Monthly Archives: January 2019

With Sports Betting Now Legal, Super Bowl Betting Brings Even More Risk and the NFL Attempts to See Prop Bets Banned

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the numerous gambling impacts expected around the Super Bowl. Each year the amount of gambling seem to increase and the expectations for Super Bowl LIII (53) between the Las Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots is no different. However, the recent Supreme Court decision that has legalized sports betting will seemingly exacerbate addiction problems and open the door for people who may have otherwise avoided the pitfalls. The executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling explains through an online source in New Jersey, the state that is effectively responsible for fighting for expanded sports betting :

“This year we’re particularly concerned as sports betting is now legal, and we know that more people, even those who didn’t traditionally gamble may gamble on the big game,” Neva Pryor, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, said.

She said an estimated $4.7 billion was bet illegally last year on the game, but with sports betting now permitted “we don’t really have any forecast — but I would imagine that’s going to be even more.”

She said for some, betting adds to the fun and excitement of the game. But for others it’s a destructive seduction that can ruin lives and families. “We’re concerned that people will overextend themselves or might possibly create a problem,” Pryor said.

Ease of access and the variety of gambling types around the Super Bowl are the primary drivers of this year’s concern. Executive Director Neva Pryor continues:

Pryor said added element of concern is all of the side bets that can be placed on a football game — including who scores first, who will make the first interception, the first fumble. People may bet “on the coin toss, on what they think the color of somebody’s hair will be, or whatever.”

She said people can easily bet online “so they can be sitting at home and placing a bet, they can be at the office and placing a bet, so there’s more opportunity and more ease of play.”

She said the ease of online gambling has definitely created new concerns.

“That’s why we have such a high rate of problem gamblers in the state, we have over a 6 percent ratio of people who possibly have a gambling problem in the state of New Jersey,” Pryor said. 

The NFL sees issues with Super Bowl betting and prop bets beyond the addiction concerns of Council on Compulsive Gambling. Their primary worry is that bets that focus on individual performances can leave the game open to game fixing scandals. As reported by one Fox News source, the NFL spoke to Congress in hopes of getting such bets banned: 

But if the National Football League had its way, bets on things like passing touchdowns for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady or rushing yards for Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley would be restricted — or even outlawed as too risky and vulnerable to manipulation or cheating.

Proposition bets — also known as prop bets — are less popular during the regular season but gain steam during the Super Bowl each year as a way to bet on the outcome of more than one thing at a moment the sports world is intensely focused on a single game.

In testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives committee on Sept. 27, NFL Executive Vice President Jocelyn Moore asked Congress to let professional sports leagues and gambling regulators ban prop bets that involve the performance of individual athletes over the course of a game.

“Examples might range from the number of passing yards by a quarterback in a football game or the number of points or rebounds by a team during a quarter of a basketball game, to the number of ‘throw-ins’ in a soccer match, or even how many flags a referee might throw in a contest,” she testified. “These types of bets are significantly more susceptible to match-fixing efforts, and are therefore a source of concern to sports leagues, individual teams, and the athletes who compete.

“To address concerns regarding risky betting fixtures, we encourage Congress to allow professional and amateur sports organizations to identify which types of bets simply pose too significant a risk to the integrity of sports and to work with regulators not to authorize them,” she said.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 01/21 – 01/27

Firm’s chief finance officer stole £1million from employers to fund online gambling addiction

A firm’s chief finance officer stole £1million from his employers to fund his secret online gambling addiction. Steve Girling blew up to £50,000 a day in a three-year spree on web slots and roulette. He hid the dark secret from his family by pre-tending to be hard at work in his home office – when really he was placing constant bets. The dad of two was such a valued big spender that one firm of bookies flew him out on an all-expenses-paid horse racing jaunt to see the Dubai World Cup. Wife Rashael went too and he kept up his lies by telling her he won the trip in a competition. He was finally arrested after confessing to her – and she told his bosses. Girling, 36, pleaded guilty at Norwich Crown Court to theft from Premier Education Group and faces being jailed for up to five years. “I’m so ashamed and deserve punishment,” he told the Sunday People. “When I printed my bank statements and added up the total I’d stolen, I had to run to the toilet and be sick.” He claims the temptation to try web casinos started with a promotional offer of free spins. “After a first win you play on, trying to get that feeling back,” he said. “But you never can.”

