Monthly Archives: January 2020

Super Bowl LIV (53) expected to break all previous gambling records…but at what cost?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the significant about of gambling on the Super Bowl each year, and Super Bowl 53 is poised to be the most impactful yet.  When the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers take the field, there will be more states with legalized sports betting than ever.  As a result, experts see record amounts of money being bet on this year’s game. Fox Business breaks down the numbers:

About 26 million Americans are expected to bet on the game through various means, including brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and online platforms, the American Gaming Association said. The record total marks a 15 percent increase compared to the estimated betting turnout from last year’s game, which drew wagers from approximately 22.7 million Americans.

The bets will be worth an estimated $6.8 billion, up from $6 billion last year. The projected total includes both legal betting venues, such as brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, and illegal methods, such as bookies and offshore mobile platforms.

Many think gambling on the Super Bowl is harmless fun, and for some, who do it legally, it could be that simple. However, the consequences for others can be extreme. A Fox News affiliate has reported that Super Bowl night is not only the biggest night for gamblers, but it also sees the most suicides as well. For those that don’t suffer the ultimate fate, they can still lose enough to cause irreparable harm to their finances and family. Fox Now online explains:

“Super Bowl is probably one of the biggest gambling days of the year,” said Gambling Addiction Counselor, Jim Harrison [a gambling counselor in Milwaukee.] He says the wagers placed on the Super Bowl are often not taken as seriously and can be seen as harmless and fun. “In reality it is betting, it is gambling,” said Harrison. Those compulsive gamblers see it as a day to make up for other sports losses this season.

Harrison says it’s not harmless at all for those with an addiction — betting is done with bookies and online and it could bring losses. “If it causes family problems, certainly financial problems,” said Harrison. “I’ve had clients who have literally lost over $300,000 gambling,” said Harrison. The Super Bowl can bring losses to those betting on it all, and it can be tempting to those dealing with gambling addiction.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 01/13 – 01/19

Bookkeeper who stole $300K from employer gets a year in prison

A former bookkeeper for a marine towing and transportation company based on Bainbridge Island was sentenced last week to a year and a day in prison after pleading guilty to stealing about $300,000 to fuel her gambling addiction. Employees of Star Marine wrote in Kitsap County Superior Court documents that the damage done by Tonya Jeanette Hunt, 40, of Poulsbo, not only hurt the company but amounted to a personal betrayal to people who had trusted her. The embezzlement was first discovered in November 2018 when the company’s bank called an employee to notify him some checks written from the company’s account were not going to clear. Hunt confessed at that time that she had been stealing and adjusting the company’s financial software to hide the missing money, according to court documents. Hunt turned over a spreadsheet that documented the money she had stolen, which found to be more than $290,000. When interviewed by a Bainbridge Island police investigators, Hunt said she used the money to fund her gambling addiction. Hunt worked for the company for about 2 ½ years.

Former Citizens National Bank officer serving federal sentence for theft

A former bank officer at Citizens National Bank in Brownwood who admitted to embezzling just under $1.86 million is serving a 51-month federal sentence, court documents from U.S. District Court in San Angelo Show. Dawn Bennett, 44, of Bangs, admitted to gambling with embezzled funds at Oklahoma casinos and was ordered to pay $1,859,915 in restitution, court documents state. Bennett was sentenced on Oct. 4 by U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman. Bennett pleaded guilty on May 30 to engaging in a monetary transaction with property derived from a specified unlawful activity, court documents state. The guilty plea stemmed from Bennett’s visit on July 12, 2018 to the WinStar Casino, an Indian gaming operation, where she inserted $58,185 in slot machines, court documents state. Bennett “admits and agrees that each bet at the WinStar Casino” on that date was made with funds she embezzled from Citizens National Bank and concealed through false entries in the books, court documents state.

