Category Archives: Illegal Gambling

Billions in Illegal Gambling on Super Bowl comes with Serious Consequences for Many

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the significant amount of gambling on the Super Bowl each year, and each year the impact seems to grow. This year the amount of total gambling on the Super Bowl is estimated to be around $4.7 million. An online source breaks that number down:

Americans will bet $4.7 billion on Super Bowl 51 between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, according to an estimate released Tuesday by the casino industry’s top lobbying group on Capitol Hill. That would 11 percent more than what was wagered on last year’s Super Bowl.

According to the American Gaming Association, only $132 million of the $4.7 billion will be done legally through Nevada’s casino industry. The 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act banned traditional sports betting outside of the Silver State.

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

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

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

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Fantasy Football Costs Employers a Shocking $17 Billion and Puts Companies at Legal Risk

As America enters into another year of the National Football League, gambling is set to take center stage yet again. Casino Watch Focus has reported on the emergency of daily fantasy sports as the newest form of sports gambling. Some jurisdictions have appropriately labeled it gambling and either outlawed its practice or regulated it accordingly. Other states have yet to make a formal proclamation about this form of gambling. But as with other forms of sports gambling, like NCAA March Madness  or the Super Bowl, the impact from such gambling will be felt in the workplace at home. Fortune Magazine has reported on the staggering amount of money fantasy football will cost employers, the results are nothing short of shocking:

According to Chicago-based employment research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the sheer number of fully-employed fantasy football freaks could cost U.S. employers close to a whopping $17 billion (with a “b”) in lost productivity. That total eclipses the amount of total revenue the NFL took in last year, which was a mere $13 billion or so.

These numbers are hard to crunch, acknowledges Challenger, which came to this sum using the estimated 57.4 million people in the U.S. and Canada (ground zero for the NFL fandom) who play fantasy football, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. The FTSA also estimates that 67% of those players (38.5 million people), work full time. And using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the company estimated those players earn roughly $25.69 per hour, on average.

If you assume that to be the case, each hour spent poring over matchups and obsessing over results costs employers in aggregate $898.1 million in lost or unproductive wages. And assuming each player spends an hour of work time each week fiddling with lineups every week of the regular season, the total would come to $16.8 billion. 

Not all of this lost productivity is without employee consent as some workplaces even allow office pools and fantasy football leagues in which even senior members of leadership participate. However, just because some companies are aware of such activities, it doesn’t lessen the legal consequences when the gambling is deemed illegal. The Miami Herald explains:

Office pools and fantasy leagues remain a great way to bring positivity and fun to the workplace. Used properly, fantasy leagues can be a valuable team-building exercise, similar to an office March Madness pool during the NCAA tournament. Employers must be cognizant of issues related to gambling and increased work distractions, however. By creating an office pool or fantasy league, employers must be aware that creating such a pool or league may inadvertently encourage employees to spend part of their work day focused on their fantasy teams rather than work-related activities.

Employers must always be mindful of the potential impact on productivity in the workplace and ensure that any office pools or fantasy leagues are not out of bounds of the law. In order to ensure that employers are operating within legal boundaries, they should consult with an employment attorney.

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Recent Negative Rulings Force Daily Fantasy Sports Companies to Massively Increase Lobbying Efforts

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing criticism and identification of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) as the newest wave of sports gambling. Various states have been investigating DraftKings and FanDuel to determine if they are offering online gambling. Even the FBI and US Attorney General have been investigating. The DFS has tried to take a proactive approach. Recentlythe DFS industry called for government regulations and offered problem gambling safeguards. The industry believes if they can get it regulated, then that will prevent an outright ban, given online sports betting is illegal in almost all jurisdictions outside of Las Vegas. Unfortunately for DFS, more and more states are ruling that they are illegal. Now, they are aggressively changing their strategy and attempting to lobby for each state to exempt DFS from gambling laws so they can stay in business. USA Today reports:

Fighting for its life from coast to coast, the daily fantasy sports industry has dramatically changed its survival strategy since last year.

The industry now has about 75 lobbyists in more than 30 states, up from two lobbyists in two states last February, said Jeremy Kudon, an attorney for the industry. The goal is simple: If existing state laws indicate that your business might be illegal, then hire some professionals to help change those laws.

“This is a battle that’s going to be won in 50 states,” said Paul Charchian, president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, which advocates for the industry. “It’s going to be 50 small battles, not one big battle.” 

Its unclear how successful this strategy will be for DFS. They have started lobbying at the Federal level as well, but that could still leave individual states with the ability to clarify that the activity is illegal gambling. In their efforts at both levels, they believe they can prove that their games are games of skill not chance, but the skill level diminishes severely when new teams are drafted each day and not carried out through an entire sports season. Typically however, when a company puts forth enough lobbyist and lobbying dollars, change happens in those companies favor. But as the USA Today article explains, they have lobbied various states in the past to no avail:

The argument over daily fantasy’s legality hinges upon whether it’s considered a game of skill or a game of chance. Generally speaking, games that involve chance are usually considered gambling. But states hold different standards for how much chance is needed for a game to be illegal gambling.

