I knew I liked Bill Kearney from the first message he left on my voice mail. It was obvious from minute one that, for this straight-talking Philly boy, it wasn't about him, or his (not quite autobiographical) novel, titled "Comped." It was about a message that was being actively suppressed by the wealthy, the powerful, and their accomplices in the media. That'll cause me to appreciate anyone! But quite obviously, not everyone shares the sentiment.
You see, this street-wise crusader has a target on his back. His first-hand experience with, and insider understanding of, the casino gambling game is one thing. Bill's passion to communicate the truth about it is yet another. Those lurking in darkness do not appreciate the light. And what this guy's showing me, over time, is illuminating--and not a little bit frightening.
Bill Kearney, you soon learn, had it all...risked it all...and lost it all, in the gaming halls of New Jersey. Now, he wants to make sure you don't follow in his footsteps. And that's the best thing about Kearney: he's not motivated by revenge against the gambling establishments and developers that took his money. He simply cares about your family, and the future of his Philadelphia hometown.
Bill's prescription for safeguarding our children--a group already being targeted by the gaming establishment--boils down, in essence, to "8 simple rules:"
First: Stop calling this product "entertainment," and start calling it what it really is--a truly horrific "investment."
Second: No comps. From the senior citizens by the busload that the casinos lure in with "slots dollars" and "free buffets," to the "High Rollers" they chauffeur in limos, and put up in penthouse suites. If the slot machines, table games, and spinning wheels are so good and entertaining, then there should be no need to "comp" anyone!
Third: No Credit. Is there any other industry you can think of that can give out interest-free loans?
Fourth: No casino chips, and no coin-less slot machines. This may the casinos' biggest edge! Take away the casino chips and electronic "credits" on slot machines--force patrons to see the real money they're wagering--and let's see how much is wagered then. It's a whole different ballgame when you "show me the money" I'm risking!
Fifth: No 24/7 operation. When the casinos first opened in
Sixth: No free alcoholic beverages. Can you imagine how many lawsuits there would be if other financial transactions you make--with your bank, your insurance, mortgage, or stockbroker--were carried out under the influence of free liquor?
Seventh: No ATM machines. You will see more people there, than at the cashier's cage picking up their winnings.
Finally, (and most intriguingly) Eighth: Send a monthly statement to every gambler's home. You know about those "rewards cards" every casino uses to track your habits, and market you even more personally. Why not deliver the information gleaned in the form of a monthly statement, showing the dates, times, and dollars spent in each gaming hall? This way, those on the verge of compulsive gambling would be able to see the true costs of their "entertainment"--and their spouses would, too.
PA State Representative Paul Clymer (R-Bucks County) stands ready to introduce Kearney's idea in the form of a bill that would force the state's 14 proposed casinos to provide those monthly accounts. Concerned citizens in the Commonwealth would be well-served to support Clymer's efforts with their passionate letters, faxes, phone calls, and emails. Opposition is already aligned against the idea in Harrisburg--but how can anyone of character justify keeping families in the dark?
Coming Monday: A Last Word on PA's "Losing Hand"