Monthly Archives: December 2018

Bipartisan Federal Sports Betting Regulations Introduced

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing battles to legalize sports betting outside of Las Vegas. Since the recent Supreme Court decision effectively allows individual states to pass sports betting legislation, many have called for a federal response to provide uniform and consistent guidelines. Now, a new bill has been brought forth and it’s a bipartisan effort. Forbes explains: 

Days before he is scheduled to retire, Orrin Hatch has a parting gift for the Senate. Hatch and Sen. Chuck Schumer introduced bipartisan legislation on Wednesday that would create uniform federal standards for the legalized sports betting market. The bill, the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018, is being introduced less than eight months after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in May that struck down a 26-year federal ban on sports gambling.

“This bill is the first step toward ensuring that sports betting is done right in the states that choose to legalize it. Just as importantly, it provides protections for states that choose not to go down that path,” Hatch said in a statement.

The proposed legislation includes a mandate that would require sports wagering operators to use data provided or licensed by sports organizations to determine the outcome of sports wagers through 2024. Upon the completion of the transition period, the proposed bill allows operators to use alternative forms of data if they can prove that it is sufficiently similar to the data provided by the leagues.

Each state has 18 months to come into compliance with the legislation before the bill takes effect. Hatch, a Utah Republican, was an original author of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 federal law that prohibited sports betting.

This bill has garnered the support of the NFL and others as its viewed as having the necessary regulatory guidelines and enforcement tools to help regulate the industry as best as it can. Forbes continues: 

“The bipartisan legislation that Senator Hatch and I have introduced, follows the principles laid out in the federal framework that I released in August and will serve as solid foundation upon which we build the appropriate guardrails around the burgeoning sports betting industry,” Schumer said in a statement.

In the months since the Court rendered its decision, the NFL has advocated for the imposition of robust federal guidelines that could mitigate some of the societal risks posed by sports gambling. On Wednesday, NFL Executive Vice President Jocelyn Moore applauded the senators for establishing positions in the bill that “closely aligned,” with the core standards she articulated in testimony before Congress. Specifically, Moore appeared pleased with guidelines that could provide law enforcement with tools to penalize unscrupulous actors closely tied to the dark underbelly of gambling.

Not everyone supports the bill and others see it as a vehicle for expanding the Wire Act to involve all interstate betting, not just sports betting. The changing political landscape will also complicate the issue. Forbes wraps up by reporting: 

There were also reports on Wednesday that the Department of Justice is prepared to reverse a 2011 opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel on the Federal Wire Act. When the department issues the opinion, the government could find that the act pertains to all forms of online gambling, not just sports betting, according to Online Poker Report. In an opinion seven years ago, the office wrote that the act only applied to the latter.

The bipartisan bill from Hatch and Schumer, a New York Democrat, seeks to update the Wire Act to allow certain interstate wagers. The draft also proposes the creation of a new mechanism that could allow the Justice Department to target unlicensed, illegal offshore sports betting websites.

The timing of a vote still remains in question. Besides Hatch’s retirement, a leadership change in the House of Representatives could complicate matters.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 12/17 – 12/23

A whirlwind romance that ended in violent murder – gambling addict killed bookie boss in row over deeds to house

A grandmother was stabbed to death by her gambling addict husband who felt ‘belittled’ after she refused to let him to be named on the deeds to their new home, a court heard. David Pawluk, 59, met Margaret Howlett, 63, through her job as manager of a bookmakers. They married after a whirlwind romance but began to row over his ‘significant’ gambling problem and mounting debts. Problems came to a head when they decided to sell her home and move to a new house together. When she refused to put his name on the deeds of the new property he attacked her and left her to die in the kitchen of their Rochdale home. Minshull Crown Court heard Pawluk tried several times to kill himself before walking into a police station two after days the killing and confessed. Pawluk has now been jailed for life with a minimum term of 16 years and eight months, after pleading guilty to murder.

