Monthly Archives: May 2016

Guest Article: Only Casino Interests Push Casinos in Florida

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of the Florida based group, No Casinos, and their attempts to protect Florida families from the ever increasing dangers of expanded gambling. The group’s president, John Sowinski, has addressed these issues on many levels, including directly answering positions or articles that seek to advance the casino’s interest. This article is one such response:

As the president of No Casinos, I occasionally respond to the pro-gambling missives of an industry that has the same interest in Florida that a tick has in a basset hound. But one that recently appeared in Sunshine State News is a bit novel. According to Steve Norton, who helped bring big-time casinos to Atlantic City and now wants to do the same favor for Florida, Orlando has blocked the rest of the state from gambling happily ever after May 12 guest column, “Floridians Should Look Beyond Orlando to Weigh Casinos’
Benefits”. …

No Casinos gets singled out for its effectiveness in this effort and I certainly appreciate the shout-out, even if in his very first sentence, Horton spilled the beans that I get paid. I only wish I got paid as much as the people on his side. But seriously, and with all due humility, we are not as good as Horton implies. It’s not like casinos are some unknown quantity that we can spin a gullible public into opposing.

Casinos are multiplying in some parts of the country like amoebas in a petri dish, getting so crowded that they now are cannibalizing each other to survive. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in one. So we don’t have to plot any voodoo marketing strategies. All we have to do is shine a light on the industry and say, “Hey, look everybody.” Rest assured, when Florida has said no to expanded gambling, time and again, it has done so with eyes wide open….

A common myth perpetuated by the industry is that more and bigger casinos spur economic development and create jobs. In fact, the state’s chief economist has dismissed that argument. Casinos don’t create new business. They simply divert money that would have been spent elsewhere to slot machines and card tables.

In its comprehensive analysis of the Florida gambling market, the Spectrum Gaming Group reported that 93 percent of revenues from an expanded casino market would come from residents, not a stampede of high rollers flying in from around the globe. That means little economic benefit, no significant number of new jobs and no increases in local salaries. This is all public record, not No Casino spin.

But for argument’s sake, why not? Why not open the door to more casinos? Here is my answer: Casinos create gambling addiction and then profit from it. Research indicates that living close to a casino doubles the chance of someone becoming a problem gambler, with a third or more of casino revenues coming from such problem gamblers.

There also is growing research about the addictive nature of high-tech slot machines, which actually can transfix players in a zone, dribbling out just enough small winnings to keep them pumping in more money. It’s all about increasing seat time to maximize losses.

For the complete article, please click HERE 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 05/09 – 05/15

Dallas jury orders Choctaw Nation to pay $11 million in 2013 casino bus crash 

A Dallas County jury has ordered the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to pay $11 million to the families of two women from Fort Worth and North Richland Hills who were killed in 2013 when a chartered bus crashed on the way to a casino. The families of Paula Hahn, 69, of Fort Worth and Alice Stanley, 83, of North Richland Hills are to get $6 million and $4.9 million in the suit, respectively. The women were on a trip to the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant the morning of April 11, 2013, when the bus, northbound on the George Bush Turnpike, veered into guard barrels, swerved across multiple lanes, hit a concrete barrier and flipped over, the /Star-Telegram /has reported. The other families’ suit claimed that the Choctaw Nation was responsible for the “negligence” of Taylor, the bus company, Cardinal Coach Line, and Rieve, who were acting as agents for the Choctaw Nation but were not reasonably trained and supervised to enforce passenger safety rules. “Basically, if you are going to invite these senior citizens to gamble, you need to make sure this trip is safe,” Branson said.

