Update on the “ATMs in Casinos” amendment from the State House

Great info - thank you, Senator, for staying on top of this, and for updating us here. - promoted by david

After being alerted by the Stop Predatory Gambling organization yesterday about an amendment added to H.4110, the Bank Modernization Act ( https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/House/H4110 ) on December 24th, a few legislators including myself attended informal session, to get a clearer idea of what exactly was intended by the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees, regarding ATMs and casinos in Massachusetts. As of Monday night at 6 pm, both the House and Senate have recessed, with neither branch taking action on H.4110, as amended. The bill remains in the House, with the next informal session being on Wednesday.

I want to thank Stop Predatory Gambling and its members for raising concerns about the substance and intent of this language, and contacting their legislators about it. Many legislators, and our staffs, at the State House today spent a considerable amount trying to better understand the language of the amendment, and whether it made sense to allow the bill in its present form (amended) to pass the House or Senate, or consider taking another action.

Matt Murphy of the State House News Service (SHNS) has done an excellent job summarizing today’s deliberations, so please take a look at the SHNS story below that was just sent out. I did an interview with Keller @ Large today to discuss my views, generally, on allowing ATMs in casinos. Here’s the link: http://boston.cbslocal.com/video/10988004-keller-large-lawmakers-scrap-casino-atm-ban/

The legislative language and amendment being considered by the Legislature regarding allowing ATMs in casinos is a grey area that, due to the lack of time and a transparent process, deserves further scrutiny by every legislator and concerned citizen. Thank you again to those who raised their concern about this matter, and to Blue Mass Group for highlighting the matter.


By Matt Murphy

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, DEC. 29, 2014…..A quiet push by lawmakers to update the state’s rules around locating automated teller machines, or ATMs, at casinos has sparked a heated debate over whether the cash machines belong at casino resorts and confusion over what the Legislature is trying to accomplish.

Lawmakers working on the law change in the waning days of the session said Monday they’re simply attempting to level the playing field between state and federally chartered banks, but casino opponents view the proposed changes as a relaxation of the current ban on ATMs at gambling facilities.

The fear of casino opponents is that easy access to automated cash machines will contribute to gambling addiction, but lawmakers behind the proposed change said they share the advocates’ desire to keep ATMs far from the slot machines and black jack tables of the state’s new casinos, if not altogether out of the hotels and shops.

One high-ranking Senate Democrat said it would be wrong to try to ban ATMs from the hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues that are due to be a part of the resort-style casinos licensed in Springfield and Everett, and so legislators are trying to strike a balance.

On Christmas Eve, the Senate slipped an amendment sponsored by Senate Ways and Means Chairman Stephen Brewer into a banking reform bill (H 4110) that would give the Gaming Commission the authority to regulate the placement of ATMs, rather than the Division of Banks.

While the proposed change would prohibit ATMs from being located in the “gaming area,” it would also repeal a 1981 banking statute that banned all electronic banking on the “premises” of a legal gambling facility, except where the Lottery is sold. The bill currently sits before the House, which did not address the amendment on Monday when it met for an extended informal session. Any action on the bill must occur before Jan. 7 when a new session begins and all old bills die and must be refiled.

While the commissioner of banks can currently regulate state chartered banks and credit unions, federally chartered banks could potentially negotiate with the operators of a casino in Massachusetts to locate ATMs directly on the gaming floor, according to Senate officials.

“We can’t regulate federal banks, so federal banks can install them with the permission of the operator or licensee. And so what we’re trying to do is to say we don’t want them on the gaming floor. In fact, some of us don’t want them even close to the gaming floor,” Senate Majority Leader Stanley Rosenberg said.

Asked about the concern that lawmakers were actually opening the door to ATMs at casinos, Rosenberg said, “There’s a subtlety here that people are missing. The intention of the amendment is actually the reverse. No ATMs on the gaming floor.”

Les Bernal, executive director of the Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation, said lawmakers may be rushing to pass a law without fully understanding the ramifications.

