Author Archives: tjdy

Florida Cruise Ship Industry turns to Sports Betting as land based Sports Betting Awaits its Fate.

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various attempts to legalize sports betting in Florida following the landmark Supreme Court Decision that allowed sports betting outside of Las Vegas.  Nothing has passed in Florida, but sports betting bills are poised for the upcoming legislative session, including one bill that is mostly leverage to move forward a new Seminole gambling compact with the state.  Now adding to that pressure is the move by Florida’s cruise ship industry to allow sports betting in international waters.  A local Orlando new source explains:

With states now facing pandemic-impacted budgets, some are looking at expanding gambling as a way to make up the difference. Since 2018, when a federal statute restricting regulated sports betting was ruled unconstitutional, more than a quarter of all states have legalized sports betting in some fashion. Three bills have been filed in Florida to legalize sports wagering. Now cruise lines are looking at the same tool to help them recover from more than a year of no cruises.

Multiple casino games are also available via the Ocean Casino app developed via a partnership with gaming technology firm Miomni. The Ocean Casino app, part of the OCEAN Guest Experience Platform, will now include a sports wagering section.

Like other onboard gambling, it will only be available when in international waters, or, according to Princess, “wherever permitted by Law.” Seeking Alpha’s senior editor,Clark Schultz, believes that sports betting will spread to other cruise lines, including Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. All major cruise lines have onboard Wi-Fi making a move to mobile gaming easy.

It’s still too early to know if Florida Senate Bill 392, which aims to legalize sports wagering in the state, will pass. The legislative session begins March 2.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 02/15 – 02/21

Las Vegas Strip: Police Make 1,229 Arrests Through Three-Month Operation

Las Vegas police arrested over 1,200 people during its three month operation against violent crime. Operation Persistent Pressure ran from September 18 to December 20, in response to a rise in violence in September. Crime levels in December were 1.8% higher year on year, but police say they will maintain their efforts. Las Vegas police made 1,229 arrests and confiscated 64 firearms in the Strip area during its three-month operation to stop the rise in crime levels.

Metro Captain Dori Koren said last Tuesday that the rise in crime and violence on the Strip “was resolved to some extent,” as police made “tremendous progress” in dealing with crimes on the tourist corridor. According to Koren, arrests included disorderly conducts, robberies, assaults, batteries, and illegal shootings with 36% people charged for gross misdemeanors or felonies. Violence Began to Rise Significantly in September In a statement issued Friday, Koren declared that violent crime in the Strip area started rising in September, with violent altercations including shootings and aggravated assaults.

Las Vegas Woman Gets Three Years in Federal Prison for Role in Sweepstakes Scam

A 50-year-old Las Vegas woman received a three-year federal prison sentence Wednesday for her role in a $9 million criminal scheme that targeted mostly elderly and other vulnerable victims who received fraudulent mailers claiming they won prizes. In addition to the prison time, Andrea Burrow was also sentenced to three subsequent years of supervised release. The court also ordered her to forfeit $272,000, according to a US Department of Justice release. U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro handed down the sentence in a Nevada federal district court.

Prosecutors sought a nearly five-year prison term. They did so because they claimed her criminal behavior started well before 2010, when this case originated. Court documents also show federal authorities seized more than $237,000 from a Bank of America safety deposit box and her Las Vegas residence in February 2018. The mail scheme sent bogus prize announcements to individuals. The letters claimed victims would receive a large cash prize if they paid a fee, typically between $20 to $30. Burrow, authorities said, opened the mail, sorted the payments, and kept track of those who submitted payments in a database. People who mailed payments were then targeted for additional prize scams.

Feds seek 5-year prison sentence for former sports talk radio host Marty Tirrell

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence former Des Moines sports talk radio host Marty Tirrell to five years in prison for a pattern of sports ticket scams they say stretches back more than a decade. Tirrell, 60, defrauded investors of more than $1.5 million by claiming to have access to tickets to major sporting events that he could re-sell at a higher rate, promising to split the profits, Acting U.S. Attorney Richard Westphal wrote in a sentencing brief filed Thursday. Westphal is also asking that Tirrell be ordered to pay $1.46 million in restitution to American Express, Wells Fargo, Bank of the West and five individuals identified only by their initials.”The Defendant has been defrauding businesses and individuals with his lies for years, with little to no consequences,” Westphal wrote. “Defendant continued to lie after he was under investigation in this matter, and the Government is concerned he won’t ever stop lying.”

Workers lose Christmas bonuses due to embezzler’s ‘horrible betrayal’ 

A woman whose theft from a small Grand Rapids business cost 45 employees their Christmas bonuses was sent to prison for what a judge called a pattern of “horrible’’ behavior. “It’s just a horrifying thing that you did; this betrayal,’’ Judge Curt Benson told 42-year-old Terry Jo Lamore. Lamore embezzled more than $150,000 from The Screen Print Department, which prints and embroiders T-shirts, jackets and hats in a brick factory on the city’s Northwest Side. The embezzlement came to light just before the pandemic, which served as a double hit for the locally-owned business. “Employees look forward to raises and Christmas bonuses,’’ Human Resources Manager Renee Orr said. “And this year that just didn’t happen with that $150,000 taken from us.’’ It is not new territory for Lamore, who lists an address in Belmont.  She embezzled more than $13,000 from a Kelloggsville Public Schools parent-teacher organization more than a decade ago. Benson said Lamore’s pattern of criminal behavior justifies prison. Investigators determined some of the embezzled funds were used for gambling.

