Florida Pari-Mutuel Regulations Hotly Debated

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing use of pari-mutuel facilities as a means for ever-expanding gambling venues. For the past two years, Florida legislators and gambling industry officials, have been working to craft regulations. One group believes the rules go too far, when the other sees the regulations as not going far enough. There are a few types of races that revolve around gambling and Genting Group has been at the center of the controversy. New rules are being brought fourth and there will be real gambling implications. Ocala online reports:

Four years ago, state gambling regulators granted Gretna Racing a pari-mutuel permit for quarter-horse barrel racing — the first, and possibly only, in the nation — but a court later ruled that the permit was issued in error. State regulators later entered an agreement with the facility authorizing “flag drop” races, in which two horses race against each other in a straight line.

Gretna Racing is also in the midst of a legal battle over slot machines. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal recently ruled that gambling regulators erre in denying the facility a slots license. The state is asking that the full court rehear the case in what is called an “en banc” hearing.

Florida horse owners and breeders not affiliated with the association Blanton represents strongly oppose barrel racing and “flag drop” races as pari-mutuel activities, in part because nearly all other races require more horses to compete.

“We want to make sure that expanded gambling doesn’t happen through loopholes. Otherwise, we just want integrity in the business. We don’t need made-up sports. What do we get to next? Hermit crab sprints? We can bet odd-even that the sun will be covered by clouds one day and that’s pari-mutuel? It’s just a real slippery slope. But we’re encouraged by some of the comments we heard from the department today,” Powell said.

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Brief Look at Crime 07/20 – 07/26

Father, 36, Shot Dead During Gambling Game

Police are investigating the country’s latest homicide today after an 36-year-old father of one was fatally shot on Monday night during a gambling game in the Hay Street area. According to Chief Superintendent Paul Rolle, police responded to reports of gun shots near the Hay Street and Comfort Street intersection around 11pm. “When officers arrived on the scene they encountered a male with a gunshot wound to the head,” he said. “EMS responded to the scene, where they pronounced the male dead.” It is the country’s 83rd murder of 2015.

Casinos charged 42 percent more people with crimes in last fiscal year

More people trespassed and cheated in Ohio’s four casinos in the past year, according to annual criminal statistics released this week by the Ohio Casino Control Commission.The number of total charges increased 42 percent from 319 in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014 to 453 in the recently completed fiscal year. Cheating is more prevalent at Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, according to the statistics. Of the 49 charges filed statewide, 36 were in Cleveland. Last year, the Cleveland casino filed 20 of the total 46 cheating charges. By comparison, Cleveland’s casino filed only 14 trespassing charges, compared to 49 filed at Hollywood Casino Toledo at Hollywood Casino Columbus. Most of the trespassing involved people with gambling problems who had enrolled themselves in a voluntary exclusion program, the casino control commission said.

Ex-bookkeeper pleads guilty to defrauding Plainville medical supply company of $2.7 million

A former longtime employee and bookkeeper pleaded guilty today in Dedham Superior Court to embezzling $2.7 million over a period of seven years from a local medical supply company. Laurieanne Richard, 40, of 172 Thurston St. in Wrentham, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of larceny and one count of making a false entry into a corporate book, according to a spokeswoman for state Attorney General Maura Healey. She faces sentencing before Judge Robert Cosgrove on Aug. 26. When Richard was arrested last year, prosecutors said she used the money she stole from Dale Medical Products at 7 Cross St. in Plainville to pay for shopping sprees, gambling binges and restaurant tabs. Prosecutors said she gambled at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., and once spent “tens of thousands of dollars” in one 17-day period.

St. Louis man gets 3 years for $200,000 fraud 

A St. Louis man, Paul Parker, was sentenced to three years in federal prison Friday for defrauding investors of more than $200,000 and for failing to file tax returns, prosecutors said. Parker, 56, sold life insurance annuities, although he no longer had a license to do so, court documents show. He also didn’t buy the annuities, instead gambling away the money or spending it on personal expenses, prosecutors said. He then used money from new investors to repay earlier clients in a “Ponzi-like manner,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Finneran wrote in a sentencing memo. In all, Parker cost investors $209,168 and failed to pay $72,805 in taxes to the IRS and Missouri Department of Revenue, prosecutors said.

