Anther Justification for a Downtown Casino

Earlier this week, a guy from South Dakota escaped from prison, stole a car from a Pizza Hut delivery driver in Sioux Falls, pulled a gas & go in Lakeville, and robbed some banks in Minneapolis.

On the 13th, I made this comment via email to a friend about his crime pattern:

“He’s covering some ground. I’d check Mystic where he’s probably laundering the cash through slots.”

This morning, this happened:

A South Dakota prison escapee was caught early Wednesday at Mystic Lake Casino after piling up a slew of crimes since late Friday that included three bank jobs in the Twin Cities, an auto theft and other offenses, authorities said.

Why Mystic Lake? I don’t know about you, but when I land some cold cash of questionable origin, the first thing I want to do is launder it. And, what’s more convenient than anonymously bumping the questionable cash into slot machines, playing a few hands, then cashing out some fresh bills? You may even win something. Or, if not, you could count that as a laundering expense when you file taxes on your bank robbery earnings. (Disclosure: I’m not a CPA.)

We’ve heard this story before. Another high-profile example of this made the news last September:

Screenshot 2015-07-15 14.10.52

Thus the need for a downtown casino. Fugitives shouldn’t have to drive all the way to Shakopee to launder money1.. This causes wear and tear on our roads2., adds to congestion, air pollution, and ramps up the costs caused by multiple law enforcement departments getting pulled into investigations.

I don’t know if fugitives are better or worse drivers than average. Perhaps they’re extra attentive and law-abiding? Or, maybe they’re a bit distracted by the sudden lifestyle change? I just hope that they don’t draw attention to themselves by driving slow in the left lane.

Granted, fugitives aren’t your typical 9-5ers, so congestion alleviation may not be the biggest issue here. But, the downside of working odd hours is poor public transit options. It’s also a reverse commute (or the dreaded suburb to suburb commute), which are both difficult transit options. Uber’s obviously out of the question when you want your privacy respected.

The other upside is post-laundering entertainment. I’d rather see fugitives blowing some of their freshly laundered cash on highly taxed downtown entertainment. Put that laundered cash to work making up for the lack of fan support from Vikings and Timberwolves to cover infrastructure costs for their entertainment palaces.

Now, not every money launderer is a bank thief or murderer. Some are smaller time thieves who’d like to launder their money but don’t really want to make the drive all the way to Shakopee. Sure, they don’t get the same level of attention, but attention isn’t really what they’re seeking. Think about the benefits for these entrepreneurs. Less windshield time = more productivity.

Maximizing the full potential of our existing infrastructure is just good public policy.

1. Pro tip: Rob coins. Sure, they’re heavy, but are they marked? And, if you’re concerned about them being marked, Coinstar locations are a lot more convenient than casinos.

2. Fugitives really ought to consider hopping on Mystic Lake’s shuttle buses. Perhaps fugitives could form ad hoc mastermind groups to discuss laundering techniques while en route?

Minnesota Lottery Payout Signs Could Use Some Fine Print

I noticed that my local SuperAmerica on East Lake Street has a sign from the Minnesota Lottery boasting about how much money has been won by people buying various gambling products at the store:

Minnesota Lottery Payouts Signs

What it doesn’t say is how much money was lost along the way. Maybe it’s asking too much of the state, but wouldn’t it be nice if the state also disclosed how much money was sucked out of each community?

Based on the payout ratios described here (PDF), this sign in SuperAmerica could say:

The Minnesota Lottery has sucked $326,119 out of this community.

Gamblers have lost $326,119 so this store could make $51,682.

Since the lottery is run by the state, shouldn’t the state have the decency to disclose the damage it’s doing on signs like this?

How Much Are You Willing to Lose Per Hour to Provide Corporate #wilfare to the NFL?

The state of Minnesota is off to a slow start in their effort to extract tens of millions of dollars from gamblers via e-pulltabs for the NFL’s benefit. This is partly my fault because I’m up $4.50 after the one game I played at O’Gara’s in October.

There’s a name for repetitively clicking stuff on a computer: work. I prefer doing this type of work for a salary rather than Pavlovian rewards.

E-pulltabs have an 85% payout under current laws so an average dollar bet returns 85 cents. The majority of the other 15 cents goes to corporate Wilfare for the Vikings and the device vendor. A small fraction goes to a local charity and the bars where the games are played.

If you plan to spend some time losing 15 cents per hand while drinking a beer, how much can you expect to lose? That comes down to how fast you can play. Once you’re familiar with the games, it seems reasonable that you could play a hand every 15 seconds (probably faster). At 15 seconds, you’ll lose 60 cents per minute on average or $36/hour.

Here’s a breakdown of how much money you can lose per hour based on a variety of bets and gambling rates:

E-pulltabs Losses by Hour

If your goal is to lose at least $50/hour, you have some options: $2 bets every 20 seconds will get you there. You’ll need to up your pace to 10 seconds to lose that much at $1 per hand. And, with enough focus, you could lose $50 in an hour at 50 cents per hand if you maintained a 5 seconds per hand pace (around 700 hands in an hour! Don’t forget to blink!).

