Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Money Donald Trump Probably Wants Back...

In 2007, Donald Trump's casino empire spent $137,500 lobbying in Massachusetts and an additional $24,500 in 2008, through the TER Development Co. LLC., intending to compete to build a casino in Massachusetts.

Now, Trump Entertainment's bankrupt for the third time. Oops.

The fact is Trump Entertainment, like the entire casino industry, is on the brink.

Trump had assets of about $2.1 billion and total debts of about $1.74 billion on December 31, 2008, it said in its filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey.

The company, eager to conserve cash, missed a $53.1 million bond interest payment due on December 1 as a sharp downturn in consumer spending hit casino revenue, prompting bondholders to push for bankruptcy.

One would hope that this is the kind of news that will make it into the halls of Beacon Hill over the next few months, most especially the Speaker's office, but that's probably too logical for the pro-casino forces. Normally, that wouldn't be a big deal - given the thrashing Governor Patrick's bill took last year, there aren't that many pro-casino forces on Beacon Hill - but things change when a powerful Speaker is among their number. They should note their beloved slot parlors and Racinos aren't doing any better.

So when Speaker DeLeo is considering whether or not there should be major hearings and votes taken on a casino bill this year we should waste months of this state's energy and time yet again, amidst the worst fiscal crisis of our lifetimes, hopefully he'll remember that the industry is doing so well that Donald Trump is fleeing his own company and ashamed his name is attached at all to the casinos he was once proud to own.

Friday's statement did not say when Trump's resignation would be offered or take effect. His daughter Ivanka Trump also said she was resigning.

Trump, a very public and flamboyant figure in an industry filled with colorful, headstrong executives, said the company represents less than 1 percent of his net worth, and that "my investment in it is worthless to me now."

If casinos are worthless to Trump, why should they be any different to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?


Anonymous said...

If Beacon Hill proposed a 'bailout' or special treatment for an industry that operated in the state and served a useful purpose, produced a product of value, or had a worthwhile benefit, taxpayers would and should rally behind their reps to support the effort. But bailing out greyhound tracks that were loosing money before this and going to close this year or horse tracks in the same boat? Please! Let's bury them now! Bid them a fond farewell and say 'we used to have ....'
Never mind bailing out faithful campaign contributors who invest in businesses that were declining, like the one in Plainville.
Give me a break!
This is Predatory Gambling that preys on Gambling Addiction. Slots only make money because of addiction. They are designed to create addiction. When 10% of customers generate 90% of the profits, that's preying.
It's time for the Commonwealth to take the moral high ground, recognize slots for what they are and expect our legislators to do their homework and oppose slots and casinos.
Playing to Extinction means one thing. A destroyed family. Broken home. Crime. Embezzlements. This is the dirty little secret of gambling they don't want you to know.
Gambling was profitable and could afford to wine, dine and lobby our reps. Times have changed.
Let's fight for sustainable businesses that make sense. Let's support growth industries for the future.
You're right, Ryan! Let's not waste any more time on slots/casinos/gambling. There's too much to do.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend in GA (Gamblers Anon), he's been clean for 10 years. Most new members - scratch ticket addicts. Go to a meeting and check it out. But I guess it's OK to take their money?

Anonymous said...

When government makes a decision to create a revenue source whether from lottery tickets that create addiction or slot machines, it's a path down a road of moral decline. A review of lottery revenues indicates it is the poorest communities that generate the greatest revenues for lottery sales. Something's askew that needs to be addressed.
In the past, I wrote about a local business owner who was offered a high traffic location with convenience store for less than he was paying in Middleboro. He declined the offer and when pressed, he said the community was more affluent and they don't buy lottery tickets. The traffic volume might have been there, but the income wasn't.
Lottery sales have been called various derogatory names 'the stupid tax,' 'the tax on the poor,' but call it what you will, it's as predatory as slot machines.
Legislators who support expanded gambling lack the spine to support what no one wants to hear - cutting hacks and waste, making sensible pension changes (and that includes their double dipping buddies, like Marzelli), and changes sure to loose union support. The Commonwealth got itself into this pickle because of the Big Dig. Much of the fault was glossed over in the Post Audit Report and hidden from public view. Those who spoke out against the project were silenced.
That doesn't mean we need to accept the social costs of expanding the lottery further or accepting slots to bail out failing tracks.
It's time to manage the state better and not like a political sandbox.