Former Drumright nursing home administrator charged, accused of stealing $217,000 from elderly residents

A former nursing home administrator was charged with financial exploitation after she allegedly diverted nearly a quarter of a million dollars from elderly residents to support her gambling habit. Tina Lee Pearson, 57, was charged in Creek County late last week with one count of financial exploitation by a caretaker, stemming from a state investigation by the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Pearson was arrested and bonded out of custody prior to a bond setting hearing, according to jail and online court records. Pearson is accused of withdrawing more than $217,750 in cash from at least 33 Drumright Nursing Home resident’s accounts between January 2012 and October 2015. “In terms of crimes, it’s among the worst. Instead of taking care of somebody, you’re taking advantage of them,” said Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter. “And for somebody to be living out their golden years, and having a comfort level of confidence the people there are taking good care of them, and then to discover that’s not happening, it’s pretty heartbreaking.”

Bookies warned to keep an eye out for terrorists laundering money through online wagers

Gambling websites have been warned to watch out for terrorists laundering money by placing wagers on football and ­racing. The Gambling Commission said even online bingo was open to abuse by extremist groups to fund activity. Terrorists could also be using forged or stolen ID documents to set up internet betting accounts to wash cash, according to the industry body’s alert. The official warning said the “customer not being physically present for ­identification purposes” meant there was a “higher” risk of laundering. It added “customers from high-risk jurisdictions” or those who appear on “international sanctions list” posed a threat. And the vast array of remote gambling firms can be used to set up multiple accounts, making it harder to track deposits and wagers.

Lynn Man Arrested in Multimillion-Dollar Lottery Scam

A Lynn man was arrested last week on tax fraud charges in connection with a “10-percenting” scheme, in which he purchased millions of dollars’ worth of winning Massachusetts state lottery tickets at a discount in order to help the ticket holders avoid taxes on the winnings. In addition, two store owners have pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme. The charging documents allege that from at least 2013 through 2015, Kinslieh and Patel, who were store owners, and others, purchased winning lottery tickets from the ticket holders for cash, at a discount to the value of the tickets, thereby allowing the ticket holders to avoid reporting the winnings on their tax returns – a scheme known as “10-percenting.” Kinslieh and Patel gave the winning tickets to Jones, who presented them to the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission as his own, and collected the full winnings. Jones reported the winnings on his tax returns, but offset them with purported gambling losses. Jones and the store owners then shared the excess winnings.

Gambling addict who murdered grandmother, 74, is jailed for life

A callous drug-fuelled gambling addict who murdered his doting grandmother by stabbing her more than 30 times after she gave him £250 to buy an engagement ring has been jailed for life. Gregory Irvin, 26, knifed charity worker Anne James, 74, in a ‘motiveless and brutal attack’ and slit her throat after she returned from a shopping trip.Mrs James, a retired nurse, had previously helped her grandson clear his £35,000 debts he had racked up through gambling and taking cocaine. On February 28 he drove to her house in Walsall, West Midlands, at 12pm to pick up the cash she had offered to give him to buy the engagement ring. CCTV captured him walking to her small cottage before leaving 15 minutes later. A concerned neighbor discovered her body at 6pm and called police. Irvin was arrested the following day after his bloody footprints were found in her hallway and kitchen. He had even attended the house with other grieving relatives saying he had spoken to her on the phone before she died.

Irvin, of Walsall Wood, West Midlands, was today jailed for life at Birmingham Crown Court and ordered to serve at least 24 years behind bars for the attack, which was described as ‘motiveless and brutal’ at his trial. Mrs Justice Nerys Jefford said: ‘This was a particularly callous and cruel attack which took the heart from your family. ‘Your reaction was cold and calculating as you went about covering your tracks and carried on as if nothing had happened.’This has had an unimaginable effect on your family who have had to listen to the horror of the injuries knowing it was done by one of their own. The murder was done for gain, motivated by design and intention to get money from Anne James.

