Vegas Golden Knights Take 1-0 Series Lead in Stanley Cup Finals

Posted on: June 4, 2023, 11:44h. 

Last updated on: June 4, 2023, 11:45h.

The Vegas Golden Knights scored three goals in the third period to defeat the Florida Panthers, 5-2, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Adin Hill Vegas Golden Knights
Moments before Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill blocks a shot against Nick Cousins from the Florida Panthers in the second period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Image: AP)

The Golden Knights successfully defended their home ice at T-Mobile Arena, and jumped out to a 1-0 series lead.

In their inaugural season as an expansion team, the Golden Knights reached the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals, but they were smoked by the Washington Capitals. In their second appearance in the finals, the Golden Knights did not squander the rare opportunity to win a championship. They seized control of the series with an opening-game victory.

Before the finals began, oddsmakers at DraftKings installed the Golden Knights as the betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup at -130 odds. The red-hot Panthers claimed the Eastern Conference Crown, but were only +110 odds as a slight underdog.

The Golden Knights are now -220 odds to win the Stanley Cup, and the Panthers slipped to +180 odds after dropping Game 1.

Game 2 is scheduled for Monday night in Las Vegas.

Ninth Comeback for Vegas

The Golden Knights won 13 games in the postseason, and nine of them were come-from-behind victories.

The Panthers struck first blood, and went up 1-0 early in the opening game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Forward Eric Staal put the Panthers on the board midway through the first period with a short-handed goal.

Right winger Jonathan Marchessault scored an equalizer late in the period to tie the game at 1-0. He was shut out in the first seven games of the postseason, but he’s been on fire since then scoring goals in ten out his last 11 playoff games.

Defenseman Shea Theodore put the Golden Knights ahead with a wrister midway through the second period. The Panthers tied the score at 2-2 with an unassisted goal by Anthony Duclair with 11 seconds remaining in the period.

It was an unfortunate bounce there at the end of the second, but still thought we had played a pretty solid second period there and started to gain some momentum,” said Golden Knights captain Mark Stone.

“They had earned some really good opportunities,” said Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We gave up a late goal, but I rather it then than at the start of the third.”

Golden Knights Score Thrice in Third Period

Defenseman Zach Whitecloud scored seven minutes into the third period, to put the Golden Knights ahead 3-2. In the first 17 games of the playoffs, Vegas’ defensemen scored only three goals. In the first game of the finals, defensive players scored two goals.

The game opened up a little bit,” said Panthers head coach Paul Maurice. “We were all right with that too, but we don’t mind the rush a little bit at times.”

Stone found the back of the net with a little more than six minutes remaining and extended the lead 4-2. Right winger Reilly Smith added a late goal and the Golden Knights locked up Game 1 with a 5-2 victory.  For the ninth time in the NHL playoffs, the Golden Knights rallied to secure a victory.

Goalie Adin Hill was a stonewall for the Golden Knights in the third period. Hill finished the game with 33 saves, including one phenomenal stick save in the second period that might’ve been his top highlight of the playoffs.

“It was just one of those nights, the emotion was in the building and everyone was caught up in a little bit,” said Cassidy. “Thank God that Hill was nice and calm.”

Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky won five games in a row, before the Golden Knights lit him up for five goals in Game 1. Bobrovsky suffered his first loss on the road this postseason, and the Golden Knights halted his seven-game road winning streak.

The Golden Knights kept winger Matthew Tkachuk in check in Game 1. They harassed him all night and limited the star to just two shots. The Panthers’ postseason MVP scored nine goals with 12 assists in 17 games prior to the Finals. He tallied 40 goals and 69 assists in the regular season.

Stanley Cup Finals Prop Bets: Series Score

If you want to back the Golden Knights to sweep the Panthers, that prop bet pays +600 at DraftKings. Sweeps are rare in the modern NHL, and there has not been a 4-0 sweep in the Stanley Cup Finals in 25 years since the mighty Detroit Red Wings won back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998.

At the end of the 1990s, four consecutive champions swept their opponents. It began with the New Jersey Devils sweeping the Detroit Red Wings in 1995.

The first and only time the Panthers reached the Stanley Cup Finals, they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche in 1996.

