Missouri Casinos Now Offer Thousands in Loans to Gamblers

Casino Watch Focus has repeatedly reported on a unique protection that used to protect Missouri families from devastating gambling loss known as the Loss Limit. This protection would only allow any one person the ability to purchase $500 in gambling chips every two hours. This law protected families for most of Missouri’s legalized gambling era until it was defeated with a well-orchestrated and funded ballot initiative. The leading argument was to allow for an expanded opportunity to bring in high rollers to Missouri. Once the Loss Limit was removed though, it also opened the door for more money to be lost by the everyday local gambler and in doing so, it put more families at risk. The removal of the Loss Limit has apparently not been enough for the casino industry as they have now pushed and succeeded at passing legislation that will allow loans up to $10,000 to gamblers. An online source provides some key information to how this may hurt those with addiction:

 

Missouri casinos will be able to loan gamblers at least $10,000 after Governor Nixon allowed a bill to become law.

Community Counseling Center Therapist Rick Strait said, “Some of the clients I work with, I see this putting them at a greater risk for depression and anxiety, and I think it’s going to have a very negative impact on those addicted.”

Those that are true “high-rollers” will have no need for such a credit line. To them, it wont really be enough for them to matter much. However, casinos offering credit lines up to $10K to the average gambler can cause serious problems. The online source explains that the loans must be paid back quickly, so the casinos will use some discretion when it comes to credit worthiness, but if someone needs a line of credit and can qualifying for an on the spot loan instead of them needing to leave the casino to obtain funds and having a cooling off period to rethink their decision, then it opens the door for all kinds of financial burden on families including the potential for suicide:

Representatives from the Missouri Gaming Commission said the loans must be paid back quickly.

“It has to be by statute a zero percent loan and it has to be due within 30 days the loan has been taken out,” said Grewach.

“If they can’t pay it in 30 days , the anxiety and desperation it may cause, it may cause somebody to have suicidal thoughts…’there’s no way I can pay this back now, I borrowed $10,000 and can’t pay it back; I don’t know the consequences of not paying it, is it going to be collections or is this going to put their house or bank account in jeopardy as well,” said Strait.

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


Brief Look at Crime 07/14 – 07/20

1 dead in high stakes gambling operation robbery

One man was killed, a second was in critical condition after a shooting Thursday night, police said. Stafford police said they were called to a business park on Greenbriar Drive and Trinity Drive just after 8:30 p.m. When they arrived, police said they not only found one man dead and a second man shot, but they also uncovered a gaming operation that was moving a lot of money. Investigators said dozens of people were inside. “They’re saying a high-stakes gambling was going on here at this location,” Lt. James Leedom of SPD said. Leedom said the suspects may have been gambling or may have stormed the high-stakes gambling operation. He said, “Apparently they tried to rob this gambling session that was going on here.”

Houston grand jury hands down commercial gambling indictments 

A Houston County grand jury has returned two separate indictments involving commercial gambling in which illegal cash winnings were allegedly paid out at Warner Robins convenience and other retail stores. Nearly $800,000 generated from the alleged criminal enterprises was used to buy homes and improve property, prosecutors contend. One indictment that includes 47 counts accuses three people of racketeering and commercial gambling related to the illegal payout of money instead of prizes for winnings on state-sanctioned video gambling machines. The indictments followed a series of raids by Warner Robins police targeting commercial gambling in which cash was illegally paid out.

Thousands arrested for World Cup gambling

Police in Thailand said on Tuesday they had arrested 5,064 people for illegal gambling during the World Cup, a sharp increase from four years ago. As well as 4,679 gamblers, the authorities detained 258 bookmakers and 127 betting slip runners since the tournament kicked off in Brazil on June 12. If convicted, those arrested could face up to two years in prison and a 2,000 baht (Dh228) fine. But most are expected to receive suspended jail terms, except in cases where particularly large sums of money are involved, said Police Major General Chantavit Ramsut. In addition, more than 2,000 football gambling websites have been shut down, police said. Thailand’s new junta is cracking down on gambling in general in a bid to “uphold social order” in the kingdom, where most forms of betting are outlawed.

