GUEST ARTICLE: How the Florida House Gambling Bill is the More Sensible Approach

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling bills presented in this years Florida Legislature. Its very clear that both take very different approaches to the issue and a guest article published by Florida Politics by NoCasinos John Sowinski, breaks the issues down and concludes the House has the more sensible approach:

There are two things we can count on in Florida. In any given body of water, eventually the alligators will show up. And in any given meeting of the Florida Legislature, the same applies to gambling lobbyists. Feed either and they only become more insatiable.

With regard to the gambling interests, unfortunately, the Florida Senate is setting up a buffet of glutinous proportions. Proposed legislation calls for the biggest expansion of gambling in Florida’s history.

It literally would recreate our state in Nevada’s image, with casinos popping up in communities from the far reaches of the Panhandle to the end of the Everglades.

There would be two new Las Vegas-style casinos in Broward and Miami-Dade, a region already suffering from a glut of casinos. There would be a massive increase in gambling supply there, without a corresponding increase in gamblers, creating a dynamic in which the casinos could only survive by cannibalizing each other’s customers. Even the gambling industry’s own financial experts predict that 95 percent of the patrons would be locals, not tourists.

This type of gambling over-saturation is what brought the industry crashing down in Atlantic City, but not before it eviscerated existing local jobs and businesses from restaurants to retail stores.

But the Senate bill does not stop with more gambling in South Florida. Initially, casinos would spread to eight other counties. That only would be for starters because under Senate Bill 8, every horse track, dog track or jai alai fronton could become a casino.

Getting back to the alligator analogy, what the Senate is proposing is akin to taking 500 bags of marshmallows out into the middle of Lake Okeechobee at midnight and tossing them in the water….

Understanding this, leaders in the Florida House have taken a different tack. They have put forth a bill that fixes weaknesses in existing gambling law, closes loopholes that gambling lawyers continually exploit, stops the proliferation of slot machines throughout Florida, honors Florida’s constitutional restrictions on gambling, and respects the will of the people of Florida, who have consistently rejected statewide expansions of gambling. Finally, it provides for an agreement with the Seminole tribe that would achieve the stated intent of the original Seminole compact — holding the line on gambling and creating a firewall to stop the spread of casinos throughout Florida.

The entire article can be read HERE

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


A Brief Look at Crime 03/13 – 03/19

Suspect killed in officer shooting at Reno casino 

A robbery suspect who police say was seen with a gun while fleeing from officers was shot and killed by police inside a downtown Reno casino, authorities said Thursday. No police officers or bystanders were hurt, and there was no continuing threat after the shooting about 11:30 a.m. at the Eldorado Hotel & Casino, Sparks police Officer Ken Gallop said. Gallop didn’t say if a weapon was found after the shooting, and said he couldn’t immediately say whether the suspect was a man or a woman. The chase began with a report of a robbery near Commercial Row and West Street, Gallop said. That’s about two blocks from the Eldorado and the iconic downtown arch reading, “The Biggest Little City in the World.” It ended near a second-floor restaurant in the multi-story downtown casino-hotel with more than 800 rooms.

Gambling addict embezzled £134,000 from Post Office

Daryl Louden, 26, stole the money from his workplace in Ferry Road, Edinburgh, over a period of eight months in 2016 and spent it on online gambling sites. At the city’s sheriff court on Thursday, fiscal depute Anthony Steele said Louden was caught after telling area manager David Richardson he did not want to be considered for promotion. Mr Richardson became curious about Louden’s reasons and carried out a spot check at the Post Office during which he realised £134,177 was missing. He then confronted Louden about the missing cash, at which point the employee confessed and told him he planned to pay it back. Louden told Mr Richardson he had a gambling addiction “which had ruined a relationship and his life”. Defence solicitor Jennifer McEvinney told the court her client had had online accounts with three betting companies, gambling on football and horse racing.