Hawaiian Gardens casino to pay California $3.15 million, admits misleading regulators

The Gardens Casino, a card room that underpins the one-square-mile city of Hawaiian Gardens, has agreed to pay $3.15 million to settle allegations brought by the California attorney general’s office that the casino’s operators made no mention of a federal probe and resultant $2.8-million penalty when applying to renew its license. California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s deputies had asked state regulators to revoke licenses for the casino and its owners, alleging that in September 2016 its operators falsely told state gambling authorities they have “always been engaged in honest and frank dialogue with regulators.” Casino operators neglected to mention that two months earlier, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, had handed the casino a $2.8-million penalty for violating the Bank Secrecy Act, a federal law meant to counteract money laundering, a deputy attorney general wrote. FinCEN is a federal agency within the Treasury Department that monitors for money laundering and other financial crimes. In exchange for keeping their licenses, the casino’s owners — ChernaMoskowitz, wife of the card room’s late founder, Irving Moskowitz, and Irving’s son, David — agreed to pay a $3.15-million penalty and complete a two-year compliance period. The state gambling commission approved the settlement Thursday.

New Jersey Online Gaming Operators Fined $153K Last Month for Regulatory Failures

New Jersey online gaming operators were fined by state regulators more than $150,000 last month for compliance shortcomings. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) issued $153,500 in civil penalties for various regulatory infractions on behalf of the licensed interactive companies. NYX Digital Gaming (USA) and NYX Digital Gaming (Americas) – entities controlled by parent SG Digital, a global online gaming, sports, and lottery provider – were hit with the bulk of the penalties. The companies were issued a $100,000 fine for operating unapproved software in the state. DGE Director David Rebuck said in the order that the company deployed “versions of three games that were not the versions tested and approved by the Division.” In a separate order, Rebuck said there was “sufficient and legal support” to additionally penalize the two NYX Digital companies $10,000 for their compliance deficiencies.

Ex-Casino Dealer Gets Prison for Role in Cheating Plot 

A man who worked as a baccarat dealer at a Maryland casino has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in a scheme to cheat the house out of just over $1 million, according to prosecutors. U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm also on Wednesday sentenced Ming Zhang, 32, of Alexandria, Virginia, to three years of supervised release after his prison term and ordered him to pay full restitution, U.S. Attorney Robert Hur’s office said in a news release. Zhang had faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison after he pleaded guilty in September 2018 to one count of conspiring to transport stolen funds. Zhang worked for MGM National Harbor near Washington, D.C. Zhang’s role in the plot to cheat the casino was to notify an alleged co-conspirator when he was scheduled to deal baccarat. When that person arrived at his table in September 2017, Zhang exposed part of a baccarat deck to the player, who photographed the unshuffled cards before placing large bets on hands, a court filing said. Knowing the order of cards in a deck allows bettors to predict the outcome of baccarat hands with near-perfect accuracy.

Former casino director of benefits accused of stealing $75K in gift cards

The former director of benefits for Penn National Gaming is facing charges after authorities say she stole and used more than $75,000 worth of gift cards intended for the company’s employees. According to a news release from the Berks County district attorney’s office, Denise M. Bitler, 56, of Collegeville is facing charges that include theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received, theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by deception, access device fraud, unlawful use of a computer and receiving stolen property. Bitler was responsible for ordering, maintaining and distributing the gift cards to the human resource officer at the company’s casinos and racetracks, who would then distribute them to employees. Detectives learned Bitler used many of the gift cards for personal use on vacations and for medical bills and retail purchases. Further, detectives say, she defrauded the company out of another $1,200 per year for two years by saying in medical enrollment forms that she and her family members were nonsmokers when they were actually smokers, avoiding a $50 per month, per person charge.

