Multiple Anti-Gambling Expansion Ads Surface in Opposition of Florida’s New Gambling Expansion Bill

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing opposition this year’s early gambling expansion legislation in Florida that would legalize mega-resort, full-scale, Vegas-style gambling casinos. Several groups have already been vocal with their opposition and now multiple television ads have been released. The first television ad is outlined in a Busineswire Press Release:

No Casinos, Inc. has unveiled a new 30-second ad, “New Deal,” that outlines the historic expansion of gambling proposed in House Bill 1233, which was introduced March 2, 2015 by Rep. Dana Young (R-Tampa).

The video details how the bill benefits so many in the gambling industry, to the detriment of Florida and its citizens. Among the bill’s broad-reaching proposals: out-of-state and foreign gambling conglomerates win the ability to build mega Las Vegas-style casinos; dog and horse tracks and frontons outside of South Florida win a new gambling game, dubbed “historical racing,” that plays like a slot machine; and tracks and frontons in South Florida win a lower tax rate.

Who loses? Florida’s image, communities and taxpayers. Statistics from the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling show that nearly one-third of callers to its HelpLine admit to committing crimes to support their gambling addiction. Simply put, more gambling equals more addicts equals more crime. And taxpayer dollars cover the cost.

The second set of television spots seeks to support the existing Seminole Compact that offers exclusive rights for tribal gambling. The Sunshine State News reports:

The leadership of the business community stepped up on Monday to go to bat for the Seminole Gaming Compact while urging Florida to limit expanded casino operations in the Sunshine State.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida released a new TV ad on Monday featuring Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and Carol Dover, the president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, calling to support extending the compact which is up in July.

“Florida is changing, which is why we need to extend the compact and limit gambling,” Wilson said. “Changing it could lead to the expansion of gambling, which simply is unacceptable for a state that has worked hard to grow its economy and develop a family-friendly image.”

 

 

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


Brief Look at Crime 03/16 – 03/22

500 Illegal Gambling Machines Seized During Sweep (FL)

Manatee County Sheriff’s deputies say more than $117,000 and more than 500 illegal gambling devices were seized recently at multiple locations. The Bradenton Herald reports that since January, the sheriff’s office has been investigating illegal gambling operations throughout the county in conjunction with the State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Illegal Gaming Task Force. According to a release, undercover investigations led to the execution of six search warrants. A sheriff’s spokesman described some of the illegal gambling devices as old-fashioned slot machines.

Gambling addiction led woman to steal

Hitting the jackpot at a casino in 2009 turned out to be the worst thing that ever happened to Lucia Motowidlo. Looking to repeat that success, Motowidlo, also known as Lucie Derro, kept going back to the casino, spending everything she had. She eventually maxed out her credit cards. Her secret gambling addiction and the constant need for money saw Motowidlo turn to her employer — the Christ the King Development Corporation — for a new source of funds. The Christ the King Development Corporation is a non-profit corporation that operates the 155-unit Christ the King seniors housing building on Elgin Street. She began taking money in January 2009. She stopped in late September 2011. The theft of $331,000 cost Motowidlo her job as centre administrator in early 2012, as well as her marriage. On Monday, it earned her a 15-month jail sentence. “I lost my marriage of 40 years,” a tearful Motowidlo, 64, told Ontario Court Justice Normand Glaude. “I lost both of my families. I lost my friends and people in the community I had worked with.

4 family members get federal prison terms in embezzlement case on Fort Peck Indian Reservation 

Four members of a Montana family have been sentenced to federal prison on charges related to the embezzlement of more than $132,500 from the town of Brockton on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Desiree Lambert — the town’s 59-year-old former business manager — received a term of almost four years during a recent hearing in Great Falls before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris. She pleaded guilty in November to fraud, embezzlement and aggravated identity theft. Prosecutors say she forged the mayor’s signature to write municipal checks payable to herself and family members. Authorities said the family spent the money for gambling and household items.

