UPDATE: New Jersey’s effort to legalize sports betting rejected by Supreme Court

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of New Jersey to legalize sports betting in their state.  Legislation was passed which allowed betting on collegiate and pro sports, an activity very limited in jurisdiction, with Las Vegas being one of the few locations its allowed.  Major opposition has come from the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NHL and recently the federal government.  These sources have pushed for and being successful at overturning the legislation in the courts.  Support has really just been from interested gambling parties and New Jersey.  They have appealed the decision to the Supreme Court and it was at that point that additional support from a few states in the form of an amici curiae brief filed to the Supreme Court surfaced citing potential state’s rights issues.  Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the High Court has refused to hear the case, effectively ending the legislation with no sports gambling expansion allowed:

New Jersey’s hopes for legalizing sports gambling fizzled Monday when the Supreme Court said it wouldn’t consider Gov. Chris Christie’s bid to revive the state’s sports wagering law.

The court, in a brief written order, declined to review a federal appeals court ruling from last year that said the state can’t allow betting on sports contests because of a 1992 federal law that bars most states from licensing such wagers. Nevada is a notable exception because its sports betting was grandfathered into the law.

The appeals court rejected New Jersey’s arguments that the federal law was unconstitutional.

The leagues and the administration said in court papers that New Jersey’s appeal was meritless and unworthy of Supreme Court review. They also said the state couldn’t complain about discriminatory treatment because the 1992 law gave New Jersey a one-year time window to start sports betting and receive an exemption, an opportunity New Jersey passed up.

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Brief Look at Crime 06/16 – 06/22

Macau busts $645 million World Cup betting ring 

Police have smashed an illegal betting syndicate in Macau for allegedly taking the equivalent of US$645 million in bets on World Cup matches. It’s believed to be the biggest ever raid on an illicit football bookmaking racket in the Asian casino capital, according to police. The gambling ring used three hotel rooms to take internet and phone bets from around the world, a first coordinator for the Macau Judiciary Police told CNN. One gambler placed a bet valued at around US$5 million, initial investigations found. Police arrested some 22 people from mainland China, Hong Kong and Malaysia in the raid on Thursday. Two of the suspects, from China and Malaysia, were believed to be the ringleaders of the syndicate. Officers seized cash worth around US$248,000, along with 17 computers, at least 10 cell phones, and betting slips. A second gambling syndicate was busted in the same hotel hours later, with police arresting four Chinese men early Friday morning. According to police, the second betting ring took around US$645,000 in illegal bets on World Cup matches in a single day.

Princess to change plea in cockfighting case

PORTLAND, Ore. — Court documents show a change of plea hearing has been scheduled for Irina Walker, the Romanian princess accused of participating in a cockfighting ring in rural Oregon. Federal prosecutor Stephen Peifer confirmed that Walker is scheduled to plead guilty, but declined further comment. Walker’s lawyer, Per Ramfjord, was out of the office Thursday and didn’t return a message. Irina Walker has lived in Oregon for many years. She’s the third daughter of former Romanian King Michael I. Authorities say she and her husband, John, staged at least 10 cockfighting derbies between April 2012 and April 2013. They were charged with unlawful animal fighting, conspiracy to violate the animal welfare act and operating an illegal gambling business. 

Drug dealer trafficked heroin to pay mounting gambling debts

A drug dealer trafficked heroin to pay off gambling debts he had built up. Officers seized heroin worth nearly £140,000 which was linked to Warren Hennelly from houses in Aberdeen and Foveran in Aberdeenshire. Hennelly, 32, formerly of Pennan Road, in Aberdeen, now faces an action to seize crime profits after admitting drugs charges. Hennelly said during an interview that he had built up a gambling debt and started looking after heroin, delivering it and taking control of buyers’ cash after he was offered a way of pay off the money owed. He pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of heroin between November 6, 2012 and February 28, 2013, when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Wrentham woman charged with stealing nearly $3 million from employer 

A Wrentham woman has pleaded not guilty to stealing $2.7 million from the medical supply company where she once worked. Prosecutors say 39-year-old Laurieann Richard used the money she stole from Dale Medical Products in Plainville over several years on shopping sprees at local stores and online retailers, for gambling, dinners out and even to make payments on her Jeep. Richard pleaded not guilty Tuesday to multiple counts of larceny and was held on $35,000 cash bail. Prosecutors say she embezzled the money between 2007 and 2014 while she managed the company’s accounts payable processes as well as the disbursement, management and payment of corporate credit cards. Her lawyer said her family has been “devastated” by the allegations.

