Daily Fantasy Sports Violate Florida Law

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing evolution of how daily fantasy sports (DFS) is being viewed as gambling. It was last reported that companies like Draft Kings and FanDuel are starting to lobby in Florida in hopes of ensuring DFS stays legal on both federal and state levels. It appears that as of now, federal law could be interpreted to say DFS are legal. However, Florida law would seem to indicate its illegal, and that is where major players in the DFS industry physically reside. A local NBC news affiliate reports:

If you play fantasy football in Florida, you may be breaking the law as it may be considered gambling. At the federal level, fantasy football is legal, but Florida law considers it illegal to wagers under contest of skill.

Attorney Robson Powers said the sport could qualify as gambling based on how you argue contest of skill.Attorney General Bob Butterworth found fantasy football was in violation of Florida statutes in 1991. Not much has changed since then as his opinion hasn’t been enforced in nearly a decade.

“I think people should know there is a potential to be prosecuted for this type of activity and that just because everybody else is doing it doesn’t make it legal,” said Powers.

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

Brief Look at Crime 09/14 – 09/20

Wedding planner fraudster who conned more than 100 brides-to-be out of £120,000 to fund her gambling

Sarah Cawthorne, 32, left more than 100 women in the lurch after taking their deposits and then failing to turn up on the day of their weddings. Through her company, A Little Bit of Bling, she promised to provide chocolate fountains, dance floors and canopies to brides. Instead, the mother-of-two, from Dudley, West Midlands, used their money to fund a gambling addiction and took her family to Disney Land in Florida. The unhappy customers reported her to Dudley Trading Standards and Cawthorne was sentenced to 12 months behind bars in April after being charged with fraudulent trading. The court heard that analysis of bank statements showed that Cawthorne frittered away some of her customers’ money on online betting sites. In one month, July 2013, she made 118 cash transfers to one gambling site. Her solicitor, Mukhtar Ubhi, told the court that his client had been suffering from a gambling addiction combined with depression but that she had never set out to con her clients.

Police Seize 200 Video Gambling Devices, $390,000+ In Pennsylvania Raids 

Officers from the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement and Bureau of Criminal Investigations served search warrants on 39 liquor-licensed establishments here, confiscating illegal gambling machines and cash. Part of a nine-month investigation, the seizure in early August netted 178 video gambling devices and $389,214. According to sources, every seized machine was designed and operated in such a fashion as to render it illegal in any venue in North America. The equipment’s design characteristics made them unlawful to operate even in jurisdictions and venues in which video gambling is permitted by statute and license, officials observed.

Monk accused of looting temple of $150K for blackjack addiction 

Nothing disrupts Zen tranquility like a federal embezzling rap. A blackjack-addicted Buddhist monk from Louisiana was arrested at LaGuardia Airport and charged with looting his own temple of roughly $150,000 to fund weekly casino binges, The Post has learned. Khang Le, the top monk at the Vietnamese Buddhist Association of Lafayette, Louisiana, appeared in full religious garb Monday in Brooklyn federal court and will likely be sent back to his home state to face the federal raps. Investigators said that Le developed a burgeoning blackjack infatuation beginning in 2011 and began making secret visits to the L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles. “Le stated he started to gamble in 2011 or 2012 and would spend between $5,000 and $10,000 every two of three days at the casino playing blackjack,” court papers reveal of an interview with Le conducted by a federal agent in 2014. “Le admitted to having a gambling problem and admitted that he was utilizing Temple funds to gamble.”

Criminals are hacking into gambling accounts to see player’s hands before

Gamblers are being warned about a online poker scam that lets criminals cheat their way to winning games. Hackers are using spyware to sneak a look at a player’s virtual poker hand on popular gambling sites. They are then signing into the same game and betting against their victim to up the stakes and steal their money. The scam was spotted by San Diego-based security experts at Eset and it affects people who have accounts on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. As of 16 September, ‘several hundred’ users have been infected with Win32/Spy.Odlanor, said Eset.

Daughter gambled stolen £150k in desperate bid to save family firm – but lost it all

Jane Speller, of Mallow Close, Broadstone, began to swindle cash from Poole company Zenick in 2011 after the recession affected profits. She then turned to online gambling sites in an attempt to pour funding back into the pallet supply business. But her plan backfired and she lost a total of £172,217. On August 24, the 38-year-old appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court, where a judge heard she had fallen into a “dark black hole of depression” as a result. She admitted fraud by abuse of position at an earlier hearing.

