Category Archives: Gambling Venues

Florida Gambling Hotline Reveals Crisis Experienced by those During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing complexities of Covid-19’s impact to the gambling industry.  Beyond the obvious loss of revenue revenue and shut downs, coronavirus’ impact reaches problem gamblers as well. The current climate has created a perfect storm of issues that can drive people to gamble and with the accessibility of online gambling to many, the threat of devastation is very real.  A Florida gambling hotline is helping to make the general public aware of such issues.  An online source explains:

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reshape life as we had once known it, closures of traditional brick-and-mortar gambling facilities coupled with social distancing restrictions and requirements have resulted in dramatic shifts in gambling behaviors along with serious negative consequences as reported by contacts to Florida’s 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine in March and April.

According to Jennifer Kruse, Executive Director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG), “Of particular concern with recent COVID-19 closures and quarantines, is the associated increase inproblem-gambling-related risk factors that occur as a result, such as loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression, and increased use or abuse of substances. The severity of problems reported by individuals contacting the FCCG’s 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine in March and April illustrate the increased occurrence of these associated risk factors and resulting, exacerbated problem-gambling-related impacts experienced during this time.”

During the pandemic, the economic consequences have hit the country hard, and as result of the government mandated business closures, economic stimulus checks have been sent out to help keep people on their feet.  This situation can be viewed as a windfall of money to some, which has prompted calls for gambling to be shut down during this time.  Many will view the stimulus check as a way to gamble and increase their financial situation.  This big win mentality can trigger many stressors that exacerbate the problems leading to troubling and fatal consequences .  The source continues:

Receiving a stimulus check may also be viewed as an unexpected “big win” for at-risk and problem or recovering gamblers. Money lost gambling can lead to financial difficulties, which can trigger associated stressors that interfere with relationships, mental, and even physical health. These experiences can leave problem gamblers and their loved ones feeling discouraged and hopeless about the future.

“When a problem gambler feels they have lost everything and sees no possibility to gain or recover, suicidal ideation and/or attempts are very real possibilities. This is unfortunately what we have seen with contacts to the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine in April, with more than one in five (21%), revealing current or recent suicidal feelings or thoughts due to their gambling problem,” explained Kruse. 

“The share of callers referred to Crisis Lines in April (23%), also rose significantly by more than double, with increased levels of hopelessness and desperation reported, due to gambling-related financial and mental health repercussions brought about by the COVID-19 crisis,” Kruse noted, as cause for additional concern.

Unfortunately, these are not isolated pockets of impact, but rather spread all over the state.  Access to online gambling and the lottery means that closed brick and mortar casinos don’t shield those around the state from gambling’s destructive impact.  Help is available and should be sought out.  The source concludes:

The data reported during the month of April by 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine contacts, reveals that help seekers this month were from areas all over the state and were primarily from those engaged in the forms of gambling activities still available during quarantine and social distancing restrictions, Online Gambling and the Lottery. This illustrates the effects that gambling addiction can have on any community in the state, and further highlights that those associated impacts will correlate with what gambling options are accessible or available in a particular area.

At a time of uncertainty while the whole world anxiously awaits the return to “normal life,” whatever that may be, reassurance for anyone negatively impacted by a gambling problem that resources are available and accessible through Florida’s 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine has never been more important. “Gambling addiction is treatable, and population-specific programs and services for gamblers and their loved ones are accessible any time of the day or night, any day of the year.

The FCCG’s 24-hour confidential and multilingual HelpLine may be reached by calling 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), texting (321) 978-0555, emailing fccg@gamblinghelp.org, initiating a live chat at gamblinghelp.org, or by reaching out to us on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter,” concluded Kruse.

