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15 August 2010

Underbelly Real Life With Pokies And Gunfire, by Greg Tingle - 14th August 2010

Australian casino news sees the crime theme level hit fever pitch. With a script right out of Hollywood, Melbourne sees real life Underbelly return, with bloodshed, bullets and a pokies connection. The Underbelly scenario follows yesterday's report of Melbourne Crown Casino Chinatown high rollers getting busted for drugs, a curious casino chips connection and the works. Media Man and Gambling911 once again don the bullet proof vests and call on the sniffer dogs with this special report from the war zone. 3, 2, 1 rolling and action...

Underbelly real life has appeared to return to the now mean streets of Melbourne, down under in Australia.

Evening peak hour traffic in downtown Lygon Street, Carlton. One Aussie bloke dead as wood inside the doorway of a pokies pub, another fella lying on the footpath outside the venue. A gunman darts across a public park, reloading his weapon on the run.

The deceases were said to be middle aged, both gunned down at close range. A 3rd man was has been detained in custody, being questioned over the murders.

Earlier that fateful day, in another part of Melbourne, another man lay dead. Just before 11am, a gunman jumped out of a sedan in Conifer Avenue, Brooklyn, in the city's industrial western region. He strolled towards the bearded figure of Macchour Chaouk, who was standing in his backyard, and fired several rounds into his chest.

Everyone is looking to see if there is connection between the two bloody baths. Let us also recall the Crown Casino Chinatown crims who got busted for drug dealing around the same period, with a somewhat casino chip connection, often spotted in Crown's Mahogany Room (they won't be coming back to play nor mingle).

65-year-old Chaouk, a Lebanese - Australian man with the rep of a low-mid level crime boss, had died a violent death. Police made little secret that they were looking closely at a rival crime family, which had been engaged in a vicious turf war with the Chaouk clan. Turf is often associated with the patch used for drugs, distribution, deals... you get the idea.

Melbourne police advised a 57-year-old Altona North man was arrested over the shooting at a residential address in Altona North.

Chaouk had served time in the slammer for a for number of drug offences and was charged and acquitted of murdering a drug dealer. The crime figure was involved in two blood feuds: one against the notorious Haddara family; another against Victoria Police force, who in circa 2005 shot dead his son Mohamed when its officers raided their suburban Brooklyn home.

It was last month when papa and two surviving sons, Omar and Waleed, were arrested and guns were confiscated in a series of raids by coppers. It came within a couple of weeks of a drive-by shooting in a nearby suburb that left Sam Haddara with nasty facial wounds. Omar was charged, and reluctantly bailed by magistrate Fiona Stewart on the grounds he avoid the family home.

"There is an ongoing war between two families and the court should be extremely worried about the danger posed to the community by it," Stewart said.

These happenings bring back memories of Alfonse Gangitano and Lewis Moran's Carlton Crew.

The shootings took place in Players on Lygon, a pokies den across the road from Argyle Square. Witnesses to the shootings say they heard between five and eight shots above the noise of rush-hour traffic.

Reloading the weapon as he ran for his life, the killer dressed in midnight black, reached the other side of the popular park before giving up the pursuit.

He then strolled back across the park and into the pokies venue. Several more gun shots were heard in the region. He has returned apparently to finish the job, perhaps engulfed in hate and fueled by the smell of blood.

Homicide Detective Sergeant Wayne Woltsche said the shooting as "outrageous and callous." He said he didn't believe there was a connection between this crime and the earlier murder.

"Two people have been shot in the streets of Melbourne. It is a fairly callous crime. Whether it is an execution, I cannot say."

Police sealed off the Lygon Street crime scene, they were still preping to remove Macchour Chaouk's body from his Brooklyn house under police guard.

Footage captured from a Network Nine helicopter showed Chaouk's wife, dressed in Islamic black, prostrating herself on her husband's body as it lay covered by a sheet in backyard on the family home.

Abour an hour and a half after the murders, three kids, aged one, three and five, who were inside when the killing occurred, were taken from the home, wrapped in what looked to be blankets.

Twenty minutes later, after the arrival of a grey assault vehicle, an army of 11 heavily armed Special Operations Group police officers entered the home to make it safe for detectives, forensic experts and the like.