Wattsburg School District’s ex-payroll chief gets 2-13 years for embezzling $320,000 

The defense said addiction and abuse contributed to a former payroll supervisor at the Wattsburg Area School District embezzling $320,000 from the district for more than three years ending when she resigned under pressure in February 2019. Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri blamed the thefts on a gambling habit. He said the defendant, Rebecca A. Leone, 36, crafted a sophisticated plan to take the money by writing a total of 161 school district checks to herself and then “went out to play the slots at the casino,” referring to Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Summit Township. “She gambled it away,” Daneri said at Leone’s sentencing in Erie County Court on Friday. The prosecution’s points prevailed. Erie County Judge John J. Mead followed Daneri’s recommendation and sentenced Leone to state prison. Mead gave her two to 13 years. “This was not a crime of opportunity, but a systematic looting of the school district,”

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


Major Manufacturer of Missouri’s Illegal Gambling Machines Attempts a Lawsuit to Avoid Shutdown and Prosecution

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the ongoing saga of illegal gambling machines that are operating outside of regulated casinos and in gas stations and convenience stores all over the state.  They have always been illegal as they operate outside of casinos, and despite the collective Missouri leadership taking much longer than needed to declare them illegal, both the court and local prosecutors have established they are not allowed. Legislation has been introduced to make the penalties steep enough to prevent such action as well, but a recent lawsuit by one of the leading manufacturers of these illegal gambling machines, has proven they still plan to fight. The St Louis Post Dispatch reports:

A politically connected company that has flooded Missouri with unregulated slot machines is suing the state, saying it’s devices do not qualify as illegal gambling.

Torch Electronics, a Wildwood firm, and Warrenton Oil, which offers Torch games at its gas stations, are asking a Cole County judge to issue an order stopping the Missouri Highway Patrol from seizing machines as part of a crackdown on illegal gambling. The suit was filed Feb. 5, three days after the Highway Patrol seized three machines from a St. Clair location owned by Warrenton Oil.

The company’s action was met with skepticism in the Missouri Senate, which is debating legislation designed to shut down the proliferation of unregulated slot machines in the state. Senate President Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, called the lawsuit “ironic” coming from a company that is pushing a product considered to be illegal by many, including a Platte County judge. 

“They are flat illegal,” Schatz said. During brief comments on the Senate floor Wednesday, Schatz scoffed at the lawsuit, saying the machines are siphoning money from education programs and veterans because players are not going to the state’s casinos, where profits are taxed and distributed to schools.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 02/08 – 02/14

Lawsuit claims Miami homebuilder and a ‘band of thieves’ stole millions from customers

A Miami homebuilder has been sued, accused of stealing millions of dollars from his clients to finance his high-roller lifestyle of weekend gambling stints at the Hard Rock Casino, two Rolls Royces and a Range Rover, and a luxury condo in Brickell. According to a complaint filed in Miami-Dade circuit court late Wednesday, Francisco Mendez, owner of the Miami-based Pioneer Inter-Development real estate developer, overpaid the contractors working on several homes, then demanded they return the extra money to him as a kickback. “There is more of this kind of fraud than people would like to believe,” said John Criste, an attorney at Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, the firm representing the plaintiffs. “But the fact that it is prevalent doesn’t make it right. In this instance, Mr. Mendez and his cohorts happened to get caught. They got caught because the instances of fraud in this case are egregious.”

San Diego’s hidden gambling problem: Illicit casinos attract gangs, drugs, violence

A task force raid in October found evidence of an illegal gambling parlor, with 16 video gaming machines, drugs, methamphetamine pipes and about $1,700 in cash concealed in drywall, according to an FBI search warrant affidavit. That same night, investigators busted a similar casino blocks away, operating in a unit behind a small house. The businesses are just two examples of a much larger illicit economy that has risen in urban centers and quiet residential neighborhoods throughout California, including San Diego County. Illegal gambling is a misdemeanor under state law. Authorities say these underground parlors operating in the region are closely tied to a more serious criminal element: gangs, drugs and violence.

Homicide, shootings, stabbings, thefts — all have been investigated in and around the sites, according to the FBI affidavits. Methamphetamine often goes hand-in-hand with play at many covert gaming halls and is often sold or supplied by operators on-site, according to court records. The stimulant can keep patrons in front of machines for hours in a hyper-focused and confident state. It also entices them to come back for more. “Illegal gambling dens bring drugs, violence, guns, and other organized criminal activity into San Diego neighborhoods,” said FBI spokeswoman Davene Butler. That violence has grown increasingly conspicuous in the last year.

Fugitive arrested in fatal gambling room shootout at Sycamore Township hotel

A fugitive was arrested Tuesday in what authorities are calling a gambling room shootout that killed two people, including a 15-year-old boy. The U.S. Marshals Service Southern Ohio Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team arrested Jay Harris on an outstanding warrant from Hamilton County for two counts of murder. According to a release from the U.S. Marshals Service, Harris was allegedly involved in a robbery at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Sycamore Township on Nov. 1, 2019. Authorities say the shootout stemmed from a night of gambling inside of a hotel room. That night of gambling included craps and betting on a Madden football video game, officials said, in which thousands of dollars exchanged hands.

Feds hint at expansive evidence as man with mob ties pleads guilty in sports betting case

A federal prosecutor hinted at expansive evidence including “a large number” of recordings as a man with purported mob ties pleaded guilty Wednesday to running an illegal sports gambling operation. Gregory Paloian, of Elmwood Park, also admitted he filed a false 2016 tax return. He entered his plea during a video conference before U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow, and he now faces a likely prison sentence of between two and three years. Kinney said Paloian’s operation involved “five or more people.” He said Paloian had agents who recruited gamblers. And he said they used a website in a foreign country to place bets. The prosecutor also said Paloian filed a 2016 tax return reflecting a negative income of $77,229, when he actually made at least $95,220 that year. Paloian’s plea agreement says he took wagers on professional football, basketball, baseball and hockey games, as well as college sporting events.

Alabama City Clerk Who Stole Money to Gamble Sentenced to Federal Prison

An Alabama woman will spend the next year in federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing more than $400,000 from two cities where she served as clerk. Kim Wright Green, 50, of Loxley, Alabama pleaded guilty a year ago to embezzling $400,030 from the cities of Creola and Prichard. Green was city clerk of Creola from January 2013 to February 2017, and city clerk of Prichard from May 2017 through August of 2019. Green admitted to federal prosecutors that she gambled some of the stolen money at casinos. However, specific casinos were not identified. Alabama does not have commercial casinos with slot machines and table games. But it is home to three tribal casinos owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Wind Creek Montgomery, Atmore, and Wetumpka operate Class II Native American gaming. Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), Class II facilities can offer gaming machines that are based on bingo. Class II casinos are specifically prohibited from operating slot machines and house-banked table games (blackjack, roulette).