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


Missouri Gov. Opposes Gaming Commission and Missouri Highway Patrol on Illegal Slot Machines Highlighting the need for Legislation

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the illegal gambling machines that have been popping up outside of casinos and all over Missouri.  Slot machines are only allowed in licensed Missouri casinos, yet the manufacture of the machines claim they aren’t games of chance, so they aren’t slot machines.  Many jurisdictions have dealt with pre reveal machines and they have all concluded they are slot machines. The Missouri Gaming Commission has defined them as illegal machines, but they can only enforce gambling regulations at the casinos.  The Missouri Highway Patrol has been clear they view them as gambling and they have been working with local prosecutors to try to crack down on the machines. Most recently, authorized slot machine manufacturers have taken to the courts to sue those that manufacture the illegal machines.  Various editorial boards are also standing up against this illegal expansion of gambling. The St Louis Post Dispatch had the following to say:

Reasons abound why the spread of unlicensed payout video-gaming machines in Missouri’s bars, restaurants and gas stations constitutes an intolerable situation. Legalized gambling was approved here as a tradeoff for state tax revenue, but the unlicensed machines don’t bring in any. The state regulates legal gambling operations to ensure they aren’t cheating their patrons, but there is no such protection for those who play these machines.

Another important reason regulation is necessary is that gambling is an addictive activity for some people, which is why the state requires that access to addiction services and a voluntary self-exclusion program be offered at regulated gambling sites. These unregulated sites have no such resources.

The editorial continues and its sentiment is joined by other editorial boards as well, so its odd that Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons isn’t convinced the machines are clearly illegal slot machines.  US News and World Report explains:

Gov. Mike Parson says he’s not convinced that unregulated and untaxed video gambling terminals in the state are illegal, even as investigators in his administration work to halt their spread. The governor’s stance is in contrast to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, whose leaders have made a decision. A patrol lieutenant told a state House committee in October that the machines are illegal and that its investigations resulted in dozens of criminal referrals to prosecutors.

Besides the Platte County case, several others have been filed, including one in Parson’s home county. Polk County Prosecutor Ken Ashlock said there are no payout requirements for unregulated machines, meaning the operators can keep more money than they could in one of the state’s 13 regulated casinos. “People are just getting cheated on them and they don’t know it,” he said.

The Governor’s position doesn’t instill confidence and some have argued its a symptom of a larger problem and is the real reason the Missouri legislator must address the issue this legislative session.  The Joplin Globe argues:

The biggest distributor of the machines, Torch Electronics, has aggressively marketed the games. It says the terminals are not gambling devices because a player has the option of checking the outcome of a wager by clicking an icon before continuing play, thereby removing the element of chance, though players are not required to click the icon before completing the play.

Torch employs politically connected lobbyists and high-powered consultants. The company has made campaign donations to key political players, including at least $20,000 to Gov. Mike Parson, according to a July report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The fact that criminal cases are going forward while the governor questions whether the devices are in fact illegal highlights the problem. Torch and similar companies distributing the devices are skirting the edges of the gambling laws in Missouri and appear to be trying to game the system through political influence.

The Missouri House held special hearings into the machines and unregulated gambling this past summer, and the Senate is looking at a plan to ban the terminals outright.

This is an issue of the letter of the law versus the intent of the law. The Missouri General Assembly must resolve the matter, to permit these games or to clearly ban them.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 01/06 – 01/12

Ballet School Worker Stole $800,000 to Fund Gambling Addiction

A woman who was looking after the finances and accounts of a leading ballet school in Washington, D.C. stole almost $800,000 to fund her gambling addiction. Sophia Kim (Sookyeong Kim Sebold) allegedly defrauded the Kirov Academy, founded by Reverend Sun Myung Moon in 1990, by using her position as the school’s comptroller. According to an FBI affidavit, Kim stole money due to “a gambling addiction and other financial problems.” Kim admitted her use of school credit and debit cards to steal money. She also made cash withdrawals from the company’s BB&T bank account. She also wrote 68 unauthorized checks to herself or for “cash”, the value of which ranged between $500 and $12,000. The checks only contained Kim’s signature and did not have supporting documentation. The total sum stolen in this manner was $377,200. Similar incidents of gambling addicts stealing from employers and family members to feed their habit are reported to happen worldwide. According to a VSO News report earlier this month, a 53-year-old bookkeeper for a luxury cruise company in Australia stole $2.55m from her employer for gambling purposes over the course of six years. This week, 32Red paid back almost £600,00 ($775,000) to a firm in Belfast, Northern Ireland after an employee stole company funds to gamble on the site.

