Monthly Archives: October 2021

Guest Article:  Bans on Sports Gambling and Lotteries Would Pump-Prime the U.S. Economic System in the New Age of Covid

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the rush of sports betting that has been legalized over the past few years, and a lot of jurisdictions have authorized such gambling during the middle of the Covid-19 global pandemic.  With many people at home and online gambling becoming more and more popular, one has to wonder how that has impacted the economy, especially after economic stimulus checks were being handed out.  Today’s guest author, John Kindt, University of Illinois professor emeritus, who has testified before Congress and legislatures on business and legal policy issues, particularly in the area of gambling, examined such a question and explains how bans on sports gambling could impact the economy in the University of Illinois Law Review:

A strong economy is essential for U.S. national security. The economic downturn caused by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has again highlighted this basic economic principle.

In the context of legalized gambling, Nobel-Prize Laureate Paul Samuelson emphasized that gambling creates “no new money or goods”1 and “subtracts from the national income.”2 The economic multiplier effect of “consumer dollars” is negated or otherwise substantially diminished when consumer dollars are diverted into gambling dollars.3

Therefore, the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stimulus Act (CARES Act)4 wasted billions of dollars of the $260 billion allocated for unemployment benefits and the $300 billion allocated in payments to U.S. citizens.5 Intended to put food and other necessities of life in consumer pantries, billions of CARES Act dollars were instead misdirected into lotteries—creating record lottery sales, for example, in Georgia and Texas during the first 30 days of the CARES Act.6

While shutting down productive consumer businesses, governors declared lotteries to be “essential”7—although historically states were receiving only 27 cents per gambled dollar.8 More importantly, U.S. lotteries take $85 billion out of the U.S. consumer economy each year (with only $23 billion going to state budgets).9

Accordingly, the cheapest and most effective way to pump-prime the consumer economy would be to shut down the lotteries. This $85 billion would thereby morph into a consumer economic multiplier resulting in approximately $255 billion in new economic spending on consumer goods (or over $1 trillion in 4 years).10

In his 1999 Martin Luther King Day speech in Chicago, Jesse Jackson emphasized that “[t]he new chains of slavery happen to be . . . lottery tickets.”11 Later in 1999, the state lotteries were savaged by the congressional U.S. National Gambling Impact Study Commission, in its Final Report (“NGISC Final Report”).12Academically, it is well-established that lotteries make “poor people poorer”13 and target-market to minorities14 contributing to gambling addiction rates of: African Americans (2–4%); Native Americans (2–6%), Hispanics (2–3%), and Caucasians (1.2–2%).15

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, these social and economic concerns prompted Mr. Les Bernal, the national director of the charity Stop Predatory Gambling (“SPG”), to write to all U.S. governors and state attorneys general detailing the need to close the state lotteries.16

The 2020 movie Money Machine,17 however, documented the power of the gambling lobby in suppressing adverse facts. While Columbine and Sandy Hook remain in the psyche of the U.S. public, Money Machine details how the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas killings have been sanitized18 via “a web of corruption and cover-ups that make the Vegas of yesteryear, when it was still run by the mob, seem positively quaint.”19 The biggest mass murderer in U.S. history, Stephen Paddock, killed 59 people including himself and injured 413 by gunfire.20 It would be difficult to argue that Paddock did not satisfy the American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for being an addicted or problem gambler.21

All of these facts and trends are well-known to the gambling industry, whose business model has morphed toward abandoning brick and mortar gambling facilities in favor of widespread internet gambling—utilizing sports gambling to build pressure on government decision-makers. Gambling lobbyists are looking to leverage the COVID pandemic and the public’s natural affinity for sports into real-time 24/7 gambling on cell phones and throughout video games.22 In the age of COVID, bans on sports gambling and lotteries would inexpensively and effectively pump-prime the U.S. economic system with billions of dollars in consumer dollars—without CARES-type loans being incurred by the U.S. Treasury.

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

A Brief Look at Crime  10/18 – 10/24

Gambling-Related Harm Costs England £1.27 billion Per Year, Says Public Health Report 

The UK has one of the biggest gambling markets in the world, generating a profit of around £14.2bn ($19.11bn) in 2020 alone. According to a new report in England, however, the industry also has a high cost for society in regard to gambling-related harm.

