Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot Odds Not Worth Chasing

Casino Watch Focus has consistently educated the public on the risks of gambling.  Each year the number of those trapped in gambling’s web increases and the amount of money gambled continues to climb.  One online source points to out that Global Betting and Gaming Consultants resent finding’s show that world wide gambling reached $419 billion in 2011.  Even though most people probably think of casinos, the lottery actually accounts for the most gambling at 28%.  Lotteries popularity always climbs as the jackpots increase.  One of the largest multi-state lotteries, Mega Millions, has an estimated jackpot of $540 million.  These large jackpots create a frenzy of gamblers, some of whom have terrible gambling addictions and some who just play on these types of occasions.  But how good are your odds at winning?  The USA Today points out, the odds are definitely not worth the chase:

Social media users were buzzing about the jackpot on Facebook and Twitter, mostly about what they would do with the money, but also about the tiny possibility of winning the top prize. The odds? About 1 in 176 million.

“I’m reading an article about what to do after you hit the mega millions jackpot. Next article, how to housebreak your unicorn,” says @scottbhuff on Twitter. Some posters link to a someecards.com poster that shows a man consoling a woman, and include this phrase: “Plenty of people don’t win the lottery the first few thousand times they play.”

To put your chances of winning the Mega Millions jackpot into perspective, you are:

About 176 times more likely to be struck by lightning in your lifetime.

About 3.76 times more likely to be killed by fireworks this year.

Almost 9 times more likely to die from a TV falling on your head this year.

Considering the article goes on to explain that people are spending $50 to $100 at time, its easy to see how people will use large jackpots as a time to loose control and spend beyond their means chasing the impossible.

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

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A Brief Look at Crime 03/19 – 03/25

Tucson robbery, police chase ends in deadly crash

Two men suspected of following a group of women and robbing them in their home are dead after a chase lead to a car crash in the early morning hours on Tuesday, according to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Four men approached a group of women late Monday night at Casino del Sol in Tucson. The women left the casino shortly after the encounter because they felt uncomfortable, according to the Sheriff’s Department. When the women arrived home, they realized were followed by the four men in a white Jeep Cherokee. The women were able to get inside of the garage of the house. However, the four men were able to crawl under the garage door, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Filipino Counter-Strike Gambling Leaves One Dead

Police in the Filipino capitol of Manila have arrested a suspect they believe murdered a man following an argument over a game of Counter-Strike. The two men, along with a group of others, were playing the popular Valve shooter in one of the city’s many internet cafes. A 300 peso (roughly $7 USD) bet was placed on the outcome of the match, but when it came time to pay up the losing team began arguing the result. The alleged murderer then followed Eric Cristobal back to his home, where police say Cristobal was stabbed to death. “He [Cristobal] did not start the quarrel. He just got caught up in it. But they all had long been betting on Counter-Strike,” said police investigator Noel Ibanez, following the unnamed assailant’s arrest. There’s no punchline here, boys and girls. A man is dead over a petty dispute and an even more petty amount of money. Sometimes the world is a swirling ball of terrible.

 Pinnacle faces penalty for falling short on riverfront investments  

 

In 2004, Pinnacle Entertainment made a deal with the city to invest $50 million in revitalizing the riverfront area within five years of opening its $507 million Lumière Place casino. A year later, Pinnacle promised a $25 million condo tower on Laclede’s Landing. In 2006, the company announced plans to build stores and additional condos as part of a second phase of Lumière Place, which opened in December 2007.  But the recession hit — and the projects were canceled. Pinnacle now faces a December deadline. Its only investment outside of its casino complex: the $9.8 million Stamping Lofts project. And even though it is getting full credit for the project, its financial investment was just $2 million. If the company does not make, or get credit for, the remaining $37.6 million in real estate investments by the end of the year, the redevelopment agreement requires Pinnacle to pay a $1 million penalty, called an “additional city services fee,” in January 2013.