Man admits to stealing over $1 million from Citibank by using casinos

A Fillmore man admitted in federal court in San Diego Tuesday to organizing and leading a conspiracy to steal more than $1 million from Citibank through cash-advance kiosks in a dozen casinos from Southern California to Nevada. Keshishyan and his confederates then traveled to various casinos, including the Morongo, Pechanga, San Manuel, Agua Caliente, Chukchansi, and Spa Resort casinos in California; the Tropicana, Wynn, Bicycle, and Whiskey Pete’s casinos in Las Vegas; and Harrah’s in Laughlin, Nevada. Once inside a casino, Keshishyan instructed the conspirators on how to conduct identical fraudulent withdrawals at cash-advance kiosks within a short time window in order to circumvent Citibank security procedures.

Guilty plea in $20 million fraud of Thunder Valley Casino owners 

High-flying developer Bart Wayne Volen pleaded guilty Thursday to three felonies in connection with a scheme that prosecutors say looted between $17 million and $19 million from the owners of Thunder Valley Casino near Lincoln. Volen, 55, also agreed to pay restitution of at least $17 million and to cooperate with federal prosecutors seeking convictions of two other men who are charged with helping him defraud the United Auburn Indian Community in an overbilling rip-off involving a massive construction project. The government charged that Baker and Hinz participated with Volen in a scheme that stretched from October 2006 through November 2007. The trio allegedly stole from the tribe by overbilling for an Auburn construction project involving four buildings and known as the Indian Hills Office Project, or IHOP, according to court documents. Volen, a Sacramento developer at the time, was hired in 2006 to oversee the project, but prosecutors say he and his colleagues quickly settled into a pattern of thievery that at times was as simple as adding a digit to an invoice.

29 arrested in alleged multi-million dollar NJ sports gambling ring

Authorities in Northern New Jersey say they’ve taken down a major sports betting ring in New York and New Jersey. Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli says 29 people have been arrested in an alleged gambling ring that netted approximately $3 million over a 12-month period. Molinelli says the ring accepted wagers on various sporting events including horse racing, football, basketball, hockey, and baseball. Search warrants were executed in New York and in the New Jersey counties of Bergen, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Essex, Union, Ocean and Monmouth. Molinelli says two vehicles and approximately $800,000 were also seized.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Dog Fighting Is Still A Huge Problem, but there is a Way to Help

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing issues related to dog fighting.  Its an unfortunate activity that exists for the sole purpose of providing a backdrop for illegal gambling.  The dogs involved are clearly mistreated and trained to be vicious killers.  The issue reached a true national audience when NFL quarterback Michael Vick .  Casino Watch Focus reported that after serving his time in prison, Michael Vick was allowed a second chance in the NFL and has supported efforts and legislation to curb this tragic  activity.  Many have a real passion for helping animals, dogs in particular, and want to make a difference where possible.  At times, when an issue seems so large and rampant, people aren’t sure how they can make a difference.  A wonderful article written by Arin Greenwood of the Huffington Post seeks to bring more attention to the matter and offers ways to help make a difference:

How do you stop a dog fight? No really: how do you stop a dog fight?

Earlier this year, Congress made it a federal crime to attend an animal fight, here in this nation of dog-lovers who are expected to spend almost $60 billion on our pets in 2014. (For perspective: That’s about the size of Luxembourg’s GDP.)

But animal welfare groups like the ASPCA estimate that tens of thousands of people are involved with dogfighting — and that the activity may not only be growing, but going deeper underground.

The Humane Society and other organizations offer reward money for information leading to the arrest of those who are involved with dog fighting operations. Which leads to the question: What does a dog fighting operation look like, and how will you know if you’re seeing the signs? And if you do come across what you suspect is a dog fighting operation, what should you do next?

We got answers from Scotlund Haisley, who has more experience with dog fighting than he’d like. In the 25 years since he began working in animal protection, Haisley has been a part of dozens of dog fighting rescue operations. He helped lead a 2009 multi-state bust that rescued more than 400 dogs, and also helped oversee the care of 11 of the most behaviorally and physically injured dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s Bad News Kennels.

For the complete article CLICK HERE qand For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/19/dog-fighting_n_5502623.html


Brief Look at Crime 06/09 – 06/15

Teen charged for illegal gambling related murder 

ST. LOUIS – A 19-year-old man is accused of shooting at a group of people in a south city alley, killing one of them. Antonio Petty is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault, and two counts of armed criminal action. Police say a group of people were gambling behind a home in the 3500 block of Pennsylvania March 15 when Petty approached and started firing shots. Clem Russell, 19, was shot in his back and shoulder. He was pronounced dead at an area hospital. A 20-year-old man was shot in his shoulder. He suffered non-life threatening injuries. Petty is held without bond.

