Category Archives: Uncategorized

Missouri Legislator Pushing for New Casino in Osage Beach Area

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to regulate casino gambling in Missouri.  Each state has different laws and Missouri originally only allowed for 2 hour river boat gambling excursions.  With each passing year, the expansion of gambling through the erosion of the laws has resulted in 13 full standing casinos.  Those casinos do technically float and they have to be located on either the Missouri or Mississippi rivers, but to the casual observer, it appears that Missouri has 13 large and free standing casinos operating.  So, perhaps it’s not too surprising that every few years someone new wants to see a new casino in a part of the state that’s prohibited by the constitution. Branson has been the most popular venue debated, but Osage beach has been discussed in relation to a possible tribal casino.  Now it would appear that much like the Netflix television show Ozark, there is discussion of trying to set up a casino on a new waterway.  Specifically, Rep. Rocky Miller, who was a consultant to the show, is out promoting a resolution he has filed in hopes of adding the Osage river to the accepted venue list.  The Springfield News Leader reports:

A legislator from around the Lake of the Ozarks wants to allow riverboat gambling there. No, this is not a recap of the Netflix show with Jason Bateman. Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, filed a real resolution in the Missouri capitol Friday that would ask voters to add the Osage River to the list of waterways where casinos are permitted.

Miller said he consulted on the Netflix show “Ozark,”   which centers on the Byrde family’s efforts to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel in Osage Beach. Season 2 focuses on their efforts to open a riverboat casino at Lake of the Ozarks. And Miller says he told the showrunners about the law.

Miller’s approach wouldn’t necessarily establish a casino in the area right away because there is a hard cap of 13 casino licenses that can be granted.  His proposal would simply open the Osage river up to an acceptable venue, so if one of the licenses  would become available. The News Leader continues:

The resolution wouldn’t necessarily bring anything to his area immediately. It wouldn’t touch the limit voters put on the casino licenses in 2008, and all 13 of those are currently in use. But if one were to come available, he said, his area “would become a great option to revive some revenue.”

It’s not clear how much interest there is in the General Assembly this year. Miller said he thinks there’s a chance it gets through the House, though the always-mercurial Senate is a bigger question mark. He said he thought leaving the cap alone would help with the casino lobby, though. He added that requiring a public vote on the issue could be a way to pitch the bill as well.

The odds are most certainly stacked against the idea of expanded casino gambling.  The constitution would need changed to allow the law, meaning the path of least resistance might be an initiative petition, a direct vote of the people.  History would indicate a long shot though, as this exact issue was defeated overwhelmingly in Branson.  

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

Missouri Legislators to introduce Sports Betting Bills, this time with a cut for Professional Leagues

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing growth of sports betting after the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow states to legalize sports gambling.  Many states have done just that, with Florida being the most recently reported state to consider its legalization. Nothing has passed in Florida and Missouri attempted last year to introduce legislation, but it lacked any fees to pro sports organizations.  Now it would appear that with the pre filing of two new sports legalization bills, Missouri is going to reattempt legalization, but this time with the addition of integrity fees.  An online source reports:

Lawmakers in Missouri have pre-filed legislation to legalize and regulate sports betting, following the issue of a favorable special committee report. The new proposals are similar to bills introduced earlier this year, which failed to pass before the end of the 2019 legislative session.

However, sponsors of new bills have called for the inclusion of integrity fees to be paid to professional sports leagues, and as much as 0.75% of handle.

Here’s what’s included in the bills: SB 567 from Sen. Denny Hoskins calls for the Missouri Lottery Commission to oversee sports betting with 0.25% of handle paid to the leagues. SB 754 from Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer seeks 0.75% of handle to be paid to the leagues. The bill would put the Missouri Gaming Commission in charge of regulation.

The decision to include an integrity fee might not actually help the legislation get passed this year considering the issue has been vehemently opposed in other states.  The online source continues:

The issue of integrity fees is a thorny one and is bitterly opposed by operators, who argue that they would eat into their slim profits from sports wagering. Operators usually only keep around 5% of the total handle and, should this be compromised, the additional costs would then have to be passed onto players in the form of un-competitive lines and less enticing promotions.

Integrity fees have been advocated most notably by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB), as a way of profiting from the proliferation of sports betting in the U.S. However, none of the states to launch legal sports betting so far have approved such a fee, with New Jersey  going so far as calling the idea “insulting”.