International mob-connected ring linked to illegal World Cup betting at Caesars 

An FBI-led raid has shut down a multimillion-dollar illegal sports betting operation at Caesars Palace that authorities say was run by Malaysian and Chinese nationals who were taking wagers on the World Cup soccer tournament. Authorities have linked one of the ringleaders, Paul Phua, to a well-known Chinese crime syndicate. Phua, 50, a prominent poker player and wealthy Malaysian businessman, and his son Darren Wai Kit Phua, 22, were among eight people arrested by FBI agents over the weekend. In a criminal complaint unsealed Monday, Las Vegas FBI Agent Minh Pham said the elder Phua, who was charged under the name Wei Seng Phua, was “known by law enforcement to be a high-ranking member of the 14K Triad,” one of the largest criminal syndicates in the world. Hong Kong-based 14K Triad specializes in drug trafficking and traditional forms of criminal activity, including illegal gambling, prostitution and loan sharking.

Ex-Pa. official admits $3M theft, gambling woes

A former councilman from suburban Philadelphia admits he stole nearly $3 million from his employer and spent it gambling. Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan says James Bryan spent so much money on lottery tickets that “it was almost a full-time job” to keep track of them. Court records show the former Collingdale official also spent the money at Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino, and to bet on sports. The Delaware County Times reports that he pleaded guilty Monday to forgery and felony theft for a 10-year fraud scheme involving his employer, Wescott Electric in Aston. Defense lawyer Michael Diamondstein says Bryan is undergoing mental health treatment.

Woman charged with staging husband’s suicide

An Ohio woman who called 911 to report that her husband committed suicide by suffocating himself has been charged with his 2011 murder. A three-year investigation into the death of 55-year-old Michael Gabel concluded that he didn’t commit suicide and that his wife, Jeane Harrington, had killed him, police said. She had reported Gabel’s death to police, saying she found him dead with plastic wrap around his head. “We know that suicide in this manner is very unusual,” Duane Streator, police chief of Avon Lake, told reporters Friday. Streator said there was no immediate evidence of a struggle, but the Lorain County coroner ultimately determined Gabel died of asphyxiation, blows to his head and body, and electrical burns. Divorce filings indicated Harrington’s pay at the Avon Public Library gift shop had been halved and that Gabel had used money from a 401(k) account and from mortgaging the couple’s rental property to pay gambling debts.

Multi-state Dog Fighting Enterprise Shut Down

67 dogs were rescued with the assistance of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. Washington DC – infoZine – In 2011, the FBI Mobile Field Office had received some disturbing reports about a possible high-stakes dog fighting and gambling enterprise based in Alabama with activities spanning several nearby states. So in April of that year, the Bureau—in conjunction with our law enforcement partners in those states—opened an investigation. By August 2013, this broad and coordinated investigative effort—which involved sophisticated techniques like court-authorized wiretaps and confidential sources—had led to the indictment and arrest of 10 individuals on federal dog fighting and gambling charges. Several others were subsequently charged. A key figure in this group of co-conspirators, Donnie Anderson, recently pled guilty in the case. In addition, nine others involved have pled guilty thus far.

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


Florida Greyhound Industry on Verge of Closure

Casino Watch has reported on the many struggles of the Greyhound industry, including the newest attempts in Florida to decouple other forms of gambling from the dog racing industry to help put an end to the industry. With reports of animal abuse and mass amounts of racing dogs being put down, its no surprise people are hoping to end the industry. The News Herald online is reporting that the industry has seen a tremendous downturn and is on the verge of closure, but hopes to hold on long enough to keep gambling licenses after decoupling legislation is finalized, thus allowing them to stop greyhound racing altogether: 

Betting on live racing has fallen from almost $1 billion in 1990 to $258 million last year in Florida, home to 12 of the 21 U.S. tracks that regularly hold live dog races.

