As Daily Fantasy Sports Industry Comes Under Fire, Even Draftkings and FanDuel Acknowledge Dangers as They Call for Gov Regulation and Implement Problem Gambling Safeguards

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the new Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) industry, including the recent realization that at its core, its gambling, and that when left unregulated or banned, its leading to online scandals and wide spread investigation, including from the FBI and US Attorney General.  Recently, New York investigated the practice of daily fantasy sports and quickly reached a ruling that its illegal, which lead to the attorney general’s office to issue a cease and desist order to DraftKings and FanDuel.  The Washington Post explains:

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found daily fantasy sites DraftKings and FanDuel in violation of the state’s gambling laws and sent both companies cease-and-desist letters to stop accepting payments – “wagers,” in his words – from New York residents.

The leagues that profit from it may be up next. Questioned about the leagues’ responsibility regarding daily fantasy, a spokesman in the New York attorney general’s office declined to comment, but did not rule out that it was an area of focus in the investigation.

The NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL all operate out of Manhattan. Just as MLB owns a little piece of DraftKings, the NBA owns a small percentage of FanDuel. The NHL shares an extensive marketing agreement with DraftKings. The NFL has attempted to keep the companies at arm’s length, but multiple team owners are heavily invested in both companies, and the league’s network partners draw massive advertising dollars from both of the daily fantasy titans.

Beyond just the individual state level, it’s rumored that the Department of Justice will outlaw DFS by the end of the year.  Following the recent insider trading type scandal between FanDuel and Draft Kings, and perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, FanDuel CEO called for government regulation.  The Wall Street Journal explains:

Nigel Eccles, who founded FanDuel in 2009, said Thursday that intervention by state governments is the only way to ensure consumers can trust the fantasy sports industry, which is facing a federal criminal probe and scrutiny by state regulators.

He said a plan announced this week by the industry’s trade group to police itself with an outside control board is positive but doesn’t go far enough. “Consumers want a higher level of protection,” he said in an interview. “They need to know it’s fair, that the information is protected. If the consumer doesn’t trust the industry than the business doesn’t exist.”

The most telling move though, just recently, and somewhat quietly, happened by DraftKings.  They have started a program familiar to problem gamblers that the gambling industy refers to as a self-exclusion list.  It’s a clear sign that they understand the dangers involved and it’s as close to an outright admission that the industry is simply gambling as you might expect.  Self-exclusion lists aren’t always an effective tool, but, but the addition is a clear signal what type of product is being pushed.  A regional online Boston website explains:

As it fends off comparisons to illegal gambling operations, Boston-based daily fantasy sports company DraftKings now offers a system familiar to many legal gambling businesses: a self-exclusion option, which allows users to deactivate their accounts for periods ranging from three months to five years. On a new responsible gaming section of its website, DraftKings presents the self-exclusion policy as a way to prevent addictive gaming.

DraftKings has resisted gambling comparisons in the U.S., arguing its games are valid under federal and most states’ gaming laws. But self-exclusion is common in the gambling industry, and its usage appears to be an acknowledgment by DraftKings that its users could be susceptible to the same kind of addictive play.

Les Bernal, the national director of the Washington, D.C.-based organization Stop Predatory Gambling, dismissed self-exclusion options as a “sham.” “The whole idea of somebody who’s an addict is the absence of free will. How does somebody who’s an addict exercise their free will?” Bernal said. “It’s a gimmick that’s not meant to protect the player. It’s meant to give the appearance of concern by Internet gambling companies like DraftKings.”

Self-exclusion can be helpful to gambling addicts who have already recognized they have a problem, but it does little to help those who have not reached that point of self-awareness, said Krystle Kelly, the director of development and communications at the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling. “As a standalone, if that’s the only thing they’re doing to acknowledge this could be a gambling problem, I don’t think this is going to be very effective,” Kelly said. “If all of this negative attention did create these controls, I think that’s a good thing. I think that’s a step in the right direction. But I think there probably needs to be more work done to address high-risk populations.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/16 – 11/22

FBI ask the public to report illegal gambling

The Washington, D.C.-based casino industry lobbying group said Tuesday that it’s cooperating with the FBI in asking the public to use the Internet Crime Complaint Center to report illegal gambling activities. The complaint center, also referred to as the IC3, allows individuals to submit information to the FBI about suspected criminal activity fueled by the Internet. Those who fill out forms do not need to be victims of such crimes — the IC3 says it accepts reports from third parties, too. Geoff Freeman, the gaming association’s president, said his organization’s work with the FBI will allow it to make significant headway in its quest to stop illegal gambling. “In particular, the Internet Crime Complaint Center will be an invaluable tool for people in every state to report tips about the multi-billion dollar illegal gambling sector that preys on consumers, steals jobs and deprives state and local governments of revenues generated by the legal, regulated casino gaming industry,” Freeman said in a statement.

