Monthly Archives: October 2015

Florida-Seminole Gambling Compact Sees Lawsuit Added to Negotiations

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of both the Florida Legislature and the Seminole Nation to successfully negotiated a renewed gambling compact for the state. The deadline passed with no resolution, so the state asked the Seminoles to stop offering card games and the Seminole responded with their own pressure. Then it appeared the two were on the way to a new deal, but one with more expanded gambling implications that some were comfortable with establishing. Arbitration also ensued and other Tribal gambling sources expressed interest in expanding operations into Florida. Now, as the negotiations look to be coming down to the eleventh hour once again, a lawsuit has been brought forth by the Seminole tribe against Florida for violating the exclusivity aspect of the existing agreement. The Tampa Tribune online explains: 

The Seminole Indian Tribe filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday charging that the state of Florida has violated the tribe’s exclusive rights to hold “banked” card games, such as blackjack, at Seminole casinos.

The lawsuit claims the state violated a five-year-old agreement with the tribe in two ways: by allowing dog tracks and other gambling venues in south Florida to hold electronic black jack games, and by permitting pari-mutuel facilities around the state to operate card tables for poker and other games where players bet against each other.

The lawsuit was filed despite ongoing negotiations between the Seminoles and state officials, including the governor’s office and members of the Legislature.

 The Tribe’s position is that this lawsuit is simply to protect their interests in the even the negotiations break down in favor of the state over them. As of now, both sides believe a compact can be agreed upon in time for the January Florida Legislature to approve the measure. The Tamp Tribune continues:

In a news release, James E. Billie, chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, said “significant progress” has been made in the negotiations. Yet the tribe felt a lawsuit was necessary to “protect its interests” should the talks with the state founder.

“The tribe and the state are negotiating either an extension of the compact or a new compact,” said Gary Bitner, a spokesman for the tribe. “Those negotiations are going very well, but because of the timing it was necessary to file this suit now.”

The lawsuit is asking the court for a declaration that would let the tribe expand black jack tables to the two remaining Seminole casinos, Brighton and Big Cypress. The tribe also wants the judge to declare that the state has failed to negotiate in good faith as required by federal law and to order the state and the Seminoles to proceed with negotiations.

Crist called the lawsuit a “formality” and said a new agreement likely will be signed before the end of the year so it can be taken up by the Legislature in January.

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Daily Fantasy Sports Companies May Lose First NFL Team Partnership Amid Insider Trading Scandal and Illegal Gambling Label

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing issues running ramped through the daily fantasy sports industry including a Class Action lawsuit, federal investigations by the FBI and US Attorney General, and numerous state actions including a Nevada shut down of DFS and general investigations by state attorney general offices as well. Now it would appear that all the negative press is leading one NFL team, the Dolphins, who reside in Florida, a state that is already believed to be leaning toward viewing the industry a violation of state law, to potentially end their partnership with DFS companies like FanDuel and Draft Kings. It only takes one team to back out to create a chain of owners doing the same in efforts to distance themselves with what is inevitably coming. The Sporting News explains:

The Dolphins on Thursday became the first NFL team to comment on the developments. “We would need to consider all of our options, including termination, if their business model is deemed to be unlawful,” the team said in a statement, via the Boston Globe.

Officials across the country have begun to assess whether the daily fantasy sports trade model complies with state and federal gambling laws since the scandal erupted.

 Laws in Florida are especially stringent and could force the Dolphins’ hand sooner than other teams. U.S. attorney’s offices in Boston and New York — where the companies are headquartered — were already probing DraftKings over the scandal.

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


Brief Look at Crime 10/11 – 10/25

Bookkeeper gets prison term for stealing more than $500,000

A former bookkeeper who stole more than $500,000 from her employer and lost most of it gambling at casinos is now headed to state prison. Monica Arencibia received a nine-year sentence Friday. The 51-year-old Dumont woman had pleaded guilty earlier this year to theft by deception, Bergen County prosecutors say the thefts occurred between September 2010 and June 2014, while Arencibia worked for a flooring company. They say she issued company checks to herself in her name, but made it appear that the money was going to pay vendors who supplied the company’s inventory.