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


Arizona Casino Operator Closes Three Properties after Covid-19 Death of Employee – Lack of mandated PPE requirements for gamblers cited

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing impacts seen by Covid-19.  Las Vegas, a city built around casinos and gambling, set records for coronavirus cases when they partially opened, prompting the Governor to claim the city wasn’t ready to move to additional phases and safety had to be paramount.  They had very strict rules for personal protective equipment (PPE) and sterilization techniques for dice, chips and money handling in general.  Even still, they saw record case increases.  Now imagine if such stringent rules weren’t in place.  Unfortunately for one family, they didn’t have to imagine, as they lived through it when Arizona casinos opened with few safety measures in place, and and employee died from Covid-19 complications. A local Arizona source reports:

As of 2 a.m. Thursday, Gila River Hotels & Casinos shuttered all three of its properties for two weeks amid a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Arizona. Leaders at Gila River Hotels & Casinos declined The Arizona Republic’s repeated requests to confirm the number of employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, saying that they will not disclose the information to “protect the privacy” of their workers. The announcement comes a week after a security guard at Lone Butte Casino died of complications related to COVID-19, according to his family.

Washington, who lived in Chandler, had returned to work in mid-May. His daughter, Lina Washington of Sacramento, said he was immediately concerned about safety measures at the casino. “The day after reopening, he was like, ‘Lina, it was awful, it was horrible. The line was around the corner. … Eighty percent of the people weren’t wearing masks,’” Lina Washington said.

Unlike some other casinos in the Phoenix area, Gila River Hotels & Casinos were only requiring employees to wear personal protective equipment. Customers were encouraged, but not mandated, to wear masks. Lina Washington said this left her father, who was diabetic and had recently beaten prostate cancer, exposed.

During the two week closure, casino officials will “reassess its current safety standards” after evaluating its safety plan with the Gila River Indian Community Council and receiving “feedback from its community and team members.”

This situation highlights the severity of the pandemic.  Too many people are dismissive of sound medical recommendations to do something as simple as wear a mask because they don’t view this as anything but a type of flu or a disease that won’t impact them.  A mask isn’t 100% effective of course, but it significantly reduces the spread of the virus and it’s one of the simplest recommendations that the casinos and other businesses can require for the proper protection of their employees and the community at large.  The worker’s daughter spoke to a local television program and helped cast the appropriate light on this pandemic’s severity:

In her grief and rage, Washington is calling out Gov. Doug Ducey and holding leadership accountable for what she views as a failure to protect Arizona’s most vulnerable residents from the pandemic. People like her 68-year-old father, who was diabetic and a cancer survivor. “This is very real,” she said. “This is not something where the elderly and vulnerable are disposable. This is not natural selection. These are people, these are parents, these are grandparents.”

Coronavirus cases are surging in Arizona; the rate of positive cases is one of the highest in the world right now. Gov. Ducey is coming under fire for not taking more aggressive steps to stem the infection’s spread, such as requiring the use of masks. “I don’t want anyone to have to experience (this) because of the ignorance and negligence and hubris of people who don’t believe this is real.” 

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


Las Vegas Sees Record Covid-19 Cases after Reopening City & Casinos

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the impact the coronavirus shut-downs on the gambling industry.  The entire country has experienced vast closure in most areas of business, but it clear that tourism and gambling feeds certain cities like Las Vegas.  It was reported that the City Mayor and State Governor were at odds over when and how Vegas should reopen. But most of the country has been worked on reopening plans and Vegas was no different. Unfortunately, even with various safety measures in place to help gamblers prevent the spread of Covid-19, it would appear those efforts haven’t been enough to hold back an explosion of new cases.  Forbes reports:

Two weeks after the state’s casinos, restaurants and gyms reopened at a limited capacity, Nevada and Las Vegas reported their largest single-day increases in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, joining at least five cities and states that have paused reopening plans amid record new infections.

