Category Archives: Gambling Venues

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.

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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


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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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


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.

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


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.

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Guest Article: Editorial: Why won’t state and local officials enforce Missouri gaming laws?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing issue of shutting down illegal slot machines that popped up all over in Missouri gas stations and similar business.  Those machines were finally the subject of a proper lawsuit  giving way to full enforcement of Missouri’s regulations to only allow slot machines in regulated casinos.  However, that enforcement has been almost non-existent.  Nearly two months ago it was reported that enforcement wasn’t happening as expected  and it doesn’t seem to have picked up too much.  The following article is from the Editorial Board at the St Louis Post Dispatch and can be read in its entirety HERE, with a few highlights below: 

It is illegal in Missouri to host gambling machines except in licensed casinos. The law is clear on that, and just for good measure, a judge in September confirmed it. So why are state officials and local prosecutors still failing to confront the bars and gas stations that are hosting thousands of these unlicensed video gambling machines?

Some argue that gambling should be legalized across the state altogether, if only because it’s already everywhere anyway. But legalization must come with oversight and taxation, which still isn’t being applied to these rogue games. That must change, especially at a time when the state should be scrounging for every bit of revenue it can find.

At issue are some 14,000 video machines in business venues all over the state that players pay to play on the chance of making more money back. If that sounds like exactly what goes on in a casino, well, it is. Yet the machines aren’t licensed, taxed or regulated by the state, in blatant violation of Missouri’s gaming statutes…

There is no reasonable justification for it. They’re just doing it, and getting away with it, in large part because the industry lobbies heavily and contributes to politicians’ campaigns, including Gov. Mike Parson’s.

The fact is, the judge’s ruling wasn’t even necessary for state officials and local prosecutors to move on this. The purveyors of these machines are breaking the law. Until the law changes, they and the business venues that host them should be raided, prosecuted and fined. Period. They have gambled on Missouri’s patience long enough.

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New Covid-19 Guidelines lower Las Vegas Casino Occupancy to 25%

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the ongoing efforts to ensure covid-19 isn’t being spread through mass gambling activities.  Casinos have received tremendous criticism for not taking the popper precautions, both to protect the public, and to protect those workers at those operating casinos.  Employees have had to sue or act as whistleblowers to expose the labor issues seen in various casinos.  Most recently, there was criticism over Vegas casinos entwined in properly reporting key information to the public.  So its no surprise that this industry in particular is looked at as playing a more critical role in the spread of Covid-19.  As a result, new guidelines have been passed that limit the occupancy further in Las Vegas casinos.  The Las Vegas Review Journal reports:

In a Sunday press conference, Sisolak said effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, occupancy limitations at casinos and their bars and restaurants will be reduced from 50 percent to 25 percent. Sisolak said he has had conversations with “most gaming operators” in the last 24 hours, and said the full force of the Nevada Gaming Control Board will be behind the implementation and enforcement of the new requirements. He added that if casinos do not follow the new requirements, “they will suffer the consequences.”

Newly-appointed Control Board Chairman Brin Gibson said the state’s gaming regulatory body will vigorously enforce the new gaming floor occupancy restrictions among the state’s licensees. “The more successfully Nevada mitigates the current spread of COVID over the next several weeks, the more likely we are to experience a complete return to current gaming floor occupancy percentages at that point” he said. The Nevada Gaming Commission already has acted on nine complaints brought by the Control Board against licensees since late July.

A spokesperson for Caesars Entertainment Inc. said the company will comply with Sisolak’s orders. Its restaurants and bars will remain open and continue to offer to-go options, and guests at most of its Nevada resorts will have the option to order pick up or delivery to their hotel Room. Wynn Resorts Ltd. spokesman Michael Weaver said the company will also implement the directives of the pause. “We believe the Governor made a prudent decision that will protect public health,” he said.

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


Regional Fox Sports Networks to be Rebranded and Potentially Push Online Sports Betting Right on the Television

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing progression of legalized sports betting after the Supreme Court ruled sports betting doesn’t violate the wire act.  In multiple states, this has translated to typical sports betting experiences with online companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings or other sports bookies for betting directly on sports. These interactions have always been at arms length and required would-be gamblers to seek out such opportunities.  It would appear, however, that for most major sports markets, the experience is about to change and sports gambling will be thrust into consumers’ homes.  The NY Post reports:

Sinclair Broadcast Group and casino operator Bally’s Corp. are teaming up to bet big on sports gambling, The Post has learned. The two companies just signed a deal for Sinclair to rename its 21 sports networks Bally Sports, source said. Bally’s, which owns Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino, will pay Sinclair $85 million over a 10-year period for the naming rights, giving it exclusive access to fans of 42 major teams, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Detroit Tigers, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Kansas City Royals, sources said.

