Monthly Archives: August 2010

UPDATE: St Louis down to one proposal to replace the President Casino

Casino Watch Focus has reported that the Missouri Gaming Commission is accepting bids to replace the now closed President Casino.  The Chain of Rocks area in North St Louis is one of several potential areas the Gaming Commission is considering to locate the state’s 13th casino.  The St Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that the number of interested companies in North St Louis has been drastically reduced:

In a letter to city officials and the Missouri Gaming Commission, the California-based LLC said it’s withdrawing its proposal to build $284 million casino and commercial complex just north of the Chain of Rocks Bridge in north St. Louis. No reason was given.

That leaves Casino Celebration, a proposal by members of the Koman family, as the only casino proposal on the table in the City of St. Louis. They laid out plans for a $115 million, 120,000 square foot casino on land just south of the Chain of Rocks.

In its letter, Plain Joe endorsed Koman’s plan. The group is still exploring a “mixed-use, destination-type development” (maybe a recreational harbor or water park) on the 70-acre site north of the bridge known as Pier St. Louis. And, they said, a casino down the street might help.

The City has a meeting planned in the upcoming days to determine if they will endorse the Koman bid.  An endorsement would be perceived positively by the Gaming Commission, which might help them accept the bid and keep gambling confined to a market already exposed to and saturated by a gambling culture. 

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

Quality of Life Group in Cape Girardeau is against casino

Casino Watch Focus has been reporting on the possibility of Missouri’s 13th Casino license being awarded in the Cape Girardeau area.  The city had voted in a past election to not allow a casino in the area.  A group, called the Quality of Life Group, gathered signatures to put the issue back on the ballot.  They were successful and the issue will now face a vote.  The South East Missourian is now reporting that the group is actually opposed to a casino and will campaign for a “NO” vote on the issue:

After successfully petitioning to force a vote on gambling, Quality of Life in Cape Girardeau will reinvent itself this week as a campaign committee to persuade voters to reject a casino, spokesman Doug Austin said Monday.

[Doug Austin] said the committee will focus on the economic questions of whether money spent at a casino would be spent in Cape Girardeau anyway.  “The one thing this committee will stand for is truth and fairness,” Austin said.

The other point the committee will make is that every dollar in local taxes paid by the casino comes at the price of someone losing money while gambling, Austin said.  “In my opinion, this is built on losing,” he said. “I do not see the success of our city and the future generations of our city being built on the foundation of people losing money. I don’t want to predicate my success on your failure.”

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

Mobile Casinos Sweep the Nation

Casino Watch Focus has warned of the dangers of legalizing online gambling many time.  But one gray area appears to be Mobile Gambling.  Although it seems quite obviously that mobile devices are simply accessing the internet and any gambling that results ought to be regulated as such, an online source is reporting that mobile application and the gambling they allow is an ever growing and expanding business:

A study undertaken by industry analysts at Gartner advisory firm projected that the growing popularity of mobile gambling shows no signs of stopping: Some $5.6 billion dollars will be made in mobile gaming end-user revenue in 2010 and this figure is expected to reach $11.4 billion in 2014. A 2009 study from Juniper Research figured that the mobile casino market alone would be worth over $1 billion by 2011.

The Gartner study also calculated that mobile devices users will download $6.2 billion worth of applications at online stores this year, representing a doubling of 2009 revenues and just 20% of all app downloads.

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

Congress debates legalizing and regulating Internet Gambling

Casino Watch focus reported in April that Rep. Barney Frank was attempting to legalize and regulate Internet Gambling by introducing the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act. Many groups including all the major sports organizations, expressed their opposition.  Now, the New York Times is reporting that steps are being taken to bring the bill back up for debate:

On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee approved a bill that would effectively legalize online poker and other nonsports betting, overturning a 2006 federal ban that critics say merely drove Web-based casinos offshore. The bill would direct the Treasury Department to license and regulate Internet gambling operations, while a companion measure, pending before another committee, would allow the Internal Revenue Service to tax such businesses.

This vote is an early measure that simply opens the bill up for debate and its far from being passed.  There still exits huge opposition to such a measure.  The Times continues:

Opponents, who only four years ago, when Congress was controlled by the Republicans, secured a law that banned the use of credit and debit cards to pay online casinos, said they were aghast. “People sometimes resort to drastic things when they are strapped for cash,” said Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia, who called the new proposals “unfathomable.”

The committee’s top Republican, Representative Spencer Bachus of Alabama, noting the passage of far-reaching changes in financial regulation this month, said that “after all the talk last year about shutting down casinos on Wall Street,” he was incredulous that members would vote to “open casinos in every home and every bedroom and every dorm room, and on every iPhone, every BlackBerry, every laptop.”