Livestock broker with ‘extensive, reckless’ gambling habit sentenced for fraud

An Indiana livestock broker who defrauded customers and used their money to feed his gambling habit has been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $750,000 to his victims. Brian D. Jones, 40, of Vevay operated a business buying calves from dairy farms in Wisconsin and selling them to ranches in Missouri and Texas, according to court documents. Prosecutors said he used the money from this business to feed an “extensive, reckless gambling” habit. “From the government’s position, Jones turned to soliciting investments and defrauding investors to obtain funds for his mounting debts and gambling activity,” prosecutors wrote in documents. Jones solicited his victims for funds under the premise he was expanding his business, but that money went to gambling or paying down other debts, prosecutors said. They also said he produced “bogus” bank receipts allay fears of his investors.

Drunken driver who slammed car into man in AC casino garage fight gets 14 years in prison

A Newark man convicted in a drunken New Year’s Day dispute in a parking garage for an Atlantic City casino in which he slammed his car into another man, crushing his legs, has been sentenced to 14 years in state prison, authorities said Monday. Michael Garland, 46, was convicted at trial of aggravated assault and endangering an injured victim after claiming he acted in self-defense, according to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. The dispute unfolded just before 1:30 a.m. on the fourth-floor of the Golden Nugget Casino, Hotel & Marina, authorities said. The younger man reached into a car and threw a punch at Garland, who was seated in the vehicle, authorities said. When police arrived, they found the victim next to the front of the vehicle, which had heavy front-end damage. He was taken to a local hospital to be treated for two broken legs. He must serve at least nine years in state prison before he is eligible for parole.

Dad’s addiction left family in £500,000 debt – but they didn’t know until he was jailed

The family of a respected accountant was torn apart after his secret gambling addiction left them half-a-million in debt. David Bradford, 63, ran up debts of £500,000 as he sank deeper into his online gambling and fruit machine habit. Father-of-three David turned to crime in a bid to cover his losses and stole £53,000 from his employers to help balance the books. And when his fraud came to light he tried to hide it from his family -but was charged and jailed for two years. Now – with the help of his son Adam – David has turned his life around and the two have spearheaded a campaign to help clean up the industry. The father and son’s work has led to a decrease in the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2 and an increase in NHS provision for gambling addicts. The Sheffield-based family’s story is told tomorrow night in the documentary ‘Robbing Your Relatives’ on Channel 5. Over 430,000 people are thought to be addicted to gambling in the UK.

Two nuns admit embezzling cash for Vegas gambling trips

Two nuns who worked at a Catholic school in California have admitted embezzling about $500,000 (£396,000) and using it to gamble in Las Vegas. Sisters Mary Kreuper and Lana Chang took the money from St James‘ Catholic School in the city of Torrance, near Los Angeles, to spend in Casinos. The pair, who are said to be best friends, took funds from an account holding tuition fees and donations. The sisters, who recently retired, have expressed remorse for their actions. Mary Kreuper was the school principal for 29 years, while Lana Chang worked as a teacher for about 20 years. They are thought to have stolen the money over a period of at least a decade to spend on travel and gambling. “Our community is concerned and saddened by this situation and regret any injury to our long relationship with the families of the school,” it added.

Former Hollywood exec pleads in $22M embezzlement

A former executive at a Hollywood digital marketing company has pleaded guilty to federal charges for embezzling $22 million from his employer. Prosecutors say Dennis Blieden of Cincinnati used the money for personal expenses, including $150,000 buy-ins to enter two professional poker Tournaments. Blieden pleaded guilty Friday to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Blieden was a vice president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul, which relocated this year to London. It represents “influencers” on YouTube and Instagram. Prosecutors say Blieden controlled the firm’s finances and transferred money to his personal bank accounts, using it to pay off credit cards and invest in crypto-currency for online gambling. He recorded the transactions as payments to StyleHaul clients. He also forged an executive’s signature. Blieden could face two decades in federal prison.

