Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Brief Look at Crime  9/20 – 9/26

Problem gamblers have highest suicide rate of any addiction disorder, studies show

September is World Suicide Prevention week, and experts are raising awareness about disordered gambling, which has the highest suicide rate among all addictions with 1 in 5 problem gamblers attempting suicide. The 2017 Report on Problem Gambling Services shows that nearly one in 10 Ohioans who gamble are currently experiencing or are at risk of developing a gambling problem. Roughly one in five pathological gamblers attempts suicide, a rate higher than that for any other addictive disorder. Approximately 220,000 Ohioans engage in at-risk gambling with 30,000 engaging in problem gambling behaviors. Early detection and support are essential in getting help for problem gambling and preventing suicide. Unlike other addictions, problem gambling has no physical symptoms.

Combined with the stigma surrounding discussing finances, a gambling problem can often go undetected, resulting in devastating consequences for the gambler and their family. However, these are common warning signs to look for: Exaggerating gambling wins and downplaying losses; Asking for loans to cover gambling losses; Using money for food, rent or other necessities for gambling; Poor work performance; Restlessness or irritability when not gambling 

Chicago Gambling Ring Convicts Get Sentenced

According to the prosecution, Matthew Knight was second in the gambling ring agent hierarchy. Despite that, he got only six months of community confinement, two years of probation, a $10,000 fine, and 100 hours of community service. District Judge Virginia Kendall explained that the light sentence comes as a result of Matthew Knight’s clean history, his evident guilt, and his willingness to cooperate with the law keepers. The prosecution pointed out FBI experts’ claim that Knight’s gamblers might have generated as much as $18 million just in 2018, but the judge explained that despite his big role in the gambling ring, he was less guilty than DelGiudice and Nicholas Stella – a police officer who participated in the illegal betting activities. In comparison, DelGiudice, who pleaded guilty in February, faces up to 25 years for a gambling conspiracy and money laundering. Although he’s pleaded guilty, no sentence has been pronounced yet. Nicholas Stella was already sentenced to 15 months in prison. A few people were   also sentenced because of ties with the gambling ring, with former President Donald Trump personally pardoning Casey Urlacher, the mayor of Mettawa who was among the convicts.

1400 Arrests, $8M Seized in Illegal Gambling at Euro: Interpol 

An Interpol operation targeting illegal gambling during Euro 2020 led to 1400 arrests and the seizure of $7.9 million (6.7 million euros) in cash, the Lyon-based global crime agency reported. Thousands of raids in Asia and Europe also resulted in the confiscation of computers and mobile phones connected to almost $465 million in bets. “While most of us were watching the UEFA European Football Championship as simple fans, hundreds of specialized officers across 28 countries were targeting organized crime groups looking to earn millions from illegal gambling and related money laundering activities,” an Interpol statement read.

Hong Kong police detained more than 800 suspects, “including the alleged kingpin of a triad-controlled bookmaking syndicate,” the statement said. In what was described as one of Hong Kong’s most successful operations ever they seized $2.7 million in cash and records detailing hundreds of millions in bets. In Italy, home of the European champions at the pandemic-delayed tournament, Operation SOGA VIII inspected 280 betting shops and delivered 1.3 million euros in sanctions for illegal betting schemes. In all, Interpol’s eight SOGA operations have led to more than 19,000 arrests, cash seizures of more than $63 million and the closure of over 4000 illegal betting dens.

Domestic dispute leads to shooting at Coahoma County casino

The Coahoma County Sheriff’s Department was called to the Isle Of Capri Casino Monday evening on a report that a man had been shot by a woman. Deputies were called at 7 p.m. about a shooting in the parking lot of the casino and told one person was suffering from non-life-threatening injuries. Deputies identified the victim as Robert Howard, no address given, who was transported to Regional One in Memphis. Deputies developed Valeria Hope, 18, no address given, as a suspect, but no arrest was made. Investigation reports said the incident appears to have been a domestic dispute.

