Meetings & Information


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Do casinos improve lives? The Atlantic forcefully says no

The Atlantic, one of America's most influential magazines, has ripped the curtain off predatory gambling in its December edition. It's one of the most compelling and revealing stories ever written about the issue. Please read it and then share it widely on Facebook, Twitter and your email networks.

The country's political establishment (both on the Left and the Right) has forced predatory gambling onto working class, rural and urban Americans alike over the last twenty years, casting it as "an economic engine." One of the major results has been a lower standard of living for almost all of us, regardless whether you gamble or not.

Another tragic result has been the destruction of millions of American lives. Scott Stevens, the primary focus of The Atlantic story, is one of them.

It's inevitable that predatory gambling will be sunset in the United States. It's not a question of if but when.


Les Bernal
National Director
Stop Predatory Gambling
If you believe what we believe in, please support our work by contributing $10 or more today to help sustain it.

Improving the lives of the American people, using education and advocacy to free us of the dishonesty, exploitation, addiction and lower standard of living that commercial gambling spreads.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hacker posts stolen Casino Rama files online PENN NATIONAL

Hacker posts stolen Casino Rama files online

Stolen Casino Rama customer data has surfaced online one day after the casino announced it had been the victim of a cyberattack.
On Thursday, Ontario’s Casino Rama announced that an “anonymous 

threat agent” had infiltrated its data networks and made off with “past and present customer, employee and vendor information” dating as far back as 2004. The company became aware of the breach on November 4.
On Friday, Toronto’s CityNews reported that the anonymous hacker had posted some of the stolen data online, along with a warning that the entire data trove would be posted within 72 hours.
The hacker’s post included a note saying it was “extremely simple” to access Casino Rama’s files and that “no security systems were in place leaving the whole casino network wide open.” The hacker slammed the casino for convincing the public “that they take the protection of data and customer information seriously when really they don’t.” Neither the hacker nor Casino Rama have so far publicly indicated that the breach was part of an attempt to extort the casino.
CityNews said some of the posted data includes customer credit and betting histories, collection agency info related to a $100k debt owed by an Ontario resident, copies of faxes sent from the casino to banks regarding authorization to maintain credit for use at Rama, and annual performance reviews of Rama staff members.
As further evidence that when it rains, it pours, Friday also brought word of a C$50m privacy breach class action lawsuit proposed by Charney Lawyers PC and Sutts, Strosberg LLP on behalf of Casino Rama staff, customers and vendors. The attorneys have set up a website so that affected individuals can add their name to the suit.
Casino Rama is the Canadian province’s only First Nations-owned casino. Its gaming operations are managed by US regional casino operator Penn National Gaming. The casino has stressed that its games weren’t subject to the data breach.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Bank manager spent $1 million in embezzled money on online gambling

Bank manager spent $1 million in embezzled money on online gambling

MATTHEW LANE • NOV 4, 2016 AT 3:16 PM

GREENEVILLE — A former bank manager has agreed to plead guilty to federal tax evasion charges after he embezzled nearly $1 million from various accounts and lost the money through online gambling websites.
Kenneth Miller agreed to plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Greeneville last month to a five-count information charging him with theft by a bank officer/employee and four counts of tax evasion.
Miller faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on the theft charge and five years in prison and a $100,000 fine on the tax evasion charges. A change of plea hearing is scheduled for Nov. 28.
The charges are in connection to Miller’s embezzlement of nearly $1 million while he worked as the manager of a First Tennessee Bank location in Greeneville. Prosecutors say the embezzlement took place from April 2012 to February 2016.
According to court records, Miller started working at First Tennessee Bank in May 2000 and moved to various branches within the company until finally becoming the Financial Center Manager of the company’s Greeneville Main Street location.
First Tennessee fired Miller in February once the embezzlement was discovered.
Prosecutors say Miller misapplied $1.16 million from numerous savings accounts, certificates of deposit, lines of credit and individual retirement accounts. However, not all of the money was obtained by Miller.
Court records show Miller moved some of the money between accounts to conceal earlier misapplications of funds. Shortly after discovering the loss, First Tennessee reimbursed most of the losses sustained by account holders, court records state.
As far as personally benefiting from the embezzlement, prosecutors say Miller took just over $967,000, which was lost or spent at online gambling sites DraftKings and FanDuel.
In addition to the embezzlement, Miller filed false federal tax returns from 2012 through 2015, evading approximately $161,000 in federal income taxes. The total loss caused by Miller’s actions was $1.08 million, court records state.
Prosecutors are seeking an $883,000 judgment against Miller.
Once the story of Miller’s embezzlement broke earlier this year, his wife, Erica, filed two lawsuits in Greene County Chancery Court against DraftKings and FanDuel seeking the recovery of gambling losses. Erica Miller claims in her lawsuits that the DraftKings and FanDuel websites violate Tennessee gambling laws.
The two cases were transferred to federal court earlier this year, but have since been remanded to state court.