Ryan said...

Anon, who said it was okay to take their money? Just because I'm against slots doesn't mean I think scratch tickets are a good idea.

The thing is though that slots are magnitudes more addictive than scratch tickets, daily numbers, big games and KENO combined. They literally double the rate of addiction within 50 miles of a casino.

In life, it's much easier to stop something than repeal it. So, as an advocate, I'm much more effective in trying to prevent slots than I am in getting rid of scratch tickets or the state lottery.

If I had my way, I'd probably want to drastically change the state lottery to help mitigate its addictive nature. But right now, I'm waging a full scale war just trying to block the very powerful slot lobbies. One thing at a time.

Ryan said...

2nd anon,

We can't account for the state lottery money merely through cutting "waste," big dig-related or not. The Big Dig money, good or bad, is already spent.

The fact is that the state lottery has been allowing the state to avoid responsible taxation through a tax that you genuinely (and correctly) recognize as predatory. What this state needs to do is raise the income tax and perhaps create other fair taxes that benefit society, like an estate tax.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

anon 5:26, Thanks for the early morning laugh!

Good points!

We need to engage in a conversation regarding the services the state provides.

One of the biggest complaints I heard when it came to the Ballot Proposition eliminating the state income tax was, in essence 'what are all those agencies my taxes are paying for?' Because people don't know what is being accomplished, some believe elimination is reasonable.

Now, if you're a political geek, as you and I might be labelled, we're just determined enough so that you go to and do your due diligence about what an agency or commission does before you condemn it as unnecessary.

The immediate task ideally would be public education for enlightenment.

It's heresy, I know, but I've always believe that a tax 'surcharge' should be instituted specifically for the purpose of funding schools, but in an inverse proportion to the communities' incomes.

To continue to believe in the Holy Grail of Gambling and follow the fool's gold at the end of the rainbow ignores the real issues.

The real issue is Republican Governors who supported an ideology of TAXES = EVIL and failed to address reality.

By accepting that ideology, we postponed funding infrastructure repairs and maintenance to the point concrete chunks are breaking off overpasses and bridges and striking cars, and post-retirement pensions and benefits were unfunded.

That leaves us in our current funk of deficits at a time when the above comes due.

In desparation, legislators grab at that golden ring like the merry-go-round riders of yore because it's lazy. It requires the least amount of work, the least amount of thinking on their parts to proclaim 'Revenue Source.' And it doesn't require explaining to constituents the complexities of needing to re-think tax policy.

Unfortunately, there are those among us who recognize the 'social costs,' the rise in crimes, the increased abuse, the devastation of addiction.

The League of Women Voters reported that each dollar received in gambling revenue cost the state $4.

It's time for an honest dialogue, unfettered by lobbyists, track owners, campaign contributors.

That casinos offer babysitting out of necessity exemplifies the problem. That patrons wear Depends to prevent gambling 'interruptions' defines the addiction.

This is the Dirty Little Secret those who promote gambling don't want you to hear or discuss.

It's time we exposed it to the light of day.

Anonymous said...

The Dems have been able to do what they wanted for a long time, how long are you going to blame the almost non-existent Republicans for all the problems. They may be anecdotal but when the MassPike is paying two workers who put up signs 100,000 a year, somethings wrong. Those examples only make us "average" citizens wary of where our money goes.

Anonymous said...

Ryan, when it became apparent that Dimasi had defeated the scourge of slots the last time around, I didn't see you advocating a repeal of the lottery system then. Will you advocate for it's demise if we still don't have slots at the end of this year?

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