Category Archives: International

A brief look at crime 8/17 – 8/23

1 dead, 3 injured in overnight shooting in St. Louis

A teenager is dead and three other people are hospitalized after a shooting in St. Louis.  Investigators say the victims and others had been gambling in a dice game prior to the shooting.

Founder of BetonSports Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Forfeits $43 Million to Government

As part of a complex plea agreement, Kaplan, 50, entered pleas of guilty to charges of conspiracy to violate the RICO statute, conspiring to violate the Wire Wager Act and violating the Wire Wager Act. The plea had Kaplan forfeit to the United States $43,650,000 in criminal proceeds, which he wired from a Swiss bank account to a U.S. District Court bank account approximately one week prior to entering his guilty pleas.  BetOnSports advertised heavily in the U.S. to solicit U.S. residents to place sports wagers by telephone and over the Internet.

“Gary Kaplan made millions of dollars by making it too easy for people to gamble away their hard earned money without having to leave their homes,” said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in St. Louis. “Today’s guilty plea should have a lasting effect because Kaplan was not only the founder of BetonSports, he was also one of the pioneers of illegal online gambling.

Mom charged after leaving infant in car to gamble in Windsor

Police today said a 32-year-old Tilbury, Ontario, woman has been charged with abandonment after allegedly leaving her infant daughter in a hot car while gambling at Caesars Windsor Casino….one count of abandoning a child and failing to provide the necessaries of life for allegedly leaving the 6-month-old girl in her car while she played the tables Thursday. Police said she admitted she had a gambling addiction.

Texas Completes Biggest Gambling Prosecution Ever

The state combined many of their law enforcement agencies on the raid that took place back in May of last year. When executing the search warrant, they found thousands of dollars in cash and also seized the eight-liner machines. In addition to the illegal gambling charges, founder of Aces Wired, Gordon Graves, plead guilty to felony tampering with evidence charges. The state of Texas is just one state that is attempting to crack down on these illegal gambling establishments.

Former health care worker pleads guilty of exploiting elderly St. Charles woman

A former health care worker was placed on probation today after admitting that she took $100,000 from an elderly St. Charles woman because of a gambling problem.  McClinton worked for a health care company an 85-year-old woman used in 2005 to help care for her 103-year-old mother.

Ex-panhandle sheriff sentenced to nearly 6 years

The former head of the Florida Sheriffs’ Association apologized to his Panhandle county and former employees for heading a money laundering and corruption scheme before a judge sentenced him to nearly six years in federal prison.  Investigators have said the bonus money came from Homeland Security and Justice Department training grants and that an inner circle within the department used some of the money to fund first-class Las Vegas gambling trips.

2 Orange County farms raided in dog-fighting probe

Federal and state law enforcement agents raided two Orange County farms Tuesday in an investigation of suspected breeding and training sites for dog-fighting operations. “There should be more” arrests, said Jeff Franklin, a spokesman for the Indiana Gaming Commission’s gaming control unit, which investigates illegal gambling. He said the investigation began about two years ago when the commission received a tip about gambling on dog fights.

Former credit union employee promises to repay $537,000 stolen for gambling

Court documents reveal that while audits during that period uncovered inconsistencies in automatic banking records, she was able to explain them away, at least in part because she was a highly trusted employee.

Ex-federal employee sentenced to 3 years for embezzling nearly $600,000

A former federal accountant who admitted embezzling nearly $600,000 from the government has been sentenced to three years and one month in prison. Harrington said he used the money to gamble and to pay off gambling-related debts and loans.

Suicide try made by suspect

A second man arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a Holyoke man Aug. 9 remained under guard at Springfield hospital Saturday after attempting suicide, police said.  DeJesus and Bonilla-Torres shot Hernandez in an attempt to rob him of his gambling winnings, said Holyoke police Chief Anthony R. Scott.