 

Online Gambling Addict Jailed for £230k Theft

An accounts clerk that stole £236,000 from her employer to fund her online gambling addiction has been sentenced to nearly four years in jail for her fraudulent actions. Kay Fearnley, 55, was jailed for three years and nine months having admitted to stealing the money from Leeds-based Brahm PR. The Crown Court in Leeds was told how offences were committed over a six year period and were not uncovered until she was made redundant from the company. Defending Fearnley, Graham Parkin, claimed: “She was shocked when the total sum was put to her in interview. “She could not believe the total amount. As often happens, she took the first payment with a then addiction to gambling. “She always believed she could win enough money to put the money back.”

Judge jails IT analyst who defrauded employers of $1.5M 

An information technology analyst who defrauded his employer of more than $1.5 million by buying and then reselling computer equipment to support his gambling addiction has been sentenced to three years and eight months in prison. Marc J. Morrissette, 43, was working with Golder Associates, a ground engineering and environmental service company, when he used an internal ordering system to purchase $1,516,156 worth of computer equipment from Dell, Insight and the company’s own internal supply kept at their Calgary headquarters over a three-year period from 2006 to 2009. One man said he bought 40 to 60 Panasonic laptop computers from Morrissette. Morrissette was fired from that job and seven months later became the IT manager at the Westin Hotel.

 Kids Left in Car While Mom Gambled, Police Say

Kansas City, Kan. mother faces charges of child endangerment after police say she left her children alone while she was gambling inside a casino. Police say Katrina Denise Roades, 31, left her three children, ages 9, 8 and six months old outside in the parking lot on March 3, while she went to play slots at the Argosy Casino. A security officer found one of the older girls wandering in the parking lot. The girl told the officer her mom’s name and led the officer to the family’s car. That’s when the officer found the other daughter and the infant. Police believe Roades was inside the casino for about an hour and a half from 4:00 p.m. until 6:20 p.m., leaving the kids alone in 40 degree temperatures.

 Two Joplin, Missouri Men Indicted for Internet Gambling

Two Joplin, Mo., men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for operating an illegal gambling operation over the Internet. Springfield, MO – infoZine – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that William Lisle, 57, and Kenneth B. Lovett, 72, both of Joplin, were charged in a 16-count indictment that was returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., on Feb. 29, 2012. The indictment was unsealed upon the arrests and initial court appearances of Lisle and Lovett. The federal indictment alleges that Lisle and Lovett utilized the Internet to transmit wagering information, including placing bets on sporting events, as part of their gambling business from Jan. 1, 2003, to Feb. 8, 2011. Lisle is also charged with 15 counts of money laundering. The indictment alleges that Lisle sent money from the gambling operation to Costa Rica by Federal Express in an effort to conceal the proceeds.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 03/12 – 03/18

5 hurt in shootings outside Vegas casino, hospital

LAS VEGAS —    Police fired shots in the parking structure of a Las Vegas resort casino as they interrupted a gang-related gunbattle just hours before the marquee event of a NASCAR race weekend that brought hundreds of thousands of tourists to town, authorities said Monday. Three people were wounded in the gunfire as others dove for cover shortly before 4 a.m. Sunday on the fourth floor of the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino parking structure, police said. One wounded man disappeared while two were taken to University Medical Center, where gunfire in the parking lot about 90 minutes later wounded two more men. Police believe the two shootings are related.

Scranton man sentenced to 6 to 23 months in jail for stealing $100G

A city man was sentenced Wednesday to serve between six and 23 months in Lackawanna County Prison for stealing $100,000 from his former employer to support a gambling addiction. Carl Graziano Jr., 25, was arrested in July on charges of stealing and cashing a $100,000 check from Weitsman’s Recycling Center, a scrap-metal business on North Keyser Avenue, on July 22, authorities had said. At that time, Mr. Graziano had lost more than $50,000 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino in Plains Twp. over several weeks, including $46,700 on July 22, a complaint stated. Mr. Walker said that Mr. Graziano in October 2010 sought help at a treatment center for his gambling  addiction. “When he suffered a relapse, he did what gamblers do. It mushroomed so badly,” Mr. Walker said. “He screwed up, and he screwed up in a major fashion.”

