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Super Bowl 52 – More Gambling than all Seven World Series Games Combined: Harmless Fun?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the significant amount of gambling on the Super Bowl each year, and each year the impact seems to grow. This year the amount of total gambling on the Super Bowl 52 s estimated to be around $4.5 million. This year sees the New England Patriots face off against the Philadelphia Eagles, and When the Eagles play, the amount of gambling spikes significantly. An online source explains:

Each and every year, sportsbooks drool over the prospects of profits stemming from Super Bowl gambling. There will be more money bet on Super Bowl 52 than any of the seven games of the World Series, and all of the combined games in the Stanley Cup Finals.

It’s the most lucrative day of the season for most sportsbooks, and every year, the total amount wagered on the big game increases. How much will be bet on the 2018 Super Bowl?

Each year, the American Gaming Association releases its prediction of how much money will be wagered on the Super Bowl. Super Bowl 51 generated an estimated $4.7 billion in wagers, though the mass majority of that was done illegally through offshore websites and local bookies. BetDSI Sportsbook has lined the AGA’s estimate at $4.5 billion bet on the 2018 Super Bowl.

The last time the Eagles were in the Super Bowl, there was a 10.5 percent jump in the amount wagered in Las Vegas from 2004 ($81.2 million) to 2005 ($90.8 million). If we see a 10 percent jump again this year, Las Vegas could be looking at a handle as high as $152 million alongside a total number gambled hovering around $4.6 billion.

Many think gambling on the Super Bowl is harmless fun, and for some, who do it legally, it could be that simple. However, the consequences for others can be extreme. A Fox News affiliate has reported that Super Bowl night is not only the biggest night for gamblers, but it also sees the most suicides as well. For those that don’t suffer the ultimate fate, they can still lose enough to cause irreparable harm to their finances and family. Fox Now online explains:

“Super Bowl is probably one of the biggest gambling days of the year,” said Gambling Addiction Counselor, Jim Harrison [a gambling counselor in Milwaukee.] He says the wagers placed on the Super Bowl are often not taken as seriously and can be seen as harmless and fun. “In reality it is betting, it is gambling,” said Harrison. Those compulsive gamblers see it as a day to make up for other sports losses this season.

Harrison says it’s not harmless at all for those with an addiction — betting is done with bookies and online and it could bring losses. “If it causes family problems, certainly financial problems,” said Harrison. “I’ve had clients who have literally lost over $300,000 gambling,” said Harrison. The Super Bowl can bring losses to those betting on it all, and it can be tempting to those dealing with gambling addition.

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

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A Brief Look at Crime 01/22 – 01/28

Washington State Man Swindled Alaskans Out of $3M to Gamble and Do Drugs

A man in Washington State who told his neighbors he had cancer and needed money for treatment took approximately $3 million from them and several of their friends who lived in a tiny Alaska town. But it wasn’t for cancer, it was all to feed his gambling and drug addictions Floyd Jay Mann, who pled guilty in June to all 19 counts against him including wire fraud and money laundering, is now close to finding out what his sentence will be, and he is asking for a relatively light sentence, given that he bilked the money from mostly trusting senior citizens. “The victims did not believe that the scheme was fraudulent [even]when legitimate FBI agents showed up to conduct interviews andserved search warrants, because they had been told so many storiesof corrupt agents and judges,” wrote Steward. “It was not until after the agents showed up, when Mann stopped calling and asking for money, [that] the victims accepted that the stories he had been telling them for six years were fraudulent.”

Man jumps to his death after racking up big gambling debt

The suicide of a young man in Tuen Mun in Hong Kong’s New Territories on Tuesday may have been linked to gambling debts. The 22-year-old man died after jumping from a building in a public housing estate. He was found lying unconscious outside Mun Yu House of Sam Shing Estate at midnight, Sing Tao Daily reported. He was sent to Tuen Mun Hospital but was pronounced dead later. When police officers examined the man’s personal computer and bank statements, they found he was a soccer gambler who had a credit-card overdraft of at least HK$110,000 (US$14,075). So far this year the center has handled 80 cases in which the gamblers were aged 29 or below. About 17% of the gamblers said they once considered committing suicide, 60% had suffered emotional stress and 40% had bad relationships with family members. Fully 40% of them had racked up more than HK$100,000 of debt. Yeung said young people should seek counseling if they have found they have gambling problems.

