Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

Advertisements

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


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.” 

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


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.

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


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.

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


UPDATE: MGM makes “Outrageous” Offer to Shooting Victims it’s Suing – Gets called out for PR Spin Attempt

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the MGM lawsuit that shocked so many. MGM’s hotel and casino, Mandalay Bay, was involved in worst mass shooting in modern American history. In what was seen as an unprecedented move, MGM decided to preemptively sue the victims families in an effort to stop any potential liability lawsuits they had and might occur. There are nearly 2,000 people that MGM is suing and they have reached out to try an offer a sort of an extremely strange deal that has been called out as a shameless PR stunt. The Associated Press explains: 

MGM Resorts International drew criticism Tuesday for saying hundreds of survivors of the Las Vegas mass shooting, who are being sued by the casino operator, could opt to have the money that will be used to serve them a lawsuit instead donated to a charity.

Serving defendants is a crucial step in a civil lawsuit. It informs a defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against him or her, provides the individual a copy of the complaint and starts running a 21-day deadline for the person to respond to the lawsuit. Eglet said the firms representing most of the victims have not been authorized to accept the legal notices. That would force MGM to find and serve each of the 1,977 people it sued.

The company […has] been working to notify them as it faces a standard 90-day deadline. MGM told the victims’ attorneys it would rather make the donations to charities than spend the money to pay people to serve the legal notices.

“The money spent on personal service of process — up to $250 per person — could be better directed to do some affirmative good,” MGM’s attorneys wrote in the letter shared with The Associated Press. MGM offered to make a $500 charitable donation for each person who waives being served or authorizes an attorney to accept service on their behalf, but a victims’ lawyer quickly called it all “nonsense.” Attorney Robert Eglet, part of a group representing most of the victims, said the company is just trying to “spin” its attempt to save money on serving legal notices. “It will cost the MGM significantly more than $250 to serve them,” Eglet said. “This is just more outrageous conduct by them.”

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