Monthly Archives: February 2018

Seminole Compact Deal Seems Unlikely Given Florida Legislators are Shifting Full Focus to the Parkland School Shooting

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to fully renew the Seminole Gambling Compact and officially lock in various gambling exclusivity agreements with the Tribe, the most prominent being designated player card games.  Recent legislation was proposed and pushed that was an attempt to allow exclusive deals for the Seminoles at their casinos, while allowing para-mutuel operators to offer designated player games and even end greyhound racing. The Sun-Sentinel reports:

The Florida Legislature is showing its hand in another attempt to bring the Seminole Tribe into a new, lucrative gambling agreement with the state.

Th new deal would potentially end greyhound racing, bring craps and roulette to Seminole casinos and allow designated-player games.

Under a draft agreement the tribe has shown several state lawmakers, it would now be willing to consider designated-player games and fantasy sports leagues such as FanDuel and DraftKing, both of which it had previously said were in violation of its agreement with the state.

Given the court appointed deadlines and Amendment 3, which seems likely to pass and would take the power away from the legislators and into the hands of the people, this was viewed as the key time to strike a deal. An online source explains:

The first deadline is a 2015 federal court order that allows the Seminoles to stop making $250 million in annual revenue-sharing payments to the state by the end of March if lawmakers don’t curtail the growth of ”designated player” games, a hybrid of poker and blackjack, in cardrooms across Florida. The next comes in November when voters are presented with a proposed “No Casinos” constitutional amendment that would require 60 percent approval of a ballot measure to expand gambling, essentially removing legislators from the decision-making process regarding casinos. Therefore, if lawmakers are to make significant changes to gambling regulations and renew the state’s gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe, the time to do so is now or, maybe, it will be never.

The Senate Finance and Tax Appropriations Subcommittee approved a 90-page gambling bill earlier this week that gives the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s seven casinos the exclusive right to offer craps and roulette while allowing pari-mutuel facilities statewide to run “designated player” card games.

As it turns out, however, the timeline has become even more doubtful given the tragic Parkland school shooting. The Florida legislature is wisely shifting focus to discuss and address potential solutions to help protect Florida families from similar future tragedies. The budget also needs to be passed, so the window for gambling appears to be rapidly closing.   An online source explains: 

The Florida high school shooting that left 17 people dead last week has another potential casualty—the state’s gambling legislation.

Florida Politics reported that Florida’s gambling bill is on life support after legislators decided to shelve all pending bills on their desks in order to prioritize a legislative response to the February 14 mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County.

With only three weeks left in the 2018 legislative session, legislators are scrambling to enact a law that will allocate $100 million funding for the state’s mental health screening, counseling and training, and the “hardening” of Florida schools.

After passing the bill, lawmakers will then need to squeeze in discussions on the state budget within a limited time. With their hands full, Florida House Speaker-designate José Oliva is much less optimistic that they will get something done on gambling in the next three weeks.

“A lot of our bandwidth is going to be taken up,” Oliva said, according to “We still have a budget to pass, and obviously we’ve got some sort of bipartisan bill that we have to pass dealing with the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/19 – 02/25

Dozens of People Recount Pattern of Sexual Misconduct by Las Vegas Mogul Steve Wynn

Not long after the billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn opened his flagship Wynn Las Vegas in 2005, a manicurist who worked there arrived at the on-site salon visibly distressed following an appointment in Mr. Wynn’s office. Sobbing, she told a colleague Mr. Wynn had forced her to have sex, and she repeated that to others later. After she gave Mr. Wynn a manicure, she said, he pressured her to take her clothes off and told her to lie on the massage table he kept in his office suite, according to people she gave the account to. The manicurist said she told Mr. Wynn she didn’t want to have sex and was married, but he persisted in his demands that she do so, and ultimately she did disrobe and they had sex, the people remember her saying. After being told of the allegations, the woman’s supervisor said she filed a detailed report to the casino’s human-resources department recounting the episode.

