Monthly Archives: October 2020

Netherlands Court Rules EA’s Loot Boxes are Illegal Gambling and Upheld Earlier Fine

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the newest form of gambling in video games known as loot boxes. This particular gambling-esque mechanic was first brought forth to mainstream media because of their prevalence in EA’s Star Wars licensed BattleFront II game.  Since then, regulators all over the world have urged for studies or moved to advance legislation that regulates or bans loot boxes.  So perhaps it’s fitting that the publisher EA is again at the forefront of the battle over loot boxes in the Netherlands.  This time they have been accused of allowing illegal gambling in their world popular soccer game Fifa.  The court ruled that their loot boxes are illegal and ordered them to pay a fine. An online gaming source explains:

A Netherlands District Court this week ruled against Electronic Arts in a case over FIFA loot boxes, allowing the Netherlands Gambling Authority (Kansspelautoriteit, or Ksa) to proceed in fining the publisher €10 million for violating the country’s Betting and Gaming Act.

“The Ksa believes it is crucial to shield vulnerable groups, such as minors, from exposure to gambling,” the regulator explained. “For that reason, the Ksa supports a strict separation between gaming and gambling. Gamers are often young and therefore particularly susceptible to developing an addiction. As such, gambling elements have no place in games.”

According to the judgment, EA argued that FIFA loot boxes would not count as gambling under the Betting and Gaming Act because FIFA Ultimate Team packs (loot boxes) don’t offer items of value because they cannot be directly converted into money, that FIFA is inherently a game of skill rather than chance, and that there is no scientific evidence linking the opening of Ultimate Team packs to gambling addiction.

The court was unswayed by those arguments, noting that there are ways for people to profit from Ultimate Team cards that can be valued at nearly €2,000, and that people can ignore the proper FIFA gameplay and “play” the Ultimate Team packs as their own sort of game.

As for the lack of scientific proof, the judges ruled it not necessary that every new game of chance be proven to cause problems, because the Betting and Gaming Act is based on the assumption that games of chance carry with them a risk of gambling addiction. They also pointed to an increasing body of scientific research and experts warning about loot boxes, as well as reports made to the Ksa by individuals who had been affected by them.

Naturally, EA is expected to appeal the decision.  They asked the court to not disclose the amount of the fine, but the court’s response was “that the public interest in announcing the fines and warning the public about unlawful commercial practices outweighed EA’s interest in preserving its reputation.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 10/19 -10/25

Killer who bashed his wife to death and buried her in their backyard won’t do ANY more jail time despite stealing nearly $6m to fund his gambling habit

An accountant who bashed his wife to death with a wheel brace has been sentenced to 10 years jail for stealing $6million to fund his gambling habit. But Ahmed Dawood Seedat, 37, who is serving a life sentence for killing 32-year-old Fahima Yusuf and burying her in a shallow grave in the garden of their Perth home, will serve both terms concurrently – meaning he won’t spend anymore time in jail. A probe into his financial affairs revealed a staggering list of 20 people who fell victim to theft and fraud at the hands of the disgraced accountant. On Tuesday he faced WA District Court and was sentenced after pleading guilty to the 97 fraud and theft offences. The court heard the 37-year-old stole money from 20 family members and friends between November 2013 and August 2018, with the crimes only discovered after his murder charge, NCA Newswire reported.

Canada police charge dozens and seize $10m in assets in illegal casino bust

Police in Canada  have charged dozens of people and seized millions in assets after discovering that a sprawling mansion north of Toronto was thriving as an underground gambling den while legal casinos were shuttered due to the coronavirus lockdown. York region police announced 74 charges on Wednesday connected to a months-long investigation into illegal gambling operations in Ontario. As well as making 29 arrests, police seized more than $10m in assets, firearms, cash and high-end liquor. “This is organized crime truly exploiting and demonstrating their money, their positions and opulence thinking somehow that they are above the law,” York police’s deputy chief, Brian Bigras, told reporters. The main target of the raid was a 20,000 sq ft mansion, sitting on a two-acre property in an affluent suburb of north York. The upstairs rooms of the house were used as a bed and breakfast, but police say the basement had been transformed into a luxury underground casino and spa.

