Monthly Archives: May 2019

UPDATE: Seminole Tribe Ends Payments to Florida After Failed Compact Negotiations: Special Legislative Session Talks Begin

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent news that the Florida legislative session would end with no gambling deal in place. The failure to renegotiate a deal has been an ongoing issue. At the core of the problem is that the Seminoles have exclusive rights to table games and certain gambling. Florida has not been enforcing this exclusivity and the courts sided with the Seminoles. However, the Seminoles have been acting in good faith, providing the state with the estimated $300 – $350 million annual payments the original agreement set up for such exclusivity. But now that the legislature has once again failed to stop others from offering designated card games, which is expanding gambling in the state, the Seminole tribe has decided to now stop providing the good faith payments. The Sun Sentinel reports:  

The tribe had warned it would halt the payments, which totaled nearly $330 million last year, because of controversial designated-player card games offered by many of the state’s pari-mutuel cardrooms. The Seminoles — and a federal judge — say the games violate part of a 20-year gambling deal by the tribe and the state in 2010. That deal, in part, gave the tribe exclusive rights to “banked” card games. 

The Seminole Tribe of Florida made good on threats Tuesday by telling Gov. Ron DeSantis it is quitting a long-standing revenue-sharing agreement with the state after negotiations on a new gambling deal went nowhere this spring. 

In a July 2017 settlement between the Seminoles and former Gov. Rick Scott, the state agreed to drop its appeal of Hinkle’s decision and to take “aggressive enforcement action” against pari-mutuels operating banked card games that violate state law. In exchange, the Seminoles agreed to continue making payments to the state until the end of this month. “Unfortunately, there has not been aggressive enforcement against those games, which have expanded since Judge Hinkle’s decision,” Osceola wrote.

Florida lawmakers considered this possible outcome, and made adjustments to the budget, but some believe the financial contribution, and the gambling restriction that comes from Seminole exclusivity, too import to not make an attempt to resolve the issue.   An online source explains:

State Representative Evan Jenne called for negotiations with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to reinstate the annual payments of an estimated $350 million suspended by the tribe after a failure to reach an agreement about the future of gambling in the state. “That’s just too much money to be left out there unaccounted for in our budget,” said the legislator.

Jenne, a Democrat who represents 99th District which include most of Hollywood and Southern Broward, said the suspension of payments from the tribe could have been avoided. “It was something that was a long time coming, it’s been talked about for quite some time it’s been nearly a decade since the compact would, should have been signed,” he said.

“They had a promised of exclusivity when it came to games like that and the state has not done their part in holding up that part of the bargain,” said Jenne.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 5/20 – 5/26

Number Of Underage Minors With Gambling Problems In UK Increases 400 Percent In Two Years

In a recent audit report published by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) the number of children with a gambling addiction has increased four times in the past two years. As per the report, the number of children between 11 to 16 years of age having compulsive gambling issues is approximately 55, 000. The figures are alarming and have raised concerns amongst lawmakers. Earlier this year the gambling commission had restricted gambling advertisements on mediums where children are more likely to come across gambling adverts. The report reveals that over 70,000 young children are at risk. It also estimates that 450,000 children indulge in gambling activities and place wagers more often. This is to say that one in every seven children between 11 to 16 years participates in gambling activities.

The audit report finds that the children bet an average of £16 per week on through various mediums including bingo, betting shops, online casinos others. All these platforms are illegal for those under 18. Expressing his concerns over rising gambling problems amongst children The Bishop of St Albans, the Right Reverend Alan Smith, said: “We need to start taking the dangers of gambling seriously – 55,000 children classed as problem gamblers is a generational scandal.” The primary source of children seeing gambling advertisements is Television as revealed in the report. The TV sources account for over 70 percent of the gambling adverts seen by children. Also, around one million teenagers and children were exposed to gambling through “loot boxes” in video games or smartphone apps.