Caregiver Spent $1.3M Taken From Elderly Man On Casinos

Tulsa police have arrested a man charged with exploiting an elderly man out of more than a million dollars. The victim was 88 years old and died after the investigation began. He’ll be laid to rest Saturday. Financial crimes detectives say this is a heartbreaking case, but unfortunately, it’s one they see all too often; when someone takes advantage of an elderly person. But, in this case, it was to the tune of more than a million dollars. “The sad part is, your golden years are supposed to be wonderful,” said Lee Warner, Simmons’ friend. Police said Jess Jones befriended the victim, moved into his home, and started spending his money. A family friend contacted adult protective services who called the police. The affidavit said Jones, who’s unemployed, bought a Porsche and 2 Mercedes, spent $644,000 on credit cards and made $486,000 in cash withdrawals over three years, took trips, and gambled at area casinos.

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

FTC and Others Investigating the Dangers of Loot Boxes in Video Games and their Gambling Impact

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing happenings of loot boxes, a video game mechanic that most view as a form of gambling that prays on children. Various local and international agencies have taken the threat seriously and have started seriously looking into the dangers of loot boxes and their link to gambling. Most recently, 16 countries signed an agreement to study loot boxes as more and more evidence draws links between loot boxes and problem gambling. As an online source reports, the FTC is joining in those that have expressed serious concern with their own investigations:

Federal Trade Commission chairman Joe Simons announced Tuesday that the agency would be investigating the use of micro-transactions, commonly referred to as loot boxes, in video games. According to NBC, there has been growing concern around the use of these loot boxes, which some view as a form of gambling designed to be addictive that is marketed to children.

Earlier this year, Senator Maggie Hassan of New Jersey sent a letter to the Entertainment and Software Ratings Board (ESRB) president to request that she re-evaluate how the board rates games with loot boxes, according to the popular gaming news platform Polygon.

“The prevalence of in-game micro-transactions, often referred to as ‘loot boxes,’ raises several concerns surrounding the use of psychological principles and enticing mechanics that closely mirror those often found in casinos and games of chance,” Hassan wrote in her letter.

Researchers looking into the issue have found signs of addictive behavior and problem gambling among gamers who spend money on loot boxes. One study published in the /Public Library of Science/ which surveyed 7,000 gamers found that “the gambling-like features of loot boxes are specifically responsible for the observed relationship between problem gambling and spending on loot boxes.” They therefore concluded that “there may be good reason to regulate loot boxes in games.”

Across the pond, similar investigations are happening in the UK as the criticisms of look boxes grow, particularly as some of the most popular video games in the industry are adopting these predatory gaming mechanics. The Guardian reports: 

A House of Commons committee has announced plans to investigate the growth of “immersive and addictive technologies”, to advise the government on how to create policy and regulation that can protect the public from the negative effects of digitisation and “gamification”.

It follows a growing campaign against deliberately addictive mechanics in technology and video games, particularly the crossover with gambling represented by “loot boxes” – randomised rewards sold in games for real money.

The links between gaming and gambling is one of the key points to be investigated by the committee, which will ask: “What are the effects of in-game spending, especially on children, and does it need stronger monitoring or regulation?”

Games such as Fifa, Overwatch and Call of Duty have been criticised for the practice, which has led to reports of primary school-age children spending almost £500 on Fifa players and getting into the habit of spending £15 a week on pseudo-gambling. 

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


A Brief Look at Crime 12/10 – 12/16

Bossier City Casino Shooting Believed to Be Murder and Attempted Suicide

The shootings at the *Horseshoe Casino parking facility have taken an even stranger turn, according to details just released by the Bossier City Police Department. Just before 10:00 p.m. on Oct. 19, 2018, BCPD responded to the fifth level of the parking garage of the Horseshoe Casino where a shooting had occurred. “When officers arrived, they found two men with gunshot wounds,” Bossier City police public information officer Traci Landry said in a release. “Lewis Drew Reno, 48 years old, of Benton, was pronounced deceased at the scene. 58-year-old Jimmy Earl Hall, Sr., was transported by Bossier City Fire Department to Ochsner LSU Health hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to the head.” Both men were employees at the casino, according to BCPD. “Detectives with the Violent Crimes Unit say evidence indicates that Hall shot Reno in the upper body before turning the gun on himself. Detectives obtained a warrant for Hall’s arrest on the charge of second degree murder,” Landry said. Hall will be charged on the warrant upon his release from the hospital.