Beyond this incident, dozens of people The Wall Street Journal interviewed who have worked at Mr. Wynn’s casinos told of behavior that cumulatively would amount to a decades long pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn. Some described him pressuring employees to perform sex acts. In response to written questions about the manicurist’s and others’ allegations, Mr. Wynn said, “The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous.”

he Journal contacted more than 150 people who work or had worked for Mr. Wynn; none reached out to the Journal on their own. Most of those who spoke to the Journal about Mr. Wynn said they worried that doing so could hurt their ability to work elsewhere because of his influence in the casino industry and the state. Former employees said they sometimes entered fake appointments in the books to help other female workers get around a request for services in Mr. Wynn’s office or arranged for others to pose as assistants so they wouldn’t be alone with him. They told of female employees hiding in the bathroom or backrooms when they learned he was on the way to the salon. “Everybody was petrified,” said Jorgen Nielsen, a former artistic director at the salon. Mr. Nielsen said he and others repeatedly told high-level company executives Mr. Wynn’s sexual advances were causing a problem, but “nobody was there to help us.”

Professional gambler the ‘Pencil Man’ convicted of £2.1m betting fraud

A professional Merseyside gambler who swindled his victims out of over £2m was today found guilty of five counts of fraud. John Bailey, 45, known as ‘Pencil Man’, and from Waterloo, used his “powers of persuasion” to encourage people to ‘invest’ in his alleged businesses then used the money to fund his gambling habit.It was a seven-word warning that struck fear into the heart of bookies across the country: “The Pencil Man is in your area.” The electronic alert referred to John Bailey, whose betting slip sleight-of-hand tricked bookmakers out of vast fortunes. The Waterloo man’s scam was simple, but well-rehearsed and very-effective. Bailey, who was described by his victims as “confident”, “polite” and “self-effacing”, retrieved betting slips written in pencil which had already been time-stamped, and scribbled winning bets on them before slipping them back over the counter. He was so feared that he was banned by injunction from one chain – and the betting industry made wholesale changes to make Bailey’s modus operandi impossible.

Wayne Man Admits To Embezzling $13.8M From Employer

Atownship man Wednesday admitted to embezzling more than $13 million from his employer to support his gambling expenses and lavish lifestyle, authorities announced. Dfouni was the chief operating office for company that owns and operates hotels in New York and New Jersey from 1996 to 2015. From 2007 to September 2015, Dfouni negotiated lease contracts between his company and two others, which totaled millions of dollars, Carpenito said. Dfouni arranged for the payments to be sent directly to him. These payments included signing bonuses for Dfouni. He was expected to keep the bonuses and pay the remaining money to his company, Carpenito said. Instead, Dfouni skimmed part of the payments to his company to “support his lavish lifestyle and gambling expenses,” Carpenito said. Dfouni embezzled about $13.8 million from his employer, Carpenito said. Dfouni also failed to report more than $27.7 million in income to the IRS from 2007 to 2014, which included the funds he embezzled, Carpenito said.

Store employee steals more than $250,000 worth of lottery tickets

A Tallahassee store clerk is accused of taking lotto tickets for himself without paying for them, costing the Florida Lottery more than $250,000. According to an investigation by the Florida Lottery Division of Security, Shahi had been printing large amounts of Florida Lottery online game tickets for his own use. They say Shahi also played numerous scratch-off tickets from the store’s inventory without paying for it. Investigators note that Shahi’s wife owns the store. Documents allege Shahi even went so far as to delete footage from the DVR inside the store, printing off and stealing more than 6,000 tickets in one instance. Investigators say the total loss incurred by the Florida Lottery was $255,299.79. When investigators interviewed Shahi, he admitted to having a “gambling problem.” He told officials he had been printing off the Pick 3 tickets for himself because he had a loan to repay.

Former financial officer at Milwaukee box company to plead guilty to embezzling $592,000

The former controller for a defunct Milwaukee box maker has agreed to plead guilty to charges he embezzled nearly $600,000 from the company to pay gambling debts and personal expenses. The fraud occurred multiple ways, according to federal prosecutors. Weber used company credit cards and company checks and falsified accounting records to hide his activities and even impersonated his boss to get loans to the company as it was faltering in late 2016. A plea agreement filed Monday indicates Weber expects to plead guilty to a single count of wire fraud. Prosecutors and his lawyer, Jonathan Lavoy, have agreed to recommend a prison sentence of 18 months. Weber has paid back $100,000 of the stolen funds, Lavoy said, and the agreement calls for him to make full restitution of $592,006.53. The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Gunmen Shoot 21 at Clandestine Cockfight in Mexican Border State

Based on a statement by the state prosecutor’s office, several masked gunmen opened fire on people gathered at the club late Saturday at approximately 11pm. Four were killed at the scene with an additional three succumbing to their wounds in transit to hospital. Two of the wounded were identified as children aged seven and 10. One victim, who died early Sunday morning, was identified as 15-year-old Juan Daniel Magallanes Rodríguez received a gunshot to the chest. Cockfighting is very popular in many parts of Mexico; the primary draw is the gambling. The activity also tends to invite organized crime and cartel elements due to the high-stakes wagers. Gun violence is also common. Cockfighting operations have also been discovered in the United States, typically along the southern border. The illegal operations are primarily run by illegal and legal immigrants from Mexico. Numerous operations have been closed down in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California.