Gambling offers crime gangs an easy way to launder dirty money

Gambling remains a key component of organised crime rackets as criminals use it as a simple mechanism to launder dirty cash. From John Gilligan to the Kinahans, gangsters in Ireland have long been linked with betting scams – which are played out without the knowledge of the bookmakers. Over the past decade Daniel Kinahan, whose gang is responsible for five murders in the feud with the Hutch clan, has been involved in race and match fixing. He and international criminal associates have been targeted in a number of major police investigations in the UK, Spain and Holland – but on each occasion he managed to slip the net. Around €1m worth of property and €100,000 in cash were seized when gardaí raided properties linked to the Kinahans earlier this year – but tellingly, they also recovered a betting slip for a Liverpool game. It was for €38,500 and it was 4/7 that Liverpool would beat Newcastle last December 6 – a bet which did not pay off. But going back decades, one of the methods used by Irish gangsters was to bet cash on all the horses in a particular race. 

Man shot in Bessemer over gambling dispute 

One man was wounded by gunfire and another arrested early this morning in Bessemer after a possible dispute over illegal gambling. Bessemer police were dispatched about 3:15 a.m. to a report of gunfire in at 1425 Clarendon Avenue. While they were en route, officers learned someone had been struck, said Bessemer police Sgt. Cortice Miles. When they arrived, they found a man outside with two gunshot wounds to his legs. Bessemer Fire and Rescue took him to UAB Hospital. The injuries aren’t believed to be life-threatening. Miles said the suspected shooter was taken into custody at the scene. Detectives recovered a couple of guns, shell casings, dice and other evidence. They also identified witnesses who are undergoing questioning.

Louisiana shooting: 2 dead when gunmen burst in on card game 

Several masked men burst in on a card game at a tire shop in Louisiana early Thursday and began firing semi-automatic rifles, police said. Eight men were shot, including two who died. The gunmen — described as three or four men wearing coverings over their faces — got away, according to the Shreveport Police Department. Cpl. Marcus Hines said police did not find any guns in the tire shop or any evidence that any of the gunmen was shot. “We don’t know if there was an exchange of gunfire or not,” he said. “These guys came in and started shooting. No one reports they shot back.” Hines said two men died, two were seriously wounded and four were treated at a hospital and released. Two other men had minor cuts from broken glass. Investigators don’t know the motive or whether the gunmen took any money, and don’t have leads to their identities.

Energy company owner in Texas gets prison for $3.7 million Ponzi scam 

The owner of a Texas oil and gas exploration company must serve more than 13 years in federal prison and repay $3.7 million to investors who were scammed. Prosecutors in Austin say William Risinger owned RHM Exploration and operated the company as a Ponzi scam. The 44-year-old Risinger in January pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. Officials say Risinger from late 2010 to mid-2014 stole from investors based on bogus oil, gas and mineral ventures and used the money for his personal spending. Risinger was free on bond when he was arrested April 25 in Las Vegas for violating terms of his release. Testimony during Friday’s sentencing indicated Risinger since November lost about $500,000 while gambling in Las Vegas.

5 Long Island Men Charged in Takedown of Genovese Crime Family

Eighteen people, including five from Long Island, have been indicted following a multi-year investigation of racketeering activities by members and associates of the Genovese crime family, federal authorities said Thursday. The five Long Island men charged were involved in an illegal gambling operation and each faces up to five years in prison, officials saidAn indictment unsealed Thursday charges four members and associates of the Genovese family — namely, Genovese family “soldiers” 74-year-old Robert Debello, aka “Old Man,” and 56-year-old Steven Pastore, and family “associates” Ryan Ellis, aka “Lazy Eye,” and Salvatore Delligatti, aka “Fat Sal” with racketeering conspiracy. All four live in New York City. Five other defendants, all from New York City, participated in a conspiracy along with Delligati to commit a murder for hire and committed a related firearms offense, prosecutors said. The nine remaining defendants, including the Long Island men, were involved in the illegal gambling business, authorities said.

