Category Archives: Education

NO Casinos launches parody website against Pro Casino Group

Casino watch focus has reported  on the various means pro casino groups in Florida have attempted to persuade and pass legislation to allow expanded gambling.  They have bought property, paid lobbyist and provided campaign contributions.  They have pushed for subtle expansion, mega casinos and even prepared a ballot initiative to attempt to dupe voters.  Now, they have published a new website in an effort to position expanded gambling in a favorable light.  The Orlando Business Journal’s Richard Bilbao published a great write up on how NO Casinos has issued a great site of their own to refute their claims:

Watch out Anonymous: No Casinos — the Orlando-based anti-gambling advocacy group — is taking website advocacy to a new level.

In response to a pro-gambling website — www.bestforfla.com — that talks about advocating for “integrated resorts” in Florida, the group decided it would be best to address the claims of pro-gambling supporters in kind.

“The latest example of the industry that has no shame being ashamed to utter the name of its own [casinos] product — and the words they want legislators to be on record voting for — is a promotional website they launched a couple of weeks ago. But if you go to their website, http://www.bestforfla.com, there is no mention of casinos or gambling. Lots of pictures of beaches, restaurants and other attractive things that Florida already has,” said a release from No Casinos.

The result? No Casinos launched its own version parody site — www.lessforfla.com — that takes the pro-gambling site to task.

The parody site goes on about the group’s arguments that casinos lead to issues socially and economically including poverty, crime, addiction and bankruptcy. The original pro-gaming site states casinos would result in new visitors, jobs, revenues and more hotels, convention space and other casino-related business.

Being an avid Web surfer, I’ve seen some good Internet trolling, but this is an interesting new strategy to the entire gambling debate.

 

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

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Florida Lottery Blurs NCAA Gambling Lines by Using College Football Teams in Promotion

Casino Watch Focus has long reported that the NCAA has a strong anti-gambling stance.  They have a strict policy preventing players and staff from gambling on games, and they almost always legally oppose expanded gambling efforts that put college games at risk.  Various state are allowed to allow sports gambling, the most notable being Nevada, and they allow gambling on NCAA sporting events.  Florida allows various forms of gambling, including a lottery, track racing and tribal casinos.  Recently, the Florida Lottery introduced a way to use the NCAA name to promote gambling, while not technically engaging in sports betting.  The USA Today explains:

Two of Florida’s long-time college football rivals are coming together in a new contest: To sell lottery tickets.

The Florida Lottery is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars so it can use the logos of the University of Florida and Florida State University on a new $2 scratch-off lottery game aimed squarely at football fans.

The “$50,000 Gridiron Cash” tickets went on sale recently. The game not only features cash prizes, but it will give ticket buyers between now and November a chance to win other prizes, including season tickets and even bowl tickets to games featuring the Gators or Seminoles.

While it has been routine for the Lottery to advertise at football games or promotional events, the USA Today explains that using team logos in this manner is a significant shift in policy and very few have been willing to comment:

It’s been routine for years to have the Florida Lottery advertise at football games and do promotional events with state colleges. But paying to use the team logos on scratch-off tickets marks a major step up.

The NCAA has maintained a strong stance against gambling, but it referred questions to the two schools.

Florida State President Eric Barron said Friday that he was unaware of the ticket promotion until asked about it by a reporter.

University of Florida President Bernie Machen did not respond to a question emailed to him by the Associated Press, but a spokesman for the athletics department defended the arrangement by noting that it has had a lengthy relationship with the lottery.

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


Online Site Launched to Combat March Madness Gambling at the University level

Casino Watch Focus reported that  as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament runs through the end of March, billions will be lost to gambling.  Even though all age groups are susceptible to the negative effects of gambling, this type of sports gambling is especially popular among university-aged students.  As a result, a new website has been launched to help educated those students about gambling during March Madness.  An online source explains:

As the NCAA college basketball tournament approaches, the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) is launching a public awareness initiative to encourage college administrators, campus health professionals and students to learn more about college gambling and gambling-related harms. The campaign also helps to educate students who are of legal age about how to make responsible decisions about gambling.

