Monthly Archives: November 2014

Update: New Sports Legislation passed by New Jersey Struck Down by Judge

Casino Watch Focus has reported on New Jersey’s ongoing efforts to expand gambling by legalizing sports betting at local gambling establishments. Throughout the years, such efforts have routinely failed including an effort to appeal the issue to the Supreme Court, an issue they declined to take up thus leaving past rulings against such gambling expansion illegal. The state’s legislature refused to accept the ruling and in an outrageous move, passed legislation that essentially said they would just not enforce federal law on those establishment’s that chose to provide sports betting. As reported by Casino Watch Focus last monththe pro-sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA) and the NCAA filed an injunction to stop the new law until a ruling was made. Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that a new ruling has been made and as expected, its not in favor of the new gambling expansion legislation:

A federal judge ruled Friday that New Jersey can’t partially lift a prohibition on sports betting in an effort boost the state’s struggling horse racing and casino industries. The decision from U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp was the expected outcome since the judge had ruled similarly in the past.

The state, locked in a legal battle with the NCAA and four professional sports leagues, is expected to appeal to a higher court.

A federal law bans New Jersey and most other states from authorizing betting on sports. But the state contended it didn’t want to license or authorize the betting. Instead, it was seeking to end a prohibition and that it wouldn’t regulate sports betting.

But Judge Shipp agreed with the sports leagues that setting parameters such as limiting sports gambling to certain places amounts to regulation.

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


Brief Look at Crime 11/17 – 11/23

Gambling nuke commander linked to fake poker chips

 The admiral fired last year as No. 2 commander of U.S. nuclear forces may have made his own counterfeit $500 poker chips with paint and stickers to feed a gambling habit that eventually saw him banned from an entire network of casinos, according to a criminal investigative report obtained by The Associated Press. Though Rear Adm. Timothy M. Giardina’s removal as deputy head of U.S. Strategic Command was announced last year, evidence of his possible role in manufacturing the counterfeit chips has not previously been revealed. Investigators said they found his DNA on the underside of an adhesive sticker used to alter genuine $1 poker chips to make them look like $500 chips. The case is among numerous embarrassing setbacks for the nuclear force. Disciplinary problems, security flaws, weak morale and leadership lapses documented by The Associated Press over the past two years prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Nov. 14 to announce top-to-bottom changes in how the nuclear force is managed that will cost up to $10 billion.

The records obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act show Giardina was a habitual poker player, spending a total of 1,096 hours — or an average of 15 hours per week — at the tables at the Horseshoe casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the 18 months before being caught using three phony chips in June 2013. He was such a familiar figure at the casino, across the Missouri River from his office near Omaha, Nebraska, that some there knew him as “Navy Tim.” But they may not have known he was a three-star admiral and second-in-charge at Strategic Command, the military’s nuclear war-fighting headquarters. Strategic Command also plays key roles in missile defense, cyberdefense, space operations and other functions.

SEC Wins $3.6M Against Company Linked To Advisor-Crooner

An Oklahoma-based Internet company has been ordered by a federal judge to pay millions in a multi-layered case revolving around a Tulsa, Okla., investment advisor representative who the SEC says stole $4.7 million from clients to pay gambling and other expenses, according to court records. According to the complaint, Dearman raised money between December 2008 and August 2012 by selling promissory notes in Bartnet, but failed to disclose he was receiving fees from Gray for each note sold, according to the SEC. Dearman falsely claimed Bartnet planned to use the funds to purchase transmission towers and other equipment with the money instead of fueling Gray’s gambling habit, the SEC said. In an earlier court ruling on the SEC charges, Dearman was ordered to pay $1.09 million and Gray was ordered to pay $3.57 million.