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

Florida’s Voters in Charge Ballot Initiative gets Senate Sponsor and Court Review

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing development of a ballot initiative aimed at requiring all gambling matters to be put up for a vote of the people before the state legislators can enact legislation. The ballot initiative is sponsored by the group Voters in Charge. The group is linked to No Casino’s through mutual president John Sowinski, an anti-gambling group that believes the Florida legislature often goes too far against the will of the voters when expanding gambling. The petition recently received enough signatures to have the language reviewed. Now, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, is taking the next step in the process and having the court review the validity of the proposed policy change. The Saint Peters Blog explains:

Attorney General *Pam Bondi* is asking the state Supreme Court to review a proposed constitutional amendment on gambling. Bondi sent a letter to the court Friday, asking it to judge the initiative’s “validity.”

The Voters In Charge committee, the group behind the amendment, is chaired by John Sowinski. He also heads the Orlando-based *No Casinos anti-gambling expansion organization. The two are separate entities.

“Our state’s history shows that you cannot expand gambling even a little in one place without it resulting in an explosion of gambling in another,” Sowinski said in a January statement. “The people of Florida should have the ultimate say when it comes to deciding on gambling expansion, not gambling industry lawyers and lobbyists.”

Additionally, the state examined the economic impact to the state. No true value was determined, but its clear that it’s a minimal impact as it simply puts gambling bills on the ballot to be voted on by the people. Some issue need clarification as well, including how retroactive the policy would be in relation to newly approved gambling legislation or court actions. Florida Politics Online explains: 

A panel of state economists stalemated this week on the financial impact of the Voter Control of Gambling amendment. One question that vexed panel members was whether the amendment would be “retroactive.” It’s not clear that the amendment will only prevent expanded gambling after it’s approved, or also could knock out some games now being played in Florida.

John Sowinski, who chairs Voters in Charge, also heads No Casinos, a gambling-expansion opposition group; “One of the things that’s very clear about the amendment … is that it has no impact or very minor impact on the state fiscally,” he said. “We think it will work out to the state’s benefit, in the long run, to put voters in charge of whether certain forms of casino gambling are legal in the state.” “It’s only in recent years that murky case law has given rise to the idea that the Legislature can legalize forms of casino gambling,” Sowinski said. “This amendment will make crystal clear that voters should be in charge of legalizing new forms of casino gambling in this state.”

When the group was asked about its ability to be retroactive, John Sowinski clarified that the idea is to cover new items that the legislature might try to push quickly prior to the amendment going into law, but it not be so retroactive as to disrupt the current gambling landscape. An earlier Florida Politics article elaborates:

“We didn’t want some things set out to beat the clock,” said *John Sowinski*, who also heads the No Casinos anti-gambling expansion organization. He explained he didn’t want gambling concerns trying to roll out new games before the amendment takes effect. But he also said he wanted to “preserve the status quo as much as possible.” In fact, another panelist had asked whether some gambling would be grandfathered in. Finally, Sowinski said that he would consult with his attorneys and report back.

 Finally, the ballot initiative has received its required state sponsor. The Saint Peters Blog reports:

A former state Senator has signed on to represent the backers of a proposed constitutional amendment on gambling. Florida Supreme Court records show Miami attorney Dan Gelber filed a notice of appearance on behalf of Voters In Charge the committee behind the amendment. Gelber, 55, also was Democratic Leader when he served in the House and unsuccessfully ran for Attorney General in 2010, losing to Republican Pam Bondi. 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 05/02 – 05/08

Deadly Explosion and Fire Under Investigation

Explosions rumbled in the night sky, as fire ravaged a Grand Island business, leaving one man dead. Firefighters responded to Winfrey Plumbing around 10:45 Sunday night. Shift Commander Ed Carlin of the Grand Island Fire Department said, “There was one victim in the fire, deceased. His body was recovered overnight.” Officials have not released the man’s name, but Winfrey Plumbing founder Doyle Winfrey confirms to NTV it was his son Mike. Police have found several gambling machines, saying there was an illegal casino in the business along with drugs. If there is a connection, investigators are not saying. Fire officials tell us they were aware of that criminal history. The fact it was reported as an explosion raised questions. Carlin, the fire commander, described the scene, “It was an explosion and had rapid fire spread throughout the building. When we arrived, the whole thing was engulfed in flames. We were behind the eight ball the entire way.”

