Monthly Archives: December 2019

Puerto Rico to Approve Cockfighting in direct defiance of President Trump’s new Federal Bill

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ever cruel gambling sport known as cockfighting. This illegal gambling activity involves strapping razors to the feet of the chickens who battle, typically to the death, while people gamble on the outcome. New legislation passed by President Trump will provide additional enforcement tools to help crack down.  An online source explains: 

The enactment of federal law will now enhance the fight against animal cruelty. Last week President Donald Trump signed the federal pact preventing animals from cruelty. The law will now help the local enforcement to crackdown cockfighting, which is prevalent in Las Vegas Valley.

Despite having a variety of gaming activities in nearby Las Vegas, cockfighting is prevalent in the region. The sport is popular among Latin American migrants. It is culturally accepted in South America, but banned in the US. According to, California and part of Texas are a hotbed of the sport; the sport is operated by rings who host betting activities among the spectators. Razors are fixed on the birds’ feathers, and they usually fight to the death.

The new federal law will enable local law enforcement to have more power in persecuting those involved in the activity. It is a felony for anyone found abusing non-human living things such as birds, mammals, reptiles, or amphibians.

Despite these efforts, Puerto Rico has not acquiesced to the federal direction on such matters.  In fact, Puerto Rico is now passing new legislation to attempt to protect their cockfighting industry, and they are aware of the federal legal battle that will ensue.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports:

Puerto Rico will defy the U.S. government and approve a law to keep cockfighting alive in a bid to protect a 400-year-old tradition practiced across the island despite a federal ban that goes into effect this week, officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

The move brought cautious rejoicing in the cockfighting business despite concerns that the U.S. territory is trying to override a federal law that President Donald Trump signed a year ago. “We are certainly challenging a federal law. We know what that implies,” Rep. Gabriel Rodríguez Aguiló, who co-authored the bill, told the AP. He said that Gov. Wanda Vázquez was scheduled to sign the bill Wednesday morning and that he expected the fight to end up in federal court.

Those in opposition not only see cruelty to animals as terrible and preventable, but they also dispute the claims that its an economically viable means of governmental revenue.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch concludes:

Animal rights activists have long pushed to end cockfights in U.S. territories, saying they are cruel and noting they are illegal in all 50 U.S. states. Wayne Pacelle, founder of the Washington- based Animal Wellness Action, said he doesn’t believe the statistics on Puerto Rico cockfighting.

“They are widely exaggerating the economic value,” he said. “Watching animals slash each other just for human entertainment and gambling is not judged as a legitimate enterprise by mainstream people.”

The measure says it is legal for Puerto Rico to host cockfights as long as people don’t export or import cocks or any goods or services related to cockfighting. The latter actions would violate the federal law, based on how Puerto Rico officials interpret it. “It remains to be seen whether that’s how federal authorities understand it,” said Rep. Luis Vega Ramos.

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A Brief Look at Crime 12/16 – 12/22

Bribery charge against ex-state Rep. Luis Arroyo brings fresh scrutiny to sweepstakes machines, raises questions about potential for abuse as gambling expands

State lawmakers have worked over the past decade to bring various forms of gambling out of the shadows and onto the tax rolls, from legalizing video poker at bars and restaurants in 2009 to authorizing sports betting this spring. But the latest turn in a sprawling federal probe into public corruption from Chicago to Springfield has shined a light on a type of gambling that has flourished in a gray area of the law. Chicago Democrat Luis Arroyo, who resigned from the Illinois House on Friday after being charged with bribery Monday, is alleged to have offered kickbacks to an unnamed senator in exchange for the veteran lawmaker’s support for legislation that would regulate and tax so-called sweepstakes machines. The allegations laid out in the criminal complaint against Arroyo evoke some of the worst fears about the potential for abuse as the state moves forward with a massive expansion lawmakers approved this spring that includes six new casinos, slot machines and table games at horse tracks, and more video gambling terminals.