Federal charges for man accused of passing counterfeit bills at casino (FL)

A Pompano Beach man with a seemingly chronic habit of passing counterfeit money is now facing federal charges on top of state charges for alleged deeds at the Seminole Classic Casino. Bernardo Lecaros, who had been previously banned from all tribal properties, is accused of passing $5,400 in counterfeit cash at the casino in December and possessing another $37,800 in fake bills. Federal charges were filed Monday. Lecaros, 35, faces three counts: one for passing $2,400 on Dec. 10, one for passing $3,000 on Dec. 14 and another for the fake bills found in the trunk of his rental car at the casino at 4150 N. State Road 7. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, records show.

Birmingham fraudster stole £4.5 MILLION from bosses to feed gambling addiction 

A “young professional with the world at his feet” stole £4.5 MILLION from two international property firms to feed a raging gambling addiction. Terry Childress, 34, masterminded a complex fraud while working for BNP Paribas Real Estate (BNPPRE) and GVA Grimley between 2007 and 2012. The father-of-one falsified receipts for rental income and client payments and used faked invoices to suppliers to pocket a total of £4,434,274. As he was jailed for five years at Birmingham Crown Court it was heard Childress, of Aubrey Road, Harborne, tried to cover his tracks by using colleagues’ computer log-in details and by transferring cash to family and friends. Meanwhile, he was gambling massive amounts on a daily basis – losing millions to bookies Ladbrokes and Betfred.

74-year-old woman who served as accountant for orthodontist stole more than $680K

An audit of records showed that Sakach wrote 340 fraudulent checks on the Chu Crew account, totaling $680,197.99, police say. Police say Chu Crew Orthodontics was a vendee of a company called ORMCO based in Anaheim, California. They say in December of 2006, Sakach opened a bank account at Chase Bank for a false company called ORNCO. Then, police say Sakach continued to create checks for the Chu Crew TCF account made out to her fake company. Checks written on the ORNCO account were made out to and signed by Sakach. Police say Sakach used them at places like Kohl’s Department Store, Time Warner Cable and other credit card companies where Sakach had accounts. In addition, ATM withdrawals were made at 172 W. Canal St. in Milwaukee, which is the Potawatomi Casino, and at the Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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


Florida Restaurant and Hotel Lobby Join the Opposition to Newly Proposed Gambling Expansion Bill

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent bill proposed by the Florida House to essentially ignore the Seminole Gambling compact and instead authorize mega Las Vegas style resort casinos among other gambling expansion around the state.   The opposition to the introduction of the bill was immediate and now the Florida Restaurant and Hotel Lobby has come out against this gambling expansion. The Saint Peters Blog explains:

The *Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association *– a group with outsized importance in our state’s tourism-centric economy — issued a statement Tuesday excoriating the *proposal* released yesterday by House Majority Leader *Dana Young*.

“We will continue to fight this legislation, along with any other measure that seeks to expand gambling under the false pretense that it will bring additional jobs, attract more tourists, and increase Florida’s tax base,” said FRLA President and CEO *Carol Dover*. “Florida currently enjoys record number of tourists, and provides a strong [return on investment] on tourism and hospitality dollars. We are confident legislators won’t be fooled by casino operators’ false arguments.”

Dover wasn’t the only industry critic of the new legislative package. A pair of stakeholders took turns teeing off on the bill, portraying dark ramifications were it to become law.

“Florida’s tourism industry is predicated on pristine beaches, family-friendly attractions, and world-class and unique hotels and restaurants,” said 2015 FRLA President *Andrew Reiss*, who also owns Andrew’s Capital Grill & Bar and Andrew’s 228 in Tallahassee. “To believe for one moment that our state needs to establish so-called destination resorts as an economic development measure, when other states have seen firsthand the harm done to local economies, is a cautionary tale that Floridians would be wise to adhere.”

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


Brief Look at Crime 03/09 – 03/15

Gambler tried to kill wife so she wouldn’t have to pay his debts 

A SECURITY guard went to a casino in the hope of repaying $40,000 he had gambled away – but ended up losing more. It was then that John Gee Tze Chiang decided to kill himself, after spending a final happy night at a karaoke bar with his wife. The next morning, when she told him of the calls she had been getting from creditors, he decided to kill her too so she would not be saddled with his debts. Gee knifed Madam Koh Poh Lian twice in the chest and also in her neck and back, before turning the blade to his own chest. The 38-year-old couple were found lying in a pool of blood by his parents, who shared the Housing Board flat in Clementi West Street 2. Both survived. Yesterday, Gee was jailed for seven years for attempted culpable homicide, and had a charge of attempted suicide taken into consideration.

