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My experience with the Casino Control Commission

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As I've said, I never put my money into slot machines. Sure, I'll play the slots, but I always make it a rule to first win the money at the tables, and then pump it into the machines.

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One Sunday, in the Spring of 1997, I was a fool. But only one of hundreds of fools. We'd all flocked to an Atlantic City casino, lured there by an irresistible slot machine offer (50% rebate) offer, laid out in a razzle-dazzle quarter-page display ad in the previous Friday's New York newspaper. Sadly, it turned out to be nothing more than the classic bait-and-switch.

I saved everything, so that I have a complete paper trail, laying out the anatomy of the rip-off. The casino has no defense.

You would think that justice would eventually triumph. So did I. All the ads, the direct-mail the casino sent me, the material I was given there, along with the letters I wrote, including copies of all my evidence, plus the replies I got back in reference to the apparent scam, including one from the Governor of New Jersey—let them all speak for themselves. I saved them all. It's all laid out. You be the judge.

Even though it was a very transparent and clumsy scam—so clumsy that the casino didn't even bother to cover its ass and arrogantly repeated the rip-off ad verbatim on the following Friday!

I was infuriated. I set out to "get" them.

I wrote to the Chairman of the Casino Control Commission and I also wrote to the whole Casino Control Commission, to every member, all by Registered Mail, Return Receipt Requested. I wrote to the Governor. I wrote to the New Jersey Attorney General. I wrote to the United States Postal Inspectors, as the United States mail was used in the scam. I wrote to the Consumer Advocate of New York City. (New York newspapers were utilized for the rip-off.) I wrote to the New York State Attorney General. I wrote to—hell, why go on? You get the gist.

It is now more than four years since I sent all my letters with Xeroxes of all my hard evidence to everybody with clout who could possibly rectify the injustice, not only for me, but also for the other hundreds—maybe even thousands—of casino patrons who were victimized.

Was justice done? Let's look at the record.

Diane M. Legreide, a Vice Chairman of the Casino Control Commission, wrote me that "the Chairman has forwarded your materials to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for investigation. Please be assured that the situation will be looked into and we will keep you abreast oj the matter. [Italics mine.]

One Commissioner, Leanna Brown, also replied. "I know it is not easy to duplicate and send many copies [out] at $2.39 each for postage. However, it is appreciated. Too few people make this effort. I have been concerned by some of the marketing techniques used by the casinos, especially this year. As you know [No, I did-n't know. It wasn't publicized, to be sure.—A.B.L.], we no longer regulate marketing, but incidents like this illustrate why we did once.

"I will be waiting as will you with much interest for the D.G.E. [Department of Gaming Enforcement] response."

Yes, I am too, Commissioner Brown, but to date, I'm still waiting. . . .

The other Commissioner, James R. Hurley, who also received my registered letter along with my dossier never even bothered to respond.

Now let's see what has happened since I lodged my complaints in May, 1997, to both State and Federal regulatory agencies in regard to the casino's repeated ads that lured me, and thousands of others like me, to their casino with an offer they had no intention of honoring.

The Chairman of the Casino Control Commission sent my Registered Letter and my "smoking gun" evidence to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement "for investigation and appropriate action," and thanked me for "taking the time to bring this matter to my attention."

Governor Whitman forwarded my letter and the "smoking gun" evidence to the Treasurer of New Jersey "to review my concerns," and noted "that a response will be sent to you directly on my behalf-Deputy Attorney General of New Jersey Timothy C. Ficci responded that "the Division is investigating the matter, and, subsequent to your letter, has received other complaints regarding this promotion."

To date I have calculated that it took less time to investigate Watergate than it has taken these people to nail the casino. As of July, 2000, I have yet to hear from the Chairman of the Casino Control Commission, the two Vice-Chairmen of the Casino Control Commission, the Treasurer of the State of New Jersey, or its Attorney General, who had an investigation under way on July 15,1997, or in fact from any of the many officials in New Jersey to whom I sent my solid evidence.

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