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Washington State Casino Unprovoked Stabbing Leaves Man Dead

A suspect was apprehended Sunday morning after he allegedly fatally slashed a stranger inside Auburn, Wash.’s Muckleshoot Casino Resort.

Gaming machines at Muckleshoot Casino Resort
Gaming machines at Muckleshoot Casino Resort, pictured above. A man was fatally stabbed inside the gaming property. (Image: TripAdvisor)

The assailant and would-be victim didn’t know each other before the suspect snuck up to the victim from behind, while he was standing at a gaming table.

Random Attack

All of a sudden, the suspect stabbed him in the neck. Police are calling it a “random” attack. The victim passed away inside the gaming property.

No word on the victim’s identity. He was described as being in his late 20s.

Muckleshoot Casino staff immediately contacted the Auburn Police Department at about 1:30 a.m.

Officers arrested the unnamed suspect a short time later. He was booked at the King County Jail at about 8 a.m. Police said he will be charged with murder.

The suspect is 31 years old, according to Seattle TV station KCPQ. Police didn’t release a motive for the stabbing.

No one else in the Washington State gaming property was injured. It’s unclear how many guests or tribal casino employees were located near the victim when he was stabbed.

Stabbing Investigated

Police likely spoke to witnesses to the deadly attack. They also searched the crime scene for physical evidence. It’s possible detectives will review surveillance video to watch the activities of the suspect before he allegedly pulled out a weapon and stabbed the victim.

It’s likely the victim will undergo an autopsy to confirm the manner and form of death. Officials will also later describe the stab wounds and murder weapon used in the attack. The medical examiner’s office additionally will confirm the victim’s identity.

It’s unclear whether police seized a murder weapon from the crime scene.

They didn’t reveal whether it was a knife or other object. On the casino’s website, it clearly states, “Weapons, including firearms, are NOT ALLOWED in the casino or in the resort.”

Police didn’t explain how an object was snuck into the gaming room that could be used in such a fatal attack.

The casino is located about 16 miles east of Tacoma, Wash. The gaming property is operated by The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.

Casino Expansion

Earlier this year, the casino held a ribbon-cutting for a major expansion. It includes 401 new guestrooms, an enlarged gaming floor, and a steakhouse located on the rooftop. The restaurant is called Smoke & Cedar.

An indoor heated pool will be opening soon, along with a hot tub and full-service bar.

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Cayuga Nation Sues New York State Over Lottery Sales on Reservation

The Cayuga Nation is suing the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) for selling lottery tickets on its reservation in the state’s Finger Lakes region.

Cayuga Nation, New York State Lottery, lawsuit, New York State Gaming Commission, NYSGC
New York State is violating federal law by deploying self-service kiosks, such as the one pictured above, on Cayuga Nation lands, according to a lawsuit filed by the tribe Thursday. (Image: News Agency Blog)

The Nation asserts that by federal law it is the only entity authorized to regulate the conduct of gaming on its lands. That’s in a complaint filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.

Under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), the state has no authority to offer gaming on the Cayuga’s sovereign reservation unless it is licensed to do so by the tribe, the lawsuit states.

Jackpocket App

Yet the state has deployed lottery terminals on the Cayuga reservation that dispense instant-win scratch-offs and tickets for draw games, according to the tribe. It has also issued a courier service license to Jackpot Inc, a company that enables users to play the New York Lotto and other NYSGC-licensed draw games via the Jackpocket mobile app.

Moreover, the Nation notes that lottery games are defined as class III gaming, akin to slot machines and roulette. The Cayuga themselves are prohibited from offering class III games on the reservation because they do not have a compact with the state.

Under IGRA, they can only offer class II gaming, such as electronic bingo and poker, at their four “Lakeside Entertainment” gaming venues.

The Nation has robust gaming operations throughout the reservation and uses the revenue to provide life-changing government benefits to Cayuga citizens,” said Cayuga representative Clint Halftown in an official statement. “New York State’s practice of authorizing lotteries on Reservation land causes grave concern to the Nation’s rights and ability to provide for Nation citizens.”

IGRA Trumps State Law

The Nation has already established in a federal court that “IGRA preempts all state and local legislation and regulation relating to gambling conducted on ‘Indian lands,’ as defined in that statute.” That ruling of July 2021 put paid to local attempts to thwart the tribe’s gaming operations.

The new lawsuit came after the Nation’s lawyers wrote to NYSGC and Jackpocket offering to discuss the lottery issue but received no response. The suit seeks declaratory judgment that the state is violating IGRA and an injunction to halt lottery terminals and Jackpocket’s operations on its lands.

