Monthly Archives: July 2016

New Poll Shows Florida Voters Overwhelmingly Support Voter Choice In Gambling Expansion Matters

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to help ensure the people of Florida have the ability to directly impact gambling expansion. Recent efforts have centered around a ballot initiative that would amend the constitution to require a vote of the people before any gambling expansion legislation can be pushed forward by the legislature. Voters in Charge, the group responsible for the petition, have secured the signatures to keep the process moving forward the bill is not before the Florida Supreme Court to ensure it meets the proper requirements. As the process moves forward, its important to know how well the amendment would do on the ballot, and a new poll aims to answer that questions.   The poll results, released by No Casinos and conducted by Hill Research Consultants, was outlined by Orlando Politics Online: 

– 69% support a referendum requiring voter approval of all gambling expansion decisions. Such a referendum, the Voter Control of Gambling Amendment, currently is before the Florida Supreme Court for placement on the 2018 ballot. Only 21% oppose it.

– 83% believe that Florida voters should decide gambling policy in Florida. By comparison, 7% believe the Florida Legislature should decide, 3% believe the Governor should decide and 3% believe the courts should decide.

– 72% indicated they would be less likely to support a political candidate who supports expanded gambling in Florida without a statewide vote. By contrast, 18% are more likely to support such a candidate and 6% say it makes no difference.

– 75% disagree that more gambling in their city will improve the quality of life for them or their families, while 18% believe more gambling improves their quality of life.

The poll was directed at actual Florida voters who voted in recent elections. The margin for error was under four percent, so the implications are pretty clear. No Casino’s President, John Sowinski, summarized:

“The will of the voters could not be clearer,’’ said John Sowinski, President of No Casinos. “Regardless of political party, Floridians overwhelmingly want a say in whether gambling will be expanded in our state. They understand the negative social and economic consequences. This is why the gaming industry continually tries to circumvent public opinion, hiring lobbyists and lawyers to push their agenda of more and more gambling in the Legislature and courts. Elected officials should take heed — it is not only good public policy, it is also smart politics to reject expanding gambling in Florida.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/18-7/24

Kauai man fatally shoots ex-wife before turning gun on himself, in front of daughter 

A 45-year-old Kauai man shot and killed his ex-wife in front of their 9-year-old daughter late Monday before fatally shooting himself, Kauai police said. It happened around 10 p.m. in the Halelani Village condo project in Puhi. Police identified the victim as Celestae Gibbons, 42. The shooter was identified as Justin Gibbons. Police said Gibbons approached his ex-wife as she got out of her car at the complex. Their daughter was in the backseat. The two started to argue, and Gibbons shot her, police said. Celestae then ran into a nearby unit to try to escape her estranged husband, but he followed her inside, shooting her again and killing her. He then ran outside the complex and fatally shot himself, police said. The two were both pronounced dead at the scene. The daughter was not injured. He said Justin Gibbons had a gambling problem and major debt. The couple just divorced last month, but Allen said Justin Gibbons didn’t want a divorce. He’d constantly make his ex-wife feel guilty.

Interpol makes more than 4,000 arrests over illegal gambling on Euro 2016

More than 4,100 people were arrested in co-ordinated raids across 11 different countries during Euro 2016 in one of the largest global police operations against illegal gambling in Asia. Nearly 4,000 raids were carried out in China, France, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam on illegal gambling dens as part of Operation SOGA VI — the sixth investigation into football gambling by Interpol, the organisation which facilitates cross-border police work. A second operation, called Aces, targeted illicit betting websites and call centre-type operations in Cambodia, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. More than £10million was seized in the two operations, although Interpol estimates the illegal dens handled nearly £500m in bets during Euro 2016. “Illegal gambling generates massive profits for organised crime networks which are often linked to corruption, human trafficking and money laundering,” said Jim Anderson, the head of Interpol’s anti-corruption and financial crimes unit. 

Priest accused of stealing $500K meant for refugees 

A Canadian priest has reportedly been charged after he allegedly stole more than $500,000 meant for refugees. According to the Toronto Star, Amer Saka of the St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in Ontario collected the money from a fund that was meant to benefit refugees moving to Canada. An investigation began months earlier, during which a church official said the clergyman had lost it “gambling.” Saka was suspended immediately after news of the missing money. Bishop Emanuel Shaleta took Saka to a rehabilitation facility for priests “battling problems ranging from addiction to depression to sexually abusive behaviour,” the Star reports. On Wednesday Saka, 51, was arrested. He faces charges fraud exceeding $5,000 and possess proceeds of property or thing exceeding $5,000, according to the Star.

