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.

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


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