News 4 Investigates: Banned Gamblers -

News 4 Investigates: Banned Gamblers

The state of New Jersey has banned about 200 people from entering its casinos, including many alleged mobsters repeatedly arrested by state and federal law enforcement officials. However, all of them are welcome to gamble in Missouri and Illinois casinos.

I am talking about people like Frank Coppa, Sr. According to the New Jersey Gaming Commission website, "he has been identified by federal and state law enforcement authorities as a "Capo" in the Bonnano Organized Crime Family. Frank Coppa, Sr. has an arrest record in New York State ranging from 1962 to 2000. On March 1, 2000, federal criminal indictment No. 00-196 was filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, charging Frank Coppa and 18 other defendants with racketeering through the commission of multiple illegal acts, including conspiring to commit and committing securities fraud, and money laundering. On September 24, 2001, Frank Coppa pled guilty to securities fraud conspiracy."

Coppa can gamble in casinos anywhere except New Jersey.

I do not mean to pick on Mr. Coppa, but this is nuts! If Coppa is a threat to a New Jersey casino is not he a threat to every casino. And, if he is not considered a threat in any other state why is he banned from New Jersey? Okay, he lives in New Jersey. Now, do you really believe a big gambler banned in one state will not travel to another to play some cards or the slots? I would not take that bet, would you?

John Termini, who is on the Missouri Exclusion List, told me that he travels to Nevada and Mississippi to gamble in casinos in those states. I believe Termini is the rule, not the exception.

In September, I reported on the Missouri Exclusion List, which is not found on the website of the Missouri Gaming Commission, even though many other states make it easily available through their websites. Our first story, broadcast ten weeks ago, reported that men banned from Illinois and Nevada casinos based on their criminal records in Missouri, are still allowed to place bets in Missouri casinos. Gene McNary, the Executive Director of the Missouri Gaming Commission, promised they would be added to the list, but they are still not on the list.

McNary insists it will take time to research the backgrounds of people banned by other states. However, he insists the Illinois Exclusion List will be added to Missouri's list within two months. If that happens Missouri would become a national leader in attempting to expand the number of people considered too "unsavory" to gamble in a casino. McNary is also lobbying support for combining the lists of all states into a national Exclusion List.

A national list would keep someone perceived to be a Nevada casino out of casinos in the St. Louis area.

Someone like Sandra Kay Vaccaro, the only woman to ever placed on the Nevada List of Excluded Persons. According to the Nevada Gaming Commission website, Sandra Kay Vaccaro "was a co-defendant with her husband, John Vaccaro, in one of the largest slot cheating cases in Nevada history which involved millions of dollars in fraudulent jackpots."

The casinos of Illinois and Missouri welcome Mrs. Vaccaro with open arms. However, I doubt if I am telling her something she did not discover years ago.

After all, she is from Granite City.

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