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


‘Leave it Be: Until Amendment Three’ – Florida’s Voters in Charge Amendment Group Releases New TV Spot while it sees Overwhelming Local Support for the Ballot Measure

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing progression of the Voters in Charge Amendment , with the most resent update reporting enough signatures had been collected to guarantee it would appear on the ballot. Since then, a very telling poll was released that showed overwhelming support for the amendment, now officially known as Amendment 3. Florida Politics reports: 

Lawmakers, take note: More than three-quarters of likely Florida voters favor a proposed state constitutional amendment “that would require voter approval to authorize casino gambling in the state,” according to poll results released Thursday.

“When initially asked about the amendment, 76 percent of respondents supported it, compared to 19 percent in opposition,” a press release said. “After hearing a balanced dose of arguments both for and against Amendment 3, support for the measure increased to 84 percent with only 14 percent opposed.”

“For nearly a century, it was voters—not politicians—who decided whether to authorize casino gambling in our state,” said John Sowinski, chairman of Voters In Charge, the group sponsoring the amendment. “Voters overwhelmingly support Amendment 3 because it will return control of casino gambling decisions back to the people, rather than gambling lobbyists and Tallahassee politicians.”

On the heals of such overwhelming support, Voters in Charge released their first television advertisement in support of Amendment 3 with the campaign slogan, Leave it Be: Until Amendment 3. The commercial can be viewed on YouTube HERE




A Brief Look at Crime 02/12 – 02/18

Gunman shoots and kills two security guards at a Las Vegas hotel and casino then tries to commit suicide

Two security guards were shot dead at a Las Vegas hotel and casino at 6.30am on Saturday. The shooting took place in a hotel room at Arizona Charlie’s Decatur Hotel and Casino when 29-year-old gunman Christopher Olague opened fire on two guards responding to a report of a disturbance. According to the LA Times, the guards had entered the room on the fourth floor and were shot by Olague, who was alone in the room. He used a handgun. Following the shooting Olague escaped and tried to carjack two motorists who managed to fend him off. He was located soon afterwards in the garage where he had shot himself in the head. He was taken to University Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition. ‘I don’t expect him to live,’ Las Vegas Police Lt. Dan McGrath said. Further information on the shooting, including a possible motive for the act, wasn’t immediately clear.

Londoner David Hair pleads guilty to role in $100M sports-betting ring linked to organized crime

A London man has admitted he helped lead a lucrative, illegal sports gambling scheme that grossed more than $100 million in five years. David Hair, 50, “was a leading member of the upper-echelon management group” of Platinum Sports Book, “an illegal bookmaking operation” that was run on websites through computers in Costa Rica, Crown attorney Henry Poon said in reading an agreed statement of facts in Toronto court Wednesday. Hair, who pleaded guilty Wednesday to bookmaking for a criminal organization, will be sentenced to two years imprisonment. He also agreed to pay $3 million in fines — $2 million before he’s actually sentenced on Feb. 21 — and the remaining million within the next three years, court heard. Hair remains out on $400,000 bail and still lives at the McCracken Court house in London’s swish Sunningdale neighbourhood, where police found $680,000 in bundled cash — believed to be Platinum revenues — when a search warrant was executed in February 2013.

Five of UK’s online casinos may lose licence over money laundering fears

Five online casino companies could lose their licence to operate, after industry regulator the Gambling Commission warned they were not doing enough to stop criminals using their websites to launder money. The commission has written to 17 online casino companies, flagging up the “serious nature” of its findings on their controls against money laundering, terrorist financing and problem gambling. The regulator said it was already considering a licence review for five of the firms as a result of its early findings, which could result in their permission to operate in the UK being revoked.

