Category Archives: Local News

New Federal Sports Gambling Bill Emerges in Congressional Committee

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts of New Jersey to legalize sports betting. The reason all of their attempts have failed is because federal law prevents states from allowing sports betting under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act and most recently, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. A new federal bill, if passed, would remove federal bans on certain gambling and allow the states to regulate them as they please, thus effectively legalizing sports betting for New Jersey and others if they so choose. An online source breaks down the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act (GAME Act):

The US Congress may consider a gambling bill that would annul a *federal gambling ban*. This, on the other hand, would allow the country to make any form of gambling legal and regulate it. 

[I]f the GAME Act is enacted, it would annul the 1992 federal law and would allow every state to separately add sports betting and online gaming to the gambling operations that are legal there. As explained above, *customer protection rules*, as well as rules about *taxation and regulations* are also implemented in the proposed piece of legislation.

Stakeholders are also allowed to give their feedback for the GAME Act. As it has already became clear, the American Gaming Association backed the legal expansion of sports betting operations. Other organizations, such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) do not support the bill. 

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UPDATE: Florida Senate Passes Ban on Internet Cafés, Gov Signs into Law

Casino Watch Focus reported that in the wake of the major investigations of Florida’s internet cafés, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill to ban the gambling parlors.  Further investigations revealed that these strip mall casinos were so under regulated, that no background checks were required and those with criminal pasts were running those facilities.  As expected, the Senate has joined the House to ban internet cafés.  The Miami Herald reports:

After a rigorous debate, the Florida Senate sent to the governor on Thursday a fast-tracked bill designed to clarify that slot-like gambling machines operated in Internet cafes, South Florida’s adult arcades and Miami’s maquintas are outlawed in Florida.

The measure is a reaction to a federal and state investigation into Allied Veterans of Florida that has led to 57 arrests for illegal gambling, money laundering and racketeering. Police allege that that the pseudo veterans group made $300 million in profits by operating the illegal machines, but allegedly donated only 2 percent of its proceeds to charity. Legislators responded by concluding that the vague state law that allowed the gaming centers to operate needed to be clarified to give law enforcement more tools to shut down the illegal machines that have proliferated in strip malls throughout the state.

The Senate voted 36-4 for HB 155, which was approved two weeks ago 108-7 by the Florida House.

 Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law, making it effective immediately.  The Herald provided comments given by Gov. Scott:

“I think the House and Senate did the right thing to crackdown on illegal gaming, especially in light of the Allied Veterans multi-state criminal conspiracy,’’ Scott told reporters on Wednesday.

The law becomes effective immediately, giving law enforcement new definitions on illegal gambling machines. It also imposes new restrictions on arcade games and bans all electronic casino look-alikes, including maquinitas in Miami and Hialeah.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who praised Scott and state lawmakers for passage of the bill, wasted little time in directing county law enforcement authorities to take action.

“I have already directed Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson to begin enforcing the law,” said Gimenez in a statement. “There is no longer any ambiguity about the fact that these machines and operations are illegal, and the newly-signed law will help deter the continued growth of illegal activities in Miami-Dade County and throughout the State of Florida.”

Because of the broad stroke used in the legislation to end these types of machines, there are groups that believe their type of gambling machines should have been allowed to operate.  Prosecutors have long held that these machine only existed because of various loopholes and now those loopholes are closed:

Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger, who anchored the federal and state investigation called “Operation Reveal the Deal,” told the Herald/Times that the governor’s actions validated his efforts.

For years, Eslinger was among a handful of sheriffs that urged lawmakers to tighten the law to make it easier for law enforcement to crackdown on the illegal games only to have their proposals languish and Internet Cafes proliferate. In the meantime, the industry donated millions to legislative campaigns, estimated at more than $2 million in the 2012 election cycle alone.

“It wasn’t a loophole in the law,’’ Eslinger said Tuesday. “The law was complex, difficult and expensive to investigate — and this will certainly will enhance law enforcement efforts.’’

