Monthly Archives: July 2010

Casinos expect revenue increases as Obama extends Unemployment Benefits

Casino Watch Focus just recently reported that California welfare recipients withdrew $1.8 million from public aid debit cards in casinos across the state.  It’s all too common for casino’s to take advantage of the poor.  Too many people accepting public assistance attempt to gamble away the money for a chance to win big, only to hand the money over to the casinos in the process.  Given the current economic climate, families are at even more risk as casinos continue to prey on the desperate.  An online gambling source is reporting that casinos are expecting to make money off needy families as Obama has just extended unemployment benefits:

It is an unfortunate situation that occurs when the economy tanks in a country. In the US, thousands of citizens have turned to gambling as a way to make a quick buck and help themselves through the difficult economic times.

On Thursday, President Obama signed the Unemployment Extension Bill that is expected to bring relief to tens of thousands of Americans. It is inevitable that some of the unemployment benefits will end up in the hands of gamblers who will try to parlay their good luck into future security. With more gaming options than ever in the US, problem gambling, especially in light of the rough economy, may soon be picking up.

The casino industry will take their revenue any way they can get it these days.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/19-7/25

Man leaps to death at Ameristar Casino garage

A 51-year-old south St. Louis County man jumped to his death Monday night from the top level of a parking garage at the Ameristar Casino, police said. The man leapt from the sixth level of the south parking garage at 9:37 p.m., falling 75 feet to pavement below, St. Charles police Lt. Don Thurman said. A casino security guard in the area witnessed the incident. Police will review the medical examiner’s report but are considering the death a suicide.

Probation for former Colusa mayor convicted of embezzlement

A former Colusa City Council member and mayor who embezzled more than $100,000 from a former Sutter County judge and district attorney was sentenced Monday to five years formal probation and the one day in jail she served after being arrested. Using the card, she spent $10,000 at the Colusa Casino. She admitted to a probation officer that she has a gambling addiction. “In my mind, I was drawing a paycheck. That was my rationale behind it, warped as it is. I abused my friendship with them,” she told Deputy Probation Officer Heather Walker. “She gambled all the money away,” Page told Walker in the report.

NCAA Investigated for Illegal Gambling

An NCAA ticket dispersal plan involving a lottery may violate laws in some states against gambling. A lawsuit alleging exactly that is headed for an Indiana court after a federal appeals court ruled the case had enough merit to garner a hearing. Rewarding random participants with something of greater value than the price charged to enter a drawing, as the NCAA does for March Madness tickets, constitutes a violation of Indiana law. The state restricts lottery operations to itself, and all others are barred from operating a lottery inside Indiana borders.

5000 people arrested in Asia on world cup illegal gambling

The crackdown in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand resulted in the arrest of more than 5000 people in Asia as a world cup operation against illegal gambling, where it seized more than $10 million. The Interpol reported that the police in those countries identified and raided nearly 800 illegal gambling dens. Moreover, during the operation Soga III, that started June 11th and ended July 11, at the same time of World Cup 2010, the Interpol said that the police seized with them on assets including cars, fake bank’s cards, computers and cell phones.

Culver sought donations from gambling interests

DES MOINES, Iowa — Aides to Gov. Chet Culver acknowledged Monday that he sought campaign contributions from two groups applying for casino licenses, but said there was nothing improper about the requests.  Culver solicited donations from groups that wanted to build casinos in Lyon County and Fort Dodge. Those behind the Lyon County bid, which was granted a license, did not donate to Culver’s campaign, but those behind the Fort Dodge bid, which was rejected, gave $25,000.  A special prosecutor is investigating the Fort Dodge contribution.

Three Arrested for Operation of Rock-Paper-Scissors Gambling Site in Japan

An illegal operation based on mobile phone gambling sites in Japan was taken down last week, as the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department reported three arrests in connection with a business that drew some ¥130 million (about $1.5 million) in eight months.  The simply site offered one game: rock-paper-scissors, at which players anted ¥130 and could win prizes of ¥1,000 ($11.50) for winning three games in a row or ¥10,000 ($115) for five games in a row; a Tokyo MPD spokesman stated that the odds on winning five in a row are just 0.9%. Some 27,000-plus played on the website, which ended up paying out just ¥1.43 million, or about 1.1% of the total income.