Ex-executive gets prison term for embezzling nearly $14M

A former executive who embezzled nearly $14 million from a New York-based hospitality company has been sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison. George Dfouni received a 46-month sentence Friday. The 47-year-old Wayne, New Jersey man had pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud and tax evasion. Prosecutors didn’t identify the company where Dfouni served as chief operating officer. They say it owns and operates hotels in New York and New Jersey. From 2007 through September 2015, Dfouni negotiated multiple contracts with two other companies. Each contract included a signing bonus for Dfouni, who had the two companies send their payments directly to him in New Jersey. Dfouni skimmed some of the contract payments due his employer, taking about $13,807,034 overall. Prosecutors say he used the stolen funds to support his lavish lifestyle and gambling expenses.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Fines Casino $95,000 for Regulatory Violations 

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved fines today totaling $95,000 against the operator of SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia for table games violations. The fines were the result of Board approvals at its public meeting of consent agreements between the PGCB’s Office of Enforcement Counsel and Sugarhouse HSP Gaming, L.P. The first consent agreement approved by the Board resulted in a fine of $85,000 against Sugarhouse HSP Gaming, L.P. for seven incidents in which SugarHouse Casino personnel failed to properly address automated shuffler warnings at table games. These failures resulted in games being played with compromised decks. The second approved consent agreement carried a fine of $10,000 against Sugarhouse HSP Gaming, L.P. for the casino not being compliant with its Board-approved rules and guidelines for Spanish 21 blackjack that resulted in game play with compromised decks.

3 People Injured in Shopping Mall Stabbing at Foxwoods Resort Casino

Three people were reportedly stabbed on Saturday in a frightening incident at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Mashantucket Tribal Police confirmed the violent outburst. All three were taken to the hospital, though their injuries were identified as non-life threatening right away. Meanwhile, police took a 15-year-old suspect into custody. The Foxwoods Resort Casino is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut. It is located on their reservation in Ledyard, Connecticut, meaning that it is up to the tribal authorities to handle an act of violence like this one. People on the scene posted grizzly photos from the stabbing. One showed apparent victims lying in a mall common area as EMTs tended to their wounds. Another showed blood splattered on the tile floor. “Don’t feel very safe at [Foxwoods],” one person wrote, “multiple stabbings at the outlets, security exceedingly slow to respond and failed to secure the area or clean up blood.”

Casino employee grabbed more than $58,000 from Seminole gambling facility, cops say 

After police found $58,500 in a car belonging to a Seminole Casino Coconut Creek employee, he was arrested and accused of stealing from the gambling establishment, police say. Former cash operations worker Christomy Christalin, 22, came to the attention of his employers when surveillance video showed him leaning into a kiosk that dispenses money to customers. The video did not show Christalin actually taking money out of the machine, but it later was found to be short $4,600, according to a Seminole police report. On Oct. 10, police watched Christalin on surveillance video recorded while he was at work and driving in a garage at the casino. He appeared to put an empty money bag in a cart used to bring cash to a kiosk and later was seen removing a bulging money bag that appeared full, the report said. Christalin went to a men’s room, and when he left the restroom, the money bag appeared to be empty. He went to his car and was seen on video moving what appeared to be stacks of money between the seats, police said. When detectives confronted Christalin, he denied stealing from the casino and told them he had $55,000 in his car that came from his gambling winnings. An audit of Christalin’s department found $58,500 was missing. After a search warrant was issued to police to search the car, they recovered the same amount, the report said.

