Monthly Archives: February 2019

Florida Bill Banning Online Lottery sales Advances with Additional Warnings for Gamblers

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing developments of the Department of Justice’s decision to restore the wire act to its long standing position that makes online gambling illegal. Many states have an eye on the developments as legal action was threatened by New Jersey and New Hampshire. The topic is also of interest in Florida where many are curious how gambling legislation will move forward in the wake of the Voters in Charge gambling bill being passed that requires statewide voter approval for gambling expansion. The most well know issue centers around sports betting, but online gambling is also of interest. To that extent, a bill is moving forward in the Florida legislature to end the practice of online lottery sales before it gets off the ground. An online source reports:

Florida does not sell lottery tickets over the internet — and if a bill passed Wednesday by the House Gaming Control Subcommittee becomes law, it never will.

While New Hampshire has sued the Department of Justice in a bid to protect the revenues it derives from its online lottery operations, State Rep. Will Robinson (R-Bradenton) wants to the option taken off the table entirely.

The main aim of Robinson’s bill — which was advanced by the committee in a 10-1 vote — is to shut out third-party websites that claim affiliation with the state lottery but actually just buy tickets and mark up prices.

The bill would ban the use of personal electronic devices for the sale and purchase of tickets, ensuring that every ticket sale involves a transaction between a store and an in-person buyer.

“These fraudulent websites are, in my view, illegally advertising when they are not related to the lottery system at all,” he told /Florida Politics/ earlier this week. “The lottery is significantly regulated and that’s for a purpose … The state of Florida wants to make sure the right thing is being sold.”

The bill’s intent goes beyond just selling tickets online however. The Rep. Will Robinson Jr believes people should truly understand how very unlikely the changes of winning the lottery are for would be gamblers. He has proposed additional warnings placed on physical tickets. The Tampa Bay Times explains:

Debate about a bill that would require warnings on lottery tickets quickly turned into a debate on Wednesday about whether anyone in Florida is actually addicted to lottery games, with one lawmaker blasting it as “deceptive.” The bill (HB 629) by state Rep. Will Robinson, Jr., R-Bradenton, would add two warnings to the front of every lottery ticket:



Under the bill, those two warnings would take up 10 percent of the face of every lottery card, and they would be required in every Florida Lottery advertisement, including those on television.

But state Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, grilled Robinson during a House Gaming Control Subcommittee meeting about whether he knows of anyone addicted to lottery games. Robinson he didn’t know of any personal examples, but he pointed to news articles out of state. That led Slosberg to come out strongly against the bill.

How many people might be addicted to the games is unclear. But the numbers show that some Floridians spend a staggering amount each year on lottery tickets. Last year, the Florida Lottery sold $6.7 billion in tickets — nearly $400 in tickets for every adult in the state. (The figure doesn’t include tourists, some of whom also play.) And while the Florida Lottery does post the number to a gambling addiction hotline on its website, it doesn’t say anything on its tickets. State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, who used to run a casino consulting company in Las Vegas, disagreed with Slosberg. “The research proves that there are people that become addicted to gambling, and whether it’s 1 percent or 5 percent, people do at times become susceptible to this,” he said. “I know this from my prior life.”

The bill passed the House Gaming Control Subcommittee with only Slosberg voting against it. 

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


A Brief Look at Crime 02/18 – 02/24

Worker steals $167K from Troutdale restaurant

A former worker with a gambling problem was sentenced to prison Friday for stealing $167,240 from a family-owned restaurant in Troutdale. Keeya Danielle Deshazo pleaded guilty in September to stealing the money from La Costita Restaurant over the course of at least a year beginning in 2015. The 41-year-old took cash that should have been deposited into their bank account and kept deposit slips as “IOUs” for the restaurant. During the sentencing, Judge Gregory Silver said, “Addiction can have terrible consequences and this is a good example of that.” Deshazo, who was sentenced to a 17-month prison sentence, surrendered $10,000 for La Costita and was ordered to repay the remaining $157,240. After the sentencing, Multnomah County Deputy DA Sam Leineweber said the amount of money she stole had an enormous impact on La Costita. “The restaurant will feel the impacts of this theft for years to come.”