“If the intent is to prohibit ATMs on the premises of casinos, then they’re way off the mark because this allows ATMs to be on the premises now and the biggest vendor of casino ATMs doesn’t meet the criteria that they’re prohibiting,” Bernal said.

According to Bernal, a company called Global Cash Access markets a brand of non-bank ATM prevalent in casinos around the country that are neither state nor federally chartered that could slip through the cracks of the new rules.

Aides to the Senate say they believe non-bank ATMs would be covered by the proposed ban in the gaming area.

“Why do it on Christmas Eve morning when no one is watching,” Bernal said. “This is a huge issue with tens of millions of dollars to casinos at stake and if there are good intentions then why not ban Global Cash Access and don’t narrow the definition to the casino floor.”

Rosenberg said the Senate is trying to level the playing field by giving the Gaming Commission the authority to set regulations and negotiate with casino licensees around the location of all ATMs. An earlier House version of the bill, according to Senate aides, would have eliminated the ATM ban from the banking regulations without replacing it with new rules.

While the Gaming Commission operates independently, Rosenberg said he intends to send the message publicly that the intent of the proposed law is to keep cash machines far from gambling areas where they might entice players.

He called Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby on Monday morning to deliver that message.

“A lot of people will go to these facilities and they’ll be there for entertainment and meals and stuff like that, and shopping. Not fair to keep them from getting access to ATMs. People in the heat of the battle with your slot machine may run out because they’re convinced that the next play is going to do it. No. Don’t want that dynamic in our casino,” Rosenberg said.

Bernal would not say whether he believes ATMs should be barred from hotels, restaurants and shops at the resort casinos, suggesting lawmakers could deal with that later “if and when” the casino operators build those facilities.

While the 2011 expanded gambling law does not address the placement of ATMs in casinos, it does mention that ATMs should be prohibited from accepting electronic welfare benefit cards. Some in the gaming community and at the commission have interpreted the mention of ATMs to be the Legislature’s intent that the machines would be allowed at casinos.

The Gaming Commission in August asked for an interpretation from the Division of Banks and is still awaiting an answer. The commission temporarily put in place a regulation that would prohibit ATMs within 15 feet of the gaming floor, but the regulation has not yet been finalized.

“Policy decisions such as this are made by the legislature not the Commission. If the Commission is asked for an opinion, it would support a ban on ATMs from the gaming area, but do not believe that it is reasonable to ban ATMs from the entire destination-resort,” said Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the Gaming Commission, in a statement.

John Ribeiro, chairman of the group Repeal the Casino Deal, disagreed with the Senate’s interpretation of state’s regulatory power over federally chartered banks, and criticized the push as one that would add discretion to a process that is currently clear cut in law.

“States can regulate federal banks beyond what the federal banking commission does. They can be more strict, just not less strict,” Ribeiro said. “No matter how many feet you apply whether it’s 15 feet or 25 feet from the gaming floor, it’s a joke.”


29 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Thank you, Senator.

    Keller: Casinos “want their guests to lose their money as conveniently as possible”
    The “mining” of data is a dangerous predatory tool.

  2. Another thank you.

    I’ve been working with my rep to figure out what this language is doing all afternoon, and it’s a huge relief to know that we have a little more time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  3. Trying to understand the Senate's reasoning on this:

    The only requirement in the Senate amendment is that the ATM not be in the gaming room, as I understand it. That doesn’t necessarily mean it would be far away. The ATM could be in a hallway, right outside the gaming room, right?

    Say a slot machine player with a gambling addiction has lost all of his or her ready money. He or she knows there is an ATM machine located in the hallway. Is that gambler really going to pass up the opportunity to visit that ATM because it’s in the hall and not in the same room as he or she?

    Unfortunately, I don’t think simply banning an ATM from the gaming floor will make much of a difference to someone in that situation. If someone has lost all their money due to a gambling addiction and they are ambulatory and there’s an ATM in the next room, I don’t see how such a minimal ban would have much of an effect.

