The California Bureau of Gambling Control (BGC) is investigating the Lake Elsinore Hotel & Casino, also found under the name of the Sahara Dunes Casino, located just off the 15 Freeway. Lake Elsinore Casino (California) has been in operation for over 20 years. The casino‘s owners face allegations that it has long been skipping over proper licensing laws as well as claims of the owners being connected to an “organized crime family”.

For close to two decades, the casino operated with only provisional licenses in a subtle and nondescript brick building that holds a 22-table card room. Some local saw the casino as beneficial business for Lake Elsinore

In fact, the city’s mayor, Steve Manos, called Elsinore Casino “a great partner for the city.” He mentioned that the casino sponsored scholarships in the past, as well as hosted chamber of commerce events. The casino also employs 275 locals, making it Lake Elsinore’s fourth-largest company.

Now it might lose its license, because the California Bureau of Gambling Control (BGC) believes the casino’s owners, Ted and Joseph Kingston, are tied to a polygamous cult. The Kingston Group, described as “a Utah-based polygamous sect also known as the Davis County Cooperative Society”, is notorious in Utah. Authorities believe the Kingston Group forces girls as young as 15 years old into polygamous marriages.

Ted and Joseph Kingston

Despite their wonderful community presence, casino owners Ted and Joseph Kingston, face a criminal trial for tax fraud later this year. Officials also believe the Kingston brothers are a part of the Kingston Group. Though reports don’t indicate what the exact relation is.

According to media reports, the casino is one among many other businesses connected to the Kingston Group including a grocery store, pawn shops, and a high-end firearms maker.

The Kingstons’ last attempt at a permanent gaming license no longer appears feasible. State regulators will deny the license. Among other infractions, the group failed to provide necessary information. However, denial of a permanent license is not an automatic deal breaker for the casino. In fact, Manos believe the casino will continue running.

About the Kingston Group

Back in 2011, the group’s business operation prompted Mark Shurtleff, Utah’s attorney general, to refer to the Kingston Group as an “organized crime family”. The sect’s teachings on race relations led some legal advocacy organizations to label them a hate group.

On top of Shurtleff’s allegation, former members accused the group of forcing young girls, some as young as 15, to marry adult men and family members. According to the allegations, since 1997, the group has produced at least 65 marriages that included brides who were 15, 16 or 17 years old.

which a teacher added a drop of black food coloring to a bucket of water as a form of illustrating the groups views on race relations.

Kingston Group on Race Relations

Former members of the group are now cast members on the reality TV show “Escaping Polygamy”, Jessica Kingston claims sect members frequently use the N-word. She described a Sunday School lesson in which the teacher places a drop of black dye in a bucket of water. The dye stains the entire water sample.

Describing the drop in the water bucket, Kingston said, “The teacher was like, ‘You can never get that out, that is always there now.’ She talked about how you can’t associate with black people or anybody of a different race.”

The Davis Society, or The Order

Kent Johnson, a Davis society spokesman, denied the group teaches discrimination. Johnson said, “The organization I represent believes in freedoms and not discriminating against” minorities.

The group, also known as the Order, started in the early 20th century as a polygamy-practicing offshoot of the Mormon church. By that time, mainstream Mormons disavowed plural marriage. Partly to assure Utah would become a US state, they disavowed polygamy as early as the 1890s.

The Davis Society took things in a different direction. Today, the Order’s attendance is somewhere in the low thousands and have an astounding wealth of $300 million.

To hear former members speak, the Davis Society is an order “through which members consecrate their businesses, homes and personal possessions – down to the shirt on their back – to God. All those assets may legally belong to individual members, but they are managed through the cooperative.”

Shurtleff described the group: “When people hear ‘organized crime,’ they think of mobsters. I don’t think they’re organized crime in that regard. But the racketeering statute defines it as any conspiracy or pattern of illegal activity done in concert with others. If they are money-laundering or making money in support of polygamy and incest, then they probably meet the statute.”

About Elsinore Casino

The Elsinore Casino is a quite little gaming venues, compared to the typically brash standard that California gaming operations hold. Despite its understated nature, Elsinore Casino has been a big success.

The casino just got a new outer facelift with their remodeled digital sign that is now visible from Interstate 15. The sign reads “Welcome to Lake Elsinore … Action Sports Capital of the World”.

The Elsinore features 22 gambling tables, an off-track betting service that began in 2016, as well as a neighboring hotel.

When the Kingstons Bought Elsinore Casino

Ted and Joseph Kingston’s took on the casino in 1991, which at the time was already 13 years old. According to state records, the couple each own 47.5 percent of the casino and the other 5 percent goes to a management company which Ted and Joseph Kingston co-own. State records show that, since the casino has been under the Kingstons, it has had a consistently rough relationship with the Gaming Control Board.

Since their first attempt to secure a license in 1999, Ted and Joseph Kingston have continued to apply to obtain a permanent license to run the casino. These applications consistently have been denied by the state and have ran under a temporary operating license.

2008 Licensing Incident

After filing an application in 2008, California Gaming Control Commission denied a permanent license to the Kingstons. Regulators claims they failed “to disclose required information, the failure to maintain adequate records, the use of inappropriate accounting methods, the failure to notify the Commission of transfers of interest, and the continued employment of a key employee with a felony conviction.”

In 2016, the Commission once again requested they not be granted a license as they said the applicants’ failed to submit complete paperwork and failed to comply in a timely fashion with the requests for the missing information. Bureau officials stated that The Kingstons also “committed numerous violations of (the state Gambling Control Act) … in the operation and management of the Casino.”

About the Author
April Bergman avatar
April Bergman

April Bergman was a longtime news blogger for BOC. She wrote gaming news posts from January 2013 until September 2018. April also wrote slot reviews, strategy articles, and online casino reviews for the site.

April Bergman began in the online gaming industry in August 2010. From 2010 to 2013, she managed evergreen content for several top online casino. Her duties included developing and maintaining multiple websites in the gaming space. When not writing about online gambling, April loves horse racing, travel, photography, and gardening. She's began in the business as a devoted poker players and spent several years as a card game editor on the now-defunct DMOZ. These days, she lives with her husband and two children in the Toronto metropolitan area.

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April Bergman was a longtime news blogger for BOC. She wrote gaming news posts from January 2013 until September 2018. April also wrote slot reviews, strategy articles, and online casino reviews for the site.

April Bergman began in the online gaming industry in August 2010. From 2010 to 2013, she managed evergreen content for several top online casino. Her duties included developing and maintaining multiple websites in the gaming space. When not writing about online gambling, April loves horse racing, travel, photography, and gardening. She's began in the business as a devoted poker players and spent several years as a card game editor on the now-defunct DMOZ. These days, she lives with her husband and two children in the Toronto metropolitan area.

READ MORE
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