Thieving nephew stole his 86-year-old aunt’s £330,000 life savings and blew it on fruit machines 

A 54-year-old man who stole £330,000 from his aunt to fund his gambling addiction has been jailed. Ian Stanworth was given power of attorney over 86-year-old Vera Banks’ finances when she moved into the Golden Years Care Home in Blackpool, Lancashire, in 2007. Over seven years, Stanworth abused his position to swindle money from two of Mrs Banks’ savings accounts and an ISA, as well as pocketing the proceeds from the sale of her home. He used the cash to pay off business expenses and feed his addiction to fruit machines. The theft was only uncovered last year when Mrs Banks had a cheque returned due to insufficient funds.

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

On Wake of Lottery Secretary Resignation Scandal, Bill Introduced to allow Florida Lottery Tickets to be Sold Online

Casino Watch Focus has reported on some recent negative press involving the sudden resignation of the Florida Lottery secretary for allegations of misusing state credit cards and inappropriate vacations. While that issue will be investigated, it casts a negative shadow on those running the Lottery. The timing wont help garner public support for trusting the Lottery to honorably run an online lottery, which has been proposed through a bill in the Florida House. A local Florida news affiliate explains how such legislation is even possible:

Capitalizing on a recent change in federal law, legislation has been filed to allow the Florida Lottery to sell tickets online.

The bill, SB 270 by Sen. Gwen Margolis (D-Miami Beach), is aimed at broadening the Lottery’s revenue base to include out-of-state customers and occasional players who might be enticed to play more frequently if online tickets were an option.

The concept, however, is attracting criticism from social conservatives, who warn that expanding the Lottery is tantamount to expanding gambling, which they argue can have a corrosive effect on families.

Even some regular players are skeptical of the legislation. “I don’t trust anybody where I’m asked to put a debit card or something like that, with my information in there. I just don’t,” said Lottery player Kimberly Wilson.

Beyond those who have reason to not trust the organization in light of the recent scandal or those who just generally don’t trust online gambling or providing personal info online, there is also opposition from the stores that sell the current, physical tickets, both in support of legislation to reverse the Obama ruling making these online lotteries legal on the federal level, as well as general opposition on the state level The National Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing (NACS) explains:

At the federal level, NACS supports legislation in the House and Senate, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (H.R. 707 and S. 1668, respectively), to reverse a 2011 U.S. Justice Department decision that re-interpreted the 1961 Wire Act—a 50-year-old law that prohibited online gambling.

Lottery ticket sales generate substantial in-store traffic for convenience stores, and the frequent lottery customer purchases additional items when they purchase their lottery tickets. In fact, on 95% of their store visits, lottery customers purchased at least one other merchandise product in addition to lottery. 

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

Brief Look at Crime 09/07 – 09/13

Former Wright City School Superintendent Given Life Prison Term 

The former Wright City R-II superintendent likely will spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering a Springfield couple. Mark E. Porter, 54, of Ozark, pleaded guilty last week to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of 60-year-old Gary Tyrrell and his wife, 61-year-old Jan Tyrrell. The Tyrrells were found dead in their home in May 2014 after relatives reported they had not been able to contact the couple. Gary Tyrrell had been shot twice, and Jan Tyrrell had been bludgeoned to death. Porter, a friend of the couple, agreed to two consecutive life terms and will avoid the death penalty as part of a plea agreement. Prosecutors said the murder was spurred by Porter’s gambling problem, according to published reports. he eventually told police he and his wife had a total debt of $250,000. That was the same amount Porter sought when he approached Gary Tyrrell for a loan, according to charging documents. Gary Tyrrell dealt in precious metals and gemstones and the couple’s home was filled with high-end items, police said. The couple and Porter were longtime friends and Porter was one of the few people allowed into their home.