The centerpiece of the campaign is  www.CollegeGambling.org, a science-based resource developed by the NCRG to help colleges and universities address gambling and gambling-related harms on college campuses. The website brings together the latest research and best practices in responsible gaming and the field of addiction awareness and prevention. CollegeGambling.org provides free resources for university administrators, campus health professionals, students and parents to help address this issue in the way best suited to the needs of each campus.

The National Center for Responsible Gambling has said that 75% of university students had gambled in the last year.  They go on to say that one in five have been involved in sports gambling.  Not all the gambling is legal, especially considering the age of most college students is below the legal age and the shear amount of illegal sports bookies.  Many are able to avoid the pitfalls of this type of gambling, but for those that don’t, there can be major consequences.  The online source continues:

“While a majority of those old enough to legally gamble can do so responsibly, research estimates that 6 percent of U.S. college students have some form of gambling problem that can result in psychological difficulties, unmanageable debt and failing grades,” said Christine Reilly, senior research director of the NCRG. “For those who are not of legal age to gamble, there is no level of responsible gambling.”

CollegeGambling.org provides collateral materials about college gambling and responsible gaming, such as brochures, fact sheets, posters and toolkits. The website also houses customizable presentations that university counselors, peer educators and student leaders can use during their educational programming opportunities.  The website materials are available as free downloads.

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


Missouri expands gambling through bingo

Last year Casino Watch Focus reported that the Missouri legislature passed a new bingo gambling bill, but Gov. Nixon vetoed it.  At the end of this year’s legislative session, the politicians are trying to expand gambling again, but this time they are not pulling any funds away from education – Gov Nixon’s primary reason for vetoing the bill.  The News Tribune reports the details:

Missouri lawmakers have passed a bill intended to boost the business of Missouri bingo halls.

Legislation sent to the governor Wednesday would allow bingo parlors to open earlier, close later and offer games twice a week instead of just once. It also lets bingo operators spend up to 10 percent of their receipts on advertising. The limit is now 2 percent.

Supporters say the measure is meant to help bingo halls compete with casinos and other forms of entertainment. In the past 15 years, the number of organizations licensed to run regularly scheduled bingo games has fallen by more than half.

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


A brief look at crime 8/24 – 8/30

Gambler son ordered tried in parents’ slayings

A professional gambler was ordered to stand trial Friday on charges that he murdered his parents in their Pleasanton country club home in hopes of reaping an early inheritance to pay off mounting gaming and other debts.  Witnesses testified that the younger Scherer had been in a desperate financial situation and stood to gain $1.5 million from his parents’ inheritance. Scherer III’s grandfather testified on video that the defendant was a compulsive gambler who “could not be trusted with large sums of money,” the judge said.  The victims were beaten and stabbed.  Their pajama-clad bodies were found a week later.

Couple at Joliet casino charged with leaving kids in van

A Chicago couple who left their two boys in their van at a Joliet casino were cited over the weekend for leaving children in an unattended vehicle, police said.  Ibarra told police he had gone into the casino to find Ayala, who was gambling, police said. Harrah’s management called police after casino security saw the children, whose ages were unavailable, in the van about 12:40 a.m., police said.

Teen gambling addict took bank cards to pay off debts

A 19-YEAR-OLD former gambling addict who tried to take nearly £8,000 from his father’s bank account to pay off debts has been put behind bars for seven months.  Kendall owed £9,000 and struggled to pay huge interest rates, Plymouth magistrates heard.  Because of his age and income he had to take out loans with extremely high interest rates. The debt kept escalating and he was absolutely desperate.” “Even worse than that he had two loans from loan sharks of £200 each at extremely high interest rates and now owed £1,000 on each. He was absolutely desperate to pay them back. They were making physical threats to him and threatened to attack his girlfriend, who lived with him.”

Shareholder accuses MGM Mirage execs of selling shares while withholding facts

Casino operator MGM Mirage is facing a federal lawsuit from a shareholder who says the company’s executives misled investors about its financial position and profited from selling stock at high prices. Lawyers for Robert Lowinger, who bought stock during the 18-month period, said MGM Mirage insiders sold personal stock worth nearly $90 million at high prices before reports of financial problems at the company and its largest development became public.