Hess said the track’s handle is up, and it is committed to offering live greyhound racing.

The owners of many tracks — along with ghost tracks that now offer only simulcast racing — are aiming to survive long enough for states to let them drop dog racing altogether and just run casinos.

Marc Dunbar, a Tallahassee attorney whose practice focuses on gaming and government law, said there are several political factors at work that he believes eventually will lead to the end of dog racing throughout the state.

“If I was telling my kids an industry to get into for their future, it would not be breeding greyhounds,” he said.

The News Herald goes on to explain that the hope of independent stand alone slot machines being allowed in those venues seems to be unlikely given the Seminole Compact that is in place:

If slot machines were allowed in dog tracks, it would not generate nearly as much for the state as the revenues from the Seminole compact, Dunbar said.

“We have eight facilities [with slot machines] operating in South Florida, and all eight of them don’t produce as much as the Seminole Tribe does,” he said. “The compact says any expansion outside of the eight existing facilities in Dade and Broward will shut off the Seminole’s payments.”

Senate President Don Gaetz said Wednesday he could not predict whether legislation will be introduced in the next legislative session to allow slot machines at dog tracks or decoupling.

He said he wouldn’t mind if dog racing ended, as there are many instances of inhumane treatment of greyhound dogs at tracks throughout the state, including at Ebro.

 

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


Brief Look at Crime 07/07 – 07/13

Murder suspect allegedly admits to illegal gambling

A man who allegedly confessed to shooting Michael Gillam Saturday night at a business on N. Olive Street also allegedly admitted to being a part of an underground gambling ring. South Bend Police say illegal gambling is one of the most underreported crimes in the city. “It’s a problem as old as the books,” said Captain Phil Trent of the South Bend Police Department. Trent says it has been a problem in Michiana for decades. “It still exists and it still runs higher than normal risks,” said Trent. Police say cards and dice are the preferred games of the underground gambling world. “When it’s not organized and there’s no security things can get out of hand pretty quickly and people can get hurt,” said Trent. Trent says robberies are a major part of the underground gambling community, but unless some one is badly hurt or killed–most of them go unreported. 

Man gets 25 years to life for murder of wife

Los Angeles County man has been sentenced to 25 years to life for killing his wife, whose body was left in a trunk at a casino parking lot. A district attorney’s statement says 62-year-old Tomas (Toh-MAHS’) Rodriguez Infante received the maximum sentence Tuesday after his conviction last month for first-degree murder. Prosecutors say Infante stabbed and beat his wife, Charita Tolentino, at their West Covina home in January of last year, then left her body in the trunk of her car in the Hawaiian Gardens Casino parking lot. 

Janesville man sentenced for stealing $1.8 million

A Janesville man convicted of stealing $1.8 million from his employer was sentenced this week to 2½ years in prison, and the  judge said he couldn’t remember a bigger theft in Rock County in 30 years. Steven R. Stoikes, 44, used to work for Butters-Fetting, a contractor in Janesville specializing in mechanical and electrical work. Over a period of seven years, he would order more copper tubing than was needed for jobs, and then cut up the excess and sell it for scrap, prosecutors said. O’Leary asked that Stoikes be sentenced to three years in prison, because Stoikes visited a casino more than 500 times from 2006 to 2012, where he wagered about $24 million and lost more than $3 million. Public defender Walt Isaacson recommended that Stoikes be sentenced to jail time and probation, noting that his client has been getting treatment for a gambling addiction.

Ex-cop admits he stole, gambled away $469K from his employer 

A former police officer and attorney was sentenced Wednesday to six months in jail after he admitted to embezzling $469,000 from his employer and spending it on gambling, prosecutors said. Wayne M. Fong, 51, of Tustin was also ordered to pay $309,000 in restitution. He pleaded guilty to seven counts of grand theft and five counts of money laundering, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said. Fong, a former police officer in New York, was an attorney in California from 1992 until 2012, when he was disbarred by the California Supreme Court for the embezzlement.