Man shot to death over gambling dispute

A gambling dispute led to a fatal shooting outside an east valley apartment complex, Las Vegas police said Thursday. A man was shot five or six times Wednesday night after an argument at the Suites, 4855 Boulder Highway, near Flamingo Road, Metro supervisor Lt. Bobby Smith said. Officers were sent to the complex at 10:34 p.m., police said. The man died at Sunrise Hospital Medical Center shortly after. This is the 20th homicide in Metro’s jurisdiction in 2015, according to the agency. His identity has not been released. No arrests were made, and police are looking for a man in connection with the killing, Smith said.

McDonough County man accused of stealing $420,000 in poker chips
from professional poker player

A McDonough County, Illinois, man is accused of stealing $420,000 in poker chips from an apartment in Los Angeles, California. McDonough County Sheriff Rick VanBrooker says Dustin R. Campbell, 32, of Blandinsville, is charged with grand theft. He was arrested in McDonough County on a warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The theft originally happened Jan. 26, when VanBrooker says Campbell stole the chips from professional poker player Matthew Kirk’s apartment on Ventura Boulevard. The chips were from multiple casinos. Kirk’s biggest tournament win was in 2008, when he placed 11th in the Crown Aussie Millions Championship, earning $135,000 AUD in prize money, just under $142,000 USD, according to PokerPages.com. The site shows five other tournament wins through 2012, but WGEM News couldn’t verify Kirk’s cash game winnings.

5 years in prison for man who stole $360,000 from Willard band students

A Utah man has learned he will be spending the next few years behind bars after ripping off students and their families. After his sentencing hearing Wednesday, Calliope Saaga walked out of the federal courthouse in Springfield, but not exactly as a free man. In 45 days he has to report to federal prison to begin serving 5 years, which was his sentence for stealing $360,000.00 from Willard High band members and their families. “The judge made it clear that there was a need to make a statement that- you don’t do this to kids. You don’t do this to the magnitude that he did,” said Julie Germann, the mother of students who were part of the Willard band. Saaga, a travel and tour agent operating out of Utah, was being paid the money to take the kids on a trip to Hawaii. Instead, prosecutors say, he blew the money during gambling sprees in Las Vegas. Germann said she, and the community were, “Shocked that it happened, sad for the kids, sad for the families that were in a lot worse financial shape to begin with that had sacrificed so much to make this opportunities for their kids.”

Volkswagen dealership embezzler from New Castle sentenced to three and a half years

A Lawrence County woman’s request for home confinement as punishment for stealing nearly $600,000 from her employer was “bold if not bordering on delusional,” a federal judge said Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon sentenced Deborah Cassini, to 3 1/2 years in prison and three years of probation. The dealership is still recovering. It hasn’t returned to the financial position it was in before Cassini began stealing, Tennant said. “This was a long, destructive course of embezzlement and lies,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Karl said. “And it nearly destroyed Three Rivers Volkswagen.” Cassini embezzled money so that she could play slot machines to forget her depression and other problems, said her attorney, Douglas Sughrue. “Instead of cognitive therapy, she went to the casinos,” he said.

Ex-director of East Orange non-profit sentenced to 5 years for stealing $380K

The former executive director of an East Orange non-profit development agency has been sentenced to five years in state prison for stealing $380,000 from a low-income housing project. While leading the East Orange Revitalization and Development Corporation, Marchan stole the funds between 2005 and 2010 – and used the money to finance a “lavish lifestyle,” prosecutors said. Prosecutors said Marchan spent the money on refurnishing her former residence in Orange, trips, hotel stays at casinos, jewelry and other personal expenses.