Whether or not such gambling efforts violate the Missouri constitution that limits gambling to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers remains to be seen.  However, the possible inclusion of mobile operators would sure seem to make that question more discernible, which could make the passage harder than typical legislation.  The new legislation is vague, but does seem to want to set up such a system. The source concludes: 

The committee report, which was presented to the state House on Dec. 5, does at least include a potential sweetener for the operators:statewide online/mobile wagering. While vague on the subject, the report stated it is interested in mobile wagering and “creating a level playing field insofar as that is possible”“.Whether that means the market will be opened up to several mobile operators or ensuring retail sportsbooks aren’t dominated by single operators is unclear.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/18 – 11/24

Judge sets $5,000 bail for woman police say killed husband over illegal gambling

The woman police say stabbed her husband in Quincy following the discovery of an illegal basement gambling operation is being held on $5,000 cash bail. Huixian Liu was arraigned in Norfolk Superior Court Thursday after a grand jury indicted her for manslaughter in the death of her husband, Biqiang He, on the Fourth of July. Judge Robert Cosgrove imposed a $5,000 bail, which she had not posted as of Friday morning. If she does make bail, Liu will have to wear a GPS monitoring device. Liu was originally charged with murder, but the jury returned the indictment on the lesser offense of manslaughter. Police responded to reports of a stabbing at 10 South Central Ave. in Quincy at about 7 p.m. Thursday, July 4, according police reports filed in court. One officer wrote that he was familiar with the house because the city had shut down an illegal gambling operation in its basement two days before. Witnesses told police that Liu and He were arguing about letting the city inspector into the two-family home’s basement to see gambling machines earlier in the week. The witness said the pair started to “wrestle and grapple with each other,” and He’s leg began bleeding.

New York man busted for trying to fix NCAA college basketball game

A New York man schemed with alleged mob figures to fix an NCAA college basketball game by offering players thousands of dollars, federal prosecutors said Thursday. Benjamin Bifalco, 25, was among 20 people swept up in a federal probe targeting members of the Colombo crime families and their associates in Staten Island, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Bifalco was caught on a wiretap discussing his scheme with Joseph Amato Jr., the son of an alleged Colombo captain. In a series of phone calls over the next several days, Bifalco laid out his plan to fix the game by “offering to pay thousands of dollars to multiple members of a basketball team so that they would intentionally lose by a lot,” allowing the favored team to cover the point spread, the court papers say. Bifalco tried to persuade Amato Jr. to place thousands of dollars on the game, according to federal prosecutors

Convicted Rapist Found Guilty Of £2.5m Fake Lottery Ticket Scam

Edward Putman had been accused of fraud by false representation after using a fake ticket to claim an outstanding jackpot. The 54-year-old from Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, was in court after conspiring with friend Giles Knibbs – who was an employee in the security department at Camelot between 2004 and 2010. The scam only came to light on 5 October 2015, when Mr Knibbs committed suicide. During the case at St Albans Crown Court, it was heard that before he died Knibbs told friends of his conspiracy with Putman, a builder who had worked on an extension at his home. Earlier that year, Putman had gone to the police alleging Knibbs had threatened to reveal his previous convictions for the rape of a 17-year-old girl in 1991 and a benefits fraud in 2012. Putman also told authorities that his co-conspirator had stolen his mobile phone and damaged the wing mirror on his car. It’s understood Knibbs was angry that he didn’t receive his share of the winnings. As a result Knibbs was arrested and reportedly told former partner John Coleyshaw that he thought he was ‘going down for 10 to 15 years for blackmail’.

Former gambler jailed for stealing €1.75million

A former gambler who was jailed for stealing €1.75million from An Post to feed a €10million betting frenzy has hit out at online bookies for targeting the vulnerable. Dad-of-one Tony O’Reilly described Ireland’s gambling habit as “chronic” and said there are not enough supports to help those caught in its grip. The 44-year-old, who stole from the safe while working as postmaster in Gorey, Co Wexford, spent 18 months in prison and lost his marriage over his actions. Tony told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “I pinpoint the online account as the changing point because of the ease of access and the way you could hide it. “I was able to gamble with a credit card from the comfort of my own room. I didn’t have to physically go to the bookies… using the card is not like real money. “People are able to gamble 24 hours a day now. It completely changed how I looked at the experience of gambling. It was heavy.” At the height of his addiction Tony, whose online user name was ‘Ton 10’, was lodging €5,000 into his account three times a day to feed his habit. He turned €5,000 into €462,000 over the space of a weekend but within 12 hours of his big win he had lost it all again. He said: “I think the lack of regulation is worrying. It’s not just gambling, it’s gaming, it’s the internet, it’s 24/7.