In its letter to firms in the sector the commission said it had identified failings not just in anti-money laundering controls, but also in social responsibility provisions designed to protect problem gamblers. These included companies hiring money laundering reporting officers with no formal qualifications who were “unable to provide suitable explanations as to what constitutes money laundering”. “There was a general lack of understanding of how criminal spend could affect the business,” the commission said. It also said firms were not submitting enough information about suspicious activity to law enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Agency. Online casinos are also failing in their duty to intervene when customers were showing signs of problem gambling the commission said. The regulator said it had spotted customers showing signs of problem gambling but “this behaviour did not trigger a customer interaction” by the companies.

Former employee pleads guilty to creating phony job ads to steal $244,000 from Brunswick hospital

A man who formerly bought employment ads for Southeast Georgia Health System pleaded guilty Thursday to creating phony ones to funnel nearly $244,000 of hospital money into his own bank account.While his job was to contract with advertising vendors, Wiemers created fictitious job boards and then caused the transfer of $243,738.53 in phony charges into his personal bank account, FBI Special Agent Jeff Roberts testified. Wiemers went through proxy companies as he took steps to conceal his involvement and used false identities to create email addresses, Roberts said. During his pre-trial release, Wiemers is undergoing rehabilitation some of “a very serious gambling addiction problem,” Zeh told the court. He faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000 and three years probation.

A ‘gambling-obsessed’ Welsh accountant stole £1.3m from Bermuda and then claimed it was overtime

An accountant with a “fascination with risk and trying to win big” stole £1.3m from the Bermuda government and transferred it to the UK to invest in cars and properties, a court has heard. This was allegedly used to pay off the £140,000 mortgage on his house, invest in 11 properties and buy two Mercedes-Benz cars. Bevan claims that £1.8m was legitimately paid to him for his work at the department of the Accountant General of Bermuda and was “effectively overtime”. Tim Evans, prosecuting, said Bevan made 52 payments from the Bermudan government to bank accounts belonging to him and his wife. The jury heard Bevan did this while implementing a new finance system at the government. Mr Evans described Bevan as a “gambling addict” with a “fascination with risk and trying to win big”.

Macau police hunt casino dealer after S$8.1 million theft

Police in the world’s largest gambling hub of Macau are hunting for a dealer suspected of stealing HK$48 million (S$8.1 million) worth of casino chips from Wynn Macau, authorities in the Chinese-controlled territory said on Thursday. Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, known as the DICJ, said it was concerned about the incident and had asked casino operators to beef up their security. The theft, which took place this week, was carried out by a man from Macau who worked in a high-roller VIP room at Wynn’s resort on Macau’s teeming peninsula, media reported. Public broadcaster TDM said police were also investigating if there were multiple suspects but did not give further detail. Typically, Wynn casino chips can only be exchanged for cash in Wynn’s casino, so anyone with stolen chips would likely try to cash in small amounts at a time rather than all at once, to avoid attracting attention. The last major casino heists happened in 2015 and 2016 when employees working in Macau’s VIP parlours stole millions of dollars from junket rooms in the casinos.

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

Hawaii Proposes 4 New Anti-Gambling Bills against Video Game Loot Boxes and US Senator Pressures ESRB for Industry Ratings and Regulation

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the discovery and evolution of gambling-esque loot boxes in video games and the legislative response to such predatory practices. Loot boxes are a type of micro-transaction where a video game player spends real money to open a box or chest in a video game, and hopefully win a valuable prize. If this sounds an awful lot like slot machines, then you’re thinking the same as countless fans, journalists and now legislators that are worried about he addictive and predatory nature of such a mechanic, especially when kids freely play these games. Hawaii legislator Chris Lee has lead the charge to hold the video game accountable and many others have taken note. As promised, Hawaii has now released 4 new bills that seek to regulate these predatory micro-transactions. An online source reports: 

Four new bills have been introduced in the past month that target the sale of games that sell loot boxes for real money. Two of the bills would prohibit developers from selling games with randomized loot box reward systems to anyone under the age of 21. The other two would require developers to label games that use randomized loot box systems /and/ to disclose loot box drop rates.

Developers would be forced to label games should they include “in-game purchases and gambling-like mechanisms which may be harmful or addictive,” according to the bill. A game purchased online would have to include this information on the game’s art. 