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


Covid-19 Pandemic Expected to have Dangerously Impacted Super Bowl 54 Betting

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the significant amount of gambling on the Super Bowl each year, and the covid pandemic is expected to impact Super Bowl 54 the most yet. When Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl, sports betting was legalized in more states than ever, and the unique situation of the pandemic saw an increase in sports betting in general.  So it might not be surprising to learn that even though ratings and viewership were down for this year’s Super Bowl, the amount of gambling was at an all time high.  NBC News reports:

Even as Super Bowl LV’s TV audience declined, the amount of money wagered on the game skyrocketed in some states — especially in New Jersey, where gamblers doubled their action, regulators said.

The lure of a game featuring Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, considered by many to be the greatest of all time, and his heir apparent, Chiefs signal caller Patrick Mahomes, drew many casual bettors, regulators said. “I believe people love great sports no matter of a pandemic,” said Wes Ehrecke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association. “This epic GOAT-baby GOAT matchup would have been hyped the same, either way,” referring to the acronym for “greatest of all time.”

Gamblers were able to make their first legal Super Bowl bets in Washington, D.C., Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Tennessee and Virginia. Illinois books accepted a whopping $45.6 million in the state’s first Super Bowl wagers, the Gaming Board reported. Meanwhile, Colorado gamblers placed $31.2 million on Sunday’s game, according to the Department of Revenue.

Gambling of this magnitude is expected to prompt many gambling problems and will impact high-risk problem gamblers the most.  PBS Online explains:

Some 26 million people wagered almost $7 billion dollars on last year’s Super bowl, according to the American Gaming Association. That was a 15 percent increase from the previous year. This year’s figures are expected to go even higher. Zion Market Research predicts that sports betting will increase from $104 billion in 2018 to a whopping $155 million in 2024.

These kinds of escalating figures put high-risk problem gamblers in even greater peril, says Scott Anderson, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Problem Gambling Treatment Coordinator. He works with the Ohio’s “Before You Bet” Campaign to attempt to identify and help problem gamblers. And, sports gamblers have been identified as one of the largest groups of addicted and potentially addicted gamblers. According to Ohio for Responsible Gambling, 24.4 percent of the at risk/problem gamblers are sports bettors.

Yet, Anderson says, that gambling and gambling situations are difficult to avoid. It is all around us from mobile phone day trading to state supported lotteries. Although problem gambling can be devastating to an individual’s personal, financial and professional life, it can sometimes be difficult to detect in its early stages. If someone is concerned about their gambling or the gambling of a friend or loved one, Anderson suggests that the person visit BeforeYouBet.org

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 addiction.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 02/01 – 02/07

Why has Las Vegas experienced a surge in homicides?

There have been 81 murders in Metro Police’s jurisdiction in 2020 to represent a 12.5% increase in comparison to the same time last year. They include: Two teenage brothers gunned down by their drunken father, a boy slain during a fight about video games and two young men killed at illegal house parties. Additionally, two babies were dropped to their death from staircases in separate incidents. And there’s the unsolved case of Lesly Palacio a young woman who went out for a drink with a family friend and never returned home. Her remains were found in a desert area north of Las Vegas.

In what’s already been a volatile and unpredictable year marked by a global pandemic and an eruption of social justice protests, major cities across the U.S. are seeing an uptick in slayings and aggravated assaults. In Las Vegas, police have investigated 1,931 aggravated assaults with a gun, which is about 230 more than last year, according to department figures. At least 10 fights or shootings have happened on the Las Vegas Strip. Additionally, the 21 justified homicides Metro has probed from January to Nov. 7 represent a 133% increase from the nine investigated last year, figures show. Those are killings deemed self-defense. The North Las Vegas Police Department has publicly reported 13 slayings this year, compared to nine last year, while Henderson Police have probed 11, which is two more than 2019. The numbers in Henderson include a recent triple murder in which a man shot four of his downstairs neighbors on Nov. 3.

Dr. William Sousa, professor at UNLV’s Department of Criminal Justice and director of the Center from Crime and Justice Policy, says there could be more than one explanation for the spike in crime. But a common theory being explored is that police departments diverted their resources to manage the social unrest to leave behind certain levels of preventive community policing, he said. Policing is more effective when officers are proactive in the communities they patrol as opposed to having to respond to calls for service, Sousa said. “It shouldn’t be a surprise if mechanisms helping to manage those problems … are no longer there,” Sousa said.

Pennsylvania, New Jersey Casinos Get 16K in Counterfeit Currency, Three Arrests Made 

Several Pennsylvania gaming properties and one in Atlantic City wound up getting fake bills last year, leading to the recent arrest of three suspects, with another person still on the loose. In total, $16,000 worth of 150 fake bills were passed at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem — now called Wind Creek Bethlehem — as well as Parx Casino, Valley Forge Casino Resort, Harrah’s casinos, and SugarHouse Casino — now Rivers Casino Philadelphia, reported /Lehigh Valley Live.com/, a local online news site. Three of the suspects were shown on casino surveillance cameras allegedly using the altered money at gaming tables, sometimes while playing blackjack, the report said. Also, the inquiry revealed a printing operation in a Philadelphia hotel room. Police claim the printing scheme made $1 bills look like $100 bills. They were bleached and then altered through a printing process. But each of the bills had the same serial number.

Belterra Park sued for more than $2.7M for allegedly withholding video gaming revenues from racehorse owners and trainers

A Cincinnati-area racino is being sued for withholding more than $2.7 million in video lottery gaming revenues from the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. The association of racehorse owners and trainers filed the federal lawsuit Friday against Belterra Park in U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in Columbus.