National and local health authorities have warned that social distancing complacency during the reopening will lead to a further influx of new cases and that increased testing isn’t solely responsible for these higher numbers.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said the state is “not ready” to advance to Phase 3 of reopening as coronavirus infections and hospitalizations continue to spike. “We’re not in a post-COVID time,” Gov. Sisolak said while addressing Nevada residents on Monday evening. “Now is not the time to abandon these protective measures. It is the time to double down on them. We can only stay open if we stay safe.”

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


Missouri Casino Expansion via Lake of the Ozark Bill Dies – Initiative Petition to bypass the Legislators Seems Likely

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts at legalizing casinos near Osage Beach at the Lake of the Ozarks.  The Missouri constitution very clearly limits casino gambling to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, but attempts have been made for over a decade to expand gambling to that part of the state.  New attempts have been made, but those legislative efforts appear to have come to an end, leaving an initiative petition as the new driving effort.  A local new source reports:

Hopes for a casino at the Lake of the Ozarks have been dealt a serious blow. Missouri House Joint Resolution 87, which could have paved the way for a possible gambling boat on the Osage River below Bagnell Dam, has succumbed to the woes of COVID-19.

“It’s dead,” HJR 87 sponsor and proponent Rep. Rocky Miller said this week. “I would have liked for a possible casino to go through the existing proven structure, but I am fairly certain a Ballot Initiative Petition process will begin now.”

In this scenario, a ballot initiative would need to get the required number of signatures to be placed on the ballot, and then the ballot petition would need to win at the polls.  The last ballot initiative that passed was reportedly due, in large part, to the cap of 13 casinos in the state.  Its unclear if there is actual support to amend the constitution once again to allow 14, 15 or even 16 casinos in Missouri.  An online source explains:

Osage River Gambling had already been working on changing Missouri law to bring a casino (or three) to Lake of the Ozarks, via a Citizen’s Initiative Petition (CIP). A CIP would bypass the Missouri legislature and put a constitutional amendment straight to the voters… The CIP would also seek to add three new casino licenses to the current state maximum, bringing it up to 16.

It’s a plan built for high-rollers: the CIP will cost $1 million, the group expects. But they already have the money set aside. They have also polled the ballot language. “It passed easy: 67 percent,” Hand said. That was with the addition of the Osage River and no new licenses, though; investors expect a CIP’s passage to become tougher with the addition of new licenses. Gaming companies with existing Missouri casinos would oppose it.

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


Covid Concerns in Florida are Driving Discussions of Legalized Mobile Sports Betting Via Tribal Gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various attempts at legalizing sports betting in Florida.  Most efforts have thus far failed, including attempts during the legislative session to open it at casinos.  Now that the coronavirus has shut down the economy and is keeping people indoors, the focus seems to have shifted to mobile sports betting.  An online source reports:  

The Seminole Tribe is currently in talks with state legislators to draft proposals on regulating mobile sports betting in the Sunshine State. The fallout from COVID-19 has devastated economic activity and led to widespread unemployment across Florida. In an attempt to make up the budget shortfalls, Florida legislators are eyeing out-of-the-box proposals such as regulated online betting activity.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida owns and operates the hugely successful Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. As lawmakers continue to work feverishly on crafting a budget for 2020/2021, unforeseen expenses and the shuttering of non-essential economic activity has ramped up financial pressures on state coffers. According to the New York Times, there are currently over 36,000+ cases of coronavirus in Florida, with 1,378+ deaths, and rising.

This push is viewed as a financial boon for the city looking for quick tax money and a financial windfall for the Seminole Tribe.  The estimates are in the hundreds of millions, but its still unclear if such gambling would actually be legal, given the amendment passed by Florida voters that requires a vote on new gambling expansion.  The online source continues: 

Nonetheless, it has widely been reported that the Seminole Tribe will be paying the $500 million for the first year and the $700 million every year thereafter to the state of Florida for exclusivity vis-a-vis online sports betting services.