Boca Raton man accused of mail fraud, bilking investors of $3M

A Boca Raton man is accused of committing mail fraud while bilking his investors of about $3 million, federal prosecutors said. In a memo filed with the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida on Wednesday, prosecutors said Timothy R. Clancy took money people gave him to invest to spend on himself. In the process of doing that, he committed mail fraud. Prosecutors said Clancy started ABD Capital Management LLC, an investment company, in 2004 in Boca Raton. He would take money meant for investment and spend it on personal expenses, according to court documents. Prosecutors said he would spend the money in casinos, to pay off personal credit cards and take out cash withdrawals from company accounts. In total, prosecutors estimate he stole more than $3 million from 20 investors. He was caught by federal officials in August 2012.

Woman Charged With Stealing $650,000 From Elderly Aunt In Stamford 

A woman stole more than $650,000 from her elderly aunt to fund vacations in France, gambling and other expenses during a five-year period, Stamford police said. Barbara Pyne, 62, of 78 Wolfpits Road, Bethel, turned herself in to city police early Thursday and was held on $150,000 bond for a court appearance later Thursday. Police were notified by a Department of Social Services employee in April that an 84-year-old client was a victim of embezzlement. Stamford Police investigators Michael Stempien and Sean Coughlin started digging and discovered that from April 2008 through to October 2013 that the victim’s niece, Barbara Pyne, had misappropriated $656,406, police said. Pyne used the funds to pay off her mortgage and credit card bills and to finance vacations to France, police said. She also lost over $100,000 of the victim’s money gambling at various casinos, police said.

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


Daily Fantasy Sports Garners Gambling Label as Yahoo Joins the Market

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the questionable nature of short duration fantasy sports betting. Also known as DFS, or daily fantasy sports, players no longer play over the course of a season, but instead pick players day to day. Given the short term nature, the question is raised about whether these are games of skill, or chance. Companies like Draft Kings and Fan Dual have gained in popularity, offering big gambling payouts but they don’t have the media exposure of a company like Yahoo. Now that Yahoo has decided to get involved in the DFS gambling market, people are taking a better look and realizing it’s a game of skill, thus gambling. An online gambling source reports:

When Yahoo does something, people notice. Daily fantasy sports has been the recipient of its share of news coverage as it has quickly*morphed from niche market* to an industry with billions of dollars involved. But Yahoo has upped the ante, in more ways than one. The giant publicly traded company is by far the *biggest entity* to jump into the DFS market, and what that comes more coverage. And *more* *scrutiny*.

Some of the biggest news organizations in the U.S. covered the DFS launch. Both stories refer to DFS as gambling — a designation the industry tries very hard to avoid. If mainstream media paints the picture in that manner, could it possibly be long before other people who matter — like politicians and regulators — begin to think the same way?

To best understand the debates taking place, its important to understand why any jurisdiction allows such games.  There are two competing points of view, but it really comes down to game of skill or game of chance. Another online gambling site explains:

Online gambling was deemed illegal by the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, but the act also prohibited sports betting, largely because professional leagues said it compromised the integrity of its games.

Fantasy sports, however, were exempt from the act’s oversight due to its description as a contest of skill over chance. *”Fantasy sports is a game of skill,” Kenneth Fuchs, vice presidentof Yahoo said. “We stay very close to the laws and we know that in 45 states this is legal and it’s fairly well established fantasy sports is a game of skill.”*

Not everyone agrees with Fuchs, including MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren who said in April, “Absolutely, utterly wrong. I don’t know how to run a football team, but I do know how to run a casino, and this is gambling.” Traditional season-long fantasy leagues have been declared contests of skill due to the bettors required knowledge regarding who to draft, who to play, and when to trade.

Hopefully this form of gambling will be regulated appropriately. Companies are cognoscente of a potential gray area and are treading accordingly. For example, ESPN, a company owned by Disney, was reported to be investing in Draft Kings. They were quick to correct the story and set the record straight on the final deal which was restricted to advertising. Another online source explains:

Daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings will not be receiving investment from media group Walt Disney Co or its ESPN subsidiary. However, a report on website Recode says that DraftKings has been given exclusive rights to advertise fantasy sports on sports network ESPN’s properties starting in 2016.