Woman pleads guilty to embezzling from late father’s Racine law firm

A Racine woman indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly embezzling more than $775,000 from her late father’s Racine law firm has pleaded guilty. Kathleen A. Fetek, a real estate agent, in August pleaded not guilty to a charge of mail fraud, but on Nov. 1 she changed her plea to guilty. If convicted, Fetek faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, according to the Eastern District of Wisconsin’s U.S. Attorney’s Office. She would also face up to three years supervision after her release and be forced to pay victims of the crime restitution, totaling $788,277. During the period that Fetek worked at her father’s law firm, the plea agreement alleges she was “gambling frequently.” It also states that between January 2015 and December 2016 Fetek lost more than $212,000 at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. Fetek is prohibited from visiting any gambling establishments or participating in online gambling, according to her order for release.

Gambler Stole $1.95 Million from the Irish Post Office

A man who stole nearly $2 million from the postal service in Ireland has advice for the bookmakers and gamers. To keep a lid on problem gamblers, businesses need to follow their money and keep track of where it’s going. Tony O’Reilly was convicted of stealing millions of dollars from the post office. He believes if businesses watch their money, they can offer help to problem gamblers before the problems become extreme. It is estimated that in a given year, 70 percent of people in Ireland gamble in some form. Many people just buy lottery tickets or place an occasional bet on a soccer match. Researchers believe that of the people who gamble, about 1 percent are problem gamblers. Gambling addiction is seen as a mental illness in its most extreme form. Gamblers lose control of themselves and will do anything, including committing crimes to gamble.

Ex-NFL player released from prison files for bankruptcy

Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Reggie Rucker, who served a prison sentence for wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI, has filed for bankruptcy. reports Rucker and his wife, Darlene, have filed their petition in bankruptcy court in Cleveland. The Warrensville Heights couple’s filing says they owe more than $860,000 to entities including the IRS and the attorney who represented Rucker when he was prosecuted for stealing from his nonprofit groups. Rucker was sentenced to prison in 2016 and ordered to pay $110,000 for using the charities’ money to pay gambling debts and personal expenses. The Ruckers’ petition says their combined monthly income is more than $6,300, but all but $10 of that goes toward their expenses.

Accused Killer Says He Was “Sorry” for Killing Business Partner in OC

A 41-year-old San Juan Capistrano executive’s voice cracked as he testified Wednesday that he killed his business partner in a fight, disposed of the body and then masqueraded as the victim in email exchanges with his family. Ed Younghoon Shin testified he grew irritated as his business partner 32-year-old Christopher Ryan Smith kept “badgering” him about paying a legal settlement with the money “coming out of (Shin’s) end.” Shin testified he was unaware of Smith’s concerns that Shin would embezzle from their company. The conflict between the two came to a head when Shin said he had the “effing truth” of Smith helping him in an embezzlement of Shin’s prior employer. “I said I have the effing truth… that I could prove he was part of the embezzlement,” Shin testified. Shin claims he wired $33,000 to Smith in October 2008. Shin claims the two got into a fistfight in Smith’s office that got out of hand and then disposed of the body. Shin racked up gambling debts in Las Vegas and was fending off allegations of taking $700,000 to $900,000 from his previous employer when he killed Smith in June 2010, Murphy said in his opening statement.

Engelfield Green con-artist jailed after defrauding friends and colleagues out of more than £1 million

A man has been jailed after conning his friends and colleagues out of more than £1 million by convincing them to invest in a fake ‘horse feed’ business. Branko Sevic, 47 of Blays Lane, Englefield Green, was sentenced to five years, seven months in prison at Guildford Crown Court on Wednesday (December 5). Sevic had left his home each morning telling his family that he was running a business. However bank statements show that he frequented coffee shops where he would access Wi-Fi and spend tens of thousands of pounds on online gambling sites and designer clothing instead. During their investigation police found that Sevic had admitted to two of his victims and also during a police interview that the business did not exist and that there was no money left.

