Monthly Archives: April 2020

Las Vegas Mayor at Odds with Nevada Governor over Reopening Casinos Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various impacts Covid-19 is having on the gambling industry.  Non-essential businesses all over the country have closed, including casinos.  Naturally, many will be hit hard economically, and that’s especially true for those in the tourism industry, like Las Vegas.  So it’s no surprise that there are economic concerns over the mandated closures.  However, what was a surprise was the way Las Vega Mayor Carolyn Goodman treated the seriousness of the pandemic in her CNN interview with Anderson Cooper.  Forbes reports:

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the mayor of Sin City said she believes Las Vegas’ “nonessential” businesses like casinos should be permitted to operate again after being shut by a statewide order, so employees can get back to work—but came under fire on social media for not having a safety plan.

While Goodman told Cooper she believes social distancing should still be practiced even after businesses open, she said it isn’t her job as mayor to come up with a plan to ensure residents’ and visitors’ safety, and that the responsibility falls upon private business owners to figure out how to protect customers.

When asked by Cooper about the dangers of having large groups of people congregated together—which is against Centers for Disease Control coronavirus safety guidelines told Cooper he was being “an alarmist,” and also said he was too focused on disease while she was “talking about life and living,” to which Cooper replied, “Okay, that makes no sense.”

Unfortunately, the seemingly unbelievable responses from the Las Vegas Mayor were far from over.  In a rather bizarre attempt to find some justification for being open when the rest of the country was closed, Mayor Goodman explained how she wanted to put the city up as a test group and just let everyone in to see what happens.  Forbes continues:

During the interview, Goodman said she wanted to offer up the city “as a control group for health authorities to measure against other places still under lockdown as the city opens up to test the efficacy of social distancing, but said she was told by Las Vegas’ statistician that it wasn’t an option because people from all parts of southern Nevada come into Las Vegas for work each day, which would create too many variables.

Goodman’s comments seemed to echo previous statements she made, including telling MSNBC’s Katy Tur on Tuesday that if the casinos are allowed to open, the locations where people become infected by the virus could later be closed, a method that critics called “a /Hunger Games/” approach  to reopening the city.

Luckily for the people of Las Vegas and those addicted gamblers that might actually flock to Vegas should it open ahead of the rest of the country, Nevada state Governor Steve Sisolak is not letting Las Vegas open prematurely and under the draconian Hunger Games approach suggested my Mayor Goodman.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch explains:

In a testy interview with CNN’s Anderson CooperWednesday, Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman repeatedly called for business to return to normal. “I’d love everything open because we’ve had viruses for years that have been here,” she said at one point. 

Goodman also criticized Cooper for showing a graphic from Chinese researchers that showed how easily the coronavirus can be spread in public. “This isn’t China. This is Las Vegas, Nevada,” Goodman said, prompting a stunned Cooper to retort: “Wow. OK, that’s really ignorant.”

Goodman acknowledged she does not have the authority to reopen casinos or other businesses in the city. That call will come from Nevada governor Steve Sisolak. And Sisolak is not rushing to get back to business as usual. In an interview with Cooper after Goodman’s comments Wednesday, Sisolak said Nevada is “clearly not ready to reopen” and that he will not use Nevada as a “control group” for the rest of the country.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board issued strict guidelines earlier this week detailing the many steps that casinos will need to take before reopening. And casino employees have also balked at the idea of returning to work. “The mayor’s statements are outrageous considering essential frontline workers have been dealing with the consequences of this crisis firsthand,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 in a statement. “Health and safety is our priority. Workers and guests have to be safe,” she added.

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A Brief Look at Crime 04/20 – 04/26

UK iGaming Firms Under Fire For Targeting Problem Gamblers During Covid-19 Lockdown

The social distancing guidelines necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to widespread lockdowns in an effort to quell the spread of the coronavirus in the UK. With captive market of gamblers stuck at home with few options to relieve their boredom, online operators are having a heyday and are running aggressive marketing campaigns.

UK online gaming operators are accused of irresponsible marketing tactics geared toward problem gamblers. Online gambling firms have been observed *offering generous welcome bonuses of £1,000 or more across* social media. Bookmakers have also been accused of inadequately checking for the use of stolen money in wagers they receive, according to a report filed by an ex-detective.