Sports Bettor Who Sent Players Social Media Death Threats Sentenced to Prison

A former sports bettor who was attending college in Massachusetts will spend the next 18 months in prison for threatening at least 45 professional and collegiate athletes between July and December 2017. Addison Choi, now 23-years-old, pleaded guilty in May to sending death threats to the athletes via Instagram posts. At the time, Choi was a student and a member of the Babson College soccer team in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Prosecutors called Choi a “prolific” sports bettor who needed to borrow money from family and friends to pay off his gambling debts. The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts redacted the specific names of the players he threatened, but didn’t hold back on sharing what Choi said in the messages. On July 27, 2017, Choi posted on one professional athlete’s Instagram, “I will kill you and your family and f****** hang them on a tree you stupid ugly mother*****.” He added, “I hope you f****** die you stupid monkey n*****.” Another post to a separate athlete read, “I’ll find your f****** family and skin them alive you stupid f***, I hope you never play again.” Prosecutors didn’t say what illicit avenue Choi used to place his sports bets. The gambling activity remains illegal in Massachusetts.

Hallglen drugs mule jailed after found on M6 with £180,000 haul 

Because Nairns appeared “anxious and nervous”, his Ford Focus was searched and this revealed a cardboard box in the boot which was “stuffed full” of illegal drugs. These comprised two packages containing 560g of high purity, uncut class A cocaine potentially worth up to £56,000 on the street; around 12kg of class B amphetamine in six large packages potentially worth £120,000; and almost 200g of cannabis in two bags which could have been worth around £1,260. A personal use amount of cannabis was recovered from a Kinder egg container. “The defendant was obviously arrested and interviewed,” prosecutor Charles Brown told Carlisle Crown Court. “He gave a prepared statement in his interview and elaborated slightly on it. He went from Falkirk to Liverpool to collect the packages. “He had been approached by someone who promised that his gambling debt would be written off, if he performed the courier role and brought the drugs back. He stated he knew what he was doing and did it on his own for that motive.”

NHL Player Sued by Las Vegas Casino for $500,000

Evander Kane, the San Jose Sharks forward, is facing a $500,000 lawsuit from the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The casino claims the NHL player did not pay the debts he owed it after using gambling markers at the facility. The lawsuit was filed in the Clark County District Court on Monday. It alleges that eight gambling markers were used by Kane in and around April 15, 2019. The size of these markers ranges from $20,000 to $100,000. Markers are used in casinos by high-stakes players instead of them carrying around large sums of cash. The casino facility provides markers on credit, and these are to be paid back through methods like wire transfer. Kane’s casino visit occurred at the same time that the San Jose Sharks were in Las Vegas to play the Vegas Golden Knights, as part of the first round of the Stanley Cup play-off series. The Knights were victorious in controversial fashion after seven games in the series. Kane was also arrested in 2016 for allegedly grabbing three women by their necks and hair during different altercations in Buffalo. The charges were subsequently dropped on condition that Kane would not get into trouble again. The prosecutor on the case deemed his alleged behavior “arrogant, boorish and surly, but not criminal.”

1 killed, 3 injured in shootout at illegal gambling business in Sumter

A shootout at a home with illegal gambling and alcohol sales in Sumter left one person dead and several others injured. Officers said two men they consider suspects — Florentino Wilson and another man who has not been identified — spent time at the house on Thursday earlier in the night. When they went back to the home around 11:30, police said they were armed, and that prompted a shootout between them and several other patrons of the illegal business. Wilson was killed. Emergency crews rushed him to the hospital but he could not be saved. Police said he was 57-years-old and from Sumter.

Former disability advocate volunteer indicted on charges of exploitation of disabled individual

A Whitehouse woman has been indicted in connection with exploiting amentally disabled couple to fund gambling activities. This same womanwas formerly involved with a volunteer group whose stated purpose was to empower adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Kristi Deshay Perryman, 43, was indicted Oct. 3 by a Smith County grand jury on two charges of exploitation of a child, elderly or disabledindividual, which is a third degree felony. She was arrested and released on July 9, according to jail records. Annessa Lewis, Texas Advocates executive director, said the Tyler Rose Advocates’ membership voted Perryman out as an adviser soon after her arrest. Texas Advocates is the state organization that provides support to local chapters such as the Tyler one when needed, but the area advocates run the group. An arrest warrant affidavit alleges that Perryman intentionally or knowingly caused the exploitation of the disabled individuals by withdrawing funds from the victims’ bank account for gambling and leaving insufficient funds for their expenses.

