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Online Casinos May Be Safer than Land Counterparts


by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
March 24, 2009

                While anti-gambling activists have argued that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 protects gamers from the social ills of online casino gambling, it would seem that gambling online is safer than in a land-based counterpart. According to Bombay News, Goa police are investigating an incident at a land casino where a customer was not only denied his winnings, but was beat up when he tried to collect his money.

                The formal complaint, filed with the Anjuna police station, alleges that Abhijeet Vasco was assaulted by bouncers at the Casino Mint at the Riviera Resort in Arpora after apparently winning too much money. He and six friends had allegedly won RS 100,000 playing roulette.

                “When we went to claim the money, we were beaten up by bouncers attached to the casino,” said Vasco. “One of them hit my face with a knuckle-duster. I received 14 stitches on my cheek.”

                The resort was surrounded in controversy on Monday after having Mickky Pacheco, the Tourism Minister Francisco, promised an investigation into Casino Mint and a reconsideration of the resort’s five star status. Five star rated hotels are the only establishments permitted to set up casinos under the Goa Public Gambling Act.

                It is not unheard of for a land casino to take similar action when a customer begins to earn too much money, or at least to detain the customer…as was the case with Ben Campbell and his series of card counters that were made into a 2008 film, “21.” While none of the team of friends were physically beaten like the film portrays, they were detained by security for questioning.

                It is not just the casino workers that are a danger when playing in a land casino. There have been countless cases of casino goers having been assaulted and robbed after collecting substantial winnings.  Just two months ago, 70 year-old Anthony Vastardis was attacked in an Atlantic City casino parking lot and robbed of his winnings. He has since been afraid to go outside.

                “I have dreams, I have nightmares, I have daymares,” he said in his first television interview since the assault and robbery. Vastardis suffered a fractured hip and other injuries and is confined to a wheelchair temporarily. The attacker, according to the surveillance tape, watched Vastardis play blackjack in the casino, followed him to an elevator and beat him in the garage before stealing $10,000 in casino winnings.

                “I walked about three or four steps and something hit me in the back of my head. I feel down and this guy was on top of me. And he was just beating me and just beating me,” Vastardis recalled. “He went right to my left hand pocket. He knew where {the money} was.”

                U.S. and other global legislators continue to oppose online casino gambling, whose biggest danger in most instances is a cap on earnings, while protecting domestic casinos which pose more of a threat. But it would seem that the social ills that government officials seek to protect their citizens from are more likely to occur in a land-based atmosphere.