“Whistle-blowers have revealed that psychologists are employed to create these mechanisms,” Lee told the Hawaii Tribune. “If enough of the market reacts, the industry would have to respond and change its practices.” Lee said that more than half of the states in the United States are looking intro legislation regarding the sale of loot boxes in video games. Loot box regulation has already begun overseas as well. In 2016, China passed legislation that requires all developers to publish its loot box odds. Likewise, the Belgium Gaming Commission has deemed loot boxes “dangerous.”

Lee has been pushing the industry to impose its own common sense legislation. The ESRB is the rating system used within the industry and as of now, they are unwilling to view loot boxes as gambling and thus, they haven’t been willing to take the matter seriously or regulate from within. During a normal public meeting about the bills, lobbyist from the Entertainment Software Association, the industries trade group and regulators of the ESRB rating system, flew out to participate in the Q&A. They were unable to answer, justify or address some of the most basic concerns raised by Lee. It was objectively a very terrible showing for the industry. You can find the full video and update on Lee’s direct YouTube channel HERE (Loot box update begins at 2:37 and the questioning begins at 7:00).

Moreover, in addition to large number of states that are looking into similar legislation, these predatory gambling practices have now caught the attention of the US Senate, specifically Senator Maggie Hassan. She has questioned the FTC and wrote a letter directly to the ESRB. Forbes reports: 

This week, Hassan asked four FTC nominees the question: “That children being addicted to gaming — and activities like loot boxes that might make them more susceptible to addiction — is a problem that merits attention?” To which all four responded yes, it was something they would look into. But past that, Hassan wrote a lengthy letter to Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB citing that the issue of loot boxes was brought to her attention by a constituent. 

“While there is robust debate over whether loot boxes should be considered gambling, the fact that they are both expensive habits and use similar psychological principles suggest loot boxes should be treated with extra scrutiny,” Hassan’s letter says. “At minimum, the rating system should denote when loot boxes are utilized in physical copies of electronic games.”

The fact that Hassan is a US Senator, not a state senator, is important, as this could end up leading to her proposing federal legislation about this issue, rather than individual states doing it.

The powerful letter can be read in its entirety at Forbes HERE 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/05 – 02/11

Husband and wife in Mass. plead guilty to $1 million illegal gambling scheme

A husband and wife from Massachusetts have pleaded guilty to running an illegal gambling company and laundering more than $1 million in proceeds. The Salem News reports that William and Bonnie Morley, of Middleton, pleaded guilty Tuesday to gambling, money laundering and conspiracy charges. Sixty-two-year-old William Morley has been sentenced to serve six months of a 2 ½ year jail term. His 53-year-old wife will serve three years of probation. Prosecutors say the couple owned a North Andover company called Four Star Vending, and distributed illegal gambling devices to several establishments in Massachusetts and New York. Authorities say Four Star employees collected the proceeds from the machines and shared profits with the Morleys. The Morleys have agreed to forfeit $1.1 million in cash, six cars and dissolve the business.

Kansas woman plans to change plea in $5 million embezzlement

A former Southeast Kansas woman accused of embezzling more than $5 million from a now-defunct credit union has notified the court she plans to change her plea. The federal court filing on Wednesday comes just weeks before Nita Rae Nirschl, 64, was scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 30. The Miami, Oklahoma, woman is accused in an 81-count federal indictment of embezzlement and money laundering. Nirschl worked for Parsons Credit Union from April 17, 2000, to Jan. 24, 2014, when she was interviewed by credit union examiners about her gambling activities, among other things. Nirschl reported that she and her husband had winnings and losses of $16 million in 2012 from gambling. The audit revealed that the embezzlement occurred from 2010 to December 2013. The indictment alleges she deposited money stolen from the credit union into her personal accounts. She withdrew the funds as cash or from ATMs at Harrah’s North Kansas City casino, Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma, The Stables Casino in Miami, Downstream Casino in Quapaw, Oklahoma, Harrah’s News Orleans casino and Harrah’s Lake Tahoe casino.

Arizona hairstylist found guilty of stealing $300K from 94-year-old to gamble

A jury has found an Arizona hairstylist guilty of stealing $300,000 from a 94-year-old woman with dementia. Supranom “Addy” Klos of Tucson, Arizona, was convicted of one count of fraudulent schemes, three counts of theft, one count of fraudulent use of a credit card and one count of unlawful use of power of attorney. According to the office of Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Klos spent the money on a car, dental implants and gambling over four months. The victim was a client of Klos for more than 20 years. When her husband died in 2011, she was given power of attorney, which she exploited to steal the money. Klos will spend at least four years in prison.

