Monthly Archives: February 2013

Florida State Senator Pushes Moratorium on Internet Cafes

Casino Watch Focus Reported that the Florida Senate Gaming Committee plans to conduct a 2 year gambling study before any major gambling expansion will be passed.  It came at the heals of several local cities passing slot machine gambling expansion measures. Now, a Florida State Senator wants to continue the idea of researching before expanding by placing a moratorium on new internet cafes, while the issues can be fully studied.  These cafes essentially act in gray area of the law and have been very controversial.  A Florida NBC news affiliate reports:

Senate Rules Committee Chairman John Thrasher fleshed out his idea for a moratorium on Internet cafes, a proposal he floated without elaborating on it at the final meeting of the Senate’s gambling committee.

Legislators grappled with the issue of Internet cafes – which critics argue are illegal games similar to slot machines – in 2012 but were unable to come to an agreement. Some lawmakers want the businesses banned altogether; others simply want to regulate them.

The industry says it offers computerized versions of legal sweepstakes.

Thrasher said the idea behind the bill would be to essentially pause the rapidly-growing industry as legislators try to figure out a broader policy on gaming in Florida.

“Until we have a better feel for what we want to do globally, we ought to call time out,” Thrasher said.

 As a compromise alluded to by Senator Thrasher, the bill may need to simply prevent new internet cafes and allow existing ones to remain in business.  Florida’s social conservative seem to be backing such measures and are hoping the 2 year gambling study takes into account all the variables, economic and otherwise.  The Sunshine State News reports:

“We think that gambling is a vice,” Stemberger (president of the Florida Family Policy Council), says. “There’s no social good that comes from it, there’s crime associated with it, and addiction, and suicides. There’s families and marriages that break up because of it, and we just don’t think Florida needs to expand it any more than it already is.”

Stemberger and Bunkley (who represents the Florida Baptist Convention on the newly-formed Florida Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) say their organizations will advocate that the Florida House’s two-year gambling review incorporate research on the potential social costs associated with the legalization of gambling, including increased rates of crime, addiction, and family breakdown — though the Senate Gaming Committee has already said it’s doing just that.

“We know from other states, for every dollar they take in gambling, there can be two to five dollars put out the back door with social costs, police protection, etc.,” Bunkley concurs. He’s proposing that the Legislature conduct research into how advertising for the Florida Lottery is directed (e.g., by way of billboards) and where Internet cafes are conducting their business, and to compare those findings with census records to see if low-income communities are being disproportionately targeted by public and private gaming interests.

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A Brief Look at Crime 02/18 – 02/24

Accused SC wife-killer faces federal gambling charges

An admitted Irmo sports bookie who has been charged with killing his wife and a gambling partner was one of three people indicted Tuesday on a federal charge of running a gambling operation. The indictment said the three men had operated an illegal gambling business since 2008 and that it had been in continuous operation for more than 30 days, with a gross revenue of $2,000 in any single day. Last summer, Parker was charged with two counts of murder after his wife, Tammy Jo Parker, and Bryan Capnerhurst, who worked for Parker’s gambling business, were found dead April 13 inside the Parkers’ upscale Irmo-area home. In the weeks following the shootings, Parker’s attorney, David Fedor, admitted that his client ran a sports betting business. Prosecutors in the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s office have said Brett Parker stood to receive a $1.1 million insurance policy for his wife’s death and that he concocted a robbery story. A coroner’s report said Tammy Parker and Capnerhurst died from multiple gunshot wounds.

 Man found guilty of beating woman to death after gambling argument

An 82-year-old man with a gambling problem was found guilty last week of beating to death a woman at her central valley apartment in 2010. On Wednesday, a jury found Bobby Warren guilty of first-degree murder and robbery with use of a deadly weapon. On Jan. 9, 2010, police found 74-year-old Constance Wiesner dead inside a unit at the Arthur McCants Apartments, a senior citizens residence, in the 800 block of North Eastern Avenue, near Washington Avenue. Wiesner was found by Las Vegas police in her living room with “defensive injuries.” Security footage from a nearby convenience store showed Warren with Wiesner the day before her body was found. Warren’s wife was a friend and caretaker of Wiesner’s and told investigators that before the slaying, her husband had withdrawn several hundred dollars from a bank. His wife had a fight with him about his gambling.