California’s Hawaiian Gardens Casino Fined $2.8 Million for Repeated Anti-Money Laundering Violations

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today announced a settlement with and a $2.8 million assessment against Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Inc. d/b/a The Gardens Casino, of Hawaiian Gardens, California. The Gardens, a card club, admitted that it violated the Bank Secrecy Act’s (BSA) program and reporting requirements and has agreed to future undertakings, including periodic independent reviews to examine and test its BSA Anti-Money Laundering (AML) program. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) examines card clubs for compliance with the BSA pursuant to authority delegated by FinCEN. In 2011 and 2014, IRS examined The Gardens and identified significant BSA violations. Many violations uncovered in 2011 were left unaddressed in 2014, despite the IRS findings in 2011 and despite the fact that the Gardens’ independent consultant identified many of these problems in 2013. From September 1, 2009 through the present, The Gardens failed to implement and maintain an effective AML program, failed to report large cash transactions, failed to file many suspicious activity reports (SARs), and failed to keep certain required records. 

Scottish priest who embezzled £100,000 wants Pope to release him from priesthood 

Scottish Catholic priest serving a ten month jail sentence for embezzling £100,000 of church money to fund an alleged gambling problem has apparently asked that Pope Francis allow him to quit the clergy. Fr Graeme Bell was parish priest of Our Lady Star of the Sea church, known locally as St Mary’s, in Saltcoats before being convicted of stealing from the Ayrshire parish between March and May 2015 after admitting to an online gambling problem. Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard last month how Bell, 41, suffered from anxiety and depression which “reached a stage where he was not behaving as a law abiding individual”. Now, according to The Herald, the local bishop, William Nolan, has visited the congregation and informed parishioners that Bell has asked to leave the priesthood, a process known as laicisation. The move — which would remove the Church’s duty of care to Bell and stop any Church investigation — must be approved by Pope Francis and could take over a year to conclude.

Coast-to-coast drug and gambling ring busted in NYC  

“As alleged, these individuals were responsible for, among other things, an elaborate cross-country drug-running scheme that farmed pot in California and sold it in New York City.” Police Commissioner Bratton says marijuana was cultivated in California and shipped to New York City by a drug ring that also sold oxycodone pills. Authorities in New York have made arrests in connection to a recently uncovered nationwide drug and gambling operation that generated at least $15 million in profit over the course of nearly two years. Law enforcement officials announced the indictment of more than 20 people on charges stemming from their alleged involvement in the criminal organization, which oversaw the distribution of marijuana and oxycodone pills and the operation of an illegal gambling scheme. “Whether the alleged offer was marijuana, pills or a return on bets placed through an unlawful gambling operation, the defendants developed a comprehensive system of monetizing illicit activities and trade,” NewYork County DA Cyrus Vance Jr. stated. “In this case, the alleged schemes generated millions of dollars in illegal revenue for the defendants, virtually none of which was reported, and likely all of which went straight into the defendants’ pockets.”

Las Vegas sportsbook operator fined $1.5M; CEO to resign

Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine and the company’s high-profile president and CEO Lee Amaitis will resign as part of a pending settlement with Nevada Gaming Control. The NGC filed a complaint in May alleging CG Technology failed to fix “systemic problems” with the company’s computerized bookmaking system, which resulted in “thousands of CGT patrons being incorrectly paid on winning wagers” from August 2011 to March 2015. The complaint alleged the company underpaid bettors on parlays and round-robin bets by approximately $700,000. “The Board will not tolerate improper or incorrect payments to patrons by gaming licensees, and therefore takes this matter extremely seriously,” Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett told the Las Vegas Sun, which first reported the settlement. “This settlement contains several harsh punishments and requirements for remediation that reflect those concerns.”