Lawmakers hope that legislation permitting mobile sports betting can mitigate the effects of severe budget shortfalls that are currently being experienced. Back in 2018, Florida voters decided by a margin of 71%-29% that they will have the final say on any further gambling expansion a.k.a. /Amendment 3./

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


Missouri Senate Proposes Gambling Expansion at a Time Many View as Socially Irresponsible

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling expansion issues in Missouri.  The most recent issues have been the illegal gambling machines in places like gas stations and truck stops and those hoping for a new casino at the Lake of the Ozarks.  This specific expansion policy involves increased pull tabs at truck stops, and several Missouri legislators thing the idea is socially irresponsible.  The Columbia Daily Tribune reports:

The Missouri Senate passed its spending plan Tuesday with language allowing the state lottery to install 100 new pull-tab machines throughout the state and open up truck stops to the games for the first Time. Currently, only 500 are allowed and they can only be installed in veteran and fraternal organizations. The pull-tab name refers to the perforated tabs covering slot-machine style symbols on tickets dispensed by the machines. Players pull back the tabs to see if they’ve won a prize.

But a number of lawmakers objected to the idea, calling the expansion morally wrong. Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said it would be “a direct offense to our low-income people who will divert their money to things like this.” “This bothers me a lot,” he added.

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, said the same thing and that it would be even worse at a time when people are reeling from the pandemic and the resulting downturn. “With people not thinking as straight as they normally would with all the pressures of the stay-at-home and lack of community and other things that would stabilize a person, I think the impact would be even greater than it would at another time,” he said.

Sen. Eric Burlison, R-Battlefield, added that the idea “disgusted” him. “I’m not a fan of funding our schools through gambling,” he said.

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


Las Vegas Mayor at Odds with Nevada Governor over Reopening Casinos Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various impacts Covid-19 is having on the gambling industry.  Non-essential businesses all over the country have closed, including casinos.  Naturally, many will be hit hard economically, and that’s especially true for those in the tourism industry, like Las Vegas.  So it’s no surprise that there are economic concerns over the mandated closures.  However, what was a surprise was the way Las Vega Mayor Carolyn Goodman treated the seriousness of the pandemic in her CNN interview with Anderson Cooper.  Forbes reports:

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the mayor of Sin City said she believes Las Vegas’ “nonessential” businesses like casinos should be permitted to operate again after being shut by a statewide order, so employees can get back to work—but came under fire on social media for not having a safety plan.

While Goodman told Cooper she believes social distancing should still be practiced even after businesses open, she said it isn’t her job as mayor to come up with a plan to ensure residents’ and visitors’ safety, and that the responsibility falls upon private business owners to figure out how to protect customers.

When asked by Cooper about the dangers of having large groups of people congregated together—which is against Centers for Disease Control coronavirus safety guidelines told Cooper he was being “an alarmist,” and also said he was too focused on disease while she was “talking about life and living,” to which Cooper replied, “Okay, that makes no sense.”

Unfortunately, the seemingly unbelievable responses from the Las Vegas Mayor were far from over.  In a rather bizarre attempt to find some justification for being open when the rest of the country was closed, Mayor Goodman explained how she wanted to put the city up as a test group and just let everyone in to see what happens.  Forbes continues:

During the interview, Goodman said she wanted to offer up the city “as a control group for health authorities to measure against other places still under lockdown as the city opens up to test the efficacy of social distancing, but said she was told by Las Vegas’ statistician that it wasn’t an option because people from all parts of southern Nevada come into Las Vegas for work each day, which would create too many variables.

Goodman’s comments seemed to echo previous statements she made, including telling MSNBC’s Katy Tur on Tuesday that if the casinos are allowed to open, the locations where people become infected by the virus could later be closed, a method that critics called “a /Hunger Games/” approach  to reopening the city.

Luckily for the people of Las Vegas and those addicted gamblers that might actually flock to Vegas should it open ahead of the rest of the country, Nevada state Governor Steve Sisolak is not letting Las Vegas open prematurely and under the draconian Hunger Games approach suggested my Mayor Goodman.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch explains:

In a testy interview with CNN’s Anderson CooperWednesday, Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman repeatedly called for business to return to normal. “I’d love everything open because we’ve had viruses for years that have been here,” she said at one point. 