State gaming control board fines SugarHouse, Parx, Harrah’s casinos $72,500

SugarHouse and two other Philadelphia-area casinos are being fined a total of $72,500 for violations that include mailing ads to people banned from casinos and giving a jackpot prize to the wrong person, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced Wednesday. SugarHouse is being fined $50,000 for allowing 11 people banned from casinos to get cash advances in 2013 and 2014. The people were on the Board’s self-exclusion list, meaning they had voluntarily banned themselves from all gaming establishments in order to tackle their gambling problems. ‘By law, casinos must establish procedures to deny self-excluded persons from receiving check cashing privileges and other similar benefits such as cash advances,” the Board said in a statement. “We respect the decision of the gaming board and have made changes to our procedures to help prevent recurrence,” said SugarHouse spokesman Jack Horner.

IRS Says Massachusetts Man Stole $515,000 for Gambling

A Massachusetts insurance salesman has been arrested for stealing over $500,000 from clients, money that a federal agent reported he used to feed a gambling habit. Paul Disidoro, 64, of Georgetown, was charged with attempting to evade income taxes. He was arraigned yesterday in U.S. District Court in Boston. Disidoro drew the attention of the Internal Revenue Service for evading taxes from 2007 to 2010. First licensed as an insurance provider in 1983, Disidoro had offices in Haverhill, Allston, and most recently his home in Georgetown. He also worked as a financial advisor, though he was not licensed, the IRS affidavit stated. An IRS agent found that Disidoro had embezzled $515,597 from three clients, however the IRS charges stem from the fact that that stolen money wasn’t claimed on his tax returns.

AHL player Paetsch gets home confinement in gambling ring 

A professional hockey player has been sentenced to eight months of home confinement for being part of an illegal sports betting business that took wagers from other players. Nathan Paetsch (paytch) also must perform 400 hours of community service and spend five years on probation following his sentencing Friday in federal court in Rochester. The 32-year-old accepted a plea agreement in June which also requires him to forfeit $265,000. Paetsch played the last three seasons in the American Hockey League. Before that, he spent part of five seasons with the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres, through 2010. Authorities say he was involved with a gambling operation that took bets through offshore websites, placing wagers himself and receiving credit when he recruited fellow players and others to bet.

Police identify man killed in gambling dispute in Milwaukee 

Milwaukee police are investigating a fatal shooting they say erupted from a gambling dispute. A police statement says the 24-year-old male victim from Milwaukee had been gambling with a group in an alley around 8 p.m. Saturday when an argument broke out. During the argument, one subject shot the victim, who died at the scene. Police believe the victim and the subject knew each other. No arrests were immediately announced, and the victim’s name was not immediately released.

U.S. Fines Caesars $8 Million Over Money-Laundering Controls

The U.S. government has fined Caesars EntertainmentCorp’s bankrupt unit for having “severely deficient” anti-money-laundering controls at its Caesars Palace VIP rooms, which cater mainly to Chinese high-rollers. Caesars agreed to pay an $8 million civil penalty after admitting that it had openly allowed wealthy patrons to gamble anonymously in private rooms at its flagship casino in Las Vegas, the government said in a written statement Tuesday. The casino company also admitted it had failed to properly monitor transactions at international marketing offices in Hong Kong and elsewhere that recruited the players, according to the settlement with the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN.

The crackdown on casinos comes after FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery warned those that operate overseas to be especially diligent bout customer cash. Of the 10 enforcement actions brought this year by FinCEN, which oversees the entire U.S. financial industry, three have been against casinos. “We definitely feel a special obligation” to monitor casinos, Ms. Calvery said in an interview. “We’re the only federal civil enforcement agency when it comes to casinos and anti-money laundering,” she said, adding that banks, for example, are accountable to multiple U.S. regulators.

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

Financial Credit Card Scandal leads to Florida Lottery Secretary’s Resignation

Casino Watch Focus has reported on some questionable actions from the Florida Lottery, both in terms of policy, through online lottery expansion, and through promotional choices, when the Florida Lottery blurred the NCAA gambling lines by using college football teams in their gambling promotions. Now its being reported that the lottery secretary Connie Barnes has been caught up in a financial scandal, abusing state money by using it for lavish vacations of other personal items. An editorial by myPalmBeachPost online explains:

If only we could all hit the Florida Lottery as well as the woman who’s been running it. Cynthia O’Connell acted as though being Lottery Secretary was a kind of jackpot. Last year, she took nine weeks of vacation from her $141,000 job. She also charged nearly $30,000 in subsidized travel and ran up late fees on her Lottery credit card at department stores, grocery stores, hair salons, car washes and the dentist.