Andrew Caspersen ’99 sentenced four years in prison for securities fraud

News & Notes: Andrew Caspersen ’99 sentenced four years in prison for securities fraud

Casperson defrauded investors using an elaborate Ponzi scheme; he encouraged victims to invest their money with him, promising high returns, but instead used the money to fund his lavish lifestyle and gambling addiction.
Caspersen was arrested on March 26, 2016, at LaGuardia Airport after returning from a family vacation in Florida with wife Christina Frank Caspersen ’02 and their two children. On July 6, Caspersen, a former partner and managing director at investment bank PJT Partners’ Park Hill Group, pleaded guilty to one charge of security fraud and one charge of wire fraud.
Among others, victims of Caspersen’s Ponzi scheme included his mother and two brothers, the parents of his former girlfriend, Catherine MacRae ’00, who was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and acquaintance James McIntyre ’99. The Moore Charitable Foundation, the charitable arm of venerable hedge fund manager Louis Bacon’s firm Moore Capital Management, was defrauded out of $25 million. Caspersen lost most of the money he gathered in risky stock trading.
“Caspersen allegedly put on a shameful charade – creating fake email addresses, setting up misleading domain names, and inventing fictional financiers,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a press statement.
The four-year sentence is notably light, as federal prosecutors had sought to sentence Caspersen to 15 years in prison, arguing his fraud would have continued were he not arrested. The maximum prison term on each of the two counts is 20 years. Rakoff is known to be opposed to federal sentencing guidelines, which encourage long prison terms and lack of consideration of mitigating circumstances.
“No purpose will be served by letting him rot in prison for years on end,” Rakoff said during the sentencing.
Caspersen’s light sentence was due to his legal team, led by Paul Shechtman, arguing that his mental health issues caused him to commit his crime. Shechtman claimed that Caspersen’s gambling addiction began during his undergraduate years at the University.  In an uncommon move, Rakoff allowed Yale University School of Medicine psychiatry professor Dr. Marc Potenza to testify that Caspersen’s fraud was due to a gambling addiction. Caspersen told Rakoff that he has suffered from depression and alcoholism and that he spent 16 days in the hospital for mental health issues following his March arrest.
Caspersen graduated from the University with a degree in economics and a thesis entitled “The Future of the NYSE Specialist” before enrolling at Harvard Law School.

Gambling addict and mother-of-six talks of her 'crippling guilt' after plundering $500,000 of her family's savings and spending it on poker machines

Gambling addict and mother-of-six talks of her 'crippling guilt' after plundering $500,000 of her family's savings and spending it on poker machines