Jericho Broker Pleads Guilty to $830K Insurance Scam

A Jericho insurance broker pleaded guilty to stealing a total of $829,963.53 in insurance premiums and other funds from clients to pay for his personal expenses, acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced Monday. Joseph Koch, 57, was arrested in Aug. 2012 after an investigation revealed that he was using insurance premiums, that he was supposed to forward to insurance companies on behalf of his clients, to pay for his Mercedes Benz, mortgage bills, country club membership fees, gambling trips and more, the DA’s office said. Koch pleaded guilty to second degree grand larceny and first degree scheme to defraud.

Western NY woman charged with stealing $260K from employer

Authorities say a 57-year-old western New York woman working as a bookkeeper for a Buffalo electrical contractor has been charged with stealing more than a quarter million dollars from her employer. Prosecutors say she embezzled over $260,000 while working for ECC Electrical Construction. Officials say she wrote checks to cover her credit card bills, to cover a loan, for computer purchases, for a down payment on a new SUV and to finance her gambling habit. Prosecutors say Joyce has a prior conviction for stealing from a previous employer.

Lauderdale County man accused of killing Deshler High School Coach in 2013

Jeremy Leshaun Williams has a hearing scheduled for 9:00 a.m. at the Lauderdale County Courthouse. Williams is charged with capital murder in the death of Brioni Rutland in November 2013. He’s accused of stabbing and shooting Rutland in 2013 then dumping his body into the Tennessee River. Divers found his body under the Old Railroad Bridge on November 29, 2013. Court documents said Williams told investigators Rutland came to his house to collect money Williams owed him for a gambling debt. Following a struggle in the home, Williams said he shot Rutland.

Financial adviser sentenced to 5 years for bilking disabled woman out of $400,000

Jodene Beaver has struggled with physical and mental impairments most of her 56 years. With a supportive family, and, until three years ago, a father in Upper Arlington who cared for her, she got by working as a grocery-store greeter and other jobs and lived on her own. But two months after Robert Yeamans died, Beaver put her complete trust in Jason Wade Cox, 39, a financial adviser her father had selected. And that’s when Cox promptly began to steal thousands of dollars, transferring funds out of the original account and into Beaver’s private checking account and then blowing much of it on gambling. Cox eventually would drain Beaver’s entire inheritance, and then urge her to sell her condo and move into a bedbug-infested apartment in Whitehall. Cox was sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison, three years supervised release and ordered to pay more than $412,000 in restitution. He pleaded guilty in July to charges of mail and wire fraud and money laundering.

Boca Raton man admits $3 million fraud

A Boca Raton man admitted Thursday that he bilked more than $3 million from investors and spent significant amounts of the money gambling at casinos and paying for personal items, court records show. Timothy R. Clancy, 46, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in federal court in West Palm Beach. Clancy, who is free on $100,000 bond, faces a maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced, probably early next year. Clancy said he co-founded the investment company, ABD E&W Fund, L.P. , about 11 years ago but started taking money for his own use between 2007 and 2013. According to the plea agreement, he used the money “to gamble at various casinos,” pay his credit card bills and make cash withdrawals for his personal use. About 20 victims were affected, authorities said.

Village of Burnham sues accounting firms after former clerk’s $700K theft

The village of Burnham filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Cook County Court against firms O’Neill and Gaspardo LLC in Mokena and The Walker Group. Burnham officials said the village hired the firms to do annual audits of the town’s books but allegedly did not detect repeated thefts by clerk Nancy Dobrowski, who held the clerk’s office for more than three decades. Dobrowski, 71, faced federal charges of wire fraud and filing a false tax return in May 2014. Prosecutors said she altered the books to cover up her crimes and used the pilfered money to pay for gambling trips to Indiana. “The Village of Burnham hired these accounting firms to perform the City audits and part of their job was to find any fraud or misstatement in the Village’s finances,” Bruce said in a statement. “These accounting firms failed to do their job, which allowed Nancy Dobrowski’s theft to continue for years.”

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FBI and US Attorney General Investigation Daily Fantasy Sports Industry

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the new insider trading scandal against the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) industry and has reported the constant scrutiny of the business being nothing more that sports gambling. As more and more exposure is coming to light, it appears the DFS industry has caught the ire of both the FBI and the United States Attorney General. Both have launched full-scale investigations in the business. As The Wall Street Journal explains, the FBI is looking into the matter of fantasy sports being games of skill or not:

The U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are probing whether the business model of daily fantasy-sports operators violates federal law, according to people familiar with the matter.