The suit alleges Belterra, located at 6301 Kellogg Road on the site of the old River Downs racetrack in suburban Anderson Twp., failed to pay the association its full share of video lottery proceeds from 2014 to 2018. According to the complaint, when Ohio legalized video lottery terminals in 2009, it required racinos like Belterra to split revenues between the track, the Ohio Lottery Commission, and the horsemen’s association, which was to receive between 9% and 11% of the proceeds.

Shootout that killed two in 2019 started as robbery of gambling in Sycamore Township hotel room

A shootout inside a Sycamore Township hotel room that killed two people started as a robbery of an illegal gambling night, according to a release from Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph T. Deters. Taymar Jones, 20, and Ja’Quan Howard, 15 were both killed Nov. 1, 2019, in a shooting at the Hampton Inn and Suites. Gambling on the dice game craps and a Madden video game went on for several hours with thousands of dollars changing hands before the attempted robbery, according to the release. Jones has been accused of being one of three robbers who entered the hotel room with a gun, according to Deters’ release. Howard was inside the room, and caught in the crossfire when the shooting started, according to the release. “This was a shoot-out situation,” Deters said in the release. On Monday, a Hamilton County grand jury indicted three men on murder charges in connection with the shooting deaths.

North Texas Cockfighting Operation Busted: 60 Live Roosters And Hens Recovered, 3 Men Arrested

A search warrant for a property in Hickory Creek Thursday morning, December 10, resulted in the arrest of three men for cockfighting and the recovery of 60 live birds and several deceased ones. It happened around 7:00 a.m. in the 1600 block of Turbeville Road. Lake Dallas Police and the Texas Highway Patrol assisted. Officers found several items typically used in cockfighting operations, including artificial spurs, along with documents indicating betting/gambling on the animals’ lives. Officers also found approximately 40 cages of various sizes, some not big enough for the animals to move around in freely. Many of the birds in cages did not have access to food or water. With the assistance of the Humane Society of North Texas Cruelty Investigations Division, Hickory Creek Police were able to recover 42 roosters and 18 hens.

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


New Study Shows Children Exhibit Gambling Addiction Behavior like Stealing from Parents to fund Gambling-esque Loot Box Addiction

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the multifaceted impact loot boxes have in the gambling space.  More and more governments and organizations are recognizing loot boxes as gambling and many links have been observed in studies that examine loot boxes’ impact on the children who are seemingly playing safe video games.  These boxes act like slot machines in that children have to pay to pull the lever, or open a box, chasing after in-game loot.  There seems to be no significant cognitive behavioral difference in the addition of slot machines and loot boxes and in many cases, especially where the gained items can be sold for value, they fit the definition of gambling.  As such, more studies are being conducted and the newest study has some sobering results.  An online source reports:

According to new research by the Gambling Health Alliance, some 15% of young gamers have taken money from their parents without permission to buy loot boxes. An estimated 11% of gamers have used their parents’ credit cards to finalize the transaction, the GHA has reported.

The organization cautions that video games come with pitfalls and in a way resonates with what Scottish MP Ronnie Cowan said earlier this month, urging parents to boycott buying video games that contain loot boxes lest they start showing symptoms of gambling addiction.

The 15% reported by the GHA means that almost one in six young gamers has stolen money from their parents. Worse still, one in ten children, or 9%, have borrowed money they couldn’t repay to buy loot boxes, the research said. Three families had to re-mortgage their homes to cover the purchase of loot boxes, the GHA revealed. Based on the research, one in four respondents or 22% spent over £100 on average during the regular playthrough.

The addiction that follows loot boxes is not substantively different from that of slot machines, so the cognitive mechanics that addict gamers are generally understood. However, researchers want to know what drives the initial desire for children playing these games to start paying for and opening these addictive loot boxes.  Such information can help parents determine which games are safe and which could lead to such devastating addictive behaviors.  The source continues: 

Youngsters also reported that loot boxes interfered with their gaming experience for several reasons outlined by respondents in the survey. Children cited the “pay to win” model which made competitive play impossible. Another reason children cited was the scarcity of valuable items which could be procured through loot boxes. According to the GHA, all of the above made loot boxes increasingly addictive.

GHA Chair Duncan Stephenson has commented on the addictive tendencies among young children, acknowledging that teenagers enjoyed video games and that was perfectly fine. However, Stephenson cautioned the general public about the effects loot boxes can have on young people’s mental and financial well-being.

“Aside from the financial cost our latest survey with gamers suggests that the fixation with loot boxes can lead to classic symptoms of addiction including mood swings, problems sleeping, and impacting on their social life.”-GHA Chair Duncan Stephenson

He cautioned parents to be careful about the risks that loot boxes entail, especially when considering purchases of games that contain loot boxes. Stephenson also noted that these game mechanics will sooner or later be classified as gambling and be removed from games played by individuals who are under 18 years of age. There have been multiple calls for the reclassification of loot boxes already.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 01/25 – 01/31

Huntingdon Co. man charged with embezzling over $100K from local charity

 Huntingdon man has been charged, accused of embezzling over $100,000 from a local charitable organization, according to a release from Huntingdon County District Attorney’s office. Authorities say 44-year-old Adam Pfingstl faces 12 felony counts of theft and receiving stolen property following an investigating (sic) by state police. Troopers say between April and December of this year, Pfingstl, who was the executive director of Huntingdon County PRIDE, stole the money from the organization and used it to pay for online gambling, personal online purchases and lottery tickets. Huntingdon County PRIDE is an organization that provides programs and services to disabled residents.

Illinois Gaming Board Seeks $5 Million Fine Against Major Video Gambling Company Accel Entertainment

The Illinois Gaming Board is seeking to levy a $5 million fine against Accel Entertainment, a west suburban-based company that has become one of the largest video gambling operators in the nation. The complaint from state gambling regulators alleges the company entered into a deal with the online sports betting company DraftKings in order to pay commissions to business owners to entice them into putting Accel gambling machines in their establishments. It’s illegal for video gambling operators to offer “inducements” to try and drum up or maintain video gambling business, and regulators allege the $21,000 in commissions paid out by Accel violate the Illinois Gaming Act.