No post-conviction relief for former CSI employee who embezzled more than $530,000 

A judge denied a post-conviction relief request earlier this month from a former College of Southern Idaho employee who embezzled more than $530,000 from the college. Dawn Marie Orr — a former CSI business office employee — pleaded guilty to five felony counts of grand theft. She was sentenced in July 2015 in Twin Falls County Fifth District Court to at least 10 years in prison, with the potential of serving up to 70 years. Orr was also ordered to pay $677,735.58 in restitution. Orr filed a petition for post-conviction relief in August 2017. In a judgment Jan. 10, Judge Benjamin Cluff dismissed the case. Orr “has not borne her burden in proving that she is entitled to post-conviction relief,” according to a memorandum decision. n a nearly full courtroom during her 2015 sentencing, Orr cried as she apologized to family members, friends and former coworkers. “I will never forgive myself for what I’ve done,” she told the crowd. During the sentencing, Stoker said it was the worst embezzlement case he has seen in his 40 years in Twin Falls. Stoker called the crime “outrageous” and an affront to the community. Orr — an assistant in the CSI business office for 17 years — admitted she had a gambling problem. She exchanged checks for cash from the safe and overstated third-party billings.

Crime Rises Dramatically in MGM Springfield Area

The casino faced some problems at the start of operations. Among them was an issue of underage gamblers getting onto the casino floor. This was blamed on the large numbers of people visiting the newly open casino.The design of the casino floor was another problem because the restaurant and shopping areas in the resort provide very easy access to the floor of the casino. Management has been looking at ways to curb this issue. With concerns about problem gambling in the local area and the state as a whole, some new policies have been established. All casino staff members are now trained to help them spot those who may be suffering from problem gambling. They now have the skills and knowledge about what they need to do in this situation.

Now there is another significant problem for the MGM Springfield. According to the local police, the casino is a magnet for crime. A report from the ABC television affiliate WCVB said that the area of the casino is seeing double the amount of crime in its initial four months than the other major casino in the state saw in an entire year. This other establishment is the Plainridge Park Casino, which is run by Penn National. According to figures from the Massachusetts State Police, there were 208 incidents and 120 arrests inside the MGM Springfield from September through December. That included 16 robberies and larcenies, 5 assaults, and 2 sexual offenses. There were 22 crimes in the area in the three months before opening. In the following five months, there were 115 crimes. In the entire year of 2018, there were 115 incidents at the Plainridge Park Casino. A report is expected in March about public safety in the area of the facility. Since Plainridge Park opened in June 2015, there has been no uptick in crime levels. This clearly cannot be said for the MGM Springfield. A lot of work needs to be done to curb this issue in the future.

Man Shot Twice after Fight over Gambling Winnings

A local man is recovering after suffering two gunshot wounds in an early morning incident. The Little Rock Police Department (LRPD) says Joe Galburth, 33, drove himself to the emergency room around midnight Tuesday. When officers interviewed the man at the hospital he told them he had been shot after an argument over money he had won playing blackjack. Galburth told police he had struggled with another man who had a gun in his waistband before running outside of The Platinum Rose. He said he then jumped into a car someone had left running with the keys inside and took off. At the hospital, officers took Galburth’s clothing and $1655 in cash as evidence, said the LRPD incident report. Detectives noted blood on the inside of the vehicle on the driver’s side and a bullet hole in the front passenger door of the car in which Galburth had escaped the scene. Police say he had felony warrants for his arrest that will be served when he is released from the hospital.