Prosecutor: 3 arrested for gambling after fatal shooting 

Authorities have identified the Jersey City man who they say was moved inside of a bodega by employees after he was fatally shot. Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said that 23-year-old Davonte Carswell  was shot around 1 p.m. on Sunday in Jersey City. She says police believe his body was moved inside of the Los Yoleros Mini Market Deli  by workers there. Three people inside the deli were arrested and charged with tampering with physical evidence and possession of gambling records. Suarez says police found a gambling operation inside of the business.

33 Indicted in Illegal Multi-Million Dollar Sports Betting Ring 

Thirty-three people have been indicted on charges in connection with a multi-million dollar sports betting operation in the Boston and South Shore area in Massachusetts, the Attorney General’s Office announced Friday afternoon. The people charged are accused of operating the sports gambling business that used an off-shore betting website to track bets. Officials say the suspected leader of the crime ring, 43-year-old John Woodman of Braintree, organized a network of more than 30 people to take illegal bets from more than 700 individuals in Massachusetts. Woodman was indicted on a variety of illegal gambling charges.

 Man caught after 10-store, 900-ticket lotto theft spree, police say 

An alleged lottery ticket thief was not lucky enough to get away with stealing 900 lottery tickets, let alone hit the potential $5 million jackpot, according to police. An investigation led police to arrest Andrew Miller, 20, of Scotch Plains, on Monday, and charge him with a slew of ticket thefts, said Springfield Township Det. Lt. Judd Levenson, the department’s spokesman. Miller was found in Scotch Plains on Monday at 12:30 p.m. after Springfield police determined he had stolen at least $2,000 worth of lottery tickets from 10 different stores in N.J., including three in Springfield, Levenson said Calling the case “unusual,” Levenson said in his past 29 years a detective, he had never seen anyone specialize in stealing lotto tickets. “If you hit the $5 million (top prize), that would be miraculous,” he said. “But in reality, if you steal a whole lot of rub-off tickets, if you made a couple bucks on each of these tickets, those tickets might be worth a couple thousand (dollars)… It’s a gamble, because you can steal ten tickets, and all ten of those tickets come up to be nothing.”

Albany business owner killed by gunfire stemming from possible illegal gambling operation

Police are investigating the early Thursday morning shooting death of an Albany business owner, and following leads that an illegal gambling operation may have been operated at that location. Lamar Parr Plaza, police officials say, when just after midnight. Thursday morning an unknown male knocked on the front door, asking to come inside. Witnesses told police that “words were exchanged” and Kerper refused entry to the man. According to police, the suspect returned a short time later, brandishing a gun and fired at least one shot through the glass front door of the business. Kerper was killed. Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards said that in addition to the ongoing homicide investigation, detectives are also looking at the possibility that an illegal gaming operation had been conducted at the address. “Ostensibly, the motive for the shooting was robbery,” Edwards said. “But there’s a second theory about a gambling operation.”

 Ex-Kingman employee accused of $300,000 theft 

Former city of Kingman budget analyst Diane Maxine Richards allegedly stole more than $300,000 from the city’s bank account, according to an affidavit obtained by the Kingman Daily Miner. The thefts were reportedly used to pay back cash advances she took out in Laughlin in order to gamble. Special agents with the state Attorney General and Department of Homeland Security served search warrants at City Hall and at Richards’ Kingman home Monday morning. She has been terminated, but it is unclear whether she has been formally charged with a crime. According to the affidavit in support of the search warrant signed by special agent Dilsher Ali with the Attorney General’s office, Richards allegedly committed the crimes of fraudulent schemes, computer tampering, money laundering, theft, and violating state laws regarding the duties and liabilities of custodians of public money.

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

No Casinos Advocates Seminole Compact Renewal with No Harmful Expanded Gambling Provisions


Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts between Florida and the Seminole Nation to renew its gambling compact that expired earlier this year.  The key focus for such renewal is that doing so provides exclusive rights to tribal gambling and prevent outside gambling interests from taking hold in the state.  Casino Watch Focus recently reported on rumors that the two sides were discussing adding more casinos or new table games like roulette and craps.  That prospect has drawn the ire of those looking to prevent harmful gambling expansion from reaching even more of Florida’s families.  The No Casino group has made its opposition clear to Florida Gov. Rick Scott.  An online political site explains:

An anti-gambling expansion organization is asking Gov. Rick Scot to jettison “gambling expansion scenarios as a part of the compact renewal” with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, according to a letter released Wednesday.

