Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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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.”

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NFL reverses Gambling Advertising Policy – Dallas Cowboys first to sign with Casino

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the National Football League’s dealings with gambling over the years. They have long held the policy to fight against additional legalization of sports betting and they vigilantly fought each of New Jersey’s attempts over the years to expand sport betting. Even after the recent landmark decision by the Supreme Court to legalize sports betting to all venues that chose to regulate it, the NFL pushed for federal oversight to an issue that is currently at the discretion of each individual state. They have had some criticism directed their way for their willingness to engage in advertising with casinos and other gambling establishments, but they did heavily regulate the process. So given the shifting political and legal landscapes, and their willingness to engage in some form of advertising with the gambling industry, its unclear how their newest position should be viewed – selling out and being guilty of hypocrisy as they say one thing to the legislators, yet hold out their hands to garner revenue from the gambling providers, or a sports league that is simply changing with the times and embracing the inevitable. Sports Pro Online explains this new policy shift: 

The National Football League (NFL) team owners have agreed to permit franchises to sell sponsorship deals to casinos that work alongside bookmakers and betting companies.

While any casino involved in such an arrangement will still be prohibited from directly advertising its associated sportsbook in its partnership with an NFL team, the league’s business ventures committee has relaxed the main rule that had previously banned any bookmaker-related sponsorship.

The rule change will allow teams to receive advertising from any casinos and fantasy sites, giving them permission to broadcast the adverts during preview and post-match programmes, as well as during preseason games.

As part of the two-way agreement, both teams and casinos will have the opportunity to use each other’s brand logos in any advertising. However, NFL franchises will not be permitted to take revenue shares for any business driven to casinos and gambling or betting sites. Under the terms of the new rules, stadia are now also able to accept casinos as naming rights partners.

After the announced change by the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys because the first team to form an official partnership. Its very clear the NFL sees the potential billion dollar windfall from gambling advertising as an opportunity it wasn’t willing to pass up. An online source explains:

The deal between WinStar and the Cowboys marks the first time in NFL history that a casino has been granted official designation as a team’s exclusive partner, granting exclusive use of a team’s logos and trademarks. An amendment passed by NFL owners created the opportunity for casinos to obtain official partnerships with NFL teams.

The announcement was made less than 24 hours after the American Gaming Association released a Nielson Sports study that showed legalized sports betting would increase league revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars per year, with most of that money coming from higher viewership and advertising sales.

The Nielsen Sports study determined the NFL could increase its annual revenue by as much as $2.3 billion. 

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


UPDATE: Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Joins Legal Battle to Prevent Dangerously Deceptive Decoupling Greyhound Bill from Appearing on the Florida Ballot

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent attempts to completely remove the gambling associated with greyhound racing from Florida. This was not something that passed in the legislature this year, so the idea was to propose the idea through the constitutional amendment committee. It started a as a full removal, but it didn’t have the votes to pass as is, so it quickly morphed into a very dangerous and quite frankly deceptive decoupling bill. If you remove the greyhound racing, but allow slot machines and other types of gambling, all that you have done is created a network of mini-casinos.

Many don’t like the idea of the dog races, so they wouldn’t ordinarily stop at those places to gamble, but if no races exist, then its simply a convenient place to stop and gamble, and that can lead to all kinds of negative effects for Florida families. Many see this new amendment as simply eliminating the greyhound racing and gambling all together, so it’s a very deceptive bill. Beyond those reasons, there is also the problems with using the Florida constitution to be the legal space to enact such a change, especially when such a change should be done through normal legislation. The desire to solve this problem the proper way, has generated a lawsuit, and now some major support and legitimacy to the position has been established with a new addition to the legal team. Florida Politics explains:

Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Major B. Harding has joined the Florida Greyhound Association (FGA) legal team. The addition of Harding, a high court appointee of the late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, was announced Wednesday by association general counsel Jeff Kottkamp. Harding served on the Florida Supreme Court 1991-2002; Kottkamp was Florida’s lieutenant governor from 2007-11 under Gov. Charlie Crist.

“The suit requests that the court strike Amendment 13 from the general election ballot,” Harding said in a statement. “The basis for our challenge is that the ballot title and summary do not fairly inform the voters of what they are being asked to vote on … In order to maintain the integrity of both the election process and our Constitution, we believe the amendment should be struck.”

Among other claims, the suit says the ballot title and summary “… fail to inform voters that its passage would essentially expand gambling by allowing pari-mutuel facilities in Florida to convert to mini-casinos.” The amendment would allow other gambling activities such as card games to continue at tracks after dog racing ends.