A number of addiction researchers, medical professionals, and MPs have alleged that iGaming firms are taking advantage of vulnerable gamblers via their advertising barrage. The UK’s leading mental health authority has condemned such tactics, calling them shameful. With the suspension of many mainstream sports events leading to a dearth of betting action, many online bookmakers are looking toward the promotion of online casino games to recoup some of their losses.

Man convicted of manslaughter in Honolulu game room shooting

A First Circuit Court jury has convicted Manu Sorensen of manslaughter — instead of murder — in the fatal game room shooting of 31-year-old Jacob Feliciano. It took jurors a little over a day to deliberate the fate of Sorensen, who was convicted of firing a single shot that killed Feliciano during a botched robbery on Sept. 29, 2018, at an illegal gambling house in Ala Moana. While jurors opted for manslaughter, which carries a maximum 20-year prison term, Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell will seek enhanced sentencing of life in prison with the possibility of parole, the same punishment as murder, at a separate trial. “In this case, the defense was an all-or-nothing defense where they were contesting that the defendant was even the shooter,” Bell told reporters outside the courtroom following the verdict today. “There was no direct evidence as to his state of mind, what he was thinking or what he intended, the prosecution can only infer that based on the facts … the jury concluded that the defendant acted recklessly. Namely by firing the gun in the way he did, the location of the shot and the subsequent injuries he was reckless … causing the decedent’s death.”

Newcastle United fan prayed for jail sentence after losing £200,000 through gambling addiction

A lifelong Newcastle United fan who became an online gambling addict lost £200,000 after his life spiralled out of control. Steve Ramsey, of Newcastle, prayed to be sent to jail after his addiction landed in him court for stealing money from his employer. He was sentenced to 27 months in jail after his addiction saw him substitute his personal bank details for his work one. As the addiction took hold, he would spend thousands of pounds of gambling and finally confessed when it reached £192,000. The 53-year-old got hooked to online gambling 10 years ago and it was after winning £140 when Aston Villa scored against West Brom that his life changed. He said: “£140 was won in a blink of an eye. It was exciting, exhilarating and easy. “I had never felt that feeling before whilst gambling. I had discovered in play betting and it was instant, easy accessible and literally available 24 hours per day.”

Record £11.6m UK gambling fine meted out to Betway

The online betting firm Betway will pay a record £11.6m settlement for accepting stolen money from high-spending “VIP” customers, some of whom were displaying clear signs of gambling addiction. The Gambling Commission, which has been under fire for being too weak, said its investigation showed that Betway had allowed £5.8m to flow through the business, some of which was stolen money. It said Betway, whose investors include the South African entrepreneur Martin Moshal, had proved “inadequate” in its dealings with seven customers, failing to fulfil its obligations to prevent both money laundering and problem gambling. While the £11.6m penalty package is a record, dwarfing the £7.8m that the online casino 888 paid in 2017, the commission opted not to use its power to suspend or revoke Betway’s licence to operate, despite a long list of failures by the company. Betway accepted £8m of deposits over four years from one customer, who lost £4m and whose account was flagged as a potential risk 20 times.

Venetian Rape Suspect Caught by Facial Recognition Technology 

A Las Vegas man who allegedly raped a woman in her room at The Venetian was quickly identified and arrested using facial recognition technology, Metro Police said. Donovan Daray Fox, 27, later admitted to police that he gained access to the victim’s room after he found an envelope with a room number and a key card, which she had inadvertently dropped on the casino floor. According to the police report, the victim had been visiting Las Vegas with her husband and friends. After spending time at the casino, she decided to call it a night and headed to her room without her husband. Fox found the keycard at around 2:41 a.m. soon after he entered the casino. He was later caught on surveillance cameras following two women up to the 14th floor, before committing a lewd act outside a room. Fox then proceeded to the victim’s room on the 25^th floor. The woman told police she woke up to find Fox raping her. She told him her husband was on the way up and the suspect fled.

The police did not elaborate on exactly how facial recognition was employed in the case. Metro Police have used the technology for some time, but unlike some police departments, the LVMPD Technical Operations Section only compares suspect images to a database of past arrests. They do not use controversial technology like Clearview, for example, which scrapes social media for billions of images of regular citizens. And while Las Vegas casinos are notoriously tight-lipped about security, they are known to have used facial recognition tools since the 1990s, primarily to detect and identify banned or problem gamblers.