The goal, sources said, is for viewers to eventually be able to bet on games using a Bally’s online gaming tool directly from their TVs. Sinclair’s channels are currently named after Fox Sports because it bought them last year to help clear Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox.

Not only does Bally’s plan to offer online gambling, they are buying up other online gambling resources to drive additional traffic to those sites as well. The Post continues:

Separately, Bally’s is buying sports-betting software company Bet.Works for roughly $100 million and will attempt to drive traffic to its site through Sinclair, sources said.

The casino company, controlled by Soo Kim’s Standard General hedge fund, can launch the new online gaming tool in the states where sports betting is legal, including Nevada, Louisiana, Colorado and New Jersey, if it also has a physical casino there.

Bally’s, which recently changed its name from Twin River Worldwide Holdings, currently has casinos in 10 states, including Nevada, Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island, Colorado, New Jersey and Louisiana. MBL, the NBA and NHL still need to sign off on whether Bally’s can sponsor broadcasts to advertise their sports betting tools, sources said.

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


Unregulated Slot Machine Enforcement in Missouri is Off to a Slow Start

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the illegal gambling machines that exploded all over Missouri.  These devices are essentially just slot machines that pre-reveal the result, meaning you aren’t really gambling on the very first pull, as its result showing, but on the next pull.  Clearly, they de facto function exactly like a slot machine and thus, they are illegal outside of a properly licensed and regulated Missouri Casino.  It’s been a problem in Missouri for a while, but some real direction finally came with a recent court decision that definitely found one of the slot machine manufacturers guilty of illegal gambling.  Since then however, the enforcement of crackdown on other facilities across the state hasn’t picked up.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports:

In the wake of a recent ruling that a Kansas-based company’s unregulated slot machine-style games were illegal, Missouri officials are now divided on how to move forward with policing roughly 14,000 similar devices deployed at gas stations and bars across the state.

The Post-Dispatch obtained a draft letter from state liquor regulators to licensees informing them of the Sept. 22 ruling by a Platte County Circuit Court judge, but emphasizing the judgment was “not final at this time” while the company, Shawnee Kansas-based Integrity Vending LLC, appealed.

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, said the letter was “probably not strong enough.” He said he wanted the state to give businesses time to unplug the games before facing suspension or revocation of their liquor licenses, but said he understood officials’ caution, given that appeals are possible.

There has been an initial reluctance to move forward with prosecution or the pulling of liquor licenses as of now.  Moreover, internal money and resources set aside for such activities haven’t been disseminated as initially allocated. The St Louis Post Dispatch explains:

Because the games are unregulated, there are no consumer protections to prevent low payouts, no money directed to public education and no resources available for addicted gamblers.

Schatz’s desire for the state Department of Public Safety to start pulling liquor licenses from noncompliant gas stations and bars would mark an escalation in the state’s efforts to police the games. This year, the Missouri Highway Patrol, operating under the Department of Public Safety, had as of Oct. 6 forwarded 72 probable cause affidavits to local prosecutors for illegal gambling charges, an agency spokesman said in an email. But most prosecutors, at least before the Platte County ruling, had been reluctant to file charges. 

Senate Budget Chairman Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, included $150,000 in this year’s budget for investigations of the devices. The money was earmarked for the attorney general’s office, which enforces consumer protection laws. Gov. Mike Parson withheld the money this summer amid lagging revenue projections, temporarily stopping any action. With a more favorable budget forecast, his administration released the funds this month, but Attorney General Eric Schmitt is still reluctant to spend the money.

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


Unregulated Slot Machine Manufacture Found Guilty of Illegal Gambling in Western Missouri

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing struggles to properly regulate illegal slot machines outside of casinos in Missouri.  These slot machines, often referred to as pre-reveal machines, have been popping up all over the state claiming to be legal games and not slot machines.  The regulatory problems have mostly stemmed from disorganization regarding who needed to be regulating these machines.  Local prosecutors had to take the lead and bring charges in their individual jurisdictions while the Missouri Legislature debated how to handle the situation.  The results of the first prosecution attempt are in and as expected, the machines were deemed illegal. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports:

A Platte County Circuit Court judge on Tuesday found a Kansas-based company guilty of promoting illegal gambling in the first degree, a class E felony that carries a fine of up to $10,000.