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Texas Man in $4.6M Fraud 

A federal grand jury in Dallas has indicted Wesley Michael Woodyard, believed to be most recently a resident of Dallas, on wire fraud and related charges stemming from his scheme to defraud Ace European Insurance Company (ACE) of more than $4.6 million from approximately 2002 through 2013, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas. Rather than follow normal procedures and instruct Roger Rich and Vanbreda to send funds directly to an insurance company (in this case, MetLife) to purchase the annuity contract for the named beneficiary, the indictment alleges that Woodyard told both Roger Rich and Vanbreda to send the funds directly to him, falsely representing to them that he would use all ACE funds to purchase the annuity policy on the open market. When Woodyard gained unlawful access and control to all ACE funds in this manner, Woodyard was also able to completely bypass the normal role of the insurance company (MetLife). When Woodyard unlawfully removed MetLife from the process, Woodyard also prevented MetLife from properly paying any commissions to the Ringler Insurance Agency. The indictment alleges that Woodyard used the majority of ACE funds for his own personal financial benefit, including paying for personal living expenses, gambling habits, travel expenses, and the purchase of four vehicles, including three Mercedes Benz and one Corvette, as alleged in Counts seven through ten of the indictment.

Father of accountant killed in City fall: online gambling drove my son to suicide

A young accountant who plunged to his death from an office building “died of shame” as his life was torn apart by an online gambling addiction, his father said today. Joshua Jones, 23, jumped from a ninth floor balcony after his debts mounted and saw no way of keeping up with the crippling loans he had taken out to feed his habit, an inquest heard. The graduate had won a job with PwC, one of the world’s most prestigious accountancy firms, but had a “double life” and was addicted to online betting, his father Martin told Southwark Coroners’ Court. The helpine for GamCare, which fields calls from people with gambling issues, reported that 46 per cent of callers in 2014/15 were concerned with online gambling. He died of shame. He took his life because of gambling. We miss him terribly.” Mr Jones explained how his son was a high achiever who was a talented hockey player and musician who won a place at Surrey University. But he blew his student loan on gambling and his parents took control of his money giving him “a drip feed” of cash to live off.

48 individuals indicted in bank fraud scheme at Atlantic City casinos

According to New Jersey Attorney General Robert Lougy, on Monday, the 48 individuals were indicted and charged with racketeering in connection with a scheme to fraud a bank. Allegedly, numerous defendants impersonated individuals that held legitimate business bank accounts in order to steal more than $570,000, withdrawing the majority of the money from Atlantic City casinos, as reported by the /Press of Atlantic City. Lougy said in a statement, that business accounts at JP Morgan Chase Bank were targeted by 48 individuals comprised mostly of New York residents, who allegedly stole the money from 27 business accounts at the bank in two schemes, which were carried out between February 2011 and August 2012. The investigation was initiated after bank investigators noticed that funds were being withdrawn by cash advances at Atlantic City casinos and wire transfer.

Joplin man waives hearing on $1.2 million deception of elderly woman 

A Joplin man accused of bilking almost $1.2 million out of an elderly woman from Vernon County and gambling it all away waived a preliminary hearing this week and was ordered bound over for trial. Eric S. Davis, 39, waived the hearing Thursday in Vernon County Circuit Court on a charge of financial exploitation of an elderly person. Associate Circuit Judge Neal Quitno set an initial appearance of the defendant in a trial division of the court for June 14. The alleged crime was uncovered in July 2014 during a guardianship hearing in Vernon County at which the woman testified that she sold all her stock in a major oil company and gave the cash to Davis, who needed it to get out of legal trouble that he told her he was facing in a court in Kansas City. Davis told the investigator that he was an avid gambler at a casino in Oklahoma and that he “may have gambled away” all the money he received from the woman, according to the affidavit.