Former Accounting Coordinator for Non-Profit Organization Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling More than $321K

A resident of Pittsburgh, PA, has been sentenced in federal court to 17 months of prison followed by two years of supervised release on her conviction of bank fraud, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today. United States District Judge David S. Cercone imposed the sentence on Danielle Strother-Rush, 34, of Columbia Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15218. According to information presented to the court, Strother-Rush was an Accounting Coordinator for the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council, which is a nonprofit organization that was created to increase business opportunities for minority-owned businesses. From approximately August 2014 until August 2016, Strother-Rush embezzled $321,255.88 in various ways and spent on funds on, among other things, gambling and frivolous purchases. The primary way in which she embezzled funds was by writing checks to herself from the operating accounts and forging her supervisor’s signature on the checks. She also made unauthorized ATM withdrawals, including several at the Rivers Casino. Lastly, she accessed the payroll bank account online and made unauthorized electronic checks payable to herself.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 06/14 – 06/20

Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison over Shooting at a Poker Game 

A man from New York State was sentenced to at a *minimum of 20-years-to-life in prison* on Monday this week. *Charquan Edwards*, who was *previously sentenced for shooting a man during a private poker game back in 2015,* faced a retrial. Initially, Edwards was sentenced to prison by now-retired *Judge John Brunetti* in 2015. However, the 2015 trial was overturned in 2019 by the appellate court after it found several issues with the sentence.

Back in 2015, Edwards, 23 at the time, participated in a poker game that turned out badly. Having lost twice, he returned *two times to re-enter the game with more money*. After losing for the third time, *he came back with a gun and attempted to flee with some $9,000* from the poker table cash

Since the initial accident in 2015, *multiple eyewitnesses have deceased*. However, during the retrial testimony, US State Supreme Court *Judge Gordon Cuffy* allowed the testimony of the deceased to be read in front of the jury. Although Judge Cuffy acknowledged that Edwards is an “/intelligent young man/“, he *reaffirmed the original sentence* by Judge Brunetti. Consequently, Edwards was re-sentenced to 20-years-to-life in prison. With that in mind, he will serve the sentence concurrently while *the court took into consideration the time which he already served* since his initial conviction.

Chester County Accountant Sentenced for Fraud Scheme

Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Christopher May, 32, of Paoli, PA, was sentenced to one year and four months in prison, and two years of supervised release by United States District Judge Timothy J. Savage for engaging in an embezzlement scheme through which he stole more than $1.2 million from his former employer.

In February 2021, the defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud stemming from this scheme which he perpetrated over the course of about eight months. From roughly October 2019 until May 2020, while employed as a staff accountant at a local e-commerce automotive parts retailer based in Paoli, PA, May made more than 50 unauthorized Paypal transfers of his employer’s funds into his personal accounts. In total, he stole $1,213,500. He immediately spent nearly this entire amount gambling on sports and making payments to pornographic web camera models whom he met on the internet.

Man Jailed For Theft of $1M From Poker Pro Chad Power 

Clark County authorities have arrested and jailed one of two men believed to be responsible for a February residential burglary in which a safe containing a million dollars in cash and poker chips was taken from Las Vegas poker pro Chad Power. 32-year-old Brock Brewer of Las Vegas was arrested on Tuesday and charged with eight felonies connected to the burglary. Brewer and another man, who has yet to be identified, are believed to be responsible for the February 10 robbery at Power’s Henderson home. Police believe Brewer and the other robber trailed Power to his home at some point after observing him at a Vegas casino. On the day of the robbery, Power left his home to play poker before receiving an security-system alert.

By the time Power returned home, discovered the break-in and called the police, the robbers were long gone, though surveillance footage showed two maskless men leaving his home. A suspect, later identified as Brewer, had Power’s home safe on his shoulder as he left the scene. The police report about the theft, as noted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, noted that “Chad advised that inside the safe had been approximately $750,000 in cash in $100 bill denominations, mostly organized into $50,000 bricks. The safe had also contained approximately $250,000 in high-value poker chips.”

Mississippi Man Gets 16 Years for Armed Robbery of Casino

A Mississippi man convicted of robbing a Choctaw casino was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison. William Christopher Belk, 33, of Quitman, pleaded guilty to robbery and the use of a firearm during a crime of violence, Acting U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca said in a news release. Belk entered the Bok Homa Casino, located on the Choctaw Indian REservation near Sandersville, Mississippi, on July 9, 2020, armed with a handgun, authorities said. Once inside, he pointed the gun at a casino security officer, took several items from the officer then fled in a resort vehicle. A Sandersville Police officer spotted the vehicle and tried to arrest Belk, who fired his weapon, injuring the officer. He then drove toward Laurel, Mississippi, where officers arrested him. A federal grand jury indicted Belk in August, charging him with robbery, use of a firearm during a crime of violence and theft from an Indian gaming establishment. He pleaded guilty in February.