 

FBI Probes Auburn Point Shaving:  Guard Varez Ward Implicated

The FBI has begun a probe into possible point shaving at Auburn, specifically suspended point guard Varez Ward.  He is accused of attempted point shaving in at least two games, according to a Yahoo Sports report filed Thursday. The FBI began its investigation in late February centering on losses to Alabama on Feb. 7 and Arkansas on Jan. 25. “The NCAA takes any allegation of point shaving very seriously because sports wagering threatens two of our core principles — the well-being of student-athletes and the very integrity of intercollegiate sport,” the NCAA said in a written statement Thursday. “As allegations of point shaving, if proven, are also potential federal crimes, the NCAA will defer action until any process with the FBI has concluded.”

 Miami police seize gun, make 49 arrests at Liberty Square public housing

An AK-47 assault rifle sat on a Liberty Square porch unattended. While “lost and alone,” it managed to be retrieved by Miami police, and make it “home” safely.  Although the owner of the weapon couldn’t be located and an arrest couldn’t be made, Maj. David Magnusson said he is grateful to have it confiscated from the troubled public housing complex. During the first four days of Operation Perseverance, a sting addressing the gun-related violence in Liberty Square, a 750-unit development of pastel buildings from Northwest 12th to 15th avenues and 62nd to 67th streets, police cleaned house. Undercover cops made 31 narcotics arrests, 14 gambling arrests and 4 prostitution arrests Tuesday through Saturday, according to reports.

 Wimblington woman and former town councillor husband jailed after Luton airport cash theft

A WIMBLINGTON woman who stole £90,000 and used part of it to feed her former town councillor husband’s gambling addiction has been jailed.  Janine Tempest-Reynalds, 31, of Pond Close, stole the cash whilst working at Luton Airport as a supervisor for the handling agents Servisair.  Her theft had gone on for some time, Luton Crown Court was told, but only came to light after she went sick in August 2009.  Judge David Farrell said there was no evidence of a luxurious lifestyle and part of the cash was used to supplement a gambling addiction by her husband. He is thought to have received £30,000 over a three and a half year period. Tempest-Reynalds was jailed for two years after admitting theft and false accounting.

 Armored car vault worker says he gambled away vault money

A vault worker for an Aurora armored car company who is facing theft charges says he gambled away as much as $44,000 after taking money from the vault. Authorities say 23-year-old Shane Marquardt of Lakewood took the money from Loomis Armored in Aurora, where he worked as a vault manager. Marquardt tells KMGH-TV he has a gambling habit and he thought he could win the money back before the company found out the money was missing.

 K&L Gates Strives to Regain Funds Embezzled to Pay Gambling Debt

The Law firm K&L Gates is suing the Hong-Kohn based Melco Crown Entertainment, which owns two casinos in Macau, to reclaim stolen money that was gambled away. Their own corporate partner, Mavin Kumar Aggarwal, 44, who resigned nine months previous to this, is now charged with 6 counts of theft and forgery. K&L is seeking to gain some of the millions that Aggarwal embezzled and gambled away trying to pay off his gambling debts. As Aggarwal wrote in a letter to partner David Tang, after his resignation: Now K&L is requesting a court order to ascertain exactly how much Melco gained from Aggarwal’s embezzlement. They’ve already paid $15 million to four clients, including Hui Kau-mo, Mark Lightbrown, Golden Bridge United Holdings Group, and Laxmi Niwas Jhunjhunwala.