MSP seeks embezzlement charge against SW Mich. priest

A Catholic priest who authorities say stole more than $213,000 from the southwest Michigan churches where he was pastor could face a felony embezzlement charge. Michigan State Police requested the charge against Rev. Richard Fritz on Thursday. The Branch County prosecutor is expected to make a decision about whether to file that charge in about a week. The allegations came to light last year after an audit of the finances at St. Mary’s and St. Barbara. Police confirmed in November that gambling is the “undertone” of their investigation. Workers at a convenience store across the street from St. Mary’s told 24 Hour News 8 that Fritz spent hundreds of dollars a day — sometimes up to $500 — on lottery tickets. A gas station worker near St. Barbara also said Fritz stopped by to buy lottery tickets.

Woman who stole from Missouri Lottery winner sentenced

A former Kansas City woman who stole more than $400,000 from a Missouri Lottery winner has been sentenced to five years in federal prison. Freya Pearson, of Conyers, Georgia, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City. She also was ordered to pay $441,830 to the victim, a 61-year-old former hospital housekeeper. The victim won $2.4 million in the Missouri Lottery in 2008. Because of the fraud, she is now financially insolvent. Prosecutors say Pearson convinced the woman to withdraw her lottery money from an annuity she had established and deposit it in three checking accounts Pearson established. Pearson spent much of the money on gambling, vehicles and travel. Pearson also fraudulently obtained federal housing benefits and didn’t pay some taxes, causing a total loss of $640,667.

Man sentenced for embezzling $350,000 from Sunnyvale pizzeria

A San Jose septuagenarian was sentenced to probation Thursday for embezzling about $350,000 from a popular Sunnyvale pizzeria, officials said Friday. The embezzlement took place from 2006 to 2012, possibly longer, prosecutors said. In that period, Landino spent more than $1 million on gambling at casinos in California and Nevada, including the Bay 101 Casino in San Jose, which bills itself as “Silicon Valley’s place to play.” He also used company money and customer checks on other personalexpenses, officials said. In 2011, Landino’s co-owner grew suspicious and began to take a closer look at the restaurant’s financial records, eventually discovering the embezzlement, prosecutors said. Landino was convicted of felony embezzlement, forgery and tax evasion at trial in September 2016. As restitution, he has relinquished his stake in Giovanni’s New York Pizzeria.

Boynton man gets two years for embezzlement he blames on gambling 

A 59-year-old Boynton Beach man was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to get help for a gambling problem that he claimed led him to embezzle roughly $1.7 million from construction companies where he worked. Alan Gainsborg was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra to pay $1.1 million in restitution to MSP Enterprises Inc. and PH Developers LLC, two Boynton Beach development companies owned by Michael With the help of a Deerfield Beach man who wasn’t charged, federal prosecutors claim Gainsborg sent fake invoices to Puder. When Puder questioned the bills, Gainsborg ran them through two general contractors. Those men, however, didn’t know Gainsborg was stealing from Puder and didn’t make any money on the scam, prosecutors said.

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


March Madness Brings Illegal Gambling and Hardships for Addicted Gamblers

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing problems that come with the NCAA March Madness tournament each year. Millions is lost to employers through a decline in work place productivity and people continue to gamble away money at unprecedented rates. Most of this gambling is illegal and this year the trend continues. ESPN provides some analysis: 

Americans are expected to complete 70 million NCAA tournament brackets this year, risking on average $29 per bracket and contributing to the $10.4 billion that will be bet overall on March Madness, according to estimates released Monday by the American Gaming Association.

The $10.4 billion expected to be bet on the tournament includes popular office pools and is up 13 percent from last year’s tournament, the AGA says. Only a small fraction of the money bet on the tournament, around 3 percent, is believed to be wagered legally in the United States. The bulk of the remaining $10.1 billion is placed with offshore sportsbooks and local bookmakers, according to the AGA, which represents the U.S. casino industry.