Council Bluffs gambler facing federal charges for allegedly false tax filings in Nebraska

A grand jury in Nebraska indicted a Council Bluffs, Iowa, gambler Monday on suspicion of filing false tax returns for allegedly underreporting his earnings from being a bookie for an online, off-shore gambling operation. Tony Merksick reported $163,249 in gross receipts on his 2012 taxes rather than the $501,072 he should have reported; and $150,957 rather than $233,520 on his 2013 taxes, according to court records. In them, Derick Tarr, a special agent with the IRS’ criminal investigation unit, said Merksick told investigators he created TJM Enterprises Inc. 10 years ago for reporting his professional gambling earnings and expenses for income tax purposes and to be able to get personal loans and buy assets. But, Tarr said, the investigation revealed Merksick actually was operating as a bookmaker for an online gambling operation that used servers in Costa Rica. As a bookie, Merksick took bets, paid out winnings and collected gambling losses from clients and profited by setting the odds for all the wagers he collected, the special agent said. Tarr alleged that Merksick used other bank accounts he had access to in order to deposit unreported gross receipts. He said Merksick also failed to report the majority of cash gross receipts he received from his operation and was believed to have kept large sums of cash on hand. Tarr said the investigation identified “runners,” people who collected gambling debts and paid wins for Merksick, who said they collected several thousand dollars weekly.

Reverent Who Gambled Away CA$480K Refugee Cash Prepares for Sentencing Hearing

When it comes to problem gambling and its negative impact on players, there is really no one protected from the devastating outcome of compulsive gambling. This could be confirmed by a once-London priest who managed to burn through*more than CA$438,000 in cash locals raised for bringing refugees back home*. Reverent Amer Saka recently pleaded guilty once more in London. Problem gambling is a concerning issue which has the capacity to alter one’s life and take a toll on cherished relationships. It could easily get out of hand in no time, eventually affecting not only the personal life of an individual but also their career path. *Gambling with people’s future and their chances of returning to their beloved ones* and homes could be considered a crime itself, but what truly stunned London and Kitchener. Reverent Saka allegedly took advantage of his authority and the money he kept for refugees making their way back home to their friends and families. *He pleaded guilty to fraud over CA$5,000,* clarifying that it was his gambling addiction that eventually led to the unfortunate turn of events and the crime he committed.

St. Croix Chippewa Indians May Face Federal Inquiry after Allegations Involving $1.5M of Casino Funds

St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin risk paying up to $27 million in fines after audits claim more than $1.5 million of tribal casino money was improperly spent, misaccounted for, or apparently used for personal expenses. The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) dated on April 11 which says the tribe committed 527 infringements of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and other laws. Each of the instances — which basically took place between 2014 and 2017 — could result in a fine of up to $52,596. Also, further investigation could take place by federal law enforcement or tax authorities, Rory Dilweg, an attorney at Colorado-based Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti, told / The NIGC — a national tribal gaming regulator — warned the allegations are “serious” and noted their “pervasiveness.” Sometimes, the tribe showed a “complete disregard” for the rules found in the IGRA. On several occasions, tribal leaders used a casino credit card to pay for improper first-class flights to Hawaii or Las Vegas, the NIGC said. Additionally, the tribe made “substantial payments” to consultants and businesses “without a contract, record, or even a later recollection of the goods or services provided in exchange,” the notice said.

Pitchlynn said the allegations illustrate the need for the Wisconsin tribe to set up “an independent regulatory body that does not owe allegiance to elected officials, but to the tribe as a whole. “This is what often happens when there is not a separation between the political body of a tribe and the operation and regulatory activities of the gaming enterprises.” Attorney Dilweg said the allegations — if true — were preventable. There needs to be “strict rules” on how casino revenues “can be spent and who can authorize expenditures,” he said. With “proper documentation” of expenditures, revenues can be “properly audited,” Dilweg added.