John Sowinski, president of Orlando-based No Casinos, wrote to Scott on Tuesday, sending copies to legislative leaders.

“We believe that having compact negotiations serve as a vehicle for any expansion of gambling, either on tribal property or off of tribal property, is completely contrary to the entire basis by which the compact was sold to the public back in 2010,” he wrote. “Instead, we believe the best course of action for the state of Florida is to ensure that any compact renewal be predicated on a zero expansion policy.”

“Gambling has contributed virtually nothing to (Florida’s) remarkable turnaround, nor will it in the future,” Sowinski wrote in this week’s letter. “This has been borne out in state after state that has foolishly chosen to chase casino dollars,” he added. “We need to stay the course, and that course includes a family-friendly tourism brand that is the envy of every other state in the nation, and has given us the most resilient tourism economy in the world.”

A full copy of the letter is available HERE:

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/9 – 11/15

2 men killed, 2 others in critical after suspects rob illegal home dice game 

A game of dice turns deadly for two men in Indianapolis early Monday morning. Two men were killed and two others remain in critical condition after someone tried to rob the victims. Police found dice and money scattered throughout the home, leading investigators to believe someone shot the victims during a robbery. “Detectives found evidence there was illegal gambling going on, but this was not a known illegal gambling establishment. It was some friends that had gathered to participate in a game and during the game we believe a robbery occurred,” said IMPD Sgt. Kendale Adams. Detectives do not think any of the four victims shot each other, instead at least one suspect and maybe more, came into the home and committed the killings.

 Knoxville denim business owner agrees to plead guilty in large scale gambling operation

The owner of Knoxville business Marc Nelson Denim has agreed to enter a guilty plea, according to recently filed court documents, after officials say he ran an illegal gambling operation and used his business to launder the profits. George Marcus Hall entered an agreement to plead guilty to charges of conducting, financing, managing, supervising, directing and owning an illegal gambling operation; and conspiracy to commit money laundering. As part of the agreement, attorneys agreed not to further prosecute for any other offenses. The documents say Hall and co-defendants Clarance Lee McDowell and Maurece Damone McDowell owned and ran a daily numbers gambling operation from January 2009 to June 2015 that employed more than 20 people and made around $2,000 a day. The documents indicate around $20 million was laundered by Hall and his co-defendants.

 Pair charged with swindling retiree out of $3M, then living it up on the Strip

Hiep Cong Van and Thy Minh Phan spent the last year living like high rollers on the Strip until the law caught up with them. Van, 39, who is married and runs landscape companies in Colorado, and Phan, 36, who works as a manicurist at a nail salon in the state of Washington, were arrested in Las Vegas last week on conspiracy, fraud and money laundering charges in a federal indictment returned in Portland. The indictment alleges the couple swindled a man identified only as “R.W.” out of his retirement savings, roughly $3 million, primarily under the guise of obtaining loans to bail out Van’s struggling landscaping business. R.W. is a former customer of Van’s who retired and moved to Oregon. “At one point, defendant Van acted as if his financial circumstances were so dire that he was contemplating suicide,” the indictment alleges. But instead of putting the money toward his business, Van and Phan spent roughly $2.5 million gambling in Las Vegas at Bellagio, MGM Grand, Caesars Palace and Aria, the indictment alleges.

Teenager with gambling debt took his own life after assaulting his dad

A 19-YEAR-old who assaulted his dad, before going missing, took his own life, an inquest heard. Andrew Nicholls was found dead by police officers on July 12 in his dad’s car at an orchard in Ryeford, near his home in The Lea, near Ross  on-Wye. There was a piece of paper on the windscreen which said, ‘Warning, carbon monoxide in the car’ and a post mortem report revealed he died from carbon monoxide poisoning. His father, Richard Nicholls, told the inquest he had been dozing on the sofa at his home, where he lived with his son, when a heavy object hit him around the head on the evening of July 10. Mr Nicholls said: “My initial reaction was it was a burglar.” He then realised his son had hit him around the head with a bottle. After Mr Nicholls died his father discovered his son had spent a lot of money on online gambling and was in thousands of pounds worth of debt. He said his son had not seemed depressed and was planning on going on holiday in a few months, but he said he did believe his son had taken his own life.

