Florida’s Seminole Gambling Compact Faces Federal Approval and Many Believe Tribal Gambling Laws and the Florida Constitution make the Sports Gambling Provisions Invalid

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing developments in the approval of the newly negotiated Florida gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe.  While most agree the compact is a key and necessary part of balancing gambling expansion in Florida, many believe this compact has gone too far to expand gambling, most specifically in regards to statewide Sports gambling.  The Compact has been passed by the Florida Legislature and the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and now it goes before the Federal Government.  An online source explains:

The Department of the Interior oversees tribal-state gambling “compacts,” such as the one that Gov. Ron DeSantis and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. signed April 23 and sent to lawmakers for approval. Once the compact is submitted, the Department of the Interior has 45 days to approve the plan, reject it or allow it to go into effect without the federal agency’s action.

Federal officials will “look at the compact and see if there are any provisions in there that are problematic,” said George Skibine, whose lengthy career with the Department of the Interior included a stint as director of the Office of Indian Gaming.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires that covered gaming activities occur on “Indian lands,” Skibine noted. The deal with the Seminoles may turn out to be a national test case for other tribal compacts, he said.

Clearly there are past examples in other states that looked at a similar issue, and they concluded all gambling must take place on tribal land.  There are two other examples of mobile gambling involving tribal land, but both of those cases involve the tribes letting the state government handle the regulations and taxation of the gambling.  This Florida case just isn’t the same as those given that the Seminole Tribe is fully regulating sports betting and the Florida constitution currently prohibits sports betting in Florida and would require a statewide vote of the people to establish it as legal gambling.  An online source explains:

So how come Arizona and Connecticut have a clear path forward and the Seminoles do not? The key is regulatory structure.

A group of Arizona tribes and Gov. Doug Ducey announced a compact and companion legislation earlier this year that allows the tribes to open retail and online sportsbooks, among other gaming expansion options. The federal Department of the Interior has already approved the retail sportsbook components of the deal.

Critically, the compact didn’t include online betting and the tribes agreed to let Arizona government officials regulate, license and tax their online sportsbooks under a separate bill approved by the legislature.

Connecticut’s two gaming tribes and Gov. Ned Lamont announced a similar deal this year that’s now awaiting formal federal government approval. Just like Arizona’s tribes, Connecticut’s Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes agreed to separate online casino gaming and sports betting from the compact’s retail betting language.

Conversely, Florida’s compact gives the Seminoles rights to online sports betting through its own digital platform and to partner with pari-mutuel facilities for additional mobile skins. Federal law and subsequent court rulings make it seem the Seminoles don’t have authorization for online sports betting under a compact, leading many to believe federal officials will strip those provisions from the agreement.

Moreover, IGRA very clearly outlines that the gambling activity must take place on Tribal land or must be the same gambling that the state already recognizes as legal.  Some have argued that in an attempt to rush the deal, they didn’t follow current models for proper gambling compacts, and are at real risk of rejection by the Federal Government.  The source concludes:

This strict interpretation of IGRA within the language of the law and ensuing court rulings has limited gaming to physical options on tribal lands. All states that offer or have approved any form of regulated online tribal gaming, such as Arizona, Connecticut and Michigan, have done so independent of federal compacting law. Instead, these tribes maintain autonomy over in-person gaming for their brick-and-mortar gaming options and act like commercial operators for their online options.

Daniel Wallach, a Florida-based gaming attorney and sports betting legal analyst, told the Action Network the Seminoles and Florida policymakers could have followed the model established in other states. Instead, trying to shoehorn online sports betting authorization under federal law jeopardizes its very legality.

“Michigan and Arizona have acknowledged this jurisdictional limitation and crafted a solution that appears to satisfy IGRA,” Wallach said. “Florida, on the other hand, has brazenly ignored the plain and unambiguous language of IGRA, and has set up a flawed system that is on a fast track to a federal court rebuke.”

Florida’s Miami-Beach Mayor Dan Gelber was equally blunt with his rhetoric in a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior.  The Tampa Bay times provides excerpts of his letter:

“I support the goals of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (’IGRA’), namely, to provide Native American tribes with a pathway to greater independence and economic vitality. But the Florida Compact you are considering was not crafted in pursuit of those goals,” Gelber wrote in a nine-page letter to Deb Haaland, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“It was simply a vehicle hijacked by non-tribal casino interests who fully corrupted the legislative and executive process in order to obtain advantages outside of tribal land and in direct contravention to the interests of Floridians.”

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


A Brief Look at Crime 06/21 – 06/27

Florida woman’s club treasurer accused of stealing $160,000 in donations to gamble in casinos

The GFWC Woman’s Club of Clearwater treasurer is accused of stealing thousands of dollars over a period of two years, according to Investigators. Sharon Lynn Brindamour, 59, allegedly used $160,000 in charitable donations to gamble in casinos officals said. “She went to the Hard Rock in Tampa, she went to the Hard Rock in Fort Lauderdale, she went to Harras in Biloxi, Mississippi, she spent it on her own personal car insurance,” Pinellas County Sheriff’s Corporal Travis Sibley said. The club first contacted authorities when management changed and the numbers weren’t adding up, Sibley said. GFWC Woman’s Club of Clearwater helps local charities and nonprofit groups like the Clearwater Free Clinic. “Our mission is to help improve the health of the community as a whole,” Clinic’s Development Director Meredith Reagin said “By helping people that don’t have the means to access care themselves.”

DraftKings Subpoenaed by US Authorities Investigating New York Lobbyist’s Circle 

A lobbyist in New York with ties to the gaming industry is under scrutiny by federal regulators. The office of the US attorney in the *Southern District of New York*, through its public corruption unit, is reportedly investigating *Patrick Jenkins*, according to the New York Times (NYT), but hasn’t provided any specific details regarding the motive behind the investigation. Jenkins, a former aide to current New York, Assembly Speaker *Carl E. Heastie*, is said to have links with *DraftKings*, *FanDuel*, the *NBA*, *MLB*, *The Stars Group*, and others, and at least two of his gaming clients have been subpoenaed as part of the investigation.

According to public records, Jenkins’ firm was paid over *$3.22 million in compensation in 2019, a substantial increase from *the $37,500* it had received in *2014*. Heastie became the Assembly Speaker in 2015, and, in 2016, his campaign was paying Jenkins $4,000 a month. Some have drawn ties between the appointment and the compensation.

Casino Miami Melee Follows Outside Shooting, Two Victims Hospitalized

Miami cops continue to investigate a shooting spree near Casino Jai-Alai Miami. Three people were wounded Thursday evening outside of the Florida gaming property, and the casino was evacuated by police. Officers had their firearms drawn as they entered the casino, according to /WSVN/, a local TV station. “Everybody out, now,” an officer ordered players and visitors at the casino, the report adds. Moments after the shooting, several people outside of the casino ran inside of the gaming property for protection from the gunfire. Some hid in the manager’s office. Outside, shots had been fired by occupants of two cars driving near the casino. The driver of a back sedan appeared to be chasing the second car, a white sedan, /WSVN/ said. Miami-Dade Police Lt. Carlos Rosario said one of the suspects was “hanging out of the black sedan just shooting,” the report said. The occupants of a third car were apparently caught in the crossfire. Two of the wounded individuals were treated at a local hospital, /WSVN/ said. A third person was grazed by a bullet, the report adds.