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

Missouri Legislators to introduce Sports Betting Bills, this time with a cut for Professional Leagues

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing growth of sports betting after the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow states to legalize sports gambling.  Many states have done just that, with Florida being the most recently reported state to consider its legalization. Nothing has passed in Florida and Missouri attempted last year to introduce legislation, but it lacked any fees to pro sports organizations.  Now it would appear that with the pre filing of two new sports legalization bills, Missouri is going to reattempt legalization, but this time with the addition of integrity fees.  An online source reports:

Lawmakers in Missouri have pre-filed legislation to legalize and regulate sports betting, following the issue of a favorable special committee report. The new proposals are similar to bills introduced earlier this year, which failed to pass before the end of the 2019 legislative session.

However, sponsors of new bills have called for the inclusion of integrity fees to be paid to professional sports leagues, and as much as 0.75% of handle.

Here’s what’s included in the bills: SB 567 from Sen. Denny Hoskins calls for the Missouri Lottery Commission to oversee sports betting with 0.25% of handle paid to the leagues. SB 754 from Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer seeks 0.75% of handle to be paid to the leagues. The bill would put the Missouri Gaming Commission in charge of regulation.

The decision to include an integrity fee might not actually help the legislation get passed this year considering the issue has been vehemently opposed in other states.  The online source continues:

The issue of integrity fees is a thorny one and is bitterly opposed by operators, who argue that they would eat into their slim profits from sports wagering. Operators usually only keep around 5% of the total handle and, should this be compromised, the additional costs would then have to be passed onto players in the form of un-competitive lines and less enticing promotions.

Integrity fees have been advocated most notably by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB), as a way of profiting from the proliferation of sports betting in the U.S. However, none of the states to launch legal sports betting so far have approved such a fee, with New Jersey  going so far as calling the idea “insulting”.

Whether or not such gambling efforts violate the Missouri constitution that limits gambling to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers remains to be seen.  However, the possible inclusion of mobile operators would sure seem to make that question more discernible, which could make the passage harder than typical legislation.  The new legislation is vague, but does seem to want to set up such a system. The source concludes: 

The committee report, which was presented to the state House on Dec. 5, does at least include a potential sweetener for the operators:statewide online/mobile wagering. While vague on the subject, the report stated it is interested in mobile wagering and “creating a level playing field insofar as that is possible”“.Whether that means the market will be opened up to several mobile operators or ensuring retail sportsbooks aren’t dominated by single operators is unclear.”

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A Brief Look at Crime 12/09 – 12/15

Former Local McDonald’s General Manager Allegedly Steals $241,000 To Support Gambling Addiction

A former general manager of a local McDonald’s is accused of stealing $241,000 from the fast-food restaurant and gambling the stolen funds. According to a criminal complaint, detectives say Charles “Chuck” Hobi was the only person at a Wilkinsburg McDonald’s who had access to the restaurant’s safe. As general manager, Hobi was also responsible for making all deposits. The criminal complaint says between October of 2018 and January of 2019, Hobi stole $241,000 in funds. The owner told police he discovered that money was missing when he was reviewing bank records from his McDonald’s business account. When confronted by the owner, detectives say Hobi didn’t deny the allegations. Instead, police claim Hobi said he “gambled it away.” After this alleged confession, Hobi was fired.

Macau Casino Fined $1.25M Money Laundering, Loan Shark Activities

A card room operator in Tukwila, Washington, Macau Casino, received a $1.25m penalty for money laundering and loan shark activities from the Gambling Commission. The penalties were issued after an investigation was conducted with the Washington State Gambling Commission finding one of Macau Casinos employees participating in money laundering activities by bringing big bags of $20 bills to the casino and distributing them to ‘players’ while the ‘players’ would gamble and cashout with $100 bills. The employee was arrested and charged with money laundering, unlawful debt and extortionate of money. The Gambling Commission banned the two owners of the casino from participating in gambling activities in the future and revoked gaming licenses from seven different employees and four license revocations are pending. The investigation started back in 2016 after allegations of loan shark activities were taking place with employees loaning cash and chips at an “exorbitant interest rates”. The Gambling Commission said the penalties issued sends a strong message to let all those involved in the investigation and the industry that the necessary steps will be taken to keep criminal activities out of gambling facilities.

