Monthly Archives: February 2022

With Talk of Possible Tribal Casino in Missouri’s Ozarks, Legislators Propose Commercial Casino

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many failed efforts to establish a new Missouri Casino in the Lake of the Ozarks.  The Missouri Constitution only allows for casinos that are along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.  A change to the constitution would be required by a vote of the people to amend that condition.  However, there is the long path of a tribal casino that wouldn’t need to worry about the constitution, but it would have its own set of very lengthy barriers.  That, however, has not stopped the Osage from publicly discussing plans of a new casino, and as such, there are some that want to use that opportunity to push for a new commercially owned casino instead.  An online source explains:

Currently, the state constitution only permits gaming along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. But the Osage Nation has purchased land in Lake Ozark for the purpose of building a casino. The Nation is based in Oklahoma, where it owns and operates seven casinos. But its historical lands once encompassed most of what is now Missouri.

It wants the federal government to take the Lake Ozark land into trust, which partially removes it from the jurisdiction of the state. This would convert the land into the tribe’s sovereign reservation, making gaming possible there under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory  Act.

But a group of local investors have long held ambitions to build their own casino in the area. They’ve formed a political action committee, Osage River Gaming (ORG), which is backing the new bill, filed in the House by State Rep. Ron Hicks (R-St. Charles) earlier this month.

But if this is now a race to build the region’s first casino, it could be an incredibly slow one. Bills proposing gaming expansion are rarely fast-tracked through any state legislature. That means Hicks’ plan to get the question on the ballot in November of this year is ambitious, even if it is ultimately approved by his fellow lawmakers.

Meanwhile, land-in-trust applications are also painstakingly slow. Some can take years. A search of the Federal Register Tuesday did not show any pending applications by the Osage Nation for trust land in Missouri.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/14 – 02/20

Nun Who Embezzled $835K From Torrance School To Fund Gambling Habit To Be Sentenced

The retired principal of a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, who as a nun took a vow of poverty, faces sentencing Monday for embezzling more than $835,000 in school funds to support a gambling habit and other personal expenses. Mary Margaret Kreuper, 80, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty in July to federal wire fraud and money laundering charges. Prosecutors recommend a 24-month prison sentence, three years of supervised release, and restitution. Kreuper acknowledged that for a period of 10 years ending in September 2018, she embezzled $835,339 from St. James Catholic School. As principal — a position she had for nearly 30 years before she retired — Kreuper was responsible for the money the school received to pay for tuition and fees, as well as for charitable donations, according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court.

Sweepstakes business owner previously warned by officials is charged with over 50 criminal offenses for illegal gaming

The owner of a sweepstakes business in Lexington who was warned by law enforcement that he could be facing criminal charges for operating an illegal electronic gaming facility was arrested on Wednesday after a raid on the business on Winston Road. Albright has been charged, among other things, with felony continuing criminal enterprise, which is described as a continuing series of violations which are “in concert with five or more other persons with respect to whom the person occupies a position of organizer, supervisor or any other position of management, and from which the person obtains substantial income or resources to operating an illegal video game enterprise”, according the arrest report provided by the Davidson County Magistrates office.

Las Vegas casino triggered FBI’s Los Angeles bribery case

As a City Council member, Huizar was what casinos call a “politically exposed person.” He could gamble at the Palazzo only after filing papers showing he was not using public funds. Palazzo dealers kept close watch on Huang and Huizar when they arrived hours later in Parlor 8, a room for high rollers who typically bet with $25,000 and $100,000 chips. What they discovered triggered an FBI investigation that brought to light a sprawling corruption scandal at Los Angeles City Hall. Federal prosecutions so far have put another City Council member in prison and yielded four other felony guilty pleas. 

Huizar is awaiting trial on charges of running an extortion racket that shook down developers of top-tier properties in downtown Los Angeles. The casino chips, prosecutors say, were part of more than $800,000 in bribes that Huang paid the councilman in an attempt to win city approval of a 77-story tower that aimed to be the tallest on the West Coast. It was never built.