Lanarkshire finance officer admits embezzling quarter of a million pounds

A shamed finance officer stole more than £240,000 to fund his gambling habit. John Reid, overpaid companies linked to First People Solutions Ltd. where he worked between March 2014 and July 2017. He then got his hands on the cash by asking the firms to send the surplus back into his own bank account. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard Reid carried out 155 transactions and pocketed a total of £244,950. The 39-year-old confessed to his manager when caught and stated he had a “gambling addiction.” Reid, of East Kilbride, pled guilty to embezzlement on Friday.

Feds recommend prison time for elderly Detroit-area woman who stole $440,000 from Social Security

The government is recommending a prison term for a Detroit woman who stole more than $440,000 over 30 years by cashing Social Security checks issued to her late grandmother. It’s the largest case of Social Security theft in eastern Michigan in more than five years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Andrea Billingsley-Jamison, 63, pleaded guilty in March 2020 to stealing government money, but her sentence has been delayed because of the coronavirus. She’s due in federal court on July 21. Her grandmother died in 1987, but the government apparently wasn’t aware and kept sending Social Security checks. Billingsley-Jamison’s attorney acknowledged that the government’s loss was “substantial” but said prison isn’t necessary for the first-time offender. Billingsley-Jamison used the money to support her parents, her daughter and a gambling addiction, lawyer Nancy McGunn said in a May 28 court filing.

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


Possible new Trump Casino in Florida hits New Roadblock as Local City Bans Casinos

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the possibility of new casinos being developed in Miami Beach.  Attempts to develop full Vegas-style casino gambling establishments in the Miami area are nothing new and have typically been unsuccessful.  However, recent developments involving possible transfer of licenses has raised the alarms for those in the area.  Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber exposed the potential legislative intent and Trump’s Resort and other casino’s immediately made national headlines as one of a few possible companies to use the new Seminole Compact to extend casino gambling into new areas.  As a response to, the nearby city of Doral, the home of Trump Doral Resort, passed an ordinance to ban casinos and gambling without a full public referendum and vote.  The Miami-Herald reports:

Count Doral among the latest Miami-Dade cities to erect defenses against casino politics as the prospect of gambling — and a Trump-branded casino — creeps closer.

The Doral city council on Wednesday voted 4-0 to ban gambling and casinos from the city unless approved by residents in a referendum, weeks after Gov. Ron DeSantis negotiated a $500 million gaming deal the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Critics believe the compact was tailored to allow casinos at properties such as the Trump National Doral Miami resort or the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel, which local officials fear will bring negative impacts to their communities.

The gaming deal, among other things, stops the Tribe from objecting to the transfer of existing slot machine licenses to anywhere 15 miles from its casino on Seminole land near Hollywood, language that opens the door to former President Donald Trump purchasing a license and transferring it to his Doral golf resort.

Miami Beach Mayor Gelber also took additional defensive action as there are many jurisdictions in that area that should there be a new casino push.  Of course, there are existing laws in place that would make moving a casino an enormous uphill battle, but Mayor Gelber wants to be prepared.  The Miami-Herald concluded:  

Local gambling bans alone may not be enough. Miami Beach, which banned casinos in 2017 retained law firm Shubin & Bass to help fend off any attempts from the Legislature to bring gambling to the city.

Mayor Dan Gelber said the city is wary that state lawmakers may try to pass a bill that preempts a local governments’ ability to ban gambling. “We’re not waiting for it to happen before we hire someone,” Gelber told the Miami Herald Tuesday, speaking about the decision to hire Shubin & Bass.

He said the state’s recently approved sports gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe clears a path for Jeffrey Soffer, the owner of the Fontainebleau to transfer his casino license from The Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach.

“Obviously the fact that the 15-mile barrier was included in the compact is a pretty good expression of the intent of the governor and Legislature to give him what he wants,” said Gelber, who wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior asking that the government reject the gambling deal.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 06/14 – 06/20

Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison over Shooting at a Poker Game 

A man from New York State was sentenced to at a *minimum of 20-years-to-life in prison* on Monday this week. *Charquan Edwards*, who was *previously sentenced for shooting a man during a private poker game back in 2015,* faced a retrial. Initially, Edwards was sentenced to prison by now-retired *Judge John Brunetti* in 2015. However, the 2015 trial was overturned in 2019 by the appellate court after it found several issues with the sentence.

Back in 2015, Edwards, 23 at the time, participated in a poker game that turned out badly. Having lost twice, he returned *two times to re-enter the game with more money*. After losing for the third time, *he came back with a gun and attempted to flee with some $9,000* from the poker table cash

Since the initial accident in 2015, *multiple eyewitnesses have deceased*. However, during the retrial testimony, US State Supreme Court *Judge Gordon Cuffy* allowed the testimony of the deceased to be read in front of the jury. Although Judge Cuffy acknowledged that Edwards is an “/intelligent young man/“, he *reaffirmed the original sentence* by Judge Brunetti. Consequently, Edwards was re-sentenced to 20-years-to-life in prison. With that in mind, he will serve the sentence concurrently while *the court took into consideration the time which he already served* since his initial conviction.

Chester County Accountant Sentenced for Fraud Scheme

Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Christopher May, 32, of Paoli, PA, was sentenced to one year and four months in prison, and two years of supervised release by United States District Judge Timothy J. Savage for engaging in an embezzlement scheme through which he stole more than $1.2 million from his former employer.

In February 2021, the defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud stemming from this scheme which he perpetrated over the course of about eight months. From roughly October 2019 until May 2020, while employed as a staff accountant at a local e-commerce automotive parts retailer based in Paoli, PA, May made more than 50 unauthorized Paypal transfers of his employer’s funds into his personal accounts. In total, he stole $1,213,500. He immediately spent nearly this entire amount gambling on sports and making payments to pornographic web camera models whom he met on the internet.

Man Jailed For Theft of $1M From Poker Pro Chad Power 

Clark County authorities have arrested and jailed one of two men believed to be responsible for a February residential burglary in which a safe containing a million dollars in cash and poker chips was taken from Las Vegas poker pro Chad Power. 32-year-old Brock Brewer of Las Vegas was arrested on Tuesday and charged with eight felonies connected to the burglary. Brewer and another man, who has yet to be identified, are believed to be responsible for the February 10 robbery at Power’s Henderson home. Police believe Brewer and the other robber trailed Power to his home at some point after observing him at a Vegas casino. On the day of the robbery, Power left his home to play poker before receiving an security-system alert.

By the time Power returned home, discovered the break-in and called the police, the robbers were long gone, though surveillance footage showed two maskless men leaving his home. A suspect, later identified as Brewer, had Power’s home safe on his shoulder as he left the scene. The police report about the theft, as noted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, noted that “Chad advised that inside the safe had been approximately $750,000 in cash in $100 bill denominations, mostly organized into $50,000 bricks. The safe had also contained approximately $250,000 in high-value poker chips.”