Sands Bethlehem’s Underage Gambling Fines Now Eclipse $500,000

Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem took a hit to its bank account last week thanks to $230,000 in fines. The Pennsylvania Gaming and Control Board’s Office of Enforcement Council met and announced two separate fines. The fines were in response to both*underage gaming violations* ($120,000) and *improper use of free slot play* ($110,000). The Meadows in Washington County also received a*$12,500* fine for an underage gaming violation. In that instance, an 18-year-old male accessed the gaming floor, wagered at table games, and was served alcohol. Sands Casino has frequent underage violations. Sands broke underage gambling laws 11 times in this most recent complaint.

Former EDA director lost $700,000-plus gambling 

Jennifer McDonald, the former director of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority, lost $753,207 gambling from 2014 to 2018, according to unsealed court documents relating to the Virginia State Police investigation into possible financial improprieties. Virginia State Police, in conjunction with the Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, subpoenaed documents in September from the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, West Virginia, detailing McDonald’s gambling records. This came seven months after McDonald told a local media outlet that she purchased various land parcels using about $1.9 million she had won at the casino from 2014 to 2018. The situation is similar to the case of Byung “Peter” Bang, who served as Montgomery County, Maryland’s former Department of Economic Development director. According to the Washington Post, Bang pleaded guilty in November 2018 to federal counts including wire fraud and state charges including misconduct while in office. According to the Washington Post, it was Bang’s gambling habit that led to him embezzling $6.7 million of county money. In March, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

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

Florida Gov Encouraged to Pass Lottery Ticket Warnings

Casino Watch Focus has reported on a Florida Bill that would call for warning labels to be placed on the front of physical state lottery tickets sold, as well as prevent online sales in the future. The warning labels would be visible and warn that playing lottery games constitutes gambling and may lead to gambling addiction. Those in support of using gambling as the means to fund education took issue with the bill and drafted a letter. No-Casino’s John Sowindki addressed the problems with the letter and encouraged passage. Florida Politics reports: 

“The lottery industry would rather pretend that there are no adverse consequences to their regressive and addictive enterprise,” said No Casinos President *John Sowinski*. “Clearly there are.” Sowinski goes after specific points raised in a letter from World Lottery Association President *Rebecca Paul Hargrove* to Gov. *Ron DeSantis.*

Hargrove argues requiring warning labels on the front of lottery tickets threatens education revenues in Florida and sets bad precedent nationwide. “The instant scratch-off games have been around for over 45 years, and sales of these games continue to grow every year,” Hargrove wrote, “but more importantly the sales of these games continue to grow funding for good causes every year.”

Sowinski suggests Hargrove gives up the game in her search for further lottery sales.“Rebecca Paul Hargrove’s letter is basically an admission that if Floridians are properly warned about the addictive nature of scratch-off games and other lottery products, that some will choose to not spend money on them,” Sowinski said, “which is the entire purpose of this good legislation.”

Moreover, Sowinski then brings into question the very nature of raising funds off those that are addicts in the first place. Florida Politics continues:

The legislation requires ticket labels read either “WARNING: LOTTERY GAMES MAY BE ADDICTIVE” or simply “PLAY RESPONSIBLY.”

Sowinski scoffed at the reluctance to warn against dangerous behavior or to demonstrate responsibility.

“The World Lottery Association’s letter never disputes the addictive nature of these games,” he said. “The fact is that gambling enterprises, including lotteries, rely on addicts who spend a high volume of money for a large portion of their profits. That they would object to a simple, truthful warning label is obnoxious.”