She announced her resignation on Aug. 28, just before the Lottery released her credit card records to the Associated Press. Her tenure will be remembered here chiefly for the scandal exposed by The Palm Beach Post in which retailers were illegally cashing in winning tickets to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars — and Lottery officials basically shrugged.

A far more complete investigation will be conducted by the Senate. In the meantime, in what appears to be a precautionary move, the company credit cards of other employees are being restricted. The Blaze reports: 

Lottery officials also announced that they were suspending the use of American Express corporate cards that had been issued to 70 department employees because of the inquiry by The Associated Press. 

State Sen. Rob Bradley, the chairman of the Senate panel that oversees gambling in the state, said the circumstances surrounding O’Connell’s resignation will be scrutinized by his committee this fall.

“Obviously the Lottery has performed very well from a revenue standpoint, but we cannot lose sight that the Department of Lottery is a state agency like other state agencies,” said Bradley, a Republican from Fleming Island. “We have a high standard in the Senate for all state agencies, particularly when it comes to being focused on preventing waste and making sure operational expenses are kept in line.”

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

Brief Look at Crime 08/31 – 09/06

Charges of theft, money laundering in casino scheme filed against New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran 

On Friday, Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran was charged with embezzlement, fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations by New Mexico’s Democratic attorney general. The 64-count complaint was filed against Duran, one of the state’s highest ranking Republicans, late Friday in a Santa Fe state district court by Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office. A confidential tip received in July of last year accusing Duran of misappropriation of campaign contributions led to the attorney general’s investigation of the secretary of state. The complaint centers on large deposits of cash and campaign contributions into both personal and campaign accounts controlled by Duran; those monetary movements often leading to spending at casinos throughout the state, according to the complaint. Subpoenas were obtained by investigators for Duran’s cash withdrawals from multiple casinos; electronic debits totaling more than $282,000 in 2014 and $147,641 in 2013 were withdrawn.

As recent cases show, gambling addiction drives white-collar crime 

As recent cases show, gambling addiction drives white-collar crime. Oklahoma has one of the highest gambling-related embezzlement rates in the nation. “Money is the drug,” said Wiley Harwell, the executive director of the Oklahoma Association for Problem and Compulsive Gambling. “If they have money, they’ll gamble.” A typical treatment plan will include three to six months with absolutely no direct contact with cash or credit of any kind, Harwell said. Not even change for a parking meter. Oklahoma has one of the highest gambling-related embezzlement rates in the country, with only California and New York seeing a higher number of reported cases in 2013, the most recent year with available statistics, according to the national Marquet Report on Embezzlement, published by a security consulting firm. Most cases, of course, never make the front page, or even the back page, since the alleged perpetrators aren’t public figures. In fact, prosecutors suspect that the vast majority of cases go entirely unreported, with employers simply firing the culprits instead of bringing charges. So nobody really knows the full extent of the problem.

Oswego County couple convicted of stealing over $200,000 from elderly retired Air Force vet 

An Oswego County couple face up to 20 years in prison after they were convicted on all counts Tuesday of stealing more than $200,000 from the first female full colonel in U.S. military history. Morgan Tetro and David Tetro Jr., both of Minetto, were convicted in Oswego County Court of stealing the money from 85-year-old Irene Dennison state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced. Irene Dennison served in the U.S. Air Force from 1958 to 1982. She was pivotal in rescuing U.S. Senator John McCain in 1973, when the senator was a prisoner of war being held by the North Vietnamese Army, Schneiderman announced. At one point in her nearly 25-year career, Dennison oversaw more than 3,000 troops in Germany.They lost more than $140,000 of the stolen money gambling at Turning Stone Casino. The rest of the stolen money paid for alcohol, eBay and PayPal purchases, Victoria’s Secret purchases, hairpieces for David Tetro Jr. and other expenses.