The probe is in the preliminary stage, two people said. It is part of an ongoing discussion within the Justice Department about the legality of daily fantasy sites, in which customers pay entry fees to draft virtual sports teams that compete against each other for prize money based on the real-world performances of athletes. Congress in 2006 prohibited financial companies from transferring money to online gambling sites and several were shut down. But so-called games of skill were exempted. The Justice Department is trying to determine whether daily fantasy games are a form of gambling that falls outside the purview of the exemption.

Additionally, the US Attorney General is investigating the allegations of insider trading and the legality of the fantasy sports as defined by the Illegal Gambling Business Act. As previously reported by Casino Watch, insider trading type information was used by a company employee to win $350,000. Those allegations along with class action lawsuits has prompted State Department Action. An online source explains:

Whether or not operators of daily fantasy sports (DFS) are violating the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) is a question for a grand jury, which has been convened by the US Attorney’s office in Tampa, Florida to investigate the matter.

Late Friday, well-known gambling and sports law attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, a Fort Lauderdale law firm, Daniel Wallach, broke the news that has rocked the fantasy sports industry, in what has undoubtedly been the single worst week in the history of daily fantasy sports.

On Thursday a class action lawsuit was filed in a Manhattan federal court against FanDuel and DraftKings stemming from the recent revelation by both companies that their employees were allowed to participate in contests on each other’s sites for the same cash prizes available to the general population. Meanwhile, Yahoo has joined the other DFS operators and has prohibited its employees from participating in real-money DFS tournaments at rival sites.

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


Daily Fantasy Sports Insider Trading Scandal Puts More Negative Light on the Gambling Nature of this New Business

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent developments and almost wide spread realization that the Daily Fantasy Sports business is nothing more that sports gambling. These daily games are very different from their traditional season-long counter part. The argument of skill, doesn’t hold up when gamblers can pick a new lineup each day and all the gamblers have access to the same sports player as everyone else, just like with horse betting, but unlike season long fantasy sports where once a player is drafted, they are no longer available. As the advertisements of major companies FanDuel and DraftKings will tell you, its often important to know which outlying players could outperform those commonly selected main stars. As they point out, if you can play those sleeper players, you could win big. That understanding makes the recent scandal all the more damaging, as its been alleged that employees of FanDuel and DraftKings were using insider data based on who their customers were drafting and using that information to play on the competitors websites.   The New York Times broke the story: 

A major scandal is erupting in the multibillion-dollar industry of fantasy sports, the online and unregulated business in which players assemble their fantasy teams with real athletes. On Monday, the two major fantasy companies were forced to release statements defending their businesses’ integrity after what amounted to allegations of insider trading, that employees were placing bets using information not generally available to the public.

The statements were released after an employee at DraftKings, one of the two major companies, admitted last week to inadvertently releasing data before the start of the third week of N.F.L. games. The employee, a midlevel content manager, won $350,000 at a rival site, FanDuel, that same week.

“It is absolutely akin to insider trading,” said Daniel Wallach, a sports and gambling lawyer at Becker & Poliakoff in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “It gives that person a distinct edge in a contest.”

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Brief Look at Crime 10/04 – 10/11

Hastings lawyer charged with stealing $1.4 million from clients

A Hastings-on-Hudson attorney has been charged with stealing more than $1.4 million from clients in Westchester, just months after admitting to the same crime in the Bronx. He “took advantage of people who turned to him for his legal expertise and guidance only to become victims of his greed,” Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said in a statement. Lippman has a severe gambling problem. said his lawyer, Murray Richman. “It’s all a result of his addiction,” Richman said. “It’s ruined his life.” Lippman worked for many years as a lawyer in the office of the Public Administrator in the Bronx, which settles estates. A state investigation found that Lippman pocketed more than $1.5 million from those estates between 2005 to 2008.

10 People Wounded by Gunfire Inside Georgia Barroom 

Ten people were struck by gunshots when a gambling dispute boiled over into a barrage of gunfire inside a crowded barroom, but all of the victims are expected to survive, authorities in a small west Georgia town said Monday. The victims in the Sunday morning shooting included five females and five males ranging in age from 16 to 29, Meriwether County Sheriff Chuck Smith said. They were shot in their arms, legs, feet and shoulders, and one was grazed in the head, he said. An argument over illegal gambling in a back part of the bar led to the hail of gunfire, the sheriff said. The argument “escalated with at least several suspects pulling handguns and firing multiple rounds within the confines of the building,” the sheriff said in a statement. “These indiscriminate shots resulted in multiple individuals being struck,” he said.