Owner of third cockfighting venue admits participation in illegal animal fighting operation

An Emanuel County man has admitted operating an animal fighting venture, representing the third owner of a cockfighting operation in the Southern District to enter a guilty plea to federal charges. *Wendell Allan Strickland, *67, of Swainsboro, Ga., pled guilty in U.S. District Court to two counts of Sponsoring and Exhibiting an Animal in an Animal Fighting Venture; two counts of Conducting an Illegal Gambling Business; and one count of Possession and Transport of an Animal in an Animal Fighting Venture, all felonies; and one misdemeanor charge of Attending an Animal Fighting Venture, said Acting U.S. Attorney David H. Estes. In addition to forfeiture of the property on which illegal cockfights were held, Strickland faces a possible statutory penalty of up to five years in prison and significant financial penalties, followed by up to three years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Animal fights are illegal and barbaric, and also are magnets for other criminal activity,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “With our law enforcement partners, we will continue to shut down these operations and hold the organizers accountable.”

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

Missouri Legislators at Odds Over Proper way to Regulate Illegal Gambling Machines

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing issues raised from illegal slot machines that have emerged all over the state of Missouri.  With an estimated 14,000 machines spread across the state, it’s not an insignificant issue. So it’s not surprising that some disagreement over the exact way to regulate, but the reasons for the disagreement range from too harsh punishment to the lack of expanded gambling to push in lieu of these illegal gambling machines.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch explains:

An effort to crack down on rogue slot machine operators is facing opposition from a bipartisan group of lawmakers who object to proposed penalties against business owners, among other provisions.

Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, shelved his bill Monday after other lawmakers also complained the proposed crackdown — which would clearly outlaw the slot-machine type games spreading to gas stations, bars and clubs — was not accompanied by a corresponding expansion of legal gambling in the state.

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, has said that the state must address illegal gambling before it considers new forms of legalized betting. “Until we can fix illegal gaming in this state, I don’t see how we can advance legal gaming,” Schatz said at a news conference last week.

Some lawmakers said the Cunningham’s proposed penalties for operating an illegal slot machine were too harsh, requiring the supervisor of liquor control to pull a store’s liquor license if law enforcement finds an illegal game. The operator would have 10 days to remove the games in question before the state is required to act.

The debate continues in the Missouri Senate all while various political contributions flow in from the machines manufacturers.  It’s clear that enough factions in Missouri see the necessity to regulate these machines but time will tell which direction the legislation will go.  

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/10 – 02/16

Texas parents charged after car, infant stolen while they gambled

A Texas couple who had gone into a gas station to gamble came out tofind that their vehicle and the baby who they had left inside it were missing, police said. Kimberley Cook, 21, and Anthony Blue, 29, were arrested Monday on child endangerment charges, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. The couple left their 16-month-old in a running Chrysler in the parking lot of a Shell station north of Houston around 11:30 p.m. Sunday, the sheriff said in a statement. The couple occasionally checked on the child while playing 8 Liner slot machines inside, officials said. The car was reported stolen around midnight. A park ranger discovered their 16-month-old at a playground by a park ranger. Authorities said the child was taken to a hospital and is in good condition.

Stamford Woman Who Stole Over $100K From Store Rearrested

A Stamford woman who pleaded guilty to stealing over $100,000 from a Greenwich convenience store was rearrested Monday after missing a scheduled court date, during which she was supposed to present a plan to pay back the store’s owner, the Stamford Advocate reports. Julmeus was eventually confronted by her employer and admitted to the thefts, which she also admitted to Greenwich detectives, police said. According to the Stamford Advocate, Julmeus said she used the money to pay off her husband’s gambling debts and help her family in Haiti. In July, she pleaded guilty to the larceny charge and was offered a 10-year suspended sentence and five years probation if she made restitution.

Man is killed by ‘armed’ chicken: Spectator bleeds to death after being sliced by a blade tied to a rooster

A man in India has been killed during a cockfight after a sharp blade tied to a rooster cut his abdomen. The cockfight took place in Pragadavaram village in West Godavari, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, despite a Supreme Court ban on the practice. Cockfight organisers tied the razor-sharp blade to the leg of the rooster, police said. The fatal injury was reportedly inflicted as one of the organisers held the animal in his hands, waiting to release it into the arena to fight. Without warning, the bird suddenly struggled against his grip in a bid for freedom, and the blade fatally pierced the abdomen of a spectator who was standing nearby, inflicting a deep wound. Organisers of the cock fights, called kodipandayam in the Telugu speaking states, continue to host the betting contests, despite a ban on the practice.