Here’s a guy who wants to lend a hand (A few hundred hands? Thousands?):

Let’s assume that Loren is willing to lose $100 for Zygi Wilf’s gain. At $1 per hand, it will take Loren nearly two hours to do so. Once Loren’s parted ways with his Benjamin, how much will go toward debt payments on the state’s stadium commitments? $36.

Loren would need to spend two hours of his time to lose $100 in order to generate $36 in stadium financing revenue. $25 goes to the pulltab vendor. $20 to a local charity, and $15 to the bar. I don’t know how much respect Loren has for his own time and money, but there may be easier ways to give money to the state to help pay for a Vikings stadium than this.

E-Pulltabs: For Every $1 in Charity the Vikings get $1.80 in Stadium #wilfare

E-pulltabs are up and running. I tried one at O’Gara’s. Our local gambling exploiters, ExpressGames, asked me what I though on Twitter. I told them:

MPR’s Tim Nelson reports that there are now forty venues with electronic trickle-up economics machines installed:

Is forty venues good? Marlys Harris at MinnPost reported how many active venues offering electronic Wilfare collection machines in order to cover the money the state has borrowed to subsidize the NFL:

Minnesota’s Revenue Department moreover based its estimate on assumptions that may or may not hold. Among them: 1,500 sites would offer electronic bingo, and 2,500 would install pull-tab machines.

At the current rate of less than 1.5 new venues/day joining getting into the electronic pull-tab gambling exploitation business, it will only take another 4.5 years to reach the levels needed to cover stadium debt obligations without tapping into the general fund. Has any venue launched electronic bingo yet? As far as I can tell, we’re 0/1,500 on collecting money from through bingo for Vikings stadium Wilfare.

If you’re the kind of person who DOESN’T consider playing pulltabs on an iPad extraordinarily boring, here’s where $1 in goes out:

Split of E-Pulltabs Gambling Revenues

If a decent percentage wasn’t returned as winnings, you wouldn’t see much interest in e-pulltabs. But, clearly, there need to be losers so Zygi can be a winner. Here’s a closer look at who wins as you lose:

Split of Revenue Generated from Electronic Pulltabs

While talking about e-pulltabs with the bartender at O’Gara’s, he said that this helps support a good cause. I’m not sure what charity O’Gara’s pulltabs supports, but I do know this:

For every $1 that goes to support that charity, $1.80 goes to support the NFL.

For every $1 that goes to support that charity, $1.45 goes to the e-pulltab vendor.

For every $1 that goes to support that charity, $0.75 goes to the bar.

For every $1 that goes to an actual charity, $3 goes to support for-profit companies.

Call me crazy, but I think there may be more efficient ways to give money to charities than to give $3 to the NFL, an Las Vegas e-pulltabs gaming company, and a bar for every dollar that goes to charity. It’s costing you $4 to make a $1 donation.

Plus, if you simply donated your own money to the charity of your choice, you could deduct the contribution. After deductions, straight up donating a dollar to charity costs less than a dollar.

If donating to subsidize Zygi Wilf’s wealth is important to you, I’m sure you could send a check to Winter Park to help the guy out. Or, but a brick at the new stadium. How are those brick sales coming along?

Racinos Get a Mention in the NY Times. It’s Not Pretty.

The NY Times’ piece on March 24th about the “DEATH AND DISARRAY AT AMERICA’S RACETRACKS” looks at the injury and death rates of horses and jockeys across the country.

The Times analysis found that horses in claiming races have a 22 percent greater chance of breaking down or showing signs of injury than horses in higher grade races. That lower level of race has been particularly affected by the arrival of casinos.

At Aqueduct, most of the 16 horses that have died so far this year were in the lower ranks, where purses have increased the fastest because of new casino money.

16 horses have already died at one racino this year? That article was published at the end of the 12th week of the year.

The analysis showed that during those three years the rate of incidents for horses in the United States was 5.2 per 1,000 starts.

By contrast, Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, which year after year has one of the lowest breakdown rates in North America, had an incident rate of only 1.4, according to the Times analysis. “One of the differences here is medication is not as permissive as it is in the U.S.,” said Jamie Martin, executive vice president of racing at Woodbine.

According to the analysis, five of the six tracks with the highest incident rates last year were in New Mexico. All are casino tracks, commonly called “racinos.”

I have a hunch Zygi Wilf could care less how the State of Minnesota comes up with the more half a billion in cash he’s demanding we provide to subsidize his bottom line. But, we should care.

Will Electronic Pulltabs Attract a Younger Crowd or Problem Gamblers for Vikings Stadium #wilfare?

One of the issues raised during the March 14th Senate Local Government and Elections Committee hearing on the Vikings stadium corporate welfare bill came from Sen. Benjamin Kruse (R-Brooklyn Park) who asked questions about what backup funding sources would the state have to rely upon if electronic pulltabs didn’t produce as much revenue as the state estimates.