Prison for gambling addict who stole $540K from friend who employed her

A 59-year-old southern Minnesota woman has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for stealing more than $500,000 from a close friend and onetime employer to feed her online gambling addiction. Theresa E. Linsmeier, of Fairfax, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in St. Paul after pleading guilty in June to wire fraud and filing a false tax return. After her 2¼ years of incarceration, she will spend three years on supervised release and must make full restitution for the money she stole. Linsmeier was the bookkeeper for the family owned Farm Mercantile hardware store from 1998 to 2016 and had authority to sign and issue checks for the store and for its owner, Kelly Albrecht. “Linsmeier abused the trust of her friend and employer,” read a presentencing court filing by prosecutors. “She stole not only from the business account but also from Kelly Albrecht’s personal bank account. She used the money to pay her credit card bills and to gamble online.” The embezzlement scheme “had a devastating impact” on the store and its owner, the filing continued. “The company struggled for years due to Linsmeier’s theft, so much so that Albrecht stopped receiving a salary and worked seven days a week to try and get this back on track.”

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

Casino Billionaire buys Florida Casino after Amendment 3 is Passed by the People

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many efforts to expand gambling in Florida, specifically via full blown, Vegas-style resort casinos. Most efforts have failed to produce any meaningful gambling expansion. Most recently, Amendment 3 was passed by Florida Voters, meaning future gambling expansion efforts must be voted on by the people, making such gambling expansion far less likely given the current climate. So a new casino property acquisition by a well-known Las Vegas casino mogul has raised a few questions about intent. As one online source reportsPhil Ruffin has acquired a new casino property in Florida with the intent of some kind of expansion, the extent of which isn’t yet know:

Phil Ruffin is well known in the casino industry as the owner of the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The 83-year-old billionaire is looking to expand his domain and has now purchased the Casino Miami near the Miami International Airport in Florida.

The 200,000-square-foot casino is located less than 20 minutes from Downtown Miami. It features 1,000 “Vegas-style” gaming machines (and has a license for as many as 2,000) and an electronic table game area, along with live entertainment, live jai-alai and simulcast betting. The amount paid for Ruffin to acquire the casino was not released, but he said, “I look forward to entering the Miami gaming market through this acquisition. We have exciting plans for Casino Miami that we will be revealing in the near future.”

The purchase follows a state referendum vote last month that removed power to decide gaming-relating issues from lawmakers and gave it to voters. Going forward, any new gambling expansion will have to be voted on by citizens. Commercial casinos remain banned and house-banked games, such as roulette and blackjack, are only allowed by the Seminole Indian tribe Getting into Florida through Casino Miami is a way for Ruffin to develop a foothold ahead of any future expansion.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/03 – 12/09

MGM Springfield Reports “Underage Gambling Is An Issue” 

President and chief operations officer *Michael Mathis* spoke with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission <; and told them that the MGM Springfield is attracting around 50,000 people on weekends and that about 25,000 visitors show up on weekdays. The porous design which Mathis points to being one of the reasons that so many people are coming, could be leading to some problems such as minors gaining access to the gaming floor. He told the commission that the MGM Springfield has witnessed a number of underage visitors gaining access. Staff are doing their best to cope but Mathis claimed that parents are leaving their kids in other areas of the resort while they go to the casino. He said that this issue is creating problems for the new casino. Commission Chairman *Steven Crosby* conceded that the MGM followed the commission’s directions to add a number of non-gaming offerings to cater to a wider audience and this is indirectly contributing to the number of underage gamblers showing up. MGM Springfield stated that they would continue to follow the commission’s guidelines and leave it up to them to figure out a better solution to address this issue.

Dallas mayor pro tem pleads guilty to accepting bribes

Federal prosecutors say Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway accepted more than $450,000 in kickbacks and bribes, in part through gambling money, trips to Las Vegas and elsewhere, and a phony consulting agreement. Court documents filed Thursday show Caraway, the second highest-ranking. elected official in Dallas, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion. Federal prosecutors say Caraway accepted bribes in return for taking action to benefit a company that puts cameras on school buses. They say he received bribes through checks, which he cashed at liquor stores and pawn shops. U.S Attorney Erin Nealy Cox announced Thursday that Caraway has resigned from the city council. Caraway’s attorney, Michael Payma, says the court documents speak for themselves. He says Caraway must still be sentenced and declined to comment further.