The bill would allow each state government to opt out of the legislation.  Many State Attorney Generals oppose Online Gambling from a law enforcement perspective.  The New York Times explains:

In 1999, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission urged the prohibition of Internet gambling. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has said he would not support efforts to legalize online gambling, a view shared by most state attorneys general.

“Because Internet gambling is essentially borderless activity, from a money-laundering and terrorism-financing perspective, it creates a regulatory and enforcement quagmire,” said James F. Dowling, a former special agent with the Internal Revenue Service.

And Mr. Bachus released a November letter from the F.B.I. in which Shawn Henry, the assistant director of the cyber division, said it would be difficult for companies to verify the age and location of their customers.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 8/16 – 8/22

Parents Leaving Children In Car While Gambling Becoming A Problem

Casinos and state governments have made advancements that are keeping deadbeat parents from collecting on winning jackpots. The next issue the casinos may tackle is the growing trend of parents leaving children in the car while they go in a casino to gamble. The trend is one that is sweeping across the US. The intention is usually to go inside the casino, play the slot machines for a few minutes, and return to the car. Too often, however, the parents are staying in the casino for hours and the children are being found by security guards.

The latest episode came on Thursday in Pennsylvania when Sharon Balek was charged with child endangerment. Her children, eight and fifteen years of age, had been left in the car for six hours while Balek was in the casino gambling. This is a growing problem that authorities are concerned about. “We’ve had calls through the years with kids left in shopping centers, but what’s making this hot is that we’ve had five in just a two month period,” said Fred Harran, public safety director in Bensalem, as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer. “The gambling addiction, the glitter of it all, people go in to gamble and forget the kids. I just don’t get it.”

How tax collector could not resist casino, then crime

O’Neill is the Jenkintown tax collector who embezzled $225,000 to fund his slots habit at Parx Casino in Bensalem. He lost all of it, plus $125,000 of his own dough. The gambling addiction cost O’Neill his house, son, job, and pride. At 50, he’s living in his mother’s basement. He’ll soon plead guilty and could spend seven years in prison. He vows to repay every cent, but might die trying. “Gambling changed me, who I was, who I wanted to be,” O’Neill concludes. And it happened “because that casino was so close. I couldn’t stay away.”

Former N.J. Merrill Lynch financial advisor who stole $700K gets 7 years in prison

A financial adviser in New Jersey who stole more than $700,000 from dozens of clients and spent the money himself is headed to state prison. Stephen Severio of Fair Haven received a seven-year term Friday. He also must make restitution to his victims. Severio pleaded guilty in February to commercial bribery and two counts of theft by deception. His lawyer blamed Severio’s actions on a severe gambling addiction, for which he is now receiving treatment.

California men face allegations of illegal races with horses on coke, meth

A GROUP of men have been charged with animal cruelty and illegal gambling for operating a clandestine horse-racing circuit in San Joaquin County, California, that involved doping horses with methamphetamine and cocaine. A total of nine men have been charged along with the lead defendants, Manuel Monroy and his son, Simon Monroy-Segovia, who both stand charged with more than 30 counts, including animal cruelty, horse doping, bookmaking and holding bets. According to investigators, the clandestine horse races often drew big crowds who lined the quarter-mile straight tracks to watch so-called match races of two horses ridden by jockeys dressed in traditional racing silks.

Husband was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing his pathologist wife in front of young son

Habeel Khan was ordered to spend at least 15 years behind bars for the murder of Dr Iffat Kamal. But the 46-year-old maintains his innocence and will tomorrow take his case to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh. A jury found her husband guilty of murder by majority verdict. He had offered a guilty plea to the lesser charge of culpable homicide but the Crown rejected it. Their two young sons were in the house at the time of the murder. The older boy, who was aged nine, gave detailed evidence during the trial of how he witnessed the murder. The court also heard Khan had a gambling habit and that he had lost £17,000 in spread betting.

Defendants Agree To Forfeit $13.3M In Online Gambling Case

Two payment processors and their owner have agreed to forfeit $13.3 million to resolve claims that the funds were involved in money laundering.  The funds are alleged to be traceable to the Pokerstars website based in the Isle of Man. U.S. prosecutors contend some of the money in question was traceable to wire transfers from outside the U.S. “by individuals and entities who knew that the funds involved represented the proceeds of the illegal transmission of gambling information and the operation of an illegal gambling business.