Winnipeg woman accused of hiding dead babies spared jail in separate fraud case


A Winnipeg woman charged with hiding the remains of six infants in a storage locker will not serve any extra jail time for an unrelated fraud charge. Andrea Giesbrecht pleaded guilty in February to swindling Manitoba’s Employment and Income Assistance program of more than $5,000. She also admitted that she visited a casino despite a probation order prohibiting her from gambling. A judge handed her a 60-day jail sentence, but Giesbrecht was given full credit because of time already served in custody. Court heard that between December 2011 and May 2012, Giesbrecht received payments from the assistance program despite being married and receiving rent from a property she owned. Her lawyer said his client has a gambling addiction which has led to her losing more than $650,000.

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


Genting Attempts, Desperate, Hail-Mary Lawsuit to Force through a New Florida Casino; City Aid for Major Steps Down from Genting in Disagreement

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many failed attempts by Genting to construct a new, Vegas-style, destination resort casino in Florida. Most of the attempts have come through the Florida legislature, but those stopped a few years ago when they decided to go the route of initiative petition to get the issue put on the ballot for the state voters to vote on. They finally dropped that petition and decided to buy the Herald Building in Miami and partner with pari-mutuel company Gulfstream in hopes of forcing the hand of local officials. Many organizations fought the move and it worked. Now they are making a final, desperate attempt to use the courts to get their casino in place. The Miami Herald’s Fabio Santiago’s op-ed plainly calls the case frivolous and a waste of time and cites others who indicate the negative impact on the community:

The gambling resorts giant insists on bringing casino operations to the waterfront downtown Miami property it purchased in 2011 in the Omni area, where the defunct OmniMall used to cater to luxury shoppers and The Miami Herald building proudly stood. The area, now a thriving arts district, is not territory poised to become gamblers’ row. But the Malaysian casino refuses to take no for an answer from local authorities, voters or the state.

After spending millions in political campaigns — and losing legislative battles to expand gaming in a way that would allow them to build the massive casino resort —– Genting’s Resorts World Omni is suing Miami-Dade County and State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle to force the state to allow card games and slots in the old Omni mall space.

They’ve concocted a deal to get around a 2014 denial by state regulators to move a Gulfstream Park pari-mutuel permit to the Omni, and they’re asking a judge to declare it lawful — and to pre-empt police and prosecutors from filing criminal charges against what would be illegal Omni casino operators.

Really? Enough already. Go away, Genting. Flip the land while it’s a boom market. The bust is always around the corner in South Florida’s storied real estate history. Take the money and run while you can.

“It seems to be like a last ditch effort to get a slot house in Miami-Dade,” Frank Nero, president of Beacon Global Advisors, told me. “Destination Casinos have no real positive economic impact but slot houses, which this will be, are the worst. They prey upon the poor and elderly. Not exactly the high rollers from Asia on chartered flights that Genting initially promised. These type operations do not bring in incremental revenue. They tap into the existing tourism and locals disposable income. They need Miami-Dade. We do not need them, as we already have a vibrant tourism industry with high occupancy and high room rates that are among the best in the country.”

Their Tallahassee lawyers don’t think so, but the Genting lawsuit smacks of nothing but desperation.

The suit isn’t even universally accepting in the Genting ranks and has now forced an aid to Miami-Dade major Carlos Gimenez, Jesse Manzano-Plaza to step down from his consulting role with Genting. The Miami Herald explains: 

A top campaign official for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has ended his role as a consultant for Genting, an abrupt change that came after the casino giant sued the county to force acceptance of a new slots parlor in downtown Miami.

Jesse Manzano-Plaza, who runs the day-to-day operations for Gimenez’s reelection effort, said Tuesday he stopped being a Genting consultant last week after years of working for the Malaysia-based company.

