Former Mobster on Gambling & Sports

This evening I heard an interview with Michael Franzese. It is the second or third interview that I have heard him do and each time he has held my attention.

Franzese is a former member of the Mafia who speaks about organized crime and its practices/influences in various areas of society. If you click on this link and then click play on the the top button you can watch a video biography of him.

In light of recent events regarding gambling and sports Franzese has been making the rounds again. Here is a link to one of the interviews that you might find interesting. I know that I did.

And just to round it out here is a link to a bunch of YouTube videos with Franzese too.

Ten Things the Gaming Industry Won’t Tell You

SmartMoney has a story that some people need to paste to their nightstands. I am going to grab a few of the items. It is up to you to use the link to read the full commentary about each one.

1. “You can’t win…”

Everyone knows the house has an advantage. But most casino patrons don’t realize just how heavily the odds are stacked against them. Take keno, in which you pick a string of numbers, hoping to match them to what the casino randomly generates. The house advantage is at least 25%, increasing with the more numbers you pick, says John Alcamo, author of Casino Gambling Behind the Tables. The odds of hitting, say, the 10 spot — a string of 10 numbers — are nine million to one. (Getting killed by fireworks is nine times more likely.) Despite those odds, a $2 bet usually pays off at only $50,000 to $200,000.

Slot machines are popular because they offer a shot at a big jackpot for little investment. For example, $3 gets you a chance at the Megabucks jackpot, which links slot machines in Nevada and builds like a state lottery from a base of $5 million. The odds of winning? Nearly 17 million to one. You have a better chance of being killed by an asteroid striking Earth..


2. “…and if you do, we might not pay you.”

While on vacation in Lake Tahoe in September 1996, Cengiz Sengel stopped to show his wife the lights of Reno, Nev. They walked into the Silver Legacy casino, got a $20 bag of quarters and headed straight to one of the slot machines. A few pulls later, three jackpot symbols popped up in the windows. The Sengels jumped up and down, hugging each other as fellow slot players rushed over to congratulate them. They had just won nearly $1.8 million. Or so they thought. A supervisor, claiming the machine had malfunctioned, denied the Sengels the payout. The couple appealed all the way to the state Supreme Court, which this June ruled against them.

Effie Freeman can sympathize. In 1995, she put $3 into a slot machine at the now — defunct Splash Casino in Tunica, Miss., and was stunned to see red, white and blue ducks line up, signaling a $1.7 million jackpot. But the state gaming commission ruled that it didn’t count because the machine had gone into “tilt” mode.


3. “We promise more than we deliver.”

Twenty-seven years ago only seven states had lotteries, and only Nevada allowed casinos. Now 37 states have lotteries, and 28 have casinos (including Indian gaming). Why have policy makers and the public allowed gambling to flourish? One reason is the notion that it creates jobs and commerce.

But research suggests the downside far outweighs the benefits. “The economy as a whole would be much better off had we not allowed [casino gaming] to expand,” says Earl Grinols, a University of Illinois economics professor. Figuring in a broad range of factors — crime, lost productivity, bankruptcy, social services and regulatory costs — Grinols determined that each pathological and problem gambler costs the public $13,600 per year; the total works out to $180 per citizen. That more than negates the industry’s economic benefit, which Grinols estimates at $50 to $70 per citizen.


4. “We know everything about you.”

Casinos have developed sophisticated techniques for targeting and profiling repeat gamblers. Harrah’s Entertainment (HET) has led the way, hiring marketing experts and a Harvard professor. In 1997, the company began gathering details on players when it rolled out its Total Gold frequent-gambler cards (now called Total Rewards) and has built a database of 19 million customers. Players insert the cards into slot machines or hand them to casino supervisors when they play table games. The cards are marketed as a prestige item that helps players accumulate comps such as free rooms, meals and show tickets. But the real purpose is to track the habits of each customer and tailor a marketing plan that will keep players coming.

If you’re a big bettor, you’ll find that casinos know all kinds of creepy information — just enough to push your buttons.”

This won’t stop me from going to Vegas but then again when I go I expect that I am going to lose. So I never take more cash than I am willing to lose. At this point in time I enjoy Vegas for reasons other than gambling- shows, restaurants etc.