LVMPD investigating homicide at The STRAT hotel room

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide section is investigating a shooting at the STRAT Hotel and Casino that occurred Friday night. Officers responded to one of the towers at the STRAT at approximately 10:00 p.m. Friday after reports of someone being shot. Police, upon arriving, discovered a black male in his early 30s deceased on the scene. Investigators believe there was a birthday party in one of the rooms, where people who appeared to know each other got into an altercation that ended with gunshots. Police said many of the people fled and they are still looking for the suspect or suspects.

Shooting at Nevada Casino Leaves Woman Hospitalized, Boyfriend Behind Bars

A woman was hospitalized after sustaining injuries in a shooting at a Laughlin, Nevada, casino this weekend. A man identified as her boyfriend was taken into police custody, authorities said. The incident occurred before 7:20 am on Sunday in a hotel room at the Aquarius Casino Resort, according to the /Las Vegas Review-Journal/. The shooting allegedly happened during a struggle inside the hotel room. The woman’s boyfriend was arrested at the site without incident, the newspaper reported. On its website, the Aquarius bills itself as the “largest 24-hour gaming resort in Laughlin.” In August 2019, police shot and killed an armed man in the Aquarius parking lot after he had attempted to rob a cashiers’ cage inside the casino. The shooting on Sunday at the Aquarius is the second this weekend inside a hotel room at a Southern Nevada casino. 

Fentanyl, an $8,600 debt — and a fatal shooting in Marysville

Detectives believe a man found dead in Marysville earlier this month was shot in a drug deal-turned-robbery, according to police reports and charging papers filed in court. Jason M. Castle, 42, had a fentanyl addiction, and the suspected shooter, Lyon Nicholas Torns, 36, who goes by Nick, was his friend and drug dealer, according to Marysville police. Over the past year, the pair exchanged more than 6,000 text messages, police reports say. On Nov. 3, Castle began sending Torns text messages asking about money. Torns, who had a gambling problem, owed Castle as much as $8,600, deputy prosecutor Toni Montgomery wrote. “why did u do it again?” Castle wrote to Torns. “I’m not in a great spot I have spent 40k lately but no return yet. These pills are breaking me.” On Nov. 8, the day he was shot, Castle wrote Torns just before 1 a.m., arranging a meeting to buy 500 Fentanyl pills for $3,000.

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


Miami Mayor’s Veto of Edgewater Gambling Expansion Upheld in Court

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to secure a new casino in the Edgewater district near Miami, FL.  The community has opposed such a casino and other smaller gambling expansion attempts by the existing casino such as a proposed jai alai fronton and poker room in the Edgewater neighborhood. Miami Mayor vetoed the most recent proposal and naturally, his veto was challenged.  A Miami-Dade Circuit Court has upheld the veto, thus killing the gambling expansion.  The Miami-Herald reports:  

A controversial proposal to bring a jai alai fronton to Edgewater has been shot down in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Judge Michael Hanzmann ruled on Wednesday that the push by West Flagler Associates, the owners of Magic City Casino, to bring gambling to Edgewater in downtown Miami was, at its core, a “land use issue” that overruled any other permissions the company had been granted to pursue its pari-mutuel facilities..

West Flagler had received a permit to proceed with their establishment in July 2018. When a change in law that would change zoning permits for gambling establishments was enacted in 2019, the developer sued and won approval from City of Miami commissioners in a 3-2 vote on Feb. 13, 2020, to proceed with its plan to build a fronton and card-gambling establishment as part of a larger complex at 3050 Biscayne Blvd.

On February 21, 2020, a week after the commission approved the project, Mayor Francis Suarez vetoed that lawsuit settlement, blocking Flagler Associates to proceed with the fronton.

West Flagler Associates and the City of Miami were sued in March 2000 by a group of elite civic leaders, including billionaire automobile magnate Norman Braman and Related Group CEO Jorge M. Pérez, who claimed the permission to proceed with the gambling establishment had not been properly settled by a court.

Judge Hanzmann’s ruling on Wednesday affirmed Mayor Suarez’s legal ability to veto the deal, citing the casino owners “claimed they obtained special rights to expand casino gambling through private meetings with City officials.”

This particular backroom deal appears to be completely dead as no appeal is planned.  A new attempt, one that is above board and more transparent is planned however.  The Miami-Herald concludes:  

Joseph DeMaria, a partner at Fox Rothschild who is representing West Flagler Associates, said his client has no plan to appeal the ruling. “We have already resubmitted a settlement proposal to the city attorney and asked that they schedule it for the next commission meeting,” DeMaria said. “The new proposal provides for a jai alai fronton and card room but no slot machines and waives all attorney’s fees, which could run up into the millions. If the city commission doesn’t approve it, or if the commission not override the mayor’s veto, we’re going to court.”

 “We are pleased with the Judge’s decision,” Braman said in a press release Thursday. “And with help from the City Mayor and Commission, Miami has become a world class city and is on the precipice of further transformational leaps. The last thing our city needs is the plight and desolation that come with casino gambling. I look forward to working alongside City officials to continue the advancement of Miami.”

Grace Mead, one of the attorneys at the Stearns Weaver Miller law firm representing Braman and the other opponents of the casino, said “We are pleased with the ruling and one preceding it which together likely brings an end to a back door, secret attempt to alter the zoning code to expand gambling in the City.”