Hazelwood dispatcher raised money for paralyzed officer, told police she gambled it away

A former Hazelwood dispatcher who helped organize fundraisers for a police officer who was paralyzed in the line of duty was charged Tuesday with stealing some of the money to gamble. April Briscuso, 40, was arrested in November amid an investigation into whether she pocketed some of the money she helped raise for former Officer Craig Tudor. He was paralyzed from the chest down in a car crash more than a year ago while he was on his way to a call. Briscuso was charged Tuesday. Her bail has been set at $75,000. She told investigators she took cash donations to gamble at casinos. The documents also show that Tudor and his wife, Christine, told investigators they had not received the proceeds from several events hosted in their name, with the exception of checks made payable to officer Tudor or his wife. Investigators concluded that Briscuso told donors to make checks payable to her even after Tudor told her to stop doing so. She told Christine Tudor that she had been depositing donations into her personal account, according to the documents.

Emergency FEMA Funding Went to Old Casino

Federal Emergency Management Agency grants meant for disaster relief ended up going to unauthorized casino repairs and a $300,000 “bonus” to a contractor, according to a new audit by the inspector general. The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security questioned roughly $14 million awarded to the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and Iowa for flood damage in 2011. The audit, released last week, found “serious and pervasive” mishandling of federal funds by the tribe. “The Omaha Tribe’s accounting system and supporting documentation were so unreliable and in such disarray that the only amounts we were able to verify with any degree of confidence were $2.8 million of unneeded funds; $165,000 of unclaimed insurance coverage; and about $74,749 of eligible and supported costs,” the inspector general said. “We question the remaining $13.9 million as unsupported.” The office of inspector general said it had “little confidence” in any transactions the tribe listed in its accounting system. The Omaha Tribe spent $168,764 in taxpayer funding for “ineligible expenditures to repair its old casino” and awarded $312,282 to itself as a “bonus.”

Massive illegal gambling operation busted. 500 slot machines involved

After a two-year investigation, federal and state officials say they have broken up a massive illegal gambling operation that used 500 video slot machines throughout Northern California smoke shops, bars and stores to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The allegations against four Israeli citizens who operate out of the Bay Area are contained in a 44-page affidavit filed in federal court in Sacramento and unsealed on Friday. According to the affidavit from a state Department of Justice special agent, the probe uncovered the gambling scheme that it says was run by what authorities call “the Gohar Organization,” which allegedly placed machines generating more than $2,000 a day in storefronts from San Jose to Sacramento. “This organization controls a large number of illegal video slot machines placed in small Northern California retail stores such as markets, gas stations, liquor stores and smoke shops,” the affidavit states, adding that proceeds from the operation may have been laundered by sending the money to Israel through a Los Angeles rabbi and later by purchasing homes and commercial buildings in the Bay Area. The investigation began in September 2015 and followed a similar probe of a suspect known as “Dino the Casino,” an Israeli national named Nive Hagay who pleaded guilty last May to a count of illegal gambling and one count of cocaine distribution. He was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to forfeit about $320,000 in cash, vehicles and other assets.

4 arrested, $200,000 seized in Lake County gambling sting

A two-month operation targeting illegal gambling in Lake County ended with search warrants being served at 10 illegal gambling establishments across the county, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. The sting, dubbed Operation Jackpot, was initiated after authorities received tips and Crimeline calls about illegal gambling at the businesses, authorities said. Authorities seized more than $200,000 during the operation and made four arrests — three for illegal gambling and one for drugs and weapons charges, deputies said. Luis Hernandez, 50; Samir Aguiar , 38; and Brenda Martinez, 42 were charged with keeping an establishment for gambling. Christopher DeCotis, 26, was a customer of one of the businesses when the warrant was served. Deputies searched his backpack and found a handgun, digital scale and a spoon with white residue. He was charged with possession of a firearm by convicted felon and possession of drug paraphernalia, authorities said.

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


UPDATE: Washington State joins Hawaii in pushing investigation and legislation around gambling-esque loot boxes in video games.