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


Missouri Legislator Pushing for New Casino in Osage Beach Area

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to regulate casino gambling in Missouri.  Each state has different laws and Missouri originally only allowed for 2 hour river boat gambling excursions.  With each passing year, the expansion of gambling through the erosion of the laws has resulted in 13 full standing casinos.  Those casinos do technically float and they have to be located on either the Missouri or Mississippi rivers, but to the casual observer, it appears that Missouri has 13 large and free standing casinos operating.  So, perhaps it’s not too surprising that every few years someone new wants to see a new casino in a part of the state that’s prohibited by the constitution. Branson has been the most popular venue debated, but Osage beach has been discussed in relation to a possible tribal casino.  Now it would appear that much like the Netflix television show Ozark, there is discussion of trying to set up a casino on a new waterway.  Specifically, Rep. Rocky Miller, who was a consultant to the show, is out promoting a resolution he has filed in hopes of adding the Osage river to the accepted venue list.  The Springfield News Leader reports:

A legislator from around the Lake of the Ozarks wants to allow riverboat gambling there. No, this is not a recap of the Netflix show with Jason Bateman. Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, filed a real resolution in the Missouri capitol Friday that would ask voters to add the Osage River to the list of waterways where casinos are permitted.

Miller said he consulted on the Netflix show “Ozark,”   which centers on the Byrde family’s efforts to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel in Osage Beach. Season 2 focuses on their efforts to open a riverboat casino at Lake of the Ozarks. And Miller says he told the showrunners about the law.

Miller’s approach wouldn’t necessarily establish a casino in the area right away because there is a hard cap of 13 casino licenses that can be granted.  His proposal would simply open the Osage river up to an acceptable venue, so if one of the licenses  would become available. The News Leader continues:

The resolution wouldn’t necessarily bring anything to his area immediately. It wouldn’t touch the limit voters put on the casino licenses in 2008, and all 13 of those are currently in use. But if one were to come available, he said, his area “would become a great option to revive some revenue.”

It’s not clear how much interest there is in the General Assembly this year. Miller said he thinks there’s a chance it gets through the House, though the always-mercurial Senate is a bigger question mark. He said he thought leaving the cap alone would help with the casino lobby, though. He added that requiring a public vote on the issue could be a way to pitch the bill as well.

The odds are most certainly stacked against the idea of expanded casino gambling.  The constitution would need changed to allow the law, meaning the path of least resistance might be an initiative petition, a direct vote of the people.  History would indicate a long shot though, as this exact issue was defeated overwhelmingly in Branson.  

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


A Brief Look at Crime 12/30 – 01/05

California casino manager busted for $200,000 embezzlement

A floor manager at the Red Hawk Tribal Casino in Placerville, California has been busted for leading a scam that ultimately saw the gambling house lose over $200,000. Prak Pich used his position to give lines of credits to a gambler, Luc Mooc, and then altered the paper trails of the credits to make it appear that they had been paid back. That would never have been possible with blockchain record-keeping. The California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, released a statement about the ordeal, explaining, These short term, no-interest credit lines are commonly extended by casinos to allow approved patrons easy access to gambling funds, with the understanding that the temporary loan would be repaid within a short period of time. However, instead of paying back the loans, Mooc and Pich allegedly conspired to steal the funds that would range anywhere from $12,000 to $14,000 at a time.” There have been plenty of instances in the past of casino employees getting a little too creative with their duties, but almost invariably they are caught. Casinos have been around long enough to know the tricks and it isn’t difficult to figure out when something is not quite right.