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A Brief Look at Crime 01/18 – 01/24

Ex-Los Angeles Councilman Pleads Not Guilty to Corruption Charges that Included Accepting Las Vegas Gambling Trips as Payment

Former City Council member Jose Huizar pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges that he took bribes to help developers win favors for large building projects in the city’s burgeoning downtown district. Huizar entered the plea to a new racketeering indictment that added additional charges. The 41-count complaint includes allegations of bribery, honest services fraud and money laundering. Huizar was arrested in June on allegations that he masterminded a $1.5 million pay-to-play scheme tied to the approval of developments. They included a 77-story tower in Huizar’s district that would have been the largest skyscraper west of the Mississippi River. The developer, who already had a hotel in the district, was accused of providing cash and benefits worth $800,000 to Huizar and others that included a dozen trips to Las Vegas casinos and funds to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against the councilman. Huizar left office earlier this year and pleaded not guilty to the earlier 34-count indictment. His trial was set for June 22.

Florida Man Gets Stuck With $93,000 Tax Bill After Letting Boss Use His Daily Fantasy Sports Account

A lawsuit filed in Florida alleges that a former employee of Oakes Farms and Seed to Table is stuck with a massive bill from the IRS for winnings that, he claims, are not his. Andrew Moste says he felt pressured by the company’s vice president, Steven Veneziano, to let the latter use his DraftKings daily fantasy sports account. Veneziano came out $216,000 ahead and owes $93,000 in taxes on those winnings. However, since it’s Moste’s account, that’s where the tax bill went. The suit alleges that Veneziano refused to hand over the cash. Instead, he attempted to convince Moste to participate in tax fraud with him. Moste is seeking a jury trial and asking for over $181,000 in damages.

This is the second time in as many months that DraftKings has been at the center of legal drama over alleged account sharing. The previous story likewise involved a bettor from Florida, who placed a staggering $3 million wager through a friend’s New Jersey sports betting account.

Feds charge employee with stealing $315K from northern Minnesota casino

An employee stole more than $315,000 from a northern Minnesota casino over more than six years, according to federal charges. Jennifer L. Boutto, 32, of Willow Valley Township, Minn., was charged Monday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. The alleged embezzlement of $315,739.87 from the Fortune Bay Resort and Casino in Tower stretched from June 2013 to October 2019, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Fortune Bay is operated by the Bois Fort Band of Chippewa.

Connecticut Poker Player Pleads Guilty to $1M Tax Evasion, Faces Five Years in Prison

A Connecticut poker player and small business owner has pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion. The charge carries a maximum imprisonment of up to five years. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut says Smith owns a commercial interior construction business called Centerline Interiors LLC, but made considerable income playing in poker tournaments across the country. “Even though the IRS notified Smith on multiple occasions that he was required to report all of his gambling income on his federal tax returns, Smith concealed his gambling income from his tax preparer and paid no income taxes on more than $1 million in gambling winnings,” a Department of Justice release explained.

Sports betting company, two casinos fined by state gambling regulators

An online sports gambling company and two casinos have been fined by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission for violations. Racing and Gaming Commission administrator Brian Ohorilko says DraftKings was fined for a late download of new self-ban list information. He says an audit by the commission determined the list was not uploaded within the required seven days — and he says they did note that no one on the ban list signed up or played. He says this was the first violation for the company.

The Rhythm City Casino in Davenport was fined for a violation involving surveillance cameras. “There was an instance in November of 2018 — the facility started experiencing some surveillance system issues — there was a complete loss of coverage on January first of 2019. It did include critical areas of the facility,” Ohorilko says. He says the problem happened again. “There was a second situation in February where there was the intermittent loss of critical areas for approximately four-and-a-half-hours. In that particular situation, the commission and DCI were not notified,” he says.

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


Missouri Senate Pro Tem Files Illegal Missouri Gambling Machine Bill with Severe Punishments for Violators

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the every baffling situation involving illegal gambling machines all over Missouri.  The State’s gambling law is very clear that slot machines are only allowed inside legally licensed and regulated casinos, yet these gambling machines have popped up all over the state.  Casino Watch Focus presented a Guest Article clearly outlining the lack of proper enforcement on the issue, even after a clear court ruling confirmed such machines are illegal.  Given the enforcement has been so slow, Missouri Senate Pro Tem David Schatz has introduced legislation that would clearly outline enforcement and more significantly, severe punishment, for those who continue to run these illegal slot machines.  The Missouri Times Reports:

“I filed SB 10 because of the proliferation of illegal gambling machines throughout the state,” Schatz said before the Government Accountability & Fiscal Oversight Committee Thursday morning. “There are dozens — if not hundreds — of establishments across the state of Missouri that house these unauthorized gaming machines. There is no grey area with this; the gaming laws are black and white, and this is impacting revenues that should be going to our schools. There’s no need for us to not move this legislation forward.”

Under Missouri law, gambling machines are only allowed in casinos. Schatz’s bill would allow the Gaming Commission to partner with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Supervisor of Liquor Control to investigate illegal gambling machines in rest stops, fraternal organizations, and other locations across the state. The bill would also add permanent revocation of a lottery gaming license to the list of sanctions for offenses and assert that devices using random number generators and awarding monetary prizes fall under the definition of illegal machines.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 01/11 – 01/17

Cleveland developer embezzled $885,000 from Eastside Market project during bad losing streak at casino

A Cleveland developer who found himself more than $1 million in the hole at the casino embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from a project to bring a grocery store and health services to the Glenville community, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Arthur Fayne, 58, faces nine counts of wire fraud from an indictment a grand jury in Toledo handed up last week. Prosecutors said Fayne stole more than $885,000 intended for a construction management contractor and an audio-visual technology installation subcontractor, as his company was used as an intermediary for payments made by a nonprofit behind the project. At the same time, Fayne was using his company’s money to gamble, losing large amounts between 2016 and 2018, according to the FBI.

U.S. Alleges Visa Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy at Saipan Casino

U.S. federal prosecutors indicted three people involved with Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd. controversial casino project in Saipan for employing undocumented workers, making illegal money transfers, and participating in a criminal conspiracy — adding to the legal troubles connected to the Hong Kong operator. Prosecutors allege the trio conspired to illegally hire large numbers of Chinese laborers to work on the casino site, “instructing prospective hires to lie to immigration inspectors” on arrival by claiming they were tourists. The indictment includes a conspiracy charge under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a powerful legal tool used in the past against Mafia families in New York as well as the Hells Angels motorcycle club.