Reports earlier this year suggested that Disney and ESPN were planning on investing $250 million (EUR223.7 million) in DraftKings, however it has been suggested that the fantasy operator is now in advanced talks to raise a large round of funding from other strategic investors.

The takeaway is that as popularity grows around daily fantasy sports betting, people are taking notice and figuring out how to react. Its just a matter of time before the gambling label sticks and regulation becomes necessary.

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Brief Look at Crime 07/13 – 07/19

Vaughan café where two slain was scene of illegal gambling operation 

An illegal gaming operation was being run out of the back of the Vaughan café where two people were fatally shot and two others were injured two weeks ago, police say. It’s still unclear whether the gambling operation was linked to the murders of Maria Voci, 47, a Vaughan mother-of-three and Christopher DeSimone, 24, of Vaughan, according to police. The two others who were shot at 8:18 a.m. on June 24 at the café in a strip mall at Islington Ave. and Highway 7 have been released from hospital, police said on Wednesday. One of the injured men was Rocco Di Paola a candidate in last fall’s mayoral election in Toronto. Police earlier said this was a targeted attack. Gaming tables, boxes of playing cards and gaming machines were discovered in the back of the small café, Const. Laura Nicolle of York Regional Police said.

Dice Games Linked to Recent Spate of Shootings, Sources Say 

A spate of shootings have been tied to arguments over high-stakes dice games, DNAinfo New York has learned. At least four shootings — including one murder — have occurred in the past two weeks that stem from guys throwing dice for dough on street corners, sources told “On The Inside.” The latest shooting happened on Independence Day on E. 108th Street near Flatland and Glenwood avenues in Brooklyn when a 28-year-old man who had just left a dice game at 2 a.m. was suddenly confronted by two other players who opened fire, sources said. The wounded dice player was hit in the leg and taken to a nearby hospital. Witnesses told police there had been a fight at the game before the shooting occurred. “There can be a lot of money at these games and people get angry,” a top law enforcement source said, adding that he believed there were six to eight shootings recently involving dice games.

Former Centra Health Credit Union manager sentenced in embezzlement scheme 

A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a former manager of Centra Health Credit Union to six years and six months in prison for embezzling nearly $2 million. Claudia Rawes, 67, of Forest, pleaded guilty in February to stealing the funds from the credit union over a period of years. She told authorities she did it to support her gambling addiction. At a hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Lynchburg, Rawes fought back tears as she described considering suicide after the scheme was uncovered. She initially lied to investigators but later admitted her actions, federal prosecutors said. Rawes said she hit “rock bottom” because of her addiction, which she called a terrible illness, and expressed remorse. “I didn’t mean to hurt anybody,” said Rawes. “I really thought I could win it back.”

Hacker Attacks Gambling Websites, Demands Bitcoin Ransom

A hacker shut down four New Jersey Internet gambling sites for half an hour last week and threatened more cyberattacks over the holiday weekend unless a ransom was paid using the online currency Bitcoin, authorities said Tuesday. David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Gaming Enforcement Division, said Thursday’s attack was a so-called distributed denial of service attack, in which websites were flooded with information and requests for access that rendered them inoperative. “The attack was followed by the threat of a more powerful and sustained attack to be initiated 24 hours later unless a Bitcoin ransom was paid,” Rebuck said. “This follow-up attack had the potential to not only negatively impact the targeted casinos, but also all business in Atlantic City” that share the same Internet service provider.

Kingpin of West Shore-based gambling ring gets federal prison term 

As his wife wept loudly, the kingpin of a wide-ranging West Shore-based gambling ring was sentenced Wednesday to 14 months in federal prison. The sentencing by U.S. Middle District Senior Judge William W. Caldwell marked the fourth time Steven Sheely Sr., 60, of Camp Hill, was convicted of illegal bookmaking and the first time he ended up behind bars. Caldwell slapped Sheely with the prison sentence after Assistant U.S. Attorney William A. Behe asked for an 18-month jail term. Defense attorney Jerry Russo sought a work-release sentence, or even a probation term, citing Sheely’s need to care for his ailing wife and the fact that the criminal case has “devastated” Sheely financially. The government already has seized more than $800,000 and a 2012 Cadillac Escalade from Sheely, leaving his client with only his house and a “small” bank account, Russo said.