Man threatens to explode Las Vegas casino with grenade in his backside

A man is accused of threatening to blow up a Las Vegas casino, telling officers he had a grenade in his body, police said. Brian Gower, 46, faces one count of making threats of conveying false information concerning an act of terrorism after the incident Friday morning. According to police, Gower was arrested at The Strat Hotel and Casino after threatening to “blow the building up,” officers wrote in an arrest report. Police said while they were talking with Gower, he “was saying random things and talking about Joe Rogan and his ex-wife,” the report said. “At one point, Gower stated to [an] officer that he had a grenade in his [backside] and he wanted to [pass gas].” Officers said Gower had previously spoken to hotel security, telling them they had 15 minutes to evacuate the building, or it would explode. Officers did not find any explosives on Gower and took him to the Clark County jail.

Aberdeen man pleads guilty to playing with grant funds from Baltimore nonprofit

An Aberdeen man pleaded guilty on Jan. 20 to federal charges of filing false tax returns and wire fraud after embezzling funds intended for a Baltimore youth nonprofit, according to a press release from the US Department of Justice. Tyrone Sherrod owned a nonprofit organization in Baltimore City that provided after-school and summer education, as well as athletic programs, at a local elementary school from 2015 to 2019. In 2015, Sherrod applied for a grant from the U.S. Department of education to help fund these programs, and received approximately $1.1 million to be paid over three years. Between 2016 and 2018, Sherrod electronically submitted 19 bogus project invoice summaries that detailed payroll records, receipts and budget summaries, according to the Justice Department. These summaries showed a payroll of more than $746,000, while the nonprofit’s actual payroll during this period was closer to $212,000. According to his plea agreement, Sherrod lost much of the grant money because of casino gambling. From 2016 to 2018, his gambling losses were around $547,000. During the same period, Sherrod withdrew $552,405 in cash from a casino’s ATM.

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

Federal Government Plans Appeal of Florida Seminole Compact, Court sets Deadline for Briefs

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to use the Seminole Gambling Compact to expand sports gambling in Florida.  The last compact agreement reached, would have seen online sports betting to those available all over the state.  The Florida constitution prevents such expansion without the vote of the people, but the argument made was that the gambling servers were on tribal land, and thus tribal gambling.  A Federal Judge ruled that such an argument is ridiculous and fiction and invalidated the agreement.  Now the Federal Government has appealed and the court is giving them until March 21st to submit briefs. Florida Politics reports: 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday gave lawyers in the case until March 21 to propose a briefing process for the appeal. In that appeal, the U.S. Department of Interior and the Seminole Tribe hope to get the court to reverse the Nov. 22 ruling by U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich that invalidated the Compact. In a summary judgment, Friedrich ruled the U.S. Department of Interior should never have granted federal approval for the deal last August because the gambling expansion appeared to be a violation of Florida’s Constitution.

Unlike in 2021, when the Compact was presented to the Legislature as high priority and with urgency, the agreement’s fate has not been much more than an afterthought in the 2022 Legislative Session currently underway.

Now, the 2022 Session is sure to end with the 2021 Florida Compact still in limbo in a deliberate-moving appeals court. Meanwhile, all the gambling expansions that the Seminole Tribe planned on through the Gambling Compact — most notably its Hard Rock Sportsbook online sports betting service — are shut down.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/07 – 02/13

Police raid 2 illegal gambling locations in Summit County, recover cash, guns, drugs

More than a half of a million dollars in cash, along with 11 guns, an AR-15, and 10 pounds of marijuana were found at two illegal gambling sites, said Springfield Township police. Springfield Township Sergeant Eric East said officers, along with Metro SWAT and the Cuyahoga Falls SWAT team, executed multiple search warrants at a home and business in Springfield Township. Sergeant East also said three ballistic vests were also found when the search warrants were executed. Derrick Chatman, 39, of Springfield Township is charged with drug trafficking, weapons under disability and possession of drugs. Chatman is currently locked up in the Summit County Jail. Sergeant East said additional charges are pending.