Mississippi Man Gets 16 Years for Armed Robbery of Casino

A Mississippi man convicted of robbing a Choctaw casino was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison. William Christopher Belk, 33, of Quitman, pleaded guilty to robbery and the use of a firearm during a crime of violence, Acting U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca said in a news release. Belk entered the Bok Homa Casino, located on the Choctaw Indian REservation near Sandersville, Mississippi, on July 9, 2020, armed with a handgun, authorities said. Once inside, he pointed the gun at a casino security officer, took several items from the officer then fled in a resort vehicle. A Sandersville Police officer spotted the vehicle and tried to arrest Belk, who fired his weapon, injuring the officer. He then drove toward Laurel, Mississippi, where officers arrested him. A federal grand jury indicted Belk in August, charging him with robbery, use of a firearm during a crime of violence and theft from an Indian gaming establishment. He pleaded guilty in February.

Owner of third cockfighting venue admits participation in illegal animal fighting operation

An Emanuel County man has admitted operating an animal fighting venture, representing the third owner of a cockfighting operation in the Southern District to enter a guilty plea to federal charges. *Wendell Allan Strickland, *67, of Swainsboro, Ga., pled guilty in U.S. District Court to two counts of Sponsoring and Exhibiting an Animal in an Animal Fighting Venture; two counts of Conducting an Illegal Gambling Business; and one count of Possession and Transport of an Animal in an Animal Fighting Venture, all felonies; and one misdemeanor charge of Attending an Animal Fighting Venture, said Acting U.S. Attorney David H. Estes. In addition to forfeiture of the property on which illegal cockfights were held, Strickland faces a possible statutory penalty of up to five years in prison and significant financial penalties, followed by up to three years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Animal fights are illegal and barbaric, and also are magnets for other criminal activity,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “With our law enforcement partners, we will continue to shut down these operations and hold the organizers accountable.”

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


Experts warn that Florida’s Seminole Gambling Compact Introduces Massive Gambling Expansion, but Leaves Problem Gamblers without Vital Resources

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to secure a new gambling compact between the Seminole Tribe and the Florida Government.  Recently a new compact was agreed upon and has been approved by the Florida Legislature and Governor.  If the bill makes it past federal approval, it represents a massive expansion in gambling.  Despite the normal political battles that such legislation brings, three is a serious health element that experts warn is being completely overlooked.  Aid for compulsive gamblers wasn’t addressed in the compact or the special legislative session that pushed the compact through.  This is of dire concern for problem gambling experts.  Florida Politics reports:

While the Legislature pushed through the Seminole Compact and gambling bills to support it, the matter of dealing with compulsive gambling drew alarm, debate, promises, but no action.

“If the Compact survives scrutiny at the federal level and the legal challenges, this is going to be a major expansion of gaming opportunities in the state of Florida, just in the sports betting alone,” said *Richard* *Pinsky*, a lobbyist for the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling. “Florida is not prepared right now for the impact that it will have upon families and individuals.”

Florida’s main response, through the Council, is a gambling prevention program helpline, 1-888-ADMIT-IT (236-4848). Set up initially to assist compulsive gamblers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, it is woefully unprepared to handle statewide action; it was never fully funded even for its intended purpose. “I can show you the actual transcripts (of calls) that would wrench your heart,” Pinsky told a House committee last week. 

Pinsky warned that “thousands and thousands” of Floridians will fall into compulsive gambling problems. And he believes that will grow fastest among younger generations. “The younger demographic, that’s exactly who does sports wagering and fantasy sports,” Pinsky said. “College students and those under 30. And they’re also the most at-risk group.”

Florida’s gambling prevention program has not been updated since 2005 when it was initiated as a response to the legalization of slot machines in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 06/07 – 06/13

Trainer Bob Baffert suspended from Belmont after Kentucky Derby winner fails drug test

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) temporarily suspended Bob Baffert, the trainer for Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, in the aftermath of the horse failing a post-race drug test. NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke announced the suspension in a statement on Monday, citing Medina Spirit’s positive post-Kentucky Derby drug test and previous drug violations discovered among Baffert’s horses. During the time of the suspension Baffert will be forbidden from running any horses or occupying stall space at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and the Aqueduct Racetrack, effectively barring Medina Spirit from entering the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, which will take place in June. The NYRA said it expects to make a final decision regarding the length and terms of Baffert’s suspension based on the results of the ongoing investigation in Kentucky, including Medina Spirit’s post-race test.

Woman called in bomb threat at Seminole Hard Rock casino after losing playing slots

Police arrested a woman accused of calling in a bomb threat to the Seminole Hard Rock casino in Tampa after she lost hundreds while playing the slot machines. Clearwater police said Adele Belizaire of Spring Hill got mad after she lost $380 in the slot machines at the casino. When Belizaire returned to her hotel room on Clearwater Beach around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, investigators said “her self-admitted anger issues got the best of her.” That’s when she called the casino from her cell phone and said she left a bomb on the property. Authorities at the casino contacted Clearwater police, who worked to identify Belizaire and confirm where she was staying. Officers arrested her early Wednesday at her hotel and booked her into the Pinellas County Jail. She is charged with making a false report about planting a bomb, explosive or weapon of mass destruction.

Bettors File Lawsuit Against Bob Baffert & Medina Spirit Owners for Racketeering Fraud

Attorneys for four bettors filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in California late Thursday against Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, his company and Zedan Racing, owners of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit. The bettors are suing Baffert for racketeering and fraud, alleging that Medina Spirit’s win in the Derby constituted illegal gambling. Days after winning, the horse tested positive for Betamethasone, a steroid that reduces inflammation but is not allowed within two weeks of racing because it helps to serve as a masking agent to more serious doping drugs. If a second sample comes back as positive, Medina Spirit will be stripped of the win and its owners would be forced to return the $1.86 million winner’s prize. That’s not the case for the bettors. Anyone who bet on Medina Spirit would get to keep their money and anyone who bet on the presumptive new winner Mandaloun would not be given credit.

“Bettors…rely on participants’ representation that they comport with these laws, regulations and rules in order to properly determine which horses to be on,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants and other owners and trainers intend that bettors rely on these representations in order to encourage wagering in racing, thereby increasing the purse total.” The bettors, Michael Beychock, Justin Wunderler, Michael Meegan and Keith Mauer, all had Mandaloun in their betting combinations. The two largest bettors — Beychok and Wunderler — said they would have made in between $10,000 and $100,000 if Mandaloun won the Derby or was given the win in the betting world. The bettors ask for the money that they say is rightfully deserved plus additional damages, among other things.

Lincolnshire taxi firm manager jailed for fraud over gambling addiction

A Boston taxi firm manager who stole his company’s COVID bounce back loan has been jailed for two years and eight months (32 months). James Lloyd, 39, successfully applied for the loan on behalf of the firm and within days of the money arriving in the company bank account he transferred it into one of his personal accounts. Lloyd turned to online gambling at the start of lockdown to boost his family income, as at the time he was off work after contracting a lung disease and his wife’s hairdressing salon was closed because of the COVID restrictions. 