 Shots fired led to bust of Buena Vista Township gambling ring

A report of gunshots fired in the southwest end of the township led Buena Vista police to an illegal gambling ring, police say. Officers made contact with those inside the home, who “made suspicious movements,” including pulling the curtains shut, Klecker said. As they spoke with somebody inside the home, who would not allow the officers to enter the home and check on the welfare of those inside, the officers saw in “plain view money counters and other items consistent with a gambling operation,” Klecker said. Those participating in executing the search warrant “found evidence of a full-scale gaming and gambling operation,” Klecker said. “Police seized calculators, money counters, betting pads, file cabinets, accounting records, currency, and coin.” Police arrested four individuals — three men and a woman — while another woman was transported to a hospital for injuries unrelated to the gunshots that were fired.

 Former Central Texas Bank Employee Charged In $6 Million Theft

A former employee of the Whitney 1st National Bank has been summoned to federal court next week to answer a charge of embezzlement of more than $6 million from the bank. She has not yet been arrested, but Mary Helen (Murty) Lane is charged with embezzlement from a federally insured financial institution of more than $1,000. Lane was employed by the bank for 27 years and she resigned her position as vice president in January 2012.

The charging documents says Lane used most of the cash to finance gambling trips to Las Vegas, Nevada and Shreveport, Louisiana. The FBI also said that when Lane would return from gambling trips she would give her fellow employees $100 bills which she claimed to be part of her gambling winnings. Retired FBI Special Agent John Truehitt, who now is the police chief at Lacy Lakeview, said in his report that on at least one occasion the bank in Whitney ran out of $100 bills, and Lane went to her home to get some and bring them back to the bank in exchange for $20 bills from the bank’s cash drawers. During an investigation bank employees told FBI agents Lane made so many trips to gambling venues that she was rewarded with complimentary trips, hotel rooms and food.

 Bust of 1,100 illegal video gambling machines underscores state’s gamble on slots in bars

When authorities swarmed a central Illinois warehouse last fall, they found more than 1,000 video gambling machines they declared illegal, proclaiming the discovery one of the largest such busts in state history. Four months later, state gambling regulators are still closely watching for an arrest. They view it as a test case on whether the state can make good on key promises to eradicate the underworld business while embarking on a controversial expansion of legalized video gambling. When authorities swarmed a central Illinois warehouse last fall, they found more than 1,000 video gambling machines they declared illegal, proclaiming the discovery one of the largest such busts in state history. Four months later, state gambling regulators are still closely watching for an arrest. They view it as a test case on whether the state can make good on key promises to eradicate the underworld business while embarking on a controversial expansion of legalized video gambling.

 Ex-teacher guilty of embezzlement; gambled $1 million at Del. casinos

A former Worcester County teacher has been found guilty on charges of embezzlement of more than $433,000 from the county teacher’s union. Denise Inez Owens admitted that while serving as the treasurer of the Worcester County Teacher’s Association she used its funds to pay for a gambling problem. Prosecutors said their investigation showed that during a period of three years, Owens had visited casinos in Delaware on more than 600 occasions, and gambled more than $1 million. She told the judge that the stealing had been hanging over her head for three years, and she felt relieved to have been caught. “I can’t imagine I did this, but I did. I know why: gambling addiction,” Owens said, adding, “I am at a place where I have nothing.”

 Repeat fraud lands gambling addict in prison

A 60-year-old Calgary woman who stole $1.5 million from her employer over nearly four years to feed a gambling addiction began serving prison time Tuesday. Provincial court Judge Harry Van Harten ordered Janice Lorraine Boyes, who avoided jail on two prior, similar convictions, into custody while he determined the length of her sentence. Defence attorney Telmo Dos Santos sought a three-year sentence, saying his client did not use the money for a lavish lifestyle, but simply blew the money by gambling it away. When confronted, Boyes admitted taking the money and told him about her gambling problem. She again admitted the fraud the next day in an email, and advised him she was getting help for her problem.