Ontario Priest Who Gambled Away $1 Million Meant for Refugees Imprisoned 

Catholic priest has been jailed for two years for defrauding refugees of almost C$1 million ($760,000) to support a self-destructive gambling habit, Canada’s /Global News/ reports. Father Amer Saka, 61, formerly the priest of St. Joseph’s Chaldean in London, Ontario, was also ordered to pay restitution to 33 families from which he obtained the money under the guise of a sponsorship program to bring refugees to Canada. The court heard that because of Saka’s age and uncertain future employment prospects, the full amount is unlikely to ever be returned. The judge originally proposed giving Saka 45 years to repay the money, which meant he would have been 106 years old on his final installment. But prosecutors argued this was unreasonable and pressured for 15 years Instead. This will require Saka to come up with $62,433 a year for the next 15 years or face the prospect of another prison term.

Jennifer Dwyer pleads guilty to embezzling over $2 million from Lyndonville firm

Vermont Business Magazine* The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Jennifer Dwyer, 49, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, pled guilty today in federal court to one count of wire fraud involving the embezzlement of approximately $2.2 million over a ten-year period from her Lyndonville employer, Northeast Agriculture Sales, Inc (NEAG). U.S. District Judge Christina Reiss accepted Dwyer’s guilty plea and ordered her released pending sentencing. Sentencing is scheduled for February 11, 2020. By pleading guilty, Dwyer admitted that between 2007 and 2017, she embezzled approximately $2,221,079.47 from NEAG through unauthorized electronic transfers of funds from NEAG’s payroll account to her personal checking account. Dwyer used the misappropriated funds on on-line gambling and to pay personal debts and expenses.

Missouri fentanyl dealer left client dying of overdose in casino before ODing in another

A Missouri fentanyl dealer was found overdosing in the bathroom of a casino right after leaving a client, who was fatally overdosing in another casino, prosecutors said Monday. The allegations were read in a court hearing Monday for Gerald E. Cardwell, 48, who was arrested last week on charges of distributing drugs with death resulting, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. According to charging documents, surveillance video shows Cardwell driving his client’s car and leading him to a hotel room at the Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights. Police said Cardwell told a maid not to disturb his friend before he checked out and went to the Ameristar Casino, about five miles away. Since Cardwell had checked out, the maid tried to wake the man, but couldn’t and called security. Maryland Heights Police Det. Kendra House wrote in an affidavit that the man had been dead for hours of fentanyl and alcohol intoxication. Cardwell later overdosed in the bathroom of the Ameristar Casino, where he was found with capsules of the drug at this feet, House said.

PGCB Levies $120,000 in Fines for Gambling Failures

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has recently issued a whopping $120,000 in fines as part of its regulatory efforts. These fines were issued against two of the Keystone State’s licensed gambling operators who had let their guard down and allowed for some regulatory failures to occur at their facilities. Before issuing the fines, the gaming control board’s Office of Enforcement Counsel met with the two casino operators in what they referred to as a meeting of consent agreements. It was during this meeting that Board approvals were issued and the fines against Downs Racing, L.P., and Washington Trotting Association, LLC, the two casinos, were levied. This Pennsylvanian gaming operator is going to pay that largest share of the total fines recently issued by the gaming control board. It will be parting with *a whopping $110,000*. The casino was found to have violated state gaming laws on four separate occasions by allowing individuals who were under the legal gambling age of 21 to place bets on its floors. The remaining *$10,000 fine* was levied against the operator of the Washington-based Meadows Racetrack and Casino. As reported by the gaming regulator, the Washington Trotting Association violated the state’s gaming laws by issuing expired gambling licenses. 

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

Veteran’s Affairs Hospital Opens Gambling Treatment Facility in Las Vegas

Casino Watch Focus has reported on various legislative attempts to regulate the gambling exposure of active duty military members.  Gambling addiction affects all, but active duty military can find themselves in a unique situation. Many find themselves overseas with few entertainment options and in some cases, the military themselves operate gambling establishments.  Such has been the focus of various Congressional legislative efforts to properly regulate and offer help to those caught in gambling’s web. The VA has decided to expand its efforts as well, as they have opened the second ever gambling treatment facility.  The Military Times reports:

The Department of Veterans Affairs has opened its second in-patient gambling addiction recovery center, right in the heart of Sin City. VA officials announced this month that the Las Vegas VA Residential Recovery and Renewal Center, or LVR3, will host 30- and 45-day programs for gambling and substance abuse treatment.