“The Cayuga Nation has a responsibility to enforce its federally approved gaming ordinance and stop all unlawful gaming within the reservation, whether by the state or private individuals,” Halftown said. “The Cayuga Nation Council will not ignore the State’s gaming, especially the expansion to mobile gaming and the license to Jackpocket Inc.”

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Revised New York iGaming Bill Filed by State Senator

Joseph Addabbo, a state senator from New York, has introduced a new version of a bill that, if approved, would legalize online casino gaming and internet lottery in the Empire State.

Senate Bill S8185 was tabled on January 11 and it has been referred to the committee for racing, gaming and wagering within the New York Senate. Senator Joseph Addabbo has previously attempted to have a similar bill approved, Senate Bill S4856 in early 2023, but it failed to pass.

The new bill includes, among other important aspects, information regarding the eligibility for licenses in the state. According to the bill, land-based casinos from New York are eligible to get licenses to operate online casinos. At the moment the state of New York has four upstate casinos and another three downstate that are currently in development.

The three racetracks that operate in the state are also eligible for iGaming licenses. These racetracks are operated by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, the Seneca Nation of Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation of New York.

Three More Licenses

The bill also stipulates that three additional online casino licenses will be awarded through a bidding process. Applicants will need to commit to an affirmative action programme and each operator that eventually gets a license will have to pay a one-time fee of 2 million dollars.

The proposed legislation also states that live dealer studios that supply content to casinos licensed in the state must be located within the borders of the state of New York. Moreover, suppliers of live dealer games must enter into a labor agreement with a union. If the bill would pass into law then it would come into effect right away.

Internet Lottery Rules

The bill also proposes rules for internet lottery, allowing customers in New York to play joint, multi-jurisdiction and out-of-state lottery games online. This actual access to the lotteries could be done either through a mobile device or desktop computer. Senate Bill S8185 also states the New York State Division of Lottery would be in charge of overseeing sales of tickets online.

When it comes to taxes on iGaming activities, the bill sets a tax of 31.5% of gross gaming revenue for all license holders. Then the state will give a portion of 11 million dollars of the taxes collected to the Commission and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports in order to fund gambling addiction treatment.

Aiming To Replicate Sports Betting Success

The state of New York is looking for a repeat of the success registered by online sports betting. Almost two years ago the state launched legal internet sports betting, with the regulated market opening on 10 January 2022. Since then it has grown significantly and has become the largest market in the United States.

Moreover, in December 2023 a new state revenue record was set as operators managed to generate 188.3 million dollars in online sports betting revenue. The previous record for the state of New York was set in October 2023, with 166.3 million dollars. In November 2023 the state also reported a new record when it comes to internet sports betting handle: 2.11 billion dollars, an all-time high for the state but also for the entire United States.

Source: “Addabbo files revised New York igaming bill“. iGaming Business. January 12, 2024.

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Myanmar’s Kayin State Gambling Project Leads to Sanctions Against Officials

Myanmar is in the middle of an unofficial civil war that has at its roots, in part, an attempt to rid the country of its gambling element. The U.S., the UK, and other countries are making a statement about the ongoing conflict, introducing sanctions against two high-ranking officials in the country who also have ties to a major gambling operation.

Colonel Saw Chit Thu with his entourage traveling through Kayin
Colonel Saw Chit Thu, with his entourage, traveling through Kayin. The leader of Myanmar’s Border Guard Force faces new sanctions for his ties to illegal gambling. (Image: Frontier Myanmar)

Colonel Saw Chit Thu, a leader with the Burmese junta-tied Border Guard Force (BGF), alongside two other individuals, incurred sanctions from the UK last Friday. The other two are Chinese investor She Zhijiang and Colonel Saw Min Min Oo, a primary leader under Saw Chit Thu.

The sanctions link back to their alleged involvement in the recently established Shwe Kokko town in Kayin (previously Karen) State. This decision comes as a response to the severe accusations related to human trafficking, forced labor, and infringements on human rights against the two.

Cracking Down on Fraud Farms

On Friday, the UK unveiled the joint sanctions against Saw Chit Thu and the others. These restrictions were implemented in response to the exposure of nine individuals and five companies involved in internet-based “fraud farms” located in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. It has been widely documented that the workers of those operations are victims of human trafficking.

The sanctions mean an asset freeze that prevents anyone from the participating country from dealing with the economic or financial resources of the sanctioned individual(s). In this case, it also comes with a travel ban that prevents the sanctioned individuals from traveling to or through the participating countries.

An official statement from the UK explained that Saw Chit Thu and the other two have been implicated as accomplices or beneficiaries of human trafficking in the operations of Shwe Kokko. The trio, with assistance from others, forced their victims into slave labor and allegedly routinely subjected them to torture, physical abuse, and various forms of exploitation.