He was trusted by the owners of Angels Taxis based in Boston, and was a signatory on the company bank account and was given company bank accounts. But his gambling spiralled out of control and he stole over £140,000 to fund his habit. Lucy Jones, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that Lloyd was a friend of Julian and Toni Vines, who owned the company, and was trusted to manage the taxi firm. She said “It gave him the opportunity to access the company’s funds and fund his addiction to gambling. “From December 2018 up until the police became involved in August 2020 the defendant spent over £208,000 on gambling websites.

Another Win-River Casino Elderly Winner Robbed, Attacked in California 

An elderly man was kidnapped, beaten up, and robbed Saturday after winning money at Redding, Calif.’s Win-River Resort & Casino. /KHSL/, a local TV station, reported the unnamed victim was forced to give a ride to a man.  Both had been at the casino. When they reached a wooded area in Redding, the bandit ordered the victim into the woods. The suspect then “violently assaulted” the man, Shasta County Sheriff’s deputies said. The victim struggled with the 6 foot, 220-pound suspect. But the older man was again attacked and lost consciousness. He also lost blood from his injuries. Upon wakening in the woods, he realized the suspect had stolen much of the money the man had won at the casino. Still, he soon was able to contact Shasta County Sheriff’s deputies. 

They discovered the suspect had gotten a ride from a driver of a pickup truck. Deputies later located the suspect. He was identified as Anthony Marcell RobbinsWray, 29, of Shasta Lake, Calif. *He admitted to assaulting the man, deputies were quoted by /KHSL/. Most of the man’s casino winnings were still in RobbinsWray’s possession upon his arrest.* Upon checking Win-River surveillance video, the suspect was at the casino earlier, /KHSL/ said. The clothes he was wearing while at the casino were later located at the residence where he was arrested, deputies said. RobbinsWray was arrested for assault, robbery, elder abuse, and kidnapping with the intent to commit robbery, /KHSL/ said

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


Guest Article: Missouri Draws Criticism for failing to pass Smoking Ban at Casinos during Global Pandemic

Casino Watch Focus has reported on local and nationwide efforts to institute smoking bans at casinos during the pandemic.  Not only is this a very clear way to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, it also offers many other health benefits to those that frequent casinos.  As such, efforts were taken to bring the matter up to the Missouri Gaming Commission.  As one Southwestern editorial notes however, the Commission has instead chosen to gambling with public health…

When the COVID-19 pandemic quickly spread last year, a number of businesses, including casinos, temporarily shut down.

Consistent with developing health protocols for re-opening, such as frequent disinfection of surfaces, requiring face masks, and providing hand sanitizer stations, over 140 casinos in 23 states also prohibited smoking. Managers recognized face masks were of little value if smokers pull them down while smoking. Several managers also recognized the public health risk of exposing people to secondhand smoke. So, what about Missouri?

Sadly, not one Missouri casino adopted this health measure. Even so, Section 313.812.14 of the state gaming law requires the Missouri Gaming Commission to take punitive action against a casino licensee that acts or fails to act in a manner that is “injurious to the public health.”

In May of 2020, the gaming commission was asked to give attention to this clause. This request was accompanied with information about long established medical science that exposure to secondhand smoke is a causal factor for heart attack, lung cancer, emphysema and stroke.

Also provided was a report that found air quality in Missouri casinos rated as “unhealthy” and a study that found a nearly 20 percent reduction in medical emergencies when smoke-free policies were implemented across the 26 casinos in Gilpin County, Colorado.

That secondhand smoke is dangerous to employees and patrons should not be news to the commission. In 2009, the National Council of Legislators from Gambling States, of which Missouri is a member, adopted a resolution in support of smoke-free gaming venues. This resolution encouraged state gaming commissions to adopt smoke-free policies as a prerequisite for issuing or renewing licenses.

The commission chose not to discuss the matter… An open records request revealed an email from the attorney stating the commission chair’s position was that their primary mission is to regulate gambling activity facilities in the state and, therefore, is not interested in pursuing a smoking policy for casinos.

Whether a primary mission or not, the law is clear in stating a casino licensee “shall be”, not “may be” subject to punitive measures for “any act or failure to act … that is injurious to the public health.” The law stipulation of “shall be” means this is not a discretionary option for the commission, but a mandated requirement to act in the interest of public health.

Commission data indicates over 7,700 employees in Missouri casinos.

These employees deserve a safe workplace environment free of air pollutants known to cause heart disease and cancer, especially when this exposure is so easily prevented. Sadly, these employees would likely be subjected to retaliation if they spoke up (e.g. have hours cut, be re-assigned to less desirable work shifts, be passed over for raises or promotions, be laid off, etc.).

Thus, they have no voice regarding a totally preventable risk to their health, leaving them the hard choice between a paycheck or their health.

The commission not only has the statutory authority, but also the statutory mandate to protect the public health. Their dereliction of duty endangers the health of employees and patrons by needlessly exposing them to secondhand smoke, a known cause for heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and strokes.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 05/24 – 06/06

UMKC Student Charged in March Shooting Death of Man (MO) 

A grand jury has indicted a University of Missouri City student on second-degree murder and armed criminal action counts in the March shooting death of another man over what police called a gambling feud. Zyan Teague, 21, is charged in the March 20 death of 31-year-old Byren Dennie, of Kansas City, the Kansas City Star reported. Officers found Dennie lying in the grass in an empty lot in the Ivanhoe Southwest neighborhood with gunshot wounds. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. Witnesses told police that Teague was among a group of people invited to Dennie’s home after leaving a Kansas City night club, investigators said. The group had been gambling when an argument began that led to a fight outside the home, police said.

Four New York casinos owe $17.7M to the state’s Gaming Commission

The New York State Comptroller’s Office said four casinos still owe the Gaming Commission $13 million in past oversight fees, more than a year after its initial report. The Comptroller’s Office released a report in January 2020 indicating the Gaming Commission had failed to bill and/or collect the fees from four commercial casinos: Rivers Casino & Resort, Lago Resort & Casino, Resorts World, and Tioga Downs Casino. The fees were incurred between April 2017 and March 2019, /News10 /reports. The casinos were billed $9.3 million for the oversight fees in November 2019 and given until December 2019 to make payment. As of May, the Gaming Commission has yet to see any of the billed fees, according to the Comptroller’s report.

2 killed in shooting at casino in San Luis R.C. (Mexico)

Police said two people are dead after armed suspects killed them outside a casino in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora. According to Tribuna de San Luis, in a video circulating on Facebook, people are seen hiding under tables screaming after the suspects begin shooting at a casino located in Plaza La Herradura. Sources say the shooting happened around 3 p.m. on Monday. In the video, the man says, “They’re shooting,” as you can can hear children and adults screaming in the background. Police say the suspects fled the scene. Mexican officials continue to investigate.

