Monthly Archives: September 2011

Washington D.C. online poker bill passage to come under investigation

Casino Watch Focus reported  that Washington D.C. joined the race to become the first jurisdiction to legalize online poker.  It was further reported that they passed their bill and planned to be open for business in September.  However, the D.C. Lottery stepped in and delayed to process to allow for citizen input.  Now, an online source is reporting that they are going one step farther and investigation the entire process by which the bill was passed:

When your government doesn’t even trust its own politicians there has to be something wrong in Denmark! It seems that some are upset over the way the online poker bill was passed in Washington D.C. earlier this year and now Councilman Jack Evans is calling for an investigation into what he calls the “Sneaky passage” of the legalization bill for the D.C. district.  There is currently an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Inspector General of the D.C. lottery contract award,

Councilman Evans chairs the Committee on Finance and Revenue and is planning to hold a meeting that’s open to the public about the D.C. lottery contract award and he is hoping the gambling bill will also be added. The gambling bill passed because there was a deadline for Congress to reject the bill, but all heads were concentrating on the fiscal budget and the deficit so the gambling bill for intrastate gaming in D.C. passed because of failure to reject.

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


Florida Supreme Court will have Major Impact on Destination Gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing attempt to bring full scale Vegas-style destination casinos to Florida.  The last attempt resulted in a pass in the Senate but it went on to stall in the House. The assumption by the legislature has been that they have free reign to pass legislation to expand gambling without the will of the people because of a circuit court ruling.  Now, an online source is reporting that a Supreme Court case will rule on the case and potentially push would be casino companies out of Florida:

Las Vegas Sands has been at the forefront of the lobbying efforts to expand gambling in Florida to include destination casino resorts. Now, all of the lobbying efforts could hinge on one court ruling. The ruling is expected to decide whether or not the Legislature has the right to authorize casino resorts without the input of the public. If a constitutional amendment is needed, it would likely mean the end of the lobbying efforts in Florida. LVS lobbyist Nick Larossi has already admitted that if the ruling comes down against the current situation, the company would likely close up shop and move on from the idea of Florida as a destination for their future endeavors. The end result may not be known until the case reaches all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.  

Even if the Supreme Court allows the Legislature to expand gambling, there would still be a number of hurdles before full scale destination gambling becomes reality.  The Sun Sentinel Online explains:

Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, who chairs the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, the stopping point for any gaming legislation in the Senate, said he has gotten no indication from Gov. Rick Scott over whether he would even sign a destination casino bill and said he is unsure if he will again offer legislation. “I’m still kind of holding my cards if I’m going to file,” he said. In the House, Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, has been working on a sweeping gaming bill that would limit destination casinos to South Florida and set up a gaming commission to regulate the industry.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 09/12 – 09/18

Gambler beats wife to death

A housewife was beaten to death allegedly by her gambler husband at Degreepara village in Ishwardi upazila on Sunday night. Family sources said, Hatem Ali often tortured his wife Bobita Khatun, 25, after returning from gambling, reports our correspondent.  On Saturday night, Hatem came home at midnight after loosing all money in gambling and started beating Bobita over trifling issue. When Bobita died early in the morning, Hatem poured poison into her mouth to prove the incident a case of suicide. However, police rushed to the spot and recovered the body after the neighbours informed them.

Body found in Ameristar Casino parking garage

Police are investigating the discovery of a deceased woman who was found inside a parked vehicle in the garage of the Ameristar Casino early Friday. Investigators responded to the popular gaming facility just before 4:00 a.m. and located the vehicle and the victim. Authorities believe they may have a tentative identity on the victim and are working now to confirm that information.  They said she is in her 60’s and is from St. Louis.

 Wheels of justice turn slowly in case of North Bergen man murdered in May 2010

The murder trial of the two Atlantic County people accused of abducting a North Bergen man from a casino parking lot and killing him may finally get under way in May 2012. Caballero had just dropped off his family at the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City and was parking his car when police Arno and Kisby stole his car and forced him to go with them. The apparent delay in going to trial stems from the sheer volume of evidence in the case — nearly 50 computer disks and more than 1,000 pages of documents — the Press reported.