Gamblers kill Papua police officer (Indonesia) 

Police officer Brig. Asriadi was stabbed and killed as he tried to disperse a gambling group at Youtefa Market in Abepura, Jayapura on Wednesday. Asriadi, a member of the Tanah Hitam Police precinct’s motorcycle unit, and his colleague Brig. Samsul Huda, who attended the scene, were reportedly stoned and chased by around 100 gamblers. The officers fled and attempted to hide in a kiosk at the market. “But unfortunately, Asriadi fell down and was mobbed and stabbed by the gamblers,” said Herman, a trader at the market. Samsul, who tried to help Asriadi, was also stabbed. The gamblers grabbed Samsul’s weapon and ammunition before fleeing the scene. Samsul was rushed to Bhayangkara Police Hospital. Papua Police spokesman Snr. Comr. Pudjo Sulistyo said police were still searching for the gamblers that stole the police weapon. Pudjo added that a man was found dead near the gambling venue. “We are still identifying the victim and the cause of the death.”

Police say Bronx pair left 5-year-old alone at Mohegan Sun casino

A pair of Bronx, N.Y., residents are due to appear in a Norwich court later this month on charges they left a 5-year-old child alone at the Mohegan Sun casino hotel. Hong T. Hguyen, 37, and Nghia N. Bui, 38, were each charged Monday with leaving a child under the age of 12 unsupervised. Mohegan Tribal Police said the 5-year-old was discovered by a casino patron in an elevator. Police said they determined the child was left alone in the hotel for a prolonged period of time. The relationship between the child and the two Bronx residents is unclear. Free on a $500 cash bond, Hguyen and Bui are due to appear July 17 in Norwich Superior Court.

Fraudster and gambler who stole $230,000 left with 96 cents

A WENDOUREE fraudster who stole $230,000 from two Ballarat men on Thursday pleaded guilty to three charges of obtaining financial gain by deception. Hwee Boon Sim, 45, set up fake business deals to secure money to fund his gambling addiction, a County Court sitting in Ballarat heard. Crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke said Sim lured both victims into a motel partnership, getting both to deposit $100,000 into his bank account during a series of transactions in October and November 2013. The court heard Sim provided fraudulent documents from Resort Brokers Australia to convince the victims as part of the elaborate heist. One victim was also duped into transferring $30,000 to Sim for a share in an illegitimate wine company.

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


New Jersey Ignores Supreme Court’s Action Against State Sports Betting and Advances New Legislation

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts by New Jersey to legalize sports betting.   A lawsuit filed by the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA & NHL was upheld in the court and when the Supreme Court recently refused to take up the case, that early ruling was upheld, thereby making the federal ban on sports betting the law of record. New Jersey legislatures have since decided to ignore the ruling and pass new legislation. Their rational falls along two lines, the first of which is explained by the online source Constitution Daily: 

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to accept New Jersey’s appeal about legalized sports betting. But one politician seemingly has a plan to get around the decision.

State Senator Ray Lesniak repeated claims on Monday—arguments first made on a New York sports radio station last week—that New Jersey should ignore the feds, just like Colorado and Washington State did when voters there approved legalized marijuana in referendums.

Lesniak said in a statement today that he would introduce new legislation to make sure pro sports betting happens, with or without federal approval.

“I expect that the U.S. Justice Department will refrain from intervening, as they have with Colorado and Washington when those states legalized marijuana,” Lesniak said. “I plan on placing my first bet at Monmouth Racetrack on Sept. 8 for the Giants to beat the spread against the Lions on ‘Monday Night Football.’”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the Supreme Court ruling should be acknowledged given that’s how the law works, and that they should just move on. However, the General Assembly passed new legislation 63-6-2 that allows for this sports betting. The second bit of rational comes from wording in the appellate courts decision. A New Jersey political blog explains: 

The bill is inspired by the September 2013 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in the case of the NCAA vs the State of New Jersey wherein the court interpreted the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 to “not read PASPA to prohibit New Jersey from repealing its ban on sports wagering.”