Gambling and argument lead up to shooting death of Branson Tucker

Both men alleged to have been involved in the death of 34-year-old Branson Tucker had preliminary hearings this morning. In the case against 59-year-old Kenneth Cobb, probable cause was determined and he will be bound over to Allen County Common Pleas Court. He is being held on one count of murder. During the hearing, Detective Todd Jennings said he learned Cobb and Jerome Fuqua were gambling with three other at 975 St. Johns Ave. Cobb told officials he was struck in the head before a skirmish unfolded. Jennings said the other witnesses believed it was just a disagreement from the gambling. “He told us that, he was down there with Branson and some other people,” Jennings said. “They were gambling. He was hit in the side of the head by someone, while he was down there. A fight broke out. Once the fight calmed down, he told us he took the gun from Branson and then went to shoot Branson in the leg.” Cobb is being held on a $1 million bond.

N.J.-licensed online gambling site slapped with fine after glitch allows under-21 bets

New Jersey gambling regulators have levied their first fine for underage internet gambling, assessing the company behind the website $30,000 for allowing underage gamblers to place bets online for more than a year. The state Division of Gaming Enforcement said Wednesday that the activity happened between November 2016 and January 2018 due to a software defect that did not accurately record patrons’ birthdates. It has since been fixed. Thirteen people between the ages of 18 and 20 were able to create accounts and make online bets worth nearly $5,000. Gamblers must be at least 21 to make legal bets in New Jersey. The fine was issued Jan. 7 and made public Wednesday. It was the first for underage internet gambling issued by New Jersey regulators since online gambling began in the state in Nov. 2013, according to Kerry Langan, a spokeswoman for the gaming enforcement division. Rush Street Interactive NJ and the state agreed on the $30,000 penalty.

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

With Florida Dog Racing Now Banned by Voters, Will the Legislature Bail out the Industry?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing happenings to end dog racing in Florida. Most recently, and amendment was passed by Florida voters to end dog racing. The amendment doesn’t end all gambling at these facilities, but it does clearly mandate that all live dog racing must come to an end. The racing industry immediately engaged in talks with Florida legislators to determine what bail out package would be offered to offset the expense of the animals and to help facilitate their adoption. Nothing has been truly decided, but legislators were very quick to point out that the amendment itself doesn’t mandate any kind of bail out. Naturally, the industry disagrees and it trying to seek compensation. Florida Politics reports:

One of the main proponents of the state’s recently passed ban on dog racing is telling legislators it’s “not necessary” to pass a bill “implementing” *Amendment 13— and that includes a bailout for the greyhound industry. But an industry lobbyist says it’s absolutely needed — and required. 

To be clear, “we are not opposed to such legislation and, if it is filed, urge you to include funding for greyhound adoption,” said *Carey M. Theil*, executive director of *GREY2K USA Worldwide, a greyhound protection group.

He penned a letter to House Gaming Control Subcommittee Chairman David Santiago, a Deltona Republican, on Friday. The subcommittee meets Wednesday to receive an update by the “Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering on the implementation of Amendment 13,” according to an online agenda.

“However, such legislation is not necessary by any means,” Theil wrote. “The false perception that an Amendment 13 implementation bill must pass would likely serve only to create a legislative vehicle for other changes in law.”

Shortly after the amendment passed, some breeders and trainers started talking about lawmakers cushioning the blow of the loss of income with a payout. At least one legislative leader quickly tamped down that idea: “Coming and asking for a compensation package is probably a tough row to hoe for them,” Senate President *Bill* *Galvano*, a Bradenton Republican, has said.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 02/11 – 02/17

Maine man gets 15 months for state’s largest gambling operation

A Maine man who netted millions running an illegal sports gambling operation is going to prison for 15 months. Sixty-two-year-old Stephen Mardigan was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty in May to unlawful gambling, money laundering and filing a false tax return. The Portland Press Herald/ reports that Mardigan ran what’s believed to have been Maine’s largest gambling operation out of his Portland home and his used car dealership from 2003 to 2017. Court documents say bets typically ranged from $30 to thousands of dollars, but two gamblers in particular wagered nearly $5 million through Mardigan. Mardigan wrote to the judge that he’s addicted to gambling and that he has been attending weekly meetings of Gamblers Anonymous. He wrote, “I now realize that I was out of control.”

