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letter to Governor Patrick, John Ribeiro warns of the predatory
practices casinos will use to lure patrons
Dear Governor Patrick,
There comes a time in every leader’s tenure when he or she will come
to a crossroads; a point at which they must make a fateful decision
that will intractably impact those in their care. You stand at such
a nexus now. The decision you make in the next few days will be felt
by generations to come in Massachusetts, long after you have moved
Governor, I am willing to bet that you have not heard the
information that I have provided here. You will be stunned at what
you are about to learn. You have promised that we would “get it
right” here, in Massachusetts, because we have the ability to look
at the mistakes of those who have traveled this road before us.
History will either report that you did it right or that you failed
the people miserably. I disagree with you on many topics but I
believe you to be an earnest and honest man of integrity and I hope
that you apply those traits to this issue.
As you are considering the fine print of the casino legislation that
has arrived at your desk, I wanted to provide you with some insight
on the business practices of the casino industry. I am confident
that you are not aware of these practices, as they are the “dirty
little secret” of the industry.
I work in the field of Business Intelligence. I design databases
that companies use to collect information about their customers and
prospective customers. The data collected are used to decide how to
promote their products or services to their patrons. In other
industries, this is a relatively benign practice as it simply allows
companies to match up customers with products and promotions. The
hope is that those targeted consumers will spend their money more
frequently at their establishments as opposed to their competitors.
Financial institutions also take advantage of this information in
order to decide what banking, lending and investing products to
offer to their own customers and prospects. This is why we receive
unsolicited credit card offers in the mail.
As financial institutions, the casinos will have access to all of an
individual's financial information. They leverage this specialized
status and "loyalty programs" to gain specific knowledge about how
much cash and credit a patron has access to, when they use their
credit cards in the casinos. The industry calls this Total Cash
Availability. Additionally, they will also be able to find out how
much equity a patron has in their home, car and other assets; this
is called Global Cash Availability. These can and will be taken as
equity in exchange for credit. Casinos will also extend what amount
to payday loans at high interest rates. These will be offered to
patrons who are under the influence of alcohol, alcohol, that the
casinos will be able to offer free of charge.
The casino industry uses all of this information along with
real-time game-play data to make targeted offers to specific people.
They are also able to alter the payout rate and the “near-misses”
seen by each person to increase their rate of play and the amount
Governor Patrick, you have acknowledged that there will be more
addicted gamblers created by the advent of casino gambling in
Massachusetts. I'm sure we would disagree on the total number but
you should understand that this legislation allows the casinos to
offer loans directly to those who have been drinking. Our state is
still trying to recover from the sub-prime mortgage lending scandal.
Does it really make sense to introduce an industry that will prey on
people by offering them loans while they’re intoxicated?
Casino industry experts will tell you that they only need to provide
loans to “high rollers”. This is disingenuous. The legislation does
not provide any income threshold or guidance. All patrons are fair
Below are three links, which show how the casino industry collects
and uses the financial and game-play data to identify patrons who
can be tapped for more revenue.
1) The video linked below shows that casinos have access to all of
your financial information as well as transactions outside of the
casinos as soon as you use your credit or atm card in one of their
2) This link is a promotional page which brags about this software’s
ability to identify “the most profitable customers and those which
can be ‘tapped’ for additional revenue and profit.” This software
identifies these gamblers while they are playing and helps identify
them for promotions. This software targets people to ply with free
liquor. It is not a random offering.
3) The following is a link to a patent for a “METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR
DYNAMICALLY AWARDING BONUS POINTS.” It also describes in detail how
machines can be dynamically reconfigured to generate more revenue
while they are being played by increasing the rate of play and
Let me be clear. The methodology is as follows:
1. The casinos identify their patrons and prospects according to
their potential value to the casino.
2. The casinos monitor the play of those patrons and determine when
to offer them free alcohol to maximize their spend on the games.
3. The casinos then dynamically alter the speed at which the
machines play and the rate at which they pay out to increase the
profit they are making on a specific player.
4. When the player has exhausted his or her resources on hand, the
casinos extend them credit.
Dear Governor Patrick, this is only the tip of the iceberg. This
industry uses this data to manipulate payouts at slot machines to
coincide with show times. It also uses this data to identify patrons
who may be slowing down their play and who may increase their play
if they were provided with a free drink or two.
Governor, I know that you would not have supported this legislation
if you were aware of these practices. This is simply bad public
policy. If you sign this bill, you will have unleashed these
predatory practices on the unsuspecting people of the Commonwealth.
The very people whom you have sworn to protect.