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Missouri Gaming Commission undergoes major personnel changes including the replacement of Gene McNary

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon named several new members to the Missouri Gaming Commission.  The Kansas City Star reported:

A former sheriff and a corporate executive have been appointed to the Missouri Gaming Commission. Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday appointed Barrett Hatches and Jack Merritt to the commission that regulates casinos and bingo halls.  Merritt is a Republican from the city of Republic. He retired from the Missouri  Highway Patrol in 1997 after a 27-year career and served as sheriff of Greene Countyfrom 2001 through 2008. Hatches is a Democrat from Kansas City who served as chief operating officer of Swope Community Enterprises from 2004 until this year. He also worked for Missouri Gas Energy. The appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

Its was also reported that the current Gaming Commission director, Gene McNary, is resigning effective July 1st. Rodger Stottlemeyre, a former Missouri Highway Patrol superintendent and the current Director of Enforcement for the Gaming Commission, was named as the new Executive Director.  McNary indicated that it was Gov. Nixon’s appointment of Hatches and Merritt that lead to his resignation.  The St Louis Business Journal reported:

“The day before yesterday’s commission meeting, the governor announced two new appointees to the commission. Gene clearly saw a changing of the guard,” said LeAnn McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the commission. “He is familiar with the term process and wanted to provide for a smooth transition. Roger is here and is Gene’s deputy. He knows the process and where we are at with the (soon-to-be-available gaming) license. The whole process was done in the best interest of commission and the state.”

The Gaming Commission will have control over which company is awarded the next casino license and where that license will be granted.  Given the fire McNary’s decision to revoke the President Casino’s gaming license has come under, some are speculating that St Louis Mayor Francis Slay and other legislators who wanted to limit the commission’s authority on the matter have succeeded on applying the pressure needed to see McNary out of office.  As the St Louis Post Dispatch reported, the Exceutive Director will play a major role in the location of the new casino:

McNary was poised to be a key player in the decision, which is expected to pit competing proposals from Cape Girardeau, the St. Louis region, Sugar Creek near Kansas City and possibly elsewhere in the state. The executive director leads the staff that will analyze casino proposals and has typically acted as the state’s voice on gambling issues. Now that job will fall to Stottlemyre.

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


Take stand against Missouri House Reps Grill and Colona’s bill to urge Congress to lift ban on sports betting

An online source is reporting that the Missouri House legislature’s Grill and Colona have introduced a bill to urge Congress to lift sport betting rules:

A resolution in the Missouri House asking the US Congress to lift PASPA, proposed by Reps. Grill & Colona, both Democrats:

House Concurrent Resolution No. 22

95TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY

INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES GRILL (Sponsor) AND COLONA (Co-sponsors).

3818L.02I

…therefore, be it resolved that the members of the House of Representatives of the Ninety-fifth General Assembly, Second Regular Session, the Senate concurring therein, hereby urge the United States Congress to remove the federal ban on sports wagering;

This piece of legislation, however, is far from being enacted.  The resolution must be assigned to a committee and face public hearings before it could be voted on by the committee, much less advance to the full House floor.   It is also a “House Concurrent Resolution” that would require both the House and Senate adoption, thus facing the entire legislative process.  Use this time to contact your local House and Senate representative and tell them to oppose such measures.

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


North St Louis County Casino Rezoning plan passed, despite strong-arm tactics by Vegas casino exec

Casino Watch focus last reported that the idea of a casino in north St Louis county looked bleak given Pinnacle’s decision to fix the Admiral and leave the casino at its current location.  However, the issue still came before the Council and they voted 4-2 to approve the measure.  This means that should a license become available, a casino could be potentially built in the Spanish Lake area in north St Louis County.

One council member came forward to give his account of what happened leading up to the vote.  As reported by the St Louis Post Dispatch, he claimed that he was given the strong-arm treatment in an attempt to vote against the proposal:

Stenger said he was paid a visit shortly before the meeting began by Daniel R. Lee, chairman and chief executive officer of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc., and several members of Lee’s entourage.  Stenger said it was the first time he had met Lee, who had flown in that afternoon from Las Vegas.