Online gambling: ‘I stole £70,000 to feed my addiction’

“I was about 18 or 19 when I got hooked,” says Danielle. “It started off with a £20 bet online where I won £1,000 and then it got bad really quickly.” Before she knew it, Danielle was using her student loan, overdraft and even phone bill to gamble online. “I was in a bad place and it filled an emptiness in my life. People assume everyone does it to win money or for the excitement, but it stopped me feeling lonely and anxious.” Statistics published by the gambling charity GamCare show that of the 38,404 calls received to its helpline between 2019-2020, six out of ten were from people aged 35 or under. This age group also makes up more than half of those getting treatment, according to The National Gambling Treatment service.

Danielle’s 24 now and says the turning point came last year. “I’d started stealing money from work and the total was almost £70,000 by the time they confronted me about it. “It actually felt like a massive weight off my shoulders to admit it and accept that I needed help.” Danielle lost her job and her case went to court earlier this year. She admitted theft and false accounting and was given a suspended jail sentence and 175 hours of community service. She says she’s been lucky to receive counselling and support from her family since, but thinks more targeted help should be available for young people struggling with a gambling addiction. “There needs to be more education in schools about gambling and money management,” says Danielle. “It’s such a huge problem for people growing up.

Rochester accountant, church treasurer charged with theft of more than $400,000 from church

A Rochester accountant and church treasurer is charged with 12 felonies after she reportedly admitted to church leadership that she had stolen money to fund her gambling addiction. The admission from 62-year-old Patricia Ann Radich came as the church was preparing to do a financial review in May 2020, according to court records. A criminal complaint charging Radich with eight counts of theft by swindle and four counts of theft was filed in Olmsted County District Court on April 12, 2021.

Rochester police were called by Trinity Lutheran Church on May 19, 2020, regarding the theft after Radich admitted to embezzling from the church and provided a spreadsheet of the money she took totaling $183,189.03, according to the criminal complaint. The spreadsheet showed Radich allegedly stole the money between 2016 and 2019 and was done as a result of her gambling addiction. A later audit of the church’s accounting records found checks totaling $422,925.90 that were made out to Radich going back to 2013. The checks appeared to start in 2013 and increased over the years, ending in 2019. A review of Radich’s bank statements revealed that a large amount of the funds that were withdrawn were done so at casinos.

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


Florida Legislature Approves Seminole Gambling Compact, Legalizing Mobile Sports Betting, and Many in Florida aren’t Happy

Casino Watch Focus has reported closely followed the recent advancement of the Seminole Gambling Compact and its inclusion of mobile sports betting.  The issue at stake is the legislator attempting to expand gamblining in violation of the Florida constitution, which requires a vote of the people to approve new gambling.  With the writing on the wall, many have made their positions known and now its all but official, as the Compact has passed the legislature and simply needs Gov. DeSantis’ signature, which will be forthcoming.  Not all believe it will pass, and many are speaking out.  The Orlando Sentinel’s Editorial Board outlined the opposition position:

The Florida Legislature just passed a gambling law they /know/ has a good chance of being struck down in court, or at least the sports betting part of the law that got the most attention.

You don’t have to believe us. Take it from state Rep. Randy Fine, who led the House Select Committee on Gaming and said this about sports betting after the bill passed: “Me personally, I don’t think it’s going to survive.”

The reason Fine made such an extraordinary concession on the House floor is because of the high likelihood that, under Florida’s constitution, sports betting needs to be approved by Florida’s voters, not elected legislators.

He didn’t say it, but there’s also a decent chance the bill’s legalization of craps and roulette games at Florida’s existing casinos also will be challenged in court and found unconstitutional. Same for the part that lays the groundwork for transferring gambling licenses from race tracks to other locations.

The problem in this case is that both sides seemed to ignore the clear language of the Florida Constitution, with some clearly just moving the bill along assuming that the courts would take care of the issue.  The lack of serious debate around the constitutionality of the issue has also brought the ire of those who believe the will of the constitution and the people shouldn’t be disregarded in such a cavalier manner.  The Editorial Board continues:

In 2018, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment — by a remarkable 71.5% margin — that gave voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the State of Florida.” That means putting the question of additional gambling in front of the voters and letting /them/ say yes or no.

The language of that amendment clearly states the referendum requirement applies to what’s known as Class III gambling, and sports betting is defined under federal law as Class III gambling. So are craps and roulette. So, these things need voter approval to become part of Florida’s gambling landscape.

That single, central issue should have been a hotly debated point of this week’s three-day special session to approve a new gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe. In an astonishing display of bipartisan disregard for the will of Florida’s voters, the House passed gambling expansion Wednesday by an overwhelming vote of 97-17 with loads of Democrats jumping on the Republican-led bandwagon. Tuesday’s Senate vote was even more lopsided: 38-1. The lone no vote came from Pinellas County Republican Jeff Brandes.

Is it any wonder the public is so cynical about politics? Were voters really not clear in 2018 about what they wanted? What the governor and Legislature have done is cooked up a deal they know is constitutionally suspect, and now the courts will have to clean up the mess they’ve made.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 05/17 – 05/23

Oneida Casino shooting: Suspect, 2 others dead 

A gunman killed two people at a Wisconsin casino restaurant and seriously wounded a third before he was killed by police late Saturday, in what authorities said appeared to be a targeted attack. Brown County Sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Pawlak said investigators believe the gunman was seeking a specific person he was angry at. “He was targeting a specific victim who was not there, but he decided to still shoot some of the victim’s friends or co-workers, it appears,” Pawlak said. Pawlak wasn’t sure if the shooter was a former employee of the restaurant, but said “it appears there’s some relationship that had to do with employment.” “Whether or not they all worked there, we’re still working on,” he said. The wounded person was being treated at a Milwaukee hospital, Pawlak said. The attack happened around 7:30 p.m. at the Oneida Casino, operated by the Oneida Nation on the western side of Green Bay, with the casino tweeting that an active shooter was on the scene. Neither the gunman nor the shooting victims were immediately identified. Brown County Sheriff’s Office said they are witholding names of the victims and the suspect until all next of kin can be notified. The office is planning a Monday morning press conference. Jawad Yatim, a witness, said he saw at least two people shot.

High Profile Gambler Receives Prison Sentence over $9.6M Fraud

Rob Gorodetsky, once a high-profile gambler who drove expensive cars and was betting thousands on sports is now facing more than two years in prison. During a Thursday hearing in the *Dirksen Federal Courthouse*, Judge *Elaine Bucklo* sentenced the man to 28 months in prison over wire fraud. Charges against the 28-year-old Gorodetsky were filed last year in January. Prosecutors *accused him of scamming one investor with $9.6 million* between 2014 and 2018. Once the charges were filed, it was not long before Gorodetsky pleaded guilty. With that in mind, the investor’s name was not publicly revealed but the court’s filing described him as an eye doctor from New Jersey, who happened to be the father of one of Gorodetsky’s girlfriends. Before hearing his sentence, *Gorodetsky apologized for his actions*. He said that he cannot make this right regardless of what he says or does. Although Judge Bucklo acknowledged that Gorodetsky is really young, she stressed that *he was involved in a “massive, massive fraud”*.