The Red Wings swept the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997, and won back-to-back titles with a 4-0 sweep against the Washington Capitals in 1998.

You can back the Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup in five games, or 4-1 series score, at +350 odds. The Golden Knights prevailing in six games, or 4-2, pays +400 odds. If the series goes a full seven games, and the Vegas Knights win 4-3, that prop bet pays out +425 odds.

Prop bets on the Panthers to win the series pay out a little higher after they lost Game 1. The Panthers winning the Stanley Cup in seven games, or a 4-3 series score, pays out +550 odds. A Panthers’ championship in six games, or 4-2, pays out +600.

If you think the Panthers can win the next four games in a row, that prop bet pays out +1300 odds to win the series in five games and a 4-1 series score.

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Phoenix Suns Hire Defensive Guru Frank Vogel

Posted on: June 3, 2023, 11:23h. 

Last updated on: June 3, 2023, 11:23h.

The Phoenix Suns face a narrow window to win an NBA championship with aging stars Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, and they hired Frank Vogel to deliver the franchise’s first title.

Frank Vogel
Frank Vogel, seen here on the sidelines as the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, fills the head coaching vacancy with the Phoenix Suns. (Image: Getty)

Vogel has a championship pedigree and won an NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2019-20 season.

During 11 seasons as an NBA head coach, which included stints with the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic, Vogel has a career record of 431-389. He also has a 49-39 postseason record with one championship.

The Lakers fired Vogel in April 2022 after an embarrassing 2021-22 season when the Lakers missed the playoffs and failed to qualify for the play-in tournament.

This was a rare NBA offseason with several head coaches available for hire who previously won a championship including Mike Budenholzer, Nick Nurse, Doc Rivers, and Vogel.

The Sun pursued Nurse, but he accepted a job with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Suns narrowed down their search to Vogel and associate coach Kevin Young. With Durant not getting any younger and Paul in the twilight of his career, the Suns did not want to gamble on a rookie head coach with Young.

The Suns are +850 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA championship, and currently the fourth-highest team on DraftKings’ futures board. The Suns were 45-37 last season. They earned the #4 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, but were eliminated in the second round.

Quick Hook for Monty Williams

Monty Williams led the Suns to a trip to the 2021 NBA Finals, but they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks. With that success, the Suns became one of the top title contenders from the Western Conference.

In 2021-22, the Suns won a franchise-record 64 games and secured the #1 seed in the playoffs. Instead of returning to the NBA Finals and winning a championship, the Suns were knocked out in the conference semifinals.

The Suns upgrade their team by acquiring Durant at the trade deadline. The Brooklyn Nets agreed to a blockbuster deal that secured them multiple first-round draft picks and key players like Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, and Jae Crowder.

The Suns only finished in fourth place in the Western Confernece, but the addition of Durant made them a popular pick to win the championship. Title odds jumped from +1800 to +450 overnight after the Suns acquired Durant.

Even with Durant, the Suns were eliminated in the conference semifinals for a second year in a row. The top-seeded Denver Nuggets picked off the Suns in six games.

Similar to their ugly exit in the 2022 playoffs, the Suns had another disappointing performance in an elimination game against the Nuggets. In their defense, the Suns did not have two starters in the lineup. Paul had been out with a groin injury since the second game of the series, and center Deandre Ayton sustained a ribs contusion in Game 5.

The Suns parted ways with Williams less than 48 hours after the Suns were eliminated from the postseason. The Suns were trounced in their last two postseason exits, which is why team owner Mat Ishbia decided the team needed a chance.

Vogel: A New Hope in Phoenix

Ishbia purchased the Suns for $4 billion in the middle of last season. He wanted to handpick a new head coach heading into Durant’s first full season in Phoenix.

Vogel signed a five-year deal with the Suns worth $31.25 million. This is deep discount considering that Williams will earn $13.1 million per season coaching the last-place Detroit Pistons. Williams never won a title, and he’s going to earn more than twice as much as Vogel as the NBA’s highest-paid head coach.