Mom arrested for leaving kids in car at Detroit casino 

A 27-year-old Detroit woman was arrested over the weekend for leaving her two young children in a car while she was in a casino. The woman was taken into custody at about 12:20 a.m. Sunday at the MGM Grand Detroit‘s parking garage, said Jennifer Watson, a Detroit Police Department spokeswoman. The woman is accused of leaving her 2-year-old boy and 4-month-old girl locked inside her 2015 Chevrolet Equinox while she was in the casino, Watson said. Police said a casino patron saw the children in the car and notified the casino‘s security. Security officers called Detroit Police and officers arrested the woman as she returned to the vehicle. Watson said the woman was inside the casino for at least one hour. Watson said she was arrested for child abandonment. Under state law, the crime is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If convicted of abandonment, the state could also terminate a person‘s parental rights.

Woman leaves 4-year-old girl in Wind Creek hotel room to gamble

A New Jersey woman is accused of leaving a 4-year-old girl alone in a hotel room to gamble at the Wind Creek Casino in Bethlehem. Police were called at 4 a.m. Saturday for the little girl wandering alone in the casino’s hotel lobby. Police found a bystander with the little girl, and he told police he found the girl alone in the lobby. The girl told officers she was looking for Rebecca Yandoli. The 26-year-old Yandoli was found on the main floor of the casino, gambling, police said. Yandoli reportedly told officers she left the girl alone in the hotel room at about 1:15 a.m., and then went to gamble. Yandoli, who lives in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, was arrested and charged with child endangerment. She was sent to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Report: Woman left baby alone in car while gambling 

A woman has been arrested, accused of leaving a baby inside a car while she went gambling at a video arcade, deputies say. It was a losing wager, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and if it weren’t for another person who stepped in, it’s unclear how long that baby would have been out there alone. At a gaming business called Treasures of Hope, deputies say one woman hoped to earn enough treasure to pay her bills. Instead, Michelle Puma was thrown behind bars, accused of leaving a one-year-old in her car while she gambled inside. “She thought that she could go in there and win money while the child slept the whole time. It’s really hard to fathom. It’s unimaginable, really,” said Lt. John Herrell, spokesman for the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies say another woman was heading inside the online gaming lounge on State Road 19 in Umatilla when she heard a child crying. She eventually found a baby in a car. According to an arrest report, she stayed with the baby for about 20 minutes, took it out “to console her” and called teh cops.

Alabama Man Charged With Leaving Child in Cold Car at Casino

An Alabama man accused of leaving a 6-year-old girl in a cold car in a casino parking lot has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child, nearly four years after the crime was reported in February 2016. Zachary Hines was served a warrant for the misdemeanor charge on Wednesday, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. Police documents from the time allege that on Valentine’s Day 2016, Hines arrived for work at the Wind Creek Casino just after midnight with the girl in the car. The now 26-year-old left the car unlocked and went inside, according to court records. Historic temperature data shows it was about 34 degrees that night. A Poarch Creek tribal police officer was notified by a casino patron there was a child inside a car crying. The officer put the shivering girl in a patrol vehicle to warm her up, an arrest warrant Documented. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office received the warrant three days after it was signed on Feb. 19, 2016, records show, but it wasn’t served until Wednesday. It’s unclear what caused the nearly 4-year delay.

Pair Arrested After 7-Year-Old Found Alone in Car at Florida Casino Garage

A couple from Ecuador is facing charges in Broward County after authorities said they left a 7-year-old girl in a car while they were in the casino at the Seminole Hard Rock. Sintia Pinargote, 31, and Carlos Enrique Herrera Pluas, 32, were arrested Sunday by Seminole Police on charges of child abuse without great bodily harm, Broward jail records showed. Pinargote and Pluas appeared in court Monday, where prosecutors said the girl was found in a car inside the casino’s garage around 12:30 a.m. Prosecutors said Pinargote said she had gone inside to pick up Pluas, her boyfriend, but surveillance cameras showed her arriving at the casino with Pluas around midnight. A Seminole Police spokesperson said the girl was left unattended in the car for about an hour. “Seminole Police and Casino Security officers follow a zero tolerance policy for children left alone in vehicles at Seminole Casinos,” the spokesperson said in a statement. The couple and Pinargote’s daughter were visiting from Ecuador for a Disney World trip and a cruise. The girl’s father is Enner Valencia, a famous soccer player from Ecuador who currently lives in Mexico and plays for Tigres UANL. The Department of Children and Families took custody of the girl, and a judge said she’ll be placed in a foster home for the time being.