 Minn. Man Gets 3-Plus Years for Embezzlement

A former Le Sueur man who pleaded guilty to a federal embezzling charge has been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison. Sixty-three-year-old Delroy Joseph Sand Jr. was also ordered to pay nearly $650,000 in restitution to the retirement funds of his former employees.  Sand was the trustee for the savings plan at Hecla, which provided adult foster care and offered mental-health services. Prosecutors accused Sand of stealing money from the company’s retirement funds to support a gambling habit.

Former tribal administrator sentenced to 1 year for embezzlement

An Emmonak woman will spend a year in prison for stealing about $100,000 from a tribal organization in her Western Alaska village, federal prosecutors say. A U.S. District judge on Friday sentenced former tribal administrator Kathleen Lamont, 45, to serve 12 months for embezzling from Chuloonawick Native Village in Emmonak. She must also pay restitution for the total amount stolen. From 2004 to 2007, Lamont received payroll advances that she never repaid and used the tribal organization credit card to make cash withdrawals and pay personal expenses, federal prosecutors say. Lamont, formerly known as Kathleen Blanket, used much of the money for gambling, prosecutors say.

25 indictments handed down in gambling case

A grand jury in the 70th District Court issued 25 indictments Monday meant to show it doesn’t pay to gamble.  After several July 2 raids on suspected gambling operations, culminating months of undercover investigation into the organizations, 15 arrests were reported by the Odessa American through the beginning of August. “This is the beginning of the legal process and hopefully as a result of these indictments and prosecutions, we’ll be able to put a stop to illegal gambling here in Ector County,” he said.  All 25 of those indicted were charged with engaging in organized criminal activity – gambling promotion, a third-degree felony carrying a punishment of between two years and 10 years in prison.

Lottery gambling addict jailed for embezzlement

A lottery ticket gambling addiction has landed the former finance director of the Valley Forge Convention & Visitors Bureau behind bars after he embezzled more than $700,000 from the organization. “There was so much greed involved in this that the $775,000 wasn’t even enough for him. He was buying lottery tickets to get his hands on even more money,” Bunn alleged. “He is very remorseful for his actions. He had a very severe gambling addiction, in the nature of buying lottery tickets. He bought large numbers on a daily basis,” McMahon said on Barnes’ behalf.

Mom Admits Gambling Away Son’s Cancer Benefit Funds

BUFFALO, NY – A Central New York mother admitted Wednesday she gambled away thousands of dollars meant to go towards the care and treatment of her cancer-stricken son. The boy is a patient here in Buffalo at Roswell Park. Sherry Holcomb, 46, stole $15,000 in benefit proceeds as well as money her son received in get well cards sent to their home in Cortland. She faces a maximum term of up to four years behind bars when sentenced in November.

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


Lenders factoring in Online Gambling in the Mortgage Process

Casino Watch Focus has repeatedly reported on the impacts of online gambling. Most stories have centered on the legal battles to keep online gambling illegal.  However, online gambling stories are now reaching far beyond the political fights as illustrated by the report of Facebook changing their gambling advertising policies. Now, an online source is reporting that social networking isn’t the only industry to look at online gambling, as banks are now factoring in such activities into their mortgage approval process:

Anyone looking to become approved for a mortgage may want to curb their betting habits. It has been reported that lenders are now taking into account betting transactions that are made on an applicants bank account. The most common form of these transactions is online gambling sites.

One of the reasons that financial institutions look into the gambling activity, according to Chief Executive of Mortgage Debt Advisory Firm Negotiate Trevor Grant, is that most people coming looking for a loan, should be tightening their extraneous spending. Gambling, says Grant, is considered to be a red flag that the applicant may not have self control.

The banking industry isn’t just looking at new mortgages either.  Lenders are being especially hard on those looking to refinance or restructure their loans.  Lenders view refinancing as a sign the borrow is having trouble paying and managing their finances and online gambling expenses are then being viewed as a poor allocation of the borrows money.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 09/05 – 09/11

Former Deptartment of Revenue auditor sentenced to prison

The architect of a scheme to defraud Minnesotans out of nearly $2 million was sentenced to five years in federal prison Wednesday. Pamela Dellis, a former auditor for the Minnesota Department of Revenue, said a gambling addiction caused her to concoct a scheme that involved creating more than 200 phony state tax refunds. Dellis enlisted her sister and niece to help with the fraud that lasted nearly five years.  All three had pleaded guilty earlier. “This is a serious and shocking violation of the public trust,” Ericksen said.