After a huge cockfighting bust, L.A. County leaders look to crack down on owning roosters

With at least 8,000 cockfighting birds seized from homes in north Los Angeles County this year, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to look into suggestions on how to limit residents from keeping roosters. Cockfighting is an inhumane crime in which animals are forced to fight to the death for amusement and gain,” they wrote. Other crimes, such as gambling, illegal drugs, weapons, prostitution, and child abuse occur during these fights. The keeping of such large numbers offighting birds creates significant problems of excessive noise, flies, and potential sources of disease such as Avian Flu or Exotic Newcastle Disease. They interfere with residents’ ability to peacefully enjoy their properties and reduce property values.”

Crooked animal charity boss jailed for five years after stealing £640,000

A trusted boss who defrauded an animal charity and blew £640,000 on an online gambling website has been jailed for five years. Price, who admitted 10 offences, and his spouse, who pleaded guilty to five offences, funnelled cash into their personal accounts, leaving the well-established and trusted charity “weakened”, a judge told them. Gambling addict Simon Price, in his role as the charity’s chief executive, diverted cash from legacies left to the dogs’ home, including the sale of a £399,000 house, to feed his escalating habit. The money had been intended to keep animals “safe and warm”, but Birmingham Crown Court heard how Price spent thousands on gambling, trying to recover ever more cash on his losing bets. He himself calculated to police that he had spent £700,000 through his account on the Betfair website from 2009. The judge told him that his actions “while in the grip of a gambling addiction” had “weakened public confidence” in the work of the dogs’ home, damaging its ability to raise the £1.85 million needed each year to keep its doors open.

1 dead, another injured in game room robbery

An attempted armed robbery at an illegal game room in southwest Houston ended in a deadly shootout overnight leaving one suspect dead and the manager injured. According to the Houston Police Department, it happened near Hillcroft and Dunlap. Investigators said in total three people tried to hijack the gambling facility. Police said a woman and a man, both armed, marched in and shootout ensued between them and the manager and a security guard. Another male suspect was on standby in one of their getaway cars, police said. Police said the woman was shot several times and was dragged out by one of her partners before her two accomplices took off in their black Nissan, leaving her behind. She died at the scene, police said. Police had to force their way into the game room, after discovering the manager shot and locked up inside. They said the security guard had already taken off. The manager was taken to a hospital and is now in stable condition. Business owners like Luis Hernandez say this game room has been wreaking havoc, causing a spike in crime in the area.

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

New Missouri Gambling Bill Represents the Largest Gambling Expansion to the State since Casinos

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the newest attempts to expand gambling in Missouri, that being Tribal Casinos. The opposition was immediate and not much else has come out publicly about that expansion idea. A new discussion for expansion has emerged however, and if allowed, it could easily be the largest expansion of gambling since voters agreed to riverboat casinos. The bill proposed would legalize slot machines in bars, convenient stores and places like the VFW. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports: 

Under legislation endorsed by a Senate committee Tuesday on a 4-2 vote, the state would allow as many as five video gambling machines in taverns, convenience stores, restaurants and truck stops and as many as 10 machines in benevolent organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the Elks Club. 

An analysis of the proposal shows nearly 20,000 slot machines could become as close to home as the local convenience store after a four-year ramp up period. 

Mike Winter of the Missouri Gaming Association said legalizing slot machines would be the largest expansion of gambling since voters approved the casinos. “This is a very substantial change in policy,” Winter said. “We do have considerable concerns with the legislation.”

 The casino industry would obviously see a hit to their bottom line and given they have substantial lobbying influence, legislators decided to add a way to help the casino industry off set some of their losses. The bill paves the way to allow even more expanded gambling by allowing casinos to offer sports gambling. KMOV reported the details:

There is a renewed effort in Missouri to legalize slot machines at bars and convenience stores despite concerns from the casino industry. The Missouri Video Lottery Control Act made it’s way out of committee on Tuesday.