Williams clashed with Ayton, which is another reason why the Suns wanted to bring in a new coach. Ayton averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game in the regular season, but completed disappeared in the second round by averaging 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game against the Denver Nuggets. The Suns hope Vogel can help Ayton reach his full potential in the postseason with inspired play on both ends of the court.

Vogel is a defensive-minded head coach, which is an area where the Suns need improvement. Vogel coached the NBA’s top defensive rated team three times in his career, including twice with the Pacers and once with the Lakers.

The Suns have plenty of offense with All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker and Durant. They could use an additional scorer off the bench, but that’s easy to find. It’s much harder to find a coach with a defensive philosophy, and someone who can implement in-game adjustments. The team feels Vogel is the right man for the job.

The Asterisk and Scapegoat in L.A.

Let’s get this out of the way: Vogel led the Lakers to the championship, and some fans would like to see an asterisk next to the Lakers in the record books.

There’s a vocal segment of fans who dismiss the Lakers championship run inside the NBA Bubble, and these are not just L.A. haters. The pandemic shortened and postponed the conclusion of the 2019-20 regular season. The delayed postseason played out inside the NBA bubble in Disneyworld without fans. Teams lacked a true home-court advantage, but did not have to deal with any travel woes.

The Lakers were a hot mess after they defeated the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Finals. They miscalculated with the addition of point guard Russell Westbrook, and Vogel became the scapegoat for that crucial staffing error. Westbrook and Vogel clashed on the first day of practice, which set the tone for Westbrook’s tenuous tenure in the City of Angels. It’s easy to look back at that moment in training camp and pinpoint that was the beginning of the end for Vogel.

The front office considered firing Vogel multiple times during that tumultuous season, but owner Jeanie Buss waited until the end of the season to dismiss Vogel.

The Lakers brought in Darvin Ham to replace vogel, and finally traded Westbrook at the deadline in February. As soon the Lakers jettisoned Westbrook, they turned around their season and made a big push to secure a spot in the playoffs. The Lakers advanced to the Western Conference Finals as the #7 seed, but were swept by the top-seeded Nuggets.

The Lakers are +1000 odds to win the championship next season as the fifth-highest team on the NBA futures board, and they’re right behind the Suns at +850.

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Churchill Downs Halts, Moves Spring Meet Following Horse Deaths

Posted on: June 2, 2023, 10:06h. 

Last updated on: June 2, 2023, 10:07h.

Churchill Downs — the operator of the storied racetrack of the same name — announced late Friday that it is halting its spring meet effective June 7 and that the remainder of the session will be moved to Ellis Park following the deaths of a dozen horses over the past month.

Kentucky Derby
Scenes from the 2022 Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs suspended its spring session following a dozen horse fatalities. (Image: Coady Photography)

Racing will continue as scheduled this weekend and will commence at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming in Henderson, Ky. on Saturday, June 10. The operator is undertaking what CEO Bill Carstanjen called a “top-to-bottom review” of its safety standards and protocols and track surface.

What has happened at our track is deeply upsetting and absolutely unacceptable,” said the chief executive officer in a statement. “Despite our best efforts to identify a cause for the recent horse injuries, and though no issues have been linked to our racing surfaces or environment at Churchill Downs, we need to take more time to conduct a top-to-bottom review of all of the details and circumstances so that we can further strengthen our surface, safety and integrity protocols.”

Recent investigations by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) didn’t identify a specific factor contributing to the surge in equine deaths at the home of the Kentucky Derby. Likewise, testing of the track indicated the surface is on par with what has been seen in previous years.

Deaths Overshadowed Churchill Downs Derby Success

News of Churchill Downs suspending its spring meet and moving it Ellis Park arrived less than three weeks after the Derby – an event that was an unabashed success for the gaming operator.

Not only was the run for the roses the second-most watched sporting event of 2023 behind only the Super Bowl, it generated record-breaking betting handle. The same was true of the broader slate of Derby Week races, including the Kentucky Oaks race.

However, the deaths of seven horses in the 10 days leading up to the Derby cast a pall over the most famous US horse race while stoking increased scrutiny into what caused the accidents. Four of those seven horses were euthanized after sustaining injuries.

Two horses of those seven horses — Parents Pride and Chasing Artie — died under what were deemed mysterious circumstances, leading to the suspension of trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.