Nashville Firm’s Ex-Leader Gets 35 Months for Embezzlement

A Louisiana  man faces 35 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $760,000 from Nashville-based Omnis Health Inc., where he formerly was president. Robert Burton also was ordered to pay more than $1 million combined in restitution to the company and the IRS and was fined $15,000 during his sentencing Monday, the Nashville U.S. attorney’s office said. Between December 2013 and January 2017, Burton claimed he was using personal funds to buy diabetic testing supplies. Instead, he placed them in online shopping carts and printed screen displays as receipts, the prosecutor’s office said. Burton also fabricated credit card receipts and submitted false travel expense claims, according to the office. Burton converted reimbursement checks into cash or prepaid debit cards and often used the money for gambling, court documents stated.

Backus woman admits to stealing from former employer

A 61-year-old Backus woman accused of embezzling over $100,000 from a Pine River dental office said she did it to support her gambling and shopping habits, according to court documents. According to the criminal complaint filed against Kelley, a Cass County sheriff investigator spoke June 26 with the CEO of Pine River Dental Arts. The CEO discovered discrepancies leading her to believe Kelley, The former office manager, mishandled company funds. When Kelley was employed, she was the only employee who oversaw the office financial duties, including payroll and accounts receivable. The investigator spoke with Kelley, who admitted she stole from her former employer, that it had been going on since 2013 and she did it to support her gambling and shopping habits.

Florida man charged with scamming investors out of $6.8M in crypto trading scheme 

A Florida businessman has been charged with scamming investors through a $6.8 million digital asset trading scheme, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced on Tuesday. According to the court complaint filed in federal court in Miami, Thomas J. Gity allegedly received funding from at least 18 investors by pretending to be a “high-profitable asset trader who never lost money during a trading day.” Gity was accused of providing fake account statements to investors to trick them into thinking he was managing as much as $100 million in assets. Per the complaint, Gity told investors he would use their funding to trade digital assets, but only transferred $970,000 of the $6.8 million he received into trading accounts. Gity allegedly transferred over $1.8 million of the funds to his son and for personal expenses and gambling. Gity is facing charges for violating multiple securities laws, including the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The SEC is seeking a civil penalty and is moving to prevent Gity from taking part in securities offerings.

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

Apple & Google face Federal Lawsuit for Allowing Gambling-esue Apps in their Play Stores

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the development, recognition and battles over loot boxes as a new gambling mechanism in video games, including a pair of recent California based lawsuits against Apple and Google.  Those suits centered around popular gaming apps that had loot boxes inside an otherwise normal looking game like EA’s Fifa soccer or Nintendo’s Mario Kart Tour.   A new Federal lawsuit, however, alleges that same access to loot box type gambling, but in a more obvious gambling related app.  An online Alabama new source reports:

Two federal lawsuits filed Wednesday seek refunds for Alabama residents who downloaded games from app stores that the plaintiffs say are illegal gambling under state law. The potential class action lawsuits were filed against tech giants Apple and Google by two Shelby County residents who purchased the app-based games and paid money for more playing time. The suit specifically deals with games that begin with offering the player a set number of free starting “coins” to play the slots, blackjack, roulette, poker, keno, bingo, and other card and gambling games.

A loss results in a loss of the coins, but the customer has the chance to win more coins. When a customer runs out of coins, the player is prompted to use real money to buy more coins to keep playing. Both suits list 200 games available through Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store that feature casino-type gambling.

“Apple and its chief mobile device software competitor, Google, both allow customers to purchase games that are no more or no less than casino-style slot machines, casino-style table games, and other common gambling games,” one suit alleges. The suit contends that under Alabama’s gambling statutes, paying money in a game for a chance to win more playing time constitutes illegal gambling. 

The suit brings up state law’s definition of “something of value,” which it says is not limited to games where one gambles in the hopes of winning actual cash. “Rather, ‘something of value’ specifically includes ‘extension of a service entertainment or a privilege of playing at a game or scheme without charge.’ As a matter of law, paying money to get ‘coins’ one bets hoping to win more ‘coins’ so as to gain the ‘privilege of playing at a game or scheme without charge’ is gambling a thing of value under Alabama law,” the suits contend.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 10/12 – 10/18

Tourists, employees talk about violent incidents on the Las Vegas Strip

People vacationing in Las Vegas say their visits are not the same as they used to be. With more than 1,100 recent arrests, many say they aren’t comfortable going out at night. And it’s not only people visiting who are concerned, it is also employees who work in the tourist corridor. They say it is different, and they hope something is done before it gets worse. “It is scary, you know,” said Joe Won, visiting from Texas. “After 9’clock, a different type of crowd comes out, and it is just uncomfortable with me and the family.” Randy Bennett, visiting from Florida, said, “It feels a little differently right now. I don’t see as many of the security people as what used to be I felt on bicycles.”