The bill has been sent to the Governor’s desk and awaits his action.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 5/13 – 5/19

Manager of CBS employees’ credit union stole $40M over 20 years, authorities say

A credit union set up to serve employees of CBS was shuttered last week after its manager was accused of embezzling $40 million over 20 years, according to reports. If convicted on both counts, he faces up to 32 years in prison and a $1 million fine, Deadline Hollywood reported. Prosecutors say Rostohar, as manager, made online payments to himself from his employer or forged a fellow employee’s signature on checks made out to him. He gambled away much of the money and also financed a lavish lifestyle that included flights on private jets and purchases of expensive watches and sports cars, Variety reported. The alleged scheme began sometime before 2000, but suspicions were finally raised March 6 of this year, when another credit union employee discovered a $35,000 check made out to Rostohar with no record of the reason justifying the large sum, prosecutors said. That employee then conducted an audit and learned that checks totaling $3.7 million had been made out to Rostohar since January 2018, according to prosecutors. Rostohar was suspended from his job soon after, then arrested after his wife called 911, saying her husband had stolen money from his employer and was planning to leave the U.S., prosecutors said. Authorities said Rostohar later told them he had been stealing for 20 years, taking more than $40 million over that time. The information was later confirmed by the National Credit Union Administration, authorities said

Donora man pleads guilty to scamming $159,000 from retiree

A Donora man has pleaded guilty to using a mafia-style threat to bilk $159,000 from a retired schoolteacher in Lancaster County. Taylor was arrested in May 2017 by the state attorney general’s office on accusations he stole the money from Karen Fedrow of Lancaster while threatening that she would face retaliation from the mafia if she didn’t give him money, which amounted to the then-69-year-old woman’s life’s savings. He stole the money between February and August 2013, and then gambled it away at The Meadows Casino in North Strabane Township and other area casinos, prosecutors said. Taylor, who was a standout basketball player at Ringgold High School, told the woman she had to pay the boss before he would earn her returns through investments. The victim met Taylor in 2012 when she rented him a house she inherited in Westmoreland County. She told investigators she was charmed by him.

Former Gallatin County district court clerk admits to fraud 

A former elected Gallatin County Clerk of District Court pleaded guilty Tuesday to accusations of wire fraud and falsifying income tax return documents relating to her money managing consulting firm. Montana’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit received a complaint in 2015 that alleged Van Ausdol was misusing client funds. The unit began investigating, and in February referred the complaint to the Montana Department of Justice. The FBI later joined the investigation. The investigation showed Van Ausdol embezzled approximately $444,000 from her clients from 2010 to 2016. The investigation also showed Van Ausdol owed an additional $52,894 to the IRS in taxes because she did not report additional money received through her embezzlement. Van Ausdol admitted to embezzling money from her clients to law enforcement in 2015 and continued to work as a consultant. She told law enforcement that she used the money to cover gambling expenses.

New Jersey Seizes More Than $107K in Winnings From Banned Gamblers

New Jersey regulators have seized more than $107,000 won by underage or otherwise prohibited gamblers at Atlantic City’s Borgata casino. As part of the action made public recently by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, regulators also issued a fine of $81,000 for the Borgata’s online gambling partner, The company agreed to the fine and did not contest it. The cases involved gamblers who were under the legal age of 21 or those who voluntarily agreed to be barred from casino and online gambling for a period of time but were allowed to gamble sooner than they had been set out. Those so-called self-exclusion lists are meant to help people who feel they have a gambling problem. The Borgata says it takes gambling compliance seriously and notes that it discovered and reported the illegal gamblers to the state on its own.

Gambling addict mother stole £100,000 raised by Leeds United stars for her six-year-old cancer treatment

A mother who stole £140,000 raised for her six-year-old son’s cancer treatment has today been spared jail. Toby was diagnosed with rare cancer neuroblastoma on his fourth birthday in January 2017 and his family launched an appeal to raise £200,000 to pay for therapy which was not available on the NHS. Leeds United players and the club’s fans helped raise the cash for the six-year-old’s treatment but Worsley lost around £140,000 on online gambling sites, Leeds Crown Court heard. Toby passed away from a brain tumour in January this year, after a ‘long and courageous fight’. The court heard how Toby’s £200,000 treatment was eventually funded after Leeds United football club became involved in the fundraising. But the youngster died earlier this year, aged six. She admitted fraud at an earlier hearing. He said the cash had been recovered from the online gambling companies and West Yorkshire Police currently hold around £135,000 which would be given back to major donors and other charities. Nicholas De La Poer, defending, said: ‘The gambling started with the best of intentions and it became a compulsive distraction from the horrors of the situation.’ The barrister said the online betting ‘spiralled hopelessly out of control’ and ‘she was in the grip of it’.

