La Center of Attention
La Center, Washington, is not a town that you would normally associate with gambling, or for me, anything at all since I had never heard of it before checking the news reports. Apparently, the Cowlitz Tribe had plans for a new reservation casino to be built in this town which is only several miles north of Portland, Oregon.
According to Oregon Live:
The Cowlitz Tribe was a tribe without a reservation for several years having rejected the Government’s treaty offer back in the 19th Century, though the specifics of that offer do not appear in the article. In any event, the tribe was eventually offered a parcel of land that had been set aside in trust in the early 2000’s and they proposed building a casino on the land, which is going to be a project of just over half a billion dollars!
While the inevitable construction jobs and service jobs will likely be a boon for the area, many local residents were against having a casino so close to home. Initially adamantly opposed to the project, the Clark County Council as well as the Vancouver City Council have been increasingly open to discussing plans with the tribe, especially since the affirmation of the lower court’s ruling that the casino would be allowed to be constructed as seemed all but inevitable to everyone other than the staunchest detractors for a few years. In fact, the Columbian reported last month:
That the Cowlitz Tribe’s casino will be operated by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, and while many of the residents around their two existing casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods (both in Connecticut) initially had the same concerns about the effects that the presence of two casinos so close to home would have, the darkest of those fears have largely been assuaged and the community and casino generally co-exist peacefully.
One entity that may be swallowing a more bitter pill with this ruling is the Oregon State Lottery, and by extension, the State of Oregon. Given its close proximity to Portland, the new casino is expected to funnel some disposable gambling dollars that would otherwise go to the lottery that will likely be going to the casinos instead. The Oregon State Lottery has itself predicted that the casino may cost them over sixty million dollars in lost lottery revenue.
My advice for Oregon is simple: If you don’t like it, then compete. Legalize commercial casinos in the State of Oregon, authorize the building of one in Portland, problem solved. The case involving the Cowlitz Tribe had been pending for over a decade prior to its resolution last Friday, so even if the State of Oregon wants to argue that the market would become oversaturated and two major casinos would not be sustainable...then they should have built one first!
Video Gaming or Video Gambling?
Video Gambling has taken on a whole new meaning in a game known as Counter-Strike Global Offensive. In that game, ‘Skins,’ can be obtained by way of either buying them directly from the Steam (host of the game) Market or buy obtaining them via other means. Apparently, some Counter-Strike players have been using these skins for the purpose of betting.
Skins are essentially nothing more than a means by which one’s prowess of the game is showed off. Some of them are rarer, and as a result, more valuable than others and they may include different outfits or other accessories for weapons.
What has been happening with increasing frequency is that players will allow a third-party website, one of the more notable ones is CSGO, to hold the skins as a form of betting currency while players will engage in a match with one another. The winner of the match, of course, will receive the skins that were staked in that match.
These players may then take these skins to the Steam Market and sell them for actual cash. In effect, the skins themselves (at least in terms of what they are expected to be worth) are doing little more than functioning directly in place of cash.
Of course, these skins are not necessarily limited just to player-versus-player type competitions, and in fact, there have been multiple websites to offer de facto casinos in which games such as Roulette can be played and skins can either be won or lost. In that sense, the skins function in virtually the same exact way as money and these types of sites can be presumed to have a house edge working against the player, and may possibly be rigged in favor of the individual hosting the site.
Valve is absolutely not on board with any of this and has sent out a cease-and-desist letter to the owners of over twenty sites demanding that the sites be taken down within a number of days. On the current cease-and-desist letters, Wednesday would be the day by which Valve is demanding the sites cease operations completely.
For those of you out there who may believe that this may sound like nothing more than innocent fun, keep in mind that an individual skin can theoretically be sold for as much as four hundred dollars. Furthermore, the sites in question, it can be presumed, are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that the people that are on there gambling with these skins have reached any kind of appropriate gambling age whatsoever.
Furthermore, it could be presumed that the skins which are purchased and then used for gambling could also stem from illegal transactions, which may include minors using the credit cards of their parents without either the knowledge or consent of the parent in question.
As anyone out there knows, I tend to be on the side of casinos and freedom when it comes to what adults want to do with their money, but the existence of these sites is unconscionable. In fact, it has been reported:
That the owners of CSGO Lotto, as well as the owners of a myriad of other sites, are being sued over the matter. Even though they have done nothing to facilitate any active gambling, at least not knowingly, Valve is also listed as a co-defendant. Of course, it is possible that they simply knew about it and did nothing to stop it (by sending out the cease-and-desist letters) until it became apparent that these companies were all going to get sued.