Longtown hotel boss stole £107,000 to fund “crippling” gambling addiction

A TRUSTED hotel manager from Longtown stole almost £107,000 from his employer over seven years to feed his ‘crippling’ addiction to gambling. Carlisle Crown Court heard today how 58-year-old Stewart McIntosh – whose £18,000 a year job as manager at the Graham Arms Hotel in Longtown came with a flat – was regarded as both a trusted employee and a friend by the hotel’s owners. Yet he carried out the thefts to pay for a gambling addiction which began 15 years ago. His defence lawyer David Wales told the court that McIntosh, of English Street, Longtown, saw his addiction spiral out of control with the advent of online gambling, which he did through his mobile phone.

Notorious leader of Hartford drug and gambling operation sentenced to life without parole in ‘brutal’ kidnapping-murder

A man Hartford police have long considered one of the most dangerous men in the city was sentenced to life without parole in federal court Friday for the kidnapping and murder a drug dealer who had been lured into a phony drug deal. Harold “Oink” Cook was the leader of a gang who used an illegal gambling parlor on Enfield Street as headquarters from which they they sold drugs and hatched schemes to rob other drug dealers. He was sentenced for the murder of 11-years ago of 35-year Charles Teasley, who was abducted, bound, beaten, stabbed and forced to hand over safe before being shot repeatedly in the head and left in a car on Colebrook Street.

High-stakes sports gambler charged in $9.6M fraud

A high-stakes sports gambler from Illinois, who was depicted on social media going all-in on a lavish lifestyle with private jets and sports cars, has been charged with defrauding an investor out of $9.6 million. Robert Gorodetsky, 27, who goes by “BigRobStyle” on social media, is facing 20 years in prison after federal charges were filed Tuesday in U.S District Court in Chicago. He was also charged with filing a false tax return, according to court documents. In December 2017, Gorodetsky was profiled in a USA Today piece titled, “Is this the future face of sports gambling? In the interview, he spoke of his advice-driven gambling business which allowed him to maintain his expensive and flashy lifestyle. On Wednesday, federal prosecutors alleged that “Big Rob” Gorodetsky defrauded an individual, “Investor A,” out of $9.6 million — after lying about how he would use the money that person invested as well as the actual returns on the cash. Records show he defrauded “Investor A” between 2014 to 2018, according to Chicago’s WBBM-TV. He spent that money to wager on sports as well as pay for living, travel and entertainment expenses — including for luxury cars and jewelry, according to court documents.

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

Illegal Slot Machine Manufacture Faces Criminal Charges In Missouri

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of illegal gambling machines that have popped up all over Missouri.  Gambling is restricted to the 13 licensed casinos along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers only.  However, new slot machines have surfaced in gas stations and other establishments that have caught the ire of law enforcement.  At first only a few cases again the establishments were filed and very little attention was given to them. Then as more state wide attention emerged, several different attempts were made to eradicate them, including a civil lawsuit by legitimate manufactures against the illegal slot machines manufacturer.  That same manufacturer is now facing criminal charges. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports:

A county prosecutor has filed illegal gambling charges against Torch Electronics, one of the largest operators of unregulated slot machines in the state. Torch, owned by Wildwood businessman Steve Miltenberger, is one of the companies whose machines have triggered a mixed response from law enforcement. 

The company is also a player in Missouri politics, contributing more than $20,000 to Gov. Mike Parson’s election effort. The filing is the first known instance of a county prosecutor in Missouri bringing charges against the company. According to a probable cause statement, two Brookfield Police Department officers on Sept. 12 removed three “slot machines” from the County Line Convenience store after speaking with store manager Tannis Williams.

Because the machines are unregulated, machine revenues don’t go to public education, there are no rules for acceptable payouts, and there are no state gambling addiction resources funded by machine revenues. Money from Torch and its owner, Steven Miltenberger, flowed to numerous politicians last year, according to Missouri Ethics Commission records.

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

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.

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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.

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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. 