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing revelation that video game publishers are pushing what many have called predatory gambling mechanics into recent video games. These loot boxes that are purchased by a gamer dispense in-game items by chance. The players don’t know what items they are actually purchasing and thus they chase after the change of getting the good loot much like a gambler chases after the right combination in a slot machine. What’s worse, publisher EA used these gambling boxes as the primary way to advance through their latest Star Wars video game, Battlefront 2. Naturally, this not only caught the eye of the media, but Disney themselves had to step in. Then governmental agencies started investigating and expressing concern for such psychologically manipulative mechanisms in video games that are available to children. Chris Lee, a Hawaiian legislature pulled no punches when he categorized the game and loot boxes as simply an Star Wars themed online casino aimed at taking kids money. Apple called for companies to disclose the odds of obtaining various loot in any games sold in there app store, but the industry as a whole decided not to regulate loot boxes through the ESRB system. Given the lack of sell governance, yet another state has pushed forward to investigate the issue. The Rolling Stone reports:

As the debate surrounding loot boxes and microtransactions as a form of gambling targeted at children continues, a new bill proposed in Washington is looking to force the game industry to regulate these mechanics, The News Tribune reports.

Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker introduced a bill this month asking state officials, as well as game developers, to determine once and for all if loot boxes and similar mechanics are specifically designed to prey on children.

“What the bill says is, ‘Industry, state: sit down to figure out the best way to regulate this,’” Ranker told the outlet. “It is unacceptable to be targeting our children with predatory gambling masked in a game with dancing bunnies or something.”

Despite the controversies, the game industry seems to be fully-committed to loot boxes and microtransactions. In a recent industry survey, the Game Developer’s Conference found one in 10 developers plan to implement the mechanics in their next game.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 01/15 – 01/21

Prosecutor fingers gambling problem as motive for SF quintuple homicide

A plumber accused of five heinous slayings inside a single-family home in San Francisco was driven to kill when a gambling problem left him without money to pay rent, a prosecutor argued Tuesday during closing arguments in the quintuple murder trial. Binh Thai Luc, 41, is facing murder, burglary and robbery charges for the killings at 16 Howth St. on March 22, 2012. Though forensic evidence connects Luc to the crime scene, one of the central questions for jurors is whether Luc had a motive to kill. Fleming suggested Luc robbed and strangled his friend Vincent Lei, and killed the rest of his family to prevent anyone from testifying against him, on the same night that he lost money playing cards at Artichoke Joe’s Casino in San Bruno.

1 dead after being shot on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas

Las Vegas police are searching for the man they suspect of shooting and killing another man at the Fremont Street Experience early Wednesday. Metropolitan Police Department homicide Lt. Dan McGrath said the suspected shooter, who is in his 20s, ran through several downtown casinos as he fled the scene of the shooting that occurred just after 2:20 a.m. outside the Four Queens. The shot man, who police said was also in his 20s, was taken to University Medical Center where he died just before 2:45 a.m. McGrath said it appeared the man was shot when an argument escalated among a group of people. The group scattered and the shooter fled the scene. McGrath said the shooter and the man who was killed knew each other. One person in the group that was arguing told detectives the shooter’s name, McGrath said, and police are searching for him. By Wednesday evening, police had filed a warrant for the man’s arrest. Deagan said people ran into the Four Queens and the surrounding casinos after the shot rang out. “I stopped playing and looked over and people were running, so I ducked behind this pillar,” he said, motioning toward a column supporting the Fremont Street Experience.

Lenexa woman dies after shooting near 7th Street Casino

A Lenexa woman is dead after a shooting outside a casino in Kansas City, KS. The shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday in a parking garage outside of the 7th Street Casino, located at 777 N Seventh Street Trafficway. Overland Park Police officers stopped a vehicle at about 1:20 a.m. near southbound Interstate 35 and Antioch Road to assist a Mission officer who had pulled the car over for speeding. Officers noticed that a Hispanic woman riding in the vehicle had been shot and had a faint pulse. CPR was administered but the woman died on the side of the road. Authorities closed the ramp from southbound I-35 to Antioch Road as they investigated the shooting. It has reopened. Officers plan to search casino surveillance video for details about the shooting.

Child Found Asleep In Car At Casino With Illegal Drugs, Hypodermic Needles

Four people have been arrested after a child was found asleep inside a car with hypodermic needles and drugs at a Placerville casino. Investigators say a security guard for Red Hawk Casino noticed the car with two people inside and the child. The child’s mother was inside the casino at the time. The four face multiple drug and child endangerment charges. The child is now in the care of child protective services.