 Former Winthrop employee sentenced on theft charges

An Internet gambling addiction and family responsibilities were leading factors in a former Winthrop University employee’s misuse of more than $200,000 in school money, the man’s lawyer said Wednesday. George Walker, 47, pleaded guilty to two counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent in the amount of more than $10,000. Breach of trust is a felony that can carry up to 10 years for each charge, Circuit Court Judge Lee S. Alford said. He sentenced Walker to 10 years in prison, but once he serves two years, he’ll be eligible for parole, which could run consecutively with five years probation.  Walker also must pay restitution to the university.

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


Zynga Looks to Use Facebook and Social Media Gaming to Incorporate Online Gambling

Casino Watch Focus reported that  Facebook was looking into online gambling in markets where online gambling is legal.  The tie into gambling stems from Facebook utilizing an online monetary system in the form of credits.  Those credits are usable in games or other various items from developers.  One of Facebook’s larger developers, Zynga, who also develops for various mobile platforms, has taken note of the possibilities of a recent Obama Administration ruling, that allows online gambling. An online source explains:

Zynga Inc. (ZNGA) Chief Executive Mark Pincus said Wednesday he sees “mind blowing” possibilities for weaving real-money gambling into social games pending regulatory changes in the U.S., and suggested the company may partner with a traditional casino company before the end of this year.

“We’re definitely talking to all of the players that you would suspect,” Pincus said, adding, “We have incredible respect and admiration for brands and groups like the Wynn… I would expect that you’ll see a lot of these players kind of figure out their go-to-market partnerships for sure before the end of this year.”

Pincus noted that real money gaming would be a natural fit for Zynga, which already draws tens of millions of players to its Zynga Poker game.  Unlike current games such as Zynga Poker, real money gambling games would involve more than just virtual currency that cannot be converted into cash.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 03/05 – 03/11

Mexico Ruling Party in Row Over Casino Fire

Last August, President Felipe Calderón, dressed in black, visited the charred remains of a casino where members of a drug cartel set a fire that killed 52 victims, including a pregnant woman. The president vowed that justice would be done. But six months after the fire, relatives of the victims and members of Mr. Calderón’s own National Action Party say his government has engaged in a coverup to try to hide links between casinos and corrupt politicians. This week, the mayor of Monterrey, whose brother was caught on video receiving wads of cash from a local casino, was placed on the party’s special shortlist of candidates for proportional representation to Mexico’s lower house in July’s presidential elections. The move virtually guarantees Fernando Larrazabal a congressional seat, and with it immunity from prosecution. Raúl Gracia, another politician closely linked to Mr. Larrazabal, is also on the party list for the senate.

 Colorado Casino Robber Jailed For 224 Years

An armed robber who stole $28,000 from a casino in Colorado and later shot at a police officer has now been sentenced to 224 years in prison. The incident took place at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, April, 2010, when the habitual criminal Randy Steven Keesee, 45, used a semi-automatic handgun to rob the Famous Bonanza Casino before making off in a black Audi getaway car. An hour and a half later, Keesee was then tracked down by a police officer to a parking garage at the Golden Gate Casino in Black Hawk. Despite being ordered to stop, Keesee pointed his gun at the officer, which subsequently misfired leading to the officer firing back several rounds and injuring Keesee. Sgt. Kenneth Lloyd was later cleared of any improper action in the shooting.

 Former Millington mayor Richard Hodges indicted on new bribery charges

Already facing two counts of bribery, former Millington Mayor Richard Hodges has been indicted on new bribery charges growing out of the same investigation into alleged gambling and political favors, authorities said Monday. Also named in the new charges is Millington business owner Marlin Roberts, who allegedly hosted ongoing card games and gambling at his business, Transmission Doctors. Roberts, 46, was indicted on two counts of bribery involving Hodges and also on two counts of unlawful drug possession. Hodges is charged with three counts of bribery of a public servant, charges that will replace the two bribery counts lodged against him last fall. He has pleaded not guilty in initial court appearances.