The court further stated that “it is left up to each state to decide how much of a law enforcement priority it wants to make of sports gambling, or what the exact contours of the prohibition will be.”

Moreover, the United States in its brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to the above-referenced case wrote that “PASPA does not even obligate New Jersey to leave in place the state-law prohibitions against sports gambling that it had chosen to adopt prior to PASPA’s enactment.  To the contrary, New Jersey is free to repeal those prohibitions in whole or in part.”

The bill also cleared the Senate and will go before the Governor. Time will tell if he vetoes or allows the bill to become law. No doubt the Justice Department and the other sports leagues will be watching to see what action the Governor takes.

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


Brief Look at Crime 06/30 – 07/06

Ramsey bookkeeper charged with stealing $500,000 to feed gambling habit 

A Ramsey flooring company bookkeeper with a gambling habit systematically stole $500,000 over the past four years by forging the owner’s signature on checks that she noted as “Xmas Bonus,” “Med Expenses,” “Commission” and other purposes, authorities said. Monica Arencibia, 49, of Dumont was being held on $250,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail following her arrest earlier this week. Detective Brad Smith and Officer Michael Thormann found that Arencibia “would create a check through Quickbooks accounting program, assign the check to a vendor and would then issue the check in the name of ‘Monica Arencibia’ and then forge the owner’s signature, the chief said. She cashed most of the checks at a Columbia Bank branch, Gurney said. Several were also sent to pay personal bills and debts, he said. Most of the money, however, “was used in gambling activities at various area casinos,” Gurney said. Arencibia is charged with money laundering, theft by deception, computer theft and forgery.

Man found shot, killed on Indy’s near north side

A man was found shot and killed on the near north side of Indianapolis Friday morning, officials with IMPD confirm. Officers responded to the 1100 block of West 35th Street around 7:30 a.m., near Crown Hill Cemetery, after residents called saying someone had been shot inside a home. When police arrived they found an unresponsive man inside a house with a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say they had been called to that area Thursday evening on reports of shots fired, but didn’t find anything. Homicide detectives were called to investigate Friday morning. Police say shell casings were found in the area and that investigators found narcotics inside of the home. Initials reports were that remnants of illegal gambling were also located.

Woman jailed for stealing $780,000 from family business

A woman who continued to steal from a family business even when the owner was terminally ill has been jailed for four years. County Court judge Gerard Mullaly said Prue Albon, 47, stole almost $780,000 when working for more than a decade as a bookkeeper at  building company, Longvue Homes, run by Ian Jenkins and his wife. Albon, 47, a married mother of two who pleaded guilty to charges of theft and obtaining property by deception, had become a vital part of the business when she began stealing to feed her gambling habit, the judge said when jailing her for four years with a non-parole period of two years.

 KY race car driver indicted on $15 million fraud charges

A former race car driver whose father went to prison for swindling investors has been indicted on charges that he ran a $15 million Ponzi scheme. Brian C. Rose is accused of running a scam that ripped off 164 investors in four states who thought they were investing in coal mines. Rose, 34, was arrested June 17 in Tennessee and indicted with eight co-defendants on charges of fraud and money laundering, The Courier-Journal reported Prosecutors say he used the money to buy racehorses, cars and took gambling trips to Las Vegas. The indictment said the younger Rose operated under the name John Hankins, and accepted money from unsuspecting investors that was similar to the methods used by his father, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to tax evasion and fraud. Rose, who began his NASCAR career in 2001 in its Craftsman Truck Series, was indefinitely suspended in 2003 for failing to take a drug test following an arrest in Kentucky.