Lucchese mob boss ordered 2013 hit over unpaid $100K loan: prosecutors

Former acting Lucchese mob boss Matthew Madonna ordered a 2013 Bronx hit on a onetime ally after the man refused to repay a $100,000 loan, a prosecutor said Monday. The statement came during opening arguments in the White Plains trial of Steven Crea Sr., Christopher Londonio, Terrence Caldwell and Madonna — who are accused of racketeering conspiracy and other charges for their respective roles in the Lucchese organized crime family. “Not repaying a boss is a dangerous game,” said Cohen, adding that Londonio and alleged triggerman Caldwell subsequently executed Meldish as he sat in his parked car in November 2013. “Michael Meldish is dead because of these four men,” said Cohen. In addition to racketeering, the reputed wiseguys are also accused of extortion, loansharking, illegal gambling and other acts of ruthless violence. Londonio is also facing a separate charge for stockpiling bed sheets while in custody — purportedly as part of a plot to escape out the window of a federal lockup.

FBI Says Clearwater Man Used Investors’ Funds To Drink, Gamble

A Clearwater man who was living the high life with money stolen from investors in his fictional company will spend the next 46 months in federal prison. Buffington pleaded guilty to wire fraud on April 30. His sentenced was handed down Sept. 26. The court also ordered Buffington to forfeit more than $1.2 million from the proceeds of his criminal activities and pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to the victims of his fraud scheme. But it could be a long time before the victims see any restitution funds. When he was arrested on Aug. 30, 2018, Buffington was broke. Instead of investing the funds intended for GSE, the FBI said Buffington used the money he raised, including $3,000 wired to him by an undercover agent, for drinking, drugs and gambling. The FBI said he led a lavish lifestyle with the money from investors. He rented a pricey waterfront home on Boca Ciega Bay and spent more than $15,000 drinking and gambling at Derby Lane and the Hard Rock Casino.

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

Florida Senate President Claims they may Attempt to Reverse or Side Skirt Amendment 3 which Requires Gambling Issues to be Approved by Voters

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to properly regulate Florida gambling issues, including the most recently passed Amendment 3. That amendment requires the Florida legislature to get final approval for gambling expansion from voters and most voters in Florida aren’t in favor of gambling expansion. Recently, when discussing the failed attempts are getting a new gambling compact signed with the Seminole Tribe, comments have been made that the reversal of Amendment 3 might be on the horizon. The failed deal was over gambling exclusivity in exchange for payment to the state and the inability to reach a deal meant the Seminole Tribe held their payments back from the state. An online source explains: 

The Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis this spring were unable to seal a deal between the Seminoles and the state aimed at resolving a protracted legal battle over controversial “designated player” card games operated by many Florida pari-mutuels. A federal judge found the designated player games violated a compact between the tribe and the state in which the Seminoles agreed to pay about $350 million a year in exchange for the “exclusive” rights to operate banked card games, such as blackjack, at most of its Florida casinos. 

[P]resented with the outlines of the agreement near the end of the spring session, DeSantis, who took office in January, refused to sign off on the deal, saying he needed more time to explore the issues.

Not long after the session ended in May, the Seminoles told the governor in writing they would stop making the annual payments to the state “until the illegal banked card game issue is resolved,” referring to the designated player games.

Given they had to budget a year without the Seminole money, they are now approaching the situation as if a deal simply isn’t needed. Florida Senate President Bill Galvano is suggesting looking at many options, The online source continue:

“The underlying point is, financially, we’ve moved on from the tribe. We didn’t rely on the revenue share last budget and there’s no reason to believe we have to recreate that revenue share going forward,” Galvano said. “If we’re not getting revenue, there’s no reason to provide exclusivity (to operate banked card games). We realize it’s a new day, so we’ll take it from there.”