 Ex-Aventura condo manager charged with grand theft

More than a year after a complaint was filed with authorities that an Aventura condominium association manager had embezzled about half a million dollars from the association, the State Attorney’s Office has issued an arrest warrant for the confessed suspect, according to Aventura police. Green said the board hired an accounting firm to analyze the condominium association’s account. According to the firm, Rodriguez had allegedly taken about $506,956 from the association from January 2007 to February 2010. The charges are first-degree felonies. “What has made me lose everything I love, my job, my friends, my home, has been an addiction to gambling,’’ she wrote. “I don’t have words to express the shame, humiliation, and hurt that I feel,” Rodriguez added. “I have no words to express this and I take full responsibility for my actions.”

Indiana gambling police post 40 arrests

The Indiana police agency designated to search the state for illegal gambling has arrested more than 40 people on more than 80 gambling-related criminal charges over the past two years. Few states have similar gambling control police, which Indiana legislators created in 2007 to crack down on illegal gambling when they approved adding slot machines at the state’s two horse racing tracks. The Gaming Control Division, part of the Indiana Gaming Commission, reports that more than 5,000 illegal electronic gambling machines often called Cherry Masters are no longer operating in the state, with many of them confiscated.

 Tropicana pays $15K civil penalty

New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow announced a settlement on Friday between the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement and the Tropicana Casino and Resort. Tropicana agreed to a civil monetary penalty of $15,000 after allegedly allowing a person on the exclusion list to gamble without ejecting him as required. “Maintaining integrity within this industry is paramount. We have strict regulations in place to prevent individuals on the exclusion list from gambling in Atlantic City,” David Rebuck, the acting director of the division, said. “I commend Deputy Attorney General R. Lane Stebbins and Investigator George Homa, who uncovered the violations and worked with Tropicana to resolve the charges.”

 Butte woman sentenced for embezzling from union

A 57-year-old Butte woman has been sentenced to three years in prison after she pleaded guilty to embezzling between $170,000 and $220,000 from a labor union. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula sentenced Teresa Wilson to the prison term on Wednesday and ordered her to pay nearly $125,000 in restitution. Wilson pleaded guilty in in May to labor union embezzlement, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Prosecutors allege she took the money over six years to feed a gambling habit.

 Bombers assistant coach banned for betting on his team

Essendon assistant coach Dean Wallis has accepted a 14-match ban from the AFL for making the ”stupid” decision to gamble on AFL matches. AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson said the ban would have been less severe if Wallis had not been ”untruthful” with AFL investigators. Wallis was also fined $7500. The lengthy suspension has rocked the Bombers as they prepare for Sunday’s elimination final against Carlton at the MCG. An AFL investigation involved a review of the original bet at a Bendigo pub-TAB as well as a review of CCTV and betting records at a suburban Melbourne TAB agency. ”What I did was obviously stupid and thoughtless. The situation was only made worse by not fully co-operating with the AFL investigation.

 NJ Investment Adviser Gets 14-Year Prison Sentence For $11.5M Fraud

The owner of a New Jersey-based investment-advising company received a 14-year prison sentence Tuesday after pleading guilty to an $11.5 million fraud, the Justice Department said.  Sandra Venetis, 60, solicited funds from approximately 114 investors over a period of about 13 years, claiming the money would be used in a fictitious investment program that purportedly funded loans to doctors for their quarterly pension plans, according to a release from the department. However, the department said she never transferred any investment money to doctors and created fictitious doctors or forged the names of real doctors on promissory notes to appear she was using investor funds as indicated. Venetis has said she stole money, using investors’ funds to pay for gambling debts in Las Vegas and elsewhere, as well as trips to locales such as Alaska, Italy, France, India and the Caribbean.