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States Urged to Temporarily Shut down Lottery Gambling as Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Checks are Sent Out

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various impacts Covid-19 is having on the gambling industry. All across the country, casinos are being closed, alongside other businesses, as stay at home orders are in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  Obviously this has lead to a sharp downturn in the economy and the government has responded with economic stimulus checks.  One group is wisely suggesting to state legislators to temporarily suspend their lotteries to help ensure that money can be spent on essentials, and not sent back to the government through state funded gambling.  An online source reports:

Stop Predatory Gambling, which has been a familiar face at online gambling hearings on Capitol Hill over the years, on Monday sent a letter to governors of states with lotteries. SPG National Director Les Bernal said in his letter that federal relief money sent to families could be used to “subsidize state lotteries.”

Bernal called for lotteries to temporarily shut down by arguing, in part, that people shouldn’t be able to spend their stimulus checks on that form of state-sanctioned gambling. Casinos across the country have closed, sports betting has come to a near standstill, and only four states have some form of legal online casino gaming. That has left the lottery as the only widespread form of gambling still active.

“We are writing to call on you to immediately shut down the marketing and selling of all state lottery gambling games until the financial turmoil caused by the coronavirus has passed,” Bernal said.

Such advocacy is solidly grounded as those with the least economic ability tend to be the ones to spend the most on the lottery.  Les Bernal addresses these issues in a press release that accompanied the letter:

As part of its letter to state officials, Stop Predatory Gambling included its 2020 Briefing on State Lotteries also issued on Monday. The report spotlighted lotteries as one of the root causes why more than 60% of Americans had less than $1000 in savings before the coronavirus pandemic occurred.

The report found “state governments have turned a nation of small earners, who could be small savers, into a nation of habitual gamblers on course to lose more than $1 trillion of wealth to government-sanctioned gambling over the next eight years. At least half of this wealth – $500 billion – will be lost to state lotteries.”

Bernal hopes the lottery shutdown and the new report will bring sorely-needed attention to “America’s most-neglected problem today.”

“Building assets and the accumulating and investing of savings, are the keys to financial peace,” Bernal said.   “A home, a college fund, retirement accounts, a stock portfolio—these assets are the hallmarks of middle and upper class America, and they are all the result of savings. Creating wealth by the accumulation and investment of savings is the direct opposite of what state lotteries represent and encourage.”

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A Brief Look at Crime 04/13 – 04/19

Dealers, Players Cheated Casino Out of Over $100,000 

Two blackjack players and three dealers conspired to cheat a Connecticut casino operated by the Mohegan tribe out of over $100,000 in 2018, according to tribal police. Three of the five people named in court documents have been charged to date with their involvement in illegal bets, according to an arrest warrant affidavit written by Mohegan Tribal Police Detective John Graves. Former Mohegan Sun dealers Darius J. Rook, 22, of Norwich and Aneesah Ahmad, 24, of Montville and player Victor Jesus Garcia, 36, of Yonkers, New York, have all pleaded not guilty to first-degree larceny and cheating at gambling, The Day reported Monday. The investigation began in May 2018 when the casino surveillance department began a review of dealer error between Garcia and another dealer. Garcia allegedly cheated with all three dealers for a total loss of $83,850 to the casino. Another player cheated with Rook and Dixon for a total of $20,525, according to police.

Harrah Cockfighting Ring Suspects Now Face Nearly 90 Related Charges

The couple busted in a Harrah cockfighting ring in January are in more hot water. Charges in the case have been amended to include 88 cockfighting related charges. Justin McHone, 38, and Tara Gentry, 41, were arrested in January after the multi-jurisdiction Anti-crime Support Effort (MASE) team stumbled across the ring while serving a search warrant on an unrelated case. The ring was located on a property east of Harrah off of Highway 62. The two face one count of instigating or encouraging cockfighting, servicing or facilitating cockfighting, and 86 additional charges of owning, possessing, keeping or training a bird for cockfighting.