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

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Gambler sues casino for $23 million loss

Casino Watch Focus has reported on several cases involving casinos being sued for failing to recognize and take steps against problem gamblers.  None of these cases have been successful even though there were some convincing examples of casinos failing to uphold their “duty to care” burden.  Yahoo News is reporting another case involving a casino coming under fire for failing to protect its patrons:

A former South Korean company boss who says he gambled away 30 billion won (23.5 million dollars) in three years is suing a casino for allegedly fuelling his addiction, according to a report.

This case however, resulted in a slightly better result for the plaintiff than the two cases here in the US.  He was awarded a large judgment, although the amount was small enough in comparison to what was lost that the judgment will be challenged.  Yahoo News continues:

The man identified only as Chung, 67, is appealing a court ruling last November which ordered the Kangwon Land casino to pay him 2.8 billion won in damages.

Chung says this is not enough since between 2003 and 2006 he lost 30 billion won at the casino — the country’s only one authorised to admit Koreans under strict gaming laws.

The former head of a leather products company claims the government-run casino turned a blind eye to him making bets above the legitimate limit.

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


600 Million dollars embezzled from bank then laundered through an Australian Casino

Casino Watch Focus has reported on just how important loss limits were to preventing money laundering and keeping criminal elements out of our state.  Now a story from Australia shows us just how much damage can be done when no gambling limits are imposed.  An online article explains the story:

Chinese criminals convicted of embezzling over $605 million from the Bank of China say Crown and other Australian casinos were their venues of choice to launder the stolen money. Despite transactions involving huge amounts of cash, no red flags were observed by warning systems built into the gambling industry Down Under.

The Herald-Sun reported that at least $23.6 million was washed at Crown casinos by the ringleaders and their henchmen. One of the gang leaders, Yu Zhendong, told US authorities upon apprehension that Australia was the favored spot for laundering stolen money.

As much as $7.5 million was moved to Crown casinos in a single transaction, but detection systems designed to prevent money laundering failed to alert casino officials. Crown executives declined comment while they ran internal investigations to determine how the embezzlers were able to avoid detection.

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


FL cruise ships looking to become local casinos

The Orlando Sentinel has reported that the Canaveral Port Authority is looking to legislators to allow gambling on their ships while in port.  Right now, cruise ships can only offer gambling three miles off the coast because they are in international waters.  The Orlando Sentinel explains:

Under the plan — being lobbied for by Canaveral’s two existing cruise-to-nowhere operators, SunCruz Casino and Las Vegas Casino Lines — as many as three ships would be allowed to run gaming operations from 7a.m. until 2a.m. every day at the port.

But the plan faces long odds. It will almost certainly generate intense opposition in the state Capitol from evangelical groups, competing pari-mutuels and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which runs its own casinos.

The Port Authority will also face a tough Republican controlled legislature and a major player who has consistently stood strong on the side of families – Disney.  The Orlando Sentinel continues:

Port Canaveral could face opposition from its signature cruise tenant: Disney Cruise Line, whose parent company has historically fought efforts to expand gambling in Florida.

Unlike rival cruise operators Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Disney did not include casinos when it built its two cruise ships.  Disney, which recently signed a 15-year contract extension to continue sailing from Canaveral, was never briefed by the port on the gambling plan.

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


How modern day slots are simply “loaded dice”

It has been long understood that the most addictive gambling game is slots.  A team of researchers in Canada used this understanding to examine the slot machines themselves, not just the gambler, to better understand such addiction and the results might be startling.  The Star Phoenix explains:

[Nevada inventor Inge Telnaes] wrote: “It is important to make a machine that is perceived to present greater chances of payoff than it actually has within the legal limitations that games of chance must operate.”

What Telnaes had invented, in other words, was a slot machine that fooled gamblers into believing their odds of winning were good when, in truth, their odds of winning were lousy. He accomplished this by divorcing the gameplay from the reels. In the Telnaes slot machine, on which almost all current models are based, a microchip determined the outcome of each spin.

The outcomes were still random, but the machine differed from mechanical models in one significant way: It was programmed to stop with blanks on the payline more often than winning symbols. What Telnaes had created, in effect, was a slot machine version of a loaded die. Though most modern slot machines have animated reels, a disconnect remains between how slot machines appear to work and how they actually work.