White Plains developer Michael D’Alessio sentenced in $58M Westchester, NYC, Hamptons real estate fraud 

D’Alessio, 53, once a successful developer who had an office on Water Street in White Plains, was arrested in August on a federal wire-fraud charge in connection with an alleged years-long scheme to defraud investors in luxury real estate development projects in Westchester County, Manhattan and the Hamptons. D’Alessio promised investors that he would develop and build luxury homes and condominiums that would yield big returns, but when the real estate market took a downturn, he resorted to fraud, said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “In the end, all he built was a Ponzi scheme that he used to rip off his investors of their hard-earned life savings to the tune of $58 million,” Berman said in a statement. Michael D’Alessio, a White Plains developer who pleaded guilty to a federal charge of defrauding investors out of about $58 million, was sentenced Friday to six years in prison D’Alessio’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, petitioned the court, saying that D’Alessio is a “fundamentally decent man who unfortunately committed serious crimes” as he suffered from the “vicious grip of a compulsive gambling disorder” that Brafman said was further intensified by D’Alessio’s use of **a prescription medication.

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

New Federal Legislation to Regulate Predatory Gambling-esque Loot Boxes in Video Games Announced by Mo Sen. Hawley

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing developments and many efforts by regulatory officials to bring awareness to a new form of gambling aimed at kids and video game players. Loot Boxes are a new gambling type mechanic that has the player pay money to open a mystery box in hopes of winning loot to help them in the video games they are playing. In some cases those items carry real value that can be sold, effectively making them video game slot machines aimed at kids. In other cases, loot boxes are implemented to play on the exact same psychology exhibited when people outright gamble, and regulators and studies agree. A lot of international efforts have been taken, but domestically, the reactions have been mostly to encourage the industry to fairly self regulate and to call for investigations into this gambling-esque video game mechanic that is largely targeting children. However, new federal legislation has now been announced by Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. NBC News Online reports: 

Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is introducing legislation that seeks to ban exploitative video game industry practices that target children like loot boxes and pay-to-win, he announced on Wednesday.

“Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids’ attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits. No matter this business model’s advantages to the tech industry, one thing is clear: there is no excuse for exploiting children through such practices,” Sen. Hawley said.

“When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction. And when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from compulsive microtransactions. Game developers who knowingly exploit children should face legal consequences.”

There are many strategies for regulating microtransactions and loot boxes. Some places have banned them outright, others have looked at making sure the items cant be sold for cash, thus not being gambling, but a transaction and others have focused on the intent of the loot box or simply the age of those making these purchases. Sen Hawley’s approach is a bit of an amalgam with the emphasis on the age of the player and the legislation utilizes a unique lens, The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. An online source explains: 

Called “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act,” the bill would specifically seek to protect minors by focusing on games either targeted at, or played by, consumers under the age of 18. Determining what games are targeted at minors would apparently be based upon a number of factors, including the game’s subject matter, visual content, and other indicators similar to those used to determine the applicability of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

For games that meet the bill’s criteria, the legislation would prohibit “several forms of manipulative design.” In particular, the announcement identifies that the legislation would prohibit loot boxes, defined as “microtransactions offering randomized or partially randomized rewards to players.” Further, it would outlaw “pay-to-win” game designs, including both (1) attempting to induce players to spend money to quickly advance through game content that is otherwise available for no additional cost; and (2) manipulating the balance in competitive multiplayer games to give players who purchase additional microtransactions a competitive advantage over other players who do not pay the additional fees.

The proposed legislation would be enforced by the FTC through its authority to curb unfair and deceptive trade practices. In addition, the proposed legislation would empower state attorneys general to file lawsuits against game makers to enforce the act. 