The ruling against Shawnee, Kansas-based Integrity Vending LLC likely will have wide-ranging consequences: gaming companies have long argued that their machines are legal under Missouri law; the Missouri Highway Patrol and some county prosecutors have disagreed, saying the machines are illegal gambling devices. Observers had long awaited Judge Thomas Fincham’s ruling for clarity on what kind of games Missouri law actually allows.

The unregulated machines — state officials estimated last year there were about 14,000 of them in gas stations, bars and clubs across the state — have come under fire because of the stealth nature by which they were deployed.

Unlike regulated gaming, no proceeds are diverted to education. There are also no government-sanctioned resources for addicted gamblers or rules to protect consumers from low payouts.

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Whistleblower Lawsuit Alleges Caesars Rushed to Reopen during Covid-19 Pandemic Which Violated California Labor Law

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the ongoing impact the coronavirus has had on the gambling industry.  The pandemic has been understandably disruptive, but the goal of the government and community leaders has been to balance keeping people safe and preventing the spread of the virus against keeping the economy from collapse and keeping people employed where possible.  Unfortunately, the gambling industry isn’t in any way viewed as essential, which places its employees in an incredibly tough position.  However, maintaining a balance isn’t just about doing what’s morally correct, but it’s also about following the various laws of each jurisdiction.  This year has already seen a casino close properties it had just opened after not having or enforcing proper PPE equipment which lead to an employee’s death.  Additionally, a suit was filed by Las Vegas hospitality workers claiming they didn’t have proper protections. Now, a new southern California whistleblower lawsuit has been filed by a casino executive that alleges he was forced to quit for opposing a rush to reopen.  The San Diego Union – Tribune reports:

A Harrah’s Resort Southern California  executive who resigned before the casino reopened in May has filed a lawsuit against the parent company, Caesars Enterprise Services, alleging the tribal casino rushed to reopen despite safety concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Darrell Pilant, who had served as the senior vice president and general manager, worked for the company for 23 years. He alleges that he was forced to resign  from his position because he said he didn’t want to follow the direction of his employer to reopen because doing so posed a threat to employee and customer health, according to the lawsuit filed Aug. 31.

This suit isn’t simply about an executive being pushed out of the organization.  This suit alleges that Caesars has violated California laws aimed at protection in order to place business and profits first.  The The San Diego Union – Tribune continues:

The lawsuit, which declares it is a whistleblower action, claims that in reopening during the pandemic, the casino violated the California Labor Code and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations for the health and safety of employees.

“Pilant, among other things, alleges that Caesars constructively terminated his employment because he opposed and refused to carry out Caesars’ directive to reopen Harrah’s Resort Southern California,” the lawsuit states. “Rather than carry out the illegal and dangerous directive of his employer, Mr. Pilant had no alternative but to resign his long-time employment with Caesars.”

Harrah’s Resort Southern California is operated by Caesars Enterprise Services, but is owned by the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and located on its 5,000-acre reservation in North County. Tribal Chairman Bo Mazzetti said profits from the casino make up about 85 percent of the tribe’s budget during an interview in April.

“The disregard for public health and safety outlined in this lawsuit is consistent with the arrogance we’ve grown to expect from many tribal casino operators in California,” Kirkland said. “By remaining open while other indoor recreational facilities have been forced to close, they have demonstrated a lack of concern for the health of their employees, guests and the surrounding communities in the pursuit of slot machine profits.”

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


Miami Florida Area Poker Room and Jai Alai Fronton Gambling Expansion Opposition Suit Allowed to Proceed

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.  Those in charge made zoning changes in the city area to ensure the Edgewater proposal couldn’t move forward.  This action was challenged in court and several subsequent political maneuverings took place to try to keep the project on course, including a questionable settlement.  The Miami-Herald explains:

Under the agreement, West Flagler could apply for a permit for a summer jai-alai facility. The casino agreed to not operate slot machines at the fronton and to not seek legal fees from the city. If West Flagler wanted to open a card room in the facility in the future, it would need approval only by three of five Miami commissioners.