“We have been noticing a trend out there since August,” said Sheriff Joe Lombardo in an interview earlier Wednesday. “We have increased substantially the officers that are present throughout the weekends, on Fridays and Saturdays,” Lombardo revealed. He says he believes they have mitigated a lot of problems: “We have effected over 1,000 arrests since we have been concentrating on those two particular areas. And interesting enough, sad enough, we have recovered over 60 firearms.” Lombardo says 40% of the arrests were felonies. On Facebook Live Wednesday, we asked people if they feel safe. Strip workers responded. One restaurant waiter wrote: “There are people who are clearly carrying firearms and using them, and fights are a daily occurrence.”  A cab driver said: “The clientele we have been receiving lately is making us cab drivers feel unsafe and on edge … I’ve had countless customers say that they will not come back to Vegas because they don’t feel safe.”

Man defrauded employer out of more than $9 million

A Wisconsin man will serve three years in prison after he defrauded his former employer out of millions of dollars, spending the funds on vacations, college tuition, online gambling and more, federal authorities said. Gold, who ran the company’s accounting and billing systems, was linked to two separate schemes that defrauded his former employer out of more than $9 million, authorities said. Finkle worked in sales.  From February 2015 through December 2018, Finkle conspired with Gold and Kenneth Pedroli, another employee, to defraud the company, authorities said. Authorities said the trio hatched a plan to buy electronic components that Pedroli made from JST for a business he ran in New York. As part of the scheme, authorities said, Finkle told Pedroli to put his orders and list prices at a fraction of JST’s published prices. Once Pedroli’s orders were submitted to JST at the discounted prices, the products were shipped to him. Finkle told Pedroli to pay only a portion of the invoice price and make the payments directly to him, authorities said.

Online gambling cyberattacks spike during pandemic lockdown

Malicious cyberattacks against online gambling sites soared during the pandemic lockdown as scammers looked to take advantage of the sites’ increased popularity. Technology analytics firm Neustar Security recently released its /Cyber Threats & Trends Report: Jan-Jun 2020/ which details a 151% surge in the number of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year. Worse, these attacks are getting more powerful and lasting longer. While attacks at the lower end of the scale involving 5 Gigabits (Gbps) or lower per second were up over 200% year-on-year – and such attacks represented over 70% of observed attacks – those at the other extreme (involving 100 Gbps or more) were up around 275%.

Schuylkill Co. mini-casino accused of using illegal gambling machines

Across the street from Minersville’s Spin City, former U.S. Congressman Tom Marino called for its shutdown. “This place has illegal slot machines. We at Pace-O-Matic, our games are legal. We have skilled games not like a slot machine,” said Marino. He now works for Pennsylvania Skill and conducted an investigation on Spin City with former prosecutors, and delivered their report to the Schuylkill County DA’s Office. “Eighty percent of the market across Pennsylvania has illegal poker machines and the only ones legally allowed to have slot machines are casinos,” said Marino.

Vegas casinos on notice after Boyd levied $300,000 fine

The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) is sending a message – a loud and expensive one – to casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere across the state. Last week, reports surfaced that a couple of security officers at Boyd Gaming’s Fremont Hotel & Casino had gone all Rambo-like on a patron who had been accused of stealing from another. Instead of taking the high road and handling the situation with civility, the officers reportedly jumped into full tactical mode and are said to have acted like they had captured an Al-Qaeda operative. After the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) got involved, it conducted and forwarded its findings to the NGC for the final resolution. The commission has now spoken and has slapped Boyd with a $300,000 fine.

MGC Chairman John Moran Jr. said after the commission met last Thursday to go over the NGCB’s findings that he was “very troubled” by what had transpired, but was reluctant to support the NGCB’s recommended fine. He was reluctant because he didn’t feel it was enough. He would have been happy to sign off on a more severe punishment and will in the future if similar events are reported. He warned casino operators to toe the line appropriately, stating, “I am not going to support only a $300,000 fine. It’s going to be a lot more.”

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

Local Councilman Introduces Casino Smoking Ban Ordinance for Missouri Facility

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent decision of many casinos to, at least temporarily, support a ban on smoking in their facilities.  Covid-19 is clearly an airborne virus and not only do smokers need to remove their masks to smoke, but the act of smoking clearly demands they blow the smoke out and away from them, contaminating the air all around them.  A Kansas City area councilman has offered an ordinance to effectively ban smoking as the casino and local health officials, according to the councilman,  don’t seem to want to put public safety over monetary gain.  An online source reports:

St. Joseph City Councilman PJ Kovac is introducing an ordinance that would effectively ban smoking inside the St. Jo Frontier Casino during the coronavirus pandemic, a model hundreds of casinos have followed. Kovac also accused the city health director of turning a “blind eye” to the health of those who visit the casino. “You know, we don’t want to hurt our revenue,” Kovac said sarcastically, referring to tax dollars the city receives from the casino. “So is it about money or is it about health? To all the other businesses, it’s about health.”

Kovac said he has witnessed casino patrons removing their masks indoors while smoking in close proximity to others. “A guy rolled up right next to me smoking the entire time,” he said. “He’s blowing smoke right at me, then he gets done, cigarette in his mouth with his mask down, goes all the way up the casino floor.” Bradley told News-Press NOW that health department staff has visited the casino in regards to enforcement of the mayor’s mask order, but that no one has been fined or sanctioned.

A spokeswoman for the Missouri Gaming Commission, the state agency that generally regulates casinos, said that it’s up to individual cities to regulate smoking inside the establishments. According to CDC Gaming Reports,125 casinos across the country that previously allowed smoking have banned the practice during the coronavirus pandemic, though it’s unclear how many of those will make the ban permanent.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 10/05 – 10/11

Shooting on Las Vegas Strip injures 2; several arrests made

Several people have been arrested after two people were injured following a shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, authorities said. Metro Police said the shooting occurred about 2 a.m. Saturday on the sidewalk in front of the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. Officers arrived and reported finding a man and woman with non-life threatening injuries. Both victims were taken to a hospital for treatment. Police said the shooting was a result of an altercation between two groups of people and one man opened fire. They said multiple people including the shooter have been arrested, but didn’t immediately provide exact numbers or release any names.

FBI investigating fatal shooting in Emerald Queen Casino parking garage 

Puyallup Tribal Police responded to a report of a shooting at the south parking garage of the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma just before midnight Friday night. Tribal officers and Emerald Queen security performed CPR on the male victim. The victim was pronounced deceased early Saturday morning. Tribal police say a male suspect fled the scene on foot. Police believe the shooting did not appear to be a robbery. Following standard procedure for major crimes on the Puyallup reservation, the FBI is now investigating the shooting.

Felon charged in Palm Springs Casino parking garage shooting; Police search for second suspect

An attempted murder charge was filed today against a felon accused of shooting a man inside a Palm Springs casino parking garage last week. According to the Palm Springs Police Department, the victim was leaving the casino shortly after 3 a.m. when they were approached by two males in the parking structure. “A conversation transpired and the victim was shot multiple times. Both male subjects fled the location,” reads the news release by PSPD. Police did not offer a possible motive or said whether the men knew each other. Along with an attempted murder charge, Gomez faces sentence-enhancing allegations of discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury, and committing a crime while out on bail.

Casino Parking Garages Continue to Be Settings for Violent Crimes

Multiple US gaming property garages were the scenes of shootings inn recent months. It is not surprising these crimes take place in parking garages, said Brad Bonnell, a principal of the Hotel Security Group, given their “isolation” and how they provide criminals “anonymity. Predators know that casino-hotel garages … [have] well-funded tourists.” Bonnell is a former vice president of loss prevention for Extended Stay America, and ex-global director of security for InterContinental Hotels. Earlier, he was chief of staff for the Georgia State Patrol and an agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He says that a garage’s design can make a property more inviting for criminals. Bonnell notes how many garages are enclosed, have multiple levels, and sloping ramps. They have stairwells and elevators, he added. The large number of parked cars can make a garage darker by blocking light. Most garages are open to the public, Bonnell said, so entry and exit are easier.

Two greyhound owners banned from racing in Iowa as animal torture probe continues

Iowa greyhound racing regulators have revoked the licenses of two out-of-state dog owners after videos showed them training dog  using live rabbits as lures, a banned practice, says Brian Ohorilko, administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. The license revocations for Wesley Parvin of Keota, Oklahoma, and Ursula O’Donnell of Abilene, Kansas, bar them for five years from racing dogs at Iowa’s sole pari-mutuel dog track, Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque. The videos released by GREY2K USA, a group opposed to greyhound racing, showed handlers pulling rabbits from cages, dragging them in front of the dogs and then releasing them to be chased, maimed, and often, killed. Live lure training is banned in every U.S. state. Under Iowa gambling rules, no greyhound that has been trained using a live lure or live bait can be entered in a race. 

Animal cruelty investigator Pete Paxton shot the footage in Texas and Oklahoma with the permission of nearby landowners, according to GREY2K USA, which has been involved in other probes of greyhound abuse around the world. GREY2K USA gave the videos to authorities in the states where they were taken, as well as in Iowa, Arkansas, Florida and West Virginia, the states where racing is still legal. Jerry Crawford, who is also an attorney for the Iowa Greyhound Association, said the group does not condone the training and would support federal legislation to criminalize it.

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

Harsh Criticism over Las Vegas Covid-19 Workplace Exposure Reports Coming to a Halt

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing impact of coronavirus in the Las Vegas area.  First the area was reluctant to shut down with the rest of the country.  Then they shut down and there was a dispute between the mayor and Nevada Governor over opening. A report also came out that showed those traveling to the area were potentially responsible for a super Covid-19 super spreader event.  Then there was a rushed opening that caused lawsuits due to the lack of proper protective equipment.  Now, it’s been reported that state officials have decided to simply stop sharing specific coronavirus exposure data.  This data has been critical to proper reporting and understanding of these situations.  The Review Journal explains:  

This summer, nearly a third of a local manufacturing company’s workforce caught COVID-19. But the case cluster did not become public knowledge until the Review-Journal obtained government reports on disease investigation analyses through a records request in mid-September.

The reports revealed the first detailed look at possible disease spread in Clark County other than at communal living facilities. Listed were businesses most frequently visited by infected people during the time in which they probably caught COVID-19, although the reports did not conclusively identify where transmission occurred. Now, health officials say they no longer will compile the reports even as new cases are again rising in Nevada, effectively severing the public’s access to the exposure data.

The state’s position is puzzling as they claim having specific contact data wouldn’t provide much data given the entire community is experiencing exposure and virus spread.  They believe the reports simply  demonstrate which businesses have the most foot traffic, but those specific communities know how to manage their own situation. Of course these reports pointed to the casinos, so it’s possible to conclude they are simply attempting to keep people away from such information so they continue to show up and gambling.  It also pointed to other key facilities like the Amazon Warehouse.  Naturally, this decision drew harsh criticism.  The Review Journal continued:  

Nevada Press Association Executive Director Richard Karpel criticized the decision, saying it was a step backward in government transparency. Before the reports were released, state health officials had only generally referenced “backyard barbecues” and “family gatherings” as primary causes of new infections. “It’s not all about mandates, directives and closures,” Karpel said of the state’s COVID-19 response. “It’s about giving people information and allowing them to make decisions on their own.”

The reports also pointed to nonpublic-facing businesses and job sites in Clark County, like Spacecraft Components Corp. and Amazon warehouses. The massive online retailer announced this month that almost 20,000 of its U.S. employees have tested positive since March. Nevada had the third-highest rate of cases among the company’s workers, compared with other states, according to a report released by Amazon. Many of the ill employees at Spacecraft Components Corp. were family members who shared households, said company controller Holly Wiseman.

Key regulatory groups need access to this information.  It was initially buried and only known after the Review Journal publicly published them.  But those responsible for workplace safety of casino employees can’t receive this critical data and cutting off the reports prevents journalists from getting this critical information to those in need.  The Review Journal concluded:  

What did regulatory agencies know? Nevada OSHA, responsible for enforcing workplace safety guidelines, began using the reports after the Review-Journal published them to help the agency prioritize where it conducts inspections, agency spokeswoman Teri Williams wrote in an email.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board, which has issued complaints against hotel-casinos for not following COVID-19 guidelines, “does not receive or track COVID information at casinos,” spokesman Michael Lawton wrote in an email on Sept. 18. Lawton did not respond to a request for comment this week.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 9/21 – 10/04

7 Accused of Stealing $390K Through PPP Loan, Casino Money Laundering Scheme, SC Feds Say

Three South Carolina residents and four Georgians were charged this week with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in a major scheme involving a casino, drugs, and stealing hundreds of thousands through a Paycheck Protection Program loan, U.S. Attorney for South Carolina Peter M. McCoy announced Thursday. The seven individuals are accused of laundering more $*750,000* of fraudulently obtained funds, which includes more than $*390,000* from a PPP loan (which is a part of the CARES Act to provide economic relief to businesses suffering in the COVID-19 pandemic), according to the release from McCoy’s office. “The defendants used a variety of methods to launder the money, including laundering the money through a casino,” the release from McCoy’s office said.

Dice Games Linked To Deadly Shootings In Baltimore, Police Commissioner Says

Disputes stemming from dice games led to several violent crimes in Baltimore last week, police commissioner Michael Harrison said. Baltimore Mayor Jack Young and the commissioner were asked about the recent surge in violence leading to the deaths of at least 15 people and injuring 35 others. The police commissioner said many recent shootings have had multiple victims and are linked to illegal activities. Harrison linked a quintuple shooting Friday and a quadruple shooting Saturday to dice games. “So we’re working to make sure that no. 1, we can be where we need to be to prevent it and then are working to identify those people to hold them accountable,” he said. “What we need is community help to help identify these people because in many, if not most of them, people are out there and saw what happened and we really need members of our community to help us identify these bad actors who are causing harm and killing our people.” Harrison said city police are working with state and federal partners to solve these cases.

Center audit alleges $316,887 embezzled

Missouri auditors alleged on Wednesday that the former city clerk of Center siphoned at least $316,887 of taxpayer dollars for personal use from 2015 to 2019. Auditors said another $87,691 of questionable payments made by former City Clerk Tracey Ray were uncovered by staff from the Public Corruption and Fraud Division of Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office. Galloway said Ray’s alleged personal use of taxpayer money was a “serious breach of public trust and exposed dishonesty at the expense of taxpayers.” She said Ray paid personal expenses on unauthorized city credit cards, including trips to Las Vegas and Branson, concert tickets and numerous other vendors, including 666 separate purchases from Amazon.

Head of Pittsburgh area gambling ring, son, plead guilty to running numbers

The 90-year-old patriarch of a Pittsburgh family connected to gambling operations in Western Pennsylvania for more than a half century agreed to pay $300,000 to resolve charges the family operated a sports betting and numbers running business dating back to 1994. Robert “Bobby I” Iannelli, of Pittsburgh, along with his 60-year-old son, Robert “Rusty” Iannelli of Wexford, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Westmoreland County to overseeing a corrupt organization and operating illegal lotteries in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

Both were sentenced by Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio, under terms of negotiated plea bargains, to serve 10 years on probation. Both were ordered to pay $225,000 as a forfeiture of money they earned from the illegal betting as well as an additional $75,000 to cover the costs of five wiretaps used by state investigators during a six-month portion of the probe that ended in April 2017. “They’re in the gambling business. It’s lotteries and bookmaking. It’s a lucrative job,” said Deputy Attorney General Mark Serge. “This part of the operation spans Pittsburgh, eastern Allegheny County and into Westmoreland County. It was a substantial operation.”

Arrest made in weekend shooting at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs

A man was arrested Thursday in connection with a shooting early Monday in the parking garage at the Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs. Palm Springs police were dispatched to the scene around 3:15 a.m. and found a man suffering from gunshot wounds in the casino’s parking structure. The man is expected to recover from his injuries, officials said. Lt. William Hutchinson said Thursday that investigators arrested Jose Arlando Gomez, 28 of Palm Springs, in connection with the shooting. Hutchinson said the incident is being investigated as an attempted homicide. Whether the two men knew each other and the exact nature of their interaction leading up to the shooting are still being investigated, he said.

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