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


A Brief Look at Crime 5/6 – 5/12

Police: Dead robber hit same casino in November 

Police say a 49-year-old twice-convicted bank robber who died exchanging gunfire with police while trying to flee a casino robbery was responsible for a similar heist in November at the same Las Vegas Strip resort. Clark County Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank showed side-by-side photos Monday of Michael Charles Cohen wearing a bandage on his face, glasses and a black knit cap in robberies Friday and last November at the Bellagio resort. Cohen was fatally shot by police after trying to carjack a motorist and then shooting a police officer in his bulletproof vest in a hotel valet parking area. The officer escaped serious injury. His name was not made public. Hank says Cohen was previously convicted of bank robberies in Nevada in 1999 and 2008. In November, police say a car owner-turned-carjacking victim managed to free himself from the trunk of a getaway car while Cohen was inside the Bellagio robbing a poker room cashier.

Former Winnebago tribal official is seventh to plead guilty of stealing from casino

A former Winnebago Tribal Council member pleaded guilty Thursday to theft from the tribe’s casino. Travis Mallory, 41, entered his plea in U.S. District Court in Omaha to one count of theft of funds belonging to an Indian gaming establishment. Sentencing was scheduled for July 8. Mallory is the seventh former tribal official who has pleaded guilty to using WinnaVegas Casino Resort funds for pay for personal raises and/or bonuses. Charles Aldrich, Louis Houghton, Lawrence Payer, Thomas Snowball, former tribal chairman John Blackhawk and former tribal vice chairman Darwin Snyder all have been placed on five years probation and were ordered to pay restitution ranging from $36,000 to $36,500. Each pleaded guilty to theft from a gaming establishment. Nine former council members were indicted in July 2016 on charges of conspiracy, theft from a gaming establishment on Indian lands and wire fraud. An FBI investigation determined that while on the tribal council, members had given themselves raises and bonuses totaling $327,500 directly from the tribe’s WinnaVegas Casino Resort without approving them at council meetings. The distributions were recorded on the casino’s books as miscellaneous administrative expenses.

Lawyer Sentenced to 8 Years, Ordered to Repay $1.3 M 

A Kentucky lawyer who admitted to pocketing more than $1.3 million from clients to pay personal expenses that included gambling losses has been sentenced to eight years in prison. A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Friday says Danny Butler of Campbellsville also was ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution. Butler pleaded guilty last year in federal court in Bowling Green to five counts of wire fraud for obtaining money from clients for legal work he didn’t do and to stealing money from estates Federal prosecutors said he lived an extravagant lifestyle and ran up gambling losses of $1.5 million. The scheme unraveled when two brothers waiting for proceeds of an estate contacted authorities about Butler’s continued excuses for not turning over the money.

Arizona Department of Gaming Seizes More Than $1M in Illegal Proceeds

There is a new form of gambling in town, and Arizona has been trying to stamp it out. Earlier this month, Arizona authorities seized more than $1 million in illegal gambling money from two Phoenix billiard halls. They also arrested nearly a dozen people. The billiard halls, which are in a largely Asian enclave, had illegal Dragon games in their back rooms. Dragon games are illegal gaming devices, and they represent a new wave of gambling in the state. Dragon Games are arcade games Asians love to place bets on. Another name for the games is “fish games.” Billiard halls in Arizona usually have a separate room for “fish games.” These are frequently back rooms with fish motifs. Patrons play all Dragon games the same way. They are a cross between slot machines and arcade games. In each game, the player puts money into the machine. He or she kills as many fish as possible. The amount of money a player wins depends on how many fish he or she has killed. Many fish games operate much like a multiplayer shooting tournament.