Public Health England (PHE) completed a study on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DCMS). By reviewing the evidence on gambling harms, PHE estimated that the issue cost England at least £1.27bn ($1.71bn) in 2019 and 2020. The cost incorporates a number of problems associated with gambling, including bankruptcy, family issues, and health harms such as suicide.

Rosanna O’Connor, director of Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco, and Justice for PHE, commented on the study. “The evidence is clear – harmful gambling is a public health issue and needs addressing on many fronts, with an emphasis on preventing these harms from occurring as well as with help readily accessible for those directly and indirectly affected,” she said.

Former Indiana casino executive faces new charges related to tax evasion

An Indiana casino executive is facing additional federal charges connected to an alleged scheme to make illegal corporate casino campaign donations to an Indiana congressional candidate. John Keeler was indicted this week by a federal grand jury on two new charges related to illegally using the campaign donations to lower the taxable income for Centaur Holdings, parent of the casino company where Keeler was vice president and general counsel. The additional charges were tacked on to an initial indictment that a year ago accused Keeler of four counts connected to an alleged scheme to use straw donors to illegally funnel casino money to Brent Waltz’s unsuccessful 2016 campaign for the U.S. House. The new allegations accuse Keeler, a former Republican state representative, of filing corporate tax returns for Centaur Holdings that falsely listed $79,500 in consultant payments as deductions in 2015 and another $41,000 in fake consultant payments in 2016. Federal prosecutors allege those payments were actually part of a scheme to funnel illegal campaign donations to Waltz.

California Gaming Raid Nabs Four Suspects, Cops Seize Weapons, Drugs

A gambling raid Thursday led to four arrests at a private house in Daly City, Calif. Police seized gaming machines, drugs, firearms, and an unspecified amount of cash. The four suspects were apprehended and were being held late this week in San Mateo County jail. Charges relate to drugs, possession of guns, and illegal gambling, police said. “It was determined the residence was being used as an illegal gambling establishment with coin-operated machines,” Daly City police said in a Facebook post. “Our officers found illegal gambling machines, large quantities of illegal drugs, a large amount of US currency, and several firearms,” the post adds. The search was approved by a local judge. Officers taking part include those from the Daly City Crime Suppression Unit, detectives, and tactical team members. Police did not release the suspects’ identities. Each of the four resided at the house where the gambling was taking place, police add.

Disbarred lawyer with ‘crippling’ gambling problem admits stealing nearly $2 million in Philadelphia Eagles’ seat-license scam 

A disbarred-New Jersey lawyer has pleaded guilty to stealing almost $2 million he raised in a phony Philadelphia Eagles seat-license scheme, and using it to support his “crippling” gambling addiction. Frank N. Tobolsky, 59, of Cherry Hill, N.J. admitted approaching an investor in Delaware in 2013 to help finance a business that would provide loans to Eagles fans who held seat licenses, federal prosecutors said. The investor was told the licenses would be used for collateral for the loans.

Over the next three years, Tobolsky convinced the investor to plunk down $2.4 million for the scheme. But prosecutors say there were no Eagles fans taking loans or seat licenses being held in collateral. Personal seat licenses allow the holder to buy season tickets to see home games for their favorite team, with the proceeds typically being used to help the team pay off the cost of building new stadiums. They are most commonly used in the U.S. by National Football League franchises.

Tobolsky did return some of the money to the investors as purported profits from the business, but prosecutors say he used a substantial portion for personal expenses, including big withdrawals at casinos. Ultimately, Tobolsky’s gambling problem cost him his law license and practice in Merchantville, N.J. He was disbarred in 2018 after being arrested for pillaging his escrow account and using $32,000 of a client’s money from a home sale to support his gambling problem. In testimony before a state disciplinary review board that year, Tobolsky described having a “crippling” and “debilitating” gambling addiction that caused him to go “out of his mind.”