 Duncan Bannatyne’s firm has almost £8MILLION stolen by his finance chief

A crooked finance chief who stole almost £8m from Duncan Bannatyne has been jailed for four years and eight months. Gambling addict Christopher Watson, 46, used his position as trusted company secretary to plunder accounts of the former Dragons Den star’s fitness empire over six years. The dad-of-three nodded to his family as he was taken from the dock at Teesside crown court after admitting the fraud totalling £7,974,221 between 2008 and 2014. Mr Bannatyne, 66, who is set to appear in ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ on ITV, said in a statement: “I am absolutely shocked and appalled at the callous actions of Mr Watson.” He said Watson, who rose to the boardroom after joining the company as an accountant in 2007, opposed raising the minimum wage for staff, telling a him that the firm ‘could not afford it’. At the same time as he was plundering millions to help fund his huge gambling losses.

 A former Credit Union worker stole €1.7m from his branch to feed gambling habit 

A credit controller who stole almost €1.7m from Finglas Credit Union over a seven-year period by taking out bogus loans and stealing cheques has been jailed for three years. Paul O’Brien (aged 51) took out additional fraudulent loans in order to make repayments on the pre-existing ones. The money was used to fund his severe gambling addiction and on three occasions to pay either his mortgage or credit card bills. Garda Lisa Sheehan confirmed that the total amount taken from the credit union was €1,669, 696 in the form of 215 fraudulent loans and 13 stolen cheques. However, because he used some of the cash to make repayments on the loans, the total net loss to the credit union was €453,300. Gda Sheehan agreed with Luigi Rea BL, defending that his client’s gambling problem had “brought him to a dark place in his life”.

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

Expanded Support from State Attorney Generals for the Restoration of America’s Wire Act: Would Return Online Gambling to an Illegal Activity

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to restore online gambling regulations after a recent and broad Obama Administration view of the Wire Act allowed for the legalization of online gambling.  The newest efforts in Congress and the Senate has been through the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.  Many have supported such efforts, including Republican Presidential Candidate hopeful Marco Rubio.  Now, two state Attorney Generals have added their support in an open letter sent to the other state Attorney Generals. An online source explains:

The attorney generals from Missouri and South Carolina have come together in support of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), the anti-online gambling measure that has been introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Writing a letter distributed to all 50 state attorney generals, Missouri’s Chris Koster (D) and South Carolina’s Alan Wilson (R) request that “each of you sign-on … in supporting Congressional clarification that Internet gambling is prohibited by the Wire Act.”

An attached draft letter seeking the signatures of the attorney generals and addressed to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees states, “We fear that if RAWA is not adopted we will see a return to the wild west of Internet gambling.”

The memo was first circulated on October 19 and came with a signing deadline of October 30. Handled by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), it’s unclear how many attorney generals actually signed the petition.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/2 – 11/8

The Gamblers Shot Dead over Gambling Related Disputes

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Lolo Mangena said a group of men were playing dice on Tuesday when an argument suddenly erupted, Rekord North reported. “A gambler who had allegedly lost a lot of money during the gambling had a quarrel with another gambler. One produced a firearm and shot the other. The victim tried to run to his car after being shot but fell down and died,” added Mangena. Police and emergency services were called to the scene. “Unfortunately the victim was certified dead at the scene. We found him lying on the ground with a gun wound to his lower right chest. One spent cartridge was found,” said Mangena.

In a separate incident, a 23-year-old man and his father were shot and killed after a fight broke out at Matlala Tavern in Block T of Soshanguve, Pretoria, in July.  Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Lolo Mangena said a group of men were gambling at a tavern when suddenly a fight broke out. Apparently the 23-year-old son’s money was taken from him by a fellow gambler. “The man then called his father, and a few minutes later his father came to confront the alleged perpetrator. During the confrontation, the father was shot three times in the chest, and when his son tried to get involved, he was shot twice. Both of them died on the scene,” Mangena added.

J.P. Morgan Adviser Admits Stealing $22 Million From Clients

A former J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. investment adviser on Thursday admitted to stealing roughly $22 million of his clients’ funds, in part to cover personal expenses. The adviser, Michael Oppenheim, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to one count of embezzlement and one count of securities fraud, according to the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. According to federal prosecutors, Mr. Oppenheim defrauded multiple clients over a seven-year period. He claimed to have invested their money in low-risk municipal bonds and sent doctored account statements purportedly showing profits earned on those investments. However, he was using the clients’ money for his own personal benefit—including to pay for a home loan, bills and, according to his lawyer, gambling—and to pay back other investors. Mr. Shechtman said that compulsive gambling was at the root of the case but declined to elaborate. He noted that Mr. Oppenheim’s last words to the judge were, “I wish I’d been caught earlier.”