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


Rio Olympics New Las Vegas Betting Target: Signaling American Acceptance of Olympic Impurity?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing impact gambling has had on the Olympics and on the many ways in which those involved have tried to keep the games pure and free of gambling corruption allegations. In a year when the Olympics host site has come under such unbelievable scrutiny and major doping allegations and infractions by the Russians have grabbed the headlines, perhaps its fitting that Las Vegas is officially saying goodbye to the long standing policy of banning betting on the Olympics. The Internationals Olympic Committee clearly doesn’t have the jurisdiction to prevent betting in various locations, but the industries own guidelines have given way to those looking to cash in on this year’s games.   Initially they banned the practice when Vegas sport books’ impact on College sports was brought to the spotlight by Sen. John McCain. However, after the London Olympics were bet on by sports books in England, Las Vegas took note. The LA times expresses why they believe a key vestige of sports purity has now been lost: 

The long, slow erosion of the Olympics’ claim to sporting purity has reached a new landmark. The Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro will be gambled on inside Nevada sports books.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board, acting on the interests of race and sports book directors in the state, agreed last year to allow bettors to wager on Olympic events for the first time since the practice was forbidden in 2001. Asked if the world should pause to mourn the lost innocence once associated with the Games, the head of Las Vegas’ powerful Westgate Superbook saw no reason to shed a tear.

“‘Used to be’ is exactly right, because almost everyone in the Olympics is getting paid now,” Jay Kornegay said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. The Kenyans in the marathon, the Russians — they get paid. Our athletes get endorsements. There are very few amateurs left.”

Some view the emergence of gambling this loss of purity as something the IOC brought on itself and that its just American’s that are holding onto the idea of the Olympics as pure form of international sports competition. The LA Times concludes: 

Stephen Mosher, a sports ethics and character development professor at Ithaca College in New York, said it is “not surprising to hear that Vegas is taking bets on Olympics. “The purity of the Olympic movement was lost years ago when the International Olympic Committee removed any distinction between amateurism and professionalism. Only in the U.S. does a portion of the population actually believe in what even the IOC calls this ‘magic dust.’”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/11-7/17

Gambling addict stole £1.7million from Newmarket employer over five years 

A gambling addict who stole £1.7million from her Newmarket employer to fund her addiction has been handed four years in jail. Tracey Stevenson, 52 of Arlington Way in Thetford, previously admitted five counts of theft from her employer and was sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court on Friday. Martin Mulgrew, prosecuting, said between 2011 and 2016 Stevenson stole a total of £1.713million from Newmarket based company Ecsec Ltd, while working as their account manager. She had supply transfers put into her own account, made false cheques out to herself and her husband and altered company records to hider her deceit. Stevenson’s fraud came to light in January this year as a result of the company suffering cash flow problems and an investigation into the company’s accounts and books. 

Man accused of taking $400,000 from family, friends 

A Connecticut man is accused of defrauding family members and friends of nearly $400,000 by telling them he needed the money after a botched medical procedure authorities say never happened. Authorities announced Friday that Robert Oathout, of Hartford, was arraigned in federal court in Providence on eight counts of wire fraud. Prosecutors say the 35-year-old Oathout convinced his victims to transfer him funds before, while and after he was detained on unrelated drug charges at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls. Oathout claimed he needed money to pay medical expenses in advance of a $1 million settlement from a botched medical procedure performed on him at a Hartford medical facility. Prosecutors say Oathout needed the money to repay gambling debts.

Five men operated an illegal sports betting racket out of a Bayside home

All bets are off for five men indicted for allegedly operating an illegal sports wagering ring out of a rundown home in Bayside, prosecutors announced on Tuesday. The alleged ringleader, Flushing’s Theodore Simon, 77, was named along with three Bayside men — Frank Nista, 64; James Greene, 70; and Russell Bellaterra, 69 — and Rockville Centre resident Jason Levine, 45, in the 14-count indictment charging them with operating the racket that took in an estimated $750,000 in illegal bets annually. According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, the case was cracked through a 2 1/2 year investigation by the NYPD Organized Crime Investigation Division and others in the law enforcement community. The probe included physical surveillance, intelligence gathering and court-authorized eavesdropping in which hundreds of hours of incriminating conversations among the suspects were recorded. “As alleged, these individuals were running an illegal sports gambling wire room out of a location in Queens and hedged their bets thinking that their illegal activity would remain hidden from the eyes of the law,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said in a statement Tuesday. 