Georgia trainer gets five years for role in dogfighting and cocaine trafficking ring 

A dogfighting trainer and breeder from Suwanee, Georgia, was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday for his role in what prosecutors called a large multistate dogfighting and cocaine trafficking ring. Vernon Vegas, 49, was given the statutory maximum sentencing after pleading guilty last September to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture. U.S. District Judge Tilman E. “Tripp” Self III also sentenced Vegas to three years of supervised release following his imprisonment and ordered him to forfeit $116,819 in seized cash and pay a $10,000 fine. Eleven people, including Vegas, were indicted on federal charges a year ago after a law enforcement investigation into a criminal organization involved in both cocaine distribution and organized dogfighting, which operated across North Georgia, Florida and Alabama from May 2019 until February 2020.

Jockey Mychel Sanchez Suspended After Betting Against Himself in Pennsylvania 

Mychel Sanchez was suspended indefinitely by 1/ST Racing on Friday. That’s after it was reported officials in Pennsylvania suspended the thoroughbred jockey for betting against his mounts. Sanchez was pulled from races on cards for Friday and Saturday at Laurel Park in Maryland. Maryland Racing Commission Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins said he learned stewards in Pennsylvania suspended Sanchez 60 days for betting violations. That’s according to the Paulick Report, a horse racing news site, “You can’t bet against yourself,” Hopkins told the Paulick Report on Friday. In 43 races this year, Sanchez has hit the board 18 times, including nine wins. He’s produced $244,327 in purse earnings for his connections so far this year. Last year, Sanchez won 155 times in 1,008 races. He ran in the top three 46 percent of the time and recorded earnings of $5.7 million.

Focus on Xhaka Yellow Card as Bookmaker Reports $420,000 in Suspicious Bitcoin Bets

At least $420,000 was placed on an Arsenal player receiving a yellow card in the last ten minutes of a game earlier this season via a single bookmaker, according to a report from The Athletic. The suspicious bets prompted the operator to flag the incident to the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA). As first reported by last week, the yellow card in question is believed to be the one midfielder Granit Xhaka picked up in the 85th minute against Leeds when he appeared to time-waste inexplicably over a free kick. The incident jarred because Arsenal were leading 4-1 at the time and there was no strategic reason to waste time. Several gamblers took to Twitter immediately after the game to highlight that around $65,000 had been matched suddenly on the Betfair betting exchange shortly before the booking, plunging the odds from 9/4 to 4/5.

MGM Springfield Police Confrontation Leaves One Man Critically Wounded, Cop Injured 

A 24-year-old Springfield, Mass. man was hospitalized in critical condition early Thursday after getting shot by one or more police officers at the MGM Springfield parking garage overnight. Minutes earlier, he allegedly injured a Springfield police officer with a flare gun. The incident began at about midnight when shell casings were found in the unnamed man’s backpack by casino security guards, MassLive, a regional news site in Massachusetts, reported. The guards prevented him from entering the gaming property.

Then, officers stopped the man outside of the casino. While in an alley, he allegedly fired the flare gun. A Springfield police officer, who is part of the Gaming Enforcement Unit, was injured. The suspect then fled into the casino’s parking garage. He again allegedly fired the flare gun twice at police officers who were pursuing him, according to WGGB, a local TV station. An unknown number of officers then shot the man at about 12:10 am. Springfield police officers immediately provided first aid to the suspect. He was then transported to Baystate Medical Center. He has “serious injuries” and is reportedly in critical condition at the Springfield hospital, police said in a statement.