So the machines do not have fair odds.  Even though you might see, for example, seven items on the real, your odds of landing on one of those items is not one in seven.  But if the odds of winning are so terrible, then why do so many people keep putting money in the machines.  The researches go on to explain the “near miss:

Much of the money is coming from gambling addicts. About 60 per cent of revenues from gaming machines come from the wallets of problem gamblers, according to a 2004 University of Lethbridge study. Many slots players find it difficult to pull themselves away because of a deceptive feature of Telnaes-style slot machines: the near-miss.

As anyone who has played slots knows, you see more than the symbols on the payline after each spin; you also see the symbols just above and just below. A near-miss, sometimes called a heartbreak loss, occurs when a symbol needed to win appears adjacent to the payline.

Near-misses create an “Aww, shucks” effect that keeps slots players glued to their stools. Studies have shown that frequent near-misses lead to significantly longer playing times. As one researcher put it: “The player is not constantly losing, but constantly nearly winning.”

These machines are highly deceptive and highly addictive.  If casinos ever had to actually display the odds of winning on these machines people might never start playing in the first place.  Don’t be fooled.


House Committee Reviews Study to Legalize Online Gambling

From citizenlink.com:

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., will ask the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday to conduct a study on how much revenue the U.S. could generate if online gambling were legalized nationwide.

The study is ultimately designed to challenge Congress’ 2006 enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prohibits the transfer of funds from a financial institution to Internet gambling companies.

Chad Hills, gambling analyst at Focus on the Family Action, said this is a promotion of online gambling disguised as research.

“Should any government – elected by the people, for the people to serve, protect and maintain order – be associated with an industry that exists through the exploitation of human weakness for the sole purpose of monetary gain?” he asked. “Gambling and its negative impacts more serve to decay and threaten our social fabric than to build and strengthen the very threads of society, which consist largely of marriage and the family.”

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Is Canada a window into Missouri’s future?

Regardless of country or location, gambling addictions plague communities, harm families and should always be the key focal point of those with the power to help.  Canada is no different as they are dealing with thousands of addicted gamblers.  As a means of dealing with the growing problem, a self-exclusion program was developed whereby those with severe gambling addictions could volunteer to be placed on a list that excludes them from the casino.  The problem is that the casinos have no means of enforcing the self-exclusion list and they have now found themselves in serious legal trouble.  The Niagara Falls reviews explains:

A $3.5-billion class action lawsuit, which has yet to be certified, is in the works against the [Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp.] by problem gamblers who allege they have been allowed into some of the casinos and slots facilities in the province despite the fact they are taking part in a voluntary program to keep them out.

Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp (OLG) established the list in 1999 and have over 10,000 registered patrons who are looking for help to stay out of the casinos.  The suit alleges that these people are not being kept from gambling, which of course is causing serious problems for them, their families and the surrounding communities.  The article continues:

The OLG says security people are trained to identify those who may be on the self-exclusion letter and every effort is made to spot them, but memorizing 10,000 names and faces is an impossible task.

They’re exactly right. With no system in place beyond attempts to recognize someone’s picture, it’s simply impossible to enforce a self-exclusion list.  Here in Missouri we could be facing the same problem.  As of right now we have the perfect system for enforcing the self-exclusion list – the $500 loss limit.  As noted in our policy brief titled “Missouri’s $500 Loss Limits: How it helps addicted gamblers,” each patron must swipe a boarding pass to enter a casino.  This pass is tied to a computer which monitors who is on the self-exclusion list and effectively keeps them off the gambling floor.

Obviously Canada should look to Missouri law and develop a similar system but what does this scenario mean for Missouri?   Obviously if the loss limit is removed we will not only lose the ability to track those who so desperately reached out for help thereby experiencing all the terrible tragedy that compulsive gambling brings, but we could also see the courts clogged with litigation brought against the Missouri Gaming Commission or specific casinos.  The initiative petition which seeks to remove the loss limit will have serious consequences and this is just one more reason why it ought to be rejected.