Suspect Accused of Stealing $500,000

Investigators with the State Attorney’s Office said James Jackson Jr. took $500,000 from 70-year-old Judith Grimes after promising to use the money for a private investment program.  Jackson, 45, of 4208 Walden View Drive in Brandon, told investigators he invested the money in private funds offered by insurance companies investing in “investment grade” bonds that paid between 38 percent and 42 percent interest. Jackson claimed his clients ultimately earned between 10.5 percent and 11 percent interest on their investments. However, “all previous returns of ‘investments’ seem to have been made from other investors’ monies,” meaning Jackson was running a Ponzi scheme, according to an affidavit. Investigators questioned Jackson about his gambling habits and discovered that he purchased about $252,000 in chips at the Seminole Hard Rock since July 2010.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 08/29 – 09/04

5 detained in attack that killed 52 in Mexico

Police in northern Mexico have arrested five alleged members of the Zetas drug cartel suspected of setting a casino fire that killed 52 people, authorities said Monday. The five men, aged 18 to 37, have confessed to participating in the attack Thursday at the Casino Royale and of belonging to the Zetas drug cartel, the governor said, and some had been arrested before for kidnapping or extortion. Police are investigating whether the attack in the city of Monterrey was in retaliation for not paying extortion money.  The attack “was directed at the casino, not at the people,” Medina said in at a news conference where he also showed a video where two men are seen at filling large jugs with gasoline at a gas station near the crime scene.

Obama condemns deadly attack on Mexican casino

President Barack Obama is condemning as “barbaric” and “reprehensible” a deadly assault on a Mexican casino that killed 52 people. In a statement issued from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., where he is wrapping up a vacation, Obama said Friday that the Mexican government and its people are waging a brave fight to disrupt violent transnational criminal organizations and that the U.S. will remain a partner with Mexico in that fight. He said America’s thoughts and prayers were with the victims and their families.

Gambling debt ‘sparked murder of Hexham pensioner’

A GAMBLING debt could be behind the murder of a pensioner bludgeoned to death in her own home, police said today. Detectives said wanted man Graeme Jarman could have suffered a big loss at the bookies shortly before the killing of 77-year-old spinster Judith Richardson. The 47-year-old, described as “a risk to the public”, is on the run following Miss Richardson’s death in Hexham, Northumberland, two weeks ago. Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Adamson said: “You are aware we are keen to speak to Graeme Jarman, who has committed serious violent and sexual offences in the past. “We have been making lots of inquiries about his background.” “What we know is that he likes sport, including cricket and football, and that he also likes to go to bookmakers and betting shops. “In fact we now know he has had a problem with gambling for years.

 1,474 gamblers arrested in 3 days

More than 1,400 persons have been arrested and 500 cases registered during the past three days of raids on gambling centres across the state. Police said the raids would continue till the menace of gambling is put to an end. The raids were sparked by the suicide of a gambler in Country Club in the city four days ago. “Gambling centres are flourishing in the name of clubs and recreation centres and ruining many families. These centres are host to many anti-social activities across the state which is slurring over the image of the police and government,” Additional Deputy General of Police (Law and Order) SA Huda said.

Teenager plunders girlfriend’s £20,000 account to fuel gambling addiction

A teenager plundered his girlfriend’s bank account and stole most of her £20,000 inheritance to fuel his gambling addiction, a court heard. “This was a persistent and protracted course of offending in breach of trust,” said the judge. “It demonstrated real meanness on your part. It was exploitative and despicable. Those are words properly applied to what you did. “You did it partly because of your gambling addiction and partly because of greed and the opportunity being there.” “Soon after she ended the relationship with him he admitted in Facebook messages that he was responsible for taking the money and that it was spent on gambling. “He said he’d had a gambling addiction since August 2010 and would take bus trips into town when she was at college and make withdrawals so he could bet at Ladbroke’s.

Mexican army, feds raid casinos after arson attack

Hundreds of soldiers and federal agents are raiding casinos in this northern city, authorities said Saturday, two days after an arson attack on a gambling house killed 52 people and stunned a country that had become numb to massacres and beheadings. Security forces had so far confiscated about 1,500 slot machines at 11 casinos in Monterrey and its surroundings and arrested three people, Mexico’s tax agency said. It said the continuing operation was meant to verify whether casinos had paid taxes or introduced slot machines illegally. Thursday’s arson attack by gunmen was a macabre milestone in a conflict that the government says has claimed more than 35,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels in late 2006. Others put the death toll near 40,000. The torching of the Casino Royale has raised questions over Mexico’s regulatory controls for fast-spreading gambling houses.