Gambling Ring Busted Up At Social Club In Michigan

Illegal gambling operations come in many different size and colors. They are set up in houses, restaurants, bars, and in the case of Warren, Michigan, a social club. That is where the latest police crackdown on illegal gambling activity took place. Warren police raided the Ryan Palace Social Club on Wednesday night. Their investigation has been going on for six months, and on Wednesday they arrested the owner of the club.

Police: Man Scams $2.5M From Women – Claimed He Needed Investors For Auto Safety Device, Coal Mines

A man has been arrested and accused of swindling $2.5 million from six women whom he met in bars and casinos over the past four years, Scottsdale police said. Leombroni previously was convicted of fraud schemes in 1994 from Cochise County and spent two years in prison.  He has also admitted that he has a gambling addiction, police said.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot shows no leniency to robber

A serial bank robber who was turned in by his son blamed gambling for his crimes. His defense attorney told the judge he has a gambling addiction. The judge said it is paramount society be protected.  “He wasted no time going back to robbing banks,” the judge said. “David Siany admits he has been gambling compulsively since he was 16,”

State fines Gulfstream Park $800,000

The state has fined Gulfstream Park $800,000 for security failures that allowed employees to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from slot machines by using free-play cards.  The penalty follows a two-year inquiry by the state — and a criminal investigation that resulted in the conviction of one employee for cheating and organized fraud. Other employees were fired or suspended but not charged.  The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation concluded that the park also owes $144,000 in back taxes — an issue the regulation department is still looking into with the help of the attorney general’s office, Ross said.

US Postal Workers, Part Of Gambling Ring In New York, Are Arrested

Another branch of the US Government took a publicity hit on Thursday when US postal workers in New York were arrested as part of a sting operation on an illegal lotto gambling operation that was being run at the US postal service. Hundreds of people played the illegal lottery game, including Department of Sanitation city workers.

Man tricks children’s charity out of £8,180

A gambling addict has been given a suspended prison sentence after he defrauded a charity for terminally ill children out of more than £8,000.  Detective Inspector Mark Fairhurst from the SECU, said: “While many people raise funds for good causes legitimately, Gary Ferris used money he had raised for charity to fund his gambling habits.

“He took advantage of people wanting to donate money to help ill children and in doing so undermined the reputation of the Hopes & Dreams charity.  After he was arrested in August last year, Ferris admitted during police interviews that he had an online gambling addiction that had left him tens of thousands of pounds in debt and resulted in the loss of his house and car.

Tucson Man Arrested in Alleged $1.5M Fraud

Scottsdale police say they’ve arrested a 47-year-old Tucson man they suspect used a scam to defraud several women of more than $1.5 million in the past four years. Police say Leombroni has a previous fraud conviction and spent two years in prison. He admitted to detectives that he has a gambling addiction and has met his victims at various bars and casinos.

Coast Guard Official Embezzled Over $1.4 Million

A senior U.S. Coast Guard Academy athletics department official embezzled more than $1.4 million from a student sports fund to pay gambling debts before killing himself in March. Shortly before he was found dead in his car of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Alex Simonka admitted to federal investigators that he took $1.4 million between 2004 and 2009. He acknowledged that he misappropriated an additional amount. The academy did not elaborate on his gambling activities.

Indiana man pleads guilty to embezzling from estate of World War II veteran

Jeffrey Choate pleaded guilty on Friday to charges he gambled away thousands of dollars from the estate of his step-grandfather, a decorated World War II veteran.  In exchange for Choate’s plea, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office dropped two, more serious charges of embezzling $100,000 or more. The office also required Choate to turn over to Michael Sierminski’s estate more than $400,000 in U.S. savings bonds, which Choate had earlier tried unsuccessfully to cash.  Choate made nine wire transfers of at least $10,000 to the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo.  The older Sierminski was wounded while serving in the Philippines during World War II and went to church every Sunday.

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


A brief look at crime 7/13-7/19

Couple accused of drink-ing and gambling in bar while kids waited outside in van

Police arrested a Glyndon, Minn., couple late Sunday after they allegedly left four children in a van while drinking and gambling inside a downtown Fargo bar. Cass County Social Services was contacted, and the children were turned over to a relative, he said.

