Monthly Archives: June 2009

A brief look at Gambling related Crime 6/22-6/28

Authorities say con man blew $400,000 in a day at casino

Authorities say a Park City con man who severed his ankle bracelet and fled Utah before he could be sentenced tried to fake his own suicide and gambled away at least $400,000 while on the run. Authorities say he had grown a full beard and undergone eye surgery so he wouldn’t have to wear glasses. Phelps said one person who spotted Geddes while he was on the lam said the fugitive lost $400,000 gambling in one day.

Former Elks treasurer admits stealing $475K in lodge money to pay off gambling debts

A former Elks club treasurer pleaded guilty today to stealing $475,000 from the fraternal lodge with a former tax board commissioner so the pair could pay off gambling debts in Atlantic City, authorities said. Konstantin Belenky, 42, of East Hanover, pleaded guilty in Superior Court in Morristown to third-degree theft from the Florham Park-Fairfield Elks Lodge 815. In entering the plea, Belenky agreed to continue cooperating with investigators against alleged co-conspirator Anthony Crecco, a former Morris County Tax Board commissioner, who was indicted in April on theft charges in the case.

Six years for stealing retired nun’s life savings

A former financial planner was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison for stealing a retired nun’s life savings.  William H. Lofthus looted $427,163.95 from the elderly woman and blew it at riverboat casinos. Bernice F. Laurins died penniless in November 2005 at the Château Living Center in Willowbrook. The retired nun was 92.

Woman stole from 90-year-old to fund online gambling

A former manager of a Yarmouth sheltered housing block stole £14,500 from a vulnerable 90-year-old woman to fund her addiction to on-line gambling …. Mrs House’s finances had started off as legitimate but her addiction to gambling and being made bankrupt had forced her to steal from the victim. “As she looses more and more money she turned then to taking money from the injured party.”

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

Turner Report: New Gaming Commission Director has long ties to gambling industry

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon appointed Jim Mathewson as the new Missouri Gaming Commission Director.  Mathewson, a Democrate, served in the State Senate from 1980 to 2006.  The Turner Report is explaining that Mathewson has ties to the gambling industry that go back to 2002, when pushed a bill to remove the $500 loss limit, on top of receiving more than two-thirds of his campaign contributions from gambling interest:

Mathewson’s 2002 reports filed with the Ethics Commission show he received $15,800 in contributions. Of that amount, $11,124 either came directly from casino interests or can be connected to a gambling industry lobbyist.

The October 2002 report shows Mathewson receiving $9,225 in contributions, with $5,475 coming from gambling interests. The contributions include

Isle of Capri $350
Isle of Capri-Boonville $575
Harrah’s Operating Company $575
Isle of Capri Casino-Kansas City $350
Ameristar Casino-Kansas City $1,000
Missouri Gaming Company, Argosy Casino $1,175
St. Joseph Riverboat Partners/Frontier Casino $587.50
Ameristar Casino-St. Charles $725
Mark Twain Casino LLC, $587.50
Aztar Missouri Riverboat Gaming Company, $500

To Read the Complete Turner Report Click Here

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

Kentucky House Passes Gambling Bill but Senate likely to vote no

Casino Watch Focus has reported numerous times on Ky Governor Steve Beshear’s attempt at expanding gambling by legalizing casinos.  Governor Beshear campaigned on the idea that he was going to make full scale casino gambling legal.  Of course, he faced opposition from the horse racing industry and countless pro-family, anti-gambling groups.  His attempt to pass legislation in the house failed last year when he fail to garner enough votes to get the bill out of the house.

Now it appears, Governor Beshear is still trying to expand gambling in Ky.  This time he is starting small and simply seeking to expand gambling at the racetracks.  An online article explains that the bill has passed the house, but has almost no chance and making out of the senate:

Governor Steve Beshear put on his acting face on Friday and applauded legislation passed in the state House that would expand gambling at racetracks in Kentucky. Then, he turned his attention to a little posturing to the state Senate. “An issue that is this important deserves the deliberation and vote of everyone,” said Beshear, “Now the question is will the Senate give everyone in its chamber the same privilege-an up-or-down vote on an issue of such importance to our Commonwealth.”

The answer to Beshear’s question will most likely be no. Senate President David Williams believes the gambling Bill has no chance of approval from the Senate. They have maintained that there is alternative ways of increasing revenue.

The legislators have been debating expanded gambling after Beshear added the issue to a special session this past week to help finalize the state budget. The governor’s main concern for months has been helping state racetracks increase their purses to stay competitive on a national level.

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

600 Million dollars embezzled from bank then laundered through an Australian Casino

Casino Watch Focus has reported on just how important loss limits were to preventing money laundering and keeping criminal elements out of our state.  Now a story from Australia shows us just how much damage can be done when no gambling limits are imposed.  An online article explains the story:

Chinese criminals convicted of embezzling over $605 million from the Bank of China say Crown and other Australian casinos were their venues of choice to launder the stolen money. Despite transactions involving huge amounts of cash, no red flags were observed by warning systems built into the gambling industry Down Under.

