Archive for the ‘Gambling’ Category

Service of Hourly Work–No Bed of Roses

Thursday, May 31st, 2018


Hourly workers have more than minimum wage pay and taxes nibbling away at their income. They must fight to get the full wages due because of technology that gyps them and also upends and holds their lives hostage by changing their work schedules at the last minute.


Rachel Feintzeig in her Wall Street Journal article reported something that doesn’t get sufficient attention. The headline: “Employees Say Time-Tracking Systems Chip Away at Their Paychecks–Employers maintain the methods keep labor costs predictable and reduce time spent recording breaks.”

Workers are suing American Airlines, Kroger and Montage Hotels & Resorts, to name a few businesses “for unfairly subtracting fractions of their hourly wages using time-tracking technology.” These “rounding policies” over years can amount to $thousands in lost pay.

Some hourly hospital workers are in the same boat as their counterparts in airline, supermarket and hospitality industries. Often they can’t leave a patient to grab a bite of lunch yet they are automatically dunned a half an hour of pay each day for a break not taken. Workers in call centers who stay past their shift to finish a call claim that the time “is rounded away.”


The fines made against businesses represent chump change to employers who have saved $millions in unpaid wages. Elizabeth Tippett, a professor at the University Of Oregon School Of Law told Feintzeig that casino workers in Nevada were awarded $450,000 when the gaming company they sued saved $12.6 million in wages thanks to its rounding policies. After litigation costs the employees shared $207,500.


The software creates a “heads I win, tails you lose” dynamic with employers holding all the cards causing additional miseries for hourly workers. Feintzeig wrote: “Time-tracking software is usually part of a broader workforce management system that records absences and schedules workers. These suites of software have come under fire from attorneys general in New York and other states for enabling employers to switch around shift assignments at the last minute, creating unpredictable schedules for workers.”

Time tracking technology is also big business–$12 billion worth. Clearly more than a few companies use it.

Do these workers have a prayer in today’s economic climate that favors the rich and ignores everyone else?


Service of Dreaming

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Dreaming 1

I’ve written before about luck and the lottery; that it’s a tax on the poor and how winners often become paupers but it’s again time to dream because the Mega Millions jackpot is $550 million and may even be more as I hear ticket sales were brisk over the weekend.

Raining moneyAfter paying off bills, buying a few gifts for yourself and loved ones, and salting away enough so that you don’t have to worry about how you’d pay for rent, food, clothes and healthcare for the rest of your life, there would be plenty left over. The hardest thing would be to decide where to put the money–all in one spot or a little here and there–whether to address starvation, disease, education, the arts or causes—or to keep it all.

Do you already know where the extra would go or would you first study the subject? Would you give money to existing foundations, start a foundation of your own or keep and then spend all the winnings on houses, boats and cars? Would you keep on working?



Frank Sinatra singing "Luck be a Lady Tonight"

Frank Sinatra singing “Luck be a Lady Tonight”



Service of Gambling

Monday, August 6th, 2012


Antics of MIT’s black jack counting students in “Bringing Down the House” became famous in Ben Mezrich’s great book-turned-movie. Some of those pesky kids are at it again-MIT undergrads along with a biomedical researcher helped a gambling group game Massachusetts’ Cash WinFall.

scratchofflotterytktBonnie Kavoussi of The Huffington Post described the game as: “… players had to match six numbers on their ticket with randomly drawn numbers. But if no one matched all six and the unclaimed jackpot was around $2 million, the prize money was redistributed among ticket holders with fewer matching numbers. Statisticians calculated that players buying $100,000 of tickets were virtually guaranteed to win during those brief periods.”

The Boston Globe reported that the gambling group won about $48 million on an investment of $40 million, wrote Kavoussi. That paper has been bird-dogging the story since last summer.

What riles: The Massachusetts lottery officials knew about the MIT kids’ wagering strategy for the gambling group in 2010 and did nothing about it because it generated some $16 million for the lottery. Nice for innocent players who thought they were gambling in a good faith situation overseen by authorities.

I guess the lottery officials in Massachusetts don’t read the gambling trade media. According to Kavoussi, Gerald Selbee’s gambling group–the one involved in Massachusetts–had previously trounced a similar game in Michigan where his “winnings” were almost $8 million. When that state discontinued its WinFall game in 2005, he set his sites on Massachusetts. It was in that year that Selbee and his mathematics geniuses set their sites on New England.

This year the state closed its Cash WinFall game. Kavoussi quotes the Masachusetts state treasurer, Steven Grossman, of telling the Boston Globe. “I feel it is important to essentially apologize to the public. We’re sorry some gained unfair advantage.”

And here I thought, when buying an official lottery ticket, that while my chances of winning were less than slight, at least I had a chance. Who knew the playing field was canted toward professional gamblers. Sounds a bit like the stock market to me.

Should the lottery authorities have closed down the game as soon as they learned that the formula was uncovered or is it caveat emptor in the lottery/gambling game regardless of who oversees it? We hear of people winning big time by buying one ticket, but it sounds as though you must “invest” $100,000 to win–only if you’ve figured out the strategy. Has this changed your policy about buying scratch off and lottery tickets? Think this formula-cracking consortium might come up with a winning prescription to save our economy?


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