 Gambler who spun ‘web of deceit’ to steal £120,000 from family is jailed

A fraudster who stole more than £120,000 from his in-laws has been imprisoned for five years after leaving his family “decimated,” a judge said. He took a total of £120,573 from his wife’s parents and elderly grandmother, who lives in a care home, through what both the prosecution and the defence referred to as an elaborate “web of deceit”. Mr Dominic Bush, prosecuting, said that the fraud had left his family “living a hand-to-mouth existence. “His wife would suck on ice cubes to keep the hunger pangs at bay while he was spending all the family’s money. [His father-in-law] wasn’t able to go to the dentist, and so went three years with an untreated dental condition. Between 2010 and 2015, Jacobs deceived and scared his family into handing him full control of their finances to fund his gambling addiction, which saw the former Borehamwood eruv committee member visit a casino 2,000 times in the space of eight years.

Fraudster stole $800K from investors to live lavish, gambling lifestyle

He tried to avoid going to prison at the last minute, and now fraudster Steven Vincent Weeres has filed an appeal from his prison cell. The 56-year-old wants a do-over of his seven-week long trial — but would like it in front of a jury this time if his appeal succeeds. His notice of appeal, listing his current address as the Prince Albert Penitentiary, was recently filed with the province’s top court. With promises that they could double their money, investors bought units of inventory of Master Keys to Success, a software training program. The units were to be held by the company and sold to large corporate customers, but that never happened. Rather, some $800,000 in investors’ money that flowed through the corporate accounts was used largely to support Weeres’ lifestyle, including family vacations, rent on a luxurious beachfront home on Vancouver Island, dining out, booze and gambling.

St. Ann mother charged with leaving infant in car while she gambled in Alton casino

A St. Ann woman has been charged with leaving her 7-month-old son in the back seat of her car while she went gambling inside the Argosy Casino. Police say Timeka D. Coleman-Jones, 28, left her infant strapped in a car seat Sunday afternoon while the mother was inside the casino until someone in the parking lot saw the baby and notified security. One of the car’s rear windows was left open about an inch, authorities said. Police believe the baby was left unattended in the car for about 20 minutes. [Fortunately], he boy was not hurt.

 Woman accused of stealing $1 million from law firm

A Will County woman already serving time for stealing from her job at a flooring company is due to stand trial in February on charges that she stole $1 million from a law firm based in Naperville and Oak Brook where she kept the books. Authorities say Leanna Kelty, 55, formerly of Wilmington, created a dummy corporation and over a six-year period diverted money from the law firm’s accounts to fund a lifestyle replete with boats and expensive vehicles. DuPage County Judge Robert Miller on Thursday set a Feb. 16 trial date for Kelty, who is already serving a four-year prison term after pleading guilty this summer in Will County on charges she embezzled money from the flooring company that hired her after she quit her law firm job. In that letter, Kelty describes herself as a mother of three and loving grandmother who is “afraid and ashamed” by what she had done. “What I did was wrong and selfish, even though circumstances pushed me there,” wrote Kelty, who said she stole money to cover her husband’s medical bills and then tried to recoup it through gambling.

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

Florida Anti-Gambling Group Looks to Safeguard Against Gambling Expansion Through Possible Ballot Initiative

Casino Watch Focus has reported that a key slot machine license case in the state of Florida has major implications for statewide gambling expansion.  The Florida Attorney General asked a Florida Appellate Court to reevaluate its peculiar ruling that allowed a local vote of the people to allow slots machines at nearby dog and horse racing tracks despite the fact that state law only allows for slots at a few designated areas in the state.  If the Supreme Court upholds the Appellate court ruling, it will essentially expand gambling with no approval from the legislature, the greater people of Florida, or the state constitution.  The Florida high court outcome will drive a new anti-gambling group’s decision as to whether or not to pursue a ballot initiative that requires a vote of the people to expand casino style gambling games.  An online source explains:

A newly-formed political committee called “Voters in Charge” announced Tuesday it has started a petition-gathering process, with an eye on getting a proposal on the 2018 ballot. If approved, the “Voter Control of Gambling” constitutional amendment would require future statewide votes to authorize casino-style games including blackjack, craps and roulette.

In the Gadsden County case, the Supreme Court could allow Gretna to operate slots without legislative approval or decide that the Legislature must approve the slots. Or the court could rule that the expansion of slots at pari-mutuels outside of Broward and Miami-Dade counties requires another constitutional change.

“We view this as an insurance policy, frankly,” [John] Sowinski, the committee chairman, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “We want to be positioned and ready so if there is a court decision that does not affirm that the people have the final say on this, that they’ve got an amendment that makes it abundantly clear on the ballot,” Sowinski said.

Voters In Charge is backed by No Casinos, a group supported by Disney World, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a variety of tourism-related groups. Sowinski is also the president of No Casinos.

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


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