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

Online Gambling in Jeopardy in Wake of New Dep of Justice Ruling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the impact of the Obama Administration’s reinterpretation of the long standing Wire Act. It very clearly made online gambling that crossed state lines illegal, but the Obama Administration said it only covers sports betting, thereby opening the floodgates to all forms of online gambling except sports betting. This understandably led to a lot of concerns and questions over the safeguarding of those with access to online casinos, poker rooms or lotteries. Casino Watch reported two years ago that the Trump Administration was heavily considering reversing that reinterpretation and restoring the Wire Act to its original congressional intent. The Associated Press is reporting that the Department of Justice has followed through: 

The 2011 opinion opened the door for cash-strapped states and their lotteries to bring online gambling to their residents, as long as it did not involve interstate sports betting.

Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware legalized online gambling after that opinion was issued, and the three states have agreements allowing poker players to compete online across the states. Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize online casino gambling in 2017.

Now, the Justice Department says the previous opinion misinterpreted the statute.

“Based upon the plain language of the statute, however, we reach a different result,” attorneys for the department wrote in the opinion dated Nov. 2. “While the Wire Act is not a model of artful drafting, we conclude that the words of the statute are sufficiently clear and that all but one of its prohibitions sweep beyond sports gambling.”

The Wire Act was enacted in 1961 to target the mob and its gambling activities.

The full scope of the impact of this decision by the Depart of Justice is still unknown and this story will continue to develop. It’s very possible that a sea of litigation will be opened up, but the Depart of Justice hasn’t fully explained how severely they plan to enforce this interpretation. The AP continues: 

Jennifer Roberts, associate director of the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the impact of the opinion rests on how strictly the Justice Department is going to enforce the new interpretation of the statute.

“Some could go really far and say even if you send a text message to a casino customer in another state and you are saying ‘Come play blackjack this weekend here’s a deal,’ arguably you can say that is information that assists in the placement of a wager,” she said. “I doubt it will go that far, but we will once again be subject to the interpretation.”

The new legal opinion will likely be challenged in court, an issue acknowledged by the department attorneys in their document.

Daniel Wallach, co-founding director of the University of New Hampshire School of Law Sports Wagering and Integrity Program, said the opinion could have “an immediate chilling effect” on the ability of states to conduct lotteries online.

“I think the most obviously impacted stakeholders are the lotteries that do internet sales, and that group is the most likely stakeholder to challenge this opinion in court.”

Advocacy group Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling and former U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas in a statement cheered the new opinion, characterizing the previous one as “problematic legally as it was morally” and calling the new one a “win for parents, children and other vulnerable populations.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/14 – 01/20

Two Kelowna women charged with stealing $180K from Okanagan hospice 

The Central Okanagan Hospice Association (COHA), whose mandate is to offer care, comfort and support for the dying, is under the microscope now that two former employees have been charged with fraud and theft. A little more than a year ago, Global Okanagan was first to report that more than $180,000 had gone missing from COHA’s coffers between 2015 and 2017. The RCMP launched an investigation into the missing funds, resulting in charges against the former executive director of COHA and the office manager. According to court documents, on Sept. 12, 2012, Susan Steen allegedly defrauded COHA of $71 by making a false claim for a cellphone expense. Steen is also accused of stealing more than $109,000 from COHA between July 2012 and April 2016, allegedly using the hospice’s credit card. COHA’s officer manager, Melanie Gray, is accused of stealing $69,000 between February 2013 and November 2015 by using the hospice’s credit card. Neither currently work for the hospice association. Global News contacted Steen, who admits she made mistakes and that she was dealing with a gambling problem. “A profound gambling problem, actually,” she said over the phone. Steen says she began gambling when she moved from Ontario to Kelowna in 2010, that it was her way of dealing with stress associated with an ailing mother, a broken marriage and health issues. As she puts it, the casino was her calm place.