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

New Lawsuit May Answer Questions about Short Duration Fantasy Gambling

Casino Watch Focus originally reported that a major player, CBS Sports, entered the short duration fantasy market and that doing so, would likely create questions about the practice.  The idea is that each week you place your bet and select a fantasy team to compete against one other opponent in a winner take all scenario.  Each week a player could gamble in a heads up format. Fantasy games have always been considered games of skill as they took place over an entire sports season.  However, given the short-term duration, its being viewed as a game of chance not skill and thus susceptible to gambling legislation.  Or at least that is what a new lawsuit alleges and hopes to clarify.  Forbes online explains:

Most sports fans are probably unfamiliar with the pending lawsuit Langone v. Kaiser & Fan Duel. However, this case is likely to shape the future of the daily fantasy sports industry. Fan Duel claims that its games are exempt from Illinois gambling law because it purports the games are based on skill, not chance – an argument that no court has directly addressed in the context of daily fantasy sports.

On the one hand, Fan Duel’s argument that its games are skill-based has some legal merit.  For example, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey has already held in the case Humphrey v. Viacom that traditional fantasy sports games involve predominantly skill because of the complex nature of  the game’s strategies and the negotiations that occur among team owners.

However, on the other hand, it seems hard to imagine that any daily fantasy sports contest fits as neatly into the Humphrey safe haven as traditional fantasy sports.  This is because only traditional fantasy sports allow contestants to “trad[e] players over the course of the season.”  In addition, the number of iterations in traditional fantasy sports games is far greater than in daily games – reducing the impact of a single act of randomness.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/11 – 02/17

Ex-mayor’s $1 billion gambling woes stun San Diego

Maureen O’Connor was a physical education teacher who won a seat on the San Diego City Council when she was only 25 years old, later winning two terms as the city’s first female mayor as she charmed voters with a populist flair.  But her rapid rise was matched by her fall, culminating Thursday when she acknowledged in federal court that she took $2.1 million from her late husband’s charitable foundation during a decade-long gambling spree in which she won – and lost – more than $1 billion.  O’Connor pleaded not guilty to a money laundering charge in an agreement with the Justice Department that defers prosecution for two years while she tries to repay the foundation and receives treatment for gambling. O’Connor, 66, once had a personal fortune that her attorney estimated between $40 million and $50 million, inherited from her husband of 17 years, Robert O. Peterson, founder of the Jack in the Box Inc. fast-food chain. She is now virtually broke, living with a sister.

Fla. ex-coach facing prison in Vegas casino death

LAS VEGAS — A former high school football coach and teacher from Florida could be sent to Nevada state prison Thursday after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the one-punch death of a Utah man at a Las Vegas casino. Defense attorney Jack Buchanan said he will seek probation for his client, Benjamin Gerard Hawkins, 39, of Gainesville, who has remained free following his November conviction in the death of John Massie, 46, an occupational safety and health worker at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. Hawkins didn’t mean to kill Massie, and the felony conviction ruined his coaching and teaching career at Bradford County High School in Starke, Fla., Buchanan said. Prosecutor Maria Lavell said she will seek a sentence of one to four years in prison. Police said Hawkins had not been specific about racial taunts or what made him feel threatened. The lead investigator testified that he thought the case could fall anywhere between self-defense and murder.

