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GAMBLING: Judge proposal on facts, not rhetoric

Letter by Dolores A. Chiechi, RGA Executive Director, Olympia on Feb. 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm with 10 Comments »
February 21, 2012 10:57 am

Predictably, The News Tribune has once again bashed the proposal to authorize a limited number of electronic scratch ticket machines in nontribal card rooms (editorial, 2-17).

However, readers deserve to know the facts about House Bill 2786, not a rehash of arguments about proliferation and the social cost of gambling.

This bill specifically addresses past concerns about proliferation of gambling by limiting machine gaming to the 62 existing card rooms. Compared to the more than 25,000 machines currently in tribal casinos, the limit of 200 per location could hardly be characterized as putting “thousands of machines in state card rooms.”

HB 2786 is not about expanding the availability of gambling but about sustaining an existing industry that provides more than 6,000 living-wage jobs and tens of millions in local tax revenues. Just ask local communities like Lakewood and Tukwila, whose voters have overwhelmingly voted to keep their card rooms open.

The bill would generate $380 million per biennium, with the proceeds going to education, health and human services, and public safety. Moreover, this is not a temporary fix, but sustainable, long-term revenue.

Gaming is a $2.5 billion-a-year industry in our state; $1.95 billion of that goes to tribal governments. Allowing a limited number of machines in existing card rooms will not only sustain struggling card rooms, but finally provide a return to our state to help pay for critical services.

Voters do, indeed, need to let their legislators know how they feel about this issue, based on facts, not anti-gambling rhetoric.

(Chiechi is executive director of the Recreational Gaming Association of Washington.)

Leave a comment Comments → 10
  1. It would be welcome, every once in a while, that the “Trib” exercise some balance in their editorials. It is getting to the point that no one is reading your comments due to your predictability. What is stated by Dolores Chiechi is correct. This is the only industry going to the state this year with a “self imposed” tax proposal and the state would be foolish to turn it down. As stated, public sentiment has changed from what has existed in the past, this is evident in the elections in both Tukwila and Lakewood, where the the vote was overwhelmingly (62%) in favor of keeping non-tribal casinos. Thank you for printing the facts in this bill, but it would be nice, every once in a while, that the “Trib+e” practice balance reporting of the facts.

  2. Regularguy says:

    I agree with these facts completely as people are already gambling in our state on “machines” and we do not benefit from tax revenue. If people want to gamble, let them contribute to our economy, not the tribes economy. Aren’t we still free to make decisions, or only free to make “acceptable” decisions?

  3. DavidAnderson says:

    The EIC represents “minicasinos, bingo parlors, horse racing and other gambling businesses”. The EIC stated in a report “We want the right to operate the same video lottery machines as the tribes under the same rules.” Report: “Background to Dream” by Cheryl Simrell King and Casey Kanzler of The Evergreen State College.

  4. DavidAnderson says:

    Gambling is a game of numbers. That being the case, check off the number of times Chiechi says “limited”: “a limited (1) number of electronic scratch ticket machines”; “This bill (HB 2786) specifically addresses past concerns about proliferation of gambling by limiting (2) machine gaming”; “the limit (3) of 200 per location”; “Allowing a limited (4) number of machines in existing card rooms.”

    This next however is what Chiechi doesn’t want you to know:

    In the Spring of 2008, Chiechi together with Lakewood City Councilman Walter Neary, debated John Arbeeny in a public forum at Lakewood United. Here Chiechi stated that the reintroduction of slot machines remained the intent of her organization to enable non-tribal casinos to “level the playing field” with the tribes.

    On September 9, 2008, the Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) met in Gig Harbor where representatives of Chiechi’s outfit – the Recreational Gaming Association (RGA), advocated successfully (passed at the October, 2008 meeting of the WSGC in Spokane) for increased wager limits, more players per table, and Baccarat – a first ever nickels and dimes (actual cash) thrown in a James Bond type game. It is worth noting here that the Commission denied a proposal for mini-baccarat in 2003 saying at that time it was an expansion of gambling.

    On February 17, 2009 – a public hearing was held on HB 2162, the so-called ‘zoning control of gambling’ bill. Speaking in favor were Lakewood City Mayor Doug Richardson, Lakewood Planning Advisory Board Member and Lakewood City Council Candidate (now current councilmember) Jason Whalen, Lakewood Chamber President Linda Smith, Lakewood Businessman Ted Wier, Kirkland Assistant City Manager, a representative of the Association of Washing Cities (AWC); and noticeable in the audience but not speaking: Dolores Chiechi and Greg Bakamis who previously was manager of the Grand Central Casino in Lakewood, in 2009 having entered the corporate office while holding the position of Lakewood Chamber Executive Board Chairman in which position he convinced the Chamber to convince the Lakewood City Manager to convince the City Council to drop the casino tax rate to 11% from a sliding-scale 10-20%.