The facility is the second of its kind in nearly 50 years at VA: the department’s first gambling addiction center – a trailblazing treatment facility that was the first of its kind in the country for addressing compulsive gambling – opened at the Brecksville, Ohio, VA Medical Center in 1972.

Now part of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, it was the sole inpatient treatment center for gambling addiction, drawing more than 100 veterans annually from around the country for care.

The Las Vegas location was of particular interest considering the access veterans have in that city.  The veteran population appears to be twice as likely to be negatively impacted by gambling addiction than the general civilian population.  The Military Times continues:

“There is definitely a great need for this here in Las Vegas,” said LVR3 Program Manager Roxanne Untal in a release. “Gambling and substance abuse already exist here … the biggest goal is to provide residential care for veterans when more intensive care is needed than what they would receive in outpatient treatment.”

A study conducted in the VA’s New England region funded by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission found that among a small group of veterans, 260, a third had gambled in the previous year and 6 percent screened positive for a gambling disorder.

According to the study, those in the gambling disorder group also had histories of anxiety, depression or PTSD and some reported having suicidal thoughts.

The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that roughly 1 percent of the adult U.S. population meets the clinical criteria for compulsive gambling and up to 3 percent would be considered problem gamblers.

The program won’t be limited to just veterans and all those in need in the Las Vegas area are encouraged to visit the facility.   The Military Times concludes:

VA officials said veterans interested in the programs at LVR3 or Cleveland can talk to their primary care provider, either at VA or in the community care system.

“Even if you aren’t an enrolled veteran yet, if this is something you need to address, come on in. Any licensed provider can put in a consult, and we are doing quick turn-arounds for screening them for admission,” Untal said.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/02 – 12/08

Police Say Alabama Student Called in LSU, Florida Game Threat Due to a Gambling Bet   

A University of Alabama student is accused of calling in a threat at Louisiana State’s Tiger Stadium during the school’s Saturday night football game against the University of Florida. The Tuscaloosa News reports 19-year-old Connor Bruce Croll of Crozet, Virginia, was arrested by Tuscaloosa officers and jailed Sunday as a “fugitive from justice.” He faces unspecified charges in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Authorities didn’t immediately provide further detail about the nature of the threat or say whether Croll intended to carry it out. The newspaper didn’t say if Croll had a lawyer. WBRZ, Baton Rouge’s ABC affiliate, reports that Croll admitted to authorities that he wanted to stop the game because “his friend was on the verge of losing a large bet.”

Wichita Lawyer Who Stole From Elderly Client Sentenced 

A Wichita lawyer who stole more than $900,000 from an elderly client with dementia was sentenced to probation. The Wichita Eagle reports Toomey’s attorney, Steven Mank, told the court Toomey was entitled to the money because of a gift memo drafted by the 104-year-old client. Prosecutors say Toomey spent nearly $962,000 from the woman’s bank accounts, including for a gambling addiction. Under his sentence, Toomey was ordered to be evaluated for a gambling addiction and follow the recommended treatment. Prosecutors alleged Toomey stole from the women for seven years, while she was living in a Wichita nursing home.

Steelers’ Anthony Chickillo pushed Olympian girlfriend Alysha Newman in casino fight

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Anthony Chickillo was arrested after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend during an argument over gambling at a resort in southwestern Pennsylvania, court records show. Chickillo, a 26-year-old backup outside linebacker, was arrested early Sunday after state police responded to the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, where Chickillo and girlfriend Alysha Newman gave investigators differing versions of events leading up to the dispute, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Newman, according to a state police report, said she and Chickillo began arguing at the Lady Luck Casino inside the resort before returning to their room, where the disagreement continued and turned physical. Newman is a star pole vaulter who competed in the Olympics in 2016 and won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Chickillo said Newman hit him first, striking him in the head, leading the 6-foot-3, 255-pound linebacker to push her to the floor. Newman, inturn, claimed that Chickillo grabbed her “by the biceps and forced her against a wall and door” at the hotel, leaving her with visible injuries. That prompted Newman to punch Chickillo in the head and he responded by throwing her to the floor, she told police.