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

Super Bowl Betting Doubled Prior Year’s Gambling and Brought Dangerous Issues to Problem Gamblers

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the impact the Super Bowl has on the gambling sphere.  This year might be the most unique yet, as the amount of states that offer legalized sports betting is at an all time high.  An online source explains: 

A record-high 117 million people watched the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, to win Super Bowl LVI this past Sunday. But for an unprecedented number of viewers, the focus wasn’t just on football (or even the halftime show and commercials), but on the game’s impact on their wallets.

More than 31 million people are believed to have bet on some aspect of the game, with an estimated $7.6 billion wagered. Both figures are more than double what they were for last year’s Super Bowl.

The expansion of legalized sports betting coincides with the ubiquity of mobile devices, creating unprecedented accessibility to a form of betting that used to be reserved to Las Vegas — or perhaps a visit to a shady bar and the neighborhood bookie. In many states, you don’t need to go to a brick-and-mortar sportsbook to place a bet — you can just reach for your iPhone.

The ease of placing bets is coupled with a deluge of advertising. Companies like FanDuel, MGM and Caesars have spent hundreds of millions of dollars pushing online sports betting in recent years. Sports-betting companies are even able to air commercials during NFL games, as they did during the Super Bowl, after the league not only reversed its long-standing and intense opposition to the practice, but actively partnered with the industry.

Moreover, with unfettered access, those with addictive behavior and gambling problems will be the most at risk.  The source continues: 

Taken together, these factors make modern sports betting particularly risky, says Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), an organization co-founded 50 years ago by Msgr. Joseph Dunne, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

According to NCPG’s research, the rise of sports betting has coincided with a twofold increase in gambling problems in the U.S. between 2018 and 2021. Whyte points out that these risks aren’t evenly distributed throughout the population, but are mainly concentrated among “young, male online sports bettors.”

“This is not simply innocent fun that people use to make their game-day watching experience more exciting,” MCC’s executive director, Jason Adkins, told the local Catholic newspaper. “This is something that could result in significant detriment to those who already have addictive personalities and gambling problems and to their families. We all suffer when that happens.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/30 – 02/06

Former Westlake Bank Teller Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling from Employer

U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that Arin Kumhall, 38, of North Olmsted, Ohio, was sentenced on January 6, 2022, by Judge James S. Gwin to five months in prison, to be followed by five months of home confinement, after Kumhall pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $73,000 from her employer. According to court documents, Kumhall was employed as a bank teller at a Citizens Bank in Westlake, Ohio.   In addition to traditional teller responsibilities, Kumhall was responsible for ordering, receiving and inputting cash into the bank’s internal reporting system for the branch The FBI obtained and reviewed Kumhall’s personal bank account information and observed an increase in cash deposits and online gambling activity from September 2020 through December 2020.

Man arrested for leaving explosive device at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, authorities say

Rogers County deputies arrested a man Tuesday after they say he brought an explosive device in a bag onto the property of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Zachary Schmidt told investigators that he knew the device was in the bag he got out of a dumpster near 41st and 129th East Avenue. Schmidt said he got a ride to the casino from some people. He told detectives that he had gotten into an argument with them and they left him at the casino. He said the people who gave him a ride put the bag under some stairs at the casino. Detectives interviewed the people who gave Schmidt a ride and they said the bag belonged to Schmidt. Schmidt told deputies he thought the device was a firework or firecracker.

Oakland Police Shut Down Illegal Gambling Den, Seize Guns and Drugs

Police in Oakland shut down another illegal gambling operation after executing a search warrant Wednesday, seizing firearms including multiple assault rifles and pounds of methamphetamine and pot.Officers seized 10 guns, including four assault rifles with extended magazines, 5.5 pounds of what is suspected to be crystal methamphetamine and 15.5 pounds of marijuana, according to police. The methamphetamine has a street value of $70,000, police said. Officers also seized 12 alleged illegal gambling machines and more than $7,000 in cash. Police said they shut down two other illegal gambling operations in July and October of last year.