“We’ve got a full count of the number of fighting chickens, there were 86 that were confiscated,” said Allan Grub, the Lincoln/Pottawatomie County District Attorney. “Since they admitted to the ownership of all those birds, they had the fighting pen there, we believe all of those charges are maintainable and each of those charges carries up to 10 years a piece.” By the end of January, the Tulsa area nonprofit, Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, rescued all 86 roosters and hens. The animals were placed in loving homes. One crime, investigators quickly learned, turned into multiple. “Methamphetamines were found at the residence, there were guns found at the residence, we believe that there was illegal gambling going on,” said Grubb. “It’s just patterns and practices of crimes that we want to discourage in our district.”

Manager Stole Hundreds of Thousands From Sunny Isles Beach Condos

A property manager for two Sunny Isles Beach condominiums is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from condo boards that was spent on gambling at a local casino, authorities said. Georgina Pineda, 56, was arrested back in November on a first-degree grand theft charge, and was arrested again on Monday on a similar charge, according to jail records and arrest reports. According to the reports, Pineda had worked as the property manager at the Eden Roc Condominium on N. Bay Road, as well as a condo association manager at the King David Condo on Atlantic Boulevard. While working at the Eden Roc, Pineda had access to the condo’s four bank accounts. The condo board president said he had continually requested a full accounting of board’s operating funds and Pineda made excuses until he went to the bank himself and discovered that hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds had been depleted, the reports said. When the King David did a financial audit of their accounts, it was discovered that between $140,000 and $400,000 in condo funds had been embezzled by Pineda using electronic fund transfers and debit card withdrawals at Miccosukee Gaming and Resort, the reports said.

Former GardaWorld employee convicted after $390,000 was stolen from an armored truck

On Thursday, a Helena man who worked for GardaWorld was convicted by a jury on multiple charges. John Gregory Alexander Herrin, 30, was accused of taking money stolen from a GardaWorld truck and spending it on gambling and shopping in Las Vegas, day trading and traveling to France according to a release from the Department of Justice. The release says while in Missoula, Helena employees kept their truck locked, but unattended, several times while servicing banks and ATMs before going to Kalispell. When the employees arrived in Kalispell, they discovered three bags containing $390,000 were missing. An internal investigation was launched by the company, however, they were unable to definitively implicate anyone in the theft.

Not long after the theft, Herrin’s financial situation drastically changed. According to the release, Herrin went to Las Vegas twice in January 2014 and again in July 2014. While in Las Vegas the first time, Herrin stated at a high-end casino and went shopping with a woman. Herrin made large cash deposits at the casino and paid $22,600 in cash for a watch. After coming back from his first trip, Herrin deposited a cashier’s check and cash into his checking account totaling $160,870. Herrin told the bank teller he went to Las Vegas with $500 and won $160,000 gambling. One former employee who was also a roommate of Herrin indicated that Herrin showed him a casino check for gambling he appeared to have won in January 2014. Herrin’s roommate also said employees sometimes left Garda trucks unattended against company policy, and that a broom handle could be used to unlock the trucks and that he had seen Herrin unlock a truck using a broom handle.

Irvine financial firm co-founder gets prison for fraud 

The co-founder of an Irvine-based financial services and insurance company was sentenced Tuesday to more than 10 years in federal prison for his role in carrying out a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme. Mehmet Faith Biyikoglu, of Palm Desert, was sentenced to 121 months behind bars and ordered to pay approximately $3.5 million in restitution in connection to a scheme aimed at “elderly, retired or financially unsophisticated” victims, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. According to federal prosecutors, the scheme was carried out between 2014 and 2016 while Biyikoglu served as chief executive officer of Five Star Financial Services of America, an Irvine-based financial advisory firm.

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Animal to Human Transmitted Covid-19 Virus brings new light to Cockfighting and Transference of Diseases like Avian Flu

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various criminal activities associated with cockfighting and the illegal gambling for which it exists, including a recent decision by Puerto Rico to openly disregard new federal legislation. Numerous reasons exist to treat this barbaric activity illegal, but the coronavirus is demonstrating why its even more important to work hard to eradicate cockfighting. An online source explains:

In an emailed statement, Animal Wellness Action recommending banning cockfights for animal health and to prevent the transfer of avian flu to humans.

Due to the impact of the coronavirus, we must look at other risks of animal-human disease transmission including cockfighting, the organization said. Animal Wellness Action argues that handling chickens during cockfights is dangerous and inhumane to both humans and animals.

