Florida Couple Ordered to Return $6m from Illegal Bingo Operation

  • A Florida couple has to pay back near $6m they stole from charities through their bingo operations
  • The Masinos were operating bingo games on behalf of charities but taking a slice of the action for themselves
  • Larry Masino had previously been prosecuted for doing something similar in Tallahassee in 2010
  • He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for his latest transgression and his ex-wife will be under house arrest for four months
Welcome to Florida sign
A couple in Florida has to return nearly $6m to a several charities.

Details of this case

A couple from Pensacola, Florida, has been sentenced for an illegal bingo operation they were running. As part of their sentence, they now have to pay back nearly $6m (£4.7m) to players and charities that were involved with these bingo games.

Larry and Dixie Masino, who are both in their sixties, were found guilty by a jury on charges of conspiracy and money laundering through their Racetrack Bingo operation in the Fort Walton Beach area. News of the sentencing came via the office of the Northern District of Florida’s United States Attorney.

The Masinos were divorced but were still working together as business partners. They are the owners of Racetrack Bingo and they were running bingo games on the behalf of a number of charities in the region. However, the charities were not aware that the Masinos were, in fact, retaining large amounts of the proceeds for their personal use.

They were to be using these funds as part of the prize pools for future bingo games as per state laws. They were operating these bingo games in this manner from 2006 until 2015. In that time, they are said to have taken and laundered total profits of $5,813,584 (£4,580,523).

Sentencing of the Masinos

Larry Masino originally organized the illegal scheme. He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and an additional two years of supervised release. Dixie Masino operated these bingo games from 2006 until 2015, after her former partner was prosecuted for running illegal bingo games in Tallahassee. She has been sentenced to house arrest for four months and she will be on probation for a total of five years.

They also need to pay back the nearly $6m they took from these illegal operations. The government has already confiscated $1.5m (£1.18m) from the Masinos’ bank accounts and they have also forfeited three properties. The proceeds from the sale of these properties will go toward paying back the $6m.

Larry Masino and his son Josh were operating Racetrack Bingo on South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, when they got in similar trouble in 2010. They pled no contest to their charges. Both men got two years of probation and 100 hours of community service. They also had to pay restitution of over $87,000 (£68,700) to 11 charities.

Reaction to this case

US Attorney Lawrence Keefe said: “With today’s sentencing, the Masinos will pay a high price for defrauding unsuspecting charities whose sole mission was to help others. This office has zero tolerance for illegal gambling schemes, especially those that target charitable organizations.”

The lead prosecutor was Assistant US Attorney Alicia Forbes following an investigation by teams at the Okaloosa County sheriff’s office, the FBI, the Criminal Investigation team at the IRS, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

This case shows that even legitimate gambling operations can be subject to this sort of criminal activity.