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New Mexico doing little to fight gambling addiction

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State government is the big winner when it comes to gambling in New Mexico. It raked in more than $156 million in the last budget year from the New Mexico Lottery, horse racing and slot machines at tribal casinos, racetracks, and veterans and fraternal clubs.

But when it comes to preventing and treating problem gambling — one of the aftershocks of widespread wagering in New Mexico — the Legislature and governor have been unwilling to put much money on the table.

In the last budget year, which ended June 30, the state earmarked just $70,250 to specifically address problem gambling. All that money came from the lottery and went to the nonprofit New Mexico Council on Problem Gambling, which operates a telephone hotline and provides free counseling.

The $70,250 amounted to a fraction of 1 percent of the money the state took in last budget year in lottery profits, revenue sharing from tribal casinos and gambling taxes. By comparison, gaming tribes and racetracks were required to spend $2.3 million to combat problem gambling in the last budget year.

Meanwhile, the state Compulsive Gambling Council, created by law in 2006 and attached to the New Mexico Department of Health, hasn’t met for at least seven years despite a legal requirement that it meet regularly.

The council, made up of appointees of the governor, is responsible for implementing a state plan for preventing and treating problem gambling. The council and the Health Department also are supposed to educate seniors on problem gambling and to collect data on gambling-related suicides, bankruptcies and domestic violence.

The stakes are high when it comes to problem gambling.

The last major study of gamblers in New Mexico, in 2006, estimated as many as 29,000 men and women had gambling problems and tens of thousands of more were at risk of developing problems. Suicides and thefts of millions of dollars have been linked to problem gambling in New Mexico since the dramatic expansion of gambling in the state in the 1990s. In one of the most noted cases, Dianna Duran resigned as secretary of state in 2015 and pleaded guilty to charges that she used campaign donations to feed a gambling habit.

Disordered gambling,” the most serious form of problem gambling, is recognized as a mental health condition and addiction by the American Psychiatric Association.

Guy Clark, chairman of Stop Predatory Gambling New Mexico, said the state government’s efforts to combat problem gambling are “pathetic and shameful” and a “major failure.”

No one in the government seems to want to do anything about it,” Clark said. “Could it be that the government receives over a $100 million a year … doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds it?

Paul Rhien, a Health Department spokesman, said in an email that the Compulsive Gambling Council, which hasn’t met since Republican Gov. Susana Martinez took office in 2011, “appears to be just another legislative unfunded mandate.” He didn’t respond when asked in an email whether Martinez had ever sought funding for the council.

State Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, said Martinez could fund the council out of the budget of the Health Department.

I don’t think she needs specific money on that,” he said.

Under state law, appointees to the Compulsive Gambling Council aren’t paid for their work on the panel and also don’t receive reimbursement for travel expenses. The Health Department secretary or the secretary’s designee is supposed to chair the council. Other members include representatives of the gaming industry, experts in compulsive gambling and behavioral health professionals.

The Health Department budget totaled more than $550 million in the last fiscal year. While the department budget didn’t include money specifically targeted for problem gambling, it included funds to fight tobacco and alcohol use, obesity, cancer, opioid overdoses, HIV/AIDS infection and more public health concerns.

The Compulsive Gambling Council last met under Martinez’s predecessor, Democrat Bill Richardson.

In a 2009 report, the council made several recommendations to Richardson, including creation and funding of a state Office of Problem Gambling, a new tax on nontribal gambling to pay for problem gambling initiatives, a new study on problem gambling, prevention programs targeted at youth and seniors, and more funding for treatment programs.

While the large majority of citizens will never encounter a problem with gambling, those who do generate a ripple effect of disastrous consequences in their families and communities,” the council said in the report.

None of the council’s recommendations have been adopted by state government.

However, under this administration, the state has a number of initiatives designed to combat problem gambling in New Mexico,” said Rhien, the Health Department spokesman.

The spokesman cited a requirement that gaming tribes spend one-quarter of 1 percent of their slot machine winnings on problem gambling programs. The requirement is in compacts signed by Martinez and gaming tribes, but the requirement also was part of the previous state-tribal gaming compacts.

Rhien also cited a provision in the compacts that requires tribes to create programs that allow gamblers to voluntarily exclude themselves from casinos. Prior to the current compacts, only racetracks were required to have self-exclusion programs for gamblers.

Clark, of Stop Predatory Gambling New Mexico, said Martinez should re-establish the Compulsive Gambling Council to help in the prevention and treatment of problem gambling.

We know that we have thousands of people afflicted,” he said.

Smith, who as a senator played a pivotal role in the expansion of gambling in New Mexico, said efforts to combat problem gambling have slid over the years to the back burner of state government and that the efforts today don’t reflect the seriousness of the issue.

The problem is much larger than anybody wants to talk about,” Smith said, adding he needs to start asking more questions and hold hearings on government’s response to problem gambling.

 

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George Miller (Gyorgy Molnar) started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.

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OneTouch unveils new Russian Poker release

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Single-touch ergonomics make it perfect for on-the-go betting

 

Monday, 5th February 2018 – Premium games developer OneTouch will arrive at ICE 2018 armed with Russian Poker – it’s latest industry-leading online table game.