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NFL Called out as Hypocritical with its First Official Casino Partnership

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many dealings with the NFL as it relates to gambling. For the longest time, the NFL has opposed sports betting and cited integrity concerns among others. Even as the Supreme Court legalized sports gambling, the NFL has been involved in lobbying efforts to keep gambling heavily regulated. There has been a shift where the NFL is engaging in name based marketing deals that allow casinos to use the NFL Shield, but limit how gambling can be mentioned. The Action Network explains:

On Thursday, the NFL announced that it signed a sponsorship deal with Caesars Entertainment to be the league’s first ever official casino partner. It was received by some as a sign that the NFL was finally coming around to cashing in on sports gambling.

It is and it isn’t. Caesars is doing the deal because they can use the NFL logo while promoting their brand. But they can’t do much more than that.

This isn’t a sports betting deal, it includes no rights to marks on boards at Caesars sportsbooks — physical or virtual. It’s not even a gaming deal: Caesars isn’t getting into daily fantasy.

It’s a money deal: Sources say the deal is worth $25 million a year and that it doesn’t include any provision for sports gambling, meaning Caesars wouldn’t automatically get a gambling designation.

One sports analyst reviewed their deals in this new gambling space, and has called out he league as being hypocritical with the actions, especially as it relates to players. The Action Network continues:

The NFL is playing a precarious game, allowing teams to do deals with casinos, and even sportsbooks, as long as they don’t mention anything about betting.

The decision by the NFL to go so slowly into the gambling space is a baffling one, from an outsider’s perspective. The NFL’s sports-betting shift is going to be the most embarrassing, which means Roger Goodell will end up eating more crow than any of his counterparts.

Remember, this is the same league that opposed players *even being in a Vegas casino*. Nearly 100 players were barred from participating in a football convention in Vegas back in 2015 because it took place in a casino.

In fact, players /still/ can’t promote casino properties. And now the league is doing a deal to … promote a casino property. Talk about hypocrisy. “NFL signing casino deal, teams signing casino deals and NFL players are still not allowed to do any endorsements with casinos,” a current NFL player texted me after I tweeted about the deal Thursday morning. “So messed up.” 

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Casino Billionaire buys Florida Casino after Amendment 3 is Passed by the People

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many efforts to expand gambling in Florida, specifically via full blown, Vegas-style resort casinos. Most efforts have failed to produce any meaningful gambling expansion. Most recently, Amendment 3 was passed by Florida Voters, meaning future gambling expansion efforts must be voted on by the people, making such gambling expansion far less likely given the current climate. So a new casino property acquisition by a well-known Las Vegas casino mogul has raised a few questions about intent. As one online source reportsPhil Ruffin has acquired a new casino property in Florida with the intent of some kind of expansion, the extent of which isn’t yet know:

Phil Ruffin is well known in the casino industry as the owner of the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The 83-year-old billionaire is looking to expand his domain and has now purchased the Casino Miami near the Miami International Airport in Florida.

The 200,000-square-foot casino is located less than 20 minutes from Downtown Miami. It features 1,000 “Vegas-style” gaming machines (and has a license for as many as 2,000) and an electronic table game area, along with live entertainment, live jai-alai and simulcast betting. The amount paid for Ruffin to acquire the casino was not released, but he said, “I look forward to entering the Miami gaming market through this acquisition. We have exciting plans for Casino Miami that we will be revealing in the near future.”

The purchase follows a state referendum vote last month that removed power to decide gaming-relating issues from lawmakers and gave it to voters. Going forward, any new gambling expansion will have to be voted on by citizens. Commercial casinos remain banned and house-banked games, such as roulette and blackjack, are only allowed by the Seminole Indian tribe Getting into Florida through Casino Miami is a way for Ruffin to develop a foothold ahead of any future expansion.

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A Brief Look at Crime 10/15 – 10/21

Gambling business manager shoots and kills nephew, who was called to calm him down

A manager at a gambling establishment shot and killed his nephew Saturday after a co-worker called the victim to calm his uncle down, Hernando deputies reported. Authorities arrested Roger Vazquez, 56 of Spring Hill, on homicide and assault charges, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office reported Sunday. Vazquez killed Raymond Correa, 44, deputies said. The incident began after 5 p.m., according to a release by Sheriff’s Office spokesman Michael Terry, at Lucky Fish Games on the 10400 block of Northcliffe Boulevard. Vazquez, a manager at Lucky Fish Games, had been “acting erratically,” witnesses told deputies, according to the release. He was waving a loaded gun inside the business. His co-worker, Laau Paselio, called the store owner, Jose Santana. Santana decided to call Vazquez’s nephew, who can usually calm his uncle down, witnesses said. Correa, the nephew, arrived at Lucky Fish Games and talked with his uncle, persuading him to unload the gun and put it down. But Vazquez then pulled out a second gun and pointed it at his nephew. Deputies did not report what led to him drawing the firearm.