  • Kate Seselja ran a earth moving business with her husband, Phil
  • But she wasted  half a million dollars gambling on pokie machines
  • The mother-of-six plundered their savings account to feed the secret habit
  • She said her addiction started at 18 years old when she won $1,000
  • Now 37, she has started a support group to help other problem gamblers 
A mother-of-six was crippled with guilt after feeding $500,000 into pokie machines to feed her gambling addiction.
Kate Seselja, 37, who ran a successful earth moving business with her husband Phil, told that's life! magazine that the pull of the pokies was a 'toxic hypnosis' and at the height of her addiction she secretly burned through $30,000 of their savings in a month.
Pregnant with her sixth child and engrossed in a pokie machine addiction despite the desperate pleas of her husband, she finally realised she had hit rock bottom
'Toxic hypnosis': Kate Seselja was hooked on the pokies after winning $1,000 as an 18-year-old
'Toxic hypnosis': Kate Seselja was hooked on the pokies after 
winning $1,000 as an 18-year-old
Mrs Seselja, from rural NSW, became hooked on gambling as an 18-year-old when she won $1,000 from a $20 bet.
The cravings went away for a short time in her early 20s, when she settled down with Phil and had the first of her six children.
But the urges came flooding back one night when she saw the flashing lights of the poker machines while visiting the pub with her mothers' group. 
'Before I knew what I was doing, I'd put some coins in the slot. It was like a toxic hypnosis took over,' she told that's life! 
In the months that followed Mrs Seselja secretly fed her growing addiction through the family's savings account. 
'That then continued on a path forward of over 12 years of just cycling in and out of addiction, self-loathing, shame, fear and regret,' she told Fairfax Media.  
'I thought it was a cycle I would never be able to escape.'
She estimated that in 12 years she had wasted about half a million dollars in her frequent gambling binges. 
'I'd wasted so much money and was crippled by guilt,' she told that's life!
The epiphany that finally broke the cycle came as she sat in front of a pokie machine while pregnant with her sixth child. 
With her husband ringing every few minutes and pleading with her to come home, she realised once and for all that she needed to tackle the problem head on. 
She sought counselling, re-built relationships with her family, and eventually started The Hope Project to help others battling addiction. 
'Although I lost 15 years I've finally taken control. 
'I'll never waste my money on those machines again - you can bank on that.' 
If you think you have a problem with gambling, call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 or visit:  

Friday, November 4, 2016

Mass. likely voters skeptical of Question 1 allowing 2nd slots parlor, Western New England University poll says

They argue thousands of Massachusetts children are stuck on charter ... Revere voters rejected a localslots ballot question last month but McCain can ...

The $3.2 million campaign to open a second slots parlor in Massachusetts has been secretly financed by a team of developers who brought gambling ...

Mass. likely voters skeptical of Question 1 allowing 2nd slots parlor, Western New England University poll says

By Gintautas Dumcius
November 04, 2016

Fifty percent of likely voters in Massachusetts aren't interested in allowing the state to set up a second slots parlor, according to a new poll from the Western New England University Polling Institute.
Thirty-two percent said they back the proposal, known as Question 1. Seventeen percent said they're undecided.
Tim Vercellotti, the Polling Institute's director, called the high number of undecided voters "usual" as Nov. 8 draws closer.
"Our interviewers reported many instances in which survey respondents simply did not understand the term 'slots parlor' in the question," Vercellotti said in a statement accompanying survey results.
"The ballot that voters will view on Tuesday has a lengthy explanation of the term, and the actual results of the ballot question could be very different from what we are seeing in our survey," he said.
Under the Massachusetts expanded gambling law passed in 2011, the Gaming Commission can authorize up to three casinos and one slot parlor.
The state's sole slots parlor, operating under the name Plainridge Park Casino, located near the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border, opened in June 2015. The MGM casino in Springfield and the Wynn Resorts casino in Everett, north of Boston, are expected to open in the coming years.
Developer Eugene McCain is the primary backer of the question that would allow a second slots parlor. He is arguing approval of the question will bring jobs to Massachusetts and he's seeking to place it in Revere.
But Revere voters rejected a non-binding referendum on allowing the casino to be sited in their city. Opponents of the question say it was "written by one casino developer, for one purpose: his own financial gain," according to a summary of arguments provided by the state's elections division.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Driver in tour bus crash found fans among gamblers, but had a checkered safety record

Driver in tour bus crash found fans among gamblers, but had a checkered safety record

By Paloma Esquivel, Louis Sahagun, Esmeralda Bermudez and Richard Winton

Those who boarded the white tour bus on a Koreatown corner looked forward to seeing Teodulo Elias Vides and escaping on one of his casino trips.
Vides, both bus owner and driver, would stand on the sidewalk where Olympic Boulevard crosses Vermont Avenue, greeting regulars. He doled out friendly advice, such as making sure to eat before placing bets that could leave you empty-handed. He was unfazed when someone couldn’t afford the trip on his USA Holiday bus. Pay me later from your winnings, he would say.
“He was always friendly, always jovial,” said Maggie Monterroso, who began traveling to casinos on Vides’ bus nearly a decade ago. “He cared a lot about us.”
On Sunday, Vides and 12 of his passengers died when his bus collided with a big rig on the 10 Freeway as he drove his guests back to Los Angeles after a night of gambling at a casino near the Salton Sea.
The crash, the deadliest in California in several decades, has focused attention on his company’s safety record and on the subculture of independent coach operators who ferry gamblers on a budget to casinos around the region.
Vides, 59, had been previously sued at least twice for negligence after collisions with vehicles, one of which resulted in three deaths. His company received at least six “unsatisfactory” ratings from the California Highway Patrol. Vides had also been cited in several counties for traffic violations.
Vides was in the business for years, driving buses filled with older passengers to casinos across the Southland, his next-door neighbor said. Some nights, he parked the tour bus on the street near his apartment.
Customers said he ran the business with his daughter and that his destinations included Las Vegas, Santa Barbara and San Diego.
According to federal records, USA Holiday is an Alhambra-based company that owns one bus and employs one driver.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board plan to examine Vides’ background, as well as a variety of other factors in Sunday’s early morning crash, including the role of road conditions and lighting, an agency member said Monday.
Vides and his company had been named in a civil suit after a USA Holiday bus crashed into a Honda Civic on the northbound 215 Freeway in Riverside on May 6, 2007. The driver of the sedan, Sylvia Saucedo, and two of her passengers, Maria Llamas and Julio Morales, were killed. Llamas’ relatives sued Vides and the bus driver, Paulino Camacho Ceballos, the following year, alleging personal injury and negligence.
Lawyers for Vides, however, argued that the Honda was traveling at an “unreasonable rate of speed” and that Saucedo lost control of the vehicle and ricocheted off the center divider wall. The case appears to have been dismissed after the plaintiffs failed to respond to discovery requests.
Vides had faced an earlier lawsuit when a USA Holiday bus collided with a car on the westbound 60 Freeway in Riverside in June 2003. Two of the car’s passengers sued USA Holiday as well as Ceballos, alleging the bus was negligently operated and responsible for the crash. The case was settled in 2006. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in court documents.
In September 2005, Vides was cited in Riverside County for speeding on the highway in excess of 70 mph, according to court records. He had been pulled over in a 1996 white bus on the eastbound 10 Freeway just west of Main Street near Cabazon. He was ordered to attend traffic school but according to the records, traffic school was "not completed as ordered" and his bail of $151.80 was forfeited.
In 2007, Vides was cited by the California Public Utilities Commission for operating with an expired permit.
Records show that Vides was pulled over again in a white bus in May 2011 on the eastbound 10 Freeway, not far from where Sunday’s crash occurred. At the time, he was cited for speeding and driving with a suspended license. He initially failed to appear in court and a bench warrant was issued for him, with bail set at $2,500. A month later, the case was dismissed after Vides showed proof of a valid driver’s license.
Vides also had citations in Santa Barbara County, where he was pulled over for lane straddling twice in 2011, according to court records.
It’s not clear why USA Holiday received “unsatisfactory” ratings from the CHP after 2005 and 2010 inspections of controlled substances and alcohol testing requirements. Detailed reports were not immediately available.
The company also received “unsatisfactory” CHP ratings during inspections of its terminal in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010, according to the agency’s online database. The ratings came in various categories, including maintenance, driver, equipment and terminal.
Jeff Picardi, a supervisor in the CHP Border Division’s motor carrier safety unit, said he could not comment on the details of the ratings without the full reports but noted that there are a number of reasons why the inspections might have resulted in unsatisfactory ratings. Generally, drivers are given an opportunity to correct deficiencies, he said. If an owner continues to be out of compliance, the CHP may make a recommendation to the Public Utilities Commission or to the Department of Transportation for further action.    
USA Holiday was last inspected by federal transportation officials in April of last year and received a satisfactory rating, according to FreightConnect, a private data provider. No issues with the coach or driver were reported. 
The company drove 68,780 miles in 2015, the most recent data available, federal records indicate.
On Monday, a makeshift memorial grew in the place where Vides once cheerfully met customers. Dozens stopped to leave candles and notes. Some tucked flowers into the trunk of a palm tree.
Rosa Maria Cabello arrived in the early day’s drizzle, desperate for information on friends. She had heard that a woman she knew was among the dead. 
“My soul hurts to think she’s gone,” Cabello said.
Cabello, 79, said the long overnight trips to the casino with Vides had given many seniors like her a sense of community, of family.
“Your kids, they forget about you,” she said. “This was our distraction. A place to forget everything and just enjoy.”
The bus had been on its way to Los Angeles from Red Earth Casino in Thermal, near the Salton Sea, when it slammed into the back of a big rig. Most of those who died appeared to have been sitting toward the front of the bus. CHP officials said the bus appeared to have made no attempt to brake as it careened into the tractor trailer shortly after 5:15 a.m.
By Monday evening, officials had publicly identified all 13 people killed in the crash. In addition to Vides, they included Tony Mai, 50; Zoila Aguilera, 72; Concepcion Corvera, 57; Dora Galvez de Rodriguez, 69; Ana Gomes de Magallon, 71; Milagros Gonzales, 72; Gustavo Green, 62; Isabel Jimenez Hernandez, 66; Yolanda Mendoza, 69; Rosa Ruiz, 53; Elvia Sanchez, 52; and Aracely Tije, 63, according to Riverside County coroner’s records.
All were identified as residents of Los Angeles, except Corvera, who lived in Palmdale.
The bus was not equipped with seat belts when it ran into the back of the truck, hurling the victims into the air, officials said. As a result, their fatal injuries were consistent with those caused by striking blunt and jagged objects.
An additional 31 people were injured, including the driver of the big rig. He was identified as Bruce Guilford, 50, a resident of Covington, Ga.
The injured victims ranged in age from 26 to 76 years old; six of them suffered major trauma, according to a list handed out by CHP officials.
On Monday, four patients remained in critical condition at Desert Regional Medical Center, the Coachella Valley’s only trauma center. One patient was in serious condition, another in fair condition and nine patients had been treated and released, hospital spokesman Richard Ramhoff said.