A black Ferrari and $62,000 at the casino: How some are living large with COVID relief aid 

The financial aid was meant to help those most in need during the pandemic. But millions of dollars from a COVID-19 relief fund instead are falling in the wrong hands: It’s been misspent on jewelry store spending sprees, high-stakes casino trips and glitzy cars — like a flashy Lamborghini and Ferrari. Of the dozens of South Floridians accused of defrauding the government, some of them have been caught using their ill-gotten gains to live high-flying lifestyles, federal prosecutors say. Court records obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel shed new light on how extensive the COVID-19 relief fraud has been across the region. One man accused of fraud applied for and received a loan, claiming the money was for his business. Instead, he spent $95,000 at jewelry stores, $62,000 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, $6,630 on flights, $5,300 at Gucci, $2,000 at Dior, and $1,000 at Milano Exchange, prosecutors say.

Dunsmuir woman gambled away money she embezzled as property manager

A Dunsmuir woman accused of gambling away thousands of dollars she embezzled while working as a property manager was sentenced Wednesday to a suspended 10 years, four months in prison. Jeannine Marie Tobey, 73 of Dunsmuir, pleaded guilty in July to eight felonies, said Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus. Given her  age and the current COVID-19 crisis she will not be required to serve immediate jail time. However, Andrus said, Tobey must pay all restitution by the end of her three-year probationary period on Dec. 1, 2023. “The victims deserve to collect money … that Ms. Tobey flushed down the toilet of an apparent gambling addiction,” Andrus said. “Tobey claimed that between 2014 and 2016 she began having serious financial trouble. Witnesses reported that she had a severe gambling problem,” Andrus said. Tobey admitted to the sergeant that she had removed thousands of dollars of client funds from the escrow account and had spent them gambling, said Andrus.

Bookmakers ‘helped gambling addict squander injury compensation’

Two leading bookmakers helped a severely disabled gambling addict fill out betting slips as he squandered his compensation from a botched operation, it has been claimed. Lawyers for Liam McCarron say that Ladbrokes Coral and Paddy Power failed to intervene over more than three years as his losses reached at least £500,000. McCarron had been a successful businessman until 2007, when he sustained “catastrophic” injuries during a medical procedure, leading to permanent and severe impairment of his movement and speech.

In a letter seen by the Guardian, McCarron’s lawyers say it should have been obvious to both companies that he was a vulnerable person who could not have been earning a salary and was likely to be gambling beyond his means. According to the claim, which has been forwarded to the Gambling Commission, staff at Ladbrokes  were aware that he was using the diminishing proceeds of a one-off payout, writing in internal notes in 2014 that he had “received substantial compensation”. But they allegedly failed to take proper steps to address his gambling disorder until 2017, when staff at Ladbrokes’ sister company, Coral, asked him to fill out a form proving his source of funds. He was unable to do so because he would have required the help of his wife, who was not aware of the extent of his gambling losses.

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


Live Greyhound Racing Officially Comes to an End in Florida Virtually Eliminating the Gambling Sport throughout the Country

Casino Watch Focus has reported on Florida’s Amendment 13, which made live dog racing illegal in the state.  There was a transitional period to allow tracks time to transition their business model and find homes for all the greyhounds used in those races.  That time has come and Florida now joins the vast majority of the states that no longer allow greyhound racing.  Florida was such a large player, that the entire industry is seemingly on its way out.  NBC News reports:

The dog racing “mecca” of Florida ran its final greyhound contests Thursday night as the gambling mainstay strides closer to its potential demise across America.

The clock struck midnight when a speedy pooch named Bug Brush crossed the finish line to win the final race at Palm Beach Kennel Club in West Palm Beach and brought a curtain on the sport in Florida.

A little more than 25 months ago, state voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 13, outlawing greyhound races, starting in 2021, and issuing what could amount to a national death sentence for the century-old U.S. sport.

With the state now out of the greyhound-running business, four tracks in three states — West Virginia, Arkansas and Iowa — are left still chasing rabbits.

When Amendment 13 passed in 2018, Florida had 11 of America’s 17 dog tracks, which were spread out across six states. Earlier this year, tracks in Texas and Alabama went out of business.

“Florida was the mecca (of dog racing), the base, the largest state with the most tracks,” Humane Society Florida Director Kate MacFall told NBC News recently, celebrating her state’s role in the sport’s decline. “Now this industry has withered.”

Those who have been long involved in the battle to end dog racing believe they still have unfinished business and are working to end the gambling practice in the few remaining legal jurisdictions.  NBC News continues:

With Florida’s ban now in place, there are laws on the books in 41 states against the sport, according to Christine Dorchak, co-founder of the anti-racing group GREY2K. Not yet satisfied with the sport’s near-comatose state, Dorchak said her group is pushing for federal legislation against greyhound racing that she insists has bi-partisan support.

Even without the work of animal activists like GREY2K, the Humane Society and the late singer Doris Day, dog racing has been losing at the bottom line with gamblers for years.

It’s believed Arkansas and Iowa could soon be done with the sport. Operators of Southland Casino Racing, in West Memphis, Arkansas, have already said they’ll stop running by Dec. 31 2022. A subsidy to the Iowa greyhound industry sunsets at the end of 2022, which could finish dog racing two years from now in the Hawkeye State. Dog racing’s demise comes as Americans — at least pre-coronavirus — gamble more than ever before.

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A Brief Look at Crime 01/04 – 01/10

Man sentenced to life in prison without parole for casino parking lot killing 

A family unleashed nearly two years’ worth of frustration and anger on Robert Pulvermacher in court Tuesday. A judge sentenced the man to life in prison for killing 88-year-old Harold Johnson outside of Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells. Pulvermacher didn’t say much during his sentencing hearing in Sauk County Court. He pleaded no contest to first-degree intentional homicide. The crime itself goes back to January 2019. According to a criminal complaint, Johnson lent $100 to Pulvermacher at the casino. Johnson returned two days later, expecting Pulvermacher to pay him back.