“China’s leaders were reckless in allowing live-animal markets to flourish even after warnings that capturing and butchering pangolins, civet cats, and other wild animals posed considerable risks of spawning a zoonotic disease,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, in an emailed statement.   “It’s similarly irresponsible for political leaders in any part of the world to have any degree of tolerance for cockfights, which are dangerous mixing bowls where humans and birds interact in ways that can readily pass blood and respiratory fluids to people and infect them.”

According to Dr. Annie Harvilicz, a veterinarian and chief medical officer of the Animal Wellness Foundation, “It’s just foolish to allow people to interact with birds and exchange bodily fluids with them, only for the purpose of gambling on staged fights.   Talk about an unnecessary risk.”

So exactly how does cockfighting allow for the spread of such fluids between birds and humans? At a basic level, respiration alone can cause the transfer, but cockfighting creates additional opportunities.  Roosters are often handled with razors attached to their feet. This is designed to help ensure one of the cocks is killed in the fight, thus making the gambling wager and winner clear cut.  There is animal blood all over the birds and it’s not hard to see a scenario where handling them leads to a slice on human skin and transference.  But beyond that, there is a more shocking scenario that most certainly creates a massive risk, not only for Avian flu, but potentially new, more deadly viruses like Covid-19.  An online source explains:

In what constitutes perhaps the riskiest imaginable practice when it comes to animal-to-human disease transmission, some cockfighters are known to put the head of a rooster in their mouth to suck airway secretions from the injured and exhausted animal. For the cockfighter, sucking up the blood and other secretions from the lungs and other air passages after the animal has suffered a stab wound is not a life-saving intervention, but a way to prolong the fighting and pull out an unlikely victory.

Cockfighters in Puerto Rico and Guam — the two biggest U.S. territories and both international hubs for cockfighting – are not only breaking the federal law against animal fighting, but they’re courting the next wave of avian influenza and other zoonotic diseases by handling animals in these dangerous ways. The hard-core practitioners are persisting with felony-level crimes three months after the latest provisions of federal law took effect.

Once roosters in a locale are infected with avian influenza, perhaps through contact with migratory birds with an innocuous form of avian influenza, the virus can reassort and become more virulent or contagious. At cockfights, men handle bloodied birds, with knives attached to their legs, potentially exposing the handlers to cuts. The blood and infectious respiratory secretions from an infected bird can infect them, allowing the virus to jump the species barrier. At that point additional reassortment can occur where avian and human influenza viruses mix and create a new, deadly virus like the Spanish Flu or COVID-19.

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A Brief Look at Crime 04/06 – 04/12

Man drowns three daughters after wife denies money for gambling 

In what appeared to be a shocking incident, a man killed his three daughters by throwing them into irrigation well as his son was able to escape the wrath of his father who was annoyed from the wife for denying money for gambling. The incident occurred in Kamareddy district of India’s Telangana state. The victims were identified as Afia (10), Maheen (9) and Joya (7). 

According to details, the accused had five children including four daughters and a son. One of his daughters was handed over to a family for adoption at an early age. According to Banswada police station authorities, the man used to have frequent quarrels with his wife Niloufer. On the day of the incident, the accused asked his four children to accompany him to a function at a local shrine and took them to an irrigation tank full of water. The son, while suspecting his father’s mysterious behaviour and ran away as the accused threw his daughters into the well. The mother soon after knowing mysterious activity of husband from son, rushed to the site and cried  for help after knowing of the brutal act committed by Fayaz.

NJ Fines Online Gambling Company After Two Self-Excluded Players Lost Combined $29,000

Last month, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement disciplined a company involved with online gambling after some self-excluded players were allowed to continue playing and accumulated heavy losses. The state imposed a $36,000 civil penalty against NYX Digital (Scientific Games) under a settlement stemming from a violation of the state’s gambling self-exclusion rules designed to protect the public, according to the DGE’s website.