‘Elaborate lie’: Con artist found guilty on 22 counts in Grand Reserve fraud case 

A federal jury in Columbus has found an Alabama con artist guilty of 22 felonies for inducing the stepmother of Grand Reserve apartments owner Steve Corbett to send her more than $600,000 from the business while the stepmother was its chief financial officer. Authorities say Dorita Clay of Selma, Ala., took the money she got from Darlene Corbett and either spent it or gambled it away at casinos. “What the defendant really is, is a gambling addict,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Crawford Seals told jurors in his closing argument Wednesday morning. “She is not just a gambler. She is a flimflam artist.” Clay was better at swindling than gambling, Seals said: “The defendant is a terrible gambler.” Much of the money was wagered not on any game requiring skill, but on slot machines engineered to take in more than they pay out, he said: “We all know the house always wins.” Among those testifying during Clay’s trial was a representative of the Pearl River Resort in Philadelphia, Miss., who said Clay in 2015 wagered $1.8 million and lost $1.7 million, and the next year bet around $600,000 and lost about $500,000.

Desert Hot Springs man arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with December shooting

A Desert Hot Springs man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of murder in connection with a shooting that happened at an illegal gambling operation last month, authorities said. James Angel, 43, was booked into the county jail in Indio, a Desert Hot Springs news release said. The shooting occurred about 10 p.m. on Dec. 11 in the 66500 block of Pierson Boulevard, according to the city. The shooting victim was initially transported to the hospital before succumbing to his injuries roughly three days later. The arrest comes nearly three weeks after police spotted a vehicle that matched the description of one involved in a shooting at an illegal gambling operation near Pierson Boulevard and Palm Drive, city spokeswoman Doria Wilms said last month. The man allegedly shot at a detective before a vehicle pursuit, Desert Hot Springs police said. The next day, 26-year-old Indio resident Raymond Villegas was arrested. He later pleaded not guilty to all charges, including attempted murder of a police officer.

Man admits to stealing $388K from West Palm employer to support gambling habit

A man from West Palm Beach admitted to stealing more than $388,000 from his employer to support his gambling habit, West Palm Beach Police said. Neil Reisman, 60, is facing charges of grand theft and scheme to defraud. Authorities say Reisman forged the signature of his company’s CEO at FRI Investors to cash more than 150 checks worth a total of $388,300 from March 2015 to June 2016. Investigators say the amounts on each check grew from $500 to $4700. The frequency in which he cashed the checks also increased from about 4 times a month to 16 times a month. Police said Riesman also took steps to conceal the crimes by altering bank statements. According to the arrest report. Reisman admitted to spending money at the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek. Reisman is due in court Monday morning. He’s being held at the Palm Beach County Jail on $15,000 bond.

Three Nabbed For Mob Gambling Ring In Area, DA Says

Three area men have been nabbed for running an illegal gambling ring and money laundering operation in Rockland County that took in more a $1 million. The three men, John Andriello, 66, of Pearl River; Marco Minuto, 60, of Old Tappan, New Jersey, and Brian Levine, 49, of Garnerville, were arrested Friday, Jan. 11, according to Acting Rockland County District Attorney Kevin Gilleece. The DA’s Office said the men made at least a million by accepting wagers on various sporting events, including professional and college football. According to the felony complaint, the highly sophisticated criminal enterprise was controlled by purported members of organized crime. “These arrests close down a highly lucrative gambling operation that benefitted organized crime with large amounts of money every year,” said Gilleece. “Make no mistake: illegal sports betting is by no means a victimless crime. Its proceeds underwrite more insidious forms of corruption, such as racketeering, drug trafficking, and loan sharking” All three defendants were charged with felony enterprise corruption and felony promoting gambling, the DA’s Office said.