“He comes into my office 15 minutes before the meeting begins and he muscles me,” Stenger said. “He said, ‘This (the casino) is the largest investment your district has ever seen or will ever see. And we are asking you to vote no (on the North County rezoning issue).'” “I asked Lee why he cared, but he would only say, ‘Voting no is the right decision to make. You need to vote no.'” Stenger said.

The pressure didn’t stop there.  Once the vote was cast, a visibly upset and clearly out of control, Daniel Lee made another move.  The  Post Dispatch explains:

After Stenger cast his vote, he said, Lee got out of his seat near the back of the chambers, hurried down the side aisle and stepped up onto the council dais.  “He got about two feet from my face before someone waved him aside, telling him he could not interrupt the meeting like that,” Stenger said.

Stenger said Lee then approached Stenger’s assistant, Linda Henry, who was seated at the side of the dais. “Lee says to her, loud enough for everyone to hear, ‘He (Stenger) just made the worst move in his political career! I won’t forget this! I never forget things like this!'” Stenger said.  Henry confirmed the incident. “He said it very menacingly,” she added. “I felt threatened.”

In a typical public relations move, Daniel Lee attempted to apologize for his behavior in an email.  He claimed he is just very passionate about the issue.  Either way, his behavior was clearly unacceptable and the vote was clearly unfortunate.  However, if the Admiral can pass an inspection, its unlikely a casino will be moving north.  Please keep reading Casino Watch Focus for more updates on this situation.

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


Planning Commission to hold hearing on North County casino

The St Louis Post Dispatch is reporting about an important meeting being held by the St Louis Planning Commission regarding a possible new casino in North St Louis.  This meeting represents an important first step in the process.  Proposition A placed a cap on the number of casinos at 13.  The possibly exists that the President casino could be shut down due to the age and safety of the current boat.  Should that happen, a new casino could be granted a license.  Several companies have already expressed interest in a placing a casino in North St Louis, or the possibility exists that the President could be moved to the location as well.  The hearing is open to the public and The Post provides the details below:

The St. Louis County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Aug. 10 on a proposal for a casino complex on 376.82 acres along Riverview Drive in north St. Louis County.

The site is just south of the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, 0.9 miles north of Interstate 270. It also is north of the old North Shore country club site, which in both St. Louis and St. Louis County, which people for years have talked about as a location for a casino. Two developers presented proposals for the North Shore site in the 1990s.

The public hearing will be in the county council chambers, 1st floor, county administration building, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton.

The hearing is the start of what could be a long process that a developer must complete before opening the casino.


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Turner Report: New Gaming Commission Director has long ties to gambling industry

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon appointed Jim Mathewson as the new Missouri Gaming Commission Director.  Mathewson, a Democrate, served in the State Senate from 1980 to 2006.  The Turner Report is explaining that Mathewson has ties to the gambling industry that go back to 2002, when pushed a bill to remove the $500 loss limit, on top of receiving more than two-thirds of his campaign contributions from gambling interest:

Mathewson’s 2002 reports filed with the Ethics Commission show he received $15,800 in contributions. Of that amount, $11,124 either came directly from casino interests or can be connected to a gambling industry lobbyist.

The October 2002 report shows Mathewson receiving $9,225 in contributions, with $5,475 coming from gambling interests. The contributions include

Isle of Capri $350
Isle of Capri-Boonville $575
Harrah’s Operating Company $575
Isle of Capri Casino-Kansas City $350
Ameristar Casino-Kansas City $1,000
Missouri Gaming Company, Argosy Casino $1,175
St. Joseph Riverboat Partners/Frontier Casino $587.50
Ameristar Casino-St. Charles $725
Mark Twain Casino LLC, $587.50
Aztar Missouri Riverboat Gaming Company, $500

To Read the Complete Turner Report Click Here

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