Gunman found guilty in Vegas Strip casino shooting

A Nevada jury found an unemployed house painter guilty of 51 of 52 felony charges against him in a shooting inside a Las Vegas Strip casino two years ago. Four people were wounded before patrons realized the pops they heard were gunshots and not Fourth of July firecrackers. The most seriously hurt, Carrie Zeravica, 25, of North Huntington, Pa., sobbed as she testified last week that nerve damage from a wound to her left leg ruined her dreams of becoming a dance teacher. Troy Sanchez, 15, of Los Angeles, testified he was walking with his mother when he was shot in the foot.

Planet Hollywood agrees to pay $500,000 fine in NV for seriously egregious acts

Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino has agreed to pay a $500,000 fine to Nevada gambling regulators over lax policing of illegal activity inside an independently operated nightclub at the resort. Among other things, Prive employees were accused of removing drunk customers and dumping them in the casino unattended, and of physically and sexually assaulting customers.  The Prive also was accused of admitting minors and hiring people with criminal records.  The Gaming Control Board also charged that prostitution increased around the club and nothing was done to discourage the activity.

Former NBA star Antoine Walker,  faces Las Vegas casino debt

Former NBA star Antoine Walker is facing criminal charges over $822,500 in gambling debts to three Las Vegas casinos. Documents provided Tuesday by the Clark County district attorney accuse the 32-year-old Walker of 3 felony counts of writing bad checks. Prosecutors say he failed to make good on 10 checks totaling $1 million written to Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and the Red Rock Resort.

Dad stole €36k from work to pay debt

A father-of-one who falsified work documents in order to transfer more than €36,000 into his own bank account has been given a three-year suspended sentence.  Joseph Sullivan (40) with an address at Huntsmans Way, Lusk, siphoned the money from Pioneer Investment Management Limited where he was payroll manager, in order to pay off a €50,000 gambling debt.

Woman pleads guilty to stealing from Arthritis Foundation

A former controller for the central Ohio chapter of the Arthritis Foundation admitted today to stealing more than $200,000 to support her boyfriend’s gambling habit. Prosecutors say they will seek reimbursement anyway for the $211,016 stolen through wire transfers, cash deposits and credit cards.

Charity worker stole $1m to fund gambling habit

David Vincent has pleaded guilty to 79 counts of obtaining money by deception while he was the payroll supervisor for the Wesley Mission.  Over a five-year period he transferred money from his employer into his own bank account after gambling his mortgage payments.

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


Missouri governor Jay Nixon veto’s bingo gambling expansion

Bingo has long been a means of gambling that some view as acceptable.  Those who push that argument justify that form of gambling by look to the money that it can raise for charities or even churches who are active in the community and looking to give back.  That was the justification of a bill that passed in both the Missouri House and the Senate.  The bill looked to expand its scope and cut a tax in an effort to revive bingo and encourage operator expansion.  Bingo has not faired well against the major casinos.

Given it passed so easily, it was surprising to some that Gov. Nixon chose to veto the bill.  The St Joe News explains:

Gov. Jay Nixon this week vetoed an attempt to revive struggling bingo halls with an expansion of state rules and the elimination of a two-tenths-cent tax on game cards.

“I had no inkling this was going to happen, especially with its bipartisan support,” said Rep. Mike Lair, a Chillicothe Republican who authored the bill.

Mr. Lair said veterans and church group bingo games have decreased dramatically in recent years, but lifting some of the restrictions would’ve made it easier for them to use the games of chance as fundraisers.

Gov Nixon explained his decision to veto the bill was based on budgetary concerns and he felt it could lead to a significant expansion of gambling.  The St Joe News continues:

“In light of current fiscal conditions, this reduction to education funding cannot be absorbed,” Mr. Nixon wrote.

Mr. Lair, a retired educator, said he never intended for the bingo bill to negatively affect the education budget.

If the reduction was realized, legislators had intended to make up the difference from the tax cut with general revenue during a supplemental budget request in early 2010, said Mark Schwartz, a budget analyst for Rep. Allen Icet, the House’s budget chairman.

Mr. Nixon also took issue with the bill because it authorized electronic bingo card monitoring devices, which he said was left undefined.

“The lack of a specific definition could lead to a significant expansion of gaming activities in the state,” he wrote.

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