Arrest Leaves Questions on Gambling


Wow… we didn’t see that coming…

At first the Waterbury Republican-American ran a story about possible conflicts of interest between Randy Petrorniro’s duties as a Town Councilor and his lawsuits against the town pertaining to his Wolcott Rd. propane business. The article focused on a single sentence of the Town’s ethics code stating that elected officials cannot represent private interests before the town. On the surface, this makes sense, except the article overstated that clause. While we don’t want town officials to cover up, cloud, or profit at the expense of the taxpayers who elected them, the questions raised by the article overstate the general right of the same public official to preserve and maintain their property without the intent to profit from it. As for the merits of the lawsuits mentioned in the article, that’s a different matter.

Then we read news reports of a probe by the FBI, IRS, and State Police of a Hartford area sports gambling ring. At first, it seemd like an interesting but fairly typical day in Connecticut law enforcement. Sports gambling appears to be fairly common in Connecticut with football pools openly displayed in bars and workplaces throughout the state. In fact, gambling of all kinds exist for adults and and tempt children. Bingo, lotto and trips to Foxwoods are just the tip of the iceberg where you can try dropping a dime to make a dollar. Many newspapers even publish an odds column in their sports section. We’ve always wondered why they do this if using this kind of information to drop a dime to make a dollar is illegal. Many young Yankee and Red Sox fans browse the sports odds inches away from their favorite teams’ standings. We don’t understand what the lingo in these columns means, but those middle school fans have plenty of time to learn the technical terms of hard core gamblers so they too can impress classmates with flashy bling and fancy cars.

Are these lines published for our own curiosity on who is supposed to win this Sunday afternoon? Or are they as enticing as ‘lines’ of other addictions which a forum at Tyrrell School earlier this week attempted to address.

And then the fallout hit town. Petroniro’s troubles quickly moved from politically questionable to criminal. Those who allegedly participated in the gambling ring included Petroniro, fellow resident Anthony Disantis and WTIC AM sports radio host Joseph Schlosser, aka Sebastian. Police have hinted at more arrests and the seizure of luxury vehicles and other unmentioned but likely expensive assets raises questions as for how far reaching this organization was.

Petroniro and Disantis are both charged with professional gambling and transmitting gambling information. Both charges are Class A misdemeanors which carry prison terms of up to one year or $2,000 fines. Both are reported to have voluntarily tuned themselves into State Police over the weekend.

Wolcott has experienced dark news periods like this before. Mr. Petroniro’s two civil lawsuits against Town land use boards in state and federal courts, plus his new arrest and maintaining his businesses give him plenty to deal with at this time. Each are significant distractions from anything he could have accomplished on the Town Council, and pose serious questions of ethics and motivation in his former elected position.

As for football pools, a statement by the State Police earlier this year says that such pools are legal, as long as there is no profit or ‘cut’ taken from the pool. In other words, all of the money that goes into the pool must be given out to the winners of the pool. The organizer cannot take anything for expenses or for organizing it. Yet, the money involved in some of these payoffs could also lead to personal gambling problems even if they are legal. Regardless of their leglality, spending money on activity other than upkeep of a home and family causes problems far beyond the addict.

How to spot a Gambling addict: http://www.mainstreet.com/article/family/marriage/divorce/how-spot-gambling-addict

Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling website: Hotline: 800-346-6238

These are our thoughts on today’s news. What are yours? Is state gambling policy confusing for for adults and children? Click on “leave a comment” for your input.

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