I gambled on video games as a kid, too, but that was usually just the guy who lost on Street Fighter Turbo would have to put in the next quarter.
Lottery Troubles in the Land of Lincoln
The Illinois State Lottery has opened the door, yet again, for a private firm willing to come in and manage the state’s lottery business. Illinois has been plagued by problems over the last several years, not least of which is the state’s lack of statutory authority to pay major jackpots.
The current operator of the lottery, Northstar Lottery Services, has complained that it is very difficult to turn a profit with their cut of lottery revenues in Illinois simply because they maintain that some of the state’s policies are ridiculous. For their part, Illinois claims that their policies were in place at the time that Northstar bid on running its lottery, and when that bid was made, Northstar claimed that they would deliver the greatest profits to the state.
Illinois was also the pioneer when it came to online lottery offerings, but in an additional humiliation, their online offerings almost failed to pass the state legislature, particularly in light of the trouble that the state underwent earlier last year with respect to paying its winners.
Northstar Lottery Services is expected to discontinue its operation of the Illinois State Lottery on January 1st of 2017, and with time running out, the possibility of forming another branch who would be tasked with running the lottery as, essentially, a function of government is also being considered.
Fraud at Mohegan Sun
Stephanie Kelly-Sambuco is essentially being charged for requesting a chargeback, of course, that is largely because the chargeback request is completely fraudulent. Having lost nearly ten thousand dollars at the Mohegan Sun located in Connecticut, Kelly-Sambuco had the brilliant idea to claim that she had lost her wallet with her debit card at an airport in Connecticut.
The Mohegan Sun Tribal Police Department collaborated with local authorities to prove that Kelly-Sambuco was, indeed, the person to make those transactions at the ATM which totalled almost ten thousand dollars.
The aspect of this story that confuses me the most is the fact that she would get the police involved. She is certainly looking at felony fraud by reporting to her bank that the transactions were fraudulent, but in that event, it would only be the bank investigating the matter with Mohegan Sun, one would assume. By getting the police involved, she is also facing a first-degree felony of making a false statement.
Gambling certainly results in people doing strange things, sometimes, but certainly Kelly-Sambuco would have to believe that she would be on camera making the ATM withdrawal and that there is absolutely no chance that her story would be successful.
Pokemon Go...Just Go Carefully
While this is not strictly related to gambling, the Las Vegas Sun reports:
That eighteen-year-old Elvis Campos was first hospitalized and then arrested for an attempted robbery that ended in a shootout when Campos tried to rob a Pokemon Go player.
For those of you out there who may not know, Pokemon Go, is a relatively new mobile app that is designed, obviously, to make money. The second reason for the existence of the app, however, is to encourage kids and adults alike to, ‘Catch them all,” which involves going outside.
While Pokemon can often be caught while you are lounging at home, players who actually make their way outdoors are generally more successful in locating Pokemon. Furthermore, there exist, ‘Pokemon stops,’ which are essentially landmarks that an individual can travel to in order to collect Pokeballs, (the implements used to both catch and house Pokemon) eggs (from which the Pokemon are hatched) as well as a myriad of other items that are also available to those willing to pay for them.
These PokeStops, as they are called, do not appear to be limited by what time of the day it is at this time. The result is that many teenagers, or perhaps even younger kids, are going out during all hours of the night in order to collect whatever these stops may have for them as a reward. While players do not necessarily have shared Pokemon (the little fake animals) the PokeStops are at shared locations and there have been multiple stories of individuals going to these PokeStops to prey on individuals who they deem to be vulnerable. A Google Search for, ‘PokeStop Robbery,’ will be more than sufficient to prove my point rather quickly.
I don’t know how many of you out there have kids, I certainly do, though I would be getting a visit from CPS if they were outside by themselves at all, let alone that late at night. For those of you who do have kids, though, it is absolutely critical that you sit down with them and explain the dangers of visiting these PokeStops after dark. These locations come with a danger over and above merely being out too late at night, but additionally, they are almost a magnet for individuals who would seek to rob them, rape them or perhaps even worse.
I apologize for the apparent pessimism, but this is one game that everyone should be aware of and parents, grandparents and any other forms of guardians need to have an important chat with their kids to discuss what is both responsible and safe behavior. You might get an eyeroll, you might get an irritated pout, but you might just save your kid’s life.
I’d hate to end on such a negative note, so here is a link to the Youtube video of the, ‘Cheapo Casino,’ scene from Vegas Vacation:
Enjoy, stay safe, keep your kids safe.