to do, is to take Frank up on an offer he made to a gentleman name Tom Gray. Tom's the president of the National Coalition against Legalize Gambling. The offer came when Tom said that Frank and his boys, were cannibals, and predators.
Frank said, it's easy to say that, but put your money where your mouth is, from the standpoint, what evidence do you have? Let's put it up. Let's look at it. Let's let independent people look at it. You come in, Tom, along with any anti-gaming opponents. Make your case, and will make ours. I'm willing to let the cards lay on the table. And what it shows, is what it shows.
"Well Frank, let's do it."
And to make it fair, because, you will be unarmed, I'm going to give you, and your boys, a head start, by laying out my cards on the table today. It just so happens that my cards total 7, and have much reference to the seven deadly sins. The first six cards are the tools of their trade. The seventh card is a good idea.
And here's my first card.
It's a direct route, to the casinos main artery.
More people got their casino addiction from chasing the "COMPS" than from the actual gambling. From the Bus people, that the casino lures in with "slots dollars" and "free buffets," and who are mostly senior citizen's, to the "High Rollers," that they chauffeur in limos, and put up in Penthouse suites. If your slot machines, table games, and spinning wheels are so good and entertaining, then there should be no need to "COMP."
"You take away the "COMPS," from this industry, and they stop breeding."
My second card, "No Credit."
Can anyone explain to me, how this industry can give out loans, in the form of markers, and not charge interest. Is it because their profit margins is so great, or is it because, in reality, what they're really giving, are casino chips, along with a very slim chance of winning.
If they want to do some real research, look into the casino's archives and see how many people they put into collections, because of those no interest loans.
My third card, "No Casino Chips."
This may be the illusion of life, and the casinos biggest edge! Take away the casino chips, and let's see how much money will be wagered then. Let's see what happens on weekends and holidays, when they have a captive audience, and they raise the minimum bets, on the tables. It's a whole different ballgame, when you have to put up the cash.
My fourth card, "No 24/7"
When the casinos first opened in Atlantic City, the framers of the States Casino Control Act, believe that it was necessary to permit compulsive gamblers time to step back from the tables. So they opened their doors at 10 A.M. and closed them at 4 AM on weekdays
and 6 A.M. on weekends and holidays. At that time they wanted to avoid, the wide-open atmosphere of Las Vegas, where continuous gambling is permitted. They said that they were worried about the potential, harmful impact on compulsive gamblers, and the possibility that Atlantic City would never become a family type resorts that its leaders and the voters envisioned in 1976.
The opposition back then, argued that 24-hour gambling had to be permitted, if the city was to become a full-fledged vacation resort, instead of the destination for Day-Trippers. Well as you know, today the casinos in Atlantic City are opened 24/7. They still have the Day-Trippers and are far from being a full-fledged vacation resort. And if you want to see pathological gambling in full bloom, take a stroll through the casinos during those extra hours.
My fifth card, No alcoholic beverages on the casino floor.
This is a no-brainer. Can you imagine how many lawsuits there would be if other financial institutions, like your bank, insurance or stockbroker, served free liquor while doing business? I'd like to know how many DUI's occurred, from a night out at the casinos.
My sixth card, "No ATM Machines!"
Now, I'm quoting Frank Fahrenkopf on this one. "I read more and more about, and see on television more . . . of people who have those little plastic cards, called credit cards, and can't control their spending. It's compulsive behavior. And not enough study has been done on that, quote, unquote."
Well, I think Frank has something here!
But wait a minute, what if, those more and more people, that Frank says, have that, "uncontrollable compulsive behavior," go into a casino or racino, where they have those ATM machines? What will we call them, "The compulsive behavioral spenders?"
Well before we end up with another anonymous group, and Frank and his boys, blow millions, on those ridiculous studies, let's just remove the damn things, it's that easy.
My seventh, and final card, "Monthly Statements."
Out of all of the seven cards, this one, I believe, has a shot at life. And the reason I say this is because the gaming industry says that they work very hard to prevent their customers from getting in over their heads. But unfortunately, there's no way of them knowing if a customer has a gambling problem.
Even though I find that hard to believe, especially since they know "the color of your eyes to your shoe size."
But maybe I'm wrong, so here's what's in my seventh card.
The casinos give their customers those plastic cards that just so happen to look similar to those little credit cards that Frank was so worried about. With the use of these cards the casino can track the time and the amount of money gambled. This information is calculated, and this is how, they determine, the value of the COMPS that will be given to their customers.
It's a very efficient tracking system. So what I am suggesting, is that the casinos and racinos, mail out a monthly statement. This statement will show the amount of money and time spent gambling, and the value of the COMPS received. This way, those people who just might be compulsive, will be able to see what this entertainment costs. And because, I know that the gaming industry is going to love this idea . . . how about we let the "spouses" have access to this information.
But wait one minute, If the Gaming Industry were to adapt to these seven cards they would go out of business. They know it, I know it, and you know it. So where do we go from here?
How about this! We get this information to the Governors and State Legislators who are looking to bring this industry into your state. Because maybe they're like Frank Fahrenkopf, and have no idea how this so-called entertainment works.
Now I know that my first six cards don't have much of a chance, but my seventh card, how can they discredit that?