Accused sweetheart swindler found guilty of scamming elderly out of $1.6 million 

A sweetheart swindler who prosecutors say used a web of lies, including that she had cancer, to scam more than $1.6 million from six elderly people was found guilty Thursday . Jurors deliberated about an hour and a half before finding Desiree Boltos, 37, guilty on five counts of theft and one count of exploitation of an elderly person. The punishment phase of the trial began immediately after the verdict was read but was later recessed to be continued Friday. She faces up to life in prison. Prosecutors said Boltos teamed up with her common-law husband to con the elderly victims between December 2011 and May 2017 in a con scheme commonly referred to a sweetheart swindler. Her husband, Paul Hill, is also charged in the case and is awaiting trial. The victims were conned in a variety of ways, prosecutors say. Some thought they were investing in Boltos’ interior design business — a business that didn’t exist — while another believed he was helping pay legal fees and travel expenses for Boltos to obtain a multi-million dollar inheritance. Danny Ray Barnett, who has since died, married Boltos not knowing that she was already married by common law to another man and gave her money, believing she had cancer and needed it for treatment. Casino records showed Boltos spent a great deal of the money in casinos, testimony showed.

Las Vegas Exec Who Subsidized Gambling with $1.5 Billion Ponzi Scheme Guilty of Fraud 

A Las Vegas CEO who funded a luxury gambling lifestyle through a $1.5 billion Ponzi scheme was found guilty of fraud and money laundering by a jury in Nevada on Tuesday. Japanese-American Edwin Fujinaga, 72, bilked thousands of mainly Japanese citizens into investing into his company MRI International. Investors believed they were plowing their money into a firm that purchased unpaid medical accounts from health care providers at knock-down prices before collecting payments from insurance companies. They were hoodwinked by glossy brochures and marketing campaigns in leading business magazines that promised 6 to 9.6 percent returns in Japanese yen and 6.5 to 10.3 percent in US dollars over two to five years. For Japanese savers frustrated by years of domestic baseline interest rates, it was a tempting offer. But it was all a sham. Despite its impressive Las Vegas headquarters and a sales office in Tokyo, MRI was nothing more than a classic Ponzi scheme.

Gambler Gets Life Sentence for Punch That Killed Reno Eldorado Casino Manager 

A Reno gambler who went from being just another a sore loser to a murderer in a matter of a few catastrophic minutes will spend the rest of his life in prison. Frederick Douglas Borden, 65, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on Wednesday for landing a fatal punch on a manager at the Eldorado Casino. In September, Borden was convicted of the first-degree murder of 52-year-old Eldorado assistant shift manager James Bryant in 2016. He was also convicted of robbery and of committing fraudulent acts concerning gaming. According to the DA’s office, in September 2016, Borden was gambling at a blackjack table at the Reno casino when he lost all his chips — and something snapped. As the dealer was dragging them in, Borden lunged forward and grabbed back as many as he could before making a break for it. Bryant tried to stop Borden from leaving but was punched in the face and collapsed as Borden fled the casino. Bryant was taken to hospital but died two days later from a torn right vertebral artery.

Man shot multiple times outside Tachi Palace casino after fight

A man was shot multiple times following a fight at Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, the Kings County Sheriff’s Office said. The fight happened just before midnight Friday. Casino security officers tried to break up a fight among three men and were able to detain one of them. The other two ran away and continued fighting. Then one of them, identified as Jose Leon, took out a gun from his waistband and shot a man by the name of Alfonso Gonzalez several times, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Casino surveillance personnel tracked down Leon after the shooting. They watched as he made a call and was eventually picked up by his sister at a gas station, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The two drove a distance before deputies caught up to them and took them into custody. Detectives interviewed them and later arrested Leon for violating his parole and for alleged attempted murder. Leon’s sister and another man were released after being questioned.