    • Or.....

      get in the car and drive outside the parking lot to the ATM right there.

      This fight is dumb.

      eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 30 Dec 12:36 AM
      • Dumb, but symbolic

        This is more of a symbolic issue than anything, but keeping ATMs off the casino floors is a good fight. Keeping them out of the hotels and off the site in general is not.

        Sure, they’re going to put them right outside the door (unless you make the law say “must be at least 25 feet from the gaming floor), but that 25 feet gives people a little extra time to cool off and say “wait, what am I doing here?”

        • Symbolic?

          How can you ask reps and senators who voted for casinos to not fix the small stuff like the ATMs.
          The Gaming Commission is corrupt. The Everett license is corrupt.
          Fighting the ATMs makes you guys look like anti-abortion extremists and hurts credibility.
          The only issue left is the corruption at the Commission.

          eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 30 Dec 1:00 AM
      • When an addict has to get up, go to their car, then drive 5 minutes to the ATM… it provides some time for them to rethink chasing that loss. It takes them out of “the zone,” the industry’s term for the state people in when they’re using slots heavily and spending money the fastest. Slots and the casino floor itself are designed to get people into that state and keep them there, so they’re spending money fast and steady.

        Of course, there’s an easy way to tell whether or not this matters — and that’s the fact that the industry wants it. If this wasn’t a big deal to the industry, the industry wouldn’t have tried to slip it in. If it was a dumb issue, Wynn & Co wouldn’t have bothered with it in the first place.

      • That was my rep’s thinking when we started looking at this. But that was before I’d taken a look at that GCA website, and realized just how predatory their services are.

        I may be wrong about the mechanics of how ATMs are sited work, but I’m assuming that whoever controls the premises gets to determine whose ATMs can be placed there. I’m further assuming, based on the marketing, that it costs something to bring in the GCA terminals, so that an ordinary restaurant or drugstore isn’t likely to have them. Which in turn would mean that if you have to leave the casino, even if it’s only a few extra steps for you, you’re going to be using a normal ATM. If you’re over your withdrawal limit, or your cash advance limit on your credit cards, it’s going to turn you down. And that’s it: no money available, you go home.

        If you can get to a GCA machine, though, its sniffer technology catches the fact that your attempted withdrawal is about to fail. And it intercepts it before you get the denial, and a phone at the terminal rings, and there on the other end is a nice person ready to help you get hold of some money anyway. Maybe you’d like an instant-issue gaming credit card! Maybe there are other assets they can help you borrow against! This is so simple, and they’re so helpful! And it’s not like you weren’t already motivated to try to get hold of some more cash to gamble with.

        Standing alone, I think this is a damned good reason for the legislature to block this amendment until further examination of the issue can be made. I strongly suspect that I and the people I talk to aren’t the only ones who had no idea of this before yesterday. There may be better ways to address the problem than banning ATMs and ATM-like devices from all premises controlled by casino interests, but for now it looks like a basic public-safety measure.

        • mimolette, this would be a great post to get the info out there ....

          this is un-freaking-believable, just went to their website:

          Instant loans via GCA Terminals

          Unsuccessful ATM cash withdrawals are no longer a barrier to providing superior casino services to your gaming patrons. Our patented 3-in-1 Rollover technology enables patrons to convert these ATM transactions to POS DEBIT card or CCCA on the spot, enabled by a virtual customer service representative. In a time when 30% of standard ATM transactions are denied by financial institutions, the flexibility provided by GCA’s 3-in-1 Rollover technology is a keystone to your casino cash access strategies.

          Predatory Marketing

          Our extensive database of 14 million multi-casino gaming patrons is the foundation for direct marketing campaigns that yield response rates as high as 12 percent—many times over the average success rate. QuikMarketing equips marketing executives with a means to deliver highly-targeted, cost-effective marketing initiatives that help capture new patrons—and strengthen your relationships with your existing ones.