North Florida Bingo Operators Forfeit Nearly $6M in Illegal Profits

It is no secret that gambling can sometimes bring out the worst in people. When the stakes are high, people can sometimes get so enthralled with the huge jackpot that they will do anything to get the money in their possession and keep it. Illegal gambling rings are also more common than some may think. Law enforcement is cracking down on many of these operations, and those in charge of the illicit gaming rings pay for their crimes. Recently, a couple in Pensacola has been ordered to give up almost $6 million. The couple made money while facilitating illegal bingo games. The news comes from a release from the Northern District of Florida U.S. Attorney’s Office. The couple had been running the bingo games for years before being caught. Between 2006 and 2015, the Masinos received over $20 million from the illegal bingo games they were running at Racetrack Bingo, their business in Fort Walton Beach. The pair, as well as their three children, kept $5,813,584 of the profits from the bingo games. Recently, M. Casey Rodgers, a U.S. District Judge, signed off on a forfeiture order. The order will require the Masinos to return the money. The couple will also have to give up the three houses they bought using the money from their illegal business dealings.

Kosovo aims to ban gambling after two casino workers killed in robberies 

Kosovo’s government said it will ban gambling for 10 years following the deaths of two casino workers this month during armed robberies in separate towns. After the deaths, customs officials raided dozens of gambling shops and found many of them were operating illegally. More than one hundred slot machines were confiscated. Only a state controlled lottery will be able to operate, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said during a government session on Tuesday at which the cabinet voted to back the 10 year ban. “It is total chaos, a total abuse and it is good that we are stopping this,” Haradinaj told a press conference. The ban proposal will now be sent to parliament for approval.

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

Florida Gambling Deal Fails to Pass this Legislative Session

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling negotiations between the Seminole tribe and Florida legislators. Many factors were at play, including a sports betting discussion that looked to circumvent a recent Florida Amendment requiring any new gambling legislation to be passed by a majority of the people. That plan, as well as other gambling issues that were being discussed, has ran out of time this legislative session. In the wake of the news, the only outstanding question is whether or not a special legislative session will be called to deal with any gambling related issues. As of now, it appears the intent is to wait until next year. The Tampa Bay Times reports:

With just days left in the annual legislative session, House Speaker José Oliva on Monday put to rest the possibility of passing a gambling deal. Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, also said he would prefer not to hold a special legislative session to try to pass a gambling bill, likely pushing the issue back to next year. “I think we simply ran out of time this year,” Oliva said.

The 2019 session is scheduled to end Friday. Powerful Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and representatives of the Seminole Tribe of Florida have negotiated for weeks on a deal that included the possibility of sports betting at the Seminoles’ casinos as well as at Florida racetracks and jai alai frontons, with the tribe acting as a “hub.” Allowing in-play sports betting, known as “proposition” or “prop” bets, at professional sports arenas also was part of the talks.

Gov. Ron DeSantis received an outline of a deal and met with numerous gambling-industry officials Friday. But revamping gambling laws is highly complicated as it involves numerous interests, including the Seminole Tribe and pari-mutuel operators. 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 4/21 – 5/5

Charter school employee accused of charging $75K on school credit card at casino

A former business director at the Bradenton charter schoolTeam Success is pleading not guilty to charges that she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the school and its management firm, according to a notice filed with the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court. Melissa Tapia is accused of stealing $362,332 from the school and its management firm by writing fraudulent checks and using the school’s credit card for personal purchases, including $75,038 in charges at Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa. According to a probable cause affidavit with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Tapia allegedly wrote fraudulent checks and made it look as if her assistant had signed off on them by creating a stamp with her assistant’s name on it.

2 casinos fined for illegal college sports betting 

Two Atlantic City casinos have been fined for taking illegal bets on college football. reports the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement fined the Golden Nugget Atlantic City and Caesars Entertainment Corp. Caesars received a $2,000 fine for bets placed on a Sept. 10 football game between Rutgers and Kansas. The Golden Nugget was fined $390 stemming from “various New Jersey college football games” the same month. State officials didn’t specify which Caesars property was involved. Caesars owns two Atlantic City casinos with sports betting. State law prohibits casinos from taking wagers on New Jersey colleges and any college sporting event that takes place in the state. Bettors who are involved are refunded if they can be identified. Both Caesars and the Golden Nugget declined comment Wednesday.