Russian Poker offers a unique version of player vs house poker, where the player is dealt five cards and is offered the chance to exchange cards or buy an additional card to make two five-card hands.

Players can also take insurance and buy the dealer a card if they don’t qualify with their opening five cards. This exciting version of casino poker is sure to be an online hit in Eastern European markets where the game had a large and loyal following in land-based casinos.

Matthew Rochman, Head of OneTouch, added: We’re always looking to add a modern flair to traditional table games and that’s exactly what we have done with Russian Poker.

 The game is hugely popular in Eastern Europe and we are confident players will love our crystal-clear graphics and mobile-first approach as we bid to make it a modern-day classic.

We believe we are the first company to deliver a state-of-the-art mobile version of Russian Poker and operators who have received been given a sneak preview of this games are excited and keen to add it to their portfolio in 2018.

OneTouch prides itself on providing an intuitive user experience across all of its titles via a single touch on all modern handheld devices thanks to its cutting-edge JavaScript framework and mobile-first approach to layout design.

The decks are also shuffled using a Provably Fair RNG, allowing players to verify the integrity of the shuffling and cards dealt to them, creating a gaming experience which is both exciting, enjoyable and fair.

OneTouch’s full portfolio of titles, which also includes roulette, blackjack and baccarat, will all be available to demo on Stand S9-112 at ICE 2018.

 

 

About OneTouch

Isle of Man-based OneTouch Technology Ltd develops premium table games for online casinos worldwide by combining innovative mobile-first designs with sharp single-touch interactivity to deliver a superior online gambling experience on both desktop and hand-held devices.

For more information, please visit www.onetouch.io

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Greek Casinos Could Start Giving Loans

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A new bill tabled in the Greek parliament on Monday could allow casinos to lend money to reliable customers to gamble.

 

In an omnibus bill being voted on Monday amid strikes and protests, there is a provision which will enable casinos to lend over 50,000 euros to select customers to continue playing if they need to, a Greek finance ministry source said.

This new law is aimed at foreign customers, to facilitate more spending in Greek casinos. The idea behind the bill is that studies show many gamblers decide on the place where they will spend their holidays on the presence of casinos where lines of credit are available.

These loans will not involve cash but special chips to be used exclusively inside a particular casino. To convert these special chips into money, any casino loan must have been repaid in full.

Chips will be counted as casino revenue, meaning gambling loans will be taxed, the finance ministry source added.

Plans to expand the availability of gambling in Greece have met opposition, with the local authorities in the Greek islands of Santorini and Crete recently hitting out at government plans to allow casinos to open on the popular tourist destinations.

Media reports from Crete say that local councils in the island are also preparing to launch a campaign against the casinos.

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Greek’s Planned Regulatory Reform on Gambling Faces Growing Opposition

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Greek casino officials voiced concerns earlier this week that the planned overhaul of the country’s gambling industry favors new casinos over existing ones.

 

A draft bill that calls for significant changes within the nation’s gambling sector is currently under consideration by the Greek government.

Among other things, the piece of legislation proposes a new licensing framework for the country’s casinos. According to officials at operational casinos the new regulatory regime creates better conditions for new industry stakeholders. Gambling executives also oppose the implementation of different corporate taxes for operators of existing venues and for newcomers.

The proposed scrapping of an entry fee for patrons is yet another provision that existing casinos have received with discontent. Under the draft bill, already operational gaming venues will first have to be given the nod from the Hellenic Gaming Commission in order to remove the entry fee. What is more, they will have to pay a compensation fee, which casino officials deem too high.

The sweeping gambling reform currently under consideration by lawmakers allows for the relocation of six existing casinos and the construction of three new casinos on the Greek islands of Mykonos, Crete, and Santorini. All three are popular tourist destinations and the opening of gambling venues is hoped to attract even a greater number of international travelers and boost Greece’s tourism industry and economy at a time when the country desperately needs additional revenue sources.

Mykonos Opposes the New Casino Proposal

News have emerged from Greece that officials from all three islands have opposed the proposal for the construction of gambling venues on their territories. However, it can be said that Mykonos officials have been most vocal in their discontent with the proposed gambling expansion.

Local media reported recently that Mykonos’ mayor, Konstantinos Koukas, has sent a letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressing the island’s opposition to the casino plan. In his letter, Mr. Koukas has said that the island has much more pressing issues to address, including the addition of more schools, hospitals, and infrastructure. The letter further read that only after these issues are solved, they could think about building a casino.

Island officials have also stressed on the fact that while the Greek government had conducted public consultation on the proposed casino expansion and the Mykonos municipality had participated in it, its stance on the matter had clearly not been taken into consideration.

Last month, the Mykonos City Council approved a proposal for a referendum at which islanders would be able to voice their opinion on the matter. Councilors also decided to launch a petition against the casino proposal and to authorize Mayor Koukas to take legal action in relation to the government’s decision to potentially authorize the construction of a casino on the island, despite the growing opposition to the move.

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