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


New Florida Lottery Bill Seeks to Prevent Gambling Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts by legislators to pass meaningful gambling legislation in the area of state sold lottery tickets.  Last year a bill was passed that required warning labels on Florida lottery tickets. That bill was vetoed by the Governor, citing a loss of revenue due to belief that large warning labels would cause less gambling on lottery tickets. This year, a new bill is being introduced that seeks to address the Governor’s concerns, while still preventing gambling expansion on other fronts.  Florida Politics explains:

The measures require the “play responsibly” message to be printed on the lottery ticket and take up at least 5% of the ticket’s total surface area. That’s a reduction from previous proposed warning messages, which were more detailed and took up more space on those tickets.

The legislation also mandates the message be displayed in TV, electronic or paper ads, with the same requirement that the message take up 5% of the surface area of the advertisement. For radio ads, the warning must be issued at the end of the promotion.

Both new bills include a provision barring lottery games that are tied to athletic events. “The [Department of Lottery] may not authorize the operation of a lottery game in which the winner is chosen on the basis of the activities or outcomes of one or more sporting events,” *the bill reads*.

Finally, the legislation would require $500,000 annually for an advertising program warning against gambling addiction. “The department shall, subject to competitive bidding, contract for such services, which must include an advertising program to encourage responsible gambling practices and to publicize a telephone help line,” the measure reads.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 12/23 – 12/29

78-Year-Old Man Shot, Killed At West Philadelphia Illegal Lottery Hall During Robbery

A 78-year-old man was shot and killed Thursday afternoon during a robbery at what police are calling an illegal lottery hall. The crime scene unit is trying to piece together what happened in West Philadelphia on Wednesday. Police haven’t identified the man yet, and therefore neither is Eyewitness News, but his nephew says he was a peacemaker. “Who would hurt him? Who would do that?” the victim’s nephew, AlfonzoConnor, said. Police say the building where the man was killed was an illegal gamblinghall. They say they’ve raided the place recently. The victim’s nephew says his uncle wasn’t a gambler. “I tell you what, if they did that they ain’t come to rob him. He ain’t have no money for nothing like that,” Connor said. Police responded just after noon. They say the man was found on the first floor of the building. It’s not clear if he was gambling. His nephew says whatever happened, he doesn’t believe his uncle was the intended target. “Wrong place at the wrong time probably. You know you can walk into somewhere and something is happening, you might try to intervene probably to try to stop it. That was his nature too, to keep the peace,” Connor said.

UK’s gambling firms spent a whooping £19.6m in penalties for failure to protect problem gamblers

The United Kingdom has been the largest betting market in the region for some time now. Unfortunately, this has come with a few consequences, including an increasing problem gamblers population. Unfortunately, gambling firms are dragging their feet on the matter resulting in a campaign from the gambling commission. The institution claimed it handled more than 160 investigations during the 2018 financial year. It imposed a number of sanctions on operators, including financial penalties. Betting companies will have to pay 19.6 million pounds in penalties for failing to protect the problem gamblers and stopping laundering operations. Major contributors to this penalty include Ladbrokes, Coral, William Hill Sky-bet, and Bet 365. Online casino firms like Daub Alderney and Fluffer entertainment also did not escape the net. The regulator’s second report on enforcement claimed companies are failing to detect clients at risk of becoming problem gamblers.

