Very few people would every consider Bingo and scandal in the same sentence. Bingo has always remained separate form gambling both in the eyes of the law and in the opinion of the public at large.
This friendly image of bingo is further compacted by the well know fact that bingo organisations funnel a lot of money to charitable endeavours.
Bingo charities have helped millions all over the world. There certainly is a lot of money moving hands and, it easily attracts some unwanted attention because of this.
There have in fact been many bingo scandals in the past involving all rungs of society. The lure of the large amounts of anonymous money is just too attractive a proposition for criminals and ne’er-do-wells.
British Colombia And Bingogate
Named for the famed political scandal involving Richard Nixon, Watergate, Bingo-gate took place over a 20 year period ending in 1999. At the centre of this scandal was a Democratic Party member called David Stupich.
He orchestrated a vast money skimming operation that would take cash from bingo charities as well as local lotteries and funnel that cash to himself or the Democratic Party.
He used his connections with the Commonwealth Holding Society to perform the crime and he eventually faced 64 criminal charges in the court case that took place in 1999.
He was eventually charged and spent 2 years under house arrest. The Democratic Party paid $115 000 in damages, but it is suspected that the amount of money lost ran into the millions.
The Martinsburg Bingo Scam
In more recent news, 7 members of the Martinsburg community were arrested after an investigation into the fraudulent charity Kids Against Drugs of WV. The charity made most of its money from its business arm called Big Bucks Bingo.
The 7 figures faced 53 criminal charges including money laundering, fraud, illegal gambling and illegal monetary transactions.
The organisation would organise big bingo and raffle evenings for the Berkley County Humane Society as well as the Fraternal Order Of Police #83.
They would in fact donate monies to these organisations, but the subsequent investigations revealed that the charity kept as much as 90% of the proceeds.
This scam went on for 7 years before the authorities caught up to them. Now these 7 members face 75 years in prison along with $1.5 million in fines.
The Marion County Church Bingo Scandal
The church has sued a church run charity bingo parlour, the most lucrative in the Marion County region after allegations of theft, fraud and money laundering.
The church in question, the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church has sued several members of its congregation for mismanaging the bingo charity that has pulled in over $40 million in the last 10 years.
The allegations include the members filing deceptive and outright fraudulent accounting reports and misdirecting the charity funds for their own personal gain.
The accused are Jane Rizzi, her husband Thomas and her son Andrew. Additionally it is suspected that Mark Squillance and Micheal J Snow along with 10 others have also been indicted.
It is touch to say exactly how much money has been skimmed but the funds generated from the bingo hall run into the millions each year.
The high was in 2006 when over $5 million was made from the bingo operation while the low was a $3 million profit made in 2014. Calling it a low however is a bit of a misnomer. A court case is currently pending.
The Racetrack Bingo Scandal
Racetrack bingo was involved in a scandal involving the theft of millions of dollars in charitable donations.
The federal indictment charged Larry and Dixie Masino, owners of Racetrack Bingo. From the court documents, it seems that the Masino’s attempted to extract over $5 million in criminal activity stemming from their charity bingo business.
The charges also extend to defraudment due to the Masino’s involving local charities by charging exorbitant fees for their bingo hall.
Both Dixie and Larry have individually been charged with money laundering.
The investigation into Racetrack bingo started after the Fort Walton Beach Charities group withdrew their support of Racetrack Bingo when they cancelled their contract with the hall which has been running for 10 years. Shortly afterwards the IRS started an investigation and seized $500 000 in assets.
The Australian Cult Leader Bingo Scam
Rocco Leo was a cult leader in South Australia. By the time of his arrest, he had 10 bank accounts, eight pieces of property and a fleet of cars to his name.
He formed a cult under the pretence that the world will end in 2012 but Australian police raided his compound and he fled to Fiji.
From here he raised funds using a fraudulent European bingo operation which raised $198 000. His current whereabouts are unknown.