While the industry started lobbying the federal government this year, it can exert more policy influence at the state level, said Marc Edelman, an associate professor of law at Baruch College, who consults in fantasy sports law. If federal lawmakers explicitly decriminalized daily fantasy, state governments could still impose stricter rules, he said.

Attorneys general in New York, Illinois and most recently Texas have argued that paid daily fantasy contests are illegal gambling under state law. Disclosures show the industry lobbied last year not only in those states but also others that could become legal battlegrounds.

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As Daily Fantasy Sports Industry Comes Under Fire, Even Draftkings and FanDuel Acknowledge Dangers as They Call for Gov Regulation and Implement Problem Gambling Safeguards

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the new Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) industry, including the recent realization that at its core, its gambling, and that when left unregulated or banned, its leading to online scandals and wide spread investigation, including from the FBI and US Attorney General.  Recently, New York investigated the practice of daily fantasy sports and quickly reached a ruling that its illegal, which lead to the attorney general’s office to issue a cease and desist order to DraftKings and FanDuel.  The Washington Post explains:

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found daily fantasy sites DraftKings and FanDuel in violation of the state’s gambling laws and sent both companies cease-and-desist letters to stop accepting payments – “wagers,” in his words – from New York residents.

The leagues that profit from it may be up next. Questioned about the leagues’ responsibility regarding daily fantasy, a spokesman in the New York attorney general’s office declined to comment, but did not rule out that it was an area of focus in the investigation.

The NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL all operate out of Manhattan. Just as MLB owns a little piece of DraftKings, the NBA owns a small percentage of FanDuel. The NHL shares an extensive marketing agreement with DraftKings. The NFL has attempted to keep the companies at arm’s length, but multiple team owners are heavily invested in both companies, and the league’s network partners draw massive advertising dollars from both of the daily fantasy titans.

Beyond just the individual state level, it’s rumored that the Department of Justice will outlaw DFS by the end of the year.  Following the recent insider trading type scandal between FanDuel and Draft Kings, and perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, FanDuel CEO called for government regulation.  The Wall Street Journal explains:

Nigel Eccles, who founded FanDuel in 2009, said Thursday that intervention by state governments is the only way to ensure consumers can trust the fantasy sports industry, which is facing a federal criminal probe and scrutiny by state regulators.

He said a plan announced this week by the industry’s trade group to police itself with an outside control board is positive but doesn’t go far enough. “Consumers want a higher level of protection,” he said in an interview. “They need to know it’s fair, that the information is protected. If the consumer doesn’t trust the industry than the business doesn’t exist.”

The most telling move though, just recently, and somewhat quietly, happened by DraftKings.  They have started a program familiar to problem gamblers that the gambling industy refers to as a self-exclusion list.  It’s a clear sign that they understand the dangers involved and it’s as close to an outright admission that the industry is simply gambling as you might expect.  Self-exclusion lists aren’t always an effective tool, but, but the addition is a clear signal what type of product is being pushed.  A regional online Boston website explains:

As it fends off comparisons to illegal gambling operations, Boston-based daily fantasy sports company DraftKings now offers a system familiar to many legal gambling businesses: a self-exclusion option, which allows users to deactivate their accounts for periods ranging from three months to five years. On a new responsible gaming section of its website, DraftKings presents the self-exclusion policy as a way to prevent addictive gaming.

DraftKings has resisted gambling comparisons in the U.S., arguing its games are valid under federal and most states’ gaming laws. But self-exclusion is common in the gambling industry, and its usage appears to be an acknowledgment by DraftKings that its users could be susceptible to the same kind of addictive play.

Les Bernal, the national director of the Washington, D.C.-based organization Stop Predatory Gambling, dismissed self-exclusion options as a “sham.” “The whole idea of somebody who’s an addict is the absence of free will. How does somebody who’s an addict exercise their free will?” Bernal said. “It’s a gimmick that’s not meant to protect the player. It’s meant to give the appearance of concern by Internet gambling companies like DraftKings.”

Self-exclusion can be helpful to gambling addicts who have already recognized they have a problem, but it does little to help those who have not reached that point of self-awareness, said Krystle Kelly, the director of development and communications at the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling. “As a standalone, if that’s the only thing they’re doing to acknowledge this could be a gambling problem, I don’t think this is going to be very effective,” Kelly said. “If all of this negative attention did create these controls, I think that’s a good thing. I think that’s a step in the right direction. But I think there probably needs to be more work done to address high-risk populations.”