Kansas City man sentenced to 91 years for shooting trooper during casino confrontation

A 39-year-old Kansas City man was sentenced to 91 years in prison for shooting a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper in the leg during a confrontation at a casino. Ronald Morris was sentenced Wednesday for shooting at Harrah’s Casino in North Kansas City. He pleaded guilty to assault on a law enforcement officer, armed criminal action and attempted assault on a law enforcement officer. Clay County Prosecutor Daniel White said in May 2016, casino security reported a man with a handsaw on the roof of a car. During a confrontation with a highway patrol corporal and another trooper, Morris became combative. At some point, Morris grabbed a pistol and shot the corporal in the leg. When Morris broke away, he was shot by the other trooper. The Kansas City Star reports Morris had a lengthy criminal record.

Londonderry admits defrauding £590,000 from employer to feed gambling addiction

 Londonderry woman has admitted six charges of fraud amounting to more than £590,000. [She] pleaded guilty to fraud by using her former employer’s credit cards to withdraw the money. The offences took place between January 2016 and April 2017. Londonderry Crown Court was told the defendant spent all of the money on the 32 Red internet gambling site. “She obtained all of the money through fraud and the money has all been lost to the gambling site,” a Public Prosecution Service barrister told the judge. A defence barrister said he wanted to engage the services of an accountant to determine the exact amount involved in the fraud. He also submitted a document to the judge from the Gambling Commission which, the barrister said, contained information directly linked to the Offending. The defendant has been released on bail.

Woman embezzled over £248,000 from Glasgow car dealership over brothers gambling debt

A woman who embezzled more than £248,000 from a car dealership blamed her brother’s gambling debt for her actions. Andrea Gibson, 31, stole the money over a three-year period while an accounts assistant for Evans Halshaw in Glasgow. The mother-of-one manipulated financial systems to cover 45 transactions made to her personal bank accounts. Gibson was only caught when she went on maternity leave and the irregularities came to light. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard she had worked for Evans Halshaw for seven years before her promotion to accounts assistant in 2014. She admitted embezzling a total of £248,652 from the dealership in Cumbernauld Road in the east end of Glasgow between March 2015 and March Gibson initially denied stealing money from the company but confessed after Ford UK carried out their own investigation. Ms Carroll added: “Gibson stated her brother had a gambling debt and didn’t know what to do. She made reference that she would return the money.

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

Illegal Missouri Gambling Machine Manufacturer sued by Authorized Provider

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing impact of the illegal slot machines that have emerged all over the state.  Missouri limits gambling and slot machines to the 13 licensed casinos that are only authorized to operate on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.  These illegal gambling machines have finally reached the forefront of regulators as both prosecutors and legislators have been working to find ways of cleaning up the problem.  Now, a new approach has emerged in the form of a civil lawsuit. US News and World Report explains: 

The owner of a Missouri coin-operated game company wants a judge to shut down another company’s video gambling terminals, alleging they are illegal and hurting profits.

TNT Amusements filed the civil lawsuit last week in Crawford County against Torch Electronics, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The suit also names Midwest Petroleum Company, which replaced TNT machines with Torch machines at its Midwest Travel Plaza truck stop along Interstate 44 in the Missouri town of Cuba.

The devices, which work in a similar fashion to slot machines, have been rolled out across the state by Torch and other companies. The TNT lawsuit argues that slot machines are only allowed in casinos.  By placing them in truck stops, gas stations and convenience stores, it is breaking state law. Turntine’s attorney, Elkin Kistner of Clayton, called Torch a “rogue operator.”

At least two pieces of legislation have been filed in recent days aimed at stopping Torch and other companies. Both could be debated when the Legislature convenes in January.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 11/25 – 12/01

72-year-old arrested in connection to alleged gambling ring in north Houston

A 72-year-old Houston woman has been arrested and charged with money laundering in connection to an alleged large scale illegal gambling operation in north Houston, according to a release from Harris CountyConstable Precinct 4. Dorinda Powers, 72, was arrested at one of three suspected illegal game rooms police discovered during the investigation. Nearly 200 illegal gambling devices and $500,000 in suspected gambling proceeds were found at the three rooms, which were located in the 1140block of Veterans Memorial Drive, 11500 block of Jones Road and a residence in the 1180 block of Cathy Drive, according to the release.