San Gabriel con man handed 100-month prison term

A San Gabriel con man who went on the lam after skipping his sentencing hearing for defrauding homeowners out of as much as $10 million was sent to federal prison Thursday for more than eight years. David Kaup, now 31, was initially scheduled to be sentenced in December 2012 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles after pleading guilty to two counts of wire fraud, but failed to appear in court. He was arrested a year later in Las Vegas, where he was living under an alias. Morrow mentioned that Kaup’s family members had written to the court, telling the judge that the defendant’s gambling addiction was apparently at the root of his fraud operation. Kaup operated American Loans and Funding as well as two other businesses in which he falsely promised victims he could refinance their homes at low interest rates and invest their money. The scheme “had serious consequences for the victims,” Morrow said, adding that those who had been defrauded included senior citizens and parents of disabled children.

Pokies cash theft arrest

A MAN faces 18 charges in relation to burglaries and thefts on a number of gambling venues in northern Victoria. Thefts at Kerang, Kyabram, Tatura and Benalla in Victoria and Moama, Barham and Mathoura in New South Wales between May 22 and November 5 involves a total value of stolen cash and damage in excess of $250,000. A MAN faces 18 charges in relation to burglaries and thefts on a number of gambling venues in northern Victoria. Thefts at Kerang, Kyabram, Tatura and Benalla in Victoria and Moama, Barham and Mathoura in New South Wales between May 22 and November 5 involves a total value of stolen cash and damage in excess of $250,000. Burglars forced their way into the Kerang Sports and Entertainment Venue twice within a week and stole cash from poker machines and damaged a number of others. Surveillance footage revealed three hooded offenders on one occasion and four on another.

Executive Director Of East Orange Non-Profit Admits To Stealing Hundreds Of Thousands

The 64-year-old former executive director of the East Orange Revitalization and Development Corporation admitted to stealing $380,000 from the nonprofit devoted to developing low-income housing. According to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office: Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that the former executive director of an East Orange non-profit development agency pled guilty today before the Honorable Peter Ryan, Judge of the Superior Court, to stealing $380,000 from a nonprofit developer of low-income housing over a five year period. Lancie Marchan, 64, currently of North Brunswick, was executive director of the East Orange Revitalization and Development Corporation. From 2005 to 2010, she stole funds to finance a lavish lifestyle that included refurnishing her former residence in Orange, trips, hotel stays at casinos.

Ex-Ossining banker stole $1.4M, gambled at casinos

A former manager of the village’s M&T Bank branch stole over $1.4 million from two trusting customers, including a retired cop, and apparently hit the casinos, authorities said. Maria Rodriguez, who lives in Mount Kisco, was arrested Thursday morning at her home by Ossining police detectives after a grand jury handed up a 27-count indictment, which included charges of grand larceny and tax fraud. Beginning in June 2008, Rodriguez started systematically stealing from the customers, one of whom she had known since the mid-1990s, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office said. The other victim was a 92-year-old former village police officer who retired in 1973. Ossining police Detective Lt. William Sullivan said Rodriguez is believed to have used some of the cash to gamble, including at Empire City Casino in Yonkers.

Charges recommended for gambling identity Stephen Fletcher 

Criminal charges have been recommended against one of the country’s most notorious gamblers, Stephen Fletcher. A report by the Police Integrity Commission inquiry has found that Mr Fletcher engaged in fraud when he used the identities of a string of police officers to hide his gambling activities with a number of betting agencies. Criminal charges have also been recommended against another gambler, Darren Azzopardi, and two police officers, former homicide detective Tony “Soup” Williams and Marc Smith, who recently resigned from the police force. Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, a close personal friend of Mr Fletcher’s, introduced Detective Williams to Mr Fletcher and the prominent gambler also employed Ms Cunneen’s son, Stephen Wyllie.