2 men arrested, 300 roosters seized in illegal cockfighting operation in Port Orchard

Two men have been arrested and hundreds of roosters have been seized as agents busted an illegal cockfighting ring in Port Orchard. The owner would take bets ranging from $100 to $2,000, and then the birds would be put inside a pen to fight. The property owner would charge an entry fee and a fee to dispose of the dead birds. The referee would also get a 10% cut on the winnings. “The conditions that these animals were living in is not the type of conditions you would see on your normal family farm. The roosters were all tethered on a 4-5 foot leash connected to a barrel. Some of them had water. Some had run out. There was some feed. They were pretty much living in their own feces,” said Heather Songer, Washington State Gambling Commission. “Not only is animal fighting a brutal, bloody sport. It’s also illegal. And even just attending an event can land you in jail.” Agents went in during an event on Saturday and seized $35,000 in cash and over 300 roosters. Two men, ages 56 and 57, were arrested and booked into the Kitsap County Jail for investigation of gambling, animal fighting and leading organized crime. A third person was arrested for failing to provide his name to police. Police say more than two dozen other people were detained at the event with charges forwarded to the Kitsap County prosecutor for review as attending an illegal animal fighting event is a felony.

Florida Woman Pleads Guilty To Million Dollar Mail Fraud Scheme

A woman pleaded guilty Thursday to committing mail fraud in connection with a nearly $1.3 million scheme, U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson for the District of Nevada. According to court documents, Luciano resided in Las Vegas in 2010 to 2011. During that time period, Luciano befriended a man she met at the church they both attended. In 2011, she relocated to Tampa and maintained communication with the man. Luciano fraudulently represented to him that she had a pending settlement award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She told him that she would share the settlement award with him if he provided her money to pay fees, interest, and other costs related to obtaining the settlement award. Her representations where false. In fact, after a brief period of service, Luciano was discharged from the U.S. Army in 1971. In July 2013, Luciano mailed the man a fake promissory note granting him an interest in the purported settlement award. The man used his position as a controller at a large real estate investment business to embezzle and steal approximately $1.3 million from the business and its investors. He mailed Luciano numerous envelopes and packages containing the stolen money. Luciano used the money for gambling and personal expenses.

Gambling Driven Million Dollar Woodlake Embezzler Sentenced 

A man accused of embezzling millions of dollars from the San Mateo Woodlake Condominium Association between 2007 and 2013 was sentenced to seven years state prison Friday and was ordered to split the restitution with his co-conspirator, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. Michael Medeiros, 62, was ordered to split the $2.84 million in restitution with Susan Lambert, 67, for crimes they committed over the course of six years that directly affected residents of the homeowners’ association. Lambert had managed the association, which had a nearly $5 million annual budget, for more than a decade. A Woodlake resident previously said homeowners caught wind of the theft when a board member saw suspicious activity, including charges at various casinos, on a bank statement from a debit card Lambert had been issued. After Lambert was fired, the association uncovered a stack of nearly 150 false invoices for construction work that was never completed. Police and investigators determined she had been conspiring to defraud the homeowners between Feb. 8, 2007, and September 2013, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors said Lambert, who reportedly had a gambling problem, would make false invoices and write checks to Medeiros’ company Professional Painting, Inc. He would then allegedly cash the checks and the two would split the profits.

Online gambling scammer Fred Khalilian booted by Monster after “threats of mutilation, death” 

Online gambling scammer *Fred Khalilian* has been booted from *Monster Technology Group* less than a year after selling the company his worthless gambling technology. The release went on to say that Khalilian was the subject of a temporary restraining order issued in California’s Superior Court “for the protection of numerous employees of Monster against threats of mutilation, death, and threats to family.” Furthermore, Monster has filed reports with the South San Francisco Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, “including the FBI,” concerning “allegations of fraud, theft and conspiracy.” Accompanying Khalilian on his way down Monster’s shame chute was “the team he brought into the company to do a hostile takeover.”