Esquivel and Sahagun reported from Palm Springs; Bermudez and Winton from Los Angeles. Times staff writers Corina Knoll and Brittny Mejia contributed to this report.

Star Casino violence three times worse than official crime statistics, leaked report says

Star Casino violence three times worse than official crime statistics, leaked report says

Sydney's Star Casino has been accused of hiding the full extent of violence at the venue with leaked documents showing nearly two-thirds of assaults on site are not being reported to police.
RELATED STORY: Casino at 'major risk' from organised crime after gaming inspector exodus
RELATED STORY: Full list of violent incidents at Star Casino not reported to police

Key points:

  • Of the 111 violent incidents in six months, police weren't called to 75
  • Violence included nightclub brawls, sexual and physical attacks against women
  • The leaked review recommends changing casino licence to enforce reporting of violence

Figures contained in an internal NSW Government review of violence at the casino show the number of serious incidents are more than three times higher than official crime statistics and almost five times higher than reported to senior casino managers.
The leaked NSW Department of Justice review suggests this could have serious ramifications for the casino's licence to operate in Sydney.
In the review Liquor and Gaming NSW inspectors analysed the daily incident reports sent to the department between March and August this year.
Inspectors noted many violent incidents had been recorded as "behaviour" or "forced removals" in the computer system instead of assaults.
Officials then formally asked the casino for corresponding security reports or surveillance footage.
They found there were 111 violent incidents in six months and police were not called to 75 of them.
Unreported incidents included a patron whose leg was broken at the Marquee nightclub inside the casino, a melee involving five patrons, people being put into chokeholds and a security guard head-butting a patron.
Seventy-nine per cent of violent incidents were also not included in a monthly report to casino executives that is also passed onto the State Government.
However, the source incident reports were routinely passed onto Liquor and Gaming NSW.

Atlantic City Approves Financial Recovery Plan

Atlantic City Approves Financial Recovery Plan

State Lawmakers Considering Plan This Week

Atlantic City officials are trying to prevent a state takeover of city finances in a plan approved this week. Lawmakers in New Jersey’s Assembly Judiciary Committee held a hearing Wednesday to vet the proposal.
Atlantic City has about $500 million in debt, thanks in part to its gambling industry contracting from a $5.2 billion market in 2006 to $2.56 billion in 2015. Five casinos have closed over the past three years.
More than 100 public employees will be laid off under the plan. A major component is being able to settle a tax issue with Borgata, the city’s highest grossing casino.
Borgata is owed $150 million in tax refunds, and Atlantic City is planning on being able to settle for about $100 million. The casino hasn’t formally accepted the settlement.
According to the Associated Press, other parts of the plan to pay off the debt include selling the Bader Field former airport site for $110 million and issuing $105 million in bonds.
The idea is to reduce its budget by about 20 percent by 2021.
State lawmakers have until Nov. 1 to approve the proposal. If they don’t, New Jersey would assume control of Atlantic City finances for a period of five years.