The complaint stated that on Feb. 14, 2019, a patron reported to Resorts Digital that he had self-excluded via MoheganSun.com on Jan. 26, 2019 but was still able to gamble on ResortsCasino.com. It was discovered, according to the DGE, that there was an “omission” in a software “release which was deployed on Oct. 10, 2018, which included code to support adding self-excluded individuals to the Division’s self-excluded list by operator/skin.” Being on that list means you aren’t supposed to be able to gamble on any platform. The software failure resulted in anyone self-excluding on MoheganSunCasino.com not being added to the state’s list. The state said that nine gamblers were adversely impacted by the software issue. On Feb. 16, 2019, all nine were manually added to the list and NYX Digital “successfully deployed an emergency fix.”

Ex-Parks and Rec worker repays the $100k she embezzled

A former San Diego city employee official who admitted embezzling more than $100,000 from the Parks and Recreation Department paid back every penny on Thursday and was placed on probation. Lisa Ann Petty turned over a cashier’s check for $100,649.65 to a city official in a San Diego courtroom. No mention was made of how Petty, 43, accumulated the sum. Superior Court Judge Polly Shamoon placed Petty on five years of formal probation and ordered her to perform 200 hours of community service. Petty also is required to enroll in a treatment program for gambling. Deputy District Attorney Judy Taschner noted that Petty “has a gambling problem” that played a role in her crime. Petty was accused of siphoning the funds to her personal accounts from January 2017 until October 2018 while serving as director of the Paradise Hills Recreation Center. She had run the center since 2012.

3 illegal gambling arcades in 3 different plazas were shut down 

Three illegal gambling operations, in three different shopping plazas in Tallahassee, have been shut down. The Tallahassee Police Department served search warrants to three local businesses, often referred to as “internet cafes.” Inside they discovered all three were running illegal gambling operations. They arrested five people, with more arrest warrants pending. After complaints from people in the area, TPD launched an investigation into businesses like Southern Amusement Arcade in April of 2019. Residents and businesses in the are said they had no idea that something like this was going on behind closed doors.

Kenton Findley often visits the shopping plaza where Southern Amusement Arcade used to be. “I thought they were getting ready, about to relocate,” said Findley.”I wasn’t aware they were being shut down.” He says he thought it was a place people went to relax and play video games. “I was under the assumption that it was probably one of those arcade areas where they had a couple of X-boxes and a couple of card games.” Grace Entertainment Incorporated, Havan 2009 LLC, and Southern Amusement Arcade are now closed. Officers said they began their investigation because several of the “arcades” had armed robberies. “Back in April we started getting complaints because several of these places got robbed in takeover robberies with firearms,” Officer Bradshaw said. “In at least two occasions there were shots fired.”

27 indicted on federal charges in alleged horse doping scheme

Horse racing, already in the midst of a crisis over the number of equine fatalities in the sport, was dealt another severe blow to its credibility when federal authorities charged 27 people in a horse drugging scheme. Among those was Jason Servis, trainer of Maximum Security, the recent winner of the $20-million Saudi Cup. Federal prosecutors in New York put forth the indictments alleging “widespread, corrupt schemes by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, [performance enhancing drug] distributors, and others to manufacture, distribute and receive unadulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses.”

 No California-based trainers or veterinarians were named in the indictments. The doping scheme was alleged to have occurred in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky and the United Arab Emirates. The announcement of the indictment had animal rights groups calling for the immediate passage of the federal Horse Racing Integrity Act. The bill, which is more of a concept than actual plan, would create federal oversight of race horse medication. It has bipartisan support and will likely pass the House this year.

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Missouri’s Illegal Gambling Machines are Finally being Shut Down, but only Temporarily

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to remove illegal gambling machines scattered all over Missouri in places like gas stations and convenience stores. Slot Machines are only legal in the 13 licensed Missouri Casinos, but when these started popping up, it was unclear how to deal with the problem.  Most recently, the Missouri legislature put forth various solutions, but most were at odds with one another.  These machines have stayed in operation despite all kinds of attempts, but the covid-19 situation has finally created an opportunity to close them down, at least temporarily.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch explains:

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Friday banned the operation of the slot machines that at least one politically connected company has installed at scores of gas stations and truck stops in the past year.

The prohibition, which also includes other coin-operated games ranging from pool tables to pinball, is designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus, said DHSS Director Randall Williams.

“Due to the potential unnecessary exposure associated with individuals playing coin-operated amusement devices … and slot machines, all persons should avoid using such devices or machines and the owner of such devices or machines shall be prohibited from operating them for public use through the duration of this order,” Williams wrote.