The linked articles detail Khalilian’s ‘colorful’ history, including a handful of assault charges, his $4.2m settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission to resolve a deceptive telemarketing case, and Khalilian’s ongoing cons of would-be tribal gaming operators involving hyping in-development online gambling sites that never actually develop into a going concern. Last October, Monster raised eyebrows by announcing that a subsidiary had struck a deal to acquire the online gaming software assets (such as they were) of Khalilian’s *Universal Entertainment Group* (UEG), with the plan to use said assets to launch on behalf of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma. PokerTribe was the second incarnation of Khalilian’s efforts to pull a fast one on unsuspecting tribal groups. Khalilian collected $9.5m from his original Oklahoma tribal partner before new tribal leadership pulled the plug on the site ( – plural) which never actually opened for business. This led to lawsuits and a probe by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

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

Vatican Says Using Gambling for Tax Revenue is Unethical

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times on various states expanding gambling as a means to collect tax revenue, often times at the expense of its own citizens. 100 years ago virtually all forms of gambling were illegal, but slowly, one state at a time, gambling has been made legal by states looking to take their cut of the action. Some gambling expansion takes the form of lotteries, other expansion measures are full-scale casinos. The sales pitch is typically the same, why not allow some harmless fun that will allow the state to bring in some much needed tax revenue, often times promised to local educational causes. Unfortunately, gambling is rarely simple fun and leads to out breaks of crime and addiction. As such, the Catholic Church has come out in opposition to generating tax revenue from gambling, calling it unethical. The Catholic Spirit reports:

Legalizing gambling fuels addictions, creating more and more compulsive gamblers, and using the industry as a source of tax revenue is unethical, said a major Vatican office.

“The legalization of gambling, even when it is supported by the intention of unmasking its criminal management, exponentially increases the number of pathological players,” said an introductory note to an international conference on drugs and addictions, organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

“Moreover, taxation by the state is to be considered incompatible from an ethical standpoint and contradictory in terms of prevention,” it said in the conference program, released Nov. 26.

“As the landscape of addictions diversifies, indifference and at times indirect complicity in this phenomenon contributes to diverting the attention of public opinion and governments, often focused on other emergencies,” it said. 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/26 – 12/02

Rivers Casino accused of illegally recording customers’ text messages and emails

Rivers Casino is being sued by two customers who say the casino illegally recorded their text messages, emails and financial information. Security cameras are everywhere at the Rivers Casino. But the lawsuits say the unnamed casino employees went too far when they zoomed in tight on the cellphones belonging to Hayley Clerici and Julie Capone. In her complaint, Clerici says the casino recorded her “private text messages, email communications and personal financial information.” The suit says Clerici expected “lawful surveillance” at the casino but “had no basis to expect that surveillance would extend to close-up viewing and recording of her cellphone.” Her lawsuit alleges the casino violated the state wiretap law. The lawsuits say the recordings were turned over to Allegheny County police Sgt. Scott Scherer and his attorney, Dennis McCurdy, to be used as part of Scherer’s custody case against Clerici. A spokesman for the state Gaming Control Board had no comment on the lawsuit but said it is being reviewed by the board’s investigators. Some casino patrons said they were shocked to hear of the allegations in the lawsuit. “My text messages and my emails are my personal business. It has nothing to do with the casino, and I don’t really feel they have a right to record that,” said customer Aubrey Cathcart, of Bellevue.

Dog rescue treasurer accused of $120K theft 

Cape Girardeau resident Elizabeth Hann, 40, is wanted on two counts of felony stealing after allegedly embezzling more than $120,000 from Mac’s Mission not-for-profit group between November 2016 and September 2017, according to a news release from the Cape Girardeau Police Department. According to the probable cause statement, Hann is accused of conducting 89 unauthorized withdrawals, totaling approximately $121,000, from Mac’s Mission Charity Foundation’s bank account between Nov. 9, 2016, and Sept. 23, 2017. According to the statement, Hann’s fellow charity workers stated Hann regularly attended both the Isle of Capri Casino in Cape Girardeau and the Hollywood Casino in St. Charles, Missouri.That the theft occurred was a betrayal, Steffen said. “She was like a sister to me,” she said of Hann. “I had so much trust in her.” Mac’s Mission is a grassroots, donation-based mission aimed at helping special-needs animals — mostly dogs, she said, but they’ve helped other animals too, including rabbits and even chickens. That means expenses, Steffen said. Animals with cleft palates need to be tube-fed. Animals hit by cars or rescued from a hoarding situation need surgery and other veterinary care. Some cases require specialists, meaning trips to St. Louis and the veterinary school at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Former city employee arrested for stealing more than $148k from Clearwater Parks and Rec Department