Norwich man admits embezzling more than $680,000 from Farmington nonprofit; used money for cruises, casino gambling

A Norwich man admitted to embezzling over $680,000, over the course of seven years, from a Farmington-based nonprofit he was the president and chief executive officer of, federal prosecutors said.  From 2013 to 2020, Michael Meakem, 59, embezzled at least $683,202 from the Center for Financial Training, they said. He took the money from the nonprofit’s credit card and bank accounts then “used the funds on personal expenses, including alimony payments, meals, cruises, other vacations, and gambling at Connecticut’s casinos,” investigators said. Meakem was the president and chief executive officer for the organization that provided resources and education to people in the financial services industry. He pled guilty to wire fraud in federal court in New Haven Friday and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

LAPD veteran, 2 others accused of running high-dollar Super Bowl betting operation

A Los Angeles police officer and two other men who allegedly orchestrated an illegal gambling operation in which participants placed high-dollar bets on the outcome of the Super Bowl pleaded not guilty Thursday to bookmaking charges. Robert Felix — a 13-year Los Angeles Police Department veteran who was last assigned to the LAPD Transit Services Division — was assigned to his home with no police powers while the investigation continues, the LAPD announced earlier this month. Felix, 50, is charged along with co-defendants Francisco Martin Del Campo, 52, and Gabriel Martin Del Campo, 50. The charges stem from an extensive investigation by the LAPD’s Special Operations Division in partnership with the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control and the California Alcoholic Beverage Control, according to the LAPD.

Knightswood crime: Two suspects accused of stealing £110k from OAP and daughter

The charge states that they were given it on the pretence that they were to purchase essential groceries and power cards for them. It is alleged the pair used Margaret’s PIN to withdraw money from accounts. It is stated Gaughan and McDowall used the cards and money to purchase and make payments for their own benefit. Alcohol, gaming purchases, holidays, mobile phones, gambling and other unknown items were allegedly bought. The charge states that these items were not permitted by Margaret and were not for the purposes of providing them groceries or power cards. A total of £110,007.86 was allegedly embezzled by Gaughan and McDowall. The pair pleaded not guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to a single embezzlement charge.

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


Sports Betting in Florida via Seminole Compact to be Challenged in Court upon Passage, but can a Challenge Survive the Politics of the Deal?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the efforts to pass a new Seminole gambling compact in Florida and on the various attempts to legalize sports betting.  Now, the new Seminole compact has become the avenue for sports betting and if ratified by the Florida legislature in a special session, would become legal in the state.  Should that happen, legal challenges are essentially guaranteed.  The issue at hand is that sports betting would not simply be offered on Seminole property, which could be argued isn’t Florida proper and thus not under the recently passed Amendment 3 which requires all new gambling to be approved by a vote of the people, but instead all over the state via mobile gambling.  At that point it’s fairly clear that the gambling is happening in Florida and thus subject to a vote of the people prior to becoming low.  As previously explained, the State believes that because the servers for the mobile gambling are on tribal lands, its not in Florida.  However, as previously reported, a federal lawsuit regarding a similar issue in California concluded that gambling must be legal both where it originates and where the person gambling is located.  No Casinos, who released an ad campaign reminding everyone of the law, outlines why they plan to bring a legal challenge and why its argument is backed by various laws.  An online source explains:

No Casinos argues the arrangement runs counter to a couple of federal laws.

The Federal Wire Act holds, Sowinski said, “that a telephonic or electronic or online transaction of any sort occurs in two places: the place where the person originating the transaction is and the place where the person receiving the transaction is. It has to be legal in both of those places in order to be a legal transaction. That includes gambling, as well.”

Meanwhile, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act holds that tribes can’t offer games not otherwise legal within a state. The compact would legalize sports betting on the Seminole land, Sowinski acknowledged, but he insisted allowing play statewide implicates Amendment 3 and would require a statewide referendum.

“The Legislature doesn’t have the authority to authorize that today within the state, and therefore, according to federal law, they can’t negotiate to put that on the tribal land,” Sowinski said.

The concern, of course, is that the language that allows for negotiations of a gambling compact in the first place, supersedes the provisions in those particular laws.  If that part of the argument does produce a court ruling that pushes that provision to the people for a vote, it’s believed that the case would be appealed, and then the local and national politics of the deal come into play.  If that’s the case, the federal precedent established in the federal case in CA requiring that the gambling in question must take place where both parties have the legal ability to do so, might not be much help in the end.  The source concludes:

Even if a trial judge buys the No Casino argument, the state could appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which is packed with Donald Trump appointees (including two DeSantis had earlier placed on the Florida Supreme Court but whom Trump promoted), will certainly overrule, Jarvis predicted.

“And the U.S. Supreme Court, of course, is a Trump-appointed court. Trump has made it clear that he wants this deal. DeSantis has made it clear that he wants this deal.”

Federal agencies too, including the Department of the Interior (DOI), headed by Native American Deb Haaland, and its Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), also are going to accept the deal, he predicts.

The California case set federal precedent and the newly passed Florida Amendment 3 to the constitution shows clear intent by the voters to want to approve new gambling in the state, which would clearly include mobile sports betting.  Most believe the compact will get ratified, so time will tell how the legal challenges will shake out.  

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


A Brief Look at Crime 05/10 – 05/16

Ocean County Man Admits Operating an Illegal Lottery and Filing False Tax Return

An Ocean County, New Jersey man today admitted operating an illegal lottery and failing to pay more than $65,000 in federal taxes on his earnings from the scheme, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced. Between 2014 and 2019, O’Neill managed an illegal lottery in Hudson County that was based on the New Jersey Lottery Commission’s Pick Six. Participants in the illegal lottery paid a $20 entry fee and selected six numbers between 1 and 49. The first participant in the illegal lottery to have all six of their numbers selected in the official Pick Six drawing won a cash prize.   For each drawing of the illegal lottery, O’Neill collected entry fees and participants’ numbers and entered the numbers into ledgers, which included identifying information for each participant and the numbers each participant had selected. O’Neill monitored the numbers selected in the official Pick Six and, when there was a winner of the illegal lottery, caused the winning participant to be paid in cash.

According to the ledgers, each drawing of the illegal lottery included up to 8,000 participants and the cash prize for each drawing often exceeded $100,000. In exchange for operating and managing the illegal lottery, O’Neill kept for himself 10 percent of the winnings from each drawing. O’Neill admitted that he failed to account for approximately $250,000 in cash winnings from the illegal lottery on tax returns he filed with the IRS between 2014 and 2018, causing him to underpay his federal incomes taxes by $65,674.

‘I stole €1.75 million to fuel my gambling addiction’

A former gambler has revealed that he stole vast sums of money in order to fuel his gambling obsession. Tony O’Reilly started gambling with just a £1 bet, but he was soon hooked. His habit quickly spiralled out of control and he was stealing from his workplace to gamble. He said that gambling meant that “everything from the outside looked really, really good, but simmering underneath was this addiction that was growing.”