The NCAA remains steadfast on its objection to gambling on the Tournament. They not only understand the hardships it places on addicted gamblers that cant control the shear volume of risk and loss the can suffer, but they also understand the impact to the integrity of the games at play. ESPN continues:

While gambling on the tournament grows, the NCAA remains opposed to all forms of sports betting — legal and otherwise — and believes it has the potential to undermine the integrity of the games and negatively impact the welfare of student-athletes.

 The legality of such gambling continues to be a prominent issue this time of year as many people view office pools as harmless fun. Unfortunately, its anything but and its almost always illegal gambling. ESPN explains:

“Generally, if the office pool charges a fee for entering the pool and awards prizes to the winner(s), then there is a serious question as to its legality. Some states exempt small pools from their gambling laws and regulations,” said Washington, D.C.-based attorney Steven Eichorn of Ifrah Law.

Sports betting is currently legal in only a handful of states, with Nevada the only state permitted to offer single-game wagering, the most popular form. The Nevada Gaming Control Board does not track the amount bet on the NCAA tournament separately, and combines the NBA and college basketball into one “basketball” category on its monthly revenue reports. The spike in action from March Madness is easy to see, though.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 03/06 – 03/12

Director of The Meeting Place homeless shelter charged with embezzlement  

The former director of a homeless shelter in Morganton is accused of stealing from the organization. Carswell, 37, has been charged with felony embezzlement by a charitable employee. On Aug. 26, investigators with MDPS began an investigation into suspicious financial activity at the homeless shelter. Investigators estimate the amount of embezzled funds is more than $100,000, according to the release. A four-month investigation led investigators to multiple transactions of the organization’s funds consisting of unauthorized cash withdrawals, personal purchases and the use of funds for gambling. The investigation examined transactions made by Carswell during the time period of March 2015 to August 2016, which included illegal use of funds at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.

Lodi police investigating suspicious death, attempted robbery at Parkwest Casino

Lodi police sealed entry to the Parkwest Casino at 1800 S. Cherokee Lane on Friday morning as detectives investigated a dead body and the events leading up to the man’s death. At 7:39 a.m. Lodi police officers responded to reports of an attempted robbery at the casino. When officers arrived, they found a man dead, according to the Lodi Police Department. Detectives continued to investigate the scene throughout the day and could be seen walking in and out of the building, at times crossing the crime tape, which was whipping around in the high winds. Lodi Police Partners were stationed at each entrance to the parking lot to prevent cars from moving through the area. A San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputy and a corner were seen visiting the scene as well.

Former Supervisor At Laguna Pueblo Superette Pleads Guilty To Federal Embezzlement Charge  

The former supervisor at the Laguna Pueblo Superette, pled guilty Feb. 7 in federal court in Albuquerque to embezzling funds from the Pueblo of Laguna. Marshall J. Cheromiah, 32, of Mesita was charged in an indictment filed Nov. 5, 2015, with embezzling approximately $48,953.47 from the Pueblo of Laguna. According to the indictment, Cheromiah was working as an employee or agent of an Indian Tribal Organization when he committed the crime between July 2013 and Oct. 2014, in Cibola County. Cheromiah’s plea agreement states that Cheromiah was responsible for supervising the operation of the ATM machine and ordering cash deliveries from the Bank of Albuquerque for stocking the ATM with cash. In the plea agreement, Cheromiah admitted that, when the Bank delivered cash for the ATM, he would skim or siphon approximately $10,000 or $20,000 for himself, which he used for gambling, paying off loans for friends, and a pleasure trip to Las Vegas, Nev.

Madison man sentenced for stealing more than $1 million from Huntsville non-profit

Tuesday, a federal judge sentenced a former accountant with a Huntsville non-profit corporation to two and a half years in prison for defrauding the organization and the Internal Revenue Service. Reggious Sanchester Bell, 30, of Madison was sentenced on one count of federal program theft for stealing more than $1 million from the Huntsville Rehabilitation Foundation, which does business as Phoenix. Phoenix contracts with the government to place people with disabilities into government jobs. Bell must pay $1.1 million in restitution to Phoenix, and to its insurers, $71,947 to Indemnity Insurance Co. and $75,000 to Hartford Underwriters Insurance Co. Bell also must pay $81,768 to the IRS. “This defendant stole more than $1 million of taxpayer funds from a non-profit company that contracts to provide jobs and counseling to people with disabilities,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Robert O. Posey. “He showed no regard for the harm he did the company he worked for or the people it served. He undercut a worthy mission so that he could spend money on personal indulgences, including gambling. I thank the IRS and the FBI for helping this office bring Mr. Bell to justice.”