          Advantages for You:

          Marketing efficiency by targeting known gaming patrons
          Access to vital data on over 95% of gaming patrons who access funds on-property, nationwide within GCA’s network
          Supported by GCA’s extensive database of over 95 million records, including over 14 million gaming customers
          Pinpoint accuracy for targeting specific gaming patrons
          Fast turnaround for time-sensitive marketing materials
          Captures new patron data for building ongoing loyalty marketing programs
          Detailed reporting of results for each promotion available

          Business Intelligence

          If knowledge is power, then prepare for superhuman strength. By accessing GCA’s unrivaled database of player data, Casino Share Intelligence (CSI) derives robust algorithms that deliver trended shared reports over a 12-month period. These include:
          Market Share

          CSI Market Share reports the percentage of all GCA patron withdrawal dollars at your casino compared to dollars withdrawn in your competitive market—depicted in graphs or convenient heat map format. Maximize your share of the market with CSI Market Share.
          Patron Share

          CSI Patron Share reports the percentage of all GCA patrons that made at least one withdrawal at your casino compared to the number of patrons in your competitive market.
          Wallet Share

          For those patrons that visited your casino and have at least one withdrawal, what percentage of patrons’ total wallet are you capturing?

          CSI Wallet Share offers a variety of patron filters—including value, age and distance—to refine results which enable you to identify shifts in share so you can take immediate action. This robust tool can even identify the top players in your market—and analyze how much cash they’re withdrawing in your casino compared to your competitors. For the first time ever, you’ll be equipped with information to proactively prevent player defection.

          • Amazing, isn't it?

            I came back from browsing that website feeling a little as though I’d been on a guided tour of a supervillain’s secret lair. It’s all so clever and sophisticated, it makes such neat use of technology: you could almost admire it. If it weren’t, you know, evil.

            And yeah, I agree that this is information that really needs to get out to the general public. It’s not exactly being kept secret, but it’s also not the kind of thing anyone thinks about in the ordinary course of day to day life, and literally no one I’ve spoken to in the past 48 hours has had any clue that ATMs weren’t completely interchangeable. Or that 30% of attempted withdrawals are declined unless an outfit like GCA is there to keep the cash flowing: it’s a huge percentage, way beyond what most people would guess when they’re considering the impact of these services.

            It’s potentially useful that these two bits of information seem to genuinely shock people, too. I’ve had the feeling as I talked about all of this that a lot of people are desensitized to issues like the harvesting of personal information and the use of that information in direct marketing. But tell them about the sniffer technology that cuts in when a withdrawal is about to be denied, and about the percentage of people affected, and suddenly you’ve got their complete and serious attention. So far, at least.

  4. So this is Rosenburg's amendment?

    sure sounds that way.

    Hey Stan, what a bunch of BS, restaurants and shops take credit cards, don’t need ATMs. Any you know what, I go to a breakfast place that’s cash only, most people are able to figure it out. You don’t need an ATM unless you want to suck every last penny off a gambler.

  5. I Can't Get Excited About This

    Sorry folks. We can’t expect the legislature that wanted casinos to handcuff them with this little shit. They need, deserve, and should have ATMS. It’s 2014 people. Not having then will just piss people off. Regular customers who are not addicts.
    And of course is you don’t have them there will be ATMs set-up right outside the casinos in Springfield and Everett by Vinnie Inc. $10.00 service fee.

    Another thing is the law that makes a gambler and casino report to IRS after every payout of $600 or more (based on a two dollar bet)
    That is ridiculous to do at table games. This law was made for racetracks.
    These are usual housekeeping rules that all major pieces of legislation encounter after enacted.
    Get off it folks.
    Fight the big issue. The Gaming Commission appears corrupt and the issuance of the Everett license appears corrupt.

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 30 Dec 12:31 AM
    • Do you think it's going to stop?

      Do you think this is the only thing people are going to slip in? Just the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to be a slow steady chipping away at everything they agreed not to do. They’re in, so now, they are going to start. I want to see names, not this committee baloney. I want them to them tell everyone why they are amending bills.