 Bodyguard stole $18.8m worth of diamonds from Sultan of Brunei’s ex-wife, UK court hears

THE Sultan of Brunei’s ex-wife has accused a female bodyguard of stealing £12 million ($18.8 million) worth of rare diamonds from her London home and replacing them with worthless replicas. Mariam Aziz, the former royal consort, claims that her former minder Fatimah Kumin Lim tricked her daughter into loaning her the jewels, which Lim then sold to pay gambling debts. Lim, who is not attending the hearing and says she is unrepresented due to lack of funding, is also accused of taking a £3.5 million diamond bracelet from her employer in 2008 and selling it.

Former Scranton elementary school principal sentenced for stealing money from principals’ fund

A former Scranton elementary school principal was sentenced in Lackawanna County Court for stealing  $87,000 from a principals’ fund to fuel a gambling addiction, according to court papers. Jeffrey McCreary of South Abington Twp. was sentenced Tuesday to 60 days in jail, coupled with a period of home confinement, his attorney Gerard Karam said Wednesday.  Mr. McCreary principal at Scranton School District’s McNichols Plaza Elementary until he resigned in 2010. Mr. McCreary, 49, pocketed money that belonged to the Scranton Association of Administrators and Supervisors – a special account for principals, administrators, and other supervisory personnel – through withdrawals from a credit union account from 2004 to 2010, according to Times-Tribune archives.

 Bank manager Colin John Carleton jailed nine years for $3m theft

A NORTH Queensland bank manager has been sentenced to nine years’ jail for stealing $3 million from his customers to feed his gambling and shopping addictions. Colin John Carleton, 56, had pleaded guilty to one charge of stealing as a servant. Carleton made headlines nationwide when he was reported missing in July 2010, and it was later revealed he had stolen from the Atherton Tableland branch of Bendigo Bank, which he managed for 19 years. The father of three was found camping out at Cape Tribulation on July 25, 2010, and confessed to police he had been stealing from customers’ bank accounts for 16 years. The court heard covered his tracks by transferring money between accounts, and intercepting bank statements before creating new ones to be sent out. Carleton used the money to feed his gambling addiction, and also compulsively purchased tools and meat.

 Woman admits embezzling $84,000 from medical center

A 48-year-old former accounts payable coordinator pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling $84,186 from Carson Valley Medical Center, and agreed to pay it back as part of a plea agreement. She admitted stealing the money between May 2010 and September 2011 when medical center officials caught on to what she was doing. She was arrested Oct. 3 and accused of writing 49 checks in the name of her husband and depositing them in the bank. Jennings-Evans said she gambled an average  of $2,000 a week playing penny slots at the Topaz Lodge. She said her husband didn’t know about the thefts, but expressed concern about her gambling. She told investigators she would spend an average of nine hours a week at the penny slots betting the maximum of $4 a pull.

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


Online Site Launched to Combat March Madness Gambling at the University level

Casino Watch Focus reported that  as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament runs through the end of March, billions will be lost to gambling.  Even though all age groups are susceptible to the negative effects of gambling, this type of sports gambling is especially popular among university-aged students.  As a result, a new website has been launched to help educated those students about gambling during March Madness.  An online source explains:

As the NCAA college basketball tournament approaches, the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) is launching a public awareness initiative to encourage college administrators, campus health professionals and students to learn more about college gambling and gambling-related harms. The campaign also helps to educate students who are of legal age about how to make responsible decisions about gambling.

The centerpiece of the campaign is  www.CollegeGambling.org, a science-based resource developed by the NCRG to help colleges and universities address gambling and gambling-related harms on college campuses. The website brings together the latest research and best practices in responsible gaming and the field of addiction awareness and prevention. CollegeGambling.org provides free resources for university administrators, campus health professionals, students and parents to help address this issue in the way best suited to the needs of each campus.