Gambling leads to deadly Alabama shooting 

A Union Springs man was fatally shot early Saturday morning after getting into a dispute over a game, police say. Police Chief Danny Jackson told WSFA the shooting occurred at 3 a.m. in the area of Highway 82 and Peachburg Road. Mario Martin was pronounced dead at the scene. Johnny Womack Jr., was taken into custody for questioning. It’s unclear at this time whetherWomack has been charged. Jackson said the men were gambling and got into a dispute.

Macau gaming-related crime continues to post double-digit growth  

Gaming-related crime in Macau (China) continues its torrid pace, with the number of cases showing double-digit growth in the first five months of 2016. Speaking at a ceremony marking the 56th anniversary of the Macau Judiciary Police (PJ), director *Chao Wai Kuong* said there’d been 660 gaming-related criminal cases through the end of May, up 15.6% from the same period one year ago. The pace of growth is accelerating, as Q1’s year-on-year increase was only 11.2%. In keeping with recent patterns, gaming-related crimes largely fall into one of two categories: loan-sharking and illegal detention of gamblers who can’t pay their debts. Gaming-related loan-sharking cases were up 65.7% to 179 while illegal detention cases were up 70% to 169. Comparing the 12 months between June 2014 — May 2015 and June 2015 — May 2016, gaming-related crime is up by one-third. Loan sharking cases were up 60% to 389 while illegal detention cases were up 200% to 435.

OKC federal judge orders arrest of Choctaw man charged in $7M embezzlement scheme 

A federal judge has ordered the arrest of a Choctaw man, charged in a $7 million embezzlement scheme, after he failed to appear for his plea hearing Wednesday. From 2007 to 2014, Rodney Alan Hager worked as the bookkeeper at J&B Pipe Supply Co. in Oklahoma City. Hager also owned Mall Concepts of Oklahoma Inc., which operated mall kiosks in Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Georgia and other states, court documents show. Oklahoma City federal prosecutors allege Hager, 38, wired funds from the oil-field pipe company to bank accounts under his control, including to an account for the mall kiosk company. Prosecutors say Hager took blank checks signed by the company owners and used them for his personal benefit. Hager also is accused of opening four credit cards in the name of his father, the pipe company’s president. In all, Hager is accused of embezzling about $7.14 million since 2007. In a March 2014 email sent to his uncle, the pipe company’s vice president, Hager said, “I really don’t know what to say at this point other than I am sorry for everything. … I never intended for any of this to happen. I guess gambling got the best.”

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

Ballot Initiative Briefs Submitted to Florida Supreme Court: Mega Millions Not Impacted by the Initiative

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of Voters in Charge to put together a ballot initiative in Florida to require a vote of the people before new gambling legislation can be authorized. Naturally, those with strong gambling interests who hope to expand gambling in Florida have pushed to oppose the petition. As is part of the normal process, the court reviews the ballot summary language and key issues about any ballot initiative, namely if it deals with a single issue and does the summary language adequately describe the amendment for voters. Those in opposition have pressed the court on these issues and have tried to raise questions about the reach and scope of the amendment. Those arguments were supplied in a brief to the Florida Supreme Court. The Saint Peters Blog reports:

Marc Dunbar, the lawyer representing gambling interests across the
state, opined in his own brief what that would mean for Mega Millions, a multi-state lottery game.

“Mega Millions drawings are conducted in Atlanta by officials with the Georgia Lottery,” Dunbar wrote. In comparison, Powerball numbers are drawn in Tallahassee by the Florida Lottery.

“The authority for the Florida Lottery to participate in Mega Millions was derived not from the State Constitution, but from the State Legislature” through a statute.

“This raises an important question not addressed by the proponents of the Voter Control Amendment: Since ‘casino gambling’ includes any game not authorized by … the Florida Constitution, would the Florida Lottery be required to discontinue sales of Mega Millions if the proposed amendment were to pass?”

Briefs were also submitted by those supporting the constitutional amendment which included arguments that directly refuted the claims of those representing gambling expansion interests. Additionally, it was made very clear in a statement released by Voters in Charge that Mega Millions wouldn’t be impact by the ballot initiative’s amendment. The St Peters Blog continues: 

In response, Voters in Charge issued a statement saying the amendment was worded “to specifically exempt Lottery operations.”

“That’s not just our opinion,” the statement said, explaining that Lottery officials themselves told the state’s Financial Impact Estimating Conference they “looked at the petition initiative and notified us that they do not see any impact … on their current or immediately planned operations.”