The Herald-Sun reported that at least $23.6 million was washed at Crown casinos by the ringleaders and their henchmen. One of the gang leaders, Yu Zhendong, told US authorities upon apprehension that Australia was the favored spot for laundering stolen money.

As much as $7.5 million was moved to Crown casinos in a single transaction, but detection systems designed to prevent money laundering failed to alert casino officials. Crown executives declined comment while they ran internal investigations to determine how the embezzlers were able to avoid detection.

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

Economic Outlook not so hopeful for casinos

Many have regarded the casino industry as recession proof.  But casinos all over the country, including key gambling centers like Las Vegas and Atlantic City, have been “down on their luck” because of the recession.  Now it looks like the market trends that began in 2008 will continue for the next 18 months.  The Las Vegas Review Journal turns to Moody for market analysis:

In a report on the American gaming industry, [Moody}the bond rating service told clients it had a negative outlook for the casino business over the next 12 to 18 months.  Moody’s Senior Vice President Keith Foley said trends that began in 2008 have not shown any “tangible signs” of stabilization.

“Our outlook for the U.S. gaming industry remains negative amid uncertainty about the timing and degree of a recovery,” Foley wrote in a report updating December’s market research.  The bonds from 72 percent of U.S. gaming companies have been given a negative outlook by Moody’s or face a possible downgrade.  Foley said gaming’s biggest risk is the possibility consumers will further reduce discretionary spending over the next 18 months.

Some of the biggest areas hit are the two main gambling centers, Vegas and Atlantic City.  Such negative trends are putting serious pressure on current casino companies.  The Review Journal continues:

He was especially harsh on casino companies operating on the Strip and Atlantic City. Both markets have seen double-digit gaming revenue declines in the first four months of 2009. Foley isn’t predicting a quick recovery.

“We do not assume that because gaming demand declined along with the economy, it will return to pre-recession levels once the economy improves,” he said.  Las Vegas was hit harder by the recession than any American gaming market. Negative trends have put significant pressure on the major casino companies.

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

Pro family groups take a stand against online gambling

Casino Watch Focus explained that in 2006 Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.  UIGEA made it illegal for online gambling companies to accept money for unlawful Internet gambling transactions and it called for regulations on the banking and payment processing industry.  There have been a few examples of the government going after companies for their financial involvement with internet gambling.  However, there have been virtually no examples of true financial enforcement of UIGEA until this week.  Focus on the Family reports why so many pro-family groups are praising the enforcement:

This week, the government finally started enforcing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) — by freezing more than $30 million in potential winnings. The 2006 law requires financial institutions to block payments to off-shore Internet gambling operations that are not licensed to operate within the U.S.

Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America (CWA) are among 20 pro-family groups calling on Congress to continue the enforcement of UIGEA and oppose the legalization of online gambling.  “We need to step up enforcement,” said Shari Rendall, director of legislation and public policy at CWA. “The effects of gambling are pervasive, and they need to be stopped.”

These groups are asking the U.S. House to oppose current bills that seek to undermine UIGEA by making online gambling legal:

Pro-family groups are asking the U.S. House to oppose two bills from Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.: H.R. 2266, which would give banks more time to comply with UIGEA; and H.R. 2267, which would legalize Internet gambling in the U.S.

Ken Darnell, co-founder of Gambling Exposed, said it’s time for the Justice Department to take a stand against online gambling.  “They should do everything they can within their power to curb it,” he said.

The 2006 Gross Annual Wager Report shows Americans lost nearly $91 billion on all forms of gambling. According to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission and addiction counselors, 15 million to 20 million U.S. adults and adolescents have either problem or pathological gambling addictions.  Darnell asked: “Why would our government support any type of activity that’s going to do this to its citizens?”

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

Gambler endangers life of infant and toddler

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Casino Watch Focus has reported acts of parents leaving children in the car while they gamble, and sadly, this may not be the last time either.  The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that a father has left his infant and toddler in the car while he gambled:

Police found a 3-month-old and a 2-year-old, both boys, belted into their car seats inside an SUV parked near a business. The windows were down, the keys were in the ignition and the radio was on, police said.

Officers found the children’s father, 35-year-old Willie Culvert of Las Vegas, in a nearby bar where he had been gambling for about two hours, police said.  Culvert was arrested for two counts of child endangerment and will be booked into the Clark County Detention Center, police said.  Leaving children unattended in vehicles can have tragic, often fatal results, police said.

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

Rep Barney Frank said freedom to gamble online outweighs dangers to children

Casino Watch Focus reported that Rep Barney Frank introduced a bill to legalize internet gambling despite an overwhelming amount of opposition.  Now, in a radio interview on Nevada Public Radio, Frank is claiming that personal freedom to gamble online should outweigh the need to protect children.  Frank believes that because the Internet has other dangers to children, the government should simply disregard the impact to our children:

When asked about claims from Spencer Bachus and others that online gambling puts children at risk, Frank deftly defended his regulatory bill.  Frank said it is “insensible to say the only danger on the Internet is gambling.” The Massachusetts Representative pointed out that many products online are guarded by age restrictions.

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