Instead of focusing on how much the tribe will pay for exclusivity, Galvano and Oliva are open to examining how much the state could reap if the Legislature delivers on the pari-mutuels’ wish list.

Items on the table include “codifying” the designated player games, increasing bet limits and authorizing sports betting and fantasy sports, Galvano said. He’s also willing to consider other perks for pari-mutuel operators.

One of the biggest obstacles to this line of thinking, however, is Amendment 3. It’s a voter initiative that passed with overwhelming support and it requires various gambling issues to get a final vote from the people. Galvano doesn’t seem concerned and even suggested trying to reverse the amendment:

The constitutional amendment “requires a vote by citizens initiative” for “casino gambling” to be authorized in Florida. “Casino gambling” is defined as “any of the type of games typically found in casinos” and that are defined as “Class III gaming” under federal law. Class III games include slot machines, blackjack, craps and roulette — and sports betting.

Galvano said lawmakers have the ability to put their own gambling-related constitutional proposals on the ballot, such as “repealing that amendment and restoring the (Legislature’s) ability to expand gaming.”

Galvano also contends that, while the Legislature could authorize sports betting through passing a statute, lawmakers “could push that constitutionally” as an extra precaution.

The Senate president maintains the legalization of sports betting would not trigger the citizens’ initiative requirement, a position disputed by John Sowinski, the campaign manager of the political committee behind last year’s constitutional amendment. “The Legislature neither has the authority to enact or propose an expansion of casino gambling in the state. Period,” Sowinski told the News Service.

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

Genting Group Continues its Efforts at a Miami Florida Casino in a Most Unusual Way

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing attempts, and subsequent failures, of gambling giant Genting to get a mega Las Vegas style casino legalized in Miami. They failed through the Florida legislature. They failed through a voter petition initiative. They have purchased land and tried to collaborate with a local pari-mutuel company in hopes of influencing local politicians. They even attempted to use the courts to sue to state to allow them to offer gambling card games. That Hail Mary was surprisingly unsuccessful as well. Now, the Genting group is trying another approach and once again, local politicians see exactly what they are hoping to accomplish. An online source reports on their new play:

Genting and its gaming brand Resorts World has long been trying to build a multibillion-dollar casino resort on 30 acres of land it paid $236 million for in 2011. No change in state law has come to allow the commercial casino to move forward, but that hasn’t stopped the Malaysian-based gaming and hospitality corporation from continuing to invest in the area.

Genting is in the final approval stages to build a 300-room hotel tower and residential apartment building over the expanded Omni Station bus terminal located on the property. Now, Genting is offering to fund construction of a monorail line that would connect downtown Miami to Miami Beach at a cost of $48 million per mile.

The Miami-Dade County Commission did vote to open the bid process for companies wanting to construct a new monorail, but officials point out that there is no guarantee they would be awarded the contract. The Miami Herald reports:

Genting kept its monorail plan alive Wednesday when Miami-Dade commissioners accepted the casino company’s proposal to launch a bidding contest for building a tax-funded transit system across Biscayne Bay, linking Miami with South Beach.

In a 9-3 vote, commissioners approved [Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos] Gimenez’s request to launch a bidding process sometime in the fall. Genting and rivals would then have six months to respond to the county’s request for proposals. After the deadline, the county could accept one of the proposals or reject them all and start again.

Others have rejected the notion that this a fair bid process and believe the fact that Genting already has a full proposal means other companies won’t even engage in the bid process. The Miami Herald continues:

Commissioners Jean Monestime, Xavier Suarez and Rebeca Sosa voted No. Commissioner Barbara Jordan was not present for the vote. She is part of a delegation with the Transportation Planning Organization visiting transit options in Asia, including the monorail that Genting partner BYD operates in China. Sosa raised concerns about Miami-Dade turning to a company with China ties for a transit project. “I want to see if they have any relations with a country that can be adverse to the United States,” she said.

Commissioner Joe Martinez said launching a competition in response to Genting’s proposal is going to make other transportation developers less likely to compete.

“You want it clean? Reject it,” Martinez said of the Genting proposal that the county received in May. He said Miami-Dade should start with its own process to solicit bids for the Beach corridor, and not be restrained by the confidentiality rules hovering over the Genting proposal. “Everyone starts at Ground Zero,” he said.