Canadian man sentenced for bilking US victims out of $18M

A Canadian con man who bilked at least 60,000 U.S. residents through a cross-border telemarketing scheme has been sentenced to federal prison. A judge in Los Angeles sentenced Mark Wilson on Monday to more than 11 years behind bars. Prosecutors say the Vancouver man targeted mainly the elderly with a scheme that sold them a non-existent credit card protection service. The victims were charged about $300 for phony protection against — ironically — fraudulent credit card charges. Authorities say the scam raked in about $18 million from people in 37 states. Prosecutors say Wilson funded a lavish lifestyle that included luxury boats, a fleet of cars, Las Vegas gambling jaunts and an offshore bank account in the South Pacific. In March, Wilson was convicted of mail and wire fraud.

Accountant sentenced for embezzling millions to gamble

A 35-year-old staff accountant who embezzled more than $500,000 from a Wichita company has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison. Phillip Jelinek, of Wichita, was sentenced Tuesday for felony theft after he stole at least $587,000 over two years from A-OK Enterprises in Wichita. Prosecutors say he transferred money from the company’s PayPal accounts into his personal bank account and used some of it to gamble. The Wichita Eagle reports that the company estimated Jelinek embezzled about $1.5 million. The Sedgwick County district attorney’s office said Jelinek’s crimes forced A-OK to declare bankruptcy, lay off employees and close some Wichita locations. Jelinek asked to be placed on probation because he is seeking treatment for a gambling addiction and sold his home to help pay back the money.

Online sports bookie in Texas must serve 3 years, pay $7M

A convicted online bookie in West Texas must serve three years in federal prison and pay $7 million in what prosecutors call an illegal sports gambling and tax scam. Prosecutors say 40-year-old Jose Abelardo Dominguez of Odessa was sentenced Wednesday in Midland. Dominguez in June pleaded guilty to money laundering and tax evasion. Authorities say Dominguez, from 2011 to 2016, offered illegal opportunities for online sports bets. Dominguez in 2014 earned more than $2.3 million through the online gambling operation but reported taxable income of only about $63,000. A federal judge also ordered Dominguez to pay more than $1.9 million to the IRS, plus a nearly $5.1 million judgment. Dominguez must also forfeit real estate in Ector and Midland County and about $515,000 in confiscated cash.

Lawsuit alleges Wynn cheated to win casino license

Casino mogul Steve Wynn and the company he founded lied and covered up misconduct to dupe Massachusetts into granting a license for a $2 billion casino, a former rival alleges in a federal lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed Monday in Boston’s federal court, says Sterling Suffolk Racecourse would have prevailed over Wynn Resorts had there been an “honest competition.” Instead, Wynn Resorts fixed the application process and concealed Wynn’s sexual misconduct to illegally secure a license for the Everett casino that’s scheduled to open in June, the lawsuit alleges. Wynn resigned as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts in February, and the company renamed its casino from Wynn Boston Harbor to Encore Boston Harbor after sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against him. Wynn denies the allegations. “The Wynn Defendants were granted a license to operate their casino on a toxic waste site loaded with levels of arsenic still so high that a child day care center would not be permitted to be housed there, even after the site was remediated and the regulations amended to countenance higher levels,” says the lawsuit, which alleges Wynn broke racketeering laws.

Former Hudson Valley Comptroller Embezzled $2.5 Million

A Hudson Valley man, employed by two local companies, embezzled over $2.5 million to fund his gambling and more. On Thursday, Mark Cina, 56, of Poughkeepsie was sentenced to 41 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion. “Mark Cina embezzled millions of dollars to line his pockets at the great expense and suffering of his trusting employer, a Hudson Valley entrepreneur and small businessman,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a press release. “Theft like the defendant’s is intolerable, and today’s sentencing shows that an employee’s choice to engage in such a crime is a choice to go to prison.” A complaint unsealed in Southern District of New York court in July 2017, allegedCina embezzled over $2.5 million from two Town of Poughkeepsie manufacturing companies where he was comptroller, over the course of at least seven years. One company’s work included a solar-powered ring of lights encircling the top of MetLife Stadium. The other local company molded plastic.

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