The committee also referred to the conference’s report, which found that “based on the plain language of the proposed amendment and according to the sponsor, the proposed amendment will not affect any game the state can operate lawfully.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/4-7/10

NSW bans greyhound racing after ‘mass slaughter’ of up to 70,000 dogs 

NSW has dramatically banned greyhound racing after an inquiry uncovered horrific new evidence of cruelty, the unnecessary “mass slaughter” of up to 70,000 dogs and a conspiracy within the sport’s former governing body to conceal mistreatment. It also found significant evidence of doping, including forced use of EPO, steroids, caffeine and amphetamines — and claimed 136 dogs a year suffer “catastrophic” injuries during races, resulting in death. One trainer also drowned puppies after they were judged to not “have the instinct to chase”. Premier Mike Baird described former High Court Judge Michael McHugh’s report, stemming from a Special Commission of Inquiry into last year’s live baiting scandal, as “chilling, confronting, it’s horrific” and said the “only humane response” was to shut the industry down. “He has shone on a light an industry that has overseen the slaughter of tens of thousands of healthy dogs whose only crime was they weren’t fast enough,” Mr Baird added. “He’s also shown an industry which has turned a blind eye to the barbaric practice of live-baiting “He’s shown that the industry has a culture of deception. The Commissioner has found that it is no longer entitled to the trust of the community.”

Prosecutors: Man gambled away money stolen from school district  

Keith Kristek admitted today that he stole more than $1 million from the Ambridge Area School District and another $46,000 from the borough of Baden while acting as tax collector. Federal prosecutors said he gambled it away. “We were unable to recover any assets at this point,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Karl. Kristek, 57, a former constable from Baden and the acting tax collector since 2007, waived indictment by grand jury before U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab and pleaded to mail fraud and filing a false tax return. Kristek acted as the tax collector for the district and the borough because the elected tax collector in Baden — his wife, Cynthia Kristek — could not get a performance bond that tax collectors need. Starting in 2007 he took over for her and began swindling taxpayers. Mr. Karl said Kristek stole $320,000 from people who delivered taxes in person and another $740,000 in checks made payable to his wife. Kristek forged her signature and deposited the money into his account. 

4 charged in probe of gambling ring that had $1B in wagers  

An internet bookmaking operation based in Costa Rica took in nearly a billion dollars in illegal wagers on NFL games last season alone, New York City prosecutors said Thursday. Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson made the allegation while announcing corruption enterprise and other charges against four men from California and New York. According to court papers, the ring took bets on pro football, college sports, soccer and other athletic events from thousands of gamblers using various websites since April 2015. They say bets last season on pro football totaled $927 million. The alleged ringleader, Gordon Mitchnick of Laverne, California, ran the operation out of a “wire room” in San Jose, Costa Rica, prosecutors said. He laundered some of the proceeds by buying 20 houses, they said.

Big YouTubers Accused Of Setting Up Gambling For Kids 

The site essentially lets you buy keys with real money that then open chests that somewhat randomly outputs /CS:GO/ skins, some of which can be worth up to the thousands of dollars. Sounds like a slot machine, right? It kind of is, but the item output isn’t money (despite outputting items that can be sold for money), kind of like how Pachinko loopholes work in Japan. The first problematic thing? Unlike slot machines, there is no age enforced age restriction on the site, essentially creating a place where kids can gamble. Valve have come under-fire for this by Bloomberg for facilitating sites like these, by allowing Steam accounts to be attached to the websites, thus giving you the items. It doesn’t look great. Here is where it gets pretty wild though. ProSyndicate and TmarTn are pretty massive YouTubers with millions of subscribers. Syndicate is one of the biggest UK YouTubers, full stop. Well, they uploaded videos of them winning thousands of dollars in these gambling packages, thus encouraging their users to use the site. The problem? Well, as discovered by HonorTheCall , TmarTn is actually the president of the CSGOLotto, and ProSyndicate is the Vice President, something neither openly disclosed prior to this revelation. Both have acknowledged the controversy with Syndicate releasing this apology, although, if you go on TmarTn’s account he does openly say “LOL” to a meme about enticing minors to gamble.