Sparks office manager sentenced in $750K embezzlement case

A Sparks office manager accused of embezzling of nearly $750,000, causing dozens of construction workers to be laid off, was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison ordered to pay back the money. Terry Straw, 58, blamed her gambling addiction and love of slot machines for why she stole nearly 3/4 of a million dollars from Reno-Tahoe Construction Inc. during a five-year period. “There is widespread damage with that much money stolen … it was like a nuclear explosion when this happened,” he said.  Reeder said Straw’s theft caused him to lay off 60 people, and the business almost had to close. Now, although fragile, the company does have mining projects outside of Northern Nevada and have rehired employees.

 He took all our money’: Embezzlement threatens future of Kirkland charity

A Kirkland-based charity that’s been swindled out of more than $112,000, according to federal criminal charges, has lost so much money that its future operations are in jeopardy. “This is an awful thing that’s happened to us,” said Steve Lamson, founder of the RMH (Ronald McDonald House) Holiday Cruise. “He took all our money.” Morrison is charged with stealing at least $112,220, although other parts of an investigation estimate the total loss at more than $142,220. “There might be $4,000, maybe $5,000 left,” said Lamson.

Lamson founded the nonprofit cruise in 1982 and expanded it in 1996 by drawing support from the Kirkland Police Department and other sponsors, now including the Medina Police Department, the Seattle Police Officers Guild, Argosy Cruises and the Overlake Golf & Country Club. “It just kept growing,” said Lamson, and now the cruise takes hundreds of ill children and their families on Christmas Eve voyages on Lake Washington annually. The children are victims of such illnesses as leukemia and are residents of Seattle’s Ronald McDonald House.

Morrison was suspended by the Ohio company in December, 2008, and formally fired in January, 2009, Carroll added. Morrison was dismissed from the Holiday Cruise on Jan. 20, 2009, for suspected theft. He now lives in Tallahassee, Fla. When he was asked about the possible thefts in 2008 and early 2009, Morrison replied that he “had a gambling problem,” Carroll continued.

SunFirst Bank Could Go Belly Up After Online Poker Indictments

SunFirst Bank, which is alleged to have processed online poker transactions and disguising them as dog food and golf ball purchases, appears to be on life support. Executives of the bank were charged along side the co-founders of three online poker companies, including Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and UB.com. The FDIC ordered the St. George, Utah-based bank to take corrective action in order to raise needed capital or otherwise sell the bank.  “They are facing the same troubles that all banks in the country are facing,” said Tom Bay, supervisor of banks for the Utah Department of Financial Institutions. “The real estate downturn and the economic crisis have hurt the banking industry.”  SunFirst was widely believed to have been in trouble at the time they forged a relationship with the three big US-facing online poker rooms.  In exchange for allowing the gambling transactions, the online poker companies are alleged to have invested in the financial institution.

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


Facebook to Ban Online Gambling Advertisements in US

Casino Watch Focus has reported on many of the ongoing online gambling battles both locally and abroad.  Most reports have focused on which states were entertaining legalizing online poker, but others have looked at the impact of national laws on international companies. A new international company to look at revamping their business practices due to national online gambling laws is Facebook.  An online source is reporting that Facebook is banning online gambling advertisements in jurisdictions that make online gambling illegal:

Recently, Facebook has started to clamp down on different forms of advertising. Online gambling is one of those areas addressed in the most recent update. One site that will be prohibited from advertising on Facebook will be Full Tilt Poker. The company recently lost their gaming license in Alderney after falling behind on payments. The online poker site also has closed its doors to customers since Black Friday in the US, when executives for the site were indicted. Other online poker sites, including PokerStars, will be allowed to advertise on Facebook.

One of the clarifications that Facebook has made regarding their online gambling advertising, is the company can only promote their product outside the US. The US has online gambling prohibition in place, and Facebook is ensuring they are not promoting something that the government deems illegal.

The Internet gambling laws in the US could change in the coming months with many lawmakers pushing a bill that would regulate online poker. If online poker became regulated in the country, Facebook would likely change their advertising policies once again to allow companies to promote their online poker sites to US citizens.   

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