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


Post Florida Election Implications for Gambling Expansion in the State

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing negotiations regarding the gambling compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe. Tribal casinos are the only gambling venues in the state to currently offer table games such as blackjack. This compact will be key to future gambling expansion efforts in Florida, especially those involving full-scale Vegas-style resort casinos. Florida Gov. Scott has been reelected and its generally assumed the negotiations will resume. A gathering of industry specific leaders took place in Miami for the annual Florida Gaming Congress to discuss gambling expansion issues. The Saint Peters Blog outlines the results:

Now that Gov. Rick Scott has secured re-election, he expects to resume negotiations with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Scott’s goal is to renew the agreement giving the tribe exclusive rights to table games such as blackjack in exchange for $1 billion over the next five years.

“We’re hopeful to continue the relationship that’s been so successful,” Seminole Gaming CEO James Allen told reporters after the gathering at the Hyatt Regency.

Nevertheless, the future of gambling in Florida is far from certain. Scott had called for a special session of the Legislature last spring to complete “the most lucrative compact ever,” but it never materialized. Resort casinos continue to seek state approval, as horse and dog tracks, as well as jai-alai frontons, seek consent for table games and a drop in the state’s 35-percent slot tax.

Meanwhile, the Seminoles have been making space at the Hollywood Seminole Paradise, tearing down spots like the Johnny Rockets, Blue Pointe and Tatu eateries. Experts predict the tribe will build a new hotel next to the current 500-room structure that is running at nearly 95 percent capacity. However, any such move must have approval from the Seminole tribal council, Allen said.

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


Brief Look at Crime 11/10 – 11/16

Trucker Pleads Guilty To Scamming former Chicago Bears Devin Hester

A trucker who conned former Chicago Bears kickoff return star Devin Hester and others out of $1.5 million pleaded guilty Wednesday and said he’s struggling with booze and gambling addictions. Gregg Steinnagel, 53, promised quick, large profits to Hester if he invested with a pal, then kept the cash for himself. Starting in 2011, Hester made several small investments that paid off; then Steinnagel and Fazzio took him for 14 investments totaling nearly $400,000, court documents state. Fazzio, of Pittsburgh, has since died but Steinnagel was arrested at his Chicago home in May. Prosecutors said Steinnagel gambled with the loot he stole from Hester and others at casinos in the Chicago area, Nevada and Florida. Steinnagel admitted Wednesday that he’s being treated by a doctor for alcohol and gambling problems.

Rhode Island Mobster Sentenced for Running Sports Betting Ring

A high-ranking member of the New England mob was sentenced to a 10-year suspended sentence and 10 years probation before a Superior Court judge on Wednesday after pleading no contest to a charge of conspiracy to commit a felony and racketeering. Edward C. Lato, 67, is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence in connection to a l $1.5 million extortion ring involving the shakedown of Rhode Island strip club owners. In May of 2011, Lato and 24 others were arrested and charged with racketeering, extortion, conspiracy and gambling in connection with what authorities called a “large scale sports betting operation”.

Bone-crunching moment 1,700lb bulls with sharpened horns are pitched head-to-head in rural

From idyllic beaches to spectacular scenery, there isn’t much that Haiti doesn’t offer tourists. But this is one activity that isn’t on most visitors’ itineraries. Bullfighting is a huge pastime for Haitians, with locals often gathering each Sunday to gamble on the outcome of matches. The coastal town of Leogane holds regular events, and the obscure Haitian practice has been likened to cockfighting or dog-fighting. The animals’ horns are often sharpened by knives and machetes ahead of each fight in a bid to give the bulls an advantage over their rivals. The bulls’ trainers then stomp through crowds of onlookers as they look to drum up bets among the spectators, while the animals dig holes in the dirt as they wait to be let loose from their ropes.

Dog Fighting Raid: Police Arrest 47 People, Rescue 8 Pit Bulls In Akron, Ohio

On Saturday night, about 11 p.m., more than 100 law enforcement officers from the Akron Police Department, the U.S. Marshal’s Office and FBI converged on a property in the 1100 block of Cordova Avenue, where they had received tips that organized dog fights were held, Lt. Rick Edwards, public information officer for Akron police told reporters. People scattered when officers burst into the garage. The fence, however, kept most of the people there inside the yard. “They were all blocked in,” Chief Nice told Cleveland.com. “It was a zoo. People were running everywhere and throwing money and drugs to the ground.” The property was set up for dog fighting, Lt. Edwards confirmed, describing walls that had blood splatters and bloody [electric] prodders to get the dogs to fight, “This tells you this wasn’t something that only happened once.” In a separate metal shed, they found equipment for weighing the dogs and cleaning them after the fights. They also had an area set up for betting inside the shed.