 $368K theft, suicide at soccer club was gambling-related 

As governments across B.C. ponder expanding casinos, CTV News has learned a suicide after a huge theft from a Victoria-area volunteer soccer association was related to gambling. The B.C. Coroners Service found gambling was one of the risk factors that led the long-time president of the Gorge Soccer Association, Terry Marra, to kill himself just as other members of the club were discovering how much money was missing. “He was a real pillar of the club for a long time. For a lot of people this was a real shock when this happened,” said Andrew Wynn-Williams, a club spokesperson. The agency has recorded Marra’s death as just one of 18 suicides in a four-year period that the agency believes are gambling related, according to documents obtained by CTV News using B.C.’s Freedom of Information Act. It’s a warning, some observers believe, against too quickly embracing the proposed expansion of casinos in Delta, the City of North Vancouver, Saanich, and in Marra’s home of Victoria.

Andrew W.W. Caspersen Pleads Guilty to Stealing Millions From Investors

Andrew W.W. Caspersen, a former Wall Street executive charged with masterminding a Ponzi-like scheme, pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing millions from investors to place risky stock-market bets. Mr. Caspersen pleaded guilty to two criminal counts in Manhattan federal court and admitted to stealing some $38.5 million from family members and close friends while soliciting other investors for millions more. As he fought back tears, Mr. Caspersen said his crimes were committed to fuel a gambling addiction and that virtually all of the stolen money had been gambled away. He will be sentenced at a later date. “The people I harmed were people I cared for most,” Mr. Caspersen told a courtroom packed with family and supporters. “I could not be more sorry or ashamed for my crimes.”

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

UPDATE: NFL to Cease Fantasy Football Marketing Efforts to Minors

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the unfortunate direction the NFL took regarding fantasy sports. Several non-profit organizations, including The National Council on Problem Gambling and the Campaign for a Commerical-Free Childhood, reached out to the NFL to express legitimate concerns over their marketing practices. In a letter to the Commissioner Roger Goodell, they outlined how them directly and aggressively seeking kids to participate on fantasy sports games like “NFL Rush” was promoting a culture of gambling. These games offered prizes that, according to the letter, “may encourage children to spend excessive amounts of time trying to win these prizes, thus planting the seeds of addiction.” These corruption allegations were heard by the NFL and they have stated they plan significant changes. An online source explains:  

The NFL confirmed Wednesday it has informed several advocacy groups that it will make significant changes to the game. The school curriculum based on the game has been discontinued and the league has promised it will not promote fantasy sports in schools in the future.

“We are pleased that the NFL has agreed to make these changes, and young children will no longer have a financial stake in the outcome of its games,” said Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “It is also good news for parents that the league will no longer enlist teachers and schools in an effort to get children into the habit of playing fantasy sports.”

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


A Brief Look at Crime 6/27 – 7/3

$1.6M fraud scheme leads to plea of guilty 

A Fort Smith man stole more than $1.6 million from insurance and annuity policyholders to satisfy a gambling addiction, federal court documents show. Samuel Bowron Phillips, 41, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count each of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. He was charged in March in a 22-count indictment accusing him of stealing $1,634,487.89 from 21 victims over five years. As part of the plea agreement, Phillips agreed to pay back the money he stole and forfeit two silver bars, each weighing 10 troy ounces. The plea agreement said Phillips, who had been licensed in 1999 to sell annuities and insurance policies in Arkansas, admitted to setting up two sham companies. He made up a name, Clint L. Martin, and rented post office boxes in Fort Smith and Barling to receive mail for the two bogus companies. 

Gambling Commission orders Betfred to pay £800,000 

The bookmaker Betfred has agreed to an £800,000 settlement after accepting stolen cash from a “VIP” customer, who was allegedly offered free drinks and day trips to encourage him to keep betting. Betfred, based in Gibraltar, was found to have failed to meet its obligations on social responsibility and the prevention of money laundering, after taking thousands of pounds from the convicted thief Matthew Stevens. The accountant pleaded guilty to two counts of theft earlier this year, after funnelling cash out of the business he worked for in order to fund his gambling habit. The settlement comes just a day after a BBC investigation claimed that staff at the high-street bookmaker Coral were told to offer customers perks – including drinks and free bets – to keep them betting on “crack cocaine” fixed-odds betting terminals.