O’Reilly, who lives in Ireland, shared how he gambled away €6,000 that ought to have been saved for his wedding. When he couldn’t recover the money, his fiancée’s father offered to pay instead. But he didn’t change his behaviour and continued betting while on honeymoon. “Before I knew it, I had lost €1,000. Then the chase element came in and there was €2,000 gone.” Soon, all the money the couple had been gifted was gone.

Tony continued to hide his gambling debts from his wife, and when they found they were expecting a baby, he began to steal. As a postal branch manager, he had access to significant amounts of money, and within a couple of weeks, he had stolen almost €300,000. He continued to steal, increasing the total taken from his employers to €900,000, and continuing to lose it. In a desperate attempt to “fix the situation”, he placed 31 bets on one day in an attempt to double the €462,000 that remained. Instead he lost the entire sum. By the end, Tony had stolen €1.75 million, and when it became clear he would be caught, he ran away. Even then he continued gambling from his hotel room. When the police caught him, he said he found it was actually a relief because he no longer had to hide his addiction.

Shooting Near New Hampshire DraftKings Sportsbook Leads to Life-Threatening Wounds

A man was hospitalized after being shot outside of Manchester, N.H.’s DraftKings Sportsbook brick-and-mortar location. He suffered “life-threatening injuries” in the Monday night incident, police reveal. At about 9:15 pm, multiple shots were fired during the altercation. The wounded man was transported to Elliot Hospital for treatment. It is an acute care hospital in Manchester. Details on his condition were not immediately available from the hospital on Wednesday. His name was not released by police. During a search of the crime scene, police said they located a firearm and several spent casings.

In February, a gun-associated threat took place at the sports betting location, according to the /New Hampshire Union Leader/ newspaper. It is unclear if the two incidents are connected. In the Feb. 23 incident, Samuel Paulino, 22, allegedly aimed a firearm at a patron. He also allegedly threatened to shoot the man, identified as Keagan Hall, 21, if he didn’t get into a car, the newspaper reported based on police statements. Faced with the danger, Hall made his way back inside the sportsbook. A fight ensued involving four suspects. Eventually, the four people left and then drove away in two cars.*

Eighth arrest made in probe into Kentucky drug trafficking, gambling ring

Authorities have announced an eighth arrest in to a multiyear investigation into a gambling and drug ring. Kirby Wilcox, 54, is alleged to have established or maintained a criminal syndicate in regard to a role he played with George Fisher. Wilcox also faces three counts of drug trafficking charges. The years long investigation has lead to the arrest of six others facing various charges for illegal gambling, organized crime and drug trafficking. The investigation began on July 12, 2019, when Fisher, 48, was arrested and charged with gambling in the first degree, trafficking in a first-degree controlled substance and engaging in organized crime.

Video gambling operator pays $75,000 in settlement as Illinois Gaming Board drops attempt to revoke license

A video gambling operator has agreed to pay $75,000 to the Illinois Gaming Board as part of a settlement approved Wednesday that will end a bid to revoke his license over allegations he offered a $5 million “illegal inducement” to the owner of a chain of gambling parlors. Rick Heidner’s Gold Rush Gaming agreed in the unanimously approved settlement to pay $45,000 to reimburse the board for “administrative and investigative costs,” along with a $30,000 fine for “unprofessional conduct.” The disciplinary case centered on text messages Heidner, Gold Rush’s founder and secretary, sent to Gary Leff, whose company owned the Stella’s and Shelby’s chain of gambling cafes. That chain was being purchased by Dan Fischer, who told Heidner he was replacing Gold Rush’s gambling machines with devices from his preferred supplier. Heidner faced the loss of machines at 44 locations that accounted for nearly a quarter of his company’s gambling revenue, according to both Heidner and Gaming Board records.

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


‘No Casino’ Group’s New Ad Campaign Reminds Politicians and the Florida Public who gets the Final vote in Sports Betting – Pointing out one of the biggest issues with the new Seminole Compact

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to solidify a new Seminole Compact.  The agreement addressed many exclusivity deals that help regulate and prevent gambling expansion in Florida.  However, many have seen this as an opportunity to include sports betting, which while giving exclusive rights to the Seminole Casinos, would also be a new form of gambling and one that the Florida constitution expressly requires a vote of the people to become law.  The state is trying to circumvent the constitution, but No Casino group has released an ad campaign to remind them of the law.  Florida Politics reports:

No Casinos is launching a new statewide ad campaign to warn Floridians about the new Seminole Compact, which opens sports betting the group says illegally expands gambling in violation of the Florida Constitution.

The Orlando-based anti-gambling group argues the deal between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis late last month and could be finalized during a Special Legislative Session starting May 17, lets “politicians and gambling lobbyists, instead of voters, authorize a massive expansion of gambling” in the Sunshine State. “Not politicians. Not lobbyists. You,” the ad leads off. “That’s the law. But gambling lobbyists want politicians to break it.”

No Casinos specifically cite the Amendment 3 constitutional mandate passed in 2018 by 72% of Florida voters. The amendment gives Floridians “the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the State of Florida.”

The sports betting provision isn’t limited to the casinos either, but instead allows for mobile gambling all over the state.  This is the very type of gambling expansion that No Casinos contends the Florida constitution is designed to prevent without the express approval of voters.  Florida Politics explains:

Despite that explicit provision, the group says an expansion of sports betting could turn every cellphone into a “slot machine.”

“Their plan: Casinos. Sports betting. Even slot machines on cell phones,” the ad continues. “It’ll be like ‘internet cafes’ all over again.” The only thing missing? Your approval,” the ad concludes with a call to action. “Voter approval of gambling is the law. Tell your legislator: Don’t break it.”

“Voters were crystal clear that they wanted the final say on gambling expansion in Florida, and we’re letting them know that this proposed compact is a blatant violation of the constitution and the will of the people,” No Casinos President John Sowinski said in a statement. The ad — titled “People, Not Politicians” — will run both online and on cable TV in key markets statewide.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 05/03 – 05/09

Arizona Tribal Casino Parking Garage Site of Deadly Shooting

An unnamed man was killed Thursday in the Gila River Hotels & Casinos – Wild Horse Pass parking garage. The fatal shooting is the latest violent incident in numerous gaming property garages or parking lots nationwide. Gila River police officers were reportedly on the second floor of the garage when they heard gunshots, according to azfamily.com, an Arizona news site. That was at about 2 am. Within seconds, the cops ran to the third level. They found a man on the floor. He had suffered several gunshot wounds, according to KPNX, a local TV station. Before emergency workers could transport the victim to a hospital, he died while in the garage, police said. The suspected shooter was also allegedly trying to wound a woman who was near the injured man. Officers exchanged gunfire with the alleged assailant.  No one was wounded during the exchange of bullets. The woman was able to run from the area. She was not injured. The suspect also tried to run from the crime site. But police were able to capture him after a short chase, KPNX said.