Goodman also criticized Cooper for showing a graphic from Chinese researchers that showed how easily the coronavirus can be spread in public. “This isn’t China. This is Las Vegas, Nevada,” Goodman said, prompting a stunned Cooper to retort: “Wow. OK, that’s really ignorant.”

Goodman acknowledged she does not have the authority to reopen casinos or other businesses in the city. That call will come from Nevada governor Steve Sisolak. And Sisolak is not rushing to get back to business as usual. In an interview with Cooper after Goodman’s comments Wednesday, Sisolak said Nevada is “clearly not ready to reopen” and that he will not use Nevada as a “control group” for the rest of the country.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board issued strict guidelines earlier this week detailing the many steps that casinos will need to take before reopening. And casino employees have also balked at the idea of returning to work. “The mayor’s statements are outrageous considering essential frontline workers have been dealing with the consequences of this crisis firsthand,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 in a statement. “Health and safety is our priority. Workers and guests have to be safe,” she added.

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


Animal to Human Transmitted Covid-19 Virus brings new light to Cockfighting and Transference of Diseases like Avian Flu

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various criminal activities associated with cockfighting and the illegal gambling for which it exists, including a recent decision by Puerto Rico to openly disregard new federal legislation. Numerous reasons exist to treat this barbaric activity illegal, but the coronavirus is demonstrating why its even more important to work hard to eradicate cockfighting. An online source explains:

In an emailed statement, Animal Wellness Action recommending banning cockfights for animal health and to prevent the transfer of avian flu to humans.

Due to the impact of the coronavirus, we must look at other risks of animal-human disease transmission including cockfighting, the organization said. Animal Wellness Action argues that handling chickens during cockfights is dangerous and inhumane to both humans and animals.

“China’s leaders were reckless in allowing live-animal markets to flourish even after warnings that capturing and butchering pangolins, civet cats, and other wild animals posed considerable risks of spawning a zoonotic disease,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, in an emailed statement.   “It’s similarly irresponsible for political leaders in any part of the world to have any degree of tolerance for cockfights, which are dangerous mixing bowls where humans and birds interact in ways that can readily pass blood and respiratory fluids to people and infect them.”

According to Dr. Annie Harvilicz, a veterinarian and chief medical officer of the Animal Wellness Foundation, “It’s just foolish to allow people to interact with birds and exchange bodily fluids with them, only for the purpose of gambling on staged fights.   Talk about an unnecessary risk.”

So exactly how does cockfighting allow for the spread of such fluids between birds and humans? At a basic level, respiration alone can cause the transfer, but cockfighting creates additional opportunities.  Roosters are often handled with razors attached to their feet. This is designed to help ensure one of the cocks is killed in the fight, thus making the gambling wager and winner clear cut.  There is animal blood all over the birds and it’s not hard to see a scenario where handling them leads to a slice on human skin and transference.  But beyond that, there is a more shocking scenario that most certainly creates a massive risk, not only for Avian flu, but potentially new, more deadly viruses like Covid-19.  An online source explains:

In what constitutes perhaps the riskiest imaginable practice when it comes to animal-to-human disease transmission, some cockfighters are known to put the head of a rooster in their mouth to suck airway secretions from the injured and exhausted animal. For the cockfighter, sucking up the blood and other secretions from the lungs and other air passages after the animal has suffered a stab wound is not a life-saving intervention, but a way to prolong the fighting and pull out an unlikely victory.

Cockfighters in Puerto Rico and Guam — the two biggest U.S. territories and both international hubs for cockfighting – are not only breaking the federal law against animal fighting, but they’re courting the next wave of avian influenza and other zoonotic diseases by handling animals in these dangerous ways. The hard-core practitioners are persisting with felony-level crimes three months after the latest provisions of federal law took effect.