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


NCAA March Madness Likely to Lead to Billions in Gambling and Lost Workplace Productivity

Just as the country has calmed down from the huge wave of Super Bowl gambling, a new Selection Sunday and NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament signals the beginning of another gambling craze.  As the sports world gears up for another year of March Madness its important to understand the impact that office pools have on employers and the communities. Obviously, not all office pools will result in gambling, however, a vast majority do involve illegal gambling. A USAtody article points to reports of online pools that take an entry fee and award cash and prizes. These pools may seem harmless but FBI spokesman Ross Rice explained that,‘“There could be a violation if there’s a payout and if the operators take a cut.” So how many people will engage in office pools this time of year and how will it impact work productivity? The St Louis post dispatch provides some good insight:

Nearly half of U.S. workers have participated in an office pool, and nearly a quarter have watched or followed sports events on their computer at work, according to a recent survey. 10 percent of employees have called in sick to watch or attend a game. 11 percent of workers aged 18 to 24 have participated in an office pool, compared to 77 percent of those 65 and older.

Very few employers offer guidance in their policies regarding office pools, even though it may mean taking a hit in terms of productivity, said John Heins, chief human resources officer for recruiting and staffing company Spherion Corp.

In terms of cost to employers, the Charlotte Observer points to a Chicago-based surveywhich says as much as $1.7 billion will be lost by employers in productivity, which breaks down to $109 million lost for every 10 minutes spent following the tournament. They believe there will be over 37 million workers participating in pools with 1.5 million watching games and results online from their desks.

 ESPN recently quantify the financial impact of just the gambling: 

On the low end, the FBI estimated in 2013 that $2.6 billion was bet illegally on the tournament. On the high end, veteran bookmakers estimate the number to be anywhere from $12 billion to $26 billion. Friendly bracket pools are everywhere, with most everyone betting on the NCAA tournament in some form. But there are bets, and then there are bets. You don’t get to $26 billion with $20-per-sheet office pools.

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


Brief Look at Crime 03/02 – 03/08

Former LSU football player gets 50 years in casino shooting

A former LSU football tight end for the Tigers 2003 national championship team has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in shooting at a Port Allen truck stop casino more than three years ago. Demetri Robinson pleaded guilty Aug. 18 to three counts of attempted second-degree murder in the Sept. 18, 2011, shooting at the Cajun Circus Casino. Prosecutors say Robinson shot a cashier then fired shots at two other employees after he was asked to leave the casino. Robinson entered the plea one day before he was to stand trial. The Advocate reports state District Judge Robin Free handed down the sentence Thursday. Fifty years is the maximum sentence for attempted second-degree murder, but Free set each count to be served concurrently.

Woman who stole $1.8 million from Allentown job heads to state prison

A New Jersey woman’s claim that her mental illness, coupled with a gambling addiction, led her to steal more than $1.8 million from her Allentown employer did not sit well with the Lehigh County judge sentencing her on Thursday. Quigley’s psychiatrist argued that Quigley suffered from bouts of a dissociative disorder — where she said she did not know right from wrong — that began when she was physically abused as a child. “It’s impossible given the lengths you went to, to cover up your thievery,” Dantos said. The company only looked back six years into its finances when it discovered Quigley was stealing. That included Quigley writing 267 checks from the business, the judge said, to pay bills for her credit card, for her car payment and insurance. When the company began having financial difficulties and started to investigate, Quigley would direct attention to other departments, President James Weppler said. The company was circling the drain when officials figured out Quigley was the cause of the financial difficulties, Weppler said. “We’re a small company so when you take that amount of money … it just has a devastating effect,” Weppler said. “She’s a thief, a liar to us. This was a well-planned plan she had there.”

Bookkeeper admits $188K theft from Allentown church

The former bookkeeper of an Allentown church admitted Monday that he embezzled more than $188,000 from the organization by forging church officials’ names on nearly 500 checks since 2007. Mark Suter, 59, said he used the money to pay medical expenses, because he did not have insurance, and to cover real estate costs and gambling debts. He said he did not realize how much money he stole, but promised to pay it all back. “I knew it was substantial,” he said. Suter, of Allentown, pleaded guilty before Lehigh County Judge Robert L. Steinberg to felony charges of theft and forgery. He will be sentenced next month and could serve more than two years in a state prison.