      House Ways and Means

      Brian S. Dempsey, Stephen Kulik, Angelo M. Scaccia, Gloria L. Fox, Thomas M. Petrolati, Robert M. Koczera, Christine E. Canavan, Robert F. Fennell, Kevin J. Murphy, Walter F. Timilty, Thomas M. Stanley, William Smitty Pignatelli, Cleon H. Turner, Linda Campbell, Paul McMurtry, Lori A. Ehrlich, Sean Garballey, Michael D. Brady, Carolyn C. Dykema, Timothy R. Madden, Nick Collins, Rhonda Nyman, Viriato Manuel deMacedo, Angelo L. D’Emilia, Matthew A. Beaton, Geoff Diehl, David T. Vieira, Donald H. Wong

      • Senate Ways and Means

        Stephen M. Brewer, Jennifer L. Flanagan, Sal N. DiDomenico, Gale D. Candaras, Eileen M. Donoghue, Benjamin B. Downing, Patricia D. Jehlen, Brian A. Joyce, Thomas P. Kennedy, Thomas M. McGee, Michael O. Moore, Marc R. Pacheco, Anthony W. Petruccelli, Michael F. Rush, James E. Timilty, Richard J. Ross, Donald F. Humason, Jr.

      • This is no a slip in.

        this is house keeping. This ATM rule is senseless and won’t help habitual gamblers.
        Debit cards have max daily withdrawals. Credit Cards too.
        This is like trying to ban cell phones. Times have changed.
        To call this somethig being slipped through is an insult to things being slipped through.

        eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 30 Dec 12:56 AM
        • Okay, thanks Ernie

          I respect that.

          I came home last night, and asked if anyone heard about the casinos news. Immediately I got a response about the ATMs, and people shaking their heads in disapproval. Now I don’t watch the local news and it could have been a story, but it is something that’s going to impact public perception and a warning to Stan, Crosby and the rest of them that Stop Predatory Gambling is watching, and they’re good.

          Whether or not they care is a different story, so that’s for Stan to figure out.

          • you were right the first time

            The CT and RI gambling houses generate an average of $275 per person per day off of one-armed bandits so keeping ATMs out of the facilities WILL reduce problem gambling. My ATM card limit is $500 per day. I usually carry a few hundred dollars in my pockets at all times so the ATM restriction would affect me (if I went to casinos, which I don’t).

    • Oh dear! Oh dear!

      We can’t be pissing people off!

  6. Maybe Ernie has a point.

    This is part of the casino business model. What’s the alternative? Sabotaging the casino so it struggles doesn’t make it go away. The casino will just get bailed out. Problem gamblers that empty their bank accounts will go on welfare. The state pays either way, but maybe it’s in the best interests of the state to have a casino that operates as efficiently as possible so we get the maximum amount of tax money.

    Can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. It’s impossible.

    • When did enabling become a viable strategy?

      This is part of the casino business model. What’s the alternative? Sabotaging the casino so it struggles doesn’t make it go away. The casino will just get bailed out. Problem gamblers that empty their bank accounts will go on welfare. The state pays either way, but maybe it’s in the best interests of the state to have a casino that operates as efficiently as possible so we get the maximum amount of tax money.

      Isn’t that sorta like opening the lion cage at the zoo and letting the pride have its pick of visiting children? Those children who are mauled will be given medical treatment anyways (if they survive) and decent burials (if they don’t) and the animals hone their natural hunting skills. Maybe it’s in the best interests of the state that zoos operate efficiently as possible…

      Casino patrons who can’t be more than 40 feet from an ATM are sorta like the constant stream of schoolchildren for the lions… separated from their doom by somebody elses decision to cage the animals.

    • wow, that's rough ....

      but isn’t that what Brewer and Rosenberg are essentially saying? Maybe instead sheepishly trying to hide their work on Christmas Eve and hope no one notices, they should tell everyone what they are doing and why.

  7. Maybe this belongs on the other thread

    … but I love the Diebold ad I’m getting on this page for ATM receipt paper.