Suspect Gambler Killer Appears in Court 

Msibi has been charged with murder. He is alleged to have committed the offence on Tuesday. He allegedly stabbed Melusi Mangena Khumalo, 28, of Mgazini several times in the chest and back. Msibi is alleged to have inflicted fatal wounds on Khumalo from which he died. The men were gambling near the bus rank toilet which is one of the gambling hotspots in the city. Msibi was arrested at the scene of crime after being assaulted by members of the public. Khumalo is said to have pulled out after he enjoyed a winning streak in the  gambling game, something that did not go down well with one of the gamblers who had lost and confronted him out of anger. The deceased was a well known gambler in the Mbabane central business district gambling hot spots.

Curbing Illegal World Cup betting

Police launched an awareness campaign today to curb sports betting and internet gambling during the 2014 Fifa World Cup as such activities are illegal in the country. The Interpol Global Awareness Campaign – “Turn Back Crime” was launched by the commercial crimes investigation department (CCID) director Datuk Sri Mortadza Nazarene at Bukit Aman here. He said the ultimate goal of the campaign was to seek the support as well as create awareness in the community for the need to carry out global policing to make the world a safer place. The World Cup will be held in Brazil from June 12 to July 13. He said sports betting and internet gambling were among the transnational crimes where organized crime syndicates were involved.

Former Savannah police chief charged with gambling, extortion

Former Savannah-Chatham Police Chief Willie Lovett pleaded not guilty Thursday to a seven-count federal indictment charging him with commercial gambling and extortion. U.S. Magistrate G.R. Smith said the first count of commercial gambling accused Lovett of participating between Jan. 5, 2009, and May 8, 2013, while he was either a major or chief of police with the metro police department.  The indictment also charges that between March 16, 2004, and Sept. 27, 2013, Lovett participated in a scheme to obstruct enforcement of state laws prohibiting gambling. Along with Lovett two other defendants, Randall Wayne Roach and Kenny Amos Blount, were also charged in the superseding indictment with running an illegal gambling business and with conspiring with Lovett to obstruct the enforcement of Georgia gambling laws. A fourth defendant, Randall Wayne Roach, Jr., was charged with participating in an illegal gambling business. 

Government seeks to collect $905,000 from operators of alleged illegal cockfighting arena 

The federal government wants to collect $905,000 from people accused of operating an illegal cockfighting business in Floyd County that was allegedly one of the largest in the nation. A federal grand jury recently added more charges against five people who allegedly had a part in the operation. The charges included a forfeiture count seeking $905,208 — the amount the five allegedly obtained through the illegal operation from June 2009 through May, or which could be traced to the property, according to the indictment. The people accused in the case are Floyd County residents Walter Dale Stumbo, his wife Sonya K. Stumbo and son Joshua Dale Stumbo; and Wesley Dean Robinson and Jonathan Robinson, a father and son from Wise County, Va., which adjoins Kentucky.”Due to the enhanced stabbing and slashing ability bestowed upon the birds by the manmade weapons, cockfighting is an extremely painful, bloody, and deadly event,” Wojtkonski said in his statement. “Birds are stabbed, slashed open, eviscerated, and partially decapitated.” The Stumbos and Robinsons are charged with conspiring to exhibit or sponsor animals in an illegal fighting venture and with conspiring to conduct an illegal gambling business.

Teacher shot dead in robbery attempt spurred by soccer gambling debts

Chiang Mai Provincial officials report that a man has been shot dead by the owner of the Yaowaratruamchoke Gold Shop in an attempted robbery at the venue in Muang District. The man, later identified as Sakon Kunjana, was a physical education instructor from a famous school in the area. The wife of the alleged robber, told the police that her husband had a huge debt caused by his addiction to gambling on soccer matches. According to the gold shop owner Chawalit Chin-Anukulpong, the assailant visited the shop early yesterday morning while the owner was preparing to open his establishment, saying he assumed that the visitor was one of his employees and was taken by surprise when Mr. Sakon rushed in and hit him repeatedly with a hammer. Mr. Chawalit managed to break free from the man’s attack and was able to snatch his sidearm from behind the counter. The gold shop owner then shot Mr. Sakon three times in the chest, killing the man.