Man dies after confrontation with security guard at Seven Mile Casino 

Police are investigating an incident at a Chula Vista casino that led to a man’s death Monday evening. At around 8:45 p.m., Chula Vista Police officers were called to Seven Mile Casino (285 Bay Blvd.) in response to a physical confrontation between a man and a casino security guard. According to police, the altercation at the casino’s main entrance resulted in the man being injured. The injured man, who was believed to be a transient, was rushed to UC San Diego Medical Center where he later died from his injuries. CVPD homicide detectives are looking into the events that led to the confrontation.

Heartless fraudster who plundered £90k from Lanarkshire family business behind bars

A devastated family say they are “hanging on by the skin of our teeth” after a trusted employee stole £90,000 from the business they’d built up over many years of hard work. Crooked bookkeeper Andrea Cochrane, who worked as a company secretary at East Kilbride-based. A Steel & Son Contracts Ltd for more than 30 years, has been sentenced to 28 months in jail. The callous former employee previously admitted scamming thousands from the family business to fund a £700 a day gambling addiction – despite being treated as a friend of the Steel family, and invited to weddings and birthday parties. Cochrane, from Bellshill, was back in Hamilton Sheriff Court this week for sentencing after it was postponed from a hearing last month.

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

Florida Initiative Petition signature deadline hits and Expanded Sports Betting and Casino Efforts Fail

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the efforts to legalize sports betting in Florida through the Seminole Compact.  Those efforts failed when a Judge struck down the sports betting provisions as crafted and as such, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel invested unprecedented amounts of money in efforts to put the issue on the ballot via initiative petition. Despite the huge financial investment, the time has come and passed to have the required signatures required for getting the issue on the ballot this year.  The same holds true for a possible new Casino, which was also using the initiative petition as the means for expanded gambling. An online source reports:

Two ballot measures in Florida concerning sports betting (sponsored by Florida Education Champions) and additional casinos (sponsored by Florida Voters in Charge) failed to qualify for the 2022 ballot. Each initiative needed 891,589 signatures to be validated by county elections officials by Feb. 1. Florida also has a signature distribution requirement, which requires that signatures equaling at least 8% of the district-wide vote in the last presidential election be collected from at least half (14) of the state’s 27 congressional districts.

From 2016 through 2020, the total cost of successful petition drives to qualify an initiative for the ballot in Florida ranged from $2.8 million to $8.8 million. In 2016, Florida required 683,149 valid signatures. In 2018 and 2020, the valid signature requirement was 766,200.

Florida Education Champions reported $37.2 million in contributions ($22.7 million from DraftKings and $14.48 million from FanDuel) and $36.01 million in expenditures. Florida Education Champions paid $23.8 million to Advanced Micro Targeting for petition gathering services.

Another committee, Florida Voters in Charge, sponsored an initiative concerning casino gaming expansion in Florida. The Division of Elections showed that county elections officials had validated 814,266 signatures submitted by the campaign as of 5:00 p.m. on Feb. 1. The campaign met the distribution requirement in 10 of the 27 congressional districts, short of the 14 districts needed. Florida Voters in Charge reported $51.6 million in contributions, mostly from Las Vegas Sands ($49.6 million), a casino and resort company based in Nevada. Florida Voters in Charge paid $44.9 million to Game Day Strategies for petition gathering and consulting. 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/23 – 01/30

Las Vegas Strip Murder Suspects Held Without Bail After Two Fatal Shootings

A pair of men charged in two Las Vegas Strip homicides on Friday remained behind bars this weekend. One New Year’s Eve shooting was at Palace Station Casino. The other was at Fashion Show Mall. Both were in parking garages. The suspects were identified as Jordan Ruby, 18, and Jesani Carter, 20, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Each was charged with murder, and each is expected to appear in court on Tuesday. More charges are likely, Las Vegas Metro Police added in a statement. The two suspects could be linked to other crimes in the region, police suspect. “Detectives are currently reviewing their connection to other events,” Metro police said Saturday about the duo. “These investigations are still ongoing and additional charges will be forthcoming.”

US Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission Member Guilty of Embezzlement

Barnes was convicted by the jury after just six hours of deliberation. She had been charged by the federal government with conspiracy to steal from programs, receiving federal funds in contravention of US laws, receipt of stolen government money, filing false tax returns in violation of Virgin Islands law, and receiving federal funds in violations of US Law. Evidence proved that Barnes colluded with Violet Anne Golden, former VI Casino Control Commission Chair, in a scheme to steal federal and local money, as well as file a false tax return. Evidence revealed that Barnes received a $65,000 contract between April and June 2015. However, it is not clear for what purpose the contract was. Evidence also revealed that Barnes received $568,104 in total, including more than $113,000 in travel, perks and vehicle expenses. Jill Koster, the lead prosecutor in the case, stated that Barnes knew “what was in Golden’s wallet” during opening statements. This was referring to the hundreds and thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds that were said to have been spent at the time of the crimes.

Police Chief: Violence concern with gambling businesses operating illegally

Police have long investigated illegal gambling and 8-liners. In May of 2020 a 45-year-old woman was arrested at Lucky’s Game Room on the same charge and bonded out. And in March this year police issued 20 citations to eight game rooms in the city. By definition, a gaming machine commonly referred to as an “8-Liner,” is any coin-operated contrivance designed solely for amusement if the machine rewards the player exclusively with non-cash merchandise or a representation of value redeemable for those items, that have a wholesale value available from a single play of the device of not more than ten times the amount charged to play or $5, whichever is less.

It’s been said these types of illegal gambling business leads to crime, and police say they are not good for the city. “They have a high probability of getting robbed, because criminals know they are illegally paying out money and so they know there is cash money on site,” PAPD Det. Sadie Guedry said. “When businesses are robbed, this increases the chance of people getting hurt. Where there is illegal gambling, there is more than likely other illegal activity going on.” In addition, senior citizens are being misled, she said, believing these places are like legal casinos.

Gambling addict from Danville gets 8 years in prison for robbing 19 stores in Virginia and North Carolina 

Larry Wayne Inge, whose gambling addiction led him to rob 19 stores across two states in the course of 51 days, was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison. Inge testified in Roanoke’s federal court that his crime spree began Dec. 1, 2019, after he had depleted his life savings, maxed out credit cards and spent borrowed money so he could continue to place bets on televised football games. That evening, the 40-year-old from Danville walked into the Valero convenience store on Philpott Road in South Boston, wearing a skull cap and bandana and carrying a blue pillowcase. Keeping one hand in his jacket pocket as if he had a gun, he demanded all the money that was in the cash register. After he had wagered that cash away, he robbed the Food Lion on Philpott Road in Henry County a few weeks later, then the Moore’s Country Store in Lynchburg on Dec. 29. Although Inge was never armed and no one was injured, “he put everyone in danger,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Swartz said in asking for a 10-year sentence. Each time he waked into a store, Inge testified, “I realized that what I did, even before I did it, was unacceptable.” But by then, he said, the urge to place bets using an online gaming site was uncontrollable. After the money from one robbery was gone, “the very next day, I would be in the same situation.”

Arizona man gets prison time for casino sex attack on tribal land

A 26-year-old Arizona man who admitted sexually assaulting a woman at a Fort Mojave Indian Reservation resort-casino has been sentenced to eight years and four months in prison. A federal prosecutor said Richard Anthony Hernandez also was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas to 15 years of supervised release after prison. Hernandez’s defense attorney didn’t immediately comment on his client’s behalf. A prosecutor says the woman is Native American. She was hospitalized for multiple face and head injuries and loss of consciousness after the September 2018 attack near near Laughlin and the Colorado River in Nevada. The case was prosecuted in federal court because the crime occurred on tribal land.

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