Woman leaves child in car while gambling 

A Lake Arthur woman was arrested Saturday after she allegedly left an 8-year-old child inside a car while she went into a truck stop casino to gamble. [She] faces charges of child desertion, possession of a controlled dangerous substance Schedule II and possession of drug paraphernalia. [She] was arrested after sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Peto’s truck stop on La. 395 around 11 p.m. Saturday in reference to a young child being left in a vehicle, according to Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Chris Ivey. The on-site security discovered the child sitting in the vehicle in the parking lot and called the sheriff’s office, he said. Deputies were able to locate the child’s mother inside the casino gambling and escorted her back to the vehicle where the child was being watched by security. The child was released to an adult friend at the scene. During questioning, deputies observed a syringe partially exposed from a cigarette pack and asked [her] to hand it over for safety. The syringe contained a brown residue suspected to be narcotics.

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

UPDATE: One of the Three Lawsuits filed Against the Florida/Seminole Compact regarding Online Sports Betting Dismissed after President Biden’s Administration Intervenes 

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent lawsuits filed against the Florida Seminole Online Sports betting plan. As the Sun Sentinel reported, the Biden Administration made known that they wanted the federal case dismissed that was filed by two parimutuel companies, claiming they didn’t have standing to sue and couldn’t prove irreparable harm.  It appears the move by the Biden Administration paid off as the Sun Sentinel is now reporting that the judge has dismissed that particular case:  

Dealing a win to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe, a federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit challenging a gambling agreement that allows the tribe to have control over sports betting in Florida.

Attorneys for DeSantis and state Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Julie Brown asked U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing the pari-mutuels did not have legal standing to challenge the compact because they had not shown they will be harmed.  In a 20-page ruling Monday, Winsor, who wryly noted that the pari-mutuels “are not pleased with the compact,” agreed with the state’s arguments.

The compact allowed the tribe to offer online sports betting beginning Friday, but the Seminoles haven’t launched the operation. The legal challenge tossed by Winsor on Monday was one of three federal lawsuits challenging the compact. The Havenick family has owned the pari-mutuel facilities in the Florida case for more than five decades. It also filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C., naming the U.S. Department of the Interior and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as defendants.Two prominent South Florida businessmen and the anti-gambling organization No Casinos have filed a separate lawsuit in Washington, D.C.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 10/11 – 10/17

South Point Casino Lot Sees Woman’s Body Discovered, Las Vegas Cops Investigating

Investigators continue to look into the circumstances surrounding a woman’s body discovered at a parking lot at Las Vegas’ South Point Hotel Casino & Spa. The lifeless body was discovered midday Tuesday. As of Wednesday, Metro police had not yet identified the cause of death. The unnamed dead woman was found shortly before 11 am, KLAS, a local TV station, reported. Metro detectives were searching the lot for evidence on Tuesday. 

In the past year, South Point Casino was the scene of other unrelated crimes. Last October, South Point Hotel Casino was the scene of a fatal shooting, as security officers shot an armed man. The man had fired a gun in the air and refused to drop the firearm outside of the gaming property, the Review-Journal reported. The unidentified man had fired a shot near the casino’s valet area, according to the report. He also had entered and exited the casino. He kept brandishing a handgun and then pointed it at two security guards outside of the building, the Review-Journal said. He allegedly refused to drop the weapon during the stand-off with security officers. The officers then fatally wounded the man.

Warrants served on 4 Fayette Co. businesses for alleged illegal gambling 

Gaming agents from the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC), along with personnel from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, served search warrants Wednesday on four businesses in Fayette County associated with illegal gambling. OCCC agents launched an investigation after receiving complaints the businesses were paying out cash prizes and operating illegal gaming machines in violation of Ohio law. “The operators of these illegal casinos took advantage of their community to line their own pockets in blatant disregard of the law,” said Matthew Schuler, executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. “The Commission is tasked with ensuring gaming in Ohio is conducted honestly and with integrity, and we will continue to take action against those who violate Ohio’s gaming laws.” “We appreciate the assistance of the Ohio Casino Control Commission in shutting down these illegal establishments, which prey on vulnerable Ohioans,” said Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth.