World Cup fans targeted by online gambling scams

World Cup fans are being targeted by online gambling scams, Shanghai police warned yesterday. Even though gambling is illegal on China’s mainland, some football fans are tempted to use sites and are paying the price, said officers. Some fans are being enticed by soccer gambling messages promoting sites promising good odds, said police. But those enticed often discover that after they provide bank details to transfer their stake cash, malware would drain their accounts. Other websites lure victims with promises of cash for registering, allow them to “win” and then only gradually swindle them by never paying out. One Shanghai web user, enticed by a scam message promising him 88 yuan (US$14) for registration, transferred 100 yuan to an account. He won with his first World Cup bets, but then realized that he could not access either his winnings nor his “registration bonus.” Football fans are also been scammed by “World Cup prediction” software, police said.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil believed to set new gambling and match fixing records

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times on the impact that babbling has on major sporting events like the Super Bowl and the NCAA College Basketball TournamentEven though these events have a global reach, their impact on sports and gambling culture world-wide seldom rises to the level of the World Cup.  This year is expected to produce a record amount of gambling on the World Cup held in Brazil begging June 12.  The Wall Street Journal reports:

Unibet, an online betting company that reached a record level of 552,338 active customers during the UEFA Champions league, expects a significant rise during the World Cup.

Unibet Group Plc predicts gambling soccer fans will flock to its websites as the World Cup kicks off in Brazil on 12 June, adding to record customer numbers in the first three months of the year.

The latest edition of the soccer World Cup, in South Africa in 2010, drew 3.2 billion viewers worldwide, with more than 900 million watching at least part of the July 11 final between the Netherlands and Spain.

The amount of illegal betting on the World Cup is also expected to boom.  Several sources indicate that countries like China, Malaysia and Thailand will face the biggest challenges in  regulation and could all see a dramatic increase in the amount and scope of illegal soccer related gambling arrests.  Given the overwhelming amount of gambling expected from FIFA’s World Cup, concerns over match fixing have also increased.  The Sunday Express explains:

Just weeks before the tournament opens in Brazil on June 12, a former Interpol chief has warned that brazen criminals will not be deterred, even with the eyes of the world looking on.

Fifa’s own security director has admitted “dead rubbers” toward the end of the group stages are among those most vulnerable, though football’s governing body is “confident” steps taken to combat corruption will ensure the integrity of the competition.

Former Interpol president Khoo Boon Hui claims the “fixers” will not think twice about attempting to rig games. It said around £84billion was being laundered through betting; 80 per cent of it through illegal channels.

Fifa’s director of security Ralf Mutschke acknowledged an event of the magnitude of the World Cup would be targeted by fixers.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Brief Look at Crime 06/02 – 06/08

1 man killed, at least 3 others wounded in gunfire

One man was killed and at least three others wounded in a shooting in Atlanta’s historic Auburn Avenue district, authorities said. A fifth person later showed up at Grady Memorial Hospital, and police believe he was also at the scene of the gunfire around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. It happened in the street near the intersection of Auburn Avenue and Bell Street, just east of downtown Atlanta. “An officer on patrol was flagged down in regards to some people that had been shot,” Atlanta police Capt. Paul Guerrucci said. The shooting was touched off by an argument over gambling taking place in the area that morning, Atlanta police spokeswoman Kim Jones told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.One of the wounded men was critically injured, and two others are expected to survive, police told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Police identify man killed, another critically wounded in north side shooting

A man killed and other critically wounded in a shooting on Indianapolis’ north side Monday night have been identified. Police said William Watson, 42, was pronounced dead and Robert Johnson, Jr., 41, was taken to Eskenazi Hospital in critical condition. Officers responded to the 3000 block of Winthrop Avenue on a report of a person lying in the alley. When they arrived, they found the men suffering from gunshot wounds. Detectives preliminarily believe both men were possibly involved in an illegal gambling game just prior to the shooting.

Gambling bookkeeper who stole $2m jailed

A bookkeeper who stole more than $2 million from his employer and blew it all gambling on poker machines has been sentenced to almost seven years in jail. But Jason George McGregor was told by a County Court judge he was lucky to still have his wife and three children in his corner after leaving them debt-ridden and “in penury”. McGregor, 40, pleaded guilty to six counts of obtaining property by deception related to 364 transactions he made from his employer’s bank account over a five-year period from April 2008. Judge Ryan said McGregor first began gambling as a young man, was forced into bankruptcy, and continued betting in a bid to free himself of his debts. He had since been declared bankrupt a second time. Judge Ryan said he had been told that in recent years McGregor effectively lived two lives: one as a husband and father, and the other as a chronic gambler – at both Crown Casino and online – who drank up to three bottles of wine a night and developed chronic depression. McGregor, the court heard, lost almost all of the $2.148 million he stole from his employer, and had nothing to show for his gambling but debts. 