Despite the Commission moving the proposal along, and theoretically opening the process up to other bidders, many still question the notion of doing business with a company with clear ulterior motives. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber made it very clear in a letter to the Miami Herald, that even if Genting were to win this monorail bid, Miami Beach would still reject a new casino.

[M]ost or all of the city’s commission will strenuously object to any plan that might allow for, or even contemplate, a casino that is placed nearby or tethered to our community. I believe casino gambling is an existential threat to our community fabric and our quality of life, which is why I have opposed it as a state representative, state senator, and now mayor. Recently, when we approved our new Convention Center Hotel, we didn’t merely prohibit gaming in the facility, we also required that any developer of the project not maintain gaming interests.

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

With Florida Dog Racing Now Banned by Voters, Will the Legislature Bail out the Industry?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing happenings to end dog racing in Florida. Most recently, and amendment was passed by Florida voters to end dog racing. The amendment doesn’t end all gambling at these facilities, but it does clearly mandate that all live dog racing must come to an end. The racing industry immediately engaged in talks with Florida legislators to determine what bail out package would be offered to offset the expense of the animals and to help facilitate their adoption. Nothing has been truly decided, but legislators were very quick to point out that the amendment itself doesn’t mandate any kind of bail out. Naturally, the industry disagrees and it trying to seek compensation. Florida Politics reports:

One of the main proponents of the state’s recently passed ban on dog racing is telling legislators it’s “not necessary” to pass a bill “implementing” *Amendment 13— and that includes a bailout for the greyhound industry. But an industry lobbyist says it’s absolutely needed — and required. 

To be clear, “we are not opposed to such legislation and, if it is filed, urge you to include funding for greyhound adoption,” said *Carey M. Theil*, executive director of *GREY2K USA Worldwide, a greyhound protection group.

He penned a letter to House Gaming Control Subcommittee Chairman David Santiago, a Deltona Republican, on Friday. The subcommittee meets Wednesday to receive an update by the “Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering on the implementation of Amendment 13,” according to an online agenda.

“However, such legislation is not necessary by any means,” Theil wrote. “The false perception that an Amendment 13 implementation bill must pass would likely serve only to create a legislative vehicle for other changes in law.”

Shortly after the amendment passed, some breeders and trainers started talking about lawmakers cushioning the blow of the loss of income with a payout. At least one legislative leader quickly tamped down that idea: “Coming and asking for a compensation package is probably a tough row to hoe for them,” Senate President *Bill* *Galvano*, a Bradenton Republican, has said.

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


Guest Article: DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the new Department of Justice ruling that reestablished online gambling to be illegal under the wire act. The need for this ruling existed because the long standing intend of the wire act was erroneously reinterpreted by the Obama Administration to only apply to sports betting. This opened the flood gates to all other forms of online gambling. John Kent, Law and Economics Professor at the University of Illinois and the Senior Editor of the United States International Gaming Report opined why this reversal will help protect kids in an article published by The Hill: 

Until 2011, this DOJ ban had been in place for 50 years via the DOJ’s use of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s Wire Act, 18 U.S.C. sec. 1084, which was initially passed to fight organized crime.

In concert with the recommendations of the 1999 U.S. National Gambling Impact Study Commission established by Congress, the DOJ’s use of the Wire Act protected the public — and particularly kids — from 24/7 online gambling, including gambling on video games.

However, on Dec. 23, 2011 via a 13-page memo, the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) reversed its long-held interpretation of the Wire Act to allow online non-sports gambling.

This 2011 OLC opinion was immediately vilified by the national press as reflecting corrupt influences and conflicts of interest, as detailed by the editorial board of the Christian Science Monitor on Dec. 27, 2011.

During a congressional hearing on Sep. 27, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) again raised these bipartisan concerns, including OLC conflicts of interest. On Dec. 11, incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) signaled to Gambling Compliance that he thought that the 2011 OLC opinion was incorrect.

Showing a picture of a child on his wireless ipad, Newsweek’s front cover on Aug. 14, 2014 stated:
“How Washington Opened The Floodgates To Online Poker, Dealing Parents a Bad Hand.”

Subsequently, the severe social and economic consequences of online gambling were highlighted in congressional hearings on March 25, 2015, and most recently on Sep. 27 before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, chaired by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

The full article can be viewed HERE. 

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