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


Florida Gov Signs Law that Aids Enforcement of Internet Café Ban

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing fight in Florida to stop illegal gambling known as internet cafes. They are effectively mini-casinos or slot machine parlors operating in normal, everyday locations and business. Federal and State authorities worked together to bring down a multi-million dollar operation and then the Legislator sent a clear message that these gambling cafes needed shut down. There was criticism that the law was too broad and that even family friendly games, like those at Chuck E. Cheese, were possibly illegal. This lead many law enforcement agencies to allow many internet cafes to continue to operate. Now, CBS Miami is reporting that Florida Gov. Scott has signed new legislation into law that fixes those issues and should lead to better enforcement and more protection for Florida families from internet cafes: 

Two years after state lawmakers effectively shut down Internet cafes across the state, Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill aimed at making sure that businesses such as Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese’s are not inadvertently affected.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, was dubbed the “Family Amusement Games Act” and provides detailed guidelines for the use of amusement games and machines.

Lawmakers said during this spring’s regular legislative session that the bill would provide certainty to businesses such as Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese’s. Lawmakers moved quickly in 2013 to pass a measure targeting Internet cafes, which had spread across the state and were accused of allowing computer-based illegal gambling.

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NCAA March Madness Likely to Lead to Billions in Gambling and Lost Workplace Productivity

Just as the country has calmed down from the huge wave of Super Bowl gambling, a new Selection Sunday and NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament signals the beginning of another gambling craze.  As the sports world gears up for another year of March Madness its important to understand the impact that office pools have on employers and the communities. Obviously, not all office pools will result in gambling, however, a vast majority do involve illegal gambling. A USAtody article points to reports of online pools that take an entry fee and award cash and prizes. These pools may seem harmless but FBI spokesman Ross Rice explained that,‘“There could be a violation if there’s a payout and if the operators take a cut.” So how many people will engage in office pools this time of year and how will it impact work productivity? The St Louis post dispatch provides some good insight:

Nearly half of U.S. workers have participated in an office pool, and nearly a quarter have watched or followed sports events on their computer at work, according to a recent survey. 10 percent of employees have called in sick to watch or attend a game. 11 percent of workers aged 18 to 24 have participated in an office pool, compared to 77 percent of those 65 and older.

Very few employers offer guidance in their policies regarding office pools, even though it may mean taking a hit in terms of productivity, said John Heins, chief human resources officer for recruiting and staffing company Spherion Corp.

In terms of cost to employers, the Charlotte Observer points to a Chicago-based surveywhich says as much as $1.7 billion will be lost by employers in productivity, which breaks down to $109 million lost for every 10 minutes spent following the tournament. They believe there will be over 37 million workers participating in pools with 1.5 million watching games and results online from their desks.

 ESPN recently quantify the financial impact of just the gambling: 

On the low end, the FBI estimated in 2013 that $2.6 billion was bet illegally on the tournament. On the high end, veteran bookmakers estimate the number to be anywhere from $12 billion to $26 billion. Friendly bracket pools are everywhere, with most everyone betting on the NCAA tournament in some form. But there are bets, and then there are bets. You don’t get to $26 billion with $20-per-sheet office pools.

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


Super Bowl 49 Brings Gambling to the Fore Front

Super Bowl 49  brings the NFL’s largest game to lime light with headlines of a Patriots cheating scandal that sounds all too familiar. Another year of allegations that coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were looking for way to edge the competition in what is being termed “deflategate.” Deflating the football gives the running back a better grip so as not to fumble the ball and the receivers an easier time to squeeze the ball for a catch, especially in bad weather when the ball is slippery. Just as the Patriots are under constant scrutiny for looking for a leg up, gamblers look for any and all ways to get a let up in betting. Some resort to prop bets, bets on crazy things like, how long will the national anthem take, who will score first, will the announcers say a key word, like deflategate. Most of the avenues gamblers take, wont be legal. An online source explains just how much illegal gambling is estimated:  

Americans will illegally wager 38 times more money on this year’s Super Bowl than they will legally in Nevada, the only state with full-fledged sports betting, according to a projection from a casino industry trade group.

American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman told a gathering of mayors in Washington, D.C., on Thursday that his organization expects the Super Bowl to elicit $3.8 billion in illegal wagers compared with Nevada’s legal $100 million.

As startling as those numbers are to read, they only represent our country. Last year the total gambling total on the Super Bowl was estimated at over $10 billion. Many view this as harmless fun, but the reality is quite different. The Morning Sentinel article reported that Guy Cousins, acting director of Maine Office of Substance Abuse, estimates that 3 to 5 percent of those who participate in wagering will become problem gamblers. Another expert mentioned, Lee Thompson, president of the Maine Council on Problem Gambling explained, “We’ve seen an increase in the calls from Maine to the Nation Council on Problem Gambling hotline, from eight calls a month in 2003 to over 100 a month in 2006.”

It appears that the glitzy glam of the Super Bowl attracts people to make social wagers, a harmless bit of fun in their mind. But the dollar amount waged on the Super Bowl climbs each year, as does the number of problem gamblers.

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