Button Generator by Vista-Buttons.com v4.3.0
Our Facebook Page








  PRESS RELEASES
    


Pay to Play Culture on Beacon Hill Thriving: Candidates for November Election Urged to Release Details of Gambling Interests Pay to Play Campaign Contributions
October 19, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Boston - Following the release of Governor Patrick's "pay to play" campaign contributions from gambling interests yesterday, United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts (USS Mass), www.uss-mass.org, is calling for all candidates for the November 2nd election to come clean and release details of their campaign contributions tied to the gambling industry. Since Governor Patrick announced his support to expand predatory gambling in 2007 millions of gambling-laced dollars have poured into Beacon Hill to influence legislation for the sole purpose of legalizing slot barns and casinos.

"All candidates need to walk-the-walk and not just talk about transparency" stated Tom Larkin, president of USS Mass. The state Senate used $80,000.00 in tax monies this year to fund a one-sided benefits only study. The study, Senate President Pro Tempore Stanley Rosenberg told The Republican of Springfield, "contain(ed) justifications for the Senate's casino plan."

"Clearly, the 'pay to play' culture on Beacon Hill is thriving," asserted Larkin. Extraordinary donations from gambling lobbyists and billionaire investors have one purpose which is to make them money in return for special interest votes. "One-sided studies have been done to prop-up the proponents of legalizing slot barns and casinos who are beholden to the gambling industry. Meanwhile our elected officials are talking about 'ethics reform' out of the other side of their mouths," stated Larkin who noted that the Governor has a lot of company on Beacon Hill with other elected officials taking money from the notorious "pay to play" gambling industry.

One of the other hotly contested matches to watch is the Auditor's race because two of the three candidates have committed that they would perform a cost analysis on any expanded gambling legislation. Suzanne Bump has not returned requests for her position on this matter. "If an Auditor doesn't do the job, then who will?" added Jessie Powell, vice-president of USS Mass and Middleboro resident who has, "lived through the 'inevitability/' scam." and come out the other side to keep fighting these wrong-headed, special interest proposals.

Contact:
Tom Larkin, President
United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts
USS Mass
246 Carlisle Road
Bedford, 01730
781-275-8175
tomlarkin@verizon.net

####



United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts issues challenge to Auditor candidates
October 10, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BOSTON - As voters scrutinize candidates for the upcoming elections on November 2, 2010 they will notice a clearly articulated central theme of the State Auditor candidates in the debate Tuesday night, at Suffolk University was the need for the Auditor's office to proactively assess the risks, costs and benefits of all legislation and proposals.

United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, the statewide citizens coalition that has soundly chastised legislators to stop the practice of secret, behind-closed-door deals with gambling proponents is calling upon the State Auditor candidates to publicly commit to a tangible promise to conduct an independent cost-benefit analysis and report to the taxpayers and citizens of the Commonwealth before any legislation is enacted or implemented to expand predatory gambling including slot barns and casinos in Massachusetts.

"We saw leadership drive special interest gambling legislation that was de-railed due to greed and warring factions. Let's see if the candidates for Auditor, who want our votes, are as willing to stand by their promises when they are in office as when they are on the campaign trail. We challenge the candidates to be forthcoming and pledge to put their promises into tangible actions," stated Tom Larkin, president of USS Mass.

Contact:
Tom Larkin, President
United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts
USS Mass
246 Carlisle Road
Bedford, 01730
781-275-8175
tomlarkin@verizon.net

####



Statements on Governor Patrick's Racino Deal
July 30, 2010

Casino gambling opponents issued the following statements in response to new comments from Governor Patrick regarding the gambling bill.

Statement from Scott Harshbarger, former Attorney General of Massachusetts

We have said all along that casinos will have a corrupting influence on our Commonwealth. Sadly, that predatory culture has already co-opted the Governor's oft-stated firmly held principled position against racinos.

After meeting with and agreeing with many of the concerns of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, Governor Patrick went so far as to write Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray saying "the conversation confirmed in my mind that slot parlors, 'racinos' or any other form of convenience gambling is not something I can support." It is beyond disappointing that this "different kind of leader," would abandon such core values and core supporters to make a "deal" in this election year in such an obvious, old-school Beacon Hill quid pro quo.

This casino bill is a bad bet for the Commonwealth, it is undermining every other important policy proposal in play at the end of this legislative session and it has completely corrupted the lawmaking process. This is just a mild example of how the expansion of casinos and slots will dominate and corrupt the process in the years to come and we again urge the Governor and legislators to move on to more important matters.

Statement from Bob Massie, vice president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts

Governor Patrick came to office promising a new kind of politics. He opened the door to expanding gambling, a move which caused millions of unanswerable casino lobbying dollars to flood into the state, perverting the judgment of many long-time progressives with something-for-nothing fever.

The Governor now has the opportunity to shut that door and we urge him to stop this crude trade of 'give me my bills and I will give you racinos.' Racinos, as the Governor said, are no-bid contracts in which particular private individuals will make millions of dollars off of government support and off the backs of the working class. We urge the Governor not to sacrifice such an important piece of his legacy to such a poor decision.

contact:
David Guarino
MS&L Public Relations
617-369-8801
617-548-4981, cell
david.guarino@mslworldwide.com


####



State House Casino Boosters Continue to Mislead About Native American Tribal Casinos: New Bill Opens Floodgates for Unregulated Casinos Across the Commonwealth
July 27, 2010

BOSTON - Leading casino boosters in the Legislature continue to mislead the public by claiming a final gambling bill will offer Massachusetts the regulatory structure it needs to control the growth of casinos run by Native American tribes, casino opponents charged today.

Senate President Pro Tempore Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst and the leading booster of casinos in the Legislature, continues to claim that, if a final bill is passed by the Legislature, it will include a regulatory structure to control Native American tribes seeking permission from the federal government for expanded gambling.

"Legislators keep saying they are working to control a flood of tribal casinos but what they don't acknowledge or, worse, don't realize is that they are the ones poised to open up the floodgates," said Scott Harshbarger, the former Massachusetts Attorney General.

The truth is there is no possibility of the emergence of tribal casinos unless these same legislators and the Governor legalize slot parlors and casinos. According to the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the state is not required to allow tribal casinos if expanded gambling has not already been legalized in the state.

"Massachusetts currently has two recognized Native American tribes," said Kathleen Conley Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts. "There are other Native American tribes that could seek federal recognition, which means approving slots at the racetracks or casinos could eventually open the door to several additional Massachusetts casinos."

There is little doubt that the legalization and introduction of slot machines at any location in Massachusetts would lead to additional widespread gambling by Indian tribes on trust land that is beyond the Legislature's control. The threat to the Commonwealth for tribal casinos, which are exempt from taxation, exists only if our elected officials legalize expanded gambling.

Tribal casinos will obviously create greater unmitigated cost to state and municipal budgets, and will not generate any added revenue. Additionally, tribes are only required to provide payments to Massachusetts in the amount necessary to regulate gaming activities.

The legalization of slot machines at various racetracks or casinos in Massachusetts will remove a significant barrier to the operation of similar gaming on tribal lands, which directly compete with racetrack and casino gaming operations. States face substantially more restrictions on revenue collection and oversight from tribal operations, allowing tribes to operate competing facilities with a fiscal and regulatory advantage.

"Legislative leadership is either confused or are simply justifying their drive to satisfy the backers of the special interest gambling bill," said Norbut. "Politicians legalizing slots are the 'horse' and unregulated tribal casinos are the 'cart.' They are telling us the cart is before the horse and it just doesn't work like that."
Contact:
Laura Schroeder
MS&L Public Relations
617-369-8784
laura.schroeder@mslworldwide.com

####



Legislature Should Focus on More Significant Bills Being Delayed by Casino 'Impasse,' Opponents Urge
July 22, 2010

BOSTON - Legislative leaders should end contentious and gridlocked casino gambling negotiations to focus their attention on solving a string of huge taxpayer priorities now reportedly being held up by the stubborn casino talks, grassroots casino opponents urged today.

Responding to news this morning that the backroom casino negotiations are at an "impasse" with just nine days remaining in the legislative session, leaders of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts called on legislators to just walk away.

"It's well-past time for the Speaker and Senate President to stop this greed-driven secret soap opera and focus on producing other bills which will have a positive impact on our Commonwealth," said Kathleen Conley Norbut, president of USS Mass. "We all know other, meaningful priorities are being held up and are in danger of failing because of this greed- and power-driven casino ego contest."

"Legislators and the Governor know people would much rather see their health care costs addressed and a meaningful economic development bill passed," said former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger. "Those and other bills are far more important than the special interest bonanza for casino investors, which will only hurt our state."

Norbut and Harshbarger said they are amazed that "compromise" in the House, according to the media reports, consists of doubling the number of slots directed to tracks in the Speaker's district and cutting the number of tracks to compete with them in half. This proposal was characterized by the lead Senate casino proponent as still on the table despite the obvious conflict of interest.