Woman embezzled millions from Inola company, prosecutors say as they go after her Grand Lake condo and yacht

A Broken Arrow businesswoman embezzled $3.1 million from her former employer and spent the proceeds on a yacht, a Grand Lake condo, casino gambling and other personal and family expenses, federal prosecutors allege. Cristyne Denise Gilleland, 41, faces one count of wire fraud and one count of subscribing a false tax return. The charges were filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma but were not made public until Monday. Gilleland, who is not in custody, is alleged to have embezzled the money from 2010 to 2017 while working for TJT Enterprises LLC, an Inola-based company owned by Tommy Thompson, records show. “White collar crimes can be devastating to victims,” U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said Monday night. “Fraudsters, embezzlers, and the financially corrupt must be held accountable.

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

NFL Called out as Hypocritical with its First Official Casino Partnership

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many dealings with the NFL as it relates to gambling. For the longest time, the NFL has opposed sports betting and cited integrity concerns among others. Even as the Supreme Court legalized sports gambling, the NFL has been involved in lobbying efforts to keep gambling heavily regulated. There has been a shift where the NFL is engaging in name based marketing deals that allow casinos to use the NFL Shield, but limit how gambling can be mentioned. The Action Network explains:

On Thursday, the NFL announced that it signed a sponsorship deal with Caesars Entertainment to be the league’s first ever official casino partner. It was received by some as a sign that the NFL was finally coming around to cashing in on sports gambling.

It is and it isn’t. Caesars is doing the deal because they can use the NFL logo while promoting their brand. But they can’t do much more than that.

This isn’t a sports betting deal, it includes no rights to marks on boards at Caesars sportsbooks — physical or virtual. It’s not even a gaming deal: Caesars isn’t getting into daily fantasy.

It’s a money deal: Sources say the deal is worth $25 million a year and that it doesn’t include any provision for sports gambling, meaning Caesars wouldn’t automatically get a gambling designation.

One sports analyst reviewed their deals in this new gambling space, and has called out he league as being hypocritical with the actions, especially as it relates to players. The Action Network continues:

The NFL is playing a precarious game, allowing teams to do deals with casinos, and even sportsbooks, as long as they don’t mention anything about betting.

The decision by the NFL to go so slowly into the gambling space is a baffling one, from an outsider’s perspective. The NFL’s sports-betting shift is going to be the most embarrassing, which means Roger Goodell will end up eating more crow than any of his counterparts.

Remember, this is the same league that opposed players *even being in a Vegas casino*. Nearly 100 players were barred from participating in a football convention in Vegas back in 2015 because it took place in a casino.

In fact, players /still/ can’t promote casino properties. And now the league is doing a deal to … promote a casino property. Talk about hypocrisy. “NFL signing casino deal, teams signing casino deals and NFL players are still not allowed to do any endorsements with casinos,” a current NFL player texted me after I tweeted about the deal Thursday morning. “So messed up.” 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/31 – 01/13

2-year-old girl dies after being shot in head; father accused of putting her in danger

A 2-year-old girl was shot and killed when gunfire erupted early Tuesday at a Tennessee apartment complex, police say. Detectives said the girl’s father, Mikal Grogan, 23, of Memphis, placed his daughter in danger by exposing her to gambling, illegal drug sales and violence. He is being charged with aggravated child neglect and endangerment. According to Memphis police, Grogan admitted to selling marijuana out of his apartment and was playing dice and gambling the night of the deadly shooting. Witnesses said they heard more than a dozen shots fired at the Enclave apartment homes off Hickory Hill on Tuesday morning. The toddler was killed after a bullet hit her in the head. “I was hearing a lady down here saying, ‘Oh, my God! My baby, my baby.’” Police said it is unclear where exactly the shooting happened, but it left more than 12 bullet holes in the walls and shattered glass from a porch door.

Child gambler epidemic: Worrying new figures reveal 55,000 under-17s have ‘a problem’ with another 70,000 at risk

The alarming scale of children’s addiction to betting is laid bare today in an official report. It says the number of problem gamblers aged 11 to 16 has quadrupled in two years to 55,000. A further 70,000 youngsters are at risk, according to the audit by the Gambling Commission. It found that a worrying 450,000 children – one in seven of those in the 11- 16 age group – bet regularly. They stake an average of £16 a week each. The money goes on fruit machines, on bingo, in betting shops or online, which are all illegal for under-18s. The commission’s report also said: Lord Chadlington, former chairman of Action on Addiction, demanded an advertising crackdown. ‘We are on the brink of a gambling epidemic in this country,’ the peer said. ‘I am calling for a stop to gambling advertising on live sporting events on television, and these numbers reinforce the need for urgent action. ‘Italy, which has some 20 per cent fewer problem gamblers than the UK, is banning it. Why is this bombardment of gambling advertising on television continuing in the UK?’ The number of children with gambling problems has quadrupled in two years to 55,000. Predatory companies which use tactics that entice vulnerable kids must be confronted head on. This is a generational scandal.