Gimenez this week said he’s against Genting’s plan to bring slot machines and card games to the old Omni mall. The slots plan — first unveiled in 2014 but recently brought back into the spotlight because of the suit —represents a dramatically scaled-down version of the casino resort that the company first proposed when it purchased the old Miami Herald headquarters and Omni complex in 2011.

“I’m not in favor of that kind of additional gambling here in Miami-Dade County,” Gimenez said of Genting’s slots plan. “I don’t think at this point it would help. I don’t think that was the original intent of Genting.” 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 04/25 – 05/01

State’s most lucrative casino fined $1.65 million by Illinois Gaming Board after mob inquiry 

Rivers Casino has paid one of the largest gaming-related fines in modern times – $1.65 million – following an Illinois Gaming Board investigation spurred in part by questions over a security and maintenance contractor’s ties to reputed mob figures. Last year, the Better Government Association discovered that Rivers – Illinois’ newest and most lucrative casino – hired United Service Cos. for security and cleaning work at the Des Plaines gaming site. United is run by Richard “Rick” Simon, who has had admitted business and personal ties to reputed mob figures, including his late friend and boss, Ben Stein. Simon made news earlier in the week when it came to light that former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy launched a security consulting business affiliated with United. The BGA asked Rivers officials last May about United’s hiring because Illinois casinos are not supposed to have even a hint of organized crime connections – something that helped sink Rosemont’s years-long push to score a gaming license. 

Bloomington investment advisor sentenced for stealing from the elderly  

A Bloomington investment advisor who stole more than $680,000 in retirement funds from her elderly or disabled clients has been sentenced to five years behind bars. U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced that Cindy L. Lampkins, 47, appeared before U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker Monday and was given a 60-month sentence on one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Officials said Lampkins previously worked as the vice-president of Kern Financial Group, an insurance and financial services firm in Bloomington that she owned and operated with her father. “Stealing retirement funds from elderly and disabled clients is an unthinkable crime,” Minkler said in a statement. “Victims who can’t fend for themselves will have the U.S. Attorney’s Office as their advocate and we will hold people strictly accountable for their criminal actions.” Lampkins used the stolen funds to pay for visits to casinos, trips to Las Vegas and Florida, restaurant bills and other personal or business expenses.

Daughter sues man who killed her parents in Springfield  

Jessica Tyrrell-Murray, the daughter of Gary and Jan Tyrrell, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Mark Porter last week in Greene County. Porter, 55, pleaded guilty in August to murdering Gary and Jan Tyrrell in their home at 3232 S. Greenbrier Ave. on April 30, 2014. He was given two consecutive life sentences. Police say Gary Tyrrell, 60, was shot twice, and Jan Tyrrell, 61, was bludgeoned to death with a rare engraved walrus tusk. The lawsuit claims Tyrrell-Murray “is entitled to recover such sums that will fairly and justly compensate her for her injuries and damages.” The lawsuit does not designate a specific dollar amount the family is seeking from Porter. The lawsuit says the amount should be enough to “punish” Porter and deter other would-be killers in the future. Police detectives have said Porter had “gambling issues” and had asked his longtime friend and co-worker Gary Tyrrell for a $250,000 loan shortly before the Tyrrells were found dead.

Police: Illegal gambling ring worth $2.4 million

Twenty suspects were charged last week following a months-long sweep by Rhode Island State Police. On Wednesday, Eyewitness News obtained the search warrants, which revealed just how lucrative the alleged gambling and drug operations were. The people arrested during the investigation dubbed “Operation Free Roll” were involved in illegal sports betting, according to investigators. State police raided The Cozy Grill restaurant in Warwick and a Narragansett home on April 12 as part of the investigation. As a result, 19 men and one woman were arrested on charges that included organized criminal gambling, bookmaking, and conspiracy. The sting also resulted in the bust of a $1.5 million marijuana operation. The documents revealed one text exchange with an order for 15 pounds of the drug. 