The equine deaths at Churchill Downs come as the horseracing industry is under the microscope regarding its safety protocols. Those deaths follow more than three dozen at Santa Anita Park in Los Angeles in 2019 and several at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club near San Diego the same year.

Move to Ellis Park Could Make Sense

Some racing experts believe that if there are issues with the Churchill Downs track that are endangering horses, the move to Ellis Park is sensible.

“By relocating the remainder of the meet to Ellis Park, we are able to maintain this industry ecosystem with only minor disruption. We are grateful to the Kentucky horsemen for their support, resiliency and continued partnership as we collectively work to find answers during this time,” added Carstanjen.

Ellis Park, which is also operated by Churchill Downs, is located near the Kentucky/Indiana border.

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VEGAS MUSIC ROUNDUP: Free Marshmello Show, F1 Concerts, Enrique/ Pitbull/Ricky, No Clarkson Tour –

Posted on: June 2, 2023, 06:53h. 

Last updated on: June 2, 2023, 06:53h.

Marshmello, the superstar DJ who performs dressed like one, will give a free outdoor concert at Toshiba Plaza at T-Mobile Arena at 2:45 p.m. Saturday, June 3, prior to the 5 p.m. start of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers. No tickets are required to watch the show.

Marshmello, whose real name is Christopher Comstock, is an electronic music DJ whose original music has gone multi-platinum. He will perform a free show for hockey fans on Saturday. (Image: Getty)

Game 2 — which starts 8 p.m. Monday — will feature rapper Lil Jon performing during the broadcast live from MGM Grand’s Wet Republic. A viewing party will be held at Toshiba Plaza for those without tickets to the club or the finals.

Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias, two thirds of the power trio bringing their fall tour to the T-Mobile Arena the day after Thanksgiving. (Image:

Power Trio

Pitbull, Enrique Iglesias, and Ricky Martin will co-headline the T-Mobile Arena on Nov. 24 as part of their “Trilogy” tour. The general onsale begins Friday, June 9 through Ticketmaster.

“It’s a true honor to tour with Enrique and Ricky, two music icons, who broke global music barriers for our culture and open doors for someone like myself,” Pitbull said in a statement, which also quoted Iglesias promising: “It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime tour.”

Standing Vroom Only

T-Mobile will operate a concert stage during the Las Vegas Grand Prix from Nov. 16-18, Formula 1 announced this week.

A rendering of the T-Mobile Zone at Sphere. (Image: Formula 1)

Located adjacent to Turn 5G right behind the MSG Sphere, the T-Mobile Zone at Sphere will feature British DJ Mark Ronson on Nov. 16, dance music titan Major Lazer and the Grammy-nominated trio of Diplo, Walshy Fire, and Ape Drums on Nov. 17, and Colombian reggaeton singer J Balvin on Nov. 18.

J Balvin (Image: Formula 1)

F1 didn’t specify ticket information for the shows, presumably since they will accessible only to fans with grandstand or general admission tickets located near the stage.

No Clarkson Tour

Kelly Clarkson took to Instagram on Friday to quash rumors that her summer stint at Planet Hollywood’s Bakkt Theater will kick off a full tour.

“Here’s the thing,” she said. “This is why I announced the 10 shows in Vegas. I was not being like, ‘Oh, it’s a secret. We’ve really got this huge tour we’re gonna do right after.’”

Clarkson reminded fans that she has a “9-to-5er” in the form of her daytime talk show, “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” as well as two young children to raise.

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Galaxy Entertainment, MGM Expressing Interest Thailand Casinos

Posted on: June 2, 2023, 05:14h. 

Last updated on: June 2, 2023, 05:14h.

Thailand isn’t yet home to casino resorts, but that could change and some operators are looking to get a head start on that shift. Galaxy Entertainment and MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) are rumored to be part of that group.

Thailand Casino
The Grand Palace in Bangkok. Galaxy Entertainment and MGM Resorts reportedly opened offices in the country in hopes of winning casino permits in the future.(Image: Getty Images)

Citing unidentified sources with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg reported that both gaming companies have set up offices in the Southeast Asian country and that the Bellagio operator was part of a group that held discussions with a committee in the Thai parliament tasked with working on gaming framework in the prior legislative session.

