People like a bit of gambling here and there. Without tossing the dice or spinning the slot machines, some people cannot really live their lives normally. That might be problematic, but it is often the truth. On the other side, people like to occasionally gamble online, browsing the various betting promos to find a casino or sportsbook which suits their needs.
On the business side of things, things can get a bit dicey, pardon the pun, and sometimes out of control. People like money and some like it far too much, so they decide to step over a couple of lines, break a few laws and earn themselves a sentence in prison.
Jack Abramoff did so, in a 2006 casino lobbying incident.
The 2006 Lobbying Incident – the Background
Casinos were very rarely allowed on US soil. The only states which had casinos were Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, Louisiana, and Michigan. That is a relatively small number of states, compared to today, after 2018’s challenging of the PASPA Act, which was found to be unconstitutional.
But back in 2006, it was either Nevada, fully saturated with casinos, or Indian tribe territory. Yes, Indians were allowed to open casinos on their own territories. In 1979, the Seminole tribe were the first to open a casino. Very soon, other tribes followed, realizing that it is a very lucrative business. Since most of the tribes’ territories were close to larger cities, people only had to travel a short while to get to the casinos. They were also a tourist attraction, since you were visiting Indian territories.
But, Native Americans did not always have the success they wanted with opening Casinos. Such is the story of the Choctaw, Coushatta and Tigua tribes.
Lobbying – Influence Turned Corruption
While lobbying itself is not illegal, as it is the attempt to gain influence of representatives or even officials, their actions and decisions. The problem is that lobbying can often go too far, and turn into corruption, scamming and other crimes which end up hurting some people and sending others to prison.
Jack Abramoff had a lobbying team and he had lots of experience with influencing people.
The Choctaw tribe gained access to Abramoff, because they failed at their own lobbying attempts, with a goal related to income tax.
He gained the trust of various tribes who all had plans to open casinos, like the Coushatta, the Agua Caliente Band, the Sandia Pueblo and the Saginaw Chippewa, as well as the Tigua tribe.
His plan was formed in early 2001, with an accomplice Michael Scanlon, to which they referred to as “gimme five”. The plan was to build Scanlon’s firms to have at least 3 million dollars revenue and to have them acquired at triple the price. Apart from that, derogatory terms were used when referring to Native American, often calling them monkeys and idiots in emails sent to his partners.
Abramoff and his partners scammed around 85 million dollars out of all their clients. Abramoff was put on trial in 2006.
The Trial and Sentence
Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy, tax evasion and fraud, in 2006. They had to repay a fine of 25 million dollars to the tribes they wronged. Abramoff himself was sent to a 5 year sentence in prison. Actually, he served 5 years and 10 months in prison. He got out in 2011 and started working as a lobbyist again. He then described his previous work as legalized bribing, which is still present to an extent.
Lobbying is often the talk of many, especially when it comes to politics and anything related to business. It is often frowned upon, and with a good reason. The line between lobbying and breaking several laws is very, very thin.