Lister guilty of stealing $1.4M from sheriff

A judge said Tuesday there was overwhelming evidence that a former Escambia County Sheriff’s Office employee stole $1.4 million from the agency and found her guilty on the second day of her trial. “The paper trail in this case is really incredible,” Judge Paul Rasmussen said. Cathy Lister, 58, a former accounting associate, is accused of stealing money over a decade that should have been deposited into an evidence trust fund account. Lister, who worked at the Sheriff’s Office for 32 years, was charged with one count of aggravated white collar crime and 11 counts of money laundering. She was arrested Feb. 4, six days after she retired. Lister testified that she used the money to pay bills, help family members, gamble at casinos and go shopping.

Multi-million dollar Internet gambling conspiracy: Owners Guilty

The ring-leaders of a multi-million dollar Internet gambling operation being run in Central Texas have been convicted, and now their illegal cafe in McGregor has been shut down. A joint investigation revealed that from April of 2007 until about September of 2009, three men were earning tens of thousands of dollars a day using these illegal Internet operations in four East Texas cities and McGregor. On Monday, under a judge’s orders, the gates were locked permanently on the E-center in McGregor.

“We knew about the potentially illegal activities going on at the E-center,” McGregor Assistant Police Chief James Burson said. For about two years, the business was run under the cover of a typical Internet cafe. That was until McGregor PD teamed up with DPS and the FBI to find this was actually where millions of dollars were illegally won and lost using an Internet gambling ring.

Probation for child endangerment

Evan H. Wormley, 22, of the 4500 block of Evans Avenue in St. Louis, pleaded guilty on Wednesday in St. Charles of felony child endangerment and was placed on probation for five years. Police said Wormley took his 2-year-old son to the Ameristar Casino in September and attacked a man and a woman after they refused his request for money, dropping his son in the process. Police said he dropped the boy near a commercial floor sweeper and left him there as he fled. Wormley will not have a conviction on his record if he completes probation. If he violates the terms, he could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

Parkville man pleads guilty

Parkville man already facing charges in an illegal gambling case pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to money laundering and conspiracy to distribute counterfeit luxury goods. James L. Dicapo, 57, admitted that from 2007 to 2009 he sold counterfeit purses, duffle bags, shoes, wallets, sunglasses, designer jeans, T-shirts and baseball caps. The goods bore the names of fashion houses such as Burberry, Coach, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Dooney & Bourke, Ed Hardy, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Prosecutors estimated the value of the goods at more than $400,000. A grand jury charged Dicapo and three others in March with operating an Internet sports bookmaking business that attracted almost $3.6 million in bets between March 2006 and April 2009.

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

Missouri Gaming Commission waiting for Cape Girardeau casino vote to award the 13th gambling license

Casino Watch Focus explained that with the closing of the President Casino in St Louis, Missouri families have found themselves in a situation where a new mega casino can be built anywhere along the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers.  Cape Girardeau is one of the most talked about locations for a new casino.  However, the city has a long standing vote on record which prevents the development of a casino in the area.  The Southeast Missourian reported that the Quality for Life group believes they have acquired enough petition signatures to put the issue to a new vote.

It was originally reported that the Missouri Gaming Commission would make a decision by September, thus eliminating the possibility of the new license being granted in Cape.  However, the Commission later stated that they would push the decision back to the end of the year.  It was believed at the time that the Commission didn’t want to close the door on Cape and new sources are confirming this speculation:

It appears likely that the Missouri Gaming Commission will not select a community to develop Missouri’s 13th casino until after Cape Girardeau voters render a verdict on gambling locally.

But exactly when the gaming commission will select an applicant to construct the state’s next casino is uncertain. The commission has only one scheduled meeting after Nov. 2, on Dec. 1, and at Cape Girardeau’s City Council special meeting on casino proposals last week, representatives of one applicant suggested that the selection won’t be made until 2011.

The Spokeswoman for the Gaming Commission said they are still planning to have a decision by the end of the year.  It seems like the fate of families in Cape Girardeau and the surrounding southeast will come down to authentication of the petition signatures and the vote that is likely to proceed. 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/12-7/18

World Cup exposes gambling problem among Hong Kong youth

As Spain celebrates its World Cup glory after defeating the Netherlands last night, Christian leaders in Hong Kong are calling for tighter restrictions on football gambling among minors. In a joint survey of nearly 1,000 Hong Kong citizens below the age of 18, the New Hope Fellowship and the Truth and Light Society found that 6.2% had bet on the World Cup. Of the minors surveyed, 43% said that the World Cup had been their first experience of gambling. New Hope Fellowship, which helps gambling addicts turn their lives around, fears there may be as many as 70,000 minors gambling, out of 1.2 million minors living in Hong Kong. It warned that minors were more likely to become addicted to gambling than older people, and that they were borrowing money in order to place bets.

Bank Boss Stole £245k to Fund Internet Gambling Habit

A bank manager drafted in to balance the books stole almost £245,000 to fund her addiction to online gambling. Nicola Taylor, 39, siphoned off the money from cash reserves over an 11-month period. She hoped she would hit the jackpot and be able to pay back the cash before anyone discovered it was missing. The reserve at the Co-operative Bank in Oldham should have totalled £300,000. But when it was finally checked after senior bank officers had become suspicious of her activities, there was just £31,350 left. Taylor, of Grenville Terrace, Ashton under Lyne, who has now been declared bankrupt, had been called in to resolve a number of minor cash discrepancies. When interviewed she said her dishonesty had begun when she falsified the books to cover up a genuine shortfall she had been unable to resolve.

Former Timberlawn PTA President Indicted

The former president of the Timberlawn Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association has been indicted by a Hinds County grand jury on embezzlement charges, court officials said. Nicole Johnson is accused of gambling away thousands of dollars of PTA money, officials said. She surrendered to police in March in connection with an investigation into the disappearance of $20,000. Officials said Johnson surrendered her PTA position in April after a board member noticed the money was missing from Timberlawn’s PTA.

Winery embezzler assaulted her husband

A former accountant who is serving five years in prison for stealing more than $7.4 million from a Grimsby-based winery pleaded guilty yesterday to assaulting her husband at their Dundas home. Christine Papakyriakou, 54, now admits it was she who assaulted Alex Papakyriakou and not the other way around. At her fraud trial last year, the court heard Papakyriakou had extensive psychiatric problems and had suffered a horrendous childhood, with an alcoholic father who beat his spouse and children. Papakyriakou filed a $10-million lawsuit in 2009 against Casino Niagara, Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, claiming casino operators were responsible for turning her into a pathological gambler and thief.

Fake Casino Chips Score Legal Trouble

A Wichita man used $100,000 in fake casino chips at the Argosy Riverside Casino, according to federal prosecutors. Zhe “Kevin” Li, 37, faces three charges in federal court related to passing 1,000 casino chips worth $100 each, according to U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips. Federal prosecutors allege Li exchanged the chips between Oct. 19 and Dec. 16, 2008, for cash or to play blackjack and other table games. Li deposited $35,500 from the fake chips into his bank account and then used the money to help pay off his 2007 Hummer H3, Phillips said. Federal prosecutors say Li received $2,547 in food stamp benefits for himself, his wife and two children by claiming his savings was less than $100.

Police: Man robs business after losing money gambling

A Charlotte man is accused of robbing an Internet gambling cafe after he lost all of his money. Police say 28-year-old Roderick Bittle was gambling at Lucky Sweepstakes along Freedom Drive. An employee told police Bittle said he had a gun and demanded to get back the money he lost. When the clerk refused, she says Bittle knocked her to the floor and assaulted her. Police say Bittle also forced three customers inside the store to the back of the business and demanded cash from them, but none of the customers had money. Bittle fled the store empty-handed. He was caught by police a few hours later. Police say Bittle will be charged with multiple counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon and kidnapping.

Cop-killer Hu Yihua says ‘he dreams of being a professional assassin’

A MAN suspected of shooting dead two traffic officers while he was on the run for allegedly killing a young couple told police he had planned to be a professional assassin.  Hu allegedly told police that he had planned to take a train from Xiamen to Zhejiang Province, where he had allegedly killed the couple and stole their car, and then go to Yunnan Province before going to Myanmar to become a mercenary.  Since 2008, Hu has been obsessed with guns and military websites. Zhejiang police seized two guns and an army knife from his home in Jinhua. He is divorced, unemployed and a gambling addict, the report said.

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

New Hampshire attempting to work around federal law that restricts internet 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.  After many failed attempts by Rep. Barney Franks to regulate Internet gambling, the bill got its teeth when official enforcement rules were passed.  Now, an online site is reporting how New Hampshire is attempting to usurp the law and allow internet gambling:

While the UIGEA does not allow the processing of payment to and from gambling sites, New Hampshire has found a loophole. The state will sell physical lottery tickets to players, which will fund their time to play online casino games.

This system avoids the need for New Hampshire to accept payment via the internet and thus means that the state is not breaking any law. Payment is collected by selling lottery tickets in a physical transaction involving the actual ticket and the player.

The purchased lottery ticket provides players with a code that offers them credit at the online casino site, which allows them to play. More importantly, this avoids the need for players to use their credit cards or alternative payment methods to pay for their online gambling fund.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/5-7/11

Man Shot after Gambling on North Side

The Milwaukee Police Department says a young man was shot after a gambling incident on the city’s north side. The shooting happened Sunday evening near the corner of North 48th Street and West Capitol Drive. The victim, 21, was taken to a local hospital after being shot in the right knee. He told police that someone who didn’t know him committed the shooting. According to investigators, he had been gambling with other people near the corner of North 47th Street and West Hope Avenue.

Former nightclub owner sentenced in $4.7M investment fraud scheme

The former owner of two of Chicago’s hottest nightclubs was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for running a $4.7 million investment fraud scheme. An attorney for Anthony Demasi, 35, sought probation, noting his client worked undercover for federal investigators. But prosecutors accused him of playing both sides of the fence, saying his credibility as a witness was ruined when he continued “get-rich-quick schemes” while under indictment.

Demasi read a long statement in court apologizing to victims who lost money in his failed investment company, Tsunami Capital.  Demasi pleaded guilty in March to wire and commodities fraud for luring more than two dozen victims, including friends and family, to invest with the promise of huge profits. Instead, he diverted the cash to fund his nightclubs, Reserve and Crescendo, as well as to pay off earlier investors and gambling debts.

Bank worker jailed after stealing £140,000 of customers’ money

Luke Gifford, 25, of Winkton Close, Havant, Hampshire, siphoned off money from  the accounts of elderly customers he was meant to be advising to pay for  items including a log cabin worth £3,000 and a home gymnasium. He was discovered in April 2009 after a customer queried transactions made on  their account at the Farnham branch of Lloyds TSB where Gifford worked as a  personal banker.  When eventually questioned by managers about the large sums, Gifford told them  he was struggling to pay off a number of gambling debts, according to Surrey  Police.  In addition to stealing at the bank, Gifford was charged with seven offences  relating to the false advertising of Isle of Wight Festival tickets on eBay  from which he netted more than £2,000.

Woman sentenced for cheating employer

A Winnipeg woman who cheated her employer of $230,000 has been sentenced to 16 months in jail. Linda Cousins, 48, previously pleaded guilty to one count of theft over $5,000. Cousins was the financial controller for Imperial Flooring when, in 2006, she began processing additional paycheques for herself. Over the course of 20 months, Cousins processed more than 65 bogus cheques to herself, one as high as $6,300. Cousins claimed her crimes were driven by depression and a gambling addiction.

Debt-ridden man goes missing with daughter

A man who joked about selling his daughter to settle his huge gambling debts has taken off with the three-year-old girl, and the mother is fearing the worst. Soo Kian Keong, 35, took Ni­­cole Soo Siew Qing out for lunch on June 26 and has not returned to their rented home in Kelana Jaya. The mother, Kristina, a 34-year-old Indonesian national, said Soo left her and their nine-month son Chean Keat with RM100 the day he took Nicole away.

“It was the first time he had gi­­ven us any money. Usually, he would just buy us food. I don’t know what he has done with Ni­­cole. I hope she is safe,’’ said Kris­tina, who goes by a single name, in an interview at the office of MCA Public Services and Com­plaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong yesterday. Kristina, who lodged a report at the Seapark police station in Peta­ling Jaya, said she could not find Nicole’s birth certificate and passport.

Manager lied about having cancer and stole £500,000

An admin manager from Surrey who stole more than £500,000 from his firm to fund his gambling addiction and help an ailing football club has been jailed for three years. Dean Fisher, 36, who was chairman of Croydon Athletic Football Club, embarked on an elaborate scheme to steal money from his employer TCS Media in a bid to keep his treasured club in business. The father-of-four also blew more than £128,000 on gambling and spent about £140,000 on himself, Southwark Crown Court in central London heard. Fisher, who once weighed more than 26 stone, also used his ill-gotten gains to pay privately for an £8,000 gastric bypass operation, getting time off work by telling colleagues he had cancer.

In a victim impact statement, Simon Parker, managing director of Bayswater-based media and advertising agency TCS, said the fraud “left me cold”. He was shocked and upset when he found out his colleague and friend had been lying to him about having cancer, he said. And the firm was left “on its knees”, struggling to keep 35 staff in their jobs during the recession, when the £500,000 loss was discovered, he said.

Worker accused of stealing stimulus checks from disabled

Henry County – An Indianapolis man is in the Henry County jail charged with stealing from the developmentally disabled where he worked. Danny Case, 47, is charged with 94 felonies for stealing federal stimulus checks, but he is suspected of stealing much more than that. Case was a 20-year, trusted employee of Occazio, a family-owned New Castle company that provides support services for the developmentally disabled. Now he’s in jail and charged with stealing from the very people who trusted him most. Court records show that a fellow employee had reason to believe that Case had a gambling problem which led to the thefts.

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

California Welfare recipients withdraw $1.8 million in government benefits at casinos

The Los Angeles times broke a very disturbing story regarding state-issued debit cards used for public assistance being used to withdrawal cash in casinos:

The cards, provided by the Department of Social Services to help recipients feed and clothe their families, work in automated teller machines at 32 of 58 tribal casinos and 47 of 90 state-licensed poker rooms, the review found.

State officials said Wednesday they were working to determine how much money had been withdrawn from casino ATMs by people using the welfare debit cards.

Gov Schwarzenegger’s administration looked into the matter and determined that $1.8 million had been withdrawn since October.  After the story broke, there was tremendous public outcry that such government assistance could be turned into cash and through casino ATM’s of all places.  The Kansas Star reported Schwarzenegger’s executive order:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has issued an executive order barring California welfare recipients from using state-issued debit cards at casino ATMs. Thursday’s order followed a report by The Los Angeles Times that found CalWORKS cards were used to withdraw cash in more than half the casinos in the state. Schwarzenegger’s order requires welfare recipients to sign a pledge that they will use their benefits only to meet the basic needs of their families. It also gives the state Department of Social Services seven days to come up with a plan to reduce other “waste, fraud and abuse” in the welfare program.

Some critics are looking for the Governor to expand new rules to other “seedy” business, while others want to see the cash option completely removed from the welfare program.  Regardless of what action is taken, it’s hard to image the level of harm to California families suffered by $1.8 million in government aid being spent on gambling instead of much needed care.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 6/28-7/4

17 Indicted in Alleged Mob-Related Gambling Rings

Seventeen people were indicted Monday for allegedly taking part in illegal sports gambling rings believed to have mafia ties. Combined, the five operations generated $20 million a year, according the Kings County District Attorney’s office, which filed the charges. “Illegal sports gambling is a cash cow for organized crime, and this case shines a bright light on the connection between the two,” said Charles Hynes, the Kings County District Attorney, in a statement.

Those indicted include six alleged members of the Gambino crime family’s “18th Avenue Crew,” a Brooklyn-based group, who are accused of taking bets through, a sports gambling website. They are charged with promoting gambling, criminal usury and extortion, among other things. If convicted, some could spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Former HUD Exec Sentenced To 1 Year In Prison

A former executive at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Kansas City, Kan., has been sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison for taking pay during time he did not work. In March, a jury found Herman S. Ransom, 53, of Olathe, Kan., guilty on 10 counts of wire fraud and 10 counts of theft of public funds. Prosecutors presented evidence that federal investigators kept Ransom under surveillance while he went to casinos and/or played tennis during hours when he was paid to work. Ransom collected $46,925 for hours he did not work, prosecutors said. Ransom was ordered to pay HUD $46,925 in restitution and a $2,000 special assessment fee.

Hackers Fleece Online Poker Players

Police arrested 33 hackers who used a “distribution of denial of service” program to cheat online poker players out of 55 million won ($45,265) from last November through May. The hackers, led by 30-year-old Yu and 29-year-old Kim, were booked without detention on charges of gaining illegal profits. The Cyber Terror Response Center in Gyeonggi said the gang used a DDOS attack to infect 11,000 computers at 700 PC rooms across the country. Police said Yu bought the “Netbot Attacker” program from a Chinese hacker last November, then sold copies online to Kim and others. The gang broke into the administrative systems of the PC rooms and installed the virus in their computers to allow them to see the hands of poker opponents.

Food bank embezzler sentenced

Former Willits Food Bank Director Susan Lea Gravier, 54, of Willits, was sentenced Wednesday to spend five years formal probation with a two year suspended prison sentence, 360 days in jail and be required to provide full restitution for embezzling $23,000 from the food bank. Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Cindee Mayfield handed down the sentence, following the probation department’s pre-sentencing recommendation. Gravier could have received three years in prison. “As director of the Willits Food Bank, Gravier had access to credit and debit cards issued to the organization and would routinely gamble with the Food Bank’s money at local casinos,” says Hubley.

Footballer shot dead at gambling venue in Sweden

Gunmen shot and killed a Swedish professional footballer and another man early yesterday in southern Sweden, according to the player’s club Assyriska. The player was identified as Eddie Moussa, a 26-year-old striker for the second-tier club. The second man has not yet been named. Police said the men were shot at a venue used for card games in the Ronna area of Sodertalje, about 18 miles south of Stockholm. Police are searching for two or three gunmen who escaped from the scene on a scooter, which was later found burning nearby. No suspects have been identified, police  said.

Woman Charged With Animal Deaths Had Previous Complaints Against Her

FOX 2 News has begun to unravel the untold story of a case of alleged animal cruelty in St. Charles.  The story begins in South St. Louis.  Lori Pellin, 39, accused of two counts of misdemeanor animal abuse, was still in the St. Charles County Jail Tuesday night.   She allegedly left 27 cats and dogs locked inside her hot car in the Ameristar Casino parking garage in St. Charles, Monday.

Nine Year Old attempts Suicide

A gambler used his mother’s credit card to get on Internet gambling sites and lost $10,000. Unable to see any way out of his predicament, he tried to commit suicide. He was 9. “Practically anyone of any age can get on the Internet and gamble,” said Carl E. Robertson, who shared the cautionary tale Thursday at a problem gambling forum hosted by the Berks County Council on Chemical Abuse. Robertson is a training specialist with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania.

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