By market share, Galaxy is one of the largest concessionaires in Macau while MGM is the biggest operator on the Las Vegas Strip.

News of Galaxy and MGM eyeing Thailand emerged just days after Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) reiterated its interest in the country while acknowledging establishing integrated resorts there is a long-term process. However, some Thai policymakers believe it’s possible gaming guidelines could be established within a year, potentially setting the stage for the first casino hotels to open there in 2030. That’s the year in which MGM is schedule to open its integrated resort in Osaka.

Thailand Likely to Attract More Casino Giants

With its reputation for attracting Chinese and other tourists from the Asia-Pacific region as well scores of visitors from the West, Thailand could be the next great frontier in the region’s gaming scene if decides to embrace integrated resorts.

The allure of Thailand is heightened by the fact that China wants to Macau operators to pivot away from a dependence on gaming and focus on more entertainment and luring business travelers. It’s also possible Thailand will approve multiple gaming venues, indicating other operators are likely to evaluate the country.

Owing to established footprints in the region, that group could include Genting, Melco Resorts & Entertainment and Wynn Resorts, though those companies haven’t publicly said they’re evaluating Thailand.

With some analysts predicting Thai casino resorts could pilfer revenue from Malaysia and Singapore rivals, it’s possible the field of bidders for licenses in Thailand will be broad and chock full of familiar names.

Galaxy Eyeing UAE, Too

The sources cited by Bloomberg added that Galaxy also established an office in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to prepare for potential broader legalization of casino gaming there. Galaxy eyeing other jurisdictions makes sense because the company’s entire portfolio is comprised of Macau venues.

Like Thailand, the UAE is seen as a next great frontier for global gaming expansion. In the case of the latter, it could be bigger than Singapore in gross gaming revenue (GGR) terms, according to some analysts’ forecasts.

Currently, Wynn has the inside track there as its Wynn Al Marjan Island — located an hour away from Dubai — is slated to open in early 2027 with expectations the venue could eventually generate up to $600 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).

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Las Vegas Among Worst US Cities for Hotel Service — Survey –

Posted on: June 2, 2023, 04:56h. 

Last updated on: June 2, 2023, 04:56h.

Las Vegas did not make the Top 10 worst US cities for hotel service, according to a new survey by travel website

It came in 11th worst.

Poor service was the fifth most common complain left in hotel room reviews nationwide. (Image:

For a city driven by the service industry, that’s not a score to celebrate. More than 292K people worked in the hospitality and leisure sector in Las Vegas as of February 2020, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Planetware said it compiled its list by surveying 7.8 million TripAdvisor reviews of 9K hotels in 95 US cities, analyzing the reasons given for 800K bad reviews (1 or 2 stars out of 5).

“A good hotel stay goes beyond a guest’s experience in the room,” the website explained. “Those working the front desk can also play a large role in the overall experience. As part of our analysis, we combed through the millions of reviews to find mentions of the staff and customer service.”

Topping the naughty list was Miami Beach, Fla., with nearly one in five negative reviews (19.1%) targeting hotel service or rude staff. Montauk, NY (17.8%), the resort town on Long Island’s East End, was next followed closely by Cape May, NJ (17.3%), Siesta Key, Fla. (16.7%), and New York, NY (16.5%).

Poor service was the fifth most common complaint left in hotel room reviews nationwide, according to Planetware. It followed complaints about cigarette odor, lack of toilet paper, bed bugs, and thin walls.

Though Las Vegas had more than its share of complaints about poor hotel service, it did not make the survey’s list of Top 15 cities with the worst hotels. That was topped by Myrtle Beach, SC; Atlantic City, NJ; Virginia Beach, VA; San Jose, Calif.; and South Padre Island, Tex.

Among other key findings of the survey, 10% of all Las Vegas hotels had TripAdvisor reviews with 1 or 2 stars.

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Macau Casino Stocks Could Rally On China Stimulus Hopes

Posted on: June 2, 2023, 03:56h. 

Last updated on: June 2, 2023, 04:34h.