Woman gets 4 years in prison for defrauding disabled man out of $3.5 Million

A suburban St. Louis woman has been sentenced to more than four years in prison and ordered to pay $3.5 million in restitution for defrauding a disabled man, and lying on tax returns. The sentence for 61-year-old Anastasia Grzeskowiak of St. Charles was handed down Wednesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. She pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud and filing false tax return charges. Grzeskowiak managed the financial affairs for a man with significantly impaired vision. Federal prosecutors say that from 2006 through April 2013, Grzeskowiak forged the victim’s signature on more than 800 checks, and used the money on personal expenses and gambling. The victim was defrauded of nearly $3 million, and the government, through false tax returns, lost more than $500,000.

Former Wet ‘n Wild worker accused of stealing nearly $500,000 from park authorities

Cook, a former senior coordinator team member at Wet ‘n Wild Orlando on I-Drive, allegedly confessed to Universal authorities that he stole up to $500,000. Only WESH 2 News obtained his arrest affidavit. The report said Cook told Universal investigators he had been taking as much as $5,000 per week over the past three years. He told them he made fraudulent returns of expired park tickets, then pocketed the cash by taking his cash register to an area where he knew he wasn’t being watched. Police reports said Cook admitted to using the money initially for rent and day-to-day expenses, but continued using the funds to pay for his mother’s rent, his friend’s groceries, personal bills and for vacations to go gamble. Wet ‘n Wild, which is owned by Universal Studios, said a park investigator caught Cook after an audit showed nearly $500,000 missing. 

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

NBA Denies Daily Fantasy Sports Industry the Ability to Advertise on Jerseys

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing struggles of the Daily Fantasy Sports Industry to be seen as something other than sports gambling. As the critical examination of the industry has progressed, more and action has been taken to ensure safeguards from such gambling. Some states have clarified their laws to indicate DFS is gambling, and prohibited the industry from operating, some states have declared it gambling and have passed laws to regulate the industry and protect customers, and the biggest players in the industry, DraftKings and FanDuel have passed their own safeguards and regulations in hopes of limiting the negative publicity and need for individual states to ban their gambling business. On the federal level they have been investigated and Congress plans to hold hearings regarding their gambling activity. Sports organizations have also had mixed involvement, as most have operating agreements with the industry, but have starting pulling back. After recent insider trading scandals emerged it looked like the NFL was beginning to pull back on the industry and its promotions Now it looks like NBA has distanced itself as well with a newly announced jersey advertising policy. LegalSportsReport online reports: 

Daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel will not be allowed to advertise on NBA jerseys, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell. DFS a no-go for jerseys

Rovell was reporting on the parameters for allowing logos on NBA jerseys, a development that first came to light last month. NBA teams can start selling a small space on jerseys worn in games starting with the 2017-18 season.

There are restrictions on who can advertise on jerseys, however, and that appears to include DFS sites. Why not DFS on the jerseys? There was no immediate indication from the NBA or Rovell of why the league made the decision to exclude fantasy sports companies, specifically. The league also said advertising related to “gambling” would not be allowed, per Rovell.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 04/18 – 04/24

Former Sparks Nugget ownership fined $1 million over money laundering violations 

The former ownership of the Nugget casino in Sparks has been hit with a $1 million civil penalty for “egregiously and willfully” violating anti-money laundering requirements, according to federal officials. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, also known as FinCEN, today announced the penalty against Sparks Nugget Inc., the entity that owned the casino prior to its sale in 2013. FinCEN also detailed numerous shortcomings in the Nugget’s efforts to combat money laundering, which is governed by strict requirements from the Bank Secrecy Act. But the bureau did detail a variety of ways in which it said the Nugget’s anti-money laundering efforts fell far short. For example, a Nugget employee responsible for managing compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act was “routinely disregarded” by managers, the penalty assessment from FinCEN said. The assessment also said the Nugget suffered from a “blatant disregard” for anti-money laundering compliance, an attitude that “permeated all levels” of the casino, according to FinCEN.