Betfred Fined £322,000 for Letting Convicted Fraudster Who Stole £2 Million Gamble Online 

Online bookmaker Betfred has agreed to pay £322,000 ($400,000) to settle allegations that it allowed a convicted fraudster to deposit £210,000 ($261,000) in stolen money on its online platform. The customer subsequently lost £140,000 ($216,000) to Betfred during a 12-day gambling binge. An investigation by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) found that Betfred had breached anti-money laundering (AML) rules by failing to adequately check the source of the fraudster’s funds. “The management of this customer in relation to AML raised significant concerns regarding the effectiveness of the policies and procedures that [Betfred] had in place, and its management of risks to the licensing objectives,” wrote the UKGC. 

Last month, Joyce Baker, a former financial manager at Light Corporationin Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, was handed a prison sentence of five years and ten months for fraud by abuse of position after embezzling£2,011,983 from her ex-employer. According to media reports, Baker is a gambling addict who began siphoning money from the company within six weeks of starting work therein 2012, and continued until she left in June 2018, seven months after the Betfred incident. Baker’s crimes left Light Corporation in financial disarray, directly leading to the layoff of around 30 of her colleagues.

Crooked CFO Embezzled $3.8 Million 

Hard-partying executive Bryan Vonderahe will have to turn over hispricey SUVs and Kirkwood McMansion after admitting he embezzled $3.8million from the waterbed, mattress and real estate company where he worked for more than a decade. The 45-year-old pleaded guilty today in federal court to three felony counts of wire fraud. As part of the plea, he’ll have to forfeit a GMCAcadia Denalia, a Range Rover Sport and his house at 1943 Windy HillRoad, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He also faces a maximum prison sentence of twenty years for each felony and will have to repay the stolen money. Vonderahe made about $90,000 as the chief financial officer for the BoydGroup, the parent company for Royal Waterbeds, the Bedroom Store and other brands. But investigators discovered Vonderahe had been illegally supplementing his income for years by writing himself roughly 500 checks from his employer’s accounts. He used some of the money to vacation in Florida, ski in Breckenridge,Colorado, and gamble in Las Vegas. Around the metro, he spent big at theCasino Queen on the east side and drove drunkenly enough to rack up four convictions for driving under the influence.

Police probe for motive in killings at illegal gambling spot in Brooklyn

The four people killed when gunfire erupted at an illegal gambling club in Brooklyn were all local men, police said Sunday as they continue to investigate the circumstances of their deaths. Police said just over a dozen people had been gambling with dice and cards at the small club when the violence erupted just before 7 a.m.Saturday. Investigators were determining if a gambling dispute, a robbery, or something else was to blame. Two handguns were recovered, and multiple shots were fired. Isaac Mickens, a community organizer, described it to the Times as a “hole-in-the-wall gambling den” that was “real tight, real small, casual, low-key.” Samuel Revells told the Times that he was the building owner and had leased the event space out but didn’t say to whom.

Former UGA Student Admits Operating Ponzi Scheme From Campus

A former University of Georgia student pleaded guilty Friday to operating a $1 million Ponzi scheme from his fraternity house on campus, federal prosecutors said. Syed Arham Arbab, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud and is set to be sentenced in January, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release. Arbab admitted that he persuaded about 117 investors, including fellow students, to invest in Artis Proficio Capital Management and Artis Proficio Capital Investments between May 2018 and May 2019, prosecutors said. He told investors they were hedge funds. Arbab acknowledged misrepresenting the funds’ returns, the number of investors, total funds invested and the types of investments being made, prosecutors said. He also admitted making false account statements. Arbab spent investor funds on clothing, shoes, restaurant meals, alcohol, adult entertainment and travel, including three trips to Las Vegas where he spent thousands of dollars while gambling, prosecutors said.

Pair faces prison in million dollar sports book scheme

Two people admitted to felonies on Monday in connection with a $1 million sports book betting scheme. Dean admitted to conspiracy to commit embezzlement and embezzlement. She was a manager at the William Hill Sports Book at the Mont Bleu and Hard Rock casinos where she collected winnings on bets that weren’t made. She faces up to 1-5 years on the felony and 364 days in jail on the conspiracy charge. The theft was discovered by sports book operators in November after Dean generated a $60,000 bet while no one was at her station. Carson City resident Dean told a Gaming Control Board

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