BUSINESS

TV exec’s seven-figure casino debts support Harvard addiction research

TAGs: Howard J. Shaffer, Jerry Power, Mohegan Sun

tv-exec-mohegan-sun-debtJerome Powers, CEO of luxury lifestyle cable network Plum TV, has settled a lawsuit with Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino over an unpaid $1.2m marker. Terms of the out-of-court settlement were not disclosed. In May 2009, the Mohegan Sun extended Powers a $1.2m line of credit, which Powers promptly maxed out at the casino’s blackjack tables. Casino officials subsequently accused Powers of putting a stop payment order on a $465k check he’d issued as partial repayment, and writing other checks on accounts that Powers knew were closed. Powers later argued that the line of credit represented an illegal gambling contract (although one he seems to have had no qualms about entering into at the time) and that the state courts held no jurisdiction over the sovereign Mohegan Tribe. Speaking with the Associated Press, Mohegan Sun attorney Andrew Houlding would say only that the company was “just pleased that it’s resolved.”

This isn’t Powers’ only brush with the law over unpaid gambling debts. Earlier this month, Powers reached an out-of-court settlement with the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City over an outstanding $1m line of credit, which he also attempted to cover with bad checks. Earlier this year, Powers resolved a similar situation with the Bellagio in Las Vegas over an unknown sum.

Powers’ apparent belief that making good on what he owes was an optional matter has deep roots. The Miami New Times reported that Powers had been sued 13 times between 1977 and 1984 over unpaid debts. Powers’ response? “I was dependent on drugs when I did those things. I was stoned and broke. There is no question I wrote checks even though I didn’t have money to cover them.” Powers’ drugs of choice were cocaine, barbiturates, amphetamines “and whatever else was around.” Powers told the New Times that he went cold turkey in 1984 and has been clean ever since. But it appears he’s merely replaced one addiction with another.

Powers’ problem with drugs and gambling dovetails nicely with Harvard Medical School professor Howard J. Shaffer’s research that showed pathological gamblers were five and a half times more likely to have substance abuse issues. While Powers clearly has difficulty saying ‘no’, the lesson here appears to be that extending seven-figure lines of credit to addicts of any kind is a habit land-based casinos really need to kick.

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