Greensburg attorney charged with embezzling from clients

A Greensburg attorney appeared in federal court Tuesday after being charged by federal grand jury indictment with multiple counts of wire fraud on November 15. Danny P. Butler, of Campbellsville, was charged as part of a scheme to obtain money from clients of his legal practice in order to pay gambling losses exceeding $1.6 million. The indictment alleges from about August of 2009 through October of 2016, Butler used seven bank bank accounts to routinely commingle client funds, and often to misappropriate funds from one client to distribute funds to other, unrelated clients. Butler also allegedly used client funds from the bank accounts to make cash withdrawals and pay personal expenses, in addition transferring client funds from business bank accounts to his personal accounts. From 2009 through 2015, Butler had gambling losses totaling $1,648,613 that he allegedly paid for, in large part, by the misappropriation of funds from eleven clients. If convicted at trial, Butler could be sentenced to no more than 20 years in prison, fined $250,000, and be required to serve a three year period of supervised release.

Gambling tops fraud attempts list on Black Friday

Jumio has said that the gambling industry experienced the highest levels of fraud between Black Friday and Cyber Monday compared to other sectors. Despite overall fraud attempts falling 4% on the same period last year, gambling saw its highest-ever level, with Jumio reporting that fraud was 67% higher than the daily average for the rest of the year in Europe. Online gambling fraud has now increased 60% overall since 2014, according to Jumio. Anies Khan, head of gaming at Jumio, said: ‘’While we saw an overall reduction in detectable fraud between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, online gambling saw significant increases during the account setup process. “Online gaming operators are often reluctant to add extra barriers to the customer onboarding process because they want a seamless user experience. “This year’s data suggests that this mindset may require rethinking since its leaving operators vulnerable to attacks.

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


UPDATE: Florida Voters in Charge Amendment Officially Reaches Ballot: Florida Voters have a chance to vote on the final say

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to pass the Voters in Charge Ballot Initiative. This ballot measure seeks to amend the constitution and require a final vote by the people before any gambling expansion can take place. This clearly provides a last line of defense for those Florida families must vulnerable to the socioeconomically damaging effects of gambling. The Sun Sentinel breaks down the particulars:

Voters in November might get the chance to make all future decisions about expanding gambling in Florida.

A proposed constitutional amendment says voters would need to approve any expansion of casino gambling with a 60 percent majority vote.

Voters in Charge, the group behind what’s called Amendment 3, announced Wednesday it had gained enough petition signatures to qualify for the November ballot — more than 800,000 in all. To pass, 60 percent of voters must approve the amendment.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 01/08 – 01/14

Cherry Hill man gets 70 months in prison for $2.5M Medicaid fraud

Cesar Tavera, the former executive director of a community health center in Camden, was sentenced Monday to more than five years in prison for stealing money from the nonprofit, which was created to provide mental health services for the city’s underserved residents. In addition to 70 months in prison, three years of supervised release was ordered by U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden. The judge also issued a $2.5 million restitution order. Authorities said Cesar Tavera, 53, of Cherry Hill, embezzled from Nueva Vida Behavioral Health Center of New Jersey, using the money for his family and for personal use that included gambling jaunts to SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, meals, and travel in the United States and abroad. In 2015, authorities said, Tavera withdrew $35,000 from the center’s bank account while at the casino.

Woman guilty of embezzling $100K from Rocky Boy clinic

A former chief financial officer at the Rocky Boy Health Board Clinic in Box Elder has pleaded guilty to circumventing the approval process in taking out nearly $112,000 in loans from the health board’s loan program. The Great Falls Tribune reports 60-year-old Kathy Ann Sutherland pleaded guilty Tuesday to wire fraud. She told U.S. District Judge Brian Morris she used the money to feed her gambling habit. She faces up to 20 years in prison when she is sentenced on Feb. 8. She also has agreed to pay restitution. Court records say that from 2005 to 2015, Sutherland took out employee loans from the health board loan program. The money was to be repaid through payroll deductions. However, she bypassed the $1,500 loan limit and cashed duplicate checks to get more money.

Reputed mobster charged in crime sweep admits to extortion

One of five reputed mobsters from western Massachusetts who were charged in connection with an extortion case has pleaded guilty in federal court. The Republican reports 50-year-old Ralph Santaniello, of Longmeadow, pleaded guilty Monday in Worcester to charges that include extortion. He faces more than six years in prison when he’s sentenced Jan. 29. Santaniello was arrested in August 2016 along with close to 40 alleged members of various organized crime families following a large-scale crime bust. He was charged with gambling and other extortion-related offenses. Prosecutors say Santaniello and another mobster extorted the owner of a local towing business. Authorities say the men allegedly threatened to decapitate and bury the body of the tow company owner unless he paid $50,000.