Dozens of Illegal Gaming Parlors Raided in San Diego

Law enforcement officers in California raided dozens of illegal gambling dens in San Diego Wednesday, capping a years-long investigation that has resulted in nearly 50 people facing federal gambling, gun and drug charges, authorities said. More than 450 officers, led by an FBI task force, fanned out in East San Diego in morning raids on two dozen locations that ended with 35 arrests, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. A total of 47 people are charged in a series of federal indictments unsealed Wednesday. Some were accused of selling methamphetamine to gamblers. During a two-year investigation, authorities seized more than 12 pounds of meth, 640 gambling machines, 44 guns and more than $260,000 in cash, authorities said.

Authorities raided what they say were illegal gambling parlors inside apartments, outbuildings, small businesses and strip malls that took in thousands of dollars a day. Authorities said they have been associated with violence and drug sales, some of it linked to gangs. “According to court records, it is common for employees to hand out small amounts of methamphetamine and ‘comp’ customers to keep them playing and coming back for more,” the U.S. attorney’s office statement Said. “It’s rare to have a patron who does not use or sell methamphetamine inside these locations,” the statement said.

South Florida doctor ordered to stay away from her children following arrest at Hard Rock Hote

There are disturbing new details about a local doctor who was arrested at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. According to Seminole police, the woman left her children alone in her car while she went inside to gamble. Dr. Marieny Elena Guimera-Revelo is listed as an internal medicine doctor at Cano Health in Pembroke Pines. It’s a senior care center located about 15 minutes away from the casino. Guimera-Revelo faced a judge Tuesday and was told she can’t have any contact with her children. Police said those children, ages three and 11, were locked inside a car outside the casino. The children had been in the car for about an hour before police found them. They said she barely paid attention to what was going on and was spotted on surveillance cameras playing poker at a table. How her alleged judgment affects her employment remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the legal battle for her kids is just getting started.

Fayetteville woman accused of defrauding governments, businesses of more than $3 million

A Fayetteville woman was arrested by federal marshals last week and charged in a scheme that defrauded the Department of Defense, state of North Carolina and private businesses, among others, of more than $3 million. According to court documents, from 2005 to 2020, Stephanie Dianna Elliott, used more than 16 aliases, a dozen fraudulent business entities and 26 bank and credit union accounts to obtain more than 1,000 federal defense contracts valued at more than $2.2 million. According to the allegations in the indictment, Elliott defrauded the Department of Defense by obtaining contract payments after falsely certifying that she had shipped supplies to the U.S. military, when, in fact, the goods were not shipped. It is alleged that Elliott and/or businesses under her control were debarred from federal contracting on four occasions. Elliott allegedly circumvented the terms of her debarments by using aliases and various business names to continue bidding on federal contracts. The indictment also alleges that Elliott executed fraud schemes by winning contracts to deliver food products and other goods then defrauding third-party vendors by inducing them to deliver the goods without paying them what was due.

After the sandbag company sent the bags to Louisiana, Elliott allegedly only paid $400,000 on $1.48 million owed to the sandbag company. With the remaining $500,000, she allegedly purchased cars for family members, paid off restitution in a Durham County deferred-prosecution embezzlement and fraud case, and took at least six trips to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Las Vegas, Nevada, spending thousands on flights, hotels, gambling and restaurants.

Man’s arrest after shooting at Win-River Casino marks second county shooting in two days

Law enforcement officials have arrested one person in connection to a report of a possible gunshot victim near Win-River Casino on Monday afternoon. Officials were dispatched to the casino around 3:15 p.m. after a caller reported a gunshot near the RV parking area. A man was seen on the ground after the gunshot, according to scanner communications. Casino security told police a suspect left on foot. Sheriff’s officials identified the suspect as Michael Cain, 71, of Redding and went to his home off Clear Creek Road, gaining permission to enter and attempting to clear the house around 3:40 p.m., according to scanner communications. However, deputies found neither Cain nor the car he was believed to be driving at the home, according to Tim Mapes, a sheriff’s office spokesman. A short time later, sheriff’s deputies were told Cain was at a shopping center off Westside Road in Redding, Mapes said. He said deputies arrested Cain outside the Round Table Pizza at the shopping center and took him in for questioning. Mapes said he did not know whether Cain and the shooting victim knew each other and what led to the shooting.He said the shooting victim was taken to a Redding hospital and is expected to recover from his wounds. Monday’s shooting was the second Shasta County shooting in two days.

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


Missouri Legislature Shuts Down Massive Gambling Expansion Bills, but Illegal Gambling Machines remain Status Quo

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many efforts to expand gambling in Missouri and the efforts to shut down and remove all the illegal slot machines that have popped up in the state.  Various bills were introduced in both the Missouri House and Senate that address items from legalizing sports gambling to actually legalizing these slot machines outside of regulated casinos.  One bill, however, was trying to make them expressly illegal, although any slot machine outside of the casino is already illegal, and it’s really more of allowing the proper regulating bodies the ability to enforce.  For those hoping to keep gambling from expanding in Missouri, the state legislature coming to a close with none of those bills passing is positive news.  However, there are those upset that the opportunity to more definitely shut those machines down this year has also come to an end.  The key takeaway is that the current laws clearly make the machines illegal, and individual Missouri jurisdictions are free to continue to prosecute at will.  Additionally, attempts to simply “regulate” those machines, and thus allow them to become legal, have also been hindered.  An online source reports all the expanded gambling that was prevented:

The Missouri Senate has defeated a three-pronged effort to expand gambling in Missouri while suppressing unregulated devices that offer cash prizes to players.

The bill debated Tuesday would have:

• Authorized up to 10,000 video game terminals in bars and truck stops as well as fraternal and veterans’ organizations. No location could have more than five machines.

• Allowed the Missouri Gaming Commission to license the state’s 13 casinos to offer sports wagering.

• Revised laws on illegal gambling to remove any uncertainty about the legality of what are called “gray market” machines.

The vote that defeated the bill may have been the last chance this legislative session to address the proliferation of devices that some prosecutors have attacked as illegal and that others have refused to file charges over.

Illegal slot machines will continue to persist in Missouri until more action is taken.  Even though the law does allow for prosecutions, most locations simply haven’t enforced the law.  Most retailers think the machines are legal and it will likely take future legislation to help end the problem for good.  The source concludes:

Of the 190 probable cause statements – requests for charges based on a particular set of facts – sent to prosecutors by Missouri State Highway Patrol investigators in 2019 and 2020, only 26 cases alleging illegal ngambling, including eight felony charges, were filed.

“Our experts, and the Highway Patrol, would say that it functions as a slot machine,” [Prosecuting Attorney Shiante McMahon]  said. “That meets the burden under the statute that it is an unlawful gambling machine.”

The legislation to remove any ambiguities in state law is a top priority of Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan. The machines arrive with stickers on them declaring they do not violate state gambling laws, and convenience store owners are reaping large profits.

Hoskins’ bill would have given retailers 10 days to remove the machines once they are notified that they are operating illegal gambling devices. Schatz said he thinks that would be enough to persuade most retailers to remove the machines. “I think a lot of these store owners have been sold a bill of goods,” Schatz said.

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