Man killed by Laguna officer at casino

A search warrant filed by an FBI agent says a Laguna police officer was shot during a scuffle with a suspect and the officer then returned fire, fatally striking a 20-year-old man at a casino last month.Family members previously identified Mario Sandoval as the man who was killed. The warrant says that Pueblo of Laguna Police Department officer Peter Tanzilli approached Sandoval and another man in the casino parking lot because the 1996 silver Lexus they were in was reported stolen. Sandoval was the suspect in the vehicle theft. As Tanzilli approached the two men, he drew his weapon and told them to “get on the ground.” One man ran away and Tanzilli took Sandoval down to the ground, according to the warrant. The warrant says Sandoval struggled as Tanzilli tried to handcuff him. Sandoval turned onto his back, pulled out a handgun and shot Tanzilli in the left pelvic region. The officer fell to the ground and shot and killed Sandoval.

Owner of Rudee Inlet Jet Ski, Adventure Parasail to be sentenced for not paying $1 million in taxes


When approached by the IRS in 2012 about unpaid taxes, the owner of two popular Oceanfront businesses that cater to tourists pleaded poverty, according to court documents. David A. Parker, 50, claimed he couldn’t pay the $150,000 in back taxes the IRS was seeking – even though the agency was trying to cut him a deal. The owner of Rudee Inlet Jet Ski and Adventure Parasail told the revenue officer he had no money and no income. Ten days later, Parker purchased nearly $30,000 in chips at a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Florida. A month later, he spent nearly $20,000 gambling at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, N.J. Parker, of Virginia Beach, is set to be sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Norfolk on charges he failed to pay more than $1 million in back taxes between 2005 and 2011.

Billionaire tycoon facing jail over £2.2m Ritz gambling debt

A billionaire businessman who has failed to pay a £2.2million debt racked up at the Ritz casino should be jailed for ten months, a top judge has ruled. Safa Abdulla Al Geabury, 52, claimed the casino should have stopped him playing as he is a known gambling addict, telling the High Court: “the Devil made me”. However, his argument was rejected last year as “deliberately dishonest” and the property tycoon was ordered him to pay back the money.The judge said there is “evidence of enormous capital wealth” and refused to adjourn the hearing, saying Al Geabury could have attended if he wanted to. He said despite Al Geabury being abroad, there was no reason why the court should not impose a prison sentence. “I’m sure on all the evidence that the defendant was well aware of the obligations to provide information as to his worldwide assets”, said the judge.

Philippine Casinos Targeted by Government Officials Trying to Recoup Stolen Money

The Solaire is one of two Philippine casinos involved in a successful $81 million heist, and government officials are racing to find and clean up the dirty money alleged to be in possession of numerous individuals and entities. Two Philippine casinos and their parent companies are being targeted by government leaders trying to recoup the $81 million in stolen funds hackers swindled in February from a bank account held by Bangladesh at the New York Federal Reserve in Manhattan. A total of $101 million was successfully withdrawn though $20 million was recovered by Bangladesh’s central bank. Philippine’s Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) is expected to soon file a case against the Solaire Resort & Casino and Midas Hotel & Casino for their reported roles in introducing dirty money into the country.

Iowa Hot Lotto Fraudster’s Brother Arrested, New Details of $1.2M Scam Emerge 

The brother of Iowa Hot Lotto scammer Eddie Tipton has been charged with ongoing criminal conduct, thanks to a new forensic breakthrough in the case. Tommy Tipton, 51, a former justice of the peace and reserve police officer from Flatonia, Texas, was arrested for his role in claiming fixed jackpots in Colorado and Oklahoma that allegedly netted him $1.2 million. He reportedly handed himself in to police and has since been released on bail. His brother Eddie, the former director of information security at the Multi-State Lottery Corporation, was convicted last year of rigging the $16.5 million Iowa Hot Lotto draw in 2010. Documents detailing the criminal complaint against Tommy Tipton state that the brothers were part of a network that claimed six rigged jackpots in five separate states over a number of years.

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