Thursday, June 18, 2009

HOW TO APPROVE A CASINO WITHOUT REALLY TRYING: THE GAME

You know after tonight's weekly radio show I spent some time thinking about how we got to this point on casino's and where we are going wrong. In short, the big picture is ugly and brutal in some ways.

Some will call me a conspiracy theorist for writing this article. Some will say "I knew they were doing that." Still others will leave the blinders on and ignore the possibilities that this article suggests and call me crazy. No matter what one thing is for sure. In some way you are indeed making a statement that yes MyViewMatters to yourself and that is the goal.

To get you involved.

Casino gambling , or in this case video slots, is not a new concept. In fact it has been tried repeatedly since 1998 and failed each and every time. So I have to ask why does this time seem so much more important than any other? Surely we knew horse racing was a gamble in itself what with so many other avenues to spend your gambling dollar on in today's world and the negative press when a horse gets put down so readily available at this time.

So many options to choose from for your money and so ready a media to hurt you at all costs.

What a time to get rid of cigarettes and try to get rid of alcohol. With this economy, and these bozo's making it worse, seems now is the time when most of us need to raise a glass and light up to relax.

But I digress.

I believe the picture is broader than a simple fight over video slots. If you have followed the Cordish Group debacles over the last couple of years then you know Cordish essentially goes into a town with a new "live" venue, you know 4Th Street Live for example, then typically follow that by trying to get casinos which is where the real money is made.

In the case of Churchill Downs casino's would be a major competitor that they possibly could not overcome. In their minds anyway.

So what to do? Work together in some degree or another.

Throw away $121 million on a renovation that could have been cut in half realistically, destroy the ambiance that once was Churchill with the twin spires (that are now essentially hidden ruining the historical perspective), close a money making facility like Trackside Live at the same time in anticipation of getting video slots and failing in that regard, all while giving your leader a $7 million bonus.

Great remedy for failure to the stockholders in the short term. And Churchill has done a great job of destroying what once was a proud part of our community. At least to me. But look at the larger gain.

Short term losses for long term gains? That is corporate America and Churchill is part of it.

So now we have the groundwork laid for failure creating the illusions that we are far behind our competitors in purse size and losing our business. We cannot lose the signature industry of Kentucky. Poor us we are broke millionaire's. Blah, Blah, Blah , Blah.

It is not enough that you essentially work tax free here. No property taxes on an estimated value of your property at $100 million. No sales taxes on the millions made each year at yearling sales. But now we must "bail" you out even further? What do we have left to give?

So what happens now?

We have laws in place that would allow everything but video slots now and with an amendment would include them and make it fair across the board for people like charitable gamers who actually do give back to the community. Churchill says no we want it all and are so worried about losing the signature industry that a compromise is not agreeable. Yep they really care about horse racing don't they? Now they are facing the biggest gamble they have to date.

Betting it all that we are naive enough to fall for the garbage that is being spewed our way. So much for a signature industry right? That they can chance losing it for their own gain. And do not forget while Churchill made $22 million last year most other businesses showed losses every quarter thanks to a down economy.

What does all this have to do with Cordish or full casino's? Quite a lot actually.

As in everything when you want to get your way you take baby steps to set things up in business and government. In this case think about the steps.

Step one? Start squeezing charitable gamers out of business with unfair and undue burdens that no other business in Ky has to abide by. A profit law. Yep you read it correctly.

Lay a 40% profit mandate on all charitable gamers while at the same time NOT allowing normal standard business expense write offs as part of the balance sheet to get it at 40%.

Once you start squeezing these places out then that opens up the door for more gambling dollars to be spent elsewhere. And since many love the games of chance they want to go somewhere right?

Step two? Destroy the signature State business in Kentucky by a well thought out plan to force the hearts and minds of the people to believe we are in danger of losing it. Playing the heart strings by using our kids as blackmail so you can try to get a "new" bill passed that only you can profit from. Create a monopoly and this is not the board game version this is real life.

Step three? throw in a little money and claim it is for kids and education dividing the community so you can profit.

All three steps have been accomplished so far.

The plan has worked to perfection but everyone forgot about Cordish. By design.

What is the Cordish role in all this? Casino's of course. It is what they do. They start with a new entertainment complex, show a zero profit for a few years based on a "partnership" agreement with the City that they do not give ANY money to, and then work the system and play the game to get what they really want. Casino's and all the cash that goes with it.

The same arguments they made to force charitable gamers out of business by trying to regulate the cash flow going through them is the argument they will not make here.

That's what Cordish wants. The cash. Unregulated and hard to account for.

You see the real reason Louisville did not use the Water Co site for the arena, which made by far the most sense from any perspective you want to view it from, is that by leaving that property open they could slide Cordish in there right next to 4Th Street Live and funnel all the entertainment money there. What will Cordish do with it?

Build a casino. Deal made with Abramson to run their Louisville operations when complete perhaps? Who knows but it sure does seem likely considering the source. And that is the conspiracy theory I will be accused of. But add it all up and think about all the money that has been steered Cordish way and ask why?

The benefit? A simple one. By putting a casino at that location it is easier access on a daily basis to steer business to 4Th Street Live. Not just during arena events. So it stand to reason if you can force the entertainment dollar there on a daily basis, instead of an event related one, you can gain more revenue from the investment.

And who cares about the local businesses that drive our economy right? Abramson and cronies do not for sure as they have proven time and time again. Need proof? Ask the owners of the former City Block.

Think about all the available info we had at the time they decided to build the arena at an inflated cost we could not afford. We are paying for it right? We already know as of 2005 based on Abramson's own results posted within the Mayor's conference report at that time we had a financial problem.

So why push this down our throats?

The Master Plan.

Cordish gets to use Churchill to do the dirty work opening the door for casino's since they have already played this game. Churchill gets to do the dirty work of ridding the competition for the gambling dollar in the community. Both get to split and benefit from the proceeds when completed. easy compromise isn't it? And a very probable one given the fact that Churchill is not open to a compromise for the community with charitable gamers.

Abramson benefits by getting a cushy well paid job from his buddies at Cordish.

Win win in their eyes. Lose lose for us. Do not discount the game. They play with millions and can outlast most of us in the community.

Funnily enough they are trying to beat us with our own money. Of course that should be no surprise check out the State legislature and spending. Heck check out the millions Abramson has lost and wasted here for his political power and the friends of his administration.

And the biggest way they show us their game?

Resort to using our kids, as usual, against us for the sympathy. If they really cared about our kids we would not have problems with our education system and there would be jobs for our kids to look forward to down the road.

Shame on Greg "Shady" Dumbo for using our kids against us. yep that is Stumbo's new name. Shame on Abramson for allowing us to be used this way for his gain.

Are you tired of being the pawn yet?

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Thank you for reading LNP. Open and honest discussions of local politics and relevant issues is important to voter understanding. Please listen to the "Ed Springston Show". We broadcast Monday through Thursday evenings at 7 PM on local media outlets. Please check for the links.
Yours truly,
Ed Springston

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