California councilman faces illegal gambling, EDD fraud and tax evasion charges after arraignment

Lodi city councilman Shakir Khan is facing accusations of illegal gambling, EDD fraud, tax evasion and money laundering. He was arraigned in court Tuesday afternoon. Khan wasn’t alone during the arraignment. Prosecutors said he was arraigned in conjunction with co-defendant Zakir Khan, and said that Mohammed Khan, another co-defendant, will be arraigned on Oct. 26. The defendants allegedly had an illegal gambling operation out of two Stockton businesses and laundered the profits, according the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office. The Lodi councilman was also accused of illegally receiving money from the state during the state’s pandemic relief efforts. “Cases involving money laundering, fraud, and tax evasion are very complex and require an inordinate amount of resources to prove,” said District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar in a news release. “Integrity matters, the truth matters, and our office prosecutes those who prey on and take advantage of marginalized communities.”

After poker ‘disaster,’ watchdog suggests stripping Va. Charitable Gaming Board of some powers 

A new report from Virginia’s watchdog agency suggests limiting the Virginia Charitable Gaming Board’s regulatory powers after concluding the board’s chairman failed to properly recuse himself from writing rules for Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournaments he stood to benefit from. The 59-page report, delivered to legislators and Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration Wednesday, identified major problems with the state’s failed effort to legalize and regulate charitable poker. The regulations written by the industry board, the report said, “damage the integrity of the charitable gaming program” by explicitly allowing conflicts of interest and minimizing the involvement of charities.

“This appears to provide for the creation of poker halls in Virginia,” the Office of the Inspector General (OSIG) wrote, adding the “low level of involvement required by the charity” could make it difficult for regulators to track where poker profits are going. Chuck Lessin, a homebuilder now operating his own poker room at his Richmond sports bar and bingo hall, played a key role in the development of those regulations as chairman of the Charitable Gaming Board. He disclosed his personal interest in the outcome, but state investigators say that wasn’t enough and he should’ve recused himself entirely. “Board members not properly recusing themselves in accordance to both the code and their approved bylaws damages the integrity of the board and the overall commonwealth’s charitable gaming oversight,” the agency wrote.

Tesuque Casino remains closed after cyberattack (NM)

It was unclear Friday when the 3-year-old casino, next to the Santa Fe Opera off U.S. 84/284, will reopen. Upon discovering the cyberattack, the casino took steps to remediate the damage, the pueblo reported in the news release. “These steps included the isolation of affected systems and deploying of actions to resolve the issues,” the release states. “Tesuque Casino has also initiated a comprehensive investigation into the incident. The findings will serve to further strengthen the casino’s cyber security defenses.” “Through our fast-acting team and external IT specialists, we were able to contain and remedy the issue as swiftly as possible,” Tesuque Gov. Mark Mitchell said in the release. “We are continuing to be vigilant about security and protection of confidential information for our customers and employees.” Casino officials were not available for comment about potential compromise of customer information.

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

Sports Betting Can Begin Oct 15th in Florida, but Experts Say its Unlikely

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the Florida Seminole Compact that has offered exclusive sports betting by the Tribe.  Exclusivity for payment to the state of Florida is not new, however, sports betting certainly is and many believe its illegal.  Several lawsuits have been filed on different levels, but the general issue is that because the sports betting is online, and not just on a tribal casino, its new gambling that has to be voted on by the people in Florida, as anyone in the state could access sports gambling without needing to be on tribal land.  The Compact establishes an October 15th start date, but experts don’t believe a formal launch will happen for a month, if at all.  The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Florida sports fans looking to place their first legal bets on games this weekend will have to wait a little longer. And if opponents who have filed three lawsuits eventually win in court, such bets could be off the table. Wagers on sporting events are legal on Seminole Tribe lands starting Friday, and the Tribe has plans to offer an app to allow residents to place bets that flow through a server on their land. But those plans won’t be in place for at least another month and perhaps longer.

The Tribe received a monopoly on sports betting through its new compact with the state, which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April and passed by the Legislature in a May special session.

It received federal regulatory approval in August, but three lawsuits are challenging the agreement, which argue it violates federal and state law and shouldn’t take effect.

No Casinos, an Orlando-based group and two South Florida businessmen, car dealer Norman Braman and developer Armando Codina filed suit in the Washington, D.C., District Court last month. Among the arguments, the lawsuit claims the compact violates a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2018 requiring new expansions of casino gambling to be approved by voters.