Fight over gambling winnings leaves 1 shot in Jefferson County 

An argument over gambling winnings ended in gunfire Sunday night in northwest Jefferson County. Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies responded just before 6 p.m. to a report of a person being shot. The shooting happened in the 1100 block of Pebble Creek Parkway in Forestdale. When deputies arrived on the scene, they found a 22-year-old man wounded. He was taken to a local hospital, said Sgt. Jack Self, and is expected to recover. Information at the scene is that the victim and another man were gambling outside of one of the apartments. The victim and the suspect got in to an argument over winnings, Self said, and as the victim walked away the suspect pulled out a handgun and shot him. 

Jefferson County couple stole $300,000 after discovering River City Casino glitch

A couple from Jefferson County discovered a technical glitch at River City Casino and used it to steal more than $300,000, according to charges filed Friday. Eileen R. Sheldon, 60, and Daniel T. Sheldon, 61, were each charged with felony stealing. The couple lives in the 2100 block of Windemere Drive near Arnold. According to charging documents, the couple realized that there was a system error at the casino that allowed them to download unearned winnings with their mychoice account loyalty cards. The system would void the transaction when the couple tried to download the winnings from their respective cards, but funds were credited anyway due to the system glitch. Eileen Sheldon discovered the error first, and between October and December 2014, she made almost 3,000 downloads for a total value of $582,353, according to charging documents. She redeemed $216,892 in cash. Video surveillance captured Eileen Sheldon making many of the transactions. 

Poplar Bluff man sentenced to life in prison for murder of St. Louis hotel night manager  

A man convicted of robbing the night manager of a St. Louis hotel of $97 and killing him was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole, plus 40 years. Joseph Bowens, 45, of Poplar Bluff, Mo., was found guilty in April of first-degree murder and robbery in the death of Scott Knopfel, 50, of St. Louis, during a robbery. The jury also found him guilty on two counts of armed criminal action. Life without parole is the mandatory sentence for a first-degree murder conviction if prosecutors elect not to seek the death penalty. Circuit Judge David Dowd accepted Assistant Circuit Attorney Mary Pat Carl’s recommendation to add 40 years to the sentence for what he described as a “brutal” and “senseless” crime. Said Carl: “That $97 was worth more to (Bowens) than this man’s life.” Security cameras captured the robbery and killing at the Drury Inn & Suites hotel near Interstate 44 and Hampton Avenue on Jan. 15, 2015. The shooting happened just before 3 a.m. Three shots were fired, and Knopfel was struck in the chest and face. Bowens was captured a few days later. Carl said Tuesday that Bowens had been at the Lumière Place casino downtown before coming to the hotel but authorities don’t know if he lost money there or if that could have factored into his decision to rob the Drury Inn. 

Woman’s killing during cockfight robbery leads to 3 indictments

It was a cockfight held on a street in Newark’s North Ward on a June night nearly two years, and three men planned to rob all the people who were watching, authorities say. However, one of wouldbe robbers fired a gun, killing a woman in the crowd, authorities said.Edwab, who is prosecuting the case, said Thomas fired the fatal shot. Authorities said the shooting occurred about 3:30 a.m. on June 29, 2014. They said Cruz was taken to University Hospital where she died about an hour later. Thomas now faces a 10-count indictment for charges of conspiracy, attempted robbery, felony murder, manslaughter, attempted burglary and weapons offenses. Diaz was indicted on seven counts, including felony murder, attempted robbery, attempted burglary and weapons offenses. Ortiz faces indictment for conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit burglary and animal cruelty charges, authorities said.

Man used ID theft, $2 million in stolen cash to fuel lavish lifestyle 

He traveled, gambled and had an affinity for shiny objects: a Rolex watch, two Maseratis and a bright orange Jaguar convertible. He also bought a luxury downtown Miami condo in a $775,000 all-cash deal, investigators say. But Gerti Muho’s high-flying lifestyle was fueled by lies, stolen identities and more than $2 million in stolen cash, federal prosecutors say. His adventure came to an end when, after spending a few months on the lam, he was captured by federal agents at his mother’s home in Queens, N.Y., authorities said. They recently moved him to the Broward County Jail, and he will remain locked up until his trial. Muho, 32, had left South Florida in January, records show*,* after he was arrested on relatively minor state charges, accused of using someone else’s identity to apply for an $800 payday loan at an Amscot store. Gerti Muho, 32, is accused of masterminding a string of frauds in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The former hedge-fund manager is jailed in Broward County pending trial.

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