Family and friends, including 19-year old offspring Omar, still on bail waiting to face weapons, drugs and fraud charges, waited outside for many hours after the shooting as police sealed off the area to the public and curious types. He was not allowed inside until a touch after 3pm.

An aging neighbour heard shouting and several rapid-fire gun shots at the house, on the corner of Geelong Road and Conifer Avenue, just before 11am. Schools in the area locked students in their classrooms, neighbours advised they were not surprised by the killing. They were also aware of the strong potential for further gunfire and murders in their neighbourhood, with one sharing, "It will never end now."

Several described Chaouk as a "friendly man", although all were aware of his family's criminal reputation and then some. "He was always pleasant to me," one man said. "I guess you don't shit in your own nest."

Detective Superintendent Murray Fraser said that at 10.55am a gunman stepped out of a car in Conifer Avenue and fired several shots through the back gate, killing Chaouk. Attempts were made to revive him, but he was dead as before paramedics arrived.

Quizzed whether inquiries were centred on the family feud, Superintendent Fraser went on record with "That's a fairly obvious inference to draw at the early stages. At this stage there is no evidence that we can really rely on to take that matter any further but we have to look at that as an avenue of inquiry, no doubt . . . and we will obviously have to keep an open mind."

Probed if he thought there would be revenge attacks, he shared "That's an issue that we have to plan for. There has been a history of conflict involving the Chaouk family."

Before yesterday, the most violent make up of that history had been the drive-by murder of Mohammed Haddara in June last year. Chaouk's 22-year-old nephew, Ahmed Hablas, was charged.

Hablas's legal eagle, Alan Swanwick, advised his client feared for his life in custody as members of the Haddara family had vowed to take revenge. Those fears will be heightened considerable be it Chaouk id dead.

Back to the Lygon Street killings, suspicions are of an unrelated drug deal gone to *hit.

Lygon Street may never be quite the same, and no doubt these real life 'Underbelly' happenings are ongoing to boost interest in the Network Nine smash hit. Insiders say they will include the pokies connection, and perhaps also draw upon more history with Crown Casino, having a hard time stopping the rumor mill. The TV version of 'Underbelly' has yet more material to work with, as it prepares to screen the Brisbane and Gold Coast - Surfers' Parasise versions.

Unfortunately this 'Underbelly' themed report is real life and we call for calm.

The Late News...

Crown Casino coopering with Australian state and federal police

Melbourne CBD in lockdown mode

Underbelly happenings boost popularity of The Godfather and Hitman slot games

More arrests likely

Victoria, Mildura - Jewel Casino Proposal Getting To Next Level...

A Mildura based community group will round up the troops and assemble to support a Mildura casino following an impressive presentation from champion casino pitch man and developer Don Carrazza this week. "CasinoMeister" (Media Man tag) Carrazza spoke to more than 50 punters at The Office Wine Bar and Lounge re the positive progress of the Mildura Jewel convention centre project aka Jewel Casino... you got to love those long names and the adds ons to add value. Many people at the meeting responded saying a community group should be established to help gather support for the prop and also gain bi-partisan (both Labor and Liberal parties) support. A subsequent meet up for this Monday was arranged to assemble the passionate mob er group. Carrazza told the gathering Mildura’s community needed to show support for the casino. "Mildura at the moment needs a boost. We lost 60,000 acres of land with irrigation; that’s got to be replaced. If we stuff around for too long the people who want to fund this project will walk away. As a community we have to make these politicians understand what we want" said the likable pitch man.

Media Man Profiles



Crown Casino


Australian Casinos

Wrap Up...

Readers, do you think the police are tough enough on the real life 'Underbelly' types? Crown Casino should ride off the publicity and get an Underbelly or Kerry Packer themed slot game? What's your predication for the next colourful crime to happen at an Australian land based casino? Should the Mildura Jewel Casino proposal go ahead? What's your favorite casino games and why? Tell us in the forum.

Crown Casino Connection Colourful Crimes...

'Crown Casino Client Ferrari Stolen With Virgin Valet'

'Crown Casino Shaft Man Probed and Charged'

Readers, know the odds, bet with your head, not over it, and have fun. Don't mix your passion for casinos and gaming with crime, and don't do anything we wouldn't do.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming.

*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited

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