Kottkamp and Paul Hawkes, a former appellate judge and now also on the FGA legal team, have previously opined against the measure, saying the CRC “was never intended to be a ‘super-Legislature’ or a vehicle to propose putting issues in the constitution that ‘can’t get through the Legislature.’

“And, it was certainly never intended they would place proposals on the ballot merely because they were thought to be a ‘good idea,’ ” they said.

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New Jersey Finally Legalizes Sports Betting just in time for World Cup – The Largest Gambling Event of the Year

Casino Watch Focus has reported on New Jersey’s ongoing efforts to legalize sports betting. After 4 years, they have finally passed successful legislation given the Supreme Court’s decision allow what might go down as the largest expansion of gambling in our history. Ironically, New Jersey wasn’t the first state to legalize sports betting, but now that they have, they have their sites on the World Cup. An online source explains:

New Jersey became the third state in the country with a full menu of legal sports betting options on Thursday, as the Monmouth Park Racetrack and the Borgata casino both started taking wagers before noon. Monmouth Park had the honor of taking the first bet at 10:30 am, with the Borgata officially opening their sportsbook a half-hour later. In was [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy who had the honor of placing the first legal sports bet in state history. He actually made two, each for $20: one on Germany to win the World Cup and a longshot bid on the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup next season.

It’s estimated to be a massive, worldwide betting event and possibly the single largest betting even of the year.

It is not an exaggeration to say that billions of people around the globe will tune in to watch the drama unfold in Russia over the next month. The World Cup is also the biggest gambling event of the year. Billions will be wagered, both legally and illegally. Since the Supreme Court struck down the law restricting sports betting in the U.S. on May 14, 2018, states are lining up to legalize the practice and cash in on extra tax revenue.

Any time gambling events this big come up, the worry for problem gambling and gambling addiction comes up. Below is some information that explains why and how you might help someone with gambling addiction:

Dr Gary Johnson, Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director at The Priory Hospital Chelmsford, considers major sporting events a particularly risky time for gamblers:

“The upcoming summer sports events and in particular, the World Cup, will see increased gambling across the board”, he points out. “Much of that will be temporary but for gamblers with a problem, that upturn in gambling may well continue”. Dr Jackson highlights that all aspects of gambling need to be considered in trying to reduce the risk of people becoming addicted.  “From the accessibility of gambling sites to shop advertisements, to awareness campaigns about the risks involved and the availability of resources for those with a problem (or worried they may be developing one) awareness and proactive action is key.”

If you are concerned, Dr Jackson offers this advice to help those with a gambling problem: “Help them by encouraging them to consider the downsides to their addiction”. And to the sufferer themselves, he advises: “Be open about bank accounts, consider handing over credit and debit cards to a trusted family member, manage finances with a family member and consider attending Gamblers Anonymous or seeking other addictions specialist help.”

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


UPDATE: Florida Greyhound Amendment Revealed to be a Decoupling Effort that could Expand Gambling and Create Mini-Casinos – Will Appear on Nov Ballot

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the suggested Constitutional Amendment that was sold as an amendment to ban greyhound racing. The unknown element was whether or not the actual language would ban the industry all together, thereby shutting down each track, or if the gambling that’s allowed currently would remain, thereby decoupling the dog racing from the ability to offer simulcasting or free standing slot machine parlors. The Committee has formulated the language and pushed the issue out as a constitutional amendment that will be up for vote by the people in Nov. An online source explains: 

After repeated and heavily lobbied legislative debates in recent years about the future of the greyhound industry, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission on Monday voted 27-10 to put the proposed ban on the November ballot.

The measure would allow people to continue to bet at pari-mutuel facilities on greyhound races simulcast from other states.

State Sen. Tom Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican who sponsored the proposal, said allowing betting on races from elsewhere was needed for the measure to advance. 

It appears that early efforts might have been to ban the industry out right, but as Sen. Lee stated, the amendment wouldn’t pass the committee unless it was a decoupling effort. However, this would be far worse than legislation that decouples, as this would be part of the Florida constitution, making any changes to the policy so much harder. In a joint guest article to Florida Politics, Jeff Kottkamp and Paul Hawks outline why this issue shouldn’t be in a constitutional amendment:

Most individuals would agree that the purpose of a constitution is to establish the basic structure of government and the fundamental rights of citizens. The CRC’s greyhound racing proposal is a classic example of a proposal that fails to rise to the level of a constitutional matter. Former Chief Judge of the Florida Supreme Court *Major Harding* is one of many legal scholars who shares the view that the greyhound amendment should not be in the Constitution.

