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 /Casino.org/. 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

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