“They can’t do that without a vote of the people,” No Casinos president John Sowinski said. Sowinski is confident his group will win in court and said the Tribe could lose out if it makes investments to take advantage of sports betting that he believes will be deemed illegal by the courts.“The Tribe probably realize that they proceed at their own risk in terms of venture capital and whatever is expended  he courts make a determination on this,” Sowinski said.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 10/04 – 10/10

‘I still hear the gunshots in my head’: Eyewitness to casino shooting recounts terrifying moments

What was supposed to be a fun night ended in terror over the weekend after a man opened fire at the Golden Nugget in Biloxi. One man died and dozens of people there were left scared for their lives as they rushed to take cover. Randy Johnson, a 41-year-old father of three and well-known barber in Gulfport, died after being shot multiple times. The suspect, Jereme Jones, was arrested shortly after the shooting and is now charged with murder. Rosie Hartfield was one of the terrified guests at the casino. The pregnant Wiggins woman said she had not been on the casino floor long when multiple gunshots were fired. “I wasn’t even on the floor 10 minutes when someone right by me gets to shooting at someone else,” she said.

Nearly 24 hours later, the trauma still lingers. “It was like, pow, and it paused,” Hartfield said. “Then it was pow, pow, pow, pow, pow. Six shots. The noise, I still hear the gunshots in my head.” Hartfield was staying at the Golden Nugget to celebrate her 29th birthday with her husband. She said she was playing the slots when it happened. “He shot a guy no more than 3 or 4 feet away from me,” she said.

The aftermath was chaotic. Hartfield said she heard screaming and yelling as terror-stricken casino employees and guests, including several elderly people in wheelchairs, rushed to take cover. “Everybody was just rushing out. At that time, I left my purse, I left money in the machine. Everything just dropped,” recalled Hartfield. “I’m pregnant so I was trying to run, too. I was very afraid. I went into a panic attack. People had to help me sit down.” For hours after the shooting, hotel guests, including Hartfield and her husband, were put on lockdown in their hotel room, avoiding the crime scene downstairs. “I haven’t been out of my room. I got my husband to get me something to eat now. Like, I’m like still freaked out,” said Hartfield on Sunday, more than 24 hours after the shooting.

Station Casinos facing disciplinary action for accepting post-game sports wagers

The Gaming Control Board is seeking to impose a yet-to-be-determined fine or other disciplinary action on Station Casinos after the company’s sportsbook inside Red Rock Resort accepted approximately 348 wagers on events with already known outcomes. The problematic bets took place over a three-year period. In a two-count complaint filed Sept. 13, the Control Board said that when the company reported an issue to regulators on March 18, it blamed a computer malfunction caused by “insufficient server memory” for its Stadium Live sports wagering program. Three times in prior years, once in 2018 and twice in 2019, the Control Board issued sports wagering regulation violation letters to Red Rock Resort. According to the complaint, Station Casinos said the recent malfunction caused the Red Rock Resort sportsbook to issue 167 wagering tickets, which were later voided with the bets being refunded. However, the Control Board said the company was already “well aware of prior computer errors related” to the Stadium Live program. According to the complaint, gaming regulators told the sportsbook operators they needed to have a “redundant monitoring process” in place to ensure wagers were not accepted on events where the outcome has been determined.

Cwmbran boss jailed over £825k fraud to fund online gambling addiction (UK)

A FINANCIAL director who swindled her company out of £825,000 to feed her “crazy” online gambling addiction has just over £2,000 left which can be seized. Lauren Farr, 35, was jailed earlier this year after she admitted conning We Fight Any Claim in Cwmbran where she worked as a senior executive. The mother-of-two, of Spring Grove, Cwmbran, gambled around £1.5 million through betting sites such as Paddy Power and Betfred.  Appearing via video link from Eastwood Park women’s prison, Farr was back at Cardiff Crown Court to face her Proceeds of Crime Act hearing. The judge, Recorder David Elias QC, heard how she had benefitted (sic) by £825,751.60 from her crime. The available amount of her assets are £2,044.72 and she has three months to hand it over or face an extra two months in prison. Farr was jailed for two years and eight months in January after pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position.