This order runs as long as the Governor keeps the state on stay at home orders, but once that lifts, these illegal gambling machines will return, and so will all the problems associated with them.  

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A Brief Look at Crime 03/23 – 04/05

William Hill Owned Online Casino, Fined For Ignoring Problem Gambling 

Mr Green online casino, which is owned by William Hill sports book, is being fined for $3.8 Million for not helping prevent gambling addictions. This has been an ongoing incident amongst online casinos since 2018. The money from all of these fines will go toward helping gamblers who suffer from addiction. The William Hill business is one of several online gaming platforms that has been punished in accordance with the U.K.’s stricter guidelines for online betting and gambling. Mr Green is actually the ninth casino operator to be hit with a fine. Since 2018, there has been *$25.6 Million in fines paid due to the same reason. The Gambling Commission has revoked six managers’ licenses and has given out six other formal warnings.  “Our investigation uncovered systemic failings in respect of both Mr Green’s social responsibility and AML controls which affected a significant number of customers across its online casinos,” said.” Richard Watson, Gambling Commission executive director.

Martinsville, Danville women arrested and charged with child abuse in North Carolina 

Two mothers from Martinsville and Danville were arrested early Sunday by the Rockingham County (N.C.) Sheriff’s Office and charged with leaving their children unattended in a car while they were gambling. The engine was off, and the hood was cold to the deputies’ touches, the release said, leading to an investigation. Deputies learned that Hairston and White had been inside the gaming establishment for approximately two to three hours while their children (each mother to one of the children) were left unattended in the vehicle. Hairston and White were arrested and held in the Rockingham County Detention Facility under a $20,000 secured bond.

Kettering woman wanted for embezzling $270K for gambling

Authorities are looking for a Kettering woman accused of embezzling more than $273,000 from the Warren County office of Nelson & Associates, specialists in the development and management of affordable housing. Alison McGaughey, 39, of Kettering was indicted on charges of telecommunications fraud, aggravated theft, unauthorized use of property, identity fraud and tampering with records, according to a list of indictments released Monday by the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office.

The case against McGaughey, office manager and bookkeeper for the Nelson & Associates office in Deerfield Twp. since December 2012, began after a supervisor went to her house after she didn’t come work in May 2019, according to Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell. Company officials reviewed business records and discovered all passwords and fraud alert notifications had been changed to be sent to her, Fornshell said. “She had transferred in access of $105,000 from company accounts to her PayPal and personal accounts,” the prosecutor added. Through the Ohio Casino Commission, investigators determined McGaughey “had been gambling large amounts of money during 2018 and 2019 in addition to taking several vacations during that period,” Fornshell said.

1 Charged, 2 Wanted After Men Stole $42K in MGM National Harbor Winnings

One man has been charged and two others are still sought after police say they attacked and robbed two men who won $42,000 at the MGM National Harbor casino. Javontae Renard Smallwood, 27, of Southeast D.C., was charged Monday with armed robbery and aggravated malicious wounding. He already was in jail in Fairfax County on unrelated charges. Prince William County police say they’re searching for Tavon Everett Lee Vines, 27, of Northeast D.C., and Daquan Artis Tinker, 23, of Southeast D.C. What began as a night of celebration took a violent turn. Hours after two men won $42,000 playing blackjack at the MGM National Harbor casino, three masked men attacked and robbed them in Woodbridge, Virginia. The men were pistol-whipped and one was shot and wounded, court documents say about the attack Dec. 19. A neighbor said Monday that she heard the attack and was afraid.

Wichita Man Sentenced for Embezzling From Retired Widow

A retired financial adviser who took more than $800,000 from a retired widow was sentenced Tuesday to three years and two months in prison after a judge rejected his plea for probation. The 75-year-old victim testified Tuesday that she trusted Hollis to manage her estate after her husband died. She said he had destroyed her sense of security in retirement and denied her children and stepchildren their inheritance. Hollis asked the judge for probation, citing his age and medical issues. He blamed his crimes on a difficult upbringing and a gambling addiction. The judge also ordered Hollis to pay $822,322 to the victim. [He] pleaded guilty earlier this year to felony theft. Prosecutors said he embezzled the money from trust funds from 2014 to 2018, after the woman had been his client for many years.

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