Entries in Gambling (7)


Illegal Gambling Probe Leads to Florida's Lieutenant Governor Quitting

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- Florida Gov. Rick Scott needs a new lieutenant governor following this week's resignation of Jennifer Carroll who the Republican ran with two years ago.

Carroll's name surfaced during an investigation of an illegal gambling operation, the supposedly legitimate Allied Veterans of the World, which is a non-profit assisting veterans.

It turns out that Carroll's public relations firm previously represented Allied, which authorities say was actually a front for a "sophisticated racketeering and money laundering scheme stemming from 49 illegal gambling centers operating under the guise of 'Internet cafes.'"

In all, investigators say it was a $300 million scheme with the money funneled to its operators, not vets.

Fifty-seven people were charged with racketeering and money laundering.  Carroll was not among those charged.

Her office released a statement saying, "Lt. Gov. Carroll resigned in an effort to keep her former affiliation with the company from distracting from the administration's important work on behalf of Florida families.  She made the right decision for the state and her family."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


American Poker Star's Huge Winnings Withheld

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) – An $11.5 million gambling purse won by poker star Phil Ivey is being withheld by a London Casino as authorities try to determine if trickery or cheating played any role in the American's winning streak at a game called Punto Banco.

A variant of baccarat, Punto Banco is described as a high-stakes game favored by high-rollers. Lance Bradley, editor in chief of poker magazine Bluff, calls Punto Banco a game in which skill plays no role whatsoever: winners win and losers lose, strictly by the luck of the draw.

In August, Ivey, 35, and a companion entered Crockfords in London's Mayfair district, the city's oldest gambling club and among its most prestigious.

Over the course of two days, the couple played for seven hours, first losing heavily, then winning back their losses plus many millions more. When Ivey finally left the table, Crockford's management, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, assured him that his $11.5 million winnings would be transferred to his bank account. But as of Monday, says the Journal, all that has been transferred is Ivey's original $1.3 million stake.

Bradley says Ivey's reputation is spotless.

"There's nothing in his past that would hint at his being a cheater or unethical in any way," says Bradley. "People say he's arguably the best poker player in the world; but, really, there's no argument: He's #1. He's known both for his skill and for his love of high-stakes games. He loves anything where there's some sexiness at stake."

According to the Daily Mail, suspicions of cheating first arose when it was discovered that Ivey's female companion previously had had her membership at another Mayfair gambling house suspended.

Genting, the parent company of Crockfords, has had its investigators inspect every detail of Ivey's play. According to the Daily Mail, the croupier was interviewed at length and all the cards inspected. Video recorded by 10 overhead cameras also was reviewed, but apparently failed to disclose any wrongdoing.

Representatives for Ivey and for Crockfords, asked for comment by ABC News, did not respond.

Ivey has won eight World Series of Poker bracelets.


Alabama Lawmakers Acquitted in Gambling Corruption Case

Hemera/Thinkstock(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- All six defendants in a sweeping corruption prosecution, including three current and former Alabama state lawmakers, have been acquitted on charges of trading bribes for votes on gambling legislation.

In addition to the three current and former lawmakers, a powerful casino owner, a casino employee and a gambling interest lobbyist had been charged in the widespread alleged corruption scheme, according to ABC News Montgomery affiliate WNCF.

The first federal probe into the alleged corruption began in 2008, when then-state senator Paul Stanford, along with two other Republican legislators, went to the FBI claiming that not only had he personally been offered $250,000 as a bribe, but said there was widespread corruption in Alabama's statehouse.

"There's always a backdoor deal going on in somebody's office or in the corner of the chamber or over dinner with a lobbyist," Sanford said during an ABC News investigation in 2010. "There's always somebody working an unusual angle to try to sway your vote or entice you with a vote."

When several officials were arrested in 2010, Sanford called it a "dream come true" because the arrests "[told] the people of Alabama that integrity does matter."

The most recent case was the second time the officials had been in front of a jury -- a previous trial ended in August without decision for most defendants and with two others being acquitted. One other defendant, legislature bill writer Ray Crosby, died reportedly of natural causes in January before the retrial began.

Even before the 2010 arrests, authorities in Alabama said it was becoming clear that the lobbyists seeking help with bingo legislation were pressing the limits.

"If you're going to be in politics you're going to have to raise money but when it gets to the point that there's a quid pro quo -- I will give you this if you do that, then I think it's gone too far," Alabama Gov. Bob Riley told ABC News in 2010.

Riley first began waging a campaign to stop the spread of electronic bingo machines in 2008. He argued they were nothing more than slot machines. "I [think] anyone who has ever played bingo understands you can't play it in six seconds," he said.

After an electronic bingo bill passed in the state senate last spring, with several lawmakers switching their votes in the final hours, authorities began to harbor suspicions. Federal agents received permission to eavesdrop on suspects using wiretaps and convened a grand jury.

Reacting to the news of indictments, the governor's office released a statement calling the arrests "disappointing but hardly surprising."

But in the end, the defense for the remaining suspects argued that the case was based on lies told by those who already pleaded guilty who were hoping for less harsh punishment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Camel Predicts Super Bowl Winner

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If a clairvoyant camel is to be believed, the New York Giants will take home the Super Bowl trophy next Sunday.

Princess, a 25-year-old camel who lives at the Popcorn park Zoo in Lacey township, N.J., has accurately predicted the winners of five of the past six Super Bowls, the zoo’s general manager, John Bergmann, told ABC News.