"First it is no-bid contracts to his supporters at Suffolk Downs and Wonderland, now it is double the slots to them and half the competition," Norbut said. "At some point, someone has to stand up and say, 'Mr. Speaker, this is politics at its worst' and just stop the insanity."

Legislators are openly saying that negotiations over bills have been delayed because legislative leadership is spending precious time in heated negotiations over slots, racinos and has yet to address the tribal gaming provisions in the casino bill. And while the Governor, taxpayers, opponents and the media have been shut out of negotiations, reports indicate lobbyists - who have been paid $1.8 million by pro-casino interests in just the first six months of the year - are involved in crafting the secret legislation.

"This is a bill for and by the gambling industry, not the people," said Norbut.

Among other bills, the Legislature has yet to finish its work on health care cost reform, an economic development stimulus bill, criminal record reform, disaster preparedness, prescription drug protections and more. There are also pressing issues now being sidelined, from new education standards in public schools, the appointment of a new justice to the Supreme Judicial Court and yet another hole in the state budget for this year.

"We hope legislators stay focused on producing bills that will really help small businesses, grow our economy in a meaningful way and bring in sustained revenue without hurting the most vulnerable," Harshbarger said.



Contact:
Laura Schroeder
MS&L Public Relations
617-369-8784
laura.schroeder@mslworldwide.com

####



Statement on the Costs of Casino Lobbying
July 16, 2010

Kathleen Conley Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, issued the following statement on behalf of the grassroots coalition of casino opponents in response to reports that casino interests have spent $1.8 million, and counting, just this year.

"Sadly, no one should be surprised that deep-pocketed, out-of-state casino bosses have pumped $1.8 million into the State House in just six months but everyone should be appalled. Legislators and Governor Patrick can still turn away these greed-driven ambassadors of the casino culture, stop 'no bid' license handouts to campaign contributors and reject this alleged economic development strategy. We urge our elected leaders to focus on solutions that do more than line the pockets of fat cat special interests while driving up crime and corruption, shuttering small businesses and cutting aid to cities and towns."

Contact:
Laura Schroeder
MS&L Public Relations
617-369-8784
laura.schroeder@mslworldwide.com

####



Opponents Urge Speaker DeLeo to Come Clean on Claim that Casinos will deliver $100 Million in Local Aid
July 15, 2010

BOSTON - Casino opponents today challenged House Speaker Robert DeLeo to back up his claim that Massachusetts will receive $100 million in additional local aid through the House casino proposal or admit he is offering only hollow promises of property tax relief with diverted cash from state Lottery losses.

"It's time for the Speaker and fellow leaders on Beacon Hill to be honest with the people of the Commonwealth," said Kathleen Conley Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts. "These proposals are not new revenue - they are cover for the losses to local aid that will occur with expanding predatory gambling. Suggesting the Speaker's bill will help local aid and provide long-promised property tax relief is a shell game."

"Taxpayers demand openness and honesty from their elected officials and this casino debate has been anything but that," said Scott Harshbarger, former Massachusetts Attorney General. "These kind of wild, almost desperate claims are why we joined those like Governor Patrick who called for a transparent, independent cost analysis before any votes were taken. That can and must be done before any casino gambling bill becomes law."

In recent statements in support of his bill, Speaker DeLeo has said it would provide much-needed, immediate local aid to struggling cities and towns.

"I am focused on easing the burden on property tax payers in every community across Massachusetts," DeLeo said, according to The State House News Service. "The House proposal is the only one that will result in $100 million in immediate local aid for cities and towns this fiscal year and save jobs."

But DeLeo's fuzzy math doesn't account for the equally large losses that will be recorded by the state Lottery, a primary source of aid to cities and towns.

In fact, according to 2008 Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce report, if the Lottery takes a moderate, 10 percent reduction from the introduction of casinos and slots, state aid to towns and cities will be reduced by about $90 million. That figure is higher with the current lottery revenues for fiscal year, 2010.

The Lottery Commission itself estimated losses as high as 8 percent as soon as the first casino opened losses that should only grow as additional racinos and casinos open.

And the last time the House fully analyzed the impacts of casinos, in 2006, the Committee on Economic Development wrote that "proponents have alleged that authorizing slot machines at the state's four pari-mutuel facilities will be an economic panacea for both the industry and the Commonwealth. In fact, before they can even count the revenue, proponents have made grandiose promises on how it will be spent, funding a myriad policy initiatives ranging from increased local aid to universal health care. Unfortunately, the economic reality of introducing slot machines/video lottery terminals precludes us from adopting their optimistic revenue outlook."

"At best, this will be a transfer from the Lottery to casinos with cities and towns getting equal aid or less at the expense of other areas not getting needed mitigation, while out-of-state casino owners pocket the real profits," Norbut said. "But to suggest this will result in as much as $100 million in new revenue or any kind of property tax relief is just wrong."

Contact:
Laura Schroeder
MS&L Public Relations
617-369-8784
laura.schroeder@mslworldwide.com

####



Letter urging the Governor to make good on his call for an independent cost analysis of casino gambling or veto whatever bill emerges from the Conference Committee.
For Immediate Release

July 8, 2010

The Honorable Deval L. Patrick
Governor
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
State House
Boston, Massachusetts 02133

Dear Governor Patrick:

We are writing to ask that you exercise your authority as Governor of the Commonwealth to remedy a flawed political and policy process that will permanently harm the economic, societal, and cultural development of Massachusetts. Specifically, we ask that you either immediately appoint an independent commission to examine the full range of costs that would be incurred by the state and its people due to the proposals to expand predatory gambling or, absent this critically-needed review, we hope and expect you will veto any expanded gambling legislation that passes the Legislature without independent cost analysis.

The Legislature has moved toward legalizing Class III gambling in the state, passing proposals which include the introduction of at least three major casinos and thousands of highly-addictive and economically-destructive slot machines.

The House of Representatives followed a path that made a mockery of the democratic process. The bill presented in the House was negotiated in secret, was released on April 1 without any public hearing, consultation with opponents or inclusion of key regional planning recommendations. The bill was rammed through the House only two weeks later and sensible protections for citizens, taxpayers and host regions were rejected under the Speaker's direction.

Equally troubling to us is that House proponents relied on distorted and biased information to justify the bill's passage. Despite a widespread call, including a personal request from you, for a thoughtful analysis of both the benefits and costs, the only information that was presented was an "updated report" of benefits-only performed by Spectrum Gaming and paid for by the bill's chief proponent, the Speaker of the House. The Spectrum Gaming analysis created in 2008 does not support racinos as an economic multiplier but, interestingly, this observation was omitted from the Speaker's report.

The Senate followed the lead of the House, producing a "study" which, despite costing $80,000 of precious taxpayer dollars, studied only the benefits of casinos and was meant, in the words of the Senate's chief casino proponent, to "justify" the bill. This study was performed by a firm with deep ties to the casino industry and only carries through the deeply flawed analysis of the Spectrum report.

These studies do not make good on your request of December 9, 2009 for a "fresh, independent and transparent analysis of the benefits and costs of expanded gaming." Without properly analyzing the serious costs to the state which even proponents say will happen, this bill cannot become law.

To date, unfortunately, there has been zero assessment of, among others, the following costs:
  • Potential costs to create and maintain public regulatory agencies to manage the selection and diligence process for and licensing of facilities, and the regulation and oversight of expanded gambling, and to interpret and enforce new and existing laws, rules and regulations to control and counteract the dangers of gambling activity (personnel, equipment, court, corrections, law enforcement, new Attorney General's Office division, new State Police department)

  • Expenses incurred by local and abutting communities in terms of expanded demands for services, loss of housing values, increased crime, traffic, education, housing, medical, district courts and lost revenue for local businesses.

  • The potential loss of revenue to the state Lottery or the diminution of real financial gains to the Commonwealth if gambling revenues are transferred as a fiscal substitution through "holding the Lottery harmless."

  • The financial impact of tens of thousands of new problem and compulsive gamblers, whose addicted behaviors have been documented to dramatically increase with proximity to gambling venues and create a rise in personal crime, embezzlement, child and spousal abuse, co-addictive behaviors, all of which demand new expenses from the taxpayers and which provoke new suffering among families.

  • The dangers of market saturation, given that gambling revenues have dropped around the country, and that the creation of new gambling in Massachusetts is likely to provoke the expansion of gambling in Rhode Island and New Hampshire and expansion of existing gambling venues in the Northeast.

  • The effects of the special interest influence over Beacon Hill already made manifest by the millions of dollars in casino monies that flooded Beacon Hill in the years since you first expressed a willingness to consider expanded gambling.

  • The undermining of public confidence in the political process when senior leaders are seen to be promoting special interest legislation for individuals and facilities in their districts and without properly analyzing costs and benefits, to the detriment of the Commonwealth as a whole
We understand and appreciate your continued opposition to a simple expansion of slot machine gambling in the creation of racinos. We would remind you, however, that every casino that has been proposed begin with 3,000 or more such slot machines - each equivalent to the total that has been proposed for all four tracks.

Moreover, as you know well, the introduction of Class III gambling in Massachusetts removes existing state legal barriers to the possibility of many more casinos and slot parlors for federally recognized Native American tribes. Each tribal facility could multiply all the effects of expanded gambling with even fewer public protection guarantees and less revenues to the state to offset the costly business and social impacts while enjoying significant competitive advantages.

We admire the leadership that you have provided to the Commonwealth on many issues, including your willingness to plan for the long-term, your reliance on genuine solutions rather than quick fixes and your worthy belief that a compact of citizens is built on the understanding that we are "all in this together."

However, as the Governor to explicitly propose opening the door to expanded gambling, we believe you have a special responsibility to ensure that decisions are made in the light of the collective national experience, the best legal and regulatory practices, and the best independently gathered information. That process should undeniably include all the costs and consequences, predictable and unintended but inevitable, that the people of the Commonwealth would incur.

We believe that such a thorough review would have led to another rejection of this concept by the Legislature, which previously studied and rejected Class III gambling by wide margins. And we believe it will reveal to you that, on balance, the introduction of expanded and predatory gambling to Massachusetts would be economically and socially damaging for the Commonwealth and the common and public good and should be rejected in its current legislative iterations.

We are even more certain that a decision by you to sign a law that authorized this action without the most scrupulous protections in place in advance and a thorough review of the potential consequences would be a mistake and an action which ours and future generations will regret.

Therefore, we strongly urge you to exercise your constitutional responsibilities and power for the well-being of our Commonwealth to immediately appoint a commission to thoroughly and independently review this enormously consequential decision or, absent that, veto any expanded gambling legislation to pass the Legislature.

Respectfully yours,

Scott Harshbarger
Former Massachusetts Attorney General/Senior Counsel, Proskauer

David D'Alessandro
Former Chairman & CEO, John Hancock Financial Services

Linda Sallop
President, Atlantic Charter Insurance Company

Kathleen Conley Norbut
President, United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts

Robert Massie
Vice President, United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts

Rev. Jack Johnson
Executive Director, Massachusetts Council of Churches

Alan Khazei
Founder & CEO, Be the Change

Kris Mineau
President, Massachusetts Family Institute


David Guarino
Vice President/Director of Public Affairs
a: 33 Arch St., Suite 800, Boston, MA 02110
o: 617-369-8801 | m: 617-548-4981
e: david.guarino@mslworldwide.com
w: mslworldwide.com
web: Twitter: @DavidGuarino
blog: http://prfinishline.blogspot.com/
####



Statement of Kathleen Norbut on Senate Casino Bill
For Immediate Release
July 1, 2010

Kathleen Conley Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, the leading grassroots opponent to casino gambling in Massachusetts, issued the following statement today on Senate passage of gambling legislation:

Of course we are extremely disappointed that the Senate, like the House before it, passed a bill with only a one-sided analysis conducted by casino insiders. Senators knowingly voted for more corruption, more greed, more crime, greater costs to taxpayers, and lost businesses.

The truth about casinos hasn't changed: This is a poor excuse for economic development that hasn't been properly studied and the people of Massachusetts are going to pay even if they don't play.

This vote is only one more round in a fight that has many more rounds to go and we won't be deterred. We urge thoughtful leaders, including Governor Patrick, to stand by their insistence on a true cost-benefit analysis and reject any bill that isn't fully studied.

contact:
David Guarino
MS&L Public Relations
617-369-8801
617-548-4981, cell
david.guarino@mslworldwide.com


####



Letter Raising Regulatory Concerns with Gambling Legislation from Former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger
For Immediate Release
June 21, 2010

The Honorable Therese Murray, President
Massachusetts State Senate
State House, Room 330
Boston, MA 02133
Dear Senate President Murray:

Many seem to accept the reality that expanded gambling will bring new and significant social, economic, public health, criminal justice, regulatory, public and consumer protection costs and risks. Even with the hoped-for economic and entertainment benefits that are the only public policy justifications for casinos and slots, surely we should do all we can to prepare for all of the identifiable and quantifiable consequences, and do so before, not after, the fact. We should also surely try to mitigate any predictable, albeit unintended consequences of the actions you are considering this week.

To date, in spite of all the rosy press releases, media cheerleaders, promises, pledges and projections, we have done very little to ensure this kind of public protection. This is a surprise to anyone familiar with this issue, especially because there is so much from major state and national studies (beginning with the 1999 National Gambling Commission Impact Report), on all of these matters. Far more relevant to us are the real life experience of states throughout the country and the best practices of the industry leaders and standard setters themselves.

In order to ensure we reap all the net benefits pledged and promised, I wonder why those who so vigorously support expansion have not done more to minimize the risk that this expansion will not become our own mini-version of the British Petroleum oil spill, let alone a Big Dig redux. We can learn from history - and need not be doomed to repeat it.

Therefore, I challenge and urge supporters of casinos to ensure that before you vote to expand gambling in the Commonwealth, you will ensure that the following key elements (in detail and consistent with best practices) are firmly in place:

1.  An Independent, External, Fully Funded Overseer. The legislation should establish and endow a foundation to serve as an advocate for the public interest and to ensure that implementation of the legislation is transparent, accountable, open and honest. Drawing on the model of the Legacy Foundation or the TARP Congressional Oversight Committee, the foundation should consist of an independent, five-person board of trustees (and staff) empowered to conduct an annual review of the benefits and costs of expanded gambling. The foundation should be charged with making a report and recommendations to the gambling commission, the Governor, Attorney General and Legislature for legislative, regulatory, and budgetary changes, including, if appropriate, the elimination, expansion, and/or sun-setting of the legislation.

2.  A Centralized, Coordinated Regulatory/Enforcement Body. The gambling commission should be responsible for, and empowered to, oversee all aspects of the implementation of the expanded gambling proposal. The commission should consist of five or seven members, including the Governor (as chair), the Attorney General, the Inspector General, the Treasurer, the Auditor, or their appointees, and two members of the public selected for their expertise - one in public health and behavioral science, the other in economic development. At least one member, in addition to the Attorney General or his/her appointee, should have significant expertise in the regulation/prosecution of public corruption and white collar/financial crimes.

3.  Upfront, in Trust, Funding of Oversight and Implementation. The foundation and the commission should, initially, be funded by a Fiscal Year 2011 appropriation of $100 Million - to be allocated 20 percent to the foundation and 80 percent to the commission - and, a similar amount guaranteed for 2012. The allocation should be placed in a public trust exclusively to be used for this purpose - which amounts may, of course, be carried over, if not expended. Thereafter, funding for the foundation and commission trust should be derived from revenues obtained from fees/taxes/other revenues collected from expanded gambling operations.

4.  Expanded Gambling Commences the Later of One Year or Certification of the Commission. No expanded gambling activities should commence, be licensed, authorized or commence operations until the commission certifies that all necessary and appropriate systems, personnel and regulations are in place to enable them to fulfill their operational responsibilities. This would include consumer and public protections, regulatory and law enforcement, and contractual provisions ensuring and protecting promises/pledges/guarantees made to the Commonwealth, including appropriate indemnification provisions.

5.  Use of Gross Gambling Revenue to Fund Escrow Accounts to Mitigate the Impact of Costs. In addition to funding the foundation and the commission annually, the gross revenue/fees/taxes from expanded gambling should be allocated in amounts recommended by the commission/foundation to an escrow or mitigation fund such as those utilized for the World Trade Center victim compensation, BP or MSA tobacco settlement funds. These funds would be for use, if needed, to compensate business, lottery, problem gambling/addiction, law enforcement, local aid, and any other costs directly attributable to the expansion of gambling.

6.  Open, Accountable, Transparent, Processes, Procedures, and Policies for Decision-Making. In the first instance, the commission should establish the procedures and criteria for applications, review, selection processes - as well as the location and numbers of various expanded gambling facilities - after issuing proposals, holding public hearings, and seeking public input. The commission, in addition to its own staff, should be represented, upon request, by the Attorney General and be able, upon request, to obtain resources from any state public agency. The commission should have the power to enforce its rules and regulations administratively, civilly, and, if appropriate, criminally. In regard to rules/regulations relating to consumer protection and enforcement, the commission should seek the input and certification of the Attorney General that they are adequate for the purpose; similarly, as to the social issues/challenges, the input of the Commissioner of Public Health and Secretary of Health and Human Services; as to law enforcement, the Executive Office of Public Safety.

7.  Enhanced White-Collar, Public Corruption, Ethics, Campaign Finance and Lobbying Laws and Penalties. The Attorney General and the Secretary of Public Safety should be required to certify that the Commonwealth's regulatory and enforcement powers are equal to the best state and industry practices.

Obviously, the devil is in the details, to be sure, but these seven principles offer a reasonable, evidence-based template for evaluating the merits of any gambling proposal.

The details used as examples may be questioned or challenged and there may be other options and principles to consider. But surely we need to address the potential and predictable consequences and costs with a far greater sense of seriousness and urgency. After all, prevention is our best and cheapest form of public protection.

Respectfully, I once again urge you to delay any enactment until you have appropriate evidence-based data that demonstrates that the benefits of expanded gambling will, in fact, outweigh the costs.



Cc: Governor Deval Patrick
Speaker Robert DeLeo
Attorney General Martha Coakley
Members of the Senate

####



More Abandoned, Endangered Children Will Come With Massachusetts Casinos, Opponents Warn Senators: Last Week's Foxwoods Incident Tip of Child Neglect Iceberg
For Immediate Release
June 16, 2010

BOSTON - Incidents of child abandonment and neglect at the hands of casino-bound parents, as seen last week allegedly at the hands of a local couple, will only increase in Massachusetts if casinos become legal, opponents warned today.

Casino opponents urged Senators to look carefully at new incidents of child abuse, which happen so often at casinos worldwide that security patrols are put in place around many casinos and signs are required to warn gamblers not to leave their children behind when they hit the slots.

According to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, "children of compulsive gamblers are often prone to suffer abuse, as well as neglect, as a result of parental problem or pathological gambling."

On Thursday, a Massachusetts couple was charged with leaving a 1-year-old and a 10-year-old in a car at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut while they gambled, police said, according to news reports.

"These types of child abuse and neglect cases will only be compounded if we bring casinos closer to our homes and to our children," said Kathleen Conley Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, the non-profit grassroots coalition of casino opponents. "Lawmakers should not be considering legislation that is proven to put innocent children in harms way time and time again."

"Just look at the facts, children of pathological gamblers are proven be victims of physical and verbal abuse at the hands of their parents" said Les Bernal, executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling, a national anti-casino advocacy group. "Is this the kind of behavior we want to promote in Massachusetts?"

There have been countless child abuse and child endangerment cases across the nation, including:

In Indiana, a review of the state's gaming commission records revealed that 72 children were found abandoned on casino premises during a 14-month period.

In Louisiana and South Carolina, children died after being locked in hot cars for hours while their caretakers gambled.

An Illinois mother was sentenced to prison for suffocating her infant daughter in order to collect insurance money to continue gambling.

At several casinos, there are increased patrol both the parking and adjacent areas for child neglect cases, where people leave their children unattended in vehicles, also patrolling for public intoxication and drunk driving.

Signs have been posted to warn parents not to leave their children in the car while they gamble and legal restrictions apparently aren't enough, since the casino operators feel compelled to say that parents will be banned from the casino if they do so.

And the risks to children extend beyond those in sweltering cars.

Howard Shaffer, Director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Addiction Studies, has said, "We will face, in the next decade or so, more problems with youth gambling than we will face with drug use."

Additionally, the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling recently stated "Teenagers have a problem gambling rate of 10%-17%, a rate two to three times higher than the general population." Some of the statistics from other states:

Nevada has one of the highest high school drop out rates in the country.

Indian reservations with casinos have a higher high school drop out rate than reservations without casinos.

Research correlates adolescent problem gambling with delinquency, alcohol use, adult criminal behavior, depression, low school grades and suicide.

"We simply can not deny that casinos have a negative impact on our children and for their future," said Conley Norbut. "Lobbyists and casino proponents can throw all of the arguments in support of this bill out there but, if legislators vote for the proposed gambling legislation, they can't deny that it will be our children who are the victims and they supported it."

Contact:
David Guarino
MS&L Public Relations
617-369-8801
david.guarino@mslworldwide.com

####



Senators Urged to Release Details on One-Sided Casino Study, Analyze True Costs of Casino Culture
For Immediate Release
June 14, 2010

BOSTON - State Senators should immediately release the details of the one-sided, apparently taxpayer-funded benefits only study they have reportedly undertaken to prop up their gambling industry bailout, opponents urged today.

Various media reports in the wake of the Senate's lone public hearing on leadership's proposed casino bill indicate a chief booster of the casino industry is planning to release a study by a private firm that would "include projections on jobs, revenues for government and a tax rate on gross gambling revenues."

The study, Senate President Pro Tempore Stanley Rosenberg told The Republican of Springfield, will "contain justifications for the Senate's casino plan."

"It looks like Senate leadership is using untold taxpayer dollars on a private firm to create more propaganda to justify a proposal which, even proponents admit, will lead to increased corruption and crime, harm to families and children, losses to small businesses and their employees and vast new taxpayer costs," said Kathleen Conley Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, the non-profit grassroots coalition of casino opponents.

"We need answers about what is going on behind-closed-doors in the Senate - namely, why are they only looking at benefits, not costs, how much more taxpayer money is being wasted on this one-sided study and what conflicts does this unnamed private firm have?" said Robert Massie, vice president of USS Mass.

"This whole process looks like a repeat of the House's rush to pass its version of casino legislation without a cost/benefit analysis, without sufficient funding for towns to mitigate negative impacts of casinos on their municipal budgets," said Edward S. Harrison, chairman of the Western MA Casino Task Force - a neutral group of local officials from 14 communities that has been studying the impacts of casino legislation for three years.

At a rushed hearing last week, Senators admitted there will be significant negative results of their efforts and that they would prefer not to turn to casinos. Lobbyists, special interests and deep-pocketed casino bosses lined the hearing room. Casino proponents are already arguing over competing proposals, whether or not to prop up failed racetracks with slots and how to treat Native American tribes.

In 2008, Governor Patrick's jobs estimates were deemed wildly overstated before his bill was roundly rejected.

The House of Representatives didn't hold a single public hearing and only conducted a benefits analysis which was funded by campaign contributions to the Speaker. Among the Speaker's larger donors are track and casino owners who stand to benefit from the rosy picture his "study" painted.

Now the Senate is again apparently only considering the alleged upsides of casinos, not the comprehensive impacts.

"Given the open admission by Senators that the predatory gambling bill will ruin lives, break apart families, lead to corruption and massive new taxpayer burdens, it's astonishing - even in this manic atmosphere - that they wouldn't bother to calculate the costs to taxpayers," Conley Norbut said.

USS Mass called on Senators to:

  • Ensure a comprehensive, independent analysis of the true costs for regulations, criminal and consumer protections, infrastructure, traffic mitigation, losses of jobs to local businesses and regional municipal costs - not just those facing host communities.
  • Immediately provide the public with the costs being incurred by the Senate, presumably at taxpayer expense, for the benefit analysis currently being conducted to "justify" leadership's bill?
  • Immediately provide the public with the name, credentials and any potential conflicts by the unnamed firm that the Senate has retained and list any past or current ties to the gambling industry, its mission, charge and scope of work.
  • Develop and publicly release a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate bills, as is commonly done in legislation of this magnitude, including in it the estimated costs to taxpayers of both bills.
  • Include in the legislation clauses which force mitigation and services from casino owners that rise with inflation and increased costs.
  • Embed exit and bankruptcy protections for host regions, not just host communities, and Massachusetts taxpayers in the proposed legislation.
Massie, asked Senators in the hearing if they would authorize a bill to inject thousands of Bay Staters with an illness if it meant they could create jobs in the health care or life sciences industries? He called it, "shameful that Senators are apparently only studying one side of the issue."

"When the deck is stacked, of course the odds look better," Massie said. "But in a democracy, our leaders are charged with studying both sides - not just the side lobbyists, special interests, casino and campaign contributors want us to study."
####



Senators, Activists Call for Statewide Casino Hearings:
Question Process For 141-Page Bill With One Hearing, No Cost-Benefit Analysis

For Immediate Release
June 10, 2010

BOSTON - Members of the Massachusetts state Senate today joined grassroots activists calling on Senate leaders to alter plans to hold one public hearing on casino legislation tomorrow after the complex, 141-page bill was only released late Friday.

The group also reiterated calls for a complete, independent cost-benefit analysis - like one supported by Governor Deval Patrick.

Since the largest impacts of this bill and the casinos which may follow will be regional, the Senators and activists said, those who will pay the steepest price in increased corruption, crime, traffic and lost businesses should have the strongest voice.

"Introducing casino gambling with thousands of slot machines to our state is a significant step - and no matter which side you are on, it shouldn't be done without real input from taxpayers across the Commonwealth," said state Sen. James Eldridge, D-Acton. "This is too big an issue for just one hearing held within days of the bill's release and days before a floor vote."

"After reading the bill, I have a fundamental question: Why is our state partnering with an industry that requires both on-site addiction counselors and 141 pages on new criminal law?" asked state Sen. Susan Tucker, D-Andover. "This clearly did not happen with green industries or even the film industry. This is why we need to do a full cost benefit analysis. We need to understand all of the costs that come with casinos."

"Legislation of this magnitude should be fully vetted and available so that the average person has enough time to read, analyze and discuss it with their legislators," said Kathleen Conley Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts.

The Senators and concerned citizens are recommending regional hearings in the evening, particularly for those in the regions most likely to be impacted by the arrival of casinos - the SouthCoast, Western Massachusetts and the North Shore. These sessions would give a far better sense of public sentiment on casinos and are customary for similar large public policy proposals.

Indeed, Norbut said, several regional advisory groups established years ago to analyze and comment on casino legislation cannot even meet to review the legislation before the hearing because they are bound by the state Open Meeting Law. "It is sadly ironic that groups which follow the Open Meeting Law won't be allowed to comment in a meaningful way because the Legislature is apparently in a rush to pass this bill," Norbut said.

Among those groups which couldn't meet before tomorrow's hearing because of Open Meeting Laws which require two business days notice before any meeting is the Western Massachusetts Casino Task Force, which represents 11 Western Massachusetts communities, including Palmer. Casino opponents noted it is the regions which are hurt most by casino development and the convenience gambling it creates.

Due to the predatory, addictive nature of casinos, Massachusetts can expect a 50 percent increase in the number of problem gamblers in Massachusetts if we expanded gambling. According to the California Attorney General's office, problem and pathological gamblers cost California $1 billion per year, while officials in Indiana, after an exhaustive review, estimated the cost of serving each problem gambler at $2,500 per year. This would add up to well over $750 million in costs for Massachusetts, much of it in cities and towns near casinos.

Casinos will also hurt our local restaurants, hotels and entertainment businesses. Money that would otherwise be spent at locally-owned, small businesses will instead be spent at chain restaurants in casinos and lost on casino floors. Massachusetts dollars will be collected by deep-pocketed, out-of-town interests with little of that money being reinvested in the local community.

Contact:
David Guarino
MS&L Public Relations 617-369-8801
david.guarino@mslworldwide.com

####



USS-Mass DeCries Attorney General Coakley's silence on casino proposals

June 6, 2010

Attorney General Martha Coakley
Office of the Attorney General
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108

Dear Attorney General Coakley:

On behalf of the grassroots volunteer leaders across the Commonwealth making up United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts (USS Mass), I would like to thank you for your previous testimony cautioning the Legislature on the multitude of criminal, corruption and law enforcement matters related to legalizing expanded predatory gambling, slots and casinos.

We were particularly pleased when you led the state's District Attorneys and a group of legislators in filing "An Act to Combat Economic Crime," a critically important bill meant to protect the people of the Commonwealth we know fall victim to the culture which inevitably follows casinos. At the time of the bill's release, you said, "it is critical that we have the statutory structure in place to address the types of financial crimes and corruption that may be associated with legalized gaming." When asked what the regulatory framework would cost you replied "very expensive." Yet, no cost analysis has been performed.

That is why your current silence on the weak and, in many cases, non-existent consumer protection provisions in the proposals to expand predatory gambling, slots and casinos is particularly concerning. We reiterate requests we and our supporters have made to your office that you offer an analysis of and changes to these provisions in testimony before the Senate in its lone public hearing Tuesday.

There are multiple consumer protections that must be brought forth to the Legislature and enforced by the AGO.

Some of those we recommend would:
  • Require slot machine designs in use in Massachusetts to be certified as non-addictive by a group of qualified Massachusetts-based neurologists and specialists;
  • Require a whistleblower provision that would allow any family member who was concerned about a growing gambling problem to call a hotline number and have that person automatically placed on the watch or do-not-play lists;
  • Require that any gambling law must meet or exceed the strongest recommendations made by the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling -- or best practice nationally -- as personally certified by the Attorney General and the Governor;
  • Require that the state Treasurer certify annually and publicly that casino gambling has not damaged the Lottery, or state aid, or caused an increase in any other financial costs to the state, or an increase in compulsive gambling;
  • Require CORI background checks for all owners, developers, investors in proposed class III gambling bids prior to final licensing;
  • Require slot machines to pause, clear screen of all usual visual clutter, and on an otherwise blank screen, notify customer how much they have lost with every multiple of $25 lost. Require customer to click "OK" in order to proceed to next bet;
  • Establish a betting limit per credit card, and set up machines so that both losses (charges) and payout (credit) accrue to the credit card;
  • Require that the odds of winning and expected payout on a dollar bet be posted on every slot machine and at every gaming table.
The lack of consumer protections by the House, including outright rejection of thoughtful and prudent amendments proposed on this topic is of grave concern to USS Mass and should be to your office, to the eight District Attorneys and seven members of the House and five Senators who stood with you.

Our coalition is requesting your presence, your powerful voice and recommendations for the strongest consumer protection guidelines and standards regarding slots/casinos at the public hearing on Tuesday which is, sadly, the lone time the public will be heard in this fast-moving legislative debate.

Taxpayers of the Commonwealth deserve to know that you and the Legislature have addressed - before this legislation passes - the obvious and measurable economic, criminal and societal damage casino gambling will bring and the very real ways it will deteriorate the fabric of our state over time. We are certain that you would agree based on your past testimony, that criminal and consumer protections with no unfunded mandates must be paramount in any proposed gambling legislation. An independent cost analysis which you, Governor Patrick and many other thoughtful statewide leaders support has not been performed for this bill, its economic, criminal or consumer protections. Specifically, an analysis of the costs for new technology, equipment, surveillance, personnel, court, corrections and local law enforcement has been apparently ignored by leadership in both the House and Senate in their rush for what they wrongly perceive as an easy revenue and jobs payday.

We regret that you have not yet publicly exercised your leadership in this important debate and its meaningful impact on the areas your office is specifically charged with regulating and enforcing and we call upon you to direct the full resources of the Attorney General's Office to address these critical issues at the upcoming hearing.

We would like to share our appreciation of the efforts by Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Stark, who has served as a liaison to USS Mass. We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible and hearing your testimony at the public hearing on Tuesday.

Warm regards,

Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
President
United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts

Cc: Governor Deval L. Patrick
Senate President Therese Murray
Speaker Robert DeLeo
Governor Michael Dukakis
Former AG, Scott Harshbarger
USS Mass Board of Directors
####



New Momentum in the Fight Against Casino's "Inevitability"
June 2, 2010

Dear Supporters of USS Mass:  

As we pass Memorial Day and head into June, we know this will be a critical month in the future of our Commonwealth.

The deep-pocketed, out-of-state gambling interests are all but beginning their victory dance in their decades-long drive to bring the casino culture to Massachusetts. So confident are the monied special interests that they are already setting up shop for casinos in our cities and towns and securing land and financing for their projects.

That sense of inevitability is what they are counting on. But we all know our hero stories - and Goliath hasn't made it to the slots parlor just yet.

I'm writing to ask you to join us in renewing our efforts to focus the discussion, to urge our legislators to wake up to what the predatory gambling industry hopes will be a rubber stamp, to work as hard as we can to stop this wrong-headed proposal to the last. You will be hearing more from us in the coming days and weeks as the state Senate releases its bill, hopefully holds at least one public hearing, performs a badly-need cost-benefit analysis and votes.

As the casino operators begin to move in to their hoped-for locations, opposition is of course springing up. We are working together with groups in communities to try to build this movement, from Fall River and Milford to Western Massachusetts and Greater Boston. Stay tuned for new opportunities to help out in your backyard and at the State House.

Also last week, we secured the support of a strategic communications firm, MS&L, to help amplify and expand our grassroots message of opposition. Our team at MS&L will be led by David Guarino and Ed Cafasso, two former journalists and leaders of anti-casino communications efforts while they worked for top elected officials in the State House.

We are thrilled MS&L will go above and beyond what we are able to pay them but ask for your support and donations, no matter how small, so that we can raise our voice above the grass roots and try to convince our Senators that now is not the time to gamble with our future.

As we try to gather, organize and give voice to this grassroots movement to stop what many assume is the inevitable, please join us in doing what you can to help. We need your time, your voice, your donations, your letter writing and phone calling, your blogging and commenting on our Facebook and Twitter pages and more.

Please stay tuned for updates in your email boxes and on the news and do what you can to ask members of the Senate why they are taking this gamble, why they support a casino culture and unwise economic development and why they are in such a hurry to pass a bill without financial studies, public hearings or any real debate.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support.

Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
President
United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts



Truth and transparency have left the House
For Immediate Release
April 7, 2010

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

(Boston) The predatory gambling bill crafted in secret is being rammed through the House of Representatives. After taking a year to arrange the seats for the special interest, lobbyist pay-day gambling bill, the Speaker is now fast-tracking the bill through the House. Misinformation and misstatements such as the suggesting that the Mass Municipal Association supports the bill, when in fact, they are officially neutral coupled with a long list of unsubstantiated promises, total lack of budgets for costs and a process that is not fair and balanced should alarm every citizen, taxpayer and legislator.

Long-term legislators are saying that this is the most pressure they have ever seen being exerted upon them to abandon their principled positions that expanded gambling is not sustainable revenue, the state should not further partner with the exploitation of its citizens and increase social costs borne by taxpayers. The House Ways & Means Committee that is charged with fiscal review of bills coming before the legislature voted by majority to abandon their responsibilities and not conduct a fiscal analysis of an alleged "economic bill".

"An irreversible major policy decision by the elected officials of the Commonwealth should be based on economic merit, not special interest merit", stated Kathleen Conley Norbut, president United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts. A vote for the special interest predatory gambling bill is a vote to support sweetheart deals for the racetracks to cash-in on slot machines. A vote for the bill is a vote for no bid licenses that are proposed for these facilities. "Why should they get preferential treatment when no other business is allowed to circumvent competitive bid processes? Why Raynham and not Brockton, Fitchburg, Lawrence or Holyoke? Why should the racetracks get a pass on the legal process established by the Legislature in the Massachusetts General Laws?" questioned Norbut.

The public is angry at politicians for these slippery actions, and it is clear that truth and transparency have left the House.
####



Crime bill slipped inside gambling special interest bill
For Immediate Release
April 6, 2010

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

(Boston) Recent focus on the ethical and legal problems associated with Legislators in the Commonwealth and the long history of corruption associated with the gambling industry requires elected officials to step-back and re-evaluate the proposals to legalize predatory gambling, slots/casinos.

AG Coakley stated at legislative hearings in 2009, "Before the legislative debate on gaming even begins, the Commonwealth must have the law enforcement tools necessary to combat potential illegal influences both during the legislative debate and after proposed legislation becomes law in the Commonwealth." When asked how much that would cost, she replied, "expensive". Voters repeatedly state that politicians are not listening to their concerns including the negative fiscal impacts slots/casinos have upon entire regions, small businesses and local economies.

Citing the long term economic drain, negative regional fiscal impacts, social and legal costs associated with predatory gambling slots/casinos, Kathleen Conley Norbut, president, United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts stated, "There is no budget for the gambling special interest bill including the major economic crime bill statutes proposed within the slots/casino bill. Is this another unfunded mandate?"

####



Closed-Door Deals on Beacon Hill
For Immediate Release
April 5, 2010

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

(Boston) - Last week the Speaker of the House of Representatives unveiled a new bill to legalize expanded predatory gambling, slots/casinos in Massachusetts. The gambling bill will not get due process with a public hearing. The bill was crafted behind closed doors. No one knows who the Speaker consulted in crafting the bill. Speaker DeLeo states he met with opponents. Who did he meet with? Not the long-time statewide organizations that have opposed legalizing slots and casinos like the Mass Council of Churches, Mass Family Institute, National Association of Social Workers, Western Ma Substance Abuse Providers, Mass Catholic Conference. The Speaker did not meet with the citizen's group United to Stop in Massachusetts. He refuses to conduct a cost analysis of the gambling special interest proposals. Two tax-funded benefit analyses were commissioned with a synchronized release to coincide with the Speaker's gambling bill, a bill that he desperately wants that is designed to benefit special interests in his district.

If we don't know who he met with, what data has been used, who the special interest gambling bill will help and harm, how are we or our legislators supposed to trust the promises that have been crafted by the gambling special interests? "They won't answer our questions about which opponents they allegedly met with... they won't give data or budgets for their proposals. What are they hiding?" questioned Kathleen Conley Norbut, president United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts.

Sound public and fiscal policy promote the public good, do no harm, increase opportunity and are sustainable. Citing the long term economic drain, negative regional fiscal impacts, social and legal costs associated with predatory gambling slots/casinos, Norbut stated, "Mr. Speaker back-door taxes and gimmicks are not the way to gain the people's trust."

####



USS-MAss calls casino bluff
Exposes slots as a bad deal for Massachusetts

For Immediate Release
March 31, 2010

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

(Boston, MA) - United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, a grassroots coalition opposed to predatory gambling, held a press briefing and "lit drop" at the Statehouse today. Kathleen Conley Norbut, President of USS-Mass, today cautioned the Massachusetts Legislature to "not be fooled by the false promises of a 'super-secret slots' bill that almost no one has seen." Activists from across the state delivered briefing materials to legislators exposing the real costs of slot machines as slots decrease lottery revenue and local aid to cities and towns.

United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, (www.uss-mass.org), along with Governor Patrick and Attorney General Coakley, have called for an independent study commission to find out the true costs and benefits of legalizing thousands of slot machines across the state. Norbut said, "No one should be expected to vote on a bill of this magnitude with only a few days for review and no solid numbers on the real costs to the Lottery, infrastructure, and increased costs to social services, the environmental, law enforcement and criminal regulation." No independent cost-benefit analysis exists to show what six gambling facilities will cost Massachusetts residents.

Standing next to a tree with leaves made of paper money, Norbut said, "For Massachusetts residents, our money doesn't grow on trees. It would take 40,000 people each losing $254 dollars, 365 days a year to get to the' hypothetical amount of $200 million in revenues to state coffers. We simply can't be asked to lose this much to bankroll gambling special interests."

Kelly Marcimo from the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts said "There are too many unknowns here. Legislators have only heard of vague framework of licensing six predatory gambling facilities in the Commonwealth, maybe more. Nobody seems to know where these gambling facilities will be located.. In the press conference at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Speaker Robert DeLeo said he did not know how many jobs or what kind of revenue the gambling facilities would generate.1 We need an independent study commission to give us some real numbers about the potential costs and benefits."

The Reverend Jack Johnson said, "Mohegan Sun and Harrah's aren't eyeing Massachusetts because they care about our budget struggles- they're looking to turn a profit. We know who wins in this deal - the casinos. Massachusetts taxpayers will have to pay for the increased social, legal, regulatory, public safety and infrastructure costs. Massachusetts legislators need the time and the real data of an independent cost-benefit study commission to make an informed decision."


1The Boston Globe, March 5, 2010 DeLeo goes to bat for slots, casinos by Michael Levenson. "DeLeo said he had no estimate of how many jobs his plan would create, how much revenue it would generate, or where the casinos would be located."
####



USS-Mass Rejects One-sided Benefits Analysis of Casinos
Cites lack of independent costs analysis in public policy report

For Immediate Release
March 29, 2010

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

(Boston) The statewide coalition of groups and citizens opposed to expanding predatory gambling rejected the New England Casino report published today by the UMass Dartmouth Center for Policy Analysis. United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts (USS-Mass) cites the continued lack of comprehensive independent analyses of costs, mitigation, impacts on existing businesses, performing arts and entertainment venues, environment, social costs, regulation and expanded crime bills, host regions and municipal budgets. The report states that the center updated their "New England casino patron origin and fiscal impact analysis for calendar year 2009." The sixty-three page report fails to analyze impacts and costs.

A super-secret slots bill is being crafted on Beacon Hill behind closed doors. Policy makers have failed to fully vet the proposals to expand predatory gambling, slot parlors and casinos in the Commonwealth. One-sided research is promulgated by proponents. "The UMass Dartmouth report released today ignores the work of several regions in the state demanding the need for independent cost-benefit analysis, and comprehensive mitigation planning before expanding any gambling in the Commonwealth. The Western MA Casino Task Force, MetroWest Growth Management Committee, 495/MetroWest Partnership, South West Advisory Planning and the Southeastern Regional Task Forces, comprised of local officials have clearly stated and quantified negative fiscal impacts to entire regions where slot parlors and casinos are sited," stated Kathleen Conley Norbut, president, United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts.

A majority of the research embellishing expanding predatory gambling is underwritten by the gambling industry and special interests. Elected officials have not been forthcoming with the public about the impacts and costs for public safety, funding a large bureaucracy that will be needed for oversight, funding new money laundering, gang, and organized crime laws as well as infrastructure costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars. "A benefit analysis that only looks at one side of the fiscal picture is not a valid policy report," said Norbut.

####



USS-Mass Rejects Public Opinion Polls on Slot Parlors and Casinos
Cites public misinformation and lack of due diligence

For Immediate Release
March 18, 2010

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

Palmer- The statewide coalition of groups and citizens opposed to expanding predatory gambling rejected recent public opinion polls on slot parlors and casinos citing continued lack of comprehensive independent cost-benefit analyses and accurate information for taxpayers and citizens.

Public officials and public institutions have failed to fully vet the proposals to expand predatory gambling, slot parlors and casinos in the Commonwealth. "Pollsters, politicians and special interests continue to ignore the work of several regions in the state including: the Western MA Casino Task Force (WMCAT), MetroWest Growth Management Committee, the 495/MetroWest Partnership, South West Advisory Planning and the Southeastern Regional Task Force, comprised of local officials and Massachusetts taxpayers, who have clearly stated and quantified negative fiscal impacts to entire regions where slot parlors and casinos are sited," stated Kathleen Conley Norbut, president, United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts.

Elected officials have not been forthcoming with the public about the impacts and costs for public safety, funding a large bureaucracy for gambling oversight, funding new money laundering, gang, and organized crime laws as well as infrastructure costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars. "When we see public opinion polls, with good people that have not been given factual information supporting expanding predatory gambling, we are not surprised. Due diligence is needed by elected officials and the public trust must be restored through an independent cost-benefit analysis" said Norbut. Industry insiders and studies funded by proponents have produced most of the reports to date.
####



USS Mass calls on legislators to take down the biggest bully
For Immediate Release
March 15, 2010

For Immediate Release
March 15, 2010

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

Palmer - As the Legislature prepares to toughen state laws against bullying, United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts today asked them to take down the biggest bully of all, predatory gambling and special interests. The proposals in the legislature to legalize slot machines at race tracks and casinos have been built upon misinformation, closed door meetings and the influence of powerful special interest groups. Slot machines are designed to promote playing to "extinction". The business model of casinos includes extracting 70-90% of their profits from the 10% of problem and addicted gamblers. "What we are talking about are machines that are highly addictive, powerful moneyed interests and politicians crafting legislation behind closed doors. Who is the bully here and who are the victims?" stated Kathleen Conley Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts (USS Mass).

Norbut pointed to recent comments made by Dave Jonas, President of Parx Casino located just outside of Philadelphia, who said his profits come almost exclusively from local low rollers."We underestimated significantly how many trips our customers were going to make," Jonas said at last month's Pennsylvania Gaming Congress in Valley Forge. At Parx, "it's not uncommon for us to have 150 to 200 trips." That's three to four times a week. Jonas also said most of his players fit that profile. In fact, because Parx players tend to live within 20 miles of the casino, many go even more frequently. "We have customers," Jonas boasted, "who give us $25, $30 five times a week."

Wealthy investors and developers along with their stable of lobbyists - many former legislators, spent over $2 million dollars in Massachusetts to influence gambling legislation last year. Licensing one slot machine opens the door to the continued proliferation of gambling and the associated costs as well as the advent of additional Native American casinos for the two federally recognized tribes and the six tribes awaiting recognition.
####



USS Mass rejects Speaker DeLeo's predatory gambling proposal
For Immediate Release
March 8, 2010

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

(Boston, Mass.) --- USS Mass rejects Speaker DeLeo's predatory gambling proposal Speaker DeLeo's claims of increased jobs and tax revenue are simply a short-term gimmick leading to long-term economic drain, according to United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts and a coalition of other groups opposed to legalizing slot machines and casino gambling in the state. The groups also criticized the lack of transparency around the bill's drafting that has occured behind closed doors without public input or even the inclusion of rank and file representatives.

"This bill will create gambling monopolies in Massachusetts that will hurt our economy and small businesses," said Kathleen Conley Norbut, president and founder of USS-Mass and a resident of Monson. "This bill will turn Massachusetts from an education, medical and technology based-economy into a host for casino capitalism that is failing dismally around the country.

"We have no doubt, there are some well intentioned proponents looking to create jobs," she said. "But every objective measure, study and experience says that casinos and slots will increase crime, addiction and disproportionately drain money from the low income and blue collar workers that they allegedly want to help. Only the wealthy investors win with slots and casinos, the rest of us pay."

"What the Speaker and proponents don't seem to want the public to know is that legalizing one slot machine opens the door for not two casinos and four racinos, but four casinos and four racinos with the potential for continued proliferation. With the legalization of class III gambling, slots/casinos the two federally recognized Native American tribes become eligible to host sovereign casinos. There are six other tribes applying for federal recognition. One slot machine, is one slot machine too many." stated Ms. Norbut.
####



Casino Gambling Numbers Don't Add Up:  New report cites harm to local aid and tax base as reasons against casinos
For Immediate Release
February 02, 2010

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

(Boston, Mass.) --- A new report says predatory gambling proposals in Massachusetts will hurt local aid to towns and cities and divert millions in discretionary income from the state and its taxpayers.

The report also says that predatory casinos and slot machines will push more people deeper into personal debt, burdening social service networks and taxpayers.

The executive summary of "The Casino Math Workbook for Beacon Hill" was written and released today by United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts (USS-Mass), a statewide coalition opposed to predatory gambling and dedicated to informing the public and lawmakers about the negative consequences of legalizing casinos and slots machines in the Commonwealth.

"The numbers of the gambling industry just don't add up," said Kathleen Conley Norbut, of Monson and president of USS-Mass. "We now know that the predatory gambling proposals for Massachusetts are nothing more than another kind of Bernie Madoff something-for-nothing scheme. These casino operators want to line their pockets by addicting vulnerable citizens and state government."

The report also disproves claims that casinos and slots will bring new net revenue to the state and create jobs. The report explains:

1.  State funds that go to local aid for towns and cities will be lost to out-of-state developers as the state Lottery loses over 10 percent of its revenue.

2.  The claim of $200 million in new tax revenue would require 40,000 new gamblers every day.

3.  To match the revenue generated by the state Lottery, citizens would have to gamble and lose 11 times more money.

4.  When compared to other forms of gambling and the state sales tax, casinos are by far the most volatile and unpredictable form of revenue.

5.  Expanding predatory gambling costs taxpayers $3 for every $1 generated to address increased crime, bankruptcies and addictions.

"Every time the casino wins, Massachusetts communities lose," Norbut said. "Much like the tobacco industry, slots and casinos need to attract new addicted users to gamble and bring in revenue."

USS-Mass and its allies have repeatedly called for an independent cost-benefit analysis of expanded gambling proposals before any action to legalize slots or any other form of predatory gambling.

An independent cost-benefit analysis is supported by a broad, bi-partisan coalition of leaders and groups, including Gov. Deval Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Mass Chiefs of Police Association, League of Women Voters, Mass Council of Churches, National Association of Social Workers MA-chapter and the Massachusetts Family Institute.

Click here for an abridged copy of "The Casino Math Workbook for Beacon Hill"


####



Speaker's predatory gambling proposals fail "sniff test"
For Immediate Release
January 29, 2010

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

(Boston) - In a rare address to members of the House, Speaker DeLeo reaffirmed his support of governing by gimmicks versus real reform and economic development. Less than a year after being a chief architect of the 25% sales tax increase he stated that he does not support more taxes; he continued by endorsing special interests in his district and proposing state sponsored expanded predatory gambling revenue, slots/casinos, often called "a tax on the poor".

Sound public and fiscal policy promote the public good, do no harm, increase opportunity and are sustainable. Speaker DeLeo does not seem to be aware that all legislation needs to be measured against philosophical and prudent benchmarks. His remarks reveal that his governing criteria do not include the basic tenants of legislative leadership by stating that his proposals to expand predatory gambling are "not philosophical".

While bi-partisan and non-partisan leaders across the state including Governor Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Mass Chiefs of Police Association, United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts (USS Mass), League of Women Voters, Mass Council of Churches, National Association of Social Workers MA-chapter, Mass Family Institute, numerous statewide organizations and individuals are calling for a fresh independent cost-benefit, data-driven analysis of expanded gambling before legalizing slots or any additional form of predatory gambling, the Speaker has rejected this necessary quantitative and qualitative approach.

AG Coakley stated at legislative hearings in 2009, "Before the legislative debate on gaming even begins, the Commonwealth must have the law enforcement tools necessary to combat potential illegal influences both during the legislative debate and after proposed legislation becomes law in the Commonwealth." When asked how much that would cost, she replied, "expensive".

Recent focus on the concentration of political power, ethical and legal problems associated with Legislators in the Commonwealth and the long history of corruption associated with the gambling industry requires elected officials to step-back and re-evaluate the proposals to legalize predatory gambling, slots/casinos.

Voters repeatedly state that politicians are not listening to their concerns including the negative fiscal impacts slots/casinos have upon entire regions, small businesses and local economies. The Globe released a poll (January 2010) that showed the majority of respondents (38%) oppose any form of expanded gambling, (30%) support casinos and (3%) support racinos/slot parlors.

Citing the long term economic drain, negative regional fiscal impacts, social and legal costs associated with predatory gambling slots/casinos, Kathleen Conley Norbut, president, USS Mass stated, "Mr. Speaker back-door taxes and gimmicks are not the way to gain the people's trust."

####



USS Mass warns Legislature - No back room deals

For Immediate Release
January 25, 2010

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

(Boston) - Attorney General Martha Coakley joins Governor Patrick, the Mass Chiefs of Police Association, United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts (USS Mass) and numerous statewide organizations and individuals calling for an independent cost-benefit, data-driven analysis of expanded gambling before legalizing slots or any additional form of predatory gambling. AG Coakley stated at legislative hearings, "Before the legislative debate on gaming even begins, the Commonwealth must have the law enforcement tools necessary to combat potential illegal influences both during the legislative debate and after proposed legislation becomes law in the Commonwealth." When asked how much that would cost, she replied, "expensive".

Recent focus on the concentration of political power, ethical and legal problems associated with Legislators in the Commonwealth and the long history of corruption associated with the gambling industry requires elected officials to step-back and re-evaluate the proposals to legalize predatory gambling, slots/casinos.

The electorate voiced their ire with "business as usual" in Massachusetts politics in the recent US Senate election. Voters repeatedly state that politicians are not listening to their concerns including the negative fiscal impacts slots/casinos have upon entire regions, small businesses and local economies. The Globe released a poll (January 2010) that showed the majority of respondents (38%) oppose any form of expanded gambling, (30%) support casinos and (3%) support racinos/slot parlors.

Kathleen Conley Norbut, president, USS Mass stated, "Mr. Speaker the people are sending you a message, no back-room deals for slots and predatory gambling."

####

(Back to Top)


US Senate Candidates Khazei and Capuano endorse independent cost-benefit analysis before legalizing slots/casinos.

For Immediate Release
November 18, 2009

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

(Boston) - United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts (USS Mass) a non-partisan statewide coalition announced today that it has received responses from two of the US Senate candidates to the questionnaire that was sent to candidates in October. "US Senate candidate Alan Khazei promptly returned the questionnaire and Congressman Michael Capuano filed his responses with our organization on Tuesday, November 17, 2009," reported Kathleen Conley Norbut, President, United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts.

Despite an extension and reminders from USS Mass, four of the candidates failed to respond to the questionnaire, which leaves taxpayers wondering if they understand the magnitude of the impacts of the proliferation of predatory gambling upon local economies, state and national policy. Each candidate was asked four questions regarding expanding predatory gambling including two questions about their position on the far-reaching implications of the Supreme Court decision in February 2009 relevant to native American tribes bringing lands into trust; the National Gambling Impact Study Commission Report recommendations which included a moratorium on slot/casino gambling in the United States and their position regarding a proposed independent cost-benefit analysis before legalizing any expanded predatory gambling, slots/casinos in the Commonwealth.

The candidate's responses reveal that Mr. Khazei expressed his strong support for an independent cost-benefit analysis before legalizing any expansion of predatory gambling, slots/casinos with a detailed description of the depth of his knowledge and concerns about the costs associated with the slots/casino industry, "While we must commit ourselves to creating jobs and while monetary costs and benefits must be measured, we must not lose sight of what we treasure most in life. We must ask ourselves if casino gambling is worth it even at the expense of those among us who are most vulnerable."

Congressman Capuano supports the proposed independent cost-benefit analysis before legalizing slots/casinos for the purpose of quantifying job creation. He expressed hesitation that there would be significant job creation with slot facilities. Congressman Capuano expressed sensitivity for Native Americans and a desire to see more non-casino job creation on reservations, "It is important to be sensitive to issues of identity and self-definition, with regard to Native Americans and, indeed, to all persons. That said, the larger community is affected by decisions governing recourse to the Indian Reorganization Act."

"We are pleased that two candidates chose not to duck these controversial issues by taking the time to address these matters that impact economic, public health, consumer protection, safety and future decisions for the Commonwealth and the nation," stated Ms. Norbut. The full text of the candidates responses are posted on the USS Mass website (http://www.uss-mass.org/in_action.html).

####

(Back to Top)



Pro-predatory Gambling Legislators Conduct Business Behind Closed Doors

For Immediate Release
November 11, 2009

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

(Boston) - United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts (USS Mass) a non-partisan statewide coalition criticizes pro-predatory gambling legislators as they conduct business behind closed doors with a recent forum on slots/casinos at the statehouse. "The work of the people seems to exclude "the people" of the Commonwealth when it comes to slots/casinos as evidenced when pro-predatory gambling legislators met on Monday in a closed forum on Beacon Hill," stated Kathleen Conley Norbut, President of USS Mass. Organizers defended their actions to hide public officials from the public so they would, "feel comfortable to ask any questions without having any type of criticism." Legislators give speeches about transparency yet they have crafted a double standard for their conveniences and are not bound by the same rules as local officials by Open Meeting Laws.

Elected officials should not be shielded from taxpayer's questions and criticisms when it comes to discussing legalizing gambling activities that derive the vast majority of revenue from addicted individuals; are historically wrought with graft, political corruption and criminal activities. As offensive as these actions are to the citizens of the Commonwealth, closed door discussions and one-sided presentations have been common practice in the debate about legalizing expanded predatory gambling. Opponents of predatory gambling and local officials concerned about negative impacts to their communities were not included in the senate informational hearing in June. Concerned citizens were ignored by Administration officials two years ago when requests were made to meet to discuss the flawed legislation submitted by the Governor. The July 4th middle of the night legalization of predatory gambling by politicians in Pennsylvania was not a beacon of democracy.

Lobbyists are on-track to spend over $1 million dollars this year to influence the legislature to expand predatory gambling with slots/casinos in the Commonwealth. Meanwhile the Mass. Council on Compulsive Gambling budget was recently slashed, drastically reducing the safety net needed to treat the human tragedies created by compulsive gambling. The Beacon Hill formula has not changed; quick fixes, closed doors meetings, lobbyists fronting for deep-pocketed out-of-state and foreign investors, misinformation about revenues and job creation. The only thing clear about what is happening on Beacon Hill is that nothing is transparent

Labor unions have threatened to withhold support to long-time Democratic legislators and traditional allies to pressure them to support their short-term interests for construction jobs. A handful of legislators have pressured labor unions to support their minute special interest group, track owners. These antics occur despite the reality that there is no upside for substantive construction jobs and many of the track jobs are not unionized. Legislative leadership has expanded their thinking to support expanding predatory gambling stating that jobs are needed, but they willfully ignore the long-term economic drain of slots/casinos including the documented subsidies by taxpayers in states with legalized slots/casinos for social, public safety and infrastructure costs created by the industry. Pro-predatory gambling legislators serve on Advisory Committees to UMass public policy centers while also setting the budgets for these facilities and the people who perform the limited research on slots/casinos.

Governor Patrick initiated the race to the bottom with his declaration of support for casinos. United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts therefore calls upon the Governor and the Legislature to perform independent cost-benefit analysis before any steps are taken to legalize an industry that creates greater long-term negative fiscal costs than it renders in benefits.

####

(Back to Top)



USS Mass announces opposition to legalization of predatory gambling

For Immediate Release
September 10, 2009

Contact:
Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
USS Mass, President
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA
(413) 267-3869
www.uss-mass.org

Palmer- USS Mass, United to Stops Slots in Massachusetts announces opposition to the legalization of predatory gambling in the form of slots, racinos and casinos in Massachusetts. USS Mass was formed after the resolution to oppose slots and predatory gambling passed at the Democratic State Convention, June 2009. As a non-profit, grassroots entity, USS Mass will counter the influence of lobbyists and big money from predatory gambling monopolies and corporations through education of lawmakers, citizens and taxpayers on the negative fiscal, human, criminal and environmental impacts of expanded gambling.

USS Mass is a non-partisan statewide coalition of diverse organizations and individuals including fiscal and social conservatives, business owners, human service providers, political and legislative leaders, advocates for victims of abuse and bankruptcy, equitable tax policy, progressive activists, regional groups opposed to expanded gambling and environmental groups.

National gambling research experts Prof. John Kindt and Prof. Grinols state that "slots create three times the fiscal burden on taxpayers for every dollar of revenue generated". While lobbyists have enjoyed open access to legislators on Beacon Hill with the announcement by the Speaker of the House, Robert DeLeo to support racinos to benefit patrons in his district, the average working person has had little access to accurate information about the product, industry, costs to host and abutting communities or realistic projections of revenues for the Commonwealth.

States with some of the largest and most prevalent casinos such as NV, CT, NJ, LA, and CA are in worse financial condition than the Commonwealth. Predatory gambling has not solved the fiscal problems in any state that has legalized slot machines. USS Mass supports sustainable economic growth that enriches the people and the culture of the Commonwealth.

USS Mass rejects using addiction to fund government services. Slots and predatory gambling as a source of revenue for state and municipal budgets are a "quick fix". Solving fiscal challenges through using gimmicks are the exact opposites of what taxpayers supported in the election of Governor Patrick. Legalizing predatory gambling is a permanent regressive tax solution for a temporary fiscal problem. Crime, bankruptcy, domestic abuse and additional fiscal burdens upon already overstrained education, infrastructure and public safety departments and facilities are costly results of expanded gambling. These costs are passed to the taxpayers.

The predatory gambling industry is unique with the negative fiscal, environmental and human impacts they are proven to create. No other industry requires additional criminal legislation such as the costly, "Economic Crime Bill" filed in August 2009, by Attorney General Martha Coakley, as a framework to control crime associated with predatory slots and expanded gambling. Previous Attorneys General in Massachusetts' history and nationally have opposed the legalization of slots. The business model of the predatory gambling industry is similar to practices of the tobacco industry and predatory lending.

USS Mass calls for the Legislature to commission a comprehensive study of the costs and benefits of predatory slots before legalizing any form of expanded gambling. A balanced blue-ribbon commission of Massachusetts residents should be appointed to perform a cost-benefit analysis and report to the people on proposals to expand predatory gambling in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Legislators must perform due diligence to thoroughly and transparently research the long-term impacts of predatory gambling upon the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

####

(Back to Top)