That’s a very fair question. As I understand the issue, if people don’t flock to electronic pulltabs, the state would have to make up the difference by raiding the state’s general fund. As in, we would be taking money from schools, roads, and health care to make the debt payments on the stadium we built for Zygi Wilf.

Which makes me wonder: why would anyone find electronic pulltabs interesting? Here are the thoughts I’ve come up with and heard about electronic pulltabs in recent days.

1. Personally, I’d be LESS likely to use pulltabs in electronic form. The paper form, to me, is more social. When I open a loser, I can throw it down on the table or flick it at a friend of mine. I don’t believe I’d be able to do either of those things with an iPad style pulltab device.

2. Kids these days that are busy on their phones at bars are not likely to turn their attention to electronic pulltabs. While paper pulltabs may not seem all that cool versus the latest iPhone, it’s not the electronic nature of the device that makes it more popular than paper pulltabs. It’s what they’re doing with that device. Do you really think that paper or electronic pulltabs can compete with a 24 year old getting an alert on her phone that someone has commented on a photo she’s been tagged in on Facebook? No chance.

3. One group that may find electronic pulltabs more attractive than paper pulltabs is gambling addicts. Lets say that you just ripped through $100 of mostly losing pulltabs. In the paper pulltab world, will that gambling addict make the walk of shame to redeem their $4 in winners for another $100 in pulltabs? Or, if they are $96 in the hole while huddled up in the corner of a bar, will they keep pouring more money into the machine without human interaction?

What I’m saying is that, intuitively, I don’t think electronic pulltabs will attract the crows that electronic pulltab promoters claim they can. And they may drive our state’s problem gamblers even further into the hole.

All to subsidize – not a charity – but a private NFL franchise owned by a New Jersey businessman.

Sen. David Senjem May Be Worth $4.6 Million to Canterbury Park

How so? Based on the spike in Canterbury Park’s stock price (Ticker: CPHC) in the day following Senjem’s promotion to MN Senate Majority leader, it looks like Senjem is a $4.6 million man. Or, a man with a plan with odds of being fulfilled that have been priced at $4.6 million by the market:

CPHC Stock Price pre-post Senjem at Senate Majority Leader

Post market close on December is when the news of Senjem’s new leadership position was announced.

Why is Senjem worth so much to Canterbury? He’s the MN Senate’s #1 supporter of Racino.

Is this good or bad? If your name is on the following list, this is very good because you own more than 100,000 shares of CPHC:

Sampson (Curtis A)
GAMCO Investors, Inc.
Schenian (Dale H)
Sampson (Randall D)
Morgan (John L)
EQ/GAMCO Small Company Value Portfolio
GAMCO Investors, Inc.
Dimensional Fund Advisors, LP

In fact, Curtis Sampson saw his shares increase in value by nearly $1 million on December 28th.

But, if you’re someone who’d like to see Minnesota invest in people and companies that create products and services sold to people and companies outside the State of Minnesota – thus bringing new money into the state – rather than increasing exploitation of ourselves through increased gambling, this may not be the best news in the world.

Who has the Racino Lobby Bought?

In case you’re wondering who the Minnesota Racino lobby has been spending money on in order to increase its chances of exploiting gambling addicts, here are the names with campaign contributions:


Notice any trends in that data? Quite a few Republicans, eh? That seems strange considering that the MN GOP’s platform reads (PDF):

Limit the Influence of Gambling in our State
We seek to eliminate all state-sponsored gambling and oppose any expansion of gambling in Minnesota. In regards to casinos already in place, current gambling laws should be changed so that Minnesota is allowed to tax profits and revenue of tribal casino gambling in the state.

I think that makes it clear that the MN GOP can be bought. They’re abandoning their own party’s platform for a few hundred campaign dollars each.

So what if the MN GOP flips on their position on gambling? Maybe exploiting gambling addicts and destroying families is justified in tough financial times?

What is the justification for supporting the racino at this time? Building a new stadium for corporate welfare queen, Zygi Wilf and his private business, the Minnesota Vikings.

State Lottery Sponsored Beer Glasses

Oregon State Keno Ads on Beer Glass

Here’s something I haven’t seen in Minnesota yet. State sponsorship of beer glasses for bars. Oregon’s bars often have gambling in the form of keno or video poker. Apparently, drinking isn’t enough encouragement on its own, so the Oregon Lottery folks are giving beer glasses to bars.

Will we see loons on the side of beer glasses in Minnesota soon?

Harrah’s Hot Hot Super Jackpot Finder

As regular readers of The Deets know, I’m a big fan of Hot Hot Super Jackpot. So earlier today, I decided to hop on The Google and see if anyone else shares my love for this game. First, I found out that “Super Jackpot” is two words after finding only links to my own posts for the conjugated term. Once corrected, I found this.

Harrah’s publishes a “Slot Finder” search on their website where people can search by slot machine to find Harrah’s properties with their favorite game. It turns out that there are 18 locations within the Harrah’s chain stocking the game, but only 13 locations with the penny denomination. Next time I’m in Atlantic City, I’ll be sure to Baily’s or Showboat rather than Caesar’s for some Hot Hot Super Jackpot Penny Slot action.