Advisor Sentenced To Federal Prison For $6M Investment Fraud Scheme

Francisco Reynier Arias, Jr., 49, of Winter Park, Florida and formerly of Nashville, was sentenced today to 70 months in prison for operating an investment fraud scheme, which defrauded investors of over $6.5 million dollars, announced U.S. Attorney Donald Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee. Arias was indicted in 2011 and pleaded guilty in October 2015 to money laundering and wire fraud. According to court documents and evidence presented at the sentencing hearing, Arias owned and operated Adieus, an investment company in Nashville, which purportedly specialized in foreign currency trading. Arias lied to investors about his abilities as a foreign currency trader by claiming that he had a special insight into the market when in fact he did not. He also lied to investors by claiming that he was a decorated war hero who helped capture Saddam Hussein. Instead of investing client funds, Arias diverted funds for his own personal use, including paying down the mortgage on his home; paying a family member’s college tuition at Vanderbilt University; family trips, including a gambling trip to Las Vegas; landscaping for his house, including the construction of a swimming pool; and purchasing motorcycles to add to his motorcycle collection.

Convicted Limerick fraudster agrees to hand over pension fund

A legal executive who was jailed for three years for stealing €260,000 from the solicitor’s firm he previously worked for has agreed to have a receiver appointed over his pension fund. Monies in the fund, estimated to be approximately €170,000, will go towards repaying those who suffered loss by the fraudulent conduct of Garry Carroll. In 2012, Carroll admitted to multiple charges of theft, larceny and embezzlement before Limerick Circuit Criminal Court of from his employers Connolly Sellors, Geraghty Solicitors – now known as Keating Connolly Sellors. Carroll, who worked as a legal executive with the firm from 1978 to 2009, was sentenced to three years in prison. The court heard that the offences were committed over a 10-year period. 58-year-old Carroll, who lived in Limerick for many years but is now residing in Cratloe, Co. Clare. said that his actions were due to a gambling problem.

Sheriff: 2 dead after shooting at illegal gambling establishment in rural Edinburg

Two aggravated robbery suspects were shot and killed by a security guard at an illegal gambling establishment in rural Edinburg early Saturday morning, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said via Twitter. The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office received a call at about 2:35 a.m. in regards to shots fired at 1328 South Alamo Road. Deputies say when they responded, though, people at the illegal gambling establishment had already fled the scene. Deputies believe three suspects intended to rob the establishment. Details about the shooting weren’t immediately available. The deceased suspects were described as two Hispanic males. Deputies say the men will be identified pending notification of next of kin. The security guard–who has not been identified– is certified, according to Guerra. Investigators continue to search for a third suspect who fled the scene on foot, Guerra said.

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


UPDATE: Despite Florida Supreme Court Ruling, Gadsden Looking to Authorize Slots in North Florida Again

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of a north Florida county attempting to legalize slot machines. Florida law very clearly outlines the jurisdictions of where slot machines and other gambling are legal, and Gadsden county is not one. The issue of voter approved slot machines in not designated areas reached the Florida Supreme Court and they unanimously agreed Florida law prohibited such gambling venues. However, it appears a new bill has been filed to again allow Gadsden County to hold a referendum on authorizing slot machine gambling at the local race track. Florida Politics breaks down the attempted angle they are taking:

A unanimous Florida Supreme Court last year ruled against the track and facilities in seven other counties that previously passed local referendums allowing slots, saying “nothing in (state gambling law) grants any authority to regulate slot machine gaming to any county.”

The holding was limited to non-charter counties, however. Gadsden does not have a charter but did pass a slots referendum in 2012. Tuesday’s bill responds to the court’s ruling that “the Legislature did not specifically authorize” that referendum.

It would OK the following ballot question: “Shall slot machine gaming be authorized at the pari-mutuel quarter horse racing facility in the City of Gretna?”

The issue was quickly addressed by Executive Direct of Florida group No Casinos, and Paul Seago was very to the point in his opposition:

“First, we think it violates the Florida Constitution, which prohibits expansion of casino gambling without a statewide vote,” he said. “Second, it sets up a violation of the compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe, jeopardizing millions of dollars in revenue.”

The Seminole Tribe of Florida enjoys exclusive rights to offers slots outside of South Florida; breaking that exclusivity entitles the Tribe to reduce or stop paying a cut of its gambling revenue to the state.

“Third, any municipality that thinks casino gambling is a key to economic development need look no further than Atlantic City to see the associated crime and social ills that come with it,” Seago added. “For these reasons we will vigorously oppose HB 1111.”

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