Woman pleads guilty in Breckenridge fest theft

A woman accused of stealing more than $200,000 from the Breckenridge Festival of Film has pleaded guilty to felony theft and misdemeanor forgery. District Attorney Bruce Brown of the Fifth Judicial District says 67-year-old Dawna Foxx entered her pleas on Monday. She faces up to six years in prison on the theft charge when she is sentenced on Aug. 11. Foxx was arrested in November and accused of stealing more than $210,000 from the nonprofit film festival, for which she worked as executive director from 2004 to 2012. She also was accused of stealing $20,000 from her husband and $16,000 from her husband’s business partner. An arrest warrant affidavit stated that Foxx spent money at casinos and for rental vehicles, airline flights, clothing and other items.

Ex-Palms race book worker sentenced in fraud case

A 31-year-old former race and sports book ticket writer at the Palms Casino Resort has been sentenced to three years’ probation and to repay a portion of about $232,000 in restitution for her role in what federal authorities say was an $800,000 betting fraud case. Kassie Baker could have faced up to 21 months in prison on Thursday for pleading guilty last year to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Former race and sports book supervisors Michael Albanese and Matthew Kidle, and bettor Charles Pecchio have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from actions between 2006 and 2007. 

FBI, IRS find $3 million company theft at Santa Ana company

The former controller of an Irvine company has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $3 million from his company to feed a gambling addiction. In a plea agreement, 37-year-old Steven Hagstrom pleaded guilty Tuesday to one felony count of embezzlement. The defense attorney tells The Orange County Register that Hagstrom transferred money from Sentinel Offender Services’ bank accounts to a “clearinghouse” account, then to his own personal accounts. Hagstrom will be sentenced in September. Prosecutors say they will recommend between three and six years. Court documents show Hagstrom embezzled $2.26 million in 2012 and another $1.07 million in the first four months of 2013. In April of 2013, the FBI and Internal Revenue Service discovered the possible theft and told the company about it.

Ex-manager conned old colleagues of $900k to feed gambling habit

A former manufacturing firm manager was jailed for seven years on Wednesday after he conned his ex-colleagues and a cousin out of almost $900,000 to feed his gambling habit. Soh Meng Yeow left a “trail of destruction”, District Judge Eddy Tham said. After quitting his job with Oshkosh-JLG Singapore Technology Equipment in August 2011, the 49-year-old promised his victims quick returns if they invested in equipment for a company dealing with the medical and construction sectors. However it did not exist, and when their repayments were due Soh issued them dud cheques. He promised to pay them following the sale of his flat in July 2012, but became uncontactable soon after.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Court Ruling Allows Limited Gambling Expansion in Florida

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to expand gambling in Florida.  The latest round attempted to take advantage of a type of loophole in proposed legislation to allow expanded gambling around greyhound racing and poker & slot machine permits. Now it appears that a court ruling is allowing something very similar, this time revolving around jai alai.  Jai Alai is a sporting event that pari-mutual gambling is allowed to revolve around in Florida.  There are other forms of gambling allowed to take place at these pari-mutual gambling facilities and as the Miami Herald explainsa new court ruling affirming a loophole in existing law will allow for gambling expansion:

Florida City could be home to Miami Dade’s next poker room and, with time, slot machines, under a loophole in the law affirmed Tuesday by a state appeals court.

The decision by the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee overruled state regulators and said that Magic City’s parent company, West Flagler Associates, is eligible to obtain a summer jai alai permit that could also open the door to expanded gambling.

Because of a loophole in state law, West Flagler is required to obtain the jai alai permit then operate a single jai alai game to be eligible for a poker room. After two years, it could become eligible for a slot machine license in Miami Dade County.

Isadore Havenick, West Flagler owner and vice president, said the company has an option to buy a piece of property in Florida City and, if the division grants the summer jai alai permit as expected, the company plans to build a poker room and jai alai fronton near Homestead there.

As for building a new casino, “we honestly haven’t thought that far in advance,’’ Havenick told the Herald/Times. “Now, it’s a poker room and a jai alai fronton and, hopefully, we’ll be allowed to build that if the division allows us.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


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