Stephen Gionfriddo, former Middletown mayor, pleads guilty to stealing from his law firm and his brother

Gionfriddo stole more than $500,000 from a Rocky Hill law firm where he worked, then stole from his brother to pay the firm back, according to a statement Tuesday from John H. Durham, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut. The case is the second conviction for Gionfriddo. He was a Republican councilman for 14 years and was mayor for about six months in 1993 when he filled the term of another mayor who stepped down from the post. He is one of only three Republican mayors in Middletown in the last 25 years. He served prison time after a 2006 conviction for stealing more than $600,000 from clients he represented as an attorney. He said during court hearings in that case that a gambling addiction led to huge debts piling up.

CG Technology Receives $2 Million Fine from Nevada Gaming Commission 

Last Thursday, the Nevada Gaming Commission accepted a $2 million settlement by Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology related to serious compliance failures and miscalculating customer payouts. CG Technology has a long history of rule violations in Las Vegas and had been concerned that the Nevada Gaming Commission might move to revoke its license. CG Technology operates eight sports books for major casinos based in the greater Las Vegas area. This includes the likes of The Hard Rock, The Tropicana, The Venetian, The Cosmopolitan, The Palms, M Resort Spa Casino, The Palazzo, and the Silverton Casino Hotel.

Over the past five years, however, the company has fallen foul of the state’s gambling regulator on three occasions. These serious compliance failures have subsequently resulted in CG Technology paying three out of the state’s top ten biggest fines ever levied on a Nevada-based gaming company. This includes a number-one spot on the list after forking out a massive $5.5 million in 2014 to settle a litany of charges involving illegal gambling and money laundering. As part of the same case, CG Technology also had to may a whopping $22.5 million to the U.S. government, including $16.5 million to the U.S. attorney offices in Eastern District of New York and Nevada, and a further $6 million to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The latest case saw CG Technology accused of a whole catalog of violations and errors. This list of infringements included accepting wagers from outside the state via its mobile sports betting app, accepting wagers after events had finished, and making incorrect payouts to 1,483 bettors. The firm also misconfigured a satellite sports betting station for a 2018 Super Bowl party taking place at an unnamed Las Vegas casino.

Former WPSD employee gets probation in $210,000 theft

A former employee of the William Penn School District who stole more than $210,000 to support a gambling habit was sentenced to 23 months of intermediate punishment. Rose Marie Lyons was also given three years of consecutive probation and ordered to repay more than $30,000 as part of the sentence imposed by Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge Anthony Scanlon. According to charging documents, Lyons formerly served as president and recording secretary of the William Penn Education Support Personnel Association. She had also worked in an administrative role at the school district. The union represents about 90 employees of the district, including instructional assistants, secretaries, staff nurses and library assistants. Money collected by the association is used to pay dues to the Pennsylvania State Education Association, as well as for the benefit of the union. Two newly appointed members of the union discovered a misappropriation of funds and filed a report with the Lansdowne Police Department in January 2016. An affidavit of probable cause for Lyons’ arrest indicated that she had “complete control” of the association’s financial accounts between 2009 and 2015 and appeared to be responsible for numerous unauthorized withdrawals and deposits.

Ex-tax collector gets prison for stealing $250K from town

A Massachusetts town’s former tax collector who stole about $250,000 in municipal funds has been sentenced to a year in prison. The Telegram & Gazette reports that 66-year-old Marcia Langelier was sentenced Tuesday in Worcester Superior Court to a year in prison after pleading guilty to charges of embezzlement by a municipal officer and making false entries in corporate books. Langelier has been ordered to pay restitution, which will be determined at a later hearing. Prosecutors say the former Barre tax collector stole money from 2005 into 2011 while serving in the elected position. Officials say Langelier changed town records to hide the thefts. Prosecutors say she used the stolen funds on gambling.