Woman embezzled $460K from seniors at Rochester Hills nursing home

A woman who pleaded guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from 136 seniors at a nursing home was sentenced Monday to 28 months to 20 years in prison. “I would just like to say that I’m very sorry for what I’ve done, and I do have a gambling problem I have been getting help for,” said Tina Marie Binkley, 44, of Almont, “I’m not the same person who did that. I have a very supportive family, friends (and) church congregation, and I’m just sorry.” In January, Binkley pleaded guilty to embezzlement from vulnerable adults. At least one of the 136 victims in the case lost more than $20,000, according to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. All victims lost at least $363. As part of her sentence, Binkley must pay the victims the $460,266 she was convicted of taking. That amount was determined following a forensic audit.

AG’s Office: Caretakers in Coconino, Cochise counties get prison terms for exploiting seniors

Arizona authorities say two caregivers have been sentenced for exploiting seniors. The state Attorney General’s Office says 69-year-old Indrani Gaston of Coconino County was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of fraudulent schemes and artifices. Prosecutors say Gaston admitted to stealing more than $363,000 from a 93-year-old man from 2009 to 2013 and gambling away the money. She’s been ordered to pay restitution to the victim and a bank. The AG’s Office says 66-year-old Pamela Williams of Cochise County pleaded guilty to one count of theft and financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. She was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and also ordered to pay restitution.

Billion dollar ‘Street corner’ crime goes high tech, leads to gambling convictions in Tampa Bay

Three Florida men — including two from Tampa Bay — were convicted of running an international gambling enterprise that prosecutors say took more than $1 billion in illegal wagers. The men conspired with others to operate Internet and telephone gambling services, illegally soliciting and accepting sports bets, then laundering some of the money through various shell companies in Panama, according to a press statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. “In the age of the Internet, what used to be a crime conducted by bookies on street corners is now an international criminal enterprise,” Leslie Caldwell, assistant attorney general, said in the statement.

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


Major Gambling Expansion Legislation Proposed by Florida House

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of the Genting Group to bring full-scale, Vegas-style, gambling casino resorts to Florida. Currently, casino’s rest with the Seminole Nation but various attempts over the years have sought to expand beyond tribal gambling. Casino Watch Focus last reported that the current gambling compact with the Seminole Nation, which limits full scale casino gambling games to the Seminole’s in exchange for guaranteed revenue to the state of Florida, was up for renewal and it didn’t look like a deal would be reached this legislative session. If that happens, then Florida could propose its own casino gambling destinations, albeit at the expense of the guaranteed revenue provided by tribal gambling. Florida’s legislative short legislative session started with a new bill being introduced that would allow for major gambling expansion. The Miami Herald explains:

South Florida could become an even bigger gambling haven with two new destination resort casinos and four dog tracks operating slot machines — instead of racing dogs — under a sweeping gaming rewrite filed Monday by House Republican Leader Dana Young, R-Tampa.

The measure, filed in the traditionally gaming-averse House, takes a novel approach to gaming by requiring destination resort operators to buy out active gaming permits in order to operate the swanky casinos.

The bill also helps the powerful South Florida pari-mutuels, which have contributed heavily to GOP election coffers for the last several years, by reducing the tax rate for existing racinos, allowing dog tracks in Palm Beach and Naples to run slot machines, and ending the requirement that dog tracks race dogs in order to offer gaming.

Gaming options would also expand in other parts of the state, such as Jacksonville and Tampa Bay, where wagering on videos of “historical races” would be allowed as a new form of gambling. The seven casinos operated by the Seminole Tribe would also see expanded games as they could offer the full array of black jack, roulette and craps that are available to the resort casinos.

Major opposition to Rep Dana Young’s bill was not far behind. The Miami Herald went on to report:

“This bill would cause the biggest expansion of gambling in Florida history,” said John Sowinski, director of No Casinos, a gaming opposition group backed heavily by Orlando-based amusement part operators like Disney and Universal. “It invites wall to wall casino gambling in Florida, and the social costs and crime that go with it.”

He repeated the oft-used line of opponents, that casinos in states like New Jersey and Las Vegas are struggling and said “it defies logic for Florida to increase its dependence on gambling at a time when casino economies across America are imploding.”

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


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