In a column Justice Harding recently wrote, he identified the proposed greyhound amendment as one of three CRC proposals that do not belong in the Constitution noting that Florida’s Constitution is already three times longer than the U.S. Constitution and is “riddled with countless, ordinary laws and specifics of government policy and regulation, such as confinement of pregnant pigs, that lessen its status.” The Editorial Board of the Tallahassee Democrat/USA TODAY NETWORK shares his view and correctly stated in an editorial that the greyhound proposal “ … can be done by statute and doesn’t need to be in the Constitution.”

But beyond the economic impact, the gross misrepresentations from the advocates, the unfairness in preserving monopolies while creating — in essence — mini-casinos, there is a much more important reason that the greyhound proposal should not be advanced by the CRC — it simply does not belong in the Constitution. 

It is expected that the greyhound industry will take legal action to prevent the amendment from reaching the ballot, but there is a good chance it will make the ballot. To that end, a reasonable position to take might be to vote against that amendment and vote for Amendment 3 that gives Florida votes the final say in gambling expansion. Then the issue can be dealt with in the legislature and the people can support or reject the final decision by statewide vote. 

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


The 4 Major Players Sports Association and the PGA join the MLB and NBA Regarding Having Their Cut of the Potential Sports Betting Action

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing Supreme Court case and the history leading up to the potential legalization of sports betting. New Jersey has taken years of attempts to legalize sports betting in their state to the Highest Court and a ruling is expected soon. With the prevailing thought being the Supreme Court will legalize sports betting outside of Las Vegas, many are looking forward to the landscape, and positioning themselves to benefit from the gambling expansion that would follow. Recently, Major League Baseball and the National Baseball Association started suggesting legislation to various states that would provide them with a cut of the gambling action, or in their words, and integrity fee. Now it would appear the PGA has decided to make their position known, and they are supporting an integrity fee as well. An online source explains:

With Illinois the latest state to consider legalizing sports betting, the PGA Tour took the opportunity to voice its support for initiatives backed by the NBA and Major League Baseball.

The revelation of professional golf’s stance on the issue of gambling was disclosed at a hearing of the Illinois Senate Gaming Committee on Tuesday. It was the first time that the tour voiced a definitive opinion on the subject.

So chalk up another professional ruling body’s support for the controversial integrity fee. The NBA and MLB have spent considerable sums trying to persuade several state’s legislators in attempting to get what amounts to a royalty from any potential sports betting a state may implement. The two leagues have a reported 30-registered lobbyists working the halls of 16 state congresses.

It wasn’t just the PGA that voiced their support for a seat at this potential gambling table. In a joint statement released by the MLB Players associationit would appear all four major players groups wants to be a part of ensuring this so called “integrity”:

“Given the pending Supreme Court decision regarding the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA), representatives of the MLBPA, NBPA, NFLPA and NHLPA have been working together on the legal, commercial, practical, and human consequences of allowing sports betting to become mainstream. The time has come to address not just who profits from sports gambling, but also the costs. Our unions have been discussing the potential impact of legalized gambling on players’ privacy and publicity rights, the integrity of our games and the volatility on our businesses. Betting on sports may become widely legal, but we cannot allow those who have lobbied the hardest for sports gambling to be the only ones controlling how it would be ushered into our businesses. The athletes must also have a seat at the table to ensure that players’ rights and the integrity of our games are protected.”

As far as the likelihood of the Supreme Court legalizing sports betting by declaring the PAPSA unconstitutional, the mood has slightly shifted. Initially the prevailing thought was that the Court took up the case and then asked the questions they did during oral arguments because they planned to reverse the lower court. This could still be the case, but given the delay in the actual ruling, some are now worried the Court may now uphold the constitutionality of the PAPSA. An online source reports:

It’s been four months since the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard arguments regarding the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, the current federal law that prohibits sports betting in all but four American states.

During the December 4 hearing, many in the courtroom felt a majority of the justices were on New Jersey’s side in the state arguing that PASPA violates the Constitution and anti-commandeering interpretations of the Tenth Amendment. But with an opinion still not issued, there’s a growing concern among repeal proponents that the court might not produce a favorable decision.

Many believed March 5 would be the day SCOTUS unveiled its PASPA opinion. In February, online sportsbook BetDSI was taking wagers on the release date and had March 5 the favorite at even money. It was followed by April 2 (+150), April 30 (+300), May 14 (+750), May 21 (+1000), and May 29 (+2500). The sportsbook has since removed the market, as handicapping the line is nearly impossible as SCOTUS provides no information as to when opinions will be released.* The next most probable release date is April 30, as the Supreme Court tends to publish opinions on Mondays when the court is in session, but not hearing arguments.

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