To help out casinos, the bill does allow for sports betting. Taxes from wagering on sporting events could bring in an additional $65 million. But for now, sports betting is illegal under federal law. Hoskins said if that changes, the casinos could participate. 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/29 – 02/04

4 arrested, $200,000 seized in Lake County gambling sting (FL)

A two-month operation targeting illegal gambling in Lake County ended with search warrants being served at 10 illegal gambling establishments across the county, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. The sting, dubbed Operation Jackpot, was initiated after authorities received tips and Crimeline calls about illegal gambling at the businesses, authorities said. Authorities seized more than $200,000 during the operation and made four arrests — three for illegal gambling and one for drugs and weapons charges, deputies said. Luis Hernandez, 50; Samir Aguiar , 38; and Brenda Martinez, 42 were charged with keeping an establishment for gambling.

Jury finds man guilty in San Francisco quintuple homicide

A jury Monday found a 41-year-old man guilty of five counts of murder in the 2012 killings of a family found beaten to death with a hammer inside their San Francisco home. The jury returned the verdict against Binh Thai Luc on Monday after six days of deliberations. Luc was also found guilty of five counts of attempted robbery and two counts of burglary. Luc, who was said to be deeply in debt and had already been served an eviction notice, was accused of killing the family in the midst of a robbery after losing money at a casino that night. Prosecutors said the Lei family kept thousands of dollars in cash in the home, and Luc had more than $6,500 with him when he was arrested. While no eyewitnesses placed Luc at the scene of the crime, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that blood from one of the victims was spattered on his jeans.

Half a million children and young people are online gambling every week, according to new survey (UK)

Over 300,000 children and young people are gambling every week through online games, a new survey has revealed. Technology is providing children with the opportunity to experience gambling through free-to-play casino games, social media or within some computer games. Just over 1 in 10 young people claimed to have participated in gambling style social games which are free to play, with the majority of people saying that they accessed these games through smartphones or tablets. The report published by the Gambling Commission stated that these online resources do not have the same level of protections or responsible gambling messages as regulated gambling products. The report pointed to gaming as a gateway into gambling citing “skin betting” websites which allow players to gamble with virtual items. “Skins” are unique virtual design of a weapon used in video games. Depending on how rare these “skins” are they can be used as virtual currency. Some third party sites enable players to gamble their skins on casino or slot type games. These “skins” can then be cashed out as real money. It is estimated in the UK that half of the population plays video games.

3 men charged in Detroit casino hotel elevator slaying  

Three men have been charged in the shooting death of a man inside a hotel elevator in Detroit. The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says Monday that 28-year-old Rodney Pritchett, 30-year-old Shawn Wilson and 31-year-old Carlile Jackson have been arraigned. Shunsaiah Glaze was shot Dec. 2 in the Greektown Casino Hotel following a fight inside one of the rooms. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. Pritchett is charged with first-degree premeditated murder. His probable cause conference is Thursday, followed by a Dec. 21 preliminary examination. Wilson and Jackson are charged with second-degree murder and tampering with evidence. Each faces probable cause conferences on Thursday, followed by Dec. 21 preliminary examinations.

Alabama Slaying May Have Been Over Gambling Dispute 

Police are investigating the slaying of a man found shot at an Alabama apartment complex. Birmingham police say officers were called Sunday evening to the HighPointe Apartments complex. The victim was found shot in one of the apartments. reports that police say their preliminary investigation shows the slaying may have results from an argument over a gambling debt or a dice game. Police have not released the name of the victim. A woman’s decomposing body was found in October in a wooded area at the same apartment complex. The woman was identified as 34-year-old Ieasha Shakinna Abrams, but the cause of her death has not been determined.

Mohegans’ Pennsylvania casino fined $1 million over lapses in financial procedures

Pennsylvania gaming regulators Wednesday approved $1 million in fines against Downs Racing LP, operator of Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which met in Harrisburg, Pa., approved consent agreements reached between the board’s Office of Enforcement Counsel and Downs Racing following a lengthy investigation of financial procedures at the Pocono casino over a period of several years. Fines of $550,000 and $450,000 were levied. The gaming board announced that the $550,000 fine against Downs Racing involved three areas in which Mohegan Sun Pocono employees failed to follow “approved internal controls” — the issuance of free slot-machine play; the casino’s main bank cashier functions; and internal audits. The second fine of $450,000 stemmed from Mohegan Sun Pocono’s vendor relationship with two firms, ReferLocal LLC and CB POC LLC, neither of which had licensed its company or its employees with the gaming board, as required by law. ReferLocal was one of the businesses in which Soper had an interest he failed to properly disclose.

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