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

YouTube Creators Under Fire for Underage Gambling Promotion by Sponsoring Loot Boxes

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing developments over a video game type mechanic known as loot boxes. Player, often children, spend money to gamble at receiving a mystery item from a box. This loot can sometimes be traded or sold for cash. Over 16 countries have either regulated it or called for studies. Most recently the FTC. In England, the House of Commons called loot boxes massive and addictive technology. The use has been primarily seen in video games but the idea has spread to YouTube. Both American and UK YouTubers are under fire for offering the ability for their viewers, mostly. The UK’s Telegraph explains: 

Popular YouTubers have come under fire for promoting controversial games linked to gambling to young viewers. Jake Paul and Brian “RiceGum” Lee, who have 28.5 million subscribers between them, were among those criticised for posting sponsored videos showing them spending money on “loot boxes”.

Loot boxes, which appear in video games, prompt players to spend money in exchange for random in-game purchases. In new promotional videos, both Jake Paul and Brian “RiceGum” Lee clicked on online mystery treasure chests and revealed they had won real life objects including Apple AirPods and trainers worth $1,000.

MysteryBrand, the company behind the promotional videos, offers a real-life version of these boxes that can cost between $3.99 (£3.16) and $1,300 (£1,028) apiece. Each box contains a range of possible pre-selected items but a user has no idea what they will get until they have paid.

MysteryBrand is understood to have paid $100,000 for the videos, which were lambasted by the duo’s viewers as well as YouTubers Ethan Klein, Kavos and PewDiePie.

Given the size of some to these content creators YouTube channels, its somewhat surprising that they wouldn’t vet the loot box concept. Unfortunately, they didn’t with one even saying he didn’t think it’s a big deal at all. YouTube released a statement and pulled at least one of the videos and regulators have called this out as gambling. An online source reports:

YouTube has already pulled Hudson’s promotion from view, with a spokesperson saying: “YouTube believes that creators should be transparent with their audiences if their content includes paid promotion of any kind. Our policies make it clear that YouTube creators are responsible for ensuring their content complies with local laws, regulations and YouTube community guidelines. If content is found to violate these policies, we take action to ensure the integrity of our platform, which can include removing content.”

The activities of MysteryBrand are still being assessed by the Gambling Commission but the children’s commissioner for England has already come out against the service, telling the paper that this amounted to ‘gambling, plain and simple’.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/24 – 12/30

Gambling-related shooting in Tennessee leaves 2 dead, 4 wounded

Two men were killed and four others were wounded after a Tennessee shooting that investigators believe was sparked by a gambling feud, according to a report Sunday. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office on its Twitter page identified the victims who were killed as Marcus Conway, 18, and Marquese Taylor, 22, both residents of Memphis. One was pronounced dead at the scene; the other at a hospital, the sheriff’s office said. “It’s believed that this incident occurred as a result of a feud while gambling,” the sheriff’s office said on Twitter. “Investigators believe that this was an isolated incident and that the victims knew the suspects.” The shooting occurred Saturday night at a home in northern Shelby County, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. Three of the wounded were at one hospital where their conditions ranged from serious to critical late Saturday night, the paper reported.

Winnipeg Financial Adviser Takes Advantage of Cognitively Impaired Client to Pay Off Gambling Debt

A financial adviser from Winnipeg has been put under police investigation after facing allegations of manipulating 78-year-old client of his, who has been suffering from cognitive impairment, into *lending him CA$200,000 to pay gambling debts*. According to documents filed in court, the 50-year-old *Aime Edmond Grenier* is facing accusations of using his relationship with his client in order to borrow a massive amount of money from him, with the lawns dating back to 2009. Mr. Grenier has not repaid any of the loans which he had taken in order to pay some debts he made *as a result of his compulsive gambling*. The investigator revealed to the court that the elderly man was *extremely trusting, generous and sometimes forgetful* about his financial matters as a lasting effect of his brain injury. The police investigated a substantial loan which Mr. Grenier allegedly received “under false pretence”. The court documents say that the senior was visited by his financial adviser in his home on November 23rd, 2016. At the time, Mr. Grenier asked his client to lend him CA$200,000 which he claimed he had to pay to *the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)*.