More than $1M seized in dismantling of money-laundering outfit

More than $1 million in cash and assets was seized in June, by the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office Special Investigation Unit, from a group that laundered money in multiple Texas counties. Seized assets included vehicles and high-end jewelry. According to the Cameron County DA’s Office, the multi-county money-laundering operation involved was dismantled by the unit. Various people were arrested, all connected to widespread illegal gambling in South Texas via the “8-liner” electronic gambling industry, which led to raids by Operation Bishop investigators.

Lincoln pharmacist pleads guilty to possibly state’s biggest Medicaid fraud 

A Lincoln pharmacist tearfully pleaded guilty Tuesday to health care fraud, admitting he bilked Nebraska’s Medicaid program of $14.4 million in what is believed to be the largest such fraud on record in the state. The 44-year-old who lives in Omaha will face eight to 10 years in federal prison when he’s sentenced in January, if the judge agrees to the deal hammered out by attorneys. Tran also agreed to a restitution amount of $14,430,059.17 and to forfeit his right to cash and property seized early in the investigation, meaning it would go toward restitution. Defense attorney Clarence Mock said Tran spent the overwhelming majority of the money he got by filing the false claims gambling at casinos in Council Bluffs, Iowa, not so he could lead a posh lifestyle. “All of Mr. Tran’s conduct stems from an inveterate gambling addiction that he just couldn’t control,” he said.

Four indicted in $1 million Bellagio craps scheme

For nearly two years, a pair of Bellagio craps dealers and two friends stole more than $1 million off the tables, prosecutors said Wednesday. The dealers, Mark M. Branco, 42, and James R. Cooper Jr., 43, along with Jeffrey D. Martin, 38, and Anthony G. Granito, 49, were indicted on dozens of counts of cheating at gambling and theft, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney J. P. Raman. They would focus on lower limits at tables with dealers who weren’t paying enough attention to the action. Granito and Martin would make some real bets, but mutter some sort of craps wager as the dice were tossed and Cooper or Branco would pay them “as if they had bet on it,” Raman said. But last year, a fellow dealer noticed suspicious behavior and informed Bellagio management and an investigation began.

Prosecutors: Socialite’s game room scheme netted nearly $6 million 

Six people, including a Houston socialite, were involved in a scheme that netted almost $6 million in illegal profits since 2013, prosecutors said Friday. Assistant Harris County District Attorney Lester Blizzard said at least three illegal gamerooms formed the base of a criminal enterprise that saw three top level suspects and three clerks arrested earlier this week on charges of money laundering. “It was an extreme amount of money,” Blizzard told state District Judge David Mendoza. He said investigators project that the gamerooms that house illegal slot machines, sometimes called 8-liners, made $5.8 million since 2013 when the investigation began. Katherine Le, a well-known jewelry designer in Houston’s social circles, and her husband, Hao Dinh Nguyen, 51, are two of the accused principals in the plot.

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Las Vegas Sands Pulls Lobbying Efforts to Legalize Destination Mega Casinos in Florida

Over the years, Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing efforts of Law Vegas Sands to get approval to build a Vegas-Style, full-scale, mega casino. They have focused most of their efforts with lobbyist attempting to craft legislation that would make it through the Florida legislature. Despite many efforts and bills, no significant progress was made. Efforts to build destination casinos have failed for the better part of six years, and it looks like the company is leaving Florida and setting its sites on Atlanta. An online source explains: 

Las Vegas Sands Corp., the largest casino developer in the world based on revenue, is giving up on building a so-called “destination casino resort” in the state of Florida, according to /SaintPetersBlog/.

A lobbyist said that the company is axing all of its consulting contracts for public relations and lobbying in the state, the report said. Sands reportedly is now focused on Georgia, which is considering legalizing Las Vegas-style casinos. Sands’ owner Sheldon Adelson is also still pushing to ban online casino games nationwide because he thinks they will hurt his business.

Sands has been lobbying in Tallahassee for the past six years, but lawmakers who support the new casinos in the Sunshine State have not been able overcome the opposition, which has included the likes of Disney, which believes these types of casinos would hurt the family-friendly image of the state. Also opposing a Sands project in South Florida are the Seminoles, who have an exclusivity deal with Florida for table games.

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