Once roosters in a locale are infected with avian influenza, perhaps through contact with migratory birds with an innocuous form of avian influenza, the virus can reassort and become more virulent or contagious. At cockfights, men handle bloodied birds, with knives attached to their legs, potentially exposing the handlers to cuts. The blood and infectious respiratory secretions from an infected bird can infect them, allowing the virus to jump the species barrier. At that point additional reassortment can occur where avian and human influenza viruses mix and create a new, deadly virus like the Spanish Flu or COVID-19.

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


Missouri’s Illegal Gambling Machines are Finally being Shut Down, but only Temporarily

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to remove illegal gambling machines scattered all over Missouri in places like gas stations and convenience stores. Slot Machines are only legal in the 13 licensed Missouri Casinos, but when these started popping up, it was unclear how to deal with the problem.  Most recently, the Missouri legislature put forth various solutions, but most were at odds with one another.  These machines have stayed in operation despite all kinds of attempts, but the covid-19 situation has finally created an opportunity to close them down, at least temporarily.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch explains:

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Friday banned the operation of the slot machines that at least one politically connected company has installed at scores of gas stations and truck stops in the past year.

The prohibition, which also includes other coin-operated games ranging from pool tables to pinball, is designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus, said DHSS Director Randall Williams.

“Due to the potential unnecessary exposure associated with individuals playing coin-operated amusement devices … and slot machines, all persons should avoid using such devices or machines and the owner of such devices or machines shall be prohibited from operating them for public use through the duration of this order,” Williams wrote.

This order runs as long as the Governor keeps the state on stay at home orders, but once that lifts, these illegal gambling machines will return, and so will all the problems associated with them.  

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


Despite Missouri Casinos Closing to Adhere to Coronavirus Guidelines, Illegal Gambling Machines are still Operating Statewide Creating unsafe environments

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to shut down illegal gambling machines that have popped up all over the state.  One of the biggest problems is the fact that they are completely unregulated. Up to this point, the impact has been loss of revenue for Missouri school systems and absolutely no checks and balances to safeguard those who play the machines from being cheated out of their money.  However, these rogue machines are now creating a new issue that stems from being unregulated – they are still operating and tempting the public to gather at a time when the rest of the casinos are shut down due to the covid-19 pandemic. The St Louis Post Dispatch reports:

Post-Dispatch visits to Columbia-area gas stations, where slot machine-style games have operated for months, showed many games were still plugged in on Tuesday, despite casinos receiving the order a week ago to shut down until March 30.

The inconsistency highlights the unregulated nature of roughly 14,000 gaming devices in Missouri, located in gas stations, clubs and bars.

Mike Leara, chairman of the Missouri Gaming Commission, which regulates licensed casinos, said the commission wanted to prevent large crowds from gathering at casinos during the outbreak — something that wouldn’t necessarily happen at a gas station.

A study released March 17 by the National Institutes of Health said the new coronavirus was detectable for “up to two to three days” on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.

Wildwood-based Torch Electronics is one of the biggest players in unregulated slot machine-style devices in Missouri. Torch faces felony illegal gambling charges by the Linn County prosecutor. A hearing in that case is scheduled for April 23.

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


Florida Casinos Criticized as Irresponsible during Covid-19 Pandemic by Waiting far too Long to Follow Government Orders

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing gambling issues in Florida.  Most of those issues connect to public safety by way of gambling addiction.  However, with the recent coronavirus pandemic, Florida casinos have put public safety on the line in a devastating new way.  Despite social distancing orders, many casinos stayed open. After pressure, many decided to finally shut down. However, two remained open drawing the ire of leadership.  State Rep. Jackie Toledo condemned the casinos for staying open, and singled out The Hard Rock Casino in particular for their dangerous practices.   A local NBC affiliate provided the story:

State Rep. Jackie Toledo is condemning the Seminole Hard Rock Casino for remaining open during the coronavirus and says the casino is putting profits over people.

“There are reports from inside that there have been no changes to cleaning procedures and that sick employees are not being sent home,”Toledo said.

Toledo says employees approached her office, in fear for their jobs and health claiming the casino is business as usual with not practicing social distancing, no one actively disinfecting, and no posted signs about change in procedure.

The Seminole Nation claims they are providing a safe environment for workers, but the facts seem to contradict their claims.  An online source reports:

After receiving pleas from casino employees, State Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, hosted a news conference Wednesday outside the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa in the hopes of pressuring the casinos to close during the coronavirus outbreak.

Seminole Hard Rock CEO James Allen issued a statement saying that the casinos are following all hygiene protocols, have closed its poker room, limited the number of slot machines, canceled all concerts, poker competitions and tournaments, and is limiting the number of guests at game tables and in the hotel’s restaurants.

“This is the exact opposite of what we are hearing from inside the walls,” said Toledo. “Employees are claiming if they do not have PTO, the casino makes them work while they are sick. We are told by patrons there is no hand sanitizer, and we’ve heard from dealers saying they have been out of sanitation wipes for days. This is a breeding ground for this virus.”

She said she learned Wednesday that the casino gave away free drink tickets to draw in nearly 8,000 people. “It is criminal to hold promotions to bring vulnerable guests in their doors,” she said.

And it would appear Rep. Toledo was right about the public health concerns of creating a social environment in which the virus could spread.  The casino has now closed its doors, but only after a confirmed case stemmed from their facility. It’s currently unknown just how devastating the spread of covid-19 will be as a direct result of their actions, or inaction in this case. An online source explains:

Seminole Gaming announced Friday they would be closing all of their casinos, including Hard Rock casinos, across Florida starting at 6 p.m. amid coronavirus concerns

This comes just one day after a man who died from COVID-19 was said to have visited the Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee.

Representative Heather Fitzenhagen and an employee at the casino called for the casino to close down after learning this.

“I think that this makes it even more important that they decide to do the right thing and close down the casino for the safety of everyone in Southwest Florida,” she said.

She says the 77-year old man spent hours playing the slots the weekend

before he died on March 13.

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


March Madness Gambling Takes an Unexpected Turn due to Covid-19

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the massive amount of gambling that takes place during the NCAA College Basketball Tournament.  Known as March Madness, its one of the most prominent gambling events next to the Super Bowl. Typically Casino Watch Focus reports on the varying levels of devastation that result from this gambling, however, this year there won’t be an NCAA tournament due to the covid-19 pandemic.  Forbes explains:

The cancellation of March Madness is sad on so many fronts. Beyond the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the health pandemic sweeping across America and the world, millions of fans are missing out on watching and wagering on the NCAA Tournament.

Asher told Stuart Varney of FOX Business Network that the “first three days of March Madness equate to Super Bowl Sunday” in terms of betting activity and volume in Nevada. How much is that? A total of $154.7 million was wagered on Super Bowl LIV in Nevada this year.

Overall, the 2019 NCAA Tournament had approximately $349 million wagered in Nevada according to Nevada Gaming Control Board research analyst Michael Lawton. Sportsbooks across the Silver State took in profits of $36.5 million, which is nearly 7% of the total handle.

The cancellation of March Madness will have a tremendous financial impact on bookmakers and sportsbook operators. You can bet on it.

Whereas it’s very true that the cancellation of the tournament will be felt hardest for those in the tourism industry near these events and certainly those collegiate seniors who will miss out on their last opportunity at an NCAA championship, its clear that there will be countless families spared the devastation that this gambling brings each year.  That’s not much of a silver lining given the overall impact of Covid-19, but it’s one of the few that has presented itself. 

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


New Missouri Gambling Bill Seeks to Legalize Illegal & Unregulated Slot Machines

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the illegal gambling machines that have emerged all over Missouri.  The Missouri constitution limits gambling to river boat casinos along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers only.  Any other gambling outside of the lottery is illegal. So naturally many were confused when illegal slot machines started showing up at truck stops and other locations outside of regulated casinos.  Initially there was confusion over who had the authority to shut them down as the Missouri Gaming Commission can only regulate gambling at the casinos. However, after some time, a lot has been done to curb the illegal devices including criminal and civil lawsuits.  Missouri representatives have been looking at legislation to explicitly ban them all together and there has been some disagreement on how to handle the situation in general. However, its still rather shocking to see legislation proposed that would attempt to violate the Missouri Constitution and make such gambling devices legal.  An online source reports:

The new bill, dubbed Senate Bill 566, aims to combat the illegal gambling machine problem. It seeks to allow state-regulated video gambling machines in truck stops, fraternal and veterans’ organizations and retail locations that hold liquor licenses. It suggests that people over the age of 21 should be allowed to access these regulated machines, which will be monitored by the State Lottery Commission.

Some lawmakers are uncomfortable with the idea of these machines. For instance, Senator John Rizzo said that he doesn’t want kids to walk into gas stations, buying Gatorades and passing through these gambling machines.

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


Florida not Likely to Legalize Sports Betting this Legislative Session

Casino Watch Focus has reported on various efforts to legalize sports betting in Florida, including methods that would attempt to get around the Voters in Charge initiative.  That initiative saw the passage of a constitutional amendment that requires a vote of the people to expand gambling. It would appear that fears over such methods can be set aside, as it’s being reported that its unlikely sports betting will be legalized this legislative session.  An online source reports:

Sports betting isn’t likely to make much, if any, headway in Florida this year, according to state political insiders with connections in Tallahassee. The Florida Legislature is currently in session until mid-March. But with 2020 being an election year, incumbents’ priorities may boil down to passing a budget, not drawing the ire of constituents and not much else.

The Tampa Bay Times recently surveyed 150 “insiders” – defined as lobbyists, politicians, activists, party workers, campaign staff and donors – to assess the odds of various high-profile bills making their way to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). Sixty-three percent of the connected group said sports betting is a no-go in the Sunshine State this year.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s any chance it’ll be legalized in time for the 2020 football season,” said Brian Edwards, founder of Florida-based BrianEdwardsSports.com, in an interview with Casino.org. “In fact, we might be looking at three to four years before Florida gets on board.”

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


Illegal Slot Machine Manufacture Faces Criminal Charges In Missouri

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of illegal gambling machines that have popped up all over Missouri.  Gambling is restricted to the 13 licensed casinos along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers only.  However, new slot machines have surfaced in gas stations and other establishments that have caught the ire of law enforcement.  At first only a few cases again the establishments were filed and very little attention was given to them. Then as more state wide attention emerged, several different attempts were made to eradicate them, including a civil lawsuit by legitimate manufactures against the illegal slot machines manufacturer.  That same manufacturer is now facing criminal charges. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports:

A county prosecutor has filed illegal gambling charges against Torch Electronics, one of the largest operators of unregulated slot machines in the state. Torch, owned by Wildwood businessman Steve Miltenberger, is one of the companies whose machines have triggered a mixed response from law enforcement. 

The company is also a player in Missouri politics, contributing more than $20,000 to Gov. Mike Parson’s election effort. The filing is the first known instance of a county prosecutor in Missouri bringing charges against the company. According to a probable cause statement, two Brookfield Police Department officers on Sept. 12 removed three “slot machines” from the County Line Convenience store after speaking with store manager Tannis Williams.

Because the machines are unregulated, machine revenues don’t go to public education, there are no rules for acceptable payouts, and there are no state gambling addiction resources funded by machine revenues. Money from Torch and its owner, Steven Miltenberger, flowed to numerous politicians last year, according to Missouri Ethics Commission records.

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