  8. pols don't care

    I go to casinos once, twice a month. I lose 90% of the time but find it entertaining. The casino sends coupons for free shows and buffets and if you go expecting to lose, it’s all good. I often see people going there alone (esp the elderly) and the industry is very predatory, but if the politicians in Mass really cared about them casinos wouldn’t have been allowed in the first place. Even the recent vote about casinos was confusing (to the people I talked to), vote yes ? to get rid of casinos. The Springfield casino (closest to me) will be a disaster in 5-7 yrs, worse than Atlantic city.

    • I'm reasonably confident market saturation will choke the things.

      Demographic attrition will be another headwind.

      It’s another situation where three faced Massachusetts spent stupid amounts of time dithering and worrying the thing with the usual stew of schemers and inept half measure containment attempts to make it seem more palatable.

      The attorney fly halo hasn’t finished milking all its billable hours and the contractors are still calculating what they can skim.

      By the time one of these things opens it will be a rare brand new anachronism. The bread and butter clientele will maintain their steady attrition and many of the scratch ticket minions may conclude its less fuss to keep that game going at the nearby convenient store.

      Atlantic city is all but dead. The Connecticut dream palaces are crapping out. And neighboring states are bringing up the rear with their own feeble minded something for nothing dodges.

      The supply of opportunities to be fecklessly fleeced will balloon but will there be commensurate growth of chumps?

      That’s the only important question. The honesty of the gaming commission hacks is beside the point.

      Are we going to do the chump numbers? And will the chumps reliably blow their lives away for a long enough haul to breathe substance into this childish crack pipe dream?

      The hospitality sector has high hopes but they’ll be hosed as the firms like to bring in their own people and relegate the yokels to the shitwork tasks.

      The upside is that the whole episode will be another fat nail in the coffin of these childish something for nothing pipe dreams and we can get serious about a wealth tax.

      • What is an "attorney fly halo"?

        The attorney fly halo hasn’t finished milking all its billable hours and the contractors are still calculating what they can skim.

        Is it something that a sacred locomotive fly would wear?

        • A more colorful way to describe a swarm.

          And an opportunistic one at that.

          We have way too many attorneys here of every imaginable ideological persuasion, constantly seeking ways to slobber on public aspirations and mandates.

          Medical Marijuana, for example, was implemented very quickly out in Washington State when I lived there, but it has become a thing for the attorney swarm to milk and dither to death even as the more connected local yokel masters of whoyaknow maneuver to get the preferential decisions on the lucrative pharmacy side to obtain new sources of easy money and wealth confiscation.

          I fully expect the gambling dung pile to draw even more. They’ll be miking the start up, riding herd on operations for litigation options and cleaning up on bankruptcy proceedings when the mess collapses.

  9. Globe editorial today

    opposing the move to allow ATM’s in casinos.

    THERE’S NO better time to slip in legal changes that avoid major scrutiny than the end-of-year informal sessions on Beacon Hill. On Christmas Eve, the state Senate quietly added an amendment to a banking reform bill that would change current legislation banning ATMs operating inside casinos, and give the state’s Gaming Commission the authority to regulate the placement of such cash machines. It is a misguided move, and the clandestine attempt to change the law underscores the fact that it holds potentially harmful consequences for consumers. Clearly, any law that allows ATMs in casinos requires serious public debate.

    The rest is here.

  10. What an auspicious wind down of a year!

    Two Connecticut Valley low lives try to tuck it to the public on Christmas Eve morning.

    Are you proud of yourselves, Democrats, for enabling this pond scum?

    This suggests fear. These assholes lack confidence in the casino’s ability to make money for the array of structural reasons I noted.

    So they have to try and get special ‘Fleece-O-Matic ATM’s allowed as a hedge against crack pipe dream collapse.

    Meanwhile the New Years opens with administration signals of passive aggression as a working approach over in Cholly Baker land.

    May the new year see a reduction of the ward heeler caucus as it is long overdue.

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