 Miami police lieutenant relieved of duty in fallout from FBI corruption investigation

 A Miami police lieutenant suspected of participating in an alleged protection racket for a sports-betting ring in Liberty City was relieved of duty Friday.  Bernard Johnson, 44, who joined the police force in 1998, was relieved with pay while the FBI and Miami police internal affairs detectives continue their joint investigation into the gambling operation, which operated out of a Liberty City barber shop.  Another veteran officer, Rashad Jabbar, 50, retired last month after he was implicated in the same protection scandal. Both are among 11 Miami police officers relieved of duty in recent months who face potential criminal charges or the loss of their jobs in connection with the federal corruption investigation targeting extortion and other illegal activity. On Wednesday, a Miami police officer who wore a wire for the FBI pleaded guilty to an extortion charge. Nathaniel Dauphin, 41, admitted he received between $4,000 and $5,000 from the owner of the sports-betting business from November 2010 until March of last year.

 Split verdict for Philly mob; deadlock over boss

Reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph “Uncle Joe ” Ligambi will seek bail after a jury deadlocked on a racketeering charge against him, and deadlocked or acquitted him of all eight lesser counts in a gambling and loansharking case.  The federal jury on Tuesday convicted underboss Joseph “Moussie” Massimino and two others of racketeering, and convicted a mob associate of two loansharking counts.  But the jury acquitted or deadlocked on most counts against the seven defendants. Defense lawyers see the verdict as a slam of the government’s 13-year investigation into illegal gambling, video poker machines and loansharking in South Philadelphia.

 Former casino worker sentenced for embezzlement

Erika Michele Carlton, 38, of Roseville, has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for theft from Thunder Valley Resort and Casino in Rocklin, which is owned by the United Auburn Indian Community, a federally recognized Indian tribe. U.S. District Judge Morrison England also ordered her to repay $236,050 she stole, says U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner. According to court documents and admissions made in court, Ms. Carlton was a human resources manager at the resort and casino, with access to Thunder Valley credit cards and other sources of funds that she could use to buy items for the casino’s employees. For instance, she would use Thunder Valley funds to buy raffle prizes that were given out at employee functions such as Christmas parties. These prizes included gift cards from local merchants, electronics such as televisions, iPods, PlayStations and DVD players, and other consumer goods.

‘Professional crook’ gets 7 years for defrauding 5 sick, elderly women

A serial fraudster with drug and gambling addictions is going to jail for seven years after ripping off five elderly women, one of whom had cancer.
Mario Thouin, a 61-year-old former car salesman, showed little reaction Thursday as Quebec Court Judge Maurice Galarneau sentenced him to 10 years in prison, minus time he’s already served in pre-sentence detention.  Thouin phoned his five victims, whose names are protected under a court-ordered publication ban, 315 times between Nov. 21, 2009, and Jan. 21, 2010. He often threatened and harassed them until they gave him money, court heard.  He made up grandiose stories about his business transactions, asked to borrow money and promised to pay back his victims quickly. He hasn’t returned a cent of the nearly $200,000 he took from the women, whose ages range from 61 to 73.  In his sentencing judgment, Galarneau noted that some of the women lost their Registered Retired Savings Plans and are now in debt, while others have been rejected by their families or avoid all social situations.

Man admits conspiring to swindle millions in gift cards

A man who says he conspired to steal gift cards worth $2.2 million through his wife’s mortgage company job told a judge Tuesday that he is getting help for a gambling addiction.  Kevin Guy, 41, son of a former Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy, faces up to five years in prison. Federal charges are pending against Michelle Guy, 39, alleged to have diverted funds for years from an employee rewards program. She worked at HSBC Mortgage Services in Brandon. It came to light in an internal investigation and the company cooperated with law enforcement, HSBC North America said. In accepting Kevin Guy’s guilty plea, Magistrate Judge Thomas B. McCoun III noted the “lengthy list of some nice stuff” seized at the couple’s former home. Guy didn’t quibble with the list, with its references to Chanel, Coach and Gucci.

Tacoma hotel chain embezzler gets 2-year sentence

Hugo Lingat Caingat, Jr., 59, of Bonney Lake, a former controller at the Aspen Lodging Group in Tacoma, was sentenced to two years in jail for embezzling more than $700,000 from the company. The government alleged that Caingat diverted more than $700,000 in income from the hotel group, which owns Tacoma’s Hotel Murano, into a dormant bank account. He used that account to pay his bills, including “significant gambling bills.”  “The defendant was a man of skill and aptitude who gained the trust of his employer and then abused it,” said U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle , in a statement after the sentencing.  After saying he would help the government investigation in May 2012, Caingat flew to the Philippines but he returned to Washington state and pleaded guilty in October 2012. Caingat was ordered to pay $750,550 in restitution, including $50,000 the company spent investigating the embezzlement.