Ex-All Blacks rugby star Regan King ‘tricked women out of thousands to fund gambling addiction’ 

A FORMER All Blacks rugby star has been accused of tricking women out of thousands of pounds to fund a gambling addiction. Regan King, 38, is said to have pleaded with the two women for help with cash flow problems but failed to pay them back. The ex-All Blacks and Scarlets centre admitted owing the women thousands of Australian dollars in emails, BBC Wales reports, but he has declined to comment. Diana Stalteri from Perth, in Western Australia, told the website she met King online in 2017 and was asked if he could borrow cash after a few months of them dating. The 40-year-old had just signed with Perth Rugby Club and Diana said she agreed to lend him some of the A$10,000 (£5,500) he asked for to pay off a debt. Diana, who ended the relationship in May 2018, said she gave the money on the condition she could see his contract and would have the money back at the end of the rugby season. She said: “It was an immediate family member that rang me with information about the money – that he had a gambling addiction, and the amount of money he owed people, particularly in New Zealand. Diana, who claims she has spoken with five other women who reported being duped by King, said she ended up in hospital “extremely sick from stress”. A second ex, Cheryl Wenninger, 47, also from Perth, claims she also lended King money when he appealed to her “compassionate side”.

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

New Jersey Plans to Sue the DOJ over Online Gambling Ruling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of the DOJ’s handling of the Wire Act as it pertains to gambling over both the Obama and Trump Administration. Most recently, the DOJ announced they had gone back to the long standing interpretation of the wire act that makes all forms of online gambling, not just sports gambling as the Obama Administration claimed, are illegal. This has understandably prompted a reaction from those that have decided to promote gambling in the online space. One of the more vocal states in regard to sports and online gambling has been New Jersey and they plan to sue the DOJ if they don’t reverse their stance. An online source reports:

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney has asked the Department of Justice to rescind its new opinion on the Wire Act. And if the DOJ does not, Sweeney has indicated NJ will go to court.

Sweeney’s letter to Rosenstein followed up on his statement days after the OLC opinion was made public in which he called on Lesniak, an attorney who served in the New Jersey legislature for 40 years, to come out of retirement to help protect the online gambling and sports betting industries that he helped bring to the state.

Lesniak then wrote a letter to Sweeney outlining how New Jersey could fight the opinion, and Sweeney used some of that language verbatim in his letter to the deputy attorney general.

Lesniak, who reactivated his license to practice law in the state of New Jersey on Monday, tells Online Poker Report that he plans to wait 30 days for new *US Attorney General Bob Barr* to get up to speed on the issue before filing the complaint requested by Sweeney.

The odds seem slim that the DOJ will resend their ruling. They aren’t taking a radical stance and they are simply going back to the clear intent of Congress that stood for so many years before the Obama Administration opened the flood gates of gambling by reversing the original intent. They have also been hinting at his position change for a while, so it truly seems unlikely that they would reverse their position based on New Jersey’s position. Time will tell if they follow through, but it seems likely that they will file a motion in court. 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/04 – 02/10

Once teen tennis prodigy turned to importing cocaine to pay off $500,000 in online gambling debts

A tennis prodigy whose life was destroyed by a gambling addiction that cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars has been jailed for importing cocaine to pay off his huge debts. James Willesee, whose uncle is the journalist Mike Willesee, began gambling at 16, was once $500,000 in debt and eventually lost property worth $600,000 as well as his mother’s superannuation. Downing Centre District Court heard the 29-year-old from Sydney’s northern beaches also had the odd big win – taking home $1million when Fiorente saluted in the 2013 Melbourne Cup. Once his junior playing career ended Willesee coached tennis in the gambling mecca Hong Kong and for several years after that worked for Tabcorp as a betting analyst. Having got himself deep into debt, Willesee took part in a $1.5million cocaine importation operation in which he had more than 5kg of the drug delivered to a prestigious Sydney golf club. Judge Robyn Tupman described Willesee’s gambling addiction as ‘the curse of his life and the cause of his ultimate downfall and the position he now finds himself.’ ‘Mr Willesee’s case is a tragic one,’ Judge Tupman said. ‘In my view the gambling industry has a lot to answer for in the way it overwhelmingly connects itself to mainstream sport in Australia. ‘The vulnerable in the community are significantly at risk of doing exactly what this person did.’

Feds reject probation request in ex-cop’s gambling embezzlement case

While a former Porter County officer is asking for a probation, the government is seeking prison time for his embezzlement of more than $180,000 from a police organization. Lawrence LaFlower, 43, pleaded guilty in October to one count of wire fraud for taking thousands of dollars from the Fraternal Order of Police Ewalt Jahnz Lodge No.165 in Valparaiso where he was the treasurer to support his gambling addiction, court records state. “LaFlower squandered over $180,000, much of which was donated from the generous contributions of hard working police officers and private citizens,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Abizer Zanzi said in court records. The FOP works to improve working conditions of police officers and does philanthropic work, including scholarships for students interested in careers in criminal justice and school supplies for students in need, Zanzi said. This was not a “momentary lapse in judgment” by LaFlower, according to Zanzi.

Rivers Casino bans woman for life for allegedly leaving 10-year-old in car

A Unity woman is accused of leaving her 10-year-old daughter alone inside a car in the Rivers Casino parking garage in Pittsburgh for more than six hours while she went inside to gamble. According to state police Sgt. Gerald Pflug, authorities plan to charge Nicole Marie Inks, 36, with endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment. The child was left alone in a car inside the parking garage about 8:40 p.m. Sunday, Pflug said. The child called 911 about 4 a.m. Monday to say her mom had left her. Inks told police that she initially went into the casino to buy a gift card and lost track of time. Inks was gambling when officials found her, Pflug said. It’s not the first time Inks has been in trouble in connection with gambling at Rivers Casino. She was arrested in January for allegedly stealing $1,346 from the Salem Township Subway restaurant where she worked on New Year’s Day and gambling away some of the stolen money at the casino.

UK Gambling Addict Stole More Than a Million From Employer to Fund Gambling Habit

Chris Girling recently pleaded guilty to embezzling £1 million ($1.26 million) from the Premier Education Group, a company that provides physical education programs to schools across the UK. As the man in charge of the company’s accounts and finances, he was well positioned to pilfer as much cash as he wanted. *“When I printed off those first lots of bank statements, I had to run to the toilet to be sick because that’s the first time I really knew how much I’d stolen,”* Girling told ITV News. For a period of more than three years, starting in March of 2014, Girling was moving money from company accounts to his own personal accounts. Every morning, he’d wake up and start playing the virtual slots – $125 per spin every few seconds – sometimes blowing more than $20,000 in a day. “It’s a silent addiction,” notes Girling, who is facing up to five years in jail. “You can do it on your phone all day every day. You could quite easily walk past someone in the street who has it.

Man dies after being shot by security guards at Henderson casino

An armed man died after being shot Tuesday by two Green Valley Ranch security guards, police said. The man was walking through the casino at about 3:40 p.m. when patrons notified security that he was carrying a handgun, Henderson Police Department Lt. Kirk Moore said. The man was confronted by three security guards in the east tower lobby, where the man reportedly drew his weapon, Moore said. Two of the guards shot at the man, who received medical attention at the casino but later died. No one else was injured and the casino was not evacuated. Moore said details were unknown about how many shots were fired or whether the man fired his weapon. The man’s identity will be released after his family is notified, Moore said.

Growing trend: Children left unattended in cars at casinos

Kelsi Costa had a bad feeling as soon as she saw the car. “I had to say something,” the Cumberland native thought as she walked into Twin River Casino nearly two years ago. Costa and her mother spotted the vehicle, engine running, parked near the back of the casino parking lot. Inside the car, officers said, were an 11-year-old, a 3-year-old and an infant. “If I was a parent, I could never, would never do that,” Costa said. Police later determined the parents left their children alone for almost two hours while they gambled inside Twin River. The Woonsocket couple was charged with neglect, although the charges were eventually dropped because, according to police records, “there hasn’t been any habitual offenses with the family on record.”

Through multiple open record requests, Boston 25 News discovered 14 incidents of children left unattended at Twin River in Lincoln, Rhode Island, and Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, Massachusetts since 2016. With MGM Springfield opening last August, and Encore Boston Harbor launching in Everett this spring, advocates are wary of what an influx of casinos could mean for families across New England, particularly families dealing with a gambling addiction. “Leaving children unattended in a car at a gaming facility would be a huge red flag,” for signs of addiction, said Marlene Warner, the executive director of the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling. “Kids don’t belong in a casino. Plain and simple,” Warner said. “A casino you’re not just running in for something. You’re running in and inevitably you’re going to spend more time than you think.”

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

Guest Article: DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the new Department of Justice ruling that reestablished online gambling to be illegal under the wire act. The need for this ruling existed because the long standing intend of the wire act was erroneously reinterpreted by the Obama Administration to only apply to sports betting. This opened the flood gates to all other forms of online gambling. John Kent, Law and Economics Professor at the University of Illinois and the Senior Editor of the United States International Gaming Report opined why this reversal will help protect kids in an article published by The Hill: 

Until 2011, this DOJ ban had been in place for 50 years via the DOJ’s use of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s Wire Act, 18 U.S.C. sec. 1084, which was initially passed to fight organized crime.

In concert with the recommendations of the 1999 U.S. National Gambling Impact Study Commission established by Congress, the DOJ’s use of the Wire Act protected the public — and particularly kids — from 24/7 online gambling, including gambling on video games.

However, on Dec. 23, 2011 via a 13-page memo, the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) reversed its long-held interpretation of the Wire Act to allow online non-sports gambling.

This 2011 OLC opinion was immediately vilified by the national press as reflecting corrupt influences and conflicts of interest, as detailed by the editorial board of the Christian Science Monitor on Dec. 27, 2011.

During a congressional hearing on Sep. 27, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) again raised these bipartisan concerns, including OLC conflicts of interest. On Dec. 11, incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) signaled to Gambling Compliance that he thought that the 2011 OLC opinion was incorrect.

Showing a picture of a child on his wireless ipad, Newsweek’s front cover on Aug. 14, 2014 stated:
“How Washington Opened The Floodgates To Online Poker, Dealing Parents a Bad Hand.”

Subsequently, the severe social and economic consequences of online gambling were highlighted in congressional hearings on March 25, 2015, and most recently on Sep. 27 before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, chaired by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

The full article can be viewed HERE. 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/28 – 02/03

Two Nuns Alleged to Have Embezzled $500,000

Two longtime nuns at St. James Catholic School in Torrance allegedly embezzled as much as $500,000 in tuition, fees and donations, perhaps spending some of the money on trips and gambling at casinos while telling parents the school was operating on a shoestring budget, it was reported Thursday. The figure represents only what auditors have been able to trace in six years’ of bank records and might not include other cash transactions, officials from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told parents and alumni at a meeting Monday night at St. James Catholic Church in Redondo Beach, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported. That’s when Kreuper became “very nervous and very anxious” about the upcoming financial review and requested that the staff alter records, the monsignor said. Meyers said he alerted an archdiocese internal auditor performing the review that “something was off” and that the auditor confirmed his suspicions. The archdiocese then hired an independent forensic auditor for a deeper review. Without the red flags raised by the check, Kreuper’s “strange” behavior and a tip made to an archdiocese ethics hotline, officials said the school would never have known about the problem.