Nine out of 10 pubs in England fail to stop underage gambling

Nine out of 10 pubs in England are routinely allowing children to play age-restricted fruit machines, the gambling industry regulator has said. The Gambling Commission has written to several pub trade associations demanding that they clean up their act after an undercover operation revealed that most were making no effort to prevent children from using the machines. The commission’s enforcement chief said the preliminary findings of the operation were “sufficiently concerning that we consider it to be in the public interest to release them immediately”. A spokesperson for the Local Government Association said the report’s findings indicated that pubs were putting children at risk of developing a gambling problem. “Pub managers must be as vigilant about underage gambling as they are about underage drinking,” said Simon Blackburn, the chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board. “It is completely unacceptable to turn a blind eye to children playing gaming machines that are restricted to over-18s, which risks young people becoming addicted to gambling.”

Illegal Sports Betting Linked to Murder of Aussie Gangster John Macris, Shot in Cold Blood in Athens 

Police investigating the murder of Greco-Australian gangster John Macris are working on the theory that he was killed because of links to an illegal sports betting operation. Macris was shot dead by a gunman last Wednesday outside his home in a wealthy Athens suburb as he sat in a Smart car owned by his wife — the Ukrainian reality TV star and former Playboy Playmate Victoria Karyda. Shocking footage released by Greek media on Monday from security cameras outside Macris’ house show the moment a lone gunman fired multiple shots through the car’s right passenger window before walking around to the driver’s door and firing again. According to the /Sydney Morning Herald/, Greek police are piecing together bank accounts and scrutinizing money transfers to ascertain whether Macris was involved in gambling with other people’s money through an illegal online betting company based in Asia. They believe it’s possible he had accumulated a debt that he couldn’t pay. The 46-year-old nightclub owner was a prominent figure in the Sydney underworld for many years, according to reports in the Australian media.

Animal rights group, county officials spar over alleged cockfighting ring 

A well-known animal rights group has accused Miami-Dade County officials of doing nothing after the organization says it exposed a brutal animal fighting ring operating in southwest Miami-Dade. The county has pushed back, accusing the organization of using tactics that harmed the potential investigation. The Animal Recovery Mission, or ARM, said the evidence is all there on camera from a cockfighting ring operating at “Rancho El Triangulo.”During the surveillance, the ARM representative witnessed birds outfitted with spikes, brutal fighting, often to the death. Birds badly injured were discarded in the trash, left to die and covered by trash. “So for 25 minutes they’re literally puncturing each other,” said an undercover investigator for ARM who asked not to be identified. “And it’s not a puncture where it can cause death, immediate death. It’s slow.” But nearly five months after calling police and handing over evidence, no arrests have been made. “Everyone in this industry feels so incredibly safe. It’s almost like a legal industry in Miami,” said ARM President Richard Couto.

After an illegal slaughterhouse bust in 2015, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle wrote in a news release: “I applaud the partnership which allows my prosecutors, the Miami-Dade Police Department and the Animal Recovery Mission to effectively shut down such ghastly operations.” When asked if the SAO had expressed similar concerns in the past, Couto replied, “Never. Never.” He added, “It’s disheartening that the relationship that we’ve built over the years with this office is crashing down before my eyes.”

Montgomery official embezzled $6.7 million from county, federal prosecutors say

A local official embezzled $6.7 million from Montgomery County through a years-long scheme of diverting county money meant to grow local businesses, federal prosecutors said in court filings unsealed Friday. Byung Il Bang, the former chief operating officer for Montgomery’s Department of Economic Development, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and making a false statement on a tax return at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md. He is set to be sentenced Feb. 2, and agreed in court to seek treatment for a “gambling addiction.”

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