The National Center for Responsible Gambling has said that 75% of university students had gambled in the last year.  They go on to say that one in five have been involved in sports gambling.  Not all the gambling is legal, especially considering the age of most college students is below the legal age and the shear amount of illegal sports bookies.  Many are able to avoid the pitfalls of this type of gambling, but for those that don’t, there can be major consequences.  The online source continues:

“While a majority of those old enough to legally gamble can do so responsibly, research estimates that 6 percent of U.S. college students have some form of gambling problem that can result in psychological difficulties, unmanageable debt and failing grades,” said Christine Reilly, senior research director of the NCRG. “For those who are not of legal age to gamble, there is no level of responsible gambling.”

CollegeGambling.org provides collateral materials about college gambling and responsible gaming, such as brochures, fact sheets, posters and toolkits. The website also houses customizable presentations that university counselors, peer educators and student leaders can use during their educational programming opportunities.  The website materials are available as free downloads.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 02/27 – 03/04

Former Fla. coach due in court in Vegas death case

A former Florida high school football coach is  due in a Las Vegas court on a reduced involuntary manslaughter charge in  a one-punch slaying of a Utah man after they exchanged words in a Las  Vegas Strip casino. Benjamin Gerard Hawkins of Gainesville, Fla., claims self-defense  in the slaying of 46-year-old John Massie last July 6 at O’Shea’s Las  Vegas Casino. A Las Vegas judge will be asked Tuesday to decide if the  38-year-old Hawkins should stand trial in state court on a felony charge  that could get him probation or up to four years in prison. He was initially charged with murder after admitting he punched Massie, who was from Roy, Utah. Authorities say Massie’s head hit the floor and he died of a head injury.   

3 members of gambling gang held for killing rival

Three members of a local gambling gang were arrested for allegedly gunning down a small-time gambler in northwest Delhi’s Rohini earlier last week, police said on Sunday. Ajay, Vikas, both 24, and Raju, 34, belonged to a gambling group run by one Rinku in west Delhi’s Swaroop Nagar. The three were arrested for killing one Sonu, 28, over a rivalry with members of another gambling ring, BS Jaiswal, DCP (outer) said. “The accused trio had planned to kill Satpal, the leader of the rival gang, but ended up killing Sonu after he tried to alert Satpal. They were arrested on February 25,” Jaiswal added.

 Winery CEO blames tax evasion on gambling

A southern Ontario winery CEO said a gambling addiction drove him to commit tax-evasion, which resulted in him being fined more than $120,000. The Canada Revenue Agency said that Pillitteri Estates Winery executive Charles Pillitteri pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion. The agency said he didn’t report $439,102 in taxes in 2004, representing cash “misappropriated from the company and used for his own personal benefit.” The federal income tax on that came to $122,031, the amount of the fine. The agency said it’s since been fully repaid. Reached in Japan Friday night, Pillitteri said the incident stemmed from a gambling addiction he had at the time. “I had some major gambling issues,” he said adding he’s since been to counselling for the problem and hasn’t gambled in four years.

Court documents outline alleged embezzlement from Yurok Tribe; former Yurok Tribe forestry director still wanted on $1 million warrant

Court documents outline how three biologists allegedly used an elaborate system of fake invoices, false purchase requests and electronic bank transfers to embezzle more than $900,000 from the Yurok Tribe during a three-year period.  Officials with the Del Norte County District Attorney’s Office traveled to Eureka on Thursday to execute three $1 million arrest warrants for suspects Sean McAllister, Ron LeValley and Roland Raymond. The men are accused of burglary, embezzlement and conspiracy to commit a crime.  ”There were numerous syringes and suspected heroin found,” Alexander said, adding that the suspected substance has been sent to the state Department of Justice for testing. “Initial police reports indicate Raymond had a substance abuse and gambling problem.”