Man Convicted of Shooting Player Over $5 Poker Hand

A North Carolina man has been convicted and sentenced to serve up to 60 months behind bars for shooting a fellow poker player over a $5 hand. Prentice Reaves was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury by a Columbus County jury on Tuesday. The incident began as a friendly poker game and quickly turned violent. “Reaves and the victim had been playing cards when a verbal altercation began over a $5 hand of poker,” a press release states. “During the trial, evidence showed that during the argument Reaves pulled out a handgun and shot the victim once in the abdomen before fleeing the scene. The victim was rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent surgery and was hospitalized as a result of the injuries sustained from the gunshot.”

Albuquerque woman accused of stealing $400k from employer

A 65-year-old Albuquerque woman is accused of stealing nearly $400,000 from her employer, including forging more than 200 checks and paying $30,000 in mortgage payments via electronic transfers from her employer’s account. Police said Linda Herrera began the illegal activity in May 2009, five months into her job as bookkeeper for the McCall Organization, a group of several companies owned by the McCall family that includes a Moriarty hotel, an RV park, a realty firm and other businesses. Herrera made 37 electronic payments, totaling nearly $30,000, toward the mortgage on her Northwest Albuquerque home. She made out 19 unauthorized payroll checks to herself, totaling more than $27,000, by cutting an extra check in 19 pay periods. She forged at least 204 checks from the account of one of the organization’s hotels, totaling nearly $330,000. Apart from paying for her mortgage, it’s unclear what Herrera did with the money she allegedly stole. However, the complaint said many of Herrera’s cash ATM withdrawals happened at a local casino.

1 killed in robbery attempt near St. Louis casino

A man waiting for a party bus outside a St. Louis casino is killed after being shot in the back by a gunman who tried to rob him. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the victim, who was in his 20s, was approached at 1:47 a.m. outside Lumiere Place Casino and Hotel by a man who attempted to rob him before shooting him. The victim was pronounced dead at a local hospital. A woman in her mid-20s who was shot in the buttocks was taken to a hospital where she was listed in stable condition.

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


Poll Indicates Florida Voters Want Final Say in Gambling Expansion

Casino Watch has reported on the ongoing efforts by those hoping to expand gambling in Florida. Most of those efforts have been unsuccessful and now that an election nears, legislative hopefuls should pay close attention to the results of a recent poll. The Tampa Bay Times provides access to the press release that explains that voters don’t want the legislature passing pro-gambling bills and they favor a Constitutional Amendment to require statewide support prior to expansion: 

Any discussion of expanded gambling, or limited gambling, may be on hold until after the election but a new poll out by No Casinos says legislators should keep voters in mind before making any commitments. Here’s the press release:

Florida voters don’t want elected officials who represent them to support more gambling in the state, and they heavily favor a Constitutional Amendment that would require voters statewide to have the final say on whether or not a form of gambling is legal in Florida. The poll of 604 likely voters was conducted by Hill Research Consultants, and is part of a candidate pledge package being sent by NoCasinos.org to all candidates running for the Florida Legislature.

“It is good public policy and smart politics to be against the expansion of gambling in Florida,” said NoCasinos.org President John Sowinski. “Floridians don’t want their elected officials to legalize more gambling, and Florida voters want to have the final say on this issue through a statewide vote of the people.” The poll consistently showed strong bi-partisan consensus on these issues.

The highlights of the polling are as follows: 73% of Florida voters support a proposed Constitutional Amendment requiring a statewide voter initiative for authorization of any form of gambling.

Voters are overwhelmingly less like likely to vote for candidates for office who either:

Support expanding gambling in Florida
Support expanding gambling without a statewide vote of the people
Support proposals to allow slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities

75% disagree with the statement that more gambling will improve our quality of life.

By a 63% to 28% margin, voters want gambling laws fixed before the legislature discusses any future expansion.

Voters think the creation of a new regulatory agency for gambling is more likely to expand gambling industry influence than reduce it.

Voters prefer that gambling issues be determined by statewide referenda, not local votes.

Voters overwhelmingly oppose the legislature granting new forms of gambling to pari-mutuel facilities. 

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


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