Woman who stole $90k from man jailed

A Hamilton woman who befriended an elderly man before stealing his eftpos card and using it to fund a three-month, $90,000 spending and gambling spree has been jailed for two years and three months. She appeared in the same court by video link yesterday, smiling and waving to relatives before Judge David Ruth began his sentencing. Ruth recounted how, this year, Cloke had befriended the 83-year-old victim by claiming to be his neighbour and, on one occasion, took him grocery shopping. She noticed his Pin and later stole the card from his house. Then she went on a massive spending spree, toting up purchases including a new car, a home-theatre system, jewellery, clothing, a plasma TV and lounge suites. She also spent his money on stays in hotel rooms and gambling. She told police that she spent the maximum on the card every day on gambling.

Federal gambling indictment against Greenfield ruled valid 

A federal judge has denied a Bloomington, Minn. man’s request to dismiss an indictment that accuses him of running an illegal gambling ring in North Dakota. Gerald Greenfield claimed that a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Minnesota should have made him immune to federal charges filed in North Dakota. But U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson ruled that the plea agreement contained language that only applies to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Minnesota. Court documents say Greenfield received approximately $10 million a year in wagers and discussed receiving “several million dollars” in action” each year from gamblers in Fargo.

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


Florida State University Star Quarterback Under Fire for Alleged Point Shaving

Casino Watch Focus has reported on point shaving scandals and allegations over the years. Such behavior is why the general concessions of the pro-sports leagues and the NCAA is to stay far removed from sports betting. One of college footballs biggest starts, Florida State University’s (FSU) Jameis Winston, is at the center of allegations that point shaving took place during the first half of the FSU – Louisville game. A local Tampa CBS news affiliate reports: 

TMZ Sports is reporting that there are allegations of point shaving during the FSU-Louisville game. The allegations involve the Heisman trophy winner and an old high school teammate, Chris Rabb.

Rabb allegedly won a $5,000 bet based on Louisville winning the first half of the game. FSU was down 21-7 at the half, but came back and won the game.

TMZ Sports says it talked with the FBI, the agency who would investigate such claims, however, would not confirm whether they are in fact investigating the point shaving allegations.

The other player at hand, Chris Rabb, is a college football player at the University of Alabama – Birmingham (UAB). The Palm Beach Post explains the connection and what action is planned: 

“We’re are aware of the allegation and looking into the matter,” UAB athletic director Brian Mackin said in a statement Friday, Al.com reported. “That is the only comment we will have at this time.”

The player who allegedly made a $5,500 bet on the first half of the FSU-Louisville game was identified as defensive end Chris Rabb, who played with Winston at Hueytown (Ala.) High School.

The gambling website IBN Sports Wrap said that a bookmaker complained that Rabb and Winston “conspired together” to win the bet on the game’s first half.

FSU was favored to win the first half by a point but trailed 21-7 at halftime before ultimately winning 42-31.

Winston’s lawyer wants delay: Winston’s attorney reportedly sent a letter to FSU asking for a delay in the hearing to determine whether Winston violated the student code of conduct.

Whereas the allegations do seem to be far-stretched, they point to why sports betting must be so closely regulated and why efforts to expand sports betting, like the situation in New Jersey, are often opposed by the NCAA and the other pro-sports leagues.

