Business

Local bingo operators convicted of illegal gambling operations

February 8, 2018

After an eight-day jury trial, Larry L. Masino, 67, of Gulf Breeze, and Dixie L. Masino, 65, of Pensacola, were convicted late yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Pensacola of wire fraud conspiracy, operating an illegal gambling business, and money laundering conspiracy.

In addition, Larry L. Masino was convicted of 18 counts of money laundering, and Dixie L. Masino was convicted of 20 counts of money laundering. The verdict was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

Larry and Dixie Masino owned and operated Racetrack Bingo Inc. in Fort Walton Beach, which purported to conduct bingo games and provide the proceeds to a group of local charities in Okaloosa County. Between 2006 and 2015, the Masinos conspired to defraud the charities out of more than $8 million dollars. The Masinos specifically falsely assured the charities they were complying with provisions of the Florida statute.

In fact, the Masinos were unlawfully paying themselves and their employees to conduct bingo games and were charging the charities a lease fee based on inflated expenses. Racetrack Bingo was an illegal gambling business because it was conducting bingo games and unlawfully retaining profit, rather than returning the net proceeds of the bingo games back to the players in the form of prizes. The Masinos conspired to launder more than $5.8 million of the bingo proceeds through profit distribution checks that the Masinos and their three children received as shareholders of Racetrack Bingo.

For the wire fraud conspiracy, the Masinos face a maximum of 20 years in prison. For the money laundering conspiracy and money laundering charges, the Masinos face a maximum of 10 years in prison. For operating an illegal gambling business, they face a maximum of five years in prison.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 25, 2018, at 1 p.m. at the Arnow Federal Building in Pensacola.

This case resulted from a joint investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Alicia H. Forbes is prosecuting the case.

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