3 Indicted in Las Vegas in $1.5B Investment Fraud Case

Authorities in the U.S. are seeking the arrest of the chief executive of a Las Vegas investment company and two of his former Asia-based executives on an indictment alleging they headed a $1.5 billion Ponzi-style fraud scheme, officials announced Wednesday. Edwin Fujinaga of Las Vegas, and Junzo Suzuki and Paul Suzuki, both of Tokyo, were each indicted on eight counts of mail fraud and nine counts of wire fraud in a scheme that prosecutors and the FBI said operated through Las Vegas-based MRI International Inc. Thousands of unsuspecting Japanese investors were victimized, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said.

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


GOP Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio Looks to Restore Online Gambling Regulations

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of the Obama Administration to reinterpret the Wire Act to allow for various forms of online gambling. Critics have pointed out that such sweeping and expansive changes should have been made through the legislature, and not through the Administration. Still yet, many still hold to the belief that such easy access to gambling puts American families at tremendous risk. One such individual that is GOP Presidential Candidate Sen. Mark Rubio of Florida. He is the co-sponsor of the Resotation of America’s Wire Act bill to reestablish online gambling restrictions. The Hill explains:

The proposal would renew federal restrictions on online gambling. It would reinstate the original interpretation of the Wire Act, which was used to prosecute early Internet gambling such as online poker. The Justice Department changed its interpretation in 2011 to say the law should not be used to go after online gambling, except traditional sports betting.

“Now, because of this decision by the Obama Administration, virtually any cell phone or computer in South Carolina could become a video poker machine,” Graham said in a statement. “A major rewrite of a long-standing federal law like this should be made by the people’s elected representatives in Congress and signed into law by the president, not done administratively.”

“Expanded gambling presents many challenges, especially on the Internet where safeguards to protect people from fraud and addiction are harder to enforce,” Rubio said. “In 2011, the Obama-Holder Justice Department completely bypassed Congress and unilaterally decided to re-interpret the law to open the door to a widespread expansion of online gambling. Congress should restore existing prohibitions on Internet gambling before beginning a public debate about next steps.”

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


Brief Look at Crime 07/06 – 07/12

Witness Testifies Ex Blew Up Home That Killed Two to Pay Off Gambling Debt

An Indianapolis woman whose house exploded, killing two people, testified Wednesday during her former boyfriend’s trial that he was determined to burn the home down for insurance money and became angry when the first two attempts failed. Monserrate Shirley, 49, said she became distraught when neighbors telephoned her after the November 2012 explosion and told her she had no home to return to. She said she confronted defendant Mark Leonard, 46, who faces more than 50 counts, including two counts of murder, arson and insurance fraud. “That’s not what you told me,” Shirley said she told Leonard about the alleged plan. “That cannot be real.” “Don’t worry about it,” she said he told her. “Everything’s under control.” Prosecutors have said Leonard was the mastermind of the plot to burn the home to collect insurance money to pay off gambling debts and other expenses. Shirley has pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges and faces a possible sentence to 20 to 50 years in prison.

Jail for gambling addict who stole almost £500,000 from Dews motor group

A 46-year-old accountant whose gambling addiction spiralled out of control has been jailed for three years after he stole nearly £500,000 from a Halifax-based motor group. Tadcaster man Andrew Bell abused his position as financial controller with Dews Motor Group Limited to transfer the huge sum into his own bank accounts over a number of years and his criminal actions only came to light while he was away from work on holiday. Barrister Mark Watterson, for Bell, confirmed that the root cause of his client’s offending had been his gambling problem. Mr Watterson said Bell’s addiction had “spiralled out of control” and after it had caused his business to falter it then led to him committing the fraud on his employers.