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


Brief Look at Crime 11/03 – 11/09

Three North Nevada men wanted in tribal casino ‘takeover’

The Reno U.S. Marshal’s Office is seeking three men with “strong ties” to Northern Nevada in connection with an armed takeover of a tribal casino near Fresno, Calif., last month. In a news release Tuesday, the Marshal’s Office identified the three as Timothy Tofaute, 46, and David Dixon, 35, both residents of Sparks, and Brian Auchenbach, 38, of Gardnerville. All are wanted in Madera County, Calif., on felony charges including kidnapping, false imprisonment and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the Oct. 9 incident at the Chukchansi Indian Resort and Casino in Coarsegold in the Sierra foothills north of Fresno, according to the news release. “All three have strong ties to Northern Nevada, and it is our belief they are in Northern Nevada or in California,” said Robert M. Alexander, supervisory deputy U.S. marshal in Reno. An arrest warrant with an $800,000 bail was issued by the Madera County Superior Court on Oct. 31, according to the news release. The release said the three men have “extensive” military and private security training, and Auchenbach is a former deputy sheriff and Tofaute is a former Navy Seal.

State shuts Casino Royale card room, alleging failure to pay off winners 

The California Bureau of Gambling Control on Monday shut down the Casino Royale LLC card room after it allegedly failed to pay off thousands of dollars in winnings to customers. An inspection of the Sacramento card room found that it did not have adequate cash on hand to pay off chips, said Michelle Gregory, spokeswoman with the California Department of Justice. The owners of the club have 10 days to pay players or to request a hearing from an administrative law judge, during which they must be able to demonstrate whether they can pay or not. William Blanas, a partner in the card room, sued managing partner James Kouretas in June, alleging fraud, negligent accounting and breach of fiduciary duty.

South Jersey man scammed investor of $1.2 million, lost $700k gambling in A.C.

A South Jersey man who defrauded a pizza shop investor out of $1.2 million—and lost $700,000 gambling at three Atlantic City casinos—was sentenced to nearly six years in prison Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said. Casino surveillance footage played at trial showed Arena buying chips at a blackjack table with $81,000 in cash he brought in a shopping bag. His federal indictment from 2012 said he gambled at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, Caesars Atlantic City, and Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. He had other major cash buy-ins at casinos, including $130,985 at the Borgata in June of 2008, the indictment says. A federal jury convicted Arena of 15 counts of mail fraud, eight counts of money laundering, three counts of failing to file income taxes and one count of witness tampering.

Ex-official jailed for $271K theft from Upper Gwynedd Fire Co.

The former treasurer of the Upper Gwynedd Fire Co. for more than 20 years, who stole more than $270,000 from the firefighters for his personal use, woke up Thursday behind bars at the Montgomery County prison. Ronald Kenneth “Ken” Nolan, 63, of the 4900 block of Skippack Pike, Wednesday was sentenced to 11½ to 23 months in jail and to an additional 10-year probation sentence after he completes his parole time. Also, President Judge William J. Furber Jr. ordered Nolan to pay $271,766 in restitution including $33,000 to the fire company and $238,766 to the fire company’s insurance provider. Nolan must pay $2,000 in restitution a month. Authorities alleged that Nolan used the stolen funds for vacations that included a cruise and trips to Florida, Nevada, Jamaica and China and to help pay for his daughter’s 2006 Las Vegas wedding including picking up the airfare costs for himself and 14 others. Nolan also reportedly used fire company funds and credit cards for a gambling habit.

Man gets 5 years in prison for assaulting woman

A Cannon Ball man accused of assaulting a woman in the hallway of a casino on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation has been sentenced to five years in prison. Forty-one-year-old Dustin Lester was accused in February of punching and kicking the woman multiple times at Prairie Knights Casino. U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon says Lester was dating the woman. The assault was captured by security video. Lester pleaded guilty in July to assault with a dangerous weapon. He’ll be on supervised release for three years following his prison term.