Tennis player Koellerer gets 2 years’ probation for putting gambling info on website

Former top-60 player Daniel Koellerer and his manager, Manfred Nareyka, have been placed on two years’ probation because Koellerer’s personal website listed odds for matches and had links to sites for placing bets. The Tennis Integrity Unit, the sport’s anti-corruption group, said Thursday that Koellerer and Nareyka “admitted” breaking rules about “facilitating betting.” If found to violate anti-corruption rules in the next two years, Koellerer, a 27-year-old Austrian ranked 134th, would be fined about $19,000 and suspended for three months. Nareyka would be barred from access to tournaments for a year. Otherwise, the penalties would expire.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 8/9 – 8/15

‘High roller’ gets four-year sentence

According to one gambling associate at the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, Shellee Spinks “played the part of a high roller,” tipping waitresses $500 or dropping a hundred bucks in the doorman’s palm. Spinks, 47, a paralegal who passed herself off as a lawyer, was sentenced yesterday to four years in prison for defrauding clients of of $2.6 million. The Hamilton woman pleaded guilty in April to 16 criminal charges, including theft by power of attorney, 12 counts of theft by conversion, perjury, obstruction of justice, and uttering a forged document.

Ex-worker admits stealing $630K from Newark trucking company

A former employee of a Newark trucking company pleaded guilty to theft by deception for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office announced today. A prosecutor said Marco Laviola, 35, of North Bergen stole about $630,000 from Sal Son Trucking Company on Doremus Avenue between 2005 and 2007, according to a press release. The release said Laviola obtained false or fraudulent checks drawn on the company’s business account and distributed the money to co-conspirators. Assistant Prosecutor Jane Plaisted said Laviola, who stole the money to support his gambling habit, has agreed to make restitution to the victim.

Man Dies After Being Shot in Gambling Dispute

An Inwood man died in Harlem Hospital Thursday after being shot two days earlier during a gambling dispute, police said. Emergency responders rushed him to the hospital in critical condition. The location where Ford was shot is actually a private address that plays host to illegal gambling, NYPD sources said. No suspects have been arrested, and the incident remains under investigation, NYPD sources said.

Woman kills children, commits suicide

Apparently unhappy with the drinking and gambling habits of her husband, a woman first hanged her two minor children and then committed suicide at Rajpura village near here, police said today.    The woman identified as Droupdi first hanged her daughter Rashmi (9), and son Pradeep (6) and then committed suicide in the same manner late last night. She was frustrated over her husband Janki Patel’s alleged bad habits of indulging in gambling and consuming liquor, they said.    Patel had recently sold his land in Rs 20 lakh, out of which he had spent Rs 17.18 lakh in gambling and liquor following which the couple had a frequent altercation over the issue and possibly this forced her to take the extreme step late last night, police said.

Kansas City man pleads guilty to role in $3.5 million online bookmaking business

A federal crackdown on illegal online sports bookmaking has netted another guilty plea in a Kansas City operation involving more than $3.5 million in bets. The U.S. Attorney’s office says 57-year-old Michael Lombardo pleaded guilty Wednesday to conducting an illegal gambling business.  Prosecutors said Lombardo admitted conducting the operation from March 2006 to March 2009. The Kansas City-based business relied on a website with a computer server located in Costa Rica.

Pa. man who killed NJ casino boss gets 30 years

A Pennsylvania man who admitted gunning down a New Jersey casino supervisor last year has been sentenced to 30 years in state prison without parole. The Norristown, Pa., man has admitted that he walked into Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in 2009 with a gun and targeted Kot, whom he knew from regularly gambling there. Magee has said he believed casinos cheat gamblers by electronically manipulating table games like roulette and craps.

Carmichael woman stole from abused children’s group

A Carmichael woman is accused of using a Visa debit card she was authorized to use as an employee of an advocacy group for abused children to withdraw thousands for gambling, says the Woodland Police Department. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) administrators made a report with Woodland police on July 29 that they believed a employee was embezzling money, said Sgt. Anthony Cucchi. During their investigation, Cucchi said detectives learned approximately $30,000 in unauthorized funds had been withdrawn by Medlock between April and July. Medlock is believed to have gambled the funds at four casinos, Cucchi said.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 8/2 – 8/8

13-Year-Old Sacramento Boy Chained As Punishment

Sacramento Police report that a 13-year-old boy is now safe after his father and step-mother chained him down to their kitchen table, off and on, for several days. Sacramento police responded to reports of a juvenile walking around the neighborhood hancuffed with chains around his neck asking for help Friday night.

When police arrived they said the boy reported his father and step-mother had chained him down to the kitchen table to keep him in the house while they went gambling. Police believe the boy had been chained off-and-on since Wednesday, and finally managed find a key and escape Friday. His aunt says it wouldn’t be the first time they left him to do that. She says they kicked him out just before taking a trip to Vegas in March.

Ex-RUC man to face trial for OAP’s murder

A former police inspector is to stand trial for the murder of a wealthy widow  in Belfast more than 20 years ago, a judge has ruled. [He] is accused of killing 80-year-old Annabella Symington  at her home in the south of the city. The ex-RUC officer, who served in the force for more than 20 years, is also  charged with stealing a purse containing £200 from the pensioner. Mrs Symington’s body was discovered by a neighbour at her house in Willesden  Park, Stranmillis, on Halloween night in 1989.  During a previous court hearing it was alleged that [he] was a gambling addict who went to the  victim’s home to ask for money.

Man stole more than $200,000 from New Prague construction firm

A subcontractor who admitted to stealing funds from Rybak Construction of New Prague to support a gambling habit was ordered to pay $222,522 in restitution and will serve 45 days in jail. Richard Rybak, owner of the construction company, reported the theft to New Prague police in February last year. Rybak said he hired Fulton in July 2007 to find jobs for the construction company. Eventually, said Rybak, he discovered that job payments from customers were not being placed directly into Rybak’s bank account. Rybak told police he suspected that Fulton was keeping the money.

His suspicions were confirmed on Dec. 11, 2008, according to court records, when Fulton sent Rybak an e-mail in which he admitted, “I have a gambling problem and have been having some of my customers pay me. I owe the company a lot of the collection money that is out there.” Fulton added that “the bottom line is I owe the company the money and I will get it paid back somehow.”

Bradford trial hears man told sister he had stolen £920 from father’s account

A murder accused was desperate for money after plundering his father’s bank account to feed his gambling habit, a jury heard. Reaben Kareem’s sister told him: “Shame on you” when she found out what he had done. Kareem and Osman deny murder but admit conspiracy to rob. Three days before Tony was killed, Kareem and his sister, Heasho, communicated on MSN Messenger.  She told him their father had had money stolen from his account and the family was going to the bank.  Kareem, whose user name was Iwantmorethan, told her he took the money and asked her to say nothing.

AFSCME Official in Milwaukee Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement From Voter Fund

Casinos held a special appeal for Paula Dorsey, even as her losses mounted. Her big mistake was using union funds to cover those losses. Dorsey, formerly president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 48, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to embezzling roughly $180,000 in union funds, though the actual thefts were around $30,000 more than that. She admitted her actions to officials of the Milwaukee labor organization after being contacted by the union bank concerning suspicious withdrawals. In addition to payment of restitution, she faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

Japan Police Raid Yakuza Offices as Part of Sumo Gambling Scandal

Japanese police on Monday raided the offices of yakuza gangs in connection with a widening gambling scandal tarnishing the tradition-steeped sport of sumo. The raids followed the arrests of three gangsters and a former sumo wrestler on Sunday on suspicion they extorted Y6 million ($A76,623) from a broker of illegal baseball gambling. Sumo’s governing body has said at least 27 wrestlers, masters and others from 13 sumo training centres or “stables” have admitted to illegally gambling on the results of Japanese professional baseball games. Betting in Japan is permitted only on horse racing and certain motor sports.

EAST ST. LOUIS > Man is sentenced in Ponzi scheme

A man from Trenton, Ill., was sentenced Monday to 87 months in federal prison for bilking elderly investors out of $1.8 million in a Ponzi scheme, federal prosecutors said. Lavern Huelsmann, 44, pleaded guilty in April to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering and admitted running the scam under the business name Senior Retirement Services. Prosecutors say Huelsmann used money from investors in Southern Illinois and elsewhere for personal expenses, gambling, his own investments and to “build, decorate and accessorize” his home.

Caregiver took $65K from Tinley woman

Police are looking for a live-in caregiver who they said funded a gambling habit by stealing $65,000 from a 73-year-old Tinley Park woman.  Tinley Park police said Monday the case is still under investigation and no warrants have been issued.  The caregiver, 40, is from New Lenox and had been caring for the wheelchair-bound woman since last year, police said.The woman, of the 16100 block of Lake Villa Avenue, told police that she grew suspicious when her checks began bouncing last month. She talked on July 22 with the caregiver, who began to cry when questioned about the checks, police said.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/26-8/1

Extortion: Kidnapping charge hangs over 11 suspects

Police have roped in eight more suspects, including two women, to assist in the investigation of an extortion case that occurred here last Saturday. That means police are now detaining and interrogating 11 suspects in connection with the case which rocked the town in the past few days.  A 22-year-old unemployed man from Sarikei, surnamed Lu, together with his fiancee, a 20-year-old college student surnamed Ting, were believed to have  engineered the plot to raise money for Lu to settle his gambling debts. Lu, a suspected habitual gambler and drug addict, had apparently gambled heavily and lost during the recent World Cup.

Ballarat woman charged with $500,000 employer theft

BALLARAT woman allegedly stole $522,000 from her former employer to feed her gambling habit, a court heard yesterday.  Ballarat Crime Investigation Unit Detective Senior Constable Barry Hills said Berrigan was working at Summerfield Wines in Moonambel from 2006 to 2009. He said it was during this time she allegedly sent internet money transactions from the business account to her personal account to fund a gambling addiction. The alleged theft was discovered by a bank audit this month. “It allegedly occurred regularly over a four-year period to the value of $522,000,” he said.

66 Arrested For Gambling, Cock Fighting

Forty-two people, including a woman, were arrested for gambling at a squatter area in Pantai Dalam, here last night. Twenty-four others were arrested for engaging in cock-fighting in Bandar Puteri Puchong Sunday.  Kuala Lumpur vice, gambling and secret society investigation department staff officer DSP Razali Abu Samah said those arrested in Pantai Dalam were four local men and 38 Indonesians aged between 19 and 65. “Police raided the place at 9.15pm and found them playing the ‘bola gelek’ game at the back of a sundry shop in the area,” he told Bernama. Three of them were with passports, nine with red identity cards and 26 without documents.  He said police also seized RM7,723 in cash and several gambling paraphernalia.  Meanwhile, police arrested 24 people for engaging in cock-fighting in Bandar Puteri Puchong near here.

Atherton bank manager found, makes admissions to police about missing $3.1m

BUSTED banker Colin Carleton’s own children barely recognised the man in the dock whose secret double life led him to gamble $3 million of his customers’ money. None of us had any idea of his alter ego or secret double life.”I feel totally betrayed myself. “But I’m not going to judge him. I’ll let the court do that.” He said the suggestion by investigators was that Mr Carleton had been using the term deposit accounts of his customers to fund his “addiction to online gambling or share market trading”. “The financial crime private investigators for the bank told me the addiction can be as bad as heroin and just as hard to stop.

Cancer conman jailed for two years

A man who told Catholic churchgoers he needed money to pay for his cancer treatment and fleeced them out of a quarter of a million dollars to support his gambling habit has been jailed.  Police said he convinced fellow parishioners at the [Church] he was suffering from cancer and needed the money to pay for treatment. He had, in fact, only suffered a brief period of minor illness, and spent most of the money on gambling.  Between 2003 and May last year, good Samaritans from Mr Marychurch parish collected a total of $265,010 for him.  In handing down the sentence, Auckland District Court Judge Nicola Mathers said the offending was ”worse than that of a common thief”. ‘Your actions preyed on the generosity and Christian beliefs of those parishioners.” Most of the victims were elderly, of limited means, and would not live to see any of the reparation Marychurch had been ordered to pay, at $50 a week, when he is released from prison.

Man Shot in Neck Outside Harlem Social Club

A man was critically wounded when he was shot outside an after hours club in Harlem Tuesday morning, police said. The victim was taken to Harlem Hospital where he is listed in critical condition, according to police. No arrests have been made, but an investigation into the shooting is ongoing. Police at the scene said that the facility has been linked to illegal gambling activity.

Police rescue child from locked car outside casino

A father accused of abandoning his toddler for hours inside a locked van in an Alberta casino parking lot on a hot day is facing charges. RCMP in Cochrane were forced to smash open the van’s passenger side window to free the child, who was found in distress at the Stoney Nakoda Casino Saturday around 2:40 p.m. The toddler was covered in sweat and looked to be dehydrated, police say.

Stark County sues to recover embezzled $3 million

Stark County filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday to try to recover some of the nearly $3 million embezzled from the county treasurer’s office. The suit names as defendants former Chief Deputy Treasurer Vincent Frustaci, who admitted stealing and gambling away county cash; Treasurer Gary Zeigler; and two companies that had insured Zeigler in his public position.

”The county taxpayers are out a lot of money,” county Prosecutor John Ferrero said after filing the suit in Common Pleas Court. ”It’s time to do something.  . . . We felt we had to bring this to a head and get it in court.” Authorities arrested Frustaci last month. He has admitted to stealing nearly $2.5 million over several years starting in 2003. He was fired in April 2009 after the theft was discovered. In all, $2.9 million is missing, according to a special state audit.

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