Man arrested in St. Lucie County stabbing death of coworker

The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of David Davis in connection with the murder of Quentin Lamar Jones. Deputies say Davis stabbed Jones, his coworker, off Okechobee Boulevard. He has been charged with first degree murder and armed robber. Deputies say he stole money from Jones after the attack. According to officials, Davis worked as a carnival vendor. He and his victim were getting the St. Lucie fairgrounds ready for fair this weekend. Chief Deputy Garry Wilson said the stabbing likely happened following a fight about money. Wilson said the two were gambling at Jai Alai & Poker in Fort Pierce. Jones lost his money and borrowed money from Davis, which Wilson said Jones lost again. They began arguing about money and were asked to leave the facility.They were dropped off at a nearby McDonald’s and continued walking and arguing. “Davis says that he and Jones continued their argument and was demanding that he be repaid for his money. Things got physical. Davis pulled out a knife and stabbed Jones several times in the neck and back,” Wilson said.

Two Shot Dead in San Manuel Casino Parking Structure

A man and woman were found dead inside a vehicle parked inside the San Manuel Casino parking structure Wednesday morning. At around 5:11 a.m. Sheriff’s dispatchers received the report and Central Station deputies responded to the parking structure located 777 San Manuel Boulevard in the City of Highland. When they arrived they located a man and a woman who appeared to have gunshot wounds. Both the man and woman were pronounced dead. Homicide investigators responded to the scene to assume the investigation. Sheriff’s officials said that autopsies will determine the cause and manner of death for the deceased man and woman. No suspects are at large at this time. The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is urged to contact Detective Michael Warrick or Sergeant Greg Myler, Homicide Detail (909) 387-3589.

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


Update: Florida Lottery Gambling Expansion Ruled Void

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing issues related to the Florida Lottery. Most recently, it was reported that a new contract with the Florida Lottery could effectively double the amount of gambling from the lottery. An online source reported that a lawsuit was planned by Florida Speaker of the House:

According to the House, the Lottery does not have the authority to sign a contract requiring Legislature to pay more money for gaming. The council for the Speaker of the House stated that the Secretary of the Florida Lottery signed a multi-year contract with IGT Global Solutions Corporation that requires the Florida Lottery to spend more money in the future than what has been appropriated in the budget categories.

With the signing of the contract, the legislative budget for the Fiscal Year 2017 to 2018 will require an aggregate increase in the ticket machine budget categories and the categories will have to be realigned in order to accommodate the new increase via the contract. According to the council, this is impermissible.

Now that the case has been filed, a local judge wasted no time hearing the case. The Judge has ruled the contract is void and unenforceable. An online source explains:

 In what is the second legislative victory for House speaker Richard Corcoran (pictured), on Tuesday, Judge Karen Gievers said that Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie failed to comply with a requirement of Florida law that states that certain contracts have to be pre-approved by the Legislature prior to signing. Judge Gievers 15-page ruling said that in signing the contract, with IGT Global Solutions Corp., a subsidiary of London-based International Game Technology (IGT), and obligating the state to nearly $13 million more than was authorized by the Legislature, the agency overstepped its budgetary authority.

Judge Gievers declared the contract, which would run until 2028, “void and unenforceable,” which means the agency will have to reconfigure a new contract to provide the Florida Lottery with a selection of solutions and services including Powerball and other ticket games.