Two women jailed for leaving puppy in hot car outside casino

Two women were arrested and jailed Tuesday for leaving a puppy in a hot car while they were at the Hard Rock Casino, police said. Faith and Kandice Williams were taken to Rogers County Jail after the dog was found in a car outside the casino hotel in Catoosa. Police said that they responded to a call from a casino maintenance man around 1 p.m. Tuesday stating a dog had been left in a silver Buick for more than two hours. Casino security said they were able to unlock the door without breaking the window, and they took the Dachshund-mix puppy to the front of the casino, where they gave it water and cooled it down.

Former Farmington fire chief sentenced for stealing $216,000 from town

A former Farmington Fire Chief pleaded guilty in Strafford County Superior Court Wednesday to stealing money from the town he served. He was sentenced to 3 to 6 years in state prison and ordered to pay back more than $216,000 in restitution. Richard Fowler, 48, of Skowhegan, Maine, admitted to misdirecting funds while employed as Farmington’s Fire Chief for about five and half years until he left in 2014 to become fire chief in Skowhegan, Maine. He was fired from that position about three months later. The money he stole came from payments made by Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester to the fire department to compensate the town for paramedic services. Instead of depositing money into the department’s account, Fowler illegally diverted money to the non-profit Farmington Firefighter Relief Fund account, which he oversaw. He used some money to buy equipment for the department the town did not fund. Most of the money went to personal uses, like aiding his gambling and drug addictions.

Pizza Delivery Guy Busts Huge Cockfighting Ring 

An unnamed pizza delivery guy is responsible for putting an end to a huge cockfighting ring in Orlando, Florida. According to the report from Fox News 30, the pizza guy made a delivery to the compound in the middle of a cockfight. He alerted the authorities after he left. Sheriff Grady Judd questioned the intelligence of the perpetrators. “We really appreciate this pizza delivery driver calling us. Frankly, I can’t understand why someone would ask for a pizza delivery during an illegal cockfight, but (we) are happy to also make house calls. It’s pretty funny when you think about it.” The Humane Society lists cockfighting as a particular brutal blood sport, and they warn of other crimes that go hand-in-hand with it. “In a cockfight, two roosters fight each other to the death while people place bets. Cockfighters let the birds suffer untreated injuries or throw the birds away like trash afterwards. Besides being cruel, cockfighting often goes hand in hand with gambling, drug dealing, illegal gun sales and murder.”

Firekeepers Casino: Approx. 85,000 People’s Credit Card Information Hacked

Absent from the casino’s release about the incident was information about who’s responsible for the data security breach. An investigation of a data-security incident at FireKeepers Casino Hotel revealed that about 85,000 credit and debit cards may have been affected between September and April, the casino announced Friday. The incident was discovered on April 16. FireKeepers immediately engaged independent IT forensic experts to assist with its investigation, and has been cooperating with law enforcement. The information leaked may include card number, cardholder name, verification code, and/or the card’s expiration date.

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


U.S Sen. Adapts Amendment to Study Problem Gambling at US Military Facilities

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing dangers of gambling addition experienced by slot machines and other prominent forms of gambling. Problem gambling is most often linked to slot machines as their very nature and design seeks to addict and pull in gamblers. Its often taken for granted that places that offer legalized gambling are also providing safety measures to protect the vulnerable. Unfortunately, one area where that is simply not the case is on US military bases. The Department of Defense operates a significant amount of slot machines which bring in a whopping $100 Million plus in revenues. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is leading efforts to ensure military men and women are adequately protected. An online source explains that she introduced an amendment that was adopted by the Senate that could lead to important findings:

The U.S. Senate on Thursday adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, calling for the Government Accountability Office to study whether additional resources are needed to help members of the armed forces who struggle with gambling addictions.

“If the military is going to operate gambling facilities that bring in tens of millions of dollars in revenue, it also needs to ensure there is adequate prevention, treatment, and financial counseling available for servicemembers struggling with gambling addictions,” said Warren, D-Massachusetts.

“By examining the risk of problem gambling among servicemembers and the resources currently available, this amendment is an important first step in helping members of the armed forces and their families who are affected by problem gambling,” Warren said.

Studies consistently find gambling addiction rates among active-duty servicemembers and veterans are significantly higher than the general population according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. An estimated 36,000 active-duty members of the military meet criteria for a gambling problem, the Washington-based organization reports.

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


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