Trip to Casino Ended in Murder Caught on Camera: Miami-Dade Police 

man was caught on camera murdering another man after the two spent time at a South Florida casino, police said. Luciano Thompson, 22, was arrested Thursday on a second-degree murder charge in the killing of 24-year-old Eduardo Gonzalez, according to a Miami-Dade Police arrest report. The report said Thompson and Gonzalez had gone together to the Hialeah Park Casino early Wednesday morning and were seen in video footage leaving around 1:44 a.m. Minutes later, surveillance footage near the 10200 block of Northwest 26th Avenue showed Thompson shoot Gonzalez in the head, the report said. Gonzalez later died from his injuries. The report said a gun that was later found at Thompson’s home matched the bullet casing found at the scene of the murder. Thompson was being held without bond Thursday, jail records showed. Attorney information wasn’t available.

Gold Rush Gaming Named in Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval Federal Corruption Probe

When federal agents raided the home and offices of Illinois StateSenator Martin Sandoval (D-12th) last month, among their targets were documents related to local gaming operator Gold Rush Gaming, according to a search and seizure warrant published Friday. Also on their radar were powerful players in Illinois’ construction, transportation, and energy sectors, as well as influential lobbyists and at least three suburban mayors, according to the unredacted 12-page As chairman of the powerful Senate Transportation Committee — a role from which he resigned Friday — Sandoval was instrumental in planning and implementing Governor J.B. Pritzker’s ambitious capital plan  that earmarked $45 billion for investment in infrastructure and state facilities over six years. Dubbed “Rebuild Illinois,” the plan also expanded gambling on an unprecedented level in the state, paving the way for a major casino in Chicago, as well as five smaller regional casinos in the southern suburbs. It has also increased the number of video gambling machines, as well as the maximum bet on the machines. Gold Rush Gaming bills itself as Illinois’ “premier terminal operator,” and has placed thousands of video-gaming terminals (VGTs) in bars, restaurants and slots parlors across the state. Gold Rush Gaming owner Rick Heidner is also involved in a venture called Playing in the Park LLC, which has applied to build a harness racing track and casino at Tinley Park in Chicago’s southern suburbs as part of the recent gaming expansion. The project received a racing license on September 24 from the Illinois Racing Board, which was coincidentally the day of the Sandoval raids. Heidner, a minor contributor to Governor Pritzker’s campaign, has yet to apply to the Gaming Board for a casino license.

Game room manager killed in Cloverleaf; police searching for masked shooters 

Deputies are searching for two masked gunmen who shot and killed the manager of a game room in Cloverleaf late Monday night. Two masked men were hanging outside the game room in the 700 block of Barbara Mae Boulevard around 10 p.m. when a woman, whose husband is the manager of the game room, walked outside and encountered the men. What transpired while the three were talking is unclear, but at some point, the woman’s husband went outside to check on her, according to Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. D. Wolfford. That’s when one of the men pulled a gun and shot the husband, Wolfford said. The two were last seen fleeing the business on foot. The manager was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Wolfford said. Detectives are hoping to recover surveillance video of the shooting to get a better description of the gunmen.

Woman who embezzled $1.3M from Fargo property management company sentenced to prison

A Pelican Rapids, Minn., woman who embezzled roughly $1.3 million from a Fargo property management company where she worked will spend more than three years in prison, a sentence that was harsher than what prosecutors recommended. Federal Judge Peter Welte ordered 53-year-old Mickey Haarstad be taken immediately into custody on Tuesday, Nov. 12, to serve 37 months in prison for mail fraud and money laundering, but not before calling her behavior “diabolical.” “You said stealing is wrong,” the judge told Haarstad. “This isn’t stealing money. This is breaking trust. This is hurting people.” Chase called Haarstad’s theft “pure greed” and “predatory action.” He cited reports of previous thefts she admitted to at other companies, noting her embezzlement at Campbell Properties was “continuous, repeated, shameless theft.” “This is a lifestyle this defendant got used to and had to pay for it,” Chase said in recommending a 25-month sentence.

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