A former city of Clearwater employee was arrested after police say he stole more than $148,000 from the Parks and Recreation Department. Robert Carpenter, 58, is accused of taking cash payments from a concessionaire at Eddie C. Moore Complex and from a soccer league that rented fields at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex, in addition to cash thefts from two other sources or events. He was an employee of more than 20 years and a supervisor assigned to the athletics area of Parks and Recreation. Slaughter says his investigators believe at least some of the stolen money was used to fuel a gambling addiction. Carpenter took cash from vendors and teams who rented out the concession and field space, and often times, did not provide receipts for the transactions. Over time, those small amounts added up to more than $148,000, according to police.

Former conservation district administrator sentenced to federal prison for stealing grant funds

The former administrator of the Calhoun Conservation District was sentenced Monday to more than three years in federal prison. Tracy Bronson, 57, of Marshall, was sentenced in federal District Court in Kalamazoo by Judge Paul Maloney to 37 months in prison and three years supervised release. She also was ordered to repay $573,159.20 to the conservation district and its insurance carrier. Bronson will be ordered to report to a federal prison in the next few weeks. Her attorney, J. Thomas Schaeffer said his client has a gambling addiction and used the stolen money at Firekeepers Casino in Emmett Township. “It is not an excuse but an explanation about why she did it,” Schaeffer told the Enquirer. “It is an addiction. She is a victim of the casino addiction. Addictions are addictions whether it is alcohol or pornography or gambling. They all fall into the same category and addictions are hard to deal with. U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said in a statement that, “Bronson stole not only from her loyal employer, but from the Calhoun County community and taxpayers. As a result of her selfish breach of trust, CCD has struggled to pay its bills and fulfill its important mission for future generations. Combating financial fraud such as this serious embezzlement – particularly when it involves taxpayer money and vulnerable victims – remains a priority of federal law enforcement.”

Pittsburgh Firm’s Office Manager, Partner’s Son, Sentenced for Embezzlement 

The former office manager of a Pittsburgh bankruptcy boutique who is the son of one of the name partners has been sentenced to 21 months in jail for stealing over $800,000 from the firm. According to a federal indictment, Anthony Calaiaro used his access to write a total of $827,020 worth of checks, payable to himself, from June 2014 to April 2016, out of the law firm’s business account. The checks included false descriptions such as “expense reimbursement,” “collection distribution” and “bonus,” the indictment said. In addition to jail time, he was also sentenced on Aug. 1 to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $827,020 in restitution. “The money he unlawfully took in this case was used to support his drug addiction and a gambling problem,” the sentencing memo said.

President of Philadelphia-Area School Auxiliary Employees Union Charged with Theft

For more than a half-dozen years, Rose Marie Lyons stole dues to cover her gambling losses. Union members are wondering how nobody could have noticed. On February 13, Lyons, former president and secretary of the William Penn Education Support Personnel Association (WPESPA), surrendered to authorities in Delaware County, Pa., where she was charged in county district court with embezzling more than $200,000 in cash and checks from the Lansdowne union. The WPESPA represents about 90 auxiliary employees of the William Penn School District, one of whom was an administrative assistant, Rose Marie Lyons. Now 52, Lyons, a resident of Wilmington, Del., during her years as union head, saw its coffers as cover for her gambling losses. According to charging documents, during July 2009-December 2015 she made 448 unauthorized withdrawals through a variety of means totaling $210,592.91 from the union bank account.

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