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

Nevada Poker Bill Looks to Allow Other State’s Residents to Gamble on Their Online Gambling Sites

Casino Watch Focus reported that an Obama Administration ruling allowed for each state to introduce online gambling if gambling was legal in that state.  Much discussion has taken place as to whether the same ruling actually applies between states. The current legislation making Federal online gambling illegal is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).  However, after the Obama Administration’s ruling, states have been pushing the envelope.  Now it looks like the attention is on Nevada as they are considering legislation that allows other state residents to gamble on their online gambling sites.  Bloomburg’s Business Week reports:

Soon after the Nevada Legislature begins its four-month session on Monday, lawmakers are expected to begin debating a bill that would let companies offering online poker in Nevada accept wagers from players in other states.

Such betting is essentially banned in most of the nation, but several states, including California and New Jersey, are weighing bills that would legalize some types of online gambling. The Nevada proposal, known as Assembly Bill 5, is intended to position Nevada-based companies to expand their customer base as other states ease restrictions. It’s one of a handful of gambling bills lawmakers will be asked to consider but it’s by far the most important.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval requested the change in his State of the State address in January and the Nevada Gaming Control Board drafted the legislation, which officials see as a potential moneymaker. Nevada currently permits online poker but no other type of internet gambling, so the agreements would apply only to poker.

Past Nevada legislation to allow online poker stipulated that their companies could not accept interstate wages until the federal government makes such online gambling legal.  However, this bill removes that stipulation, essentially acknowledging their belief that a federal bill will not pass soon.  However, this is also an acknowledgment that the practice is still illegal.  Much debate will take place as to the constitutionality of the bill given UIGEA and the current federal laws.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/04 – 02/10

Granny beheaded by grandson after argument

A 75-year-old grandmother was strangled and her head chopped off by her grandson following a heated argument over his gambling addiction, China Press reported.  The body of Zhan Cuixia and her severed head were found in the bathroom of her son’s house in Dongguan of China’s Guangdong province, some 10 minutes’ walk from her own home. On Monday, Zhan went to take care of her grandson Li Yaojing, a 26-year-old factory worker who was sick, as his parents were busy with work.  Runhong, one of Zhan’s daughters, saw her nephew attacking her mother when she went to the house. “She was struggling on the ground and shouting for help, but I couldn’t open the door to go in and save her,” she said, adding that she sought help from neighbours, who said they heard the grandmother and grandson arguing over his gambling habit earlier.

 Europol report: 680 Soccer Games Suspected Of Match-Fixing

Soccer’s American detractors have accused the sport of being too slow, too low-scoring and too full of diving players. They can now add corruption to the list. Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, released today the upsetting findings of a match-fixing investigation that began last summer. The probe found 680 suspicious soccer matches, including qualifiers for the World Cup and European Championship, as well as two Champions League games. The report indicates that 380 of the suspected matches were played in Europe. Investigators found that $2.7 million were paid out as bribes to players and officials; another $10.9 million were won as related gambling profits. Yet those amounts are just what investigators could definitively prove. As one investigator put it, today’s report is just “the tip of the iceberg.” The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has yet to fully review the details of Europol’s report, but the sport’s European governing body is expected to take the appropriate disciplinary actions.

 Ontario illegal gambling bust nets 6 arrests

Police have arrested six people and seized almost $2.5 million in cash after a series of raids in southwestern Ontario — including a Toronto-area Super Bowl gambling party — in connection with a multimillion-dollar illegal gaming operation. On Sunday night, police broke up a gaming operation of more than 2,300 people at a banquet hall in Markham, Ont., and executed nine other search warrants at related residences and businesses, York Regional Police said at a news conference. Police said this was the largest investigation to date targetting illegal gaming and organized crime, involving officers from different agencies at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. “The people found within this gaming house were dispersed in an orderly fashion, while those profiting from this were arrested,” said Supt. Paul Pedersen. “Six men have been arrested and charged with participating in a criminal organization and other gaming-related charges.”

