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Mass. AG seeks ban on liens by casinos

Steven Senne/Associated Press

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State Attorney General Martha Coakley is urging Massachusetts regulators to prohibit casinos from placing liens on the homes of patrons with unpaid gambling debts, calling the practice “deeply concerning” in a letter sent Monday to the state gambling commission.

“Protecting against predatory lending and overly aggressive debt collection in the gaming industry is critical because the odds are stacked against the patron being able to earn back the value of the loan,” wrote Coakley, who is also a candidate for governor. “This practice by the gaming industry in which customers’ homes are put at risk should not be allowed.”

Coakley cited a story in Sunday’s Globe that detailed the longstanding practice by the two large Connecticut tribal casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, of placing liens on the homes of residents who owe the casinos money advanced for gambling. Casino industry specialists have said it is unusual for a gambling business to employ property liens as a collection tactic.

“This story highlights the need for a robust set of consumer protection regulations before these establishments begin operations,” Coakley wrote.

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