Bergmann writes the name of one team on his right palm and the other on his left palm. He then places a graham cracker in each hand. Whichever cracker Princess nibbles is the winner.

“She chose without hesitation this year,” Bergmann said.

Princess has honed her prognosticating skills by predicting the outcome of New York Giants and New York Jets games since 2006, after a local radio station contacted Bergmann about getting an animal involved in the deejay’s weekly picks pool.

“Overall, she has actually had 88 right and 51 wrong,” Bergmann said. “That’s pretty good.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Online Gambling, Casinos to ‘Sweep’ US in 2012

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Forget the monkey or the rooster, 2012 could be the year of the gambler and experts say that while that would mean more money in states’ pockets, it could also put young people and adults at further risk of addiction.

On Friday, the Justice Department reversed its previous stand on the 1961 Wiring Act -- saying that it applied to sports betting but not online gambling -- after years of hunting down online casinos like the billion-dollar-plus Full Tilt Poker.

Rick Bronson, chairman of U.S. Digital Gaming, said the change would give states the ability to legally operate online gambling beginning with poker and also sell lottery tickets on the Internet.

He said that poker would likely generate $12 billion a year in revenue for states and that the lottery business -- already a $60 billion to $70 billion business -- would continue to grow.

According to a 2010 Morgan Stanley report, analysts said that regulating gambling could bring in $5 billion.

I. Nelson Rose, Whittier Law School professor and expert on gaming law, called the Justice Department move a “major Christmas present for the Internet gambling community.”

“We are about to see this explosion of Internet gambling sweep across the nation,” he said especially because of the economic recession.

“Nobody is cutting back,” he said. “All we’re seeing is every single state proposing more and more legal gambling.…Gambling is seen as a painless tax, involuntary tax so it is an easy way to raise revenue without raising real taxes.”

In fact, Washington D.C. and Nevada are already poised to start online gambling, mostly poker. Kentucky’s Gov. Steve Beshear is pushing for expanded gambling in his state. And in Illinois, there are hopes that online tickets will increase sales for the lottery.

“It’s money and [states] can’t raise taxes anymore and they can’t cut services anymore so they need a way to raise money and gambling seems to pay more tax,” Rose said.

Bronson said U.S. Digital Gaming estimated that tax revenue for the states would be about 25 percent. He also said online gaming would likely bring more visitors to casinos.

This would be good news for Florida, where lawmakers are set to consider a measure to bring three casino resorts to the southern part of the state. In New York, the governor is pushing for the legalization of casino gambling.

Regarding Internet gambling, Rose said states would have to require strict regulations to prevent gamblers from becoming addicts and to ensure that minors do not participate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


MLB Investigating Alex Rodriguez over Illegal Poker Allegations

Jason Miller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New York Yankees superstar third baseman Alex Rodriguez is under investigation by Major League Baseball for his alleged involvement in illegal underground poker games.

One the games were reportedly held at a Beverley Hills mansion where cocaine was present and violence ensued, according to one report. The allegations, stemming from a report in Star Magazine, indicate Rodriguez tried to distance himself from the fight which broke out after one of the players lost more than a half-million dollars and tried to refuse to pay up.

Rodriguez, who is currently sidelined after undergoing surgery on his right knee, was warned by the Yankees and Commissioner Bud Selig in 2005 to avoid involvement with gambling and underground poker clubs.

"We take this very seriously and have been investigating this matter since the initial allegation," MLB said in a statement released Wednesday. "As part of the investigation, the commissioner's office will interview Mr. Rodriguez."

Rodriguez, 36, could face a suspension from baseball if the league confirms the allegations.

Richard Rubenstein, a public relations representative for Rodriguez told ABC News on Thursday, “The story contains numerous factual inaccuracies and Alex looks forward to cooperating with MLB in their investigation.”

Incidentally, the high stakes gaming ring to which A-Rod is alleged to be involved also reportedly included Hollywood celebrities like Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fla. Woman Gambles $14M, Fleeces In-Laws

BananaStock/Thinkstock(HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla.) -- A Florida woman's gambling addiction was so severe that she pumped $14 million into the slots and is accused of stealing her in-laws' life savings to fuel her habit, police said.

Jennifer Dennison, 42, was arrested after Hernando County sheriff's detectives wrapped up a five-month investigation. "Theoretically, she could spend the next couple decades in prison," Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said. She was charged with 16 counts including exploitation of the elderly, forgery of checks, and organized scheme to defraud.

Dennison's in-laws, 88-year-old Laverne Robert Dennison and 73-year-old Janet A. Dennison, bounced a check in August of last year, launching the investigation that led to the woman's arrest.

Dennison hit the slots at Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, winning a total of nearly $13 million. But she pumped every penny of that back in, plus at least $700,000 more, police say.

The thrill of the buzzing slot machines led her to fleece her in-laws of their retirement money, drain their bank accounts and cash in their insurance policies, police said. "Ms. Dennison was the one who had basically wiped out their accounts to the tune of over $500,000," Nienhuis said.

Jennifer Dennison's husband, Scott, holds a power of attorney for his parents, but Jennifer Dennison made all of the financial decisions for the family.

The gambling industry is increasingly targeting women online with so called sexy slot machines and offering prizes like a Manhattan shopping spree. There are even Sex and the City-themed slot machines that let you gamble with Carrie Bradshaw.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio