English gambler who threatened to burn down casino fronts court 

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
Malaysia tightens travel restrictions as casinos pivot operations

An English man threatened to burn down a casino after losing 400,000 pounds in October.

Poker News Daily reports that 59-year-old Amir Abol Abolghassem made the threat after losing money at Genting Casino Bournemouth.

He is alleged to have brought a five litre container of petrol to the casino and threatened to burn it to the ground.

A casino regular, Abolghassem entered the casino with a bag, saying it was a gift for an employee.

He then went up to the balcony area of the venue, threw a coffee table down to the lower level and started shouting and warning people he was going to “burn it down” and that they should get out.

According to prosecutor Tom Evans, Abolghassem told the casino manager that “you have five minutes to get everyone out.”

He continued lamenting his situation saying “his life was done” and that “places like this needed to be burned down”.

Abolghassem was holding a lighter the entire time, clearly in a position to make good on his promise.

He then got so desperate he held a knife to his own neck, before police placed him in custody.

For his part, Abolghassem apologised.

In court, defence barrister Victoria Hill said Abolghassem was a problem gambling.

“It is the defendant’s gambling addiction, the death of his mother and sister, his health problems, his loss of employment and the effect of lockdown that led to the very desperate state that he was in on the day that he committed the offences,” Ms Hill said.

“It would appear that these offences were carried out with a misguided attempt to show others that that particular casino was not a good place to visit.”

Last Friday, Judge Oba Nsugbe QC sentenced Abolghassem to 20 months in prison, but suspended the sentence two years.

He also issued a restraining order, barring Abolghassem from gambling venues in the United Kingdom for 10 years.

While Nsugbe said what Abolghassem did was very serious and could have ended up to be quite dangerous, he was fairly lenient because Abolghassem did appear to show genuine remorse, readily admitted what he did, had people speak up on his behalf and has solid prospects for rehabilitation.

Online poker booms as pandemic presents opportunity 

While casinos have been closed and sport is played behind closed doors, it appears online poker companies are raking in more money than ever during the pandemic.

Market Watch reported in early December that New Jersey hit a monthly revenue record of $93.5 million in October from online poker and casinos, up 106.7 per cent from the same time last year.

Pennsylvania saw its online casino and poker rooms generate a record $59.8 million gross revenue in October, a record for the state.

Those two states, along with Nevada, have typically the most gaming revenue in the United States and are good indicators for the industry.

“On a purely business level, it strengthened our business. Our business has really thrived,” vice president of US Business at Gambling.com Max Bischel said.

“We had more people focused on online casinos. The online business grew substantially throughout quarter two and three to a new level.”

Gambling.com connects bettors with online gambling companies.

While no major professional and college sports were being played from March to May, the industry saw a big jump in its total players.

Bischel claims players who might normally bet on sports would play “a couple of hands of blackjack or sprint the roulette wheel a few times” during the summer sport hiatus.

Now that sports are back, bettors are not choosing to either bet on sports or play online poker, they’re doing both.

“You’re back to pre-pandemic levels with sports, coupled with the increase in online casino activity,” Bischel said.

“It’s hard to think in retrospect what would have happened with a pandemic, but as the situation stands today, it’s pretty positive for the industry.

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