Internet gaming firm fined for soliciting banned gamblers 

The online gaming arm of casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been fined $10,000 for sending promotional materials to hundreds of people who had voluntarily excluded themselves from Internet gambling in New Jersey. The fine against Caesars Interactive Entertainment is the first of its type imposed on a gaming operator since New Jersey launched Internet gambling in November 2013, according to Kerry Langan, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Gaming Enforcement. New Jersey’s “self-exclusion list” allows compulsive gamblers to voluntarily ban themselves from Internet gaming or from playing in the brick-and-mortar casinos. Casinos and online gaming operators are not allowed to solicit those gamblers or send them promotional materials as long as they remain on the list.

‘Besotted’ teacher stole $89k from school

A teacher stole $89,000 from a preschool she worked at for a man she was “besotted” with, she told a disciplinary hearing. Sayonara Fa’amausili appeared before the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal following a conviction at Manukau District Court for theft. Fa’amausili was found guilty of stealing $89,068 over four years from a preschool where she worked as centre manager. The theft was discovered following an audit of the centre accounts. she was sentenced at court to 40 hours’ community work. Fa’amausili admitted to the theft and told the tribunal she took it because she was struggling financially. She said her criminal actions began after she formed a relationship with a man who had drinking and gambling addictions and who persuaded her to take the money to further his lifestyle. She told the tribunal he had an extraordinary impact on her and because she was so “besotted” with him she was prepared to do anything for him.

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


How the Mid-term Elections Impacted Gambling Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported countlessly on the impact of expanded gambling in areas across the country. Gambling issues are raised on many fronts, everything from direct legislation prosed by state or federal lawmakers, to individual ballot initiatives that require a direct vote of the people. Gambling is typically a bi-partisan issue with both sides demonstrating support and opposition. However, elections often swing power one way or another for a jurisdiction and it can often have an affect on gambling expansion legislation. Sometimes its seen by one party pushing legislation through their respective lawmaking arenas, other times it’s the influence of the party to shape the language and process of direct voter ballot issues and other times it’s the difference in whether gambling initiatives are passed by the legislature that then require a vote of the people. This election cycle was no different and The Washington Post Blog outlines the winners and losers of this year’s mid term elections where voters directly decided various gambling issues: 

Voters in eight states went to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to expand casino gambling. In several cases, established gaming interests poured millions into state ballot referendum fights. 

*California* Voters rejected Proposition 48, which would have allowed the impoverished North Folk Rancheria of Mono Indians to build a new casino on land the tribe has bought…

Voters in Colorado roundly rejected[4] a state ballot measure to add casinos to racetracks in three counties. The measure failed by a 3-to-1 margin, the Denver Business Journal reported.

Voters in Kansas voted to let allow non-profit charitable raffles.

Voters in Massachusetts chose to keep legalized casino gambling and the three casinos that are already on the drawing board.

Voters in Rhode Island failed to approve table games at the Newport Grand casino.

South Carolina voters gave a thumbs up to non-profit charitable raffles.

Voters [in South Dakota] backed amendment Q, which would authorize the legislature to allow roulette, keno and craps at gambling houses in Deadwood…

Voters [In Tennessee] agreed charities to hold annual lotteries. The charities in question are namely veterans groups that wanted to hold gaming fundraisers…

This election cycle also had an impact on one of the most hotly contested gambling expansion issues, online gambling. An online, gambling-reporting site listed the areas where the issue was impacted:

Tom Corbett’s defeat in Pennsylvania’s governor race can be characterized as a loss for those who would like to see regulated online poker and casino games come to [Pennsylvania]…

The defeat of Pat Quinn [Illinois] is likely a win for online gambling proponents. Like Massachusetts, Illinois politicians have clearly placed online gambling in line behind land-based expansion.

Rick Scott’s re-election in Florida represents a clear setback for online gambling supporters. Scott has been a recipient of Sheldon Adelson’s largess (directly and indirectly) and publicly called on Congress to support an online gambling ban earlier this year. His re-election calls into question what momentum online gambling regulation may realistically have in Florida, a state frequently mentioned as one of the next wave of potential markets for regulated online poker.

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