Ex-Chester County Judge Pleads Guilty to Gambling Campaign Funds

A former Chester County judge has pleaded guilty to illegally using his campaign funds to gamble at casinos in Pennsylvania including Penn National’s Hollywood Casino in Grantville and Harrah’s Philadelphia. He also gambled at casinos in Delaware and New Jersey. The criminal complaint against him alleged that in total, Michael Cabry III had wagered more than $110,700 in 2017. But because of a significant win at Delaware Park of more than $100,000, his total loss for that year was only slightly more than $9,000.

According to a statement from Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro‘s office, his plea was for theft by unlawful taking and violations of the Election Code. Shapiro issued a statement: “The defendant has taken responsibility for his actions that undermined both his authority as a judge and the public’s trust. My office is dedicated to holding public officials who break the law accountable, without fear or favor.”

Man brought massive gambling ring to Illinois State University 

The youngest person charged in connection with a massive international gambling ring, who was accused by the feds of running a “significant bookmaking operation” at Illinois State University, dodged prison during his sentencing hearing Tuesday. Instead, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall gave six months of home confinement and a $10,000 fine to 25-year-old Matthew Namoff. Federal prosecutors say Vincent “Uncle Mick” DelGiudice groomed Namoff and made him an equal partner in the larger gambling ring DelGiudice ran online. They said Namoff managed 60 gamblers at ISU, and DelGiudice saw it as a business opportunity. That’s because Namoff’s gamblers would eventually leave ISU, get jobs and increase their bets. “These were not small bets in a dorm room over beer,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Terry Kinney wrote in a court memo.

DelGiudice admitted earlier this year that he ran the larger bookmaking business from 2016 to 2019 in and around Chicago. Namoff, who pleaded guilty to his role in April, is the seventh person to be sentenced in a series of related cases that have been filed since early 2020. Two of the six people previously sentenced landed prison time, but four others avoided it. Another defendant, Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher, was pardoned in January by then-President Donald Trump. DelGiudice has not been sentenced.

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

A Public Destruction of Missouri’s Illegal Gambling Machines After Prosecution Makes Statement

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga involving the enforcement of illegal slot machines in Missouri.  Given the necessity of local prosecutors to lead the charge, a big victory and statement was made earlier in Jefferson City.  Not only were these gambling machines found to be illegal, they were ordered to be publicly destroyed.  A local online source reports:

When the bucket of the backhoe came down on the first of five illegal gambling machines destroyed Thursday by court order, it crumpled like a cardboard box being prepped for recycling.

The particle board sides offered no resistance to the pressure, and in about 40 seconds, all that remained was a pile of wood, plastic and electronic shards as the five machines were shattered into thousands of pieces.

“This is a good day,” said Eric Zahnd, Platte County prosecutor. “There is a good reason that the Missouri Legislature said these should be publicly destroyed. It is somewhat about the spectacle of destruction because the legislature wanted to send a message that these machines won’t be tolerated in the state of Missouri. It is a good day.”

The Platte County prosecution showed that no additional laws are needed, Zahnd said before the smashing began Thursday.

“In Missouri, the law is clear,” Zahnd said. “These machines are illegal and they must be destroyed.”

Sgt. Craig Hubbell, a detective with the the Parkville Police Department, looks over the debris from the destruction Thursday of five illegal gambling machines. (Rudi Keller/Missouri Independent)

“I just hope this example will be picked up by the other prosecutors in the state,” he said. “They are not gray-market machines. They are black-market machines.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 9/27 – 10/03

Former Accounting Coordinator for Non-Profit Organization Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling More than $321K

A resident of Pittsburgh, PA, has been sentenced in federal court to 17 months of prison followed by two years of supervised release on her conviction of bank fraud, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today. According to information presented to the court, Strother-Rush was an Accounting Coordinator for the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council, which is a nonprofit organization that was created to increase business opportunities for minority-owned businesses. From approximately August 2014 until August 2016, Strother-Rush embezzled $321,255.88 in various ways and spent on funds on, among other things, gambling and frivolous purchases. The primary way in which she embezzled funds was by writing checks to herself from the operating accounts and forging her supervisor’s signature on the checks. She also made unauthorized ATM withdrawals, including several at the Rivers Casino. Lastly, she accessed the payroll bank account online and made unauthorized electronic checks payable to herself.