Carlton prison officer robbed his local bank to pay gambling debts

A PRISON officer has been given a suspended prison sentence after robbing his local bank. He originally owed around £3,000, but this rose to £14,000  due to high interest loans, the court was told.  Goodson hadn’t told his partner or family about his debt. After entering the bank, he handed a note to the cashier, which read: “Stay calm, I am armed, fill these bags with cash. No harm will come to you if you follow these instructions.” Jim Metcalf, prosecuting, said: “The cashier took the threat to be genuine and filled the bags with cash from her till.”

Former Spring Lake general manager gets six years for arson, theft

The former general manager of Spring Lake Country Club will serve six years in prison for stealing $130,000 from the club and setting a fire that caused about $100,000 in damages. Todd Marler was in court today along with a courtroom packed with members of Spring Lake Country Club. Marler entered his guilty plea in December, which had a cap of 7 years in prison. Marler had been stealing money from the country club on the northern edge of Quincy for years and then an investigation determined that he had set the fire in an attempt cover-up the theft. Marler addressed the court. “It was my responsibility,” Marler said. “These people trusted me. I gave into a gambling addiction.” Judge Mark Drummond pointed out that although Marler had mentioned the gambling addiction, he had yet to seek treatment for it and he had also yet to begin repaying any of the agreed-upon restitution, which would take about two decades under the deal.

 South Carolina lobbyist found dead inside parking garage likely committed suicide, coroner says

A well-known South Carolina restaurant industry lobbyist whose body was found Tuesday appears to have killed himself with a gunshot to the head, authorities said. The body of Tom Sponseller, who disappeared more than a week ago, was discovered Tuesday morning by investigators inside a double enclosed room in the lower level of a parking garage near his office in Columbia, according to police.  Sponseller was last seen by his colleagues at around noon at the office. His Mercedes sedan was found parked in the garage near his office and no signs of a struggle were evident. His cellphone and wallet were missing.  Federal authorities investigating Sponseller’s disappearance told the State newspaper last week that as much as $900,000 may be missing from the association. Law enforcement officials reportedly said that Sponseller’s accounting director, Rachel Duncan, 41, is a person of interest in the missing money investigation, which involves allegations of “gambling.” 

 Children locked in carpark an ‘ugly reality of gambling’

The case of five children found locked in a van Auckland’s SkyCity carpark is an “ugly reality of problem gambling”, the Green Party says. The children’s parents were later found using the casino’s electronic gambling machines. Their children have now been taken into Child Youth and Family care. The Greens said it will only get worse if the Government’s convention centre deal with the casino goes ahead. When officers arrived they were able to cut a hole in a plastic sheet which covered the rear window of the van and found five children inside, ranging in age from five months to eight years. “It was horrible, it was very frightening and the children were clearly very distressed,” the woman said. “Surely it’s against human nature to leave these children abandoned in a dark, boiling hot vehicle while you go and gamble in the casino,” the woman said. “It’s absolutely sick that these people can become regular users of a casino, that they can get a loyalty card that pays for their parking – where their children are being babysat by security cameras.”

 Corruption batters Korean sports

The country’s top baseball league has become the latest victim of a snowballing match-fixing scandal that came to light earlier last month. Kim Sung-hyun, a pitcher for the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization, has told prosecutors in Daegu that he accepted bribes from a broker to take part in spot-fixing in 2011. Prosecutors in Daegu took the 23-year-old into custody Tuesday after gathering a testimony from a broker named Kim, who was arrested last week. The LG Twins pitcher had initially denied the claim, but admitted later his involvement in spot-fixing after nearly eight hours of questioning, according to the prosecutors. Unlike match-fixing, spot-fixing does not necessarily involve any direct attempt to influence the results of games, especially in team sports such as baseball where playing to a draw or a fixed score require the cooperation of many players. According to the prosecutors, spot-fixing in the Korean baseball league has its roots in illegal betting, where bettors can bet on certain aspects of games, such as a base on balls in the first inning.

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