In a joint statement with Judiciary Chairman Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor and Rules Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami, Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, said “Today’s decision is a victory for the taxpayer and the rule of law,” and, “It reinforces the idea that respecting the separation of powers is not an arcane idea or an out-of-date philosophy,” according to the /Tampa Bay Times.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 02/27-03/5

Celeb Costa Rica Gambling Ring Members Fear They’ve Been Caught in Mob Wiretaps

Thirteen members and associates of the Genovese Organized Crime Family were arrested on the Dec. 15 with one of those charged dubbed the “Bookie to the Stars”. Vincent “Vinny” Taliercio had Hollywood clients that included the likes of “Godfather” star James Caan, “Who’s The Boss” and “Taxi” star Tony Danza and Charlie Sheen. Other Hollywood actors believed to have been clients of the Brooklyn bookie included Regis Philbin, Paul Sorvino and and James L. Brooks. Former Major League Baseball player Pete Rose had also reportedly placed bets with Taliercio.

The Radar Online source further revealed:

“They probably caught some of these celebrities on the wiretaps,” the source said, adding the gamblers would usually place their bets with Vinny by telephone if they weren’t in New York. “Vinnie is not just a bookie — everybody who is anybody in the gambling world would call him up because he’s the best handicapper in the world,” the source told Radar. “He has dealt with all the big celebrities.” “Everybody went to Vinny for advice even the members of all five crime families. Anything you needed to know about sports that guy Vinny knew about it — he was like a walking encyclopedia — an almanac!” The ringleader Salvatore “Sallie” DeMeo, 76, is accused of running the online gambling site 4Spades.org based out of Costa Rica, which remains online to this day. The site, along with a lucrative loansharking and illegal cigarette smuggling business, is believed to have raked in millions of dollars, according to the indictment. DeMeo’s criminal history is said to date all the way back to 1984.

‘Pink collar’ crime: A rise in women embezzling funds 

Embezzlers aren’t your typical criminals. Most are business professionals- bookkeepers or office managers. Often they have no criminal history, not even parking tickets. And most embezzlers are women. “They’re moms, grandmas and wives. They’re not your typical thug,” explained Kelly Paxton, founder of PinkCollarCrime.com. The fraud examiner has seen a rise in the number of women in the workplace who steal from their employers. “One day I’m like, ‘All of my suspects are women,’” said Paxton. The latest FBI crime statistics show that nationwide more women were arrested for embezzlement than men. “They’re in trusted positions: Accounting, bookkeeping, mid-level manager,” Paxton explained. KGW reviewed more than a dozen recent cases in Oregon involving female embezzlers. The women were caught stealing anywhere from $6,000 to more than $1 million from businesses, community groups and schools. Most of the women were sentenced to probation and restitution. A few of them went to prison. The women stole for a variety of reasons, Grounds said. Some embezzled to support a gambling problem, while others used the money to indulge shopping or vacations.

Former local man with gambling addiction hired hitman to kill wife

A former Hillsboro resident has been convicted of conspiracy to commit murder after trying to hire a hit man to kill his wife, who formerly worked at American Electric Power in Hillsboro. Ludwick’s wife of 19 years, Kathleen Ludwick, testified last week in Franklin County Common Pleas Court that her husband had chronic money problems and a gambling addiction. She said she was the primary bread winner due to a 22-year job with American Electric Power and that she sometimes used her annual bonus to cover her husband’s debts, according to The Columbus Dispatch. The couple had no children and he was the sole beneficiary of her life insurance policy, a 410k account and a nearly $500,000 house in Madison County, according to the Dispatch. Lowell Ludwick wanted to hire someone to kill his wife at their West Jefferson home and make it look like a burglary that turned bad. But his plan was what turned bad because an acquaintance he trusted to help him went to the police, the newspaper reported.

Massive felony gambling raid in Marietta

Luxury cars, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, and jewelry were all seized in an illegal gambling raid. Three people are in jail after what police are calling a substantial organized crime investigation. Marietta police said this is a result of a two-year investigation. Detectives have been watching Gantts Food on Franklin Gateway and another convenience store on Windy Hill Road which police said is owned by the same man, Khubaib Hussain. Hussain along with two employees were arrested and charged with felony commercial gambling. Tuesday night, they were in the Cobb County Jail, but the stores were open, minus the gaming machines. Those were seized by state authorities Tuesday afternoon.

U.S. says ex-BNY Mellon unit employee embezzled $7 million

 

A former employee of a Bank of New York Mellon Corp unit was arrested on Wednesday on charges that he embezzled $7.1 million, which he used to pay for gambling debts and buy an outdoor pool, luxury cars and a gun safe. Christopher Canale, who worked for Bank of New York’s Pershing LLC unit, most recently as an accounts payable manager, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan. According to the complaint, beginning in December 2013, Canale authorized $2.53 million in wire transfers to companies and people who were not pre-approved vendors, including to an unnamed individual. During an interview with an in-house lawyer at Pershing and several other employees, Canale admitted he had wired out $2 million to $4 million to pay for personal debts and to “save his life because of a gambling addiction,” the complaint said. He also admitted he wired funds to offshore entities and individuals in exchange for watches and jewelry, which he used to pay for his gambling debts, the complaint said.

Gambler swiped thousands from London Zoo event to fund addiction

An events manager stole £92,000 after a corporate event at London Zoo in order to fund his gambling addiction. Alexander Beerjeraz, 26, was a manager at a catering firm providing food at the tourist attraction when he took nearly all the takings from the event last July. Beerjeraz was supposed to put nearly £100,000 into a company safe – but instead blew the cash on betting. He had been working for CH&Co Catering in Devonshire Square, near Liverpool Street station. Gregor McKinley, prosecuting, said: “His employers became suspicious because only about £10,000 had been banked from the event and they expected around £100,000. “Two weeks after the event the defendant was absent from work and asked to see members of the management team of the cantering company. “He confessed he had taken the money. He simply removed the cash rather than putting it in the safe.” The court heard none of the money taken had been recovered as Beerjeraz had already spent it on his gambling addiction.

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


Seminole Tribe Say Both Florida Gambling Bills are Unacceptable

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts by the Florida Legislature to reach a gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe. Most recentlythe balance of negotiating power shifted to the Seminole Tribe as a court has ruled the State violated the exclusivity agreement and is allowing the Seminole Tribe to offer table games through 2030. As another legislative session begins in the Florida Legislature, politicians are attempting to deal with gambling expansion issues while balancing the long standing relationship with the Seminole Tribe. As recently reported, both the Florida House and Senate have gambling bills moving forward, but they are very different and they both impact a potential new deal with the Seminole Tribe. The Tribe, while calling the House bill less objectionable, has indicated nether bill is one they can support. An online source explains:

Two competing bills in the Florida legislature each seek to find different solutions to the fact that tribe and state have been unable to negotiate a new compact since the previous one expired in 2015. The Seminoles this week rejected both, even the one that’s supposedly designed to protect their interests.

A bill currently wending its way through the House would allow the Seminoles to be granted exclusivity on banked card games, as was the case with its previous compact, but in exchange for $3 billion in payments to the state over seven years. By contrast, a bill authored by the influential senator, Bill Galvano, would charge the Seminoles the same fee over the same timeline but for the right to offer craps and roulette, as well as blackjack.

In a letter to legislative leaders this week, Seminole Tribal Council chairman Marcellus Osceola said that while the House bill was “less objectionable,” neither bills “make economic sense for the tribe.” We think they’re talking about the “$3 billion to the state” bit. The House bill is less objectionable because it is essentially a status quo bill, an antidote to the rampant gambling expansion of Galvano’s proposal. It’s clear that, for the Seminoles, the thought of exclusivity on craps and roulette would not offset the increased competition from the proliferation of blackjack and slots throughout the state. The tribe’s point-blank refusal is indicative of the its new-found leverage in the negotiations, thanks to a recent court ruling in their favor.

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