China is mulling a fresh round of monetary stimulus to support the country’s battered property market and those efforts could benefit Macau casino stocks.

Macau Concessionaires
The Wynn Macau integrated resort. China stimulus plans could lift Macau casino stocks. (Image: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Prior efforts to support the flailing real estate market in the world’s second-largest economy helped avoid outright collapse but didn’t help as much as Beijing hoped. Specifics on new measures haven’t been revealed, but market observers believe those plans could include support for indebted commercial real estate firms and reduced down payments for buyers of residential property.

The chatter stoked a Friday rally by Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, the listing venue for Macau gaming equities, with CBRE Securities analyst John DeCree noting stimulus plans could lift shares of the six concessionaires.

In the current environment, confidence in economic conditions will likely continue to be a greater driver of Macau gaming equity price performance rather than fundamentals,” DeCree wrote in a note to clients.

The CBRE analyst added Macau casino stocks are candidates to outperform the Hang Seng in a rebound scenario should substantial stimulus be deployed by Beijing.

Stimulus Talk Arrived at Right Time for Macau Casino Stocks

Talk of China stepping up to support its economy arrived at a pivotal time for Macau gaming equities. While the group performed well through the first four months of 2023, the stocks were slammed in May, declining more than the Hang Seng.

“In spite of the continued recovery in Macau and relatively positive outlook, shares of both US and Hong Kong-listed Macau gaming stocks traded sharply lower over the past month, declining an average of 17 percent in May, and appear oversold relative to the Hang Seng Index, which declined 9 percent in the month,” added DeCree.

Analysts believe the primary culprit behind the May tumbles in Macau casino shares was data suggesting the pace of the special administrative region’s (SAR) recovery was slowing due to concerns China’s economy was weakening. That underscores the potential sensitivity of gaming stocks to efforts to prop up China’s economy.

“While the pace of the recovery moderated a little in May, we still expect continued sequential growth in the coming months and quarters as travel capacity increases and more hotel rooms and amenities open in Macau,” observed DeCree.

Stimulus Could Benefit These Names

Should Beijing move in earnest to support the property market and boost the economy, it’s reasonable to expect shares of all six Macau concessionaires could benefit. However, the perks might not be linear across the group.

For US investors, the Macau focus is on Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS), MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM), and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN), the three US-based Macau operators.

Chinese stimulus could prove particularly meaningful for Sands and Wynn because those operators combine to run seven integrated resorts in Macau and depend on the enclave for 57% and 39% of their revenue, respectively.

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Connecticut State Rep Imprisoned for $1.2M Covid Relief Fraud

Posted on: June 2, 2023, 03:24h. 

Last updated on: June 2, 2023, 04:38h.

A former Connecticut state representative has been sentenced to 27 months in prison for stealing more than $1.2 million of federal Covid relief funds from the city of West Haven.

Michael DiMassa, Connecticut. Covid relief
Michael DiMassa, left, addresses the press after his sentencing on Wednesday. He was treated leniently by the judge because of his contrition and cooperation with federal prosecutors. (Image: Arnold Gold/Hearst Connecticut Media)

Michael DiMassa pleaded guilty in November 2022 to wire fraud and conspiracy charges in relation to the embezzlement.

The 32-year-old disgraced politician was in charge of the city’s COVID-19 Grant Department and had the power to cut checks without oversight. With three co-conspirators, he formed shell companies that billed the city for nonexistent services.

DiMassa ‘Bet on Anything’

The corrupt official blew thousands of dollars at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. His lawyer, John Gulash, told the court DiMassa had a gambling problem and compared him to Adam Sandler’s character in the movie “Uncut Gems,” whose addiction sparked a “precipitous downward spiral.”

Gulash said DiMassa would bet on anything, including the length of the national anthem at the Super Bowl or what color Gatorade would be poured on the winning coach.

I stole that money. That is on me,” DiMassa told a federal judge in Hartford prior to sentencing Wednesday. “It’s hard to find the word to express how I feel. I feel ashamed, embarrassed, mortified.”

Di Massa was facing up to 30 years in prison before he took the plea deal last year. As part of that deal, he testified against his co-conspirators, John Bernardo and John Trasacco.