Phoenix man ordered to pay $500K for sports betting fraud

The Arizona Corporation Commission has ordered a Phoenix man to pay more than $500,000 in restitution for defrauding investors who had invested in a sports betting fund. During a meeting on Sept. 8, the commission decided to penalize John Uranga for misleading individuals who invested in a fund they thought would pool their money together to gamble on sporting events. Uranga was ordered to pay $459,699 in restitution and a $100,000 administrative penalty. According to the commission, Uranga encouraged people to invest in the sports betting fund by posting social media posts that suggested he was living a luxurious lifestyle.   

“Uranga claimed to own five cars, three houses in three different states, two apartment complexes, and several businesses; including two auto body shops, a hotel, a car dealership, six cell phone stores, a pawn shop, a multi-media company, a property management company, and one gun store,” commission records state. Gambling records showed Uranga had only placed $6,560 worth of legitimate sports bets in 2018 and incurred a net loss of $2,460 from this activity, according to the commission. The commission said it discovered that a significant amount of Uranga’s income was bankrolled by investor funds.   

County clamps down on internet cafes (FL)

People planning on opening an internet café in Citrus County might want to think twice. County commissioners Tuesday voted unanimously to crack down on café operators by directing the county attorney to draft an ordinance with more severe fines and longer jail time. The new ordinance allows deputies to fine operators per machine. So if a café had 30 games, the penalty would be a $15,000 fine and five years in jail. A misdemeanor carried a 60-day jail term or $500 fine. Commissioner Jeff Kinnard, who called for the ordinance, said he wanted to stop such places from opening. Period. State legislators in 2019 reduced the penalty for illegal activities at an internet café from a felony to a misdemeanor. That same year, the Citrus County’s Sheriff’s Office arrested several people at at least two such cafés when they found illegal gambling and drug activity. “We’re not talking about minor crimes either,” Lt. Craig Callahan told commissioners at the meeting. Callahan ticked off several serious crimes occurring at the cafés, including strong-arm robbery and gun violence.

Kentucky to receive $300 Million from online gambling lawsuit

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says J. Michael Brown, the Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet in 2008, brought actions on behalf of Kentucky in Franklin Circuit Court to stop the unregulated, untaxed and illegal offshore gambling operations running in Kentucky. PokerStars collected almost $300 million in actual cash losses from thousands of Kentuckians who played on PokerStars’ websites from 2007 to 2011. Under Kentucky law, the state brought an action against PokerStars seeking recovery of the nearly $300 million lost by its citizens and trebled as required by Kentucky law damages. Last year, the Supreme Court of Kentucky affirmed that judgment, which was rendered in December 2015. Flutter Entertainment and its subsidiary, PokerStars, are located in the Isle of Man, United Kingdom. PokerStars claimed that the English Protection of Trading Interests Act of 1980 could have prevented the commonwealth from collecting the damages upheld by the Supreme Court of Kentucky. The $300 million settlement amount is nearly $10 million above the actual damages awarded by the courts, which was $290,230,077.94.

Police arrest Amber Alert suspect after 10-year-old boy, car taken from casino

Authorities say two people have been arrested following an Amber Alert on Wednesday morning. Officials say it all started when a woman went to Newcastle Casino around 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 22. Investigators say the mother left her Lincoln MKX running with the keys in the ignition, and her 10-year-old son in the car. A short time later, authorities say a man got into the car and took off. According to the Amber Alert, the suspect was seen driving the stolen vehicle southbound on the H.E. Bailey Turnpike around 4:21 a.m. After the Amber Alert was issued, a bystander spotted the stolen vehicle at a store near S.W. 15th and Czech Hall Road. Within four minutes of that 911 call, the store was swarmed by police from various departments. Investigators arrested 36-year-old Seth Grant. Maj. Adam Flowers, with the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, told KFOR that the child’s mother was also arrested on a complaint of child neglect. The boy is currently with the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department.

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