Losing your shirt – and your home – at the casino
It’s a well-known truism in the casino world that the house always wins. Less well known is the fact that sometimes, apparently, what the house wins is your house.
On Sunday, the Globe’s Mark Arsenault had a revealing look at the hardball tactics used by both Connecticut casinos to collect casino debts, measures that sometimes include placing liens on the homes of casino patrons who have been extended credit by the gambling outfits.
Arsenault reports that Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, both in the hunt for a Massachusetts license, have placed dozens of liens on homes since the early 2000s, including one that Mohegan, which nows wants to develop a casino on the Revere side of the Suffolk Downs racetrack property, placed on a the home of an elderly resident there who had racked up a combined debt of $66,000 to the two Connecticut gambling halls. In 2006, Louis Cutler had virtually no assets or income other than the modest Revere cape where he lived, when Mohegan Sun won a court judgment to put a lien on his home for $30,600 in gambling debt plus interest. A year later, Foxwoods got in on the action, adding a lien of its own for $36,000.
A number of experts the Globe talked to called it highly unusual for casinos to look to attach liens to homes to collect debts. Foxwoods declined to comment. A representative of Mohegan defended the casino, saying Cutler had “significant assets” at the time he was extended the credit line. The spokesman also said he had lines of credit at “numerous other gaming facilities across the country.”
Putting liens on gamblers’ homes may be not be standard casino practice. What’s damaging about the story is that it underlines the more general point that what is standard practice is for casinos to devise ways to get players to overextend themselves. That includes sophisticated design of slot machines intended to get gamblers to — in the industry’s argot — “play to extinction.”
In 2007, the Globe reports, Cutler filed for bankruptcy protection, which saved his house. He died three years later at age 84.
Senate President Therese Murray, who would have had to relinquish her post atop the Senate next March because of term-limit rules, announced that she will not seek reelection this fall and will leave office at the end of the current session next January. The story was first reported in her local paper, the Old Colony Memorial. Republican state Rep. Vinny DeMacedo of Plymouth immediately threw his hat in the ring.
The Department of Children and Families office in Leominster may have failed two other children in addition to Jeremiah Oliver, the Telegram & Gazette reports. The Globe reports that the department ranks very poorly on national comparisons of state child protection agencies, but it’s also hard to make direct comparisons because of differences in what states measure.
Stretches of asphalt on 16 streets in Lawrence are breaking up, in part because the repaving was done too late in the season on orders from the former mayor, William Lantigua, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
The New York Times casts the fight over the federal minimum wage as a case study in Washington power politics.
Democrats caucused in communities across the state over the weekend, beginning the process of selecting delegates for the party’s state convention in June. Sunday’s Globe says businessman Joe Avellone showed some strength in Worcester. This morning the paper reports on a Sunday Cambridge caucus where Attorney General Martha Coakley supporters grabbed 8 of 10 delegate slots, with backers of Cambridge resident Juliette Kayyem getting the other two. State party leaders say no candidate had a breakout performance at the caucuses.
State Rep. Hank Naughton is bowing out of the Democratic race for attorney general.
Massachusetts Republicans have a tough road ahead, according to The Berkshire Eagle.
With Sen. Marco Rubio’s popularity waning among conservatives because of his support for immigration reform and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stuck in traffic issues, polls are showing there’s no clear cut leading GOP candidates to run for president.
The Republican establishment pushes back hard against primary challenges from the party’s right.
Michael Sam , a University of Missouri defensive end and top NFL prospect, comes out as gay, the New York Times reports.
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, topped the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of the 50 biggest donors last year, the youngest couple ever to lead the list.
Federal antitrust officials say they’ll likely oppose a takeover of T-Mobile by Sprint.
A West Bridgewater cemetery is installing columbariums — structures that can hold up to 800 urns for cremated remains — in islands throughout the burial grounds for “drive-by” visitations so family and friends can pay their respects to loved ones without getting out of their cars.
More Americans are quitting their jobs, an indication they believe they’re optimistic about finding employment elsewhere.
Stonehill College political science professor Peter Ubertaccio has a smart take on South Coast rail, arguing that Charlie Baker offers a thoughtful and nuanced response on an issue where his Democratic counterparts are resorting to some time-honored pandering.
Worcester Regional Transit Authority buses are running in Northbridge and Grafton but few riders are on them, the Telegram & Gazette reports.
Keller@Large goes off on his seasonal rant over drivers who don’t remove snow from their cars, which can be a hazard to them and others should it come flying off at the wrong time.
Nearly 400 people turned out over the weekend for a protest outside the proposed natural gas plant in Salem. The proposed plant would replace a much dirtier coal plant, but the crowd opposes any new fossil fuel power plants, the Salem News reports.
Signs of spring and climate change: Right whales are beginning to return — earlier than they have in years past.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley , Pope Francis’s closest confidant among US cardinals, tells the Globe the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church may have softened his tone toward some hot-button issues but those expecting changes in doctrine regarding contraception, abortion, or homosexuality are likely to be disappointed.
New York Times columnist and former editor Bill Keller is leaving to work at the Marshall Project, a nonprofit startup focusing on the nation’s criminal justice system, the Times reports.Beat the Press ponders whether Fox News is giving Scott Brown a platform to campaign for the New Hampshire Senate seat without declaring his candidacy.
The mother of one of the two “distressed babies” blamed for benefits cuts at AOL fires back at the company’s CEO in a Slate essay.