Trasacco, 50, a local business owner, made out $432K in phony invoices, which were paid by DiMassa. Trasacco was convicted of fraud after a jury trial and received an eight-year prison sentence in March.

With Bernardo, a city employee, DiMassa formed Compass Investment Group, which invoiced the city grant department for $636K.

Wife Imprisoned      

Despite being a partner in the shell company, Bernardo received just $50K of the embezzled cash. He told a judge at his plea hearing that the first time he learned how much had been siphoned into Compass Investment was when he read about it in the newspapers. Bernardo was sentenced to 13 months in prison in March.

DiMassa’s wife, Lauren Di Massa, who is pregnant, was also implicated. In 2020 and 2021, DiMassa submitted $148K in fake invoices to West Haven’s Youth Violence Prevention Program, which was not part of the Covid relief fund. He requested the checks to be made out to his wife, who was then known as Lauren Knox. She was sentenced to six months in prison for her role in the scheme.

‘Liar and a Thief’

US District Judge Omar Williams chose leniency when sentencing DiMassa over the three to four years recommended by federal prosecutors, citing his contrition and eventual cooperation with the government. But West Haven’s Democratic mayor, Nancy Rossi, was having none of his contrition.

“The city placed its trust in Mr DiMassa,” she said. “Our trust was misplaced. He is a liar, a thief, a con artist, and a degenerate gambler.”

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Cincinnati Baseball Coach Scott Googins Resigns in Wake of College Betting Scandal

Posted on: June 2, 2023, 10:03h. 

Last updated on: June 2, 2023, 10:33h.

Cincinnati baseball coach Scott Googins has stepped down after spending the last six seasons as the manager of the Bearcats. The move comes amidst a betting scandal linked to Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon.

Scott Googins Cincinnati head coach
Scott Googins, seen here in the Cincinnati Bearcats dugout at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, resigned as head coach of the baseball team. (Image: AP)

Bohannon provided insider information to the father of a Cincinnati baseball player. The father then placed suspicious wagers on an Alabama/LSU college game that was played at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.

Googins becomes the second NCAA head coach and the third staffer from Cincinnati to lose their job in the wake of the betting scandal and looming NCAA investigation.

I want to thank Coach Googins for his time and commitment to the Bearcats,” said Cincinnati athletic director John Cunningham via a statement. “We have begun a national search for a new head coach, and we are excited about the future of Cincinnati baseball.”

In mid-May, Cincinnati launched its own internal investigation into the incident. As a result, the school dismissed assistant coach Kyle Sprague and Director of Operations Andy Nagel. Sprague and Nagel had knowledge that the parent of one of their players made a wager on the Alabama/LSU game.

Googins was unaware of any suspicious betting activity, but he resigned before Cincinnati had a chance to fire him.

Quick Recap of the Bama Baseball Betting Scandal

In May, Ohio gaming authorities were alerted to suspicious betting at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati during an NCAA baseball game between Alabama and LSU.

Alabama’s Bohannon scratched starting pitcher Luke Holman because of back stiffness. Hagan Banks instead took the mound, replacing one of Alabama’s top pitchers. Bohannon tipped off a friend about his last-minute pitching change. Bohannon’s buddy placed large wagers on LSU to win the game at a sportsbook located inside Great American Ballpark.

Alabama lost, 8-6, with Banks as the starter.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission used surveillance video to confirm that Bohannon chatted with the bettor who eventually placed wagers on Alabama to lose.

Bert Eugene Neff Jr., the father of Cincinnati pitcher Andrew Neff, was revealed as the bettor and Bohannon’s conspirator.

After the game, Ohio sportsbooks barred their customers from wagering on any Alabama baseball games for the rest of the season. Indiana’s state regulators also noticed suspicious betting activity on the game, and they also ceased any future action on Alabama games.

Investigators didn’t link any college baseball players to this scandal.

Betting scandals involving college sports are common in basketball and football, but it’s rare that baseball is the primary sport involved. College basketball was rife with betting scandals involving organized crime as far back as the 1950s in New York City. Point-shaving scandals featuring Arizona State and Northwestern also occurred in the 1990s.

In early May, the NCAA notified Iowa and Iowa State that some of their student athletes were caught up in an investigation for violating gambling regulations.