    March 16, 2011 – Chiechi, once again before the legislature, “says the new video-slot machine proposal her group is proposing would be accommodated by casinos in Lakewood.” Daily Olympian
    http://www.theolympian.com/2011/03/16/1581888/gaming-groups-dangle-380m-video.html#ixzz1Gs2NW0ux

    According to the Sept. 6, 2004 publication “Horsesass.org – Politics as Unusual” sister to Dolores is Maria Chiechi, “on the staff of the Entertainment Industry Association (EIC) the organization that has for years been pushing the slot machine bill that became Initiative 892 (an attempt in 2004 to place 19,000 slot machines not only in non-tribal casinos across the State of Washington)” but in bowling alleys, restaurants and taverns.

    There can be no doubt that “limited” to the Chiechi’s, who succeed their father Vito in their “career of representing ‘sin’ industries as one of the state’s most powerful and influential lobbyists,” according to Horsesass.org, means “foot-in-the-door” today, whole-sale-accomplishment-of-long-sought-objective tomorrow: gambling expansion via state-of-the-art slot machines.

    The EIC represents “minicasinos, bingo parlors, horse racing and other gambling businesses”. The EIC stated in a report “We want the right to operate the same video lottery machines as the tribes under the same rules.” Report: “Background to Dream” by Cheryl Simrell King and Casey Kanzler of The Evergreen State College.

  5. arbeenjo says:

    According to my calculator 200 slot machines in each of 62 existing card rooms is equal to an additional 12,400 more slot machines. Delores that is a 150% increase and indeed thousands more slot machines despite your protestations to the contrary. You can’t even be straight with us in this blog! Anti gambling rhetoric? Gee I thought you guys were into entertainment? But we know you’re not. During the Lakewood United gambling forum where I debated Delores, she repeatedly stated that the casinos were specifically marketing to the “addicted gamblers” who currently patronize Indian Casinos. I almost couldn’t believe my ears but others there heard it too. Now she’s proposing slot machines state-wide which are the gambling method of choice for those who want to “zone out” and forget about their troubles; often the poor and elderly. Just what we need: a segment of the population as zombies who unthinkingly pour their rent money and social security checks down the toilet so some preditory businesses that are in “trouble” can survive. You and your front organization are a disgrace to this state. Gambling isn’t entertainment: its about addiction. Don’t believe it? Just ask Skeeter Manos and the 60,000 citizens of Lakewood who have to live with his shame….just like many other families of addicted gamblers do every day.

  6. sonofasailor51 says:

    This just seems silly. Of course they are going to fight for their businesses as anyone would. I’m pretty sure that when they say a “limit” of 200 per location, and a cap of 7875 statewide means not all would get the full 200…Doubtful that is a lie, but the above poster seems quick to point a finger. I don’t see the big deal having machines where people expect to see them…and this seems much better than having them in every bar.

  7. DavidAnderson says:

    Every casino today, every bar tomorrow. That’s how Chiechi balances her check book. See earlier post.

  8. sonofasailor51 says:

    K, I don’t understand David. She represents the minicasinos, right? So why would she want machines in bars? Wouldn’t that decrease the incentive for people to actually go to a casino and be bad for the businesses she represents?

  9. 62×200=12400 that is thousands, maybe the writer didn’t finsh High School. Then she has to lobby and spin the facts to obfuscate her position. If we are stuck with Gambling in the state tax the heck out of it, tribal and non-tribal. Thank you state for giving us the Lotto to open the door to indescriminate gambling.

  10. DavidAnderson says:

    Sonofasailor – Per the post above, according to the Sept. 6, 2004 publication “Horsesass.org – Politics as Unusual” sister to Dolores is Maria Chiechi, “on the staff of the Entertainment Industry Association (EIC) the organization that has for years been pushing the slot machine bill that became Initiative 892 (an attempt in 2004 to place 19,000 slot machines not only in non-tribal casinos across the State of Washington)” but in bowling alleys, restaurants and taverns.

    Note the last three venues listed in that last sentence. The RGA and the EIC, represented by the two Chiechi sisters, want gambling everywhere – evidenced by their own statements, monetary backing and lobbying at the legislature. What they will emphasize is “limited” and “casinos” (as opposed to taverns, etc.) but they’ve never been about either. It’s about the proliferation of gambling not the protection of those victimized.

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