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 Gree, 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. According to Surrey Police, Sevic was given a higher sentence due to the heart wrenching victim personal statements read to the court, revealing in detail the devastating impact his crimes had on the victims’ families. Investigating officer, PC Garvanovic of the Staines Local Proactive Unit, said: “Sevic’s damning bank statements reveal the true extent of his fraudulent activity. Over the past five years, he has exploited former work colleagues and friends, encouraging them to invest in his Ponzi scheme which was fronted by a fake business.”

Suspect shot sports agent over gambling dispute

Authorities on Thursday arrested a suspect accused of shooting a 57-year-old sports agent in what is believed to be a gambling dispute last week on the West Side. Raashon Fontelroy, 25, was charged with murder in connection to the death of LaPoe Smith Jr., who was known for representing professional basketball and football players. Fontelroy was arrested by members of the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force at about 11 a.m. at his apartment in the 1500 block of NW Crossroads, the location of the alleged killing on Nov. 30. Fontelroy, Smith and others are believed to have been partying and throwing dice at Fontelroy’s apartment prior to the shooting. Ofc. Doug Greene, a spokesman for the department, said money was going back and forth between the players, but at some point, Smith decided to walk away. He went to his car in the parking lot, where he was allegedly confronted by an angry Fontelroy. “Mr. Fontelroy may have been upset about the money that he may have lost during that interaction in the apartment complex,” Greene said. Smith tried to flee in his vehicle, but Fontelroy allegedly opened fire, striking him. Smith was able to drive about a block away before he crashed near Potranco and Culebra and was ejected from his vehicle.

Former Greensburg Attorney Pleads Guilty To Embezzling From Clients To Pay Gambling Losses

A Campbellsville man pleaded guilty before the United States District Court on Friday to five counts of wire fraud. Officials say this was part of a scheme to obtain money from clients of his legal practice, by means of misappropriating funds, in order to pay personal expenses including gambling losses. Danny Butler, 72, was indicted Nov. 15. According to the indictment, Butler was a licensed attorney. He operated a legal practice in Greensburg and provided clients with a broad range of legal services including probate, general civil, and government benefits. According to the plea agreement before the court, from August 2009 through October 2016, Butler obtained money by false pretenses from the clients of his legal practice by not performing work for his clients and by stealing funds belonging to estates of his clients. Butler could be sentenced to a maximum 100 years in prison, fined $1,250,000, and be required to serve a three year period of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for March 4, 2019.

62-year-old man shot, killed at south Orlando home amidst gambling dispute

A 62-year-old man was shot and killed at a home in south Orlando on Sunday evening, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies found the man, whom they have not identified, with a gunshot wound to the chest around 6 p.m. at 1456 35th St. The suspect, a 37-year-old man, was located at the scene and “secured,” deputies said. Firefighters transported the victim to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he died. Investigators said the fatal shooting started as a fight during a night of gambling at the home. Video of the scene shows chips scattered across a table. Neighbors said gambling nights happen at the home often, but that they’ve never turned violent before. The investigation is still active.

Nevada Lawyer Stole $1.8M From Client Settlements

A suspended Nevada personal injury attorney is jailed in Las Vegas following his arrest in what police say is the theft of about $1.8 million from client financial settlements. Records show that Matthew Dunkley was arrested Sunday pending an initial court appearance on 39 felony theft charges. His bail was set at $117,000. Attorney William Terry represents the 53-year-old Dunkley in his Nevada State Bar suspension. Terry said Tuesday that Dunkley had a gambling addiction. Terry says he wasn’t immediately retained for Dunkley’s criminal defense. Las Vegas police allege that Dunkley siphoned money from client insurance settlements since 2012, including medical treatment payments for a 5-year-old child who had been attacked by a dog. Attorney Jared Richards says his firm, Clear Counsel Law Group, represents some of Dunkley’s former clients.

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