Googins: Queen City Baseball Legend

Googins has strong ties to the city of Cincinnati and spent 12 years as the head baseball coach at Xavier University. In 2018, Googins was named the head coach of the University of Cincinnati, which is Xavier’s bitter crosstown rival in the Queen City.

Gogins led Xavier to four trips to the NCAA tournament, including back-to-back appearances in the regional finals in 2016 and 2017 to secure a trip to the World Series in Omaha. Eleven members of the Xavier baseball team who played under Googins were selected in the MLB Draft. His success at Xavier landed him the Cincinnati job and a significant pay raise.

Cincinnati was a national basketball powerhouse with two national championships and six Final Four appearances. Their football program has taken huge strides in recent years, which is the primary reason why Cincinnati will join the Big 12 in 2024. Their baseball program isn’t as prominent as their basketball and football teams.

Googins elevated Cincinnati’s struggling baseball program by winning the 2019 American Athletic Conference tournament championship. In the same season, Cincinnati secured an appearance in the NCAA regional tournament, which was a precursor to the College Baseball World Series. Googins led Cincinnati to its first NCAA regional appearance in 45 years.

During his six-season tenure with Cincinnati, Googins led the Bearcats to an overall record of 143-156.

Under Googins this season, Cincinnati had a losing record at 24-33.

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Gateway Casinos Employees Upset About Handling of Cyberattack

Posted on: June 2, 2023, 09:32h. 

Last updated on: June 2, 2023, 09:40h.

Gateway Casinos employees at the company’s 14 properties in Ontario are furious at how the organization responded to a cyberattack earlier this year that forced the gaming floors to close for two weeks.

Gateway Casinos Ontario cyberattack hacking ransomware
Gateway Casinos workers at the company’s Penticton property are seen in a 2017 file photograph. Gateway’s casinos in Ontario were recently the target of a cyberattack that has many employees frustrated with how the company handled the ransomware event. (Image: Western News)

Gateway Casinos in the Canadian province abruptly shuttered their gaming operations on April 16 after the company’s information technology officers determined a cyberattack had successfully infiltrated the organization’s network. Gateway said the ransomware event rendered the company unable to carry on with its normal day-to-day operations.

As a result, thousands of workers were told to stay home. Gateway said it resolved the matter on April 29 and reopened Gateway Casinos Innisfil. The rest of the company’s Ontario casinos opened in the following days and weeks.

More than a month later, Gateway only recently began offering free credit monitoring services for its employees. That came after third-party cyber professionals assisting the company in restoring the network and IT systems determined that confidential data had likely been seized in the attack.

“While our investigation remains ongoing, Gateway understands that the incident may have resulted in the theft of personal information of certain current and former employees in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario,” a Gateway statement this week read. “At this time, we are not aware of any misuse of information. However, we take the privacy and security of personal information very seriously and want to make sure our employees are kept informed,” the Gateway notice explained.

Union Objection

Unifor is a leading trade union in Canada that represents casino workers in Ontario, including at the Gateway properties. Union spokesperson Greg Weaver voiced objections to Gateway only now offering free credit monitoring services to employees.

Weaver says such service should have been afforded to staffers immediately following the cyberattack.

[Gateway] should have done it from the get-go,” Weaver told Barrie Today. “There is a major concern among our employees. Personal information is confidential, and if it’s out there, who knows what could happen.”

Weaver added that Gateway Casinos workers are “extremely upset.”

“They don’t know if their information has been shared on the dark web. They just know it was susceptible,” Weaver added.

Details Remain Scant

Officials with Gateway Casinos have refused to comment on whether the company paid a ransom to restore its IT systems. The company has said only that it continues to work with law enforcement, financial regulators, and “expert advisors.”

Employees are often the reason for successful cyberattacks, says technology expert Carmi Levy. Speaking with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Levy says hackers target employees inside the organization with phishing emails.

The emails, which Levy says look legitimate, sometimes result in the employee downloading a file to a company computer that provides the cybercriminals with direct access to the organization’s IT systems.

“We think of ransomware as a technology issue, but it’s a human resources issue, a training issue,” Levy said.

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