 19-year-old accused of shooting at River Spirit Casino

The River Spirit Casino based in Tulsa, Oklahoma has experienced a shooting. A Tulsa federal grand jury has indicted the 19-year-old Spencer De La Hunt accused of the gunfight. One of the bullets struck the front window of the casino. However, the shooting didn’t damage the gambling machines inside the casino, as was the case with a 61year old St Charles resident at the Argosy Casino.  Although nobody got hurt in the gunfight, the 19-year-old shooter has been accused of jeopardizing the lives of gamblers. A police spokesperson revealed that one of bullets broke the front window of the River Spirit Casino. After the shooting, the casino was barricaded off by local police officers who examined the scene. The 19-year-old shooter is also accused of illegal possession of a firearm.

 Woman stole $222,000 from IRD

Falsely using confidential taxpayer information to steal $222,000 from the government while working at the tax department has cost former Inland Revenue Department staffer Anita Gail O’Connor a two years, five months prison sentence.  O’Connor was sentenced to jail in the Hamilton District Court on 163 charges, including 24 of corrupt use of official information, relating to her use of other taxpayers’ personal details to establish bank accounts and funnel funds to fund cars, shopping and gambling. An investigation established that O’Connor had used both the names and details of other people and false identifies to gain Working for Families tax credits and access to child support refunds. She set up bank accounts under two false names and a total of just over $222,000 was paid into those accounts by IRD over the three years and four months between June 2007 and November 2010. O’Connor admitted her offending. She said some of the money was paid to her associates and other money was used to buy cars, goods and groceries and for gambling.

 Former Depew teacher due in court

She betrayed the trust of her students, parents and colleagues.  Monday,  a former elementary school teacher is due in court to learn her fate for using school money to fund her gambling habit. Susan Jablonski could spend the next four years behind bars.  A judge will weigh the consequences after she stole nearly $20,000.  Jablonski was expected to appear in front of Judge Thomas Franczyk, with $17,000 in hand.   It’s payback from money she stole from the Cayuga Heights Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization. Jablonski used the money was used at the casino.  It was a gamble gone wrong.  The PTO president got suspicious and went to police. “Any amount of money is significant. $17,000 is very significant. And when that’s paid back, it will go directly to students,” said Depew Union Free Superintendent Jeffery Rabey. Rabey says the $17,000 is about half of what the PTO raises in one year.  It was enough to pay for at least two year’s worth of field trips for the students.

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

Online Lottery in Florida could become a possibility because of the Obama Administration

Casino Watch Focus has reported that an Obama Administration ruling on the 1961 Wire Act last year opened the door for states to allow online gambling.  Gambling expansion debate in Florida has primarily focused on new mega casino’s and local slot machine referendums, but now A Tallahassee ABC news affiliate is reporting that a bill to allow the purchase of lottery tickets online has been filed:

The legislation, Senate Bill 266, was filed by Fla. Senator Gwen Margolis (D-Miami) on January 17. The measure is co-sponsored by Fla. Representative Joe Gibbons (D-Hallandale Beach) through House Bill 275.

The bill would give the Department of the Lottery the right to create and administer a program that provides for the sale of lottery tickets online, without using an online lottery retailer. Customers would be able to buy a ticket “via a subscription mechanism,” according to the bill. The department would also be able to create the rules governing the online sales.

WTXL spoke with Senator Margolis, who said that the move was a “good idea.” However, she said that officials have “nothing to rely on” when it comes to how online lottery programs are performing in other states.

Only two states have such programs and opposition ranges from upset retail outlets to concerns over easy access and underage gamblers.  The bill is in its early phase, so there is still time to contact your local representatives.

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