Phoenix Walmart manager accused of stealing over $100,000 in cash over ten months

A store manager has been arrested after reportedly stealing over $100,000 in cash from a North Phoenix Walmart. Phoenix police report that on February 28 they arrested Troy Fusilier, age 37, at the Walmart where he worked near Tatum Boulevard and Bell Road. Walmart discovered “large amounts of cash shortages over a period of months,” and began an audit. The audit reportedly showed that $106,251 was missing over ten months. Surveillance video reportedly shows Fusilier removing small stacks of $20 bills, estimated to be about $1,000 to $1,600, on multiple occasions. Upon his arrest, Fusilier allegedly told police that he estimated that he stole about $50,000. He reportedly said he did this because his income was “insufficient to support his family.” Police say Fusilier also admitted to a severe gambling problem, using a ‘significant amount of money’ to purchase lottery tickets. He has been charged with theft and fraud.

Battle Creek Woman Sentenced For Avoiding Taxes On Stolen Money

A Battle Creek woman will spend some time in prison for faking her taxes as she stole millions from her employer. MLive says that 52-year-old Tammy Burdette was the office manager at VHC, PC from 2009 to 2012, and investigators say that she wrote herself checks and then spent the money on gambling; all told, she stole $3 million. The charges in this case actually stemmed from the fact that she failed to report this stolen money as income on her tax returns; the IRS says that she “deprived the American taxpayer” of almost $570,000 in taxes.

As odd as it might sound, according to the IRS are required to report income gained through illegal activities: Income from illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Schedule 1 (Form 1040),line 21, or on Schedule C (Form 1040) or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040)if from your self-employment activity. You also need to report property that you steal: If you steal property, you must report its fair market value in your income in the year you steal it unless you return it to its rightful owner in the same year. Burdette was sentenced to 36 months in prison in US District Court in Grand Rapids; she was also ordered to pay restitution for those taxes she failed to pay. It’s unclear if she will also be charged with embezzlement for the $3 million authorities say she stole.

Inverness bookkeeper embezzled more than £200,000 from estates 

A senior bookkeeper’s gambling and drinking led him to embezzle over £221,000 from six Scottish sporting estates over a five-year period. Matthew Varley was working for CKD Galbraith’s Inverness office where he was responsible for keeping the books for the unnamed landowners. But Inverness Sheriff Court was told that between September 2010 and June 2015, he was transferring funds into his own account and falsifying the books to cover up his crimes. Yesterday, 44-year-old Varley, of Cranmore Drive, Smithton admitted a charge of embezzlement and sentence was deferred until April 9 for a background report. The court heard that when Varley was challenged by Galbraith, he stated that he was responsible for carrying out the transfers, attributing it to his gambling and drinking problems, as well as depression.

Man convicted in ASU money laundering scam, sentenced to three years in prison 

Two years after a Los Angeles man used an email scam to launder more than $1.9 million stolen from Appalachian State University, he pleaded guilty to money laundering in U.S. District Court in the Western District of N.C. Court documents indicate that in 2016, App State awarded a contract to Rodgers Builders to build a new health sciences building at the university. On or about Dec. 2, 2016, an employee at the university received an email from a person purporting to be an employee of Rodgers Builders, and requested the university employee to change the payment information to a different account. Lee was arrested in California in spring 2018 — he was 31 years old at the time. He was indicted on 14 counts with 13 of these dismissed in U.S. District Court after he entered his guilty plea in August 2018, according to court documents. Lee was sentenced on Feb. 19 to three years and one month in prison, required to pay $1,959,925.02 in restitution to App State and placed on supervised release for one year upon release from imprisonment. Court documents state that some of the conditions of Lee’s supervision include participating in a gambling addiction treatment program as well as being surrendered to immigration officials for deportation.

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