Couple arrested for embezzling, stealing more than $600,000 from Fresno bank

A couple was arrested Wednesday for allegedly running an embezzlement scheme that defrauded a Bank of America in Fresno of more than $600,000, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said. Sylvia Ochoa, 33, of Orange Cove, was the branch manager at the Bank of America on East Tulare Street. Court documents say that between March 2013 and October 2013, Ochoa and Shanne Leavell, 23, also of Orange Cove, conspired to defraud the bank. Ochoa prevented other bank employees from counting the cash in the vault, contrary to the bank’s policy. Ochoa and Leavell spent the money on a truck, gambling at casinos and buying expensive handbags.

Illinois’ Biggest Casino Hit With $2 Million Fine

Illinois’ biggest and most popular casino has been hit with a $2 million fine, and two of its officers have been ordered suspended, after a complaint from the Illinois Gaming Board lambasted the casino’s parent company for failure to follow internal procedures in hiring a security and maintenance vendor, and for lax control over gaming promotions. But the Gaming Board came down hard on Rivers, not only for the United contract, but also for numerous infractions regarding promotions. Describing their findings on United, Gaming Board investigators said they found that Rivers had hired the company for security and cleaning services, without going through proper bidding and other procedures. In one case, they found that a contract had been back dated, and that a due-diligence report was actually performed more than a year after the company had already been hired.

Conman who stole £800k from pensioners can only repay £500

A DELAWARE COUNTY bookkeeper got so comfortable stealing from his employer that he made 257 unauthorized ATM withdrawals totaling $122,184 from May 2011 to this January – and that wasn’t even half of what he allegedly stole. In all, Jeffrey McElwee, 53, of Essington, stole $696,631.69 from Power Source Repair in Collingdale dating back to when he was hired in 2002McElwee’s motive, according to detectives who made the bust, was to afford his gambling habit at local casinos, said Emily Harris, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office. Bank statements from Jenzano’s Wells Fargo line of credit account revealed that McElwee withdrew $122,184.50 from ATMs from 2011 to 2015, with close to half of the withdrawals made at the same PNC Bank ATM at an Essington Wawa located near the defendant’s home, the D.A.’s Office said.

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

Seminole Gambling Compact Moves Toward Arbitration as Pressure Increases from Other Tribes to Enter Their Own Compact with Florida

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing negotiations to pass a new gambling compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole tribe. This compact has set up exclusive rights to table games at their tribal casinos, and de facto exclusive rights to tribal gaming in the state. The negotiations stalled during the legislative session and a special negotiation period resumed when the compact ended and the State asked the Seminole tribes to stop offering table games in their casinos. As reported earlierit looked like negotiations were progressing as expected, then an unexpected gambling expansion twist emerged as the tribe was looking to add to the number of casinos in the state as well as expand into other games such as roulette and craps. Prior to these renewed negotiations, the tribe asked for mediation and the state has been working to set up the arbitration. The Orlando Sentinel explains:

The tribe formally requested mediation last month after negotiations over the card games, part of a $1 billion, five-year deal, stalled this spring.

While those talks appear to be back on track, the state has agreed to the Seminoles’ request, and both sides have settled on a mediator, according to documents provided by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees gambling in the state.

“We have not formally responded to the merits of the request for mediation; however, we have been in contact with them regarding the selection of a mediator and working toward mediation dates and location,” department spokeswoman Chelsea Eagle said in an email Tuesday.

Added pressure to reach to an agreement comes from the interest of other tribes to establish a casino in Florida. Another party setting up shop would not only take from the Seminoles hopes of expanding their own casinos, but also provide a reason to the state to shy away from only allowing the Seminoles to offer table games. The Saint Peters Blog explains:

Last March, the Poarch sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott, asking to enter into an agreement, or “gaming compact,” for the tribe to offer gambling at a casino it wants to build on land it has outside Pensacola. The Poarch also operate and are majority owners of the *Pensacola Greyhound Track, records show. If granted, the Poarch could be competitors to the *Seminole Tribe of Florida, which now has the only gaming compact in Florida.

And the state’s Miccosukee Tribe could seek a compact for Las Vegas-style gambling. It offers bingo, slots and poker at its Miami resort, but not blackjack. Though Indian gambling is ultimately controlled by federal law, tribes can negotiate compacts with states for exclusive rights to offer games in return for payments.

Its an always changing gambling landscape in Florida, but the best outcome for Florida families is limiting gambling expansion buy keeping the current number of tribal casinos set as is and by keeping additional games like craps and roulettes out of those casinos.

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


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