Surveillance video showed the two men walking outside together and getting into a car. Johnson’s body was found a day later with five stab wounds, including two in his neck. Several family members spoke before Tuesday’s sentencing. They said this may have started as a dispute over $100, but Johnson’s family said they’ve paid a much greater price. “You stole his wallet and left him to die in his car and you used his money and gambled for seven hours. You are a coward and a waste of skin and I hope you rot in prison and then in hell,” Johnson’s daughter Nancy said.

Cwmbran finance director stole £800k from We Fight Any Claim

A FINANCIAL director who swindled her own firm out of £800,000 to feed an online gambling addiction wept as she was taken to the cells. Lauren Farr, 34, conned Cwmbran company We Fight Any Claim for more than three years while working there as a trusted senior executive. She was remanded in custody by Judge Neil Bidder QC who told her she will be going straight to jail after she pleaded guilty to fraud. Her crime attracts a prison term of between five to eight years, Cardiff Crown Court was told. The defendant, of Spring Grove, Greenmeadow, Cwmbran, admitted defrauding We Fight Any Claim out of £825,751.

Ieuan Bennett, representing mother-of-two Farr, told Cardiff Crown Court: “She has been frozen with fear and trepidation with what is going to happen to her. “She is paralysed with anxiety. There is a back story to the defendant.” Mr Bennett added: “She became a senior figure in her field. She has overcome a drink problem which still haunts her. “She spent her money online with a wholescale gambling addiction. She hasn’t told her family. “I think she is still living in something of a state of denial. I think the realisation of her inevitable future is sinking in.”

Seven men indicted in connection with Eastman dog fighting ring

About two-and-a-half years after 63 pit-bulls were rescued from a large-scale dog fighting ring in Dodge County, seven men connected with it have been indicted in federal court. “Contests of animal cruelty not only are illegal, but also are cesspools of associated criminal activity including gambling, drug trafficking and illegal firearms possession,” U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine for the Southern District of Georgia said in a Wednesday news release about the indictments. “We won’t tolerate it, and with our prosecutors and law enforcement partners, we are determined to eradicate this barbaric practice. Most of the charges are felonies carrying up to five years each in prison upon conviction. Attending a dog fight is a misdemeanor that carries a punishment of up to one year in prison.

Secretary-Treasurer of Maryland Labor Union Pleads Guilty to Embezzling More Than $294,000

Sarah Geddes Holmes, age 65, of Clinton, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to the federal charges of embezzlement from a labor organization and bank fraud.  Holmes, who was the Secretary-Treasurer of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local Lodge 24, admitted that she embezzled $294,585.18 from the union. Between May 2015 and June 2018, Local 24 represented approximately 423 members, who worked for 10 different employers at Andrews Air Force Base.   Local 24 members paid monthly dues that were intended to fund legitimate union purposes, including bargaining with employers, litigating grievances, and providing any administrative support that Local 24 required to conduct its business. Holmes used the fraudulently obtained union funds at casinos and to make personal purchases, including food, household goods, beauty supplies, online gaming, and other gambling-related charges. On 17 occasions, Holmes deposited fraudulent Local 24 checks, totaling $39,894.79 on the same day that her player card was used at Maryland Live! Casino.

Night of violence leaves 4 dead, draws Houston closer to 400 murders for the year

In a violent night across Houston, four men were slain in separate shootings, including a security guard killed at an illegal gambling site, police said. The killings bring the city’s murder count to 380, marking a nearly 50% increase from this time last year. The first shooting occurred around 6:45 p.m. Thursday on the 8000 block of   Winthrop Lane in southeast Houston, said Lt. M. Pavel, a Houston Police Department night commander. The victim, in his 20s, walked outside of his house and a red truck pulled up, Pavel said. After a short while, the victim’s sister heard six or seven gunshots. She ran outside and saw her brother had been shot. Paramedics pronounced him dead.

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Florida Sports Gambling Legislation Leveraged to Push Seminole Gambling Compact

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing attempts to solidify a new Seminole Compact to govern over tribal gambling and exclusivity rights on various forms of gambling in Florida altogether.  The compact’s exclusivity clause expired a few years ago and a series of events have prevented a new deal.  There have been various stalls and subsequent attempts to bring everyone back to the negotiation table though, including a push last summer over sports gambling exclusivity in a new Compact.  Given the coronavirus pandemic, more people were at home, spending more time online, so mobile sports gambling became a carrot to negotiations.  Those efforts also stalled and questions over the legality of its expansion in light of the voter approved Amendment requiring voter approval for gambling expansion were left unanswered.  Now, a similar effort is being made to leverage exclusivity in sports betting to bring everyone back to the gambling table.  An online source explains:

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, filed three bills Monday that would allow the state’s lottery department to issue licenses and oversee legal sports wagering in Florida with revenue dedicated to education beginning Oct. 1, 2021.

Brandes’ Senate Bill 392 authorizes the state’s Department of the Lottery to operate a sports wagering program and lays out the parameters of how it would operate. SB 394 imposes a 15-percent tax on “sums received from a sports pool” and SB 396 establishes $100,000 application and renewal fees for state-issued sports wagering licenses.

Brandes’ 2021 proposals are similar to the trio of bills he introduced in the waning days of the 2020 legislative session as lawmakers prepared to leave Tallahassee in March without a new gaming pact with the Seminoles. The bills are essentially a prod to spur urgency in talks between Florida and the Tribe and to stop leaving money on the table – some estimates top $700 million annually – when the state’s current year and next year budgets face unanticipated pandemic-induced shortfalls.

The Seminole gaming compact remains in negotiation with the Tribe objecting to the state’s taking control of sports wagering, especially since such an expansion could be outlawed under the November 2018 passage of Amendment 3, which requires any “expansion of gambling” be approved by at least 60 percent of voters in a ballot measure.

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