The United Nations has estimated that as many as 120K individuals in Myanmar face similar conditions of forced labor. At least another 100K in Cambodia are also victims of human trafficking.

Shwe Kokko Survives Attempts to Shut it Down

The Shwe Kokko Project is a collaboration between Chit Lin Myaing Co and Yatai International Holding Group, a company registered in Hong Kong. Chit Lin Myaing Co allegedly belongs to the BGF, with Saw Chit Thu serving as its highest-ranking executive.

Saw Chit Thu and his border guards are reported to significantly benefit from the operation, which has gained a notorious reputation in Southeast Asia due to its connections with Chinese criminals. Apart from its involvement in human trafficking, labor exploitation, online fraud, and gambling, the operation presents itself as a major revenue stream for the BGF officer.

Last year, Thai police arrested She Zhijiang in Bangkok. His apprehension was triggered by a foreign warrant accusing him of managing an internet-based casino.

In addition to his involvement with Shwe Kokko, he allegedly has deep involvement in several controversial ventures in other countries, as well as in Cambodia’s gambling industry. Despite the arrest, Shwe Kokko remains operational, as highlighted by previous comments by the BGF.

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Pennsylvania Casino Smoking Targeted in New State Legislation

Pennsylvania Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) is no fan of smoking exemptions for certain businesses like casinos. For a second year in a row, the Allegheny County Democrat has introduced legislation in the Harrisburg capital that seeks to end the smoking loopholes for casinos and other venues currently immune from the state’s indoor smoking law.

Pennsylvania casinos smoking gaming
Cigarettes and cigars inside Pennsylvania casinos are being threatened by recently introduced state legislation. State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) thinks the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos should be forced to go entirely smoke-free. (Image: Shutterstock)

Pennsylvania passed its Clean Indoor Air Act in 2008. The law prohibits indoor smoking in most public spaces and workplaces. However, the law that was signed by Gov. Ed Rendell (D) provides certain exceptions for casinos, cigar lounges, private clubs, and bars where alcohol generates the bulk of the establishment’s revenue.   

Frankel doesn’t believe casino workers should be subjected to working in toxic environments where secondhand smoke is prevalent. Though Pennsylvania casinos are limited to allowing indoor smoking on only half of their gaming floors, health experts say dangerous secondhand smoke lingers into the supposed nonsmoking areas.

Government Action Needed

Pennsylvania is home to 18 brick-and-mortar casinos. Only Parx Casino in Bensalem, north of Philadelphia, and Rivers Casino Philadelphia in the city proper are fully smoke-free casinos. The rest have maintained designated smoking sections on their casino floors.

Frankel says the majority of the casinos seem intent on keeping smoking. And the state Democrat feels that’s unfair to employees and guests who don’t light up.

Pennsylvanians should not have to choose between their jobs and their health. Despite a growing body of evidence suggesting that smoke-free environments attract more customers — not fewer — these businesses have not banned smoking on their own,” Frankel said in his newsletter this week.

Frankel last week filed House Bill 1657. The statute seeks to amend the Clean Indoor Air Act by repealing certain provisions that allow casinos and other businesses and clubs to permit indoor smoking.

HB 1657 has been directed to the House Health Committee, which Frankel chairs. The committee is set to meet this Wednesday, Sept. 20, to consider the smoking bill.

Casino Workers Rejoice

For the many Pennsylvania casino workers seeking a clean-air workplace, Frankel’s introduction of the anti-casino smoking bill was welcomed news. The Pennsylvania chapter of CEASE — Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects — said the bill poses the opportunity to save lives.

We thank Rep. Frankel for introducing legislation that we know will save our lives,” said Jen Rubolino, a table games dealer at Rivers Casino and the co-lead of CEASE PA. “Too many of us have been left to deal with the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke including cancer, asthma, and heart disease. It’s time to finally close the casino smoking loophole to protect our health.”

Casino smoking remains in nearby Atlantic City and in West Virginia. But casinos in the four other states that border Pennsylvania — Ohio, Maryland, New York, and Delaware — fully prohibit indoor smoking.

In research published in February, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking & Health concluded that smoke-free casino sections still have “elevated levels of Particulate Matter.”

“Despite robust evidence about the harms of secondhand smoke, tens of thousands of casino employees and tens of millions of tourists are exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke in Las Vegas casinos annually,” said Office on Smoking & Health Policy Team Lead Michael Tynan. “The only way to protect people from secondhand smoke exposure is to prohibit smoking in all indoor areas.”

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