That settlement was based on questionable grounds, according to the judicial order, which stated that the City of Miami settled with West Flagler because its zoning administrators gave the casino operator letters in 2012 and 2018 saying that it could operate a jai-alai and card room in Edgewater. But Hanzman said the letters may or may not have been issued legally.

“If the Settlement Agreement resulted from a lawful exercise of discretion it will remain enforceable and West Flagler will be permitted to operate in accordance with its terms and conditions. If it is an illegal contract that is void, it will be West Flagler’s prerogative to decide whether to pursue claims against the City based upon its alleged reliance on the Letters, or any other viable theory,” Hanzman said in his order.

As a result of the settlement, a local business claimed standing and pushed forth a lawsuit.  Naturally, the suit that challenged, however, a local judge is allowing the lawsuit to move forward.  The Miami-Herald explains:

A legal challenge to a jai-alai fronton and poker room planned for Edgewater remains in play.

Miami-Dade Circuit Civil Judge Michael Hanzman ruled in August that a lawsuit against the City of Miami and West Flagler Associates, owner of Magic City Casino, can proceed. The suit, filed in March by auto dealer Norman Braman and developer Jorge Pérez, seeks to block the gambling facility set for Biscayne Boulevard in the burgeoning neighborhood between the Omni and the Design District.

Braman and Pérez are able to sue, Hanzman ruled, because a February settlement agreement between the City of Miami and West Flagler was not decided by a court and can be challenged by parties that are impacted by the plans. The settlement was vetoed by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

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NFL Player uses Coronavirus Loans Illegally at Hard Rock Casino in FL

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various complications and disruptions of how Covid-19 is impacting the gambling industry.  Some of those stories have also involved criminal activity ranging from illegal gambling venues that opened up after regulated casinos were shut down due to lockdown, to casinos not enforcing new guidelines to not providing the proper mandated PPE equipment for employees.  Now a high profiled loan fraud case is front and center as an NFL player has taken money from the government and spent it at the Hard Rock Casino in Florida.  A local news agency reports:

Investigators say that Josh Bellamy, a wide receiver from St. Petersburg who was released by the New York Jets earlier this week, was among a group of people who filed fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan applications for more than $24 million.

He has been charged in South Florida federal court with wire and bank fraud in addition to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. Bellamy allegedly got more than a million dollars for his own company, Drip Entertainment.

Investigators say he then bought $104,000 worth of luxury goods from designers like Dior and Gucci. They also allege that he spent more than $62,000 of the loan at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Broward.

Bellamy is accused of trying to get PPP loans for family members and Associates. The payments were part of the CARES Act, a federal law enacted in late March to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Cell Phone Data seemingly indicates travel to Las Vegas for Gambling might be a major contributor for continued Covid- 19 Spread

Casino Watch Focus has reported on all the various impacts coronavirus has had on gambling this year.  The country has gone through one lock down and many areas regressed back after initial attempts to reopen.  Las Vegas has gone through its own reopening experience and not without controversy.  Recently, the city was seen as providing regulations that set the maximum occupancy of churches at only 50 total people, while allowing companies like casinos to set their  occupancy to be set at a whopping 50%.  Beyond the calls and concerns for double standards, many wondered how the draw of this much gambling capacity would impact those coming to the area and then traveling back home, potentially with Covid-19 in tow to spread back home.  New Cellphone data was examined and concludes there is a potentially huge impact to prolonging the pandemic.  The Reno Gazette Journal reports:

An analysis of smartphone data during four days, a Friday to Monday in mid-July, revealed how most of the U.S. is connected to Las Vegas – a likely hot spot of COVID-19 spread.

During that time frame, about 26,000 devices were identified on The Strip, according to data mined by the companies X-Mode and Tectonix. Some of those smartphones then traveled to every state on the mainland except Maine.

The cellphone analysis highlights a reason the virus keeps spreading and shows how travel to Las Vegas could be fueling the pandemic, according to health officials.

“In this rush to reopen and reposition the economic activities, all we’ve been doing is spreading and amplifying the reach of this disease,” said Oscar Alleyne, an epidemiologist and chief program officer with the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Six public health experts told ProPublica that casinos are a high-risk environment for COVID-19 – “a feeding ground for COVID-19. “There is a serious opportunity for spreading the virus, especially for people who are mildly sick or don’t know they’re sick,” said Crystal Watson, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “We’ve seen big outbreaks kicked off by these types of situations.”

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