Underbelly gangsters banned from casinos, racetracks - Monday 30th of June 2008

A HUGE rogues gallery of gangsters, thugs, drug dealers and loan sharks - including Underbelly identities Mick Gatto and Carl Williams - are among a secret group of Australians banned from casino and racetrack venues.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal they are among a group of Victorians banned from Crown casino and 67 racetracks.

The 33 "undesirables" have been slapped with lifetime bans by Victorian Police Chief Commisioner Christine Nixon.

But in a direct challenge to her powers, at least two have vowed to fight the bans in the Supreme Court.

Those banned include underworld identity Mick Gatto, alleged Carlton Crew associate Steve Kaya and gangland figure Michael "Eyes" Pastras.

Jailed gangland figures Tony Mokbel and Carl Williams are also blacklisted, as are Williams father George and Mokbels younger brothers, Milad and Kabalan. Williams has become infmaous to NSW TV viewers through the underworld television series, Underbelly.

Others include convicted money launderer Fadi Sarkis, high-roller Rob Karam and Leanne Allmark, a pathological gambler who stole $1 million to feed a casino pokies addiction.

Photographs have been circulated to police, casino surveillance officers and racing stewards.

Those banned are prohibited from stepping foot within the Southbank casino complex, including restaurants and nightclubs, or any Victorian racetrack.

The group includes notorious bikies, members of powerful Asian crime gangs and loan sharks caught preying on punters with serious gambling problems.

Eight of the banned 33 are women.

The oldest on the list is a grandfather in his 80s.

Section 74 of the Casino Control Act (1991) allows Ms Nixon to "prohibit a person from entering or remaining in a casino".

Most of the bans extend to 67 gallops, harness and greyhound tracks, including Flemington, Caulfield and Moonee Valley.

Crown has been a favourite haunt of some of Melbournes most notorious underworld figures.

Slain Carlton Crew figure Mario Condello was one of the first to be banned after it was revealed he was gambling up to $7.5 million a year in the high-roller Mahogany Room.

Condello - shot dead outside his Brighton East home in February 2006 - was known to bet up to $10,000 on the flip of a single card and once pulled a 30cm blade on a fellow gambler in the Mahogany Room toilets, demanding he hand over cash.

It emerged last year that Tony Mokbel spent a month living in a luxury Crown Towers hotel suite at the height of Melbournes bloody gangland war.

Mokbel also caused a stir when he was photographed thumbing through the form guide in the members enclosure at Flemington on Oaks Day in 2004.

His brothers, Milad and Kabalan Mokbel, have both admitted to drugs charges.

Gatto, acquitted over the 2005 killing of underworld rival Andrew "Benji" Veniamin, also stayed regularly at Crown Towers before being slapped with a ban.

Kaya is an alleged associate of Gatto and was dining with him at Carltons La Porcella restaurant on the day Veniamin burst through the doors of the pizzeria and was shot dead in a rear hallway.

Pastras, whose nickname "Eyes" comes from the $25,000 diamond-studded glasses given to him by two gangland figures, is the brother of a former associate of slain drug boss Lewis Moran.

Pastras also gave evidence in Gattos trial and was later shot in the buttocks and leg by an unknown gunman. He has since denied that the shooting was gangland-related.

Karam, formerly ranked as one of Crowns top 200 gamblers, was acquitted last year over serious drugs charges. He is considering contesting the ban in the Supreme Court.

"I maintain my innocence and Id like to know why I was excluded, because the Chief Commissioner has not given me a reason," Karam said yesterday.

Allmark was jailed in 2003 for stealing more than $1 million to finance her casino poker machine habit.

Sarkis was jailed for 18 months in 2006 after two shipping containers of tobacco were stolen from the Melbourne docks. A County Court jury found him guilty of money laundering and handling stolen goods.

George Williams, 61, is serving a minimum 20-month jail term for drug trafficking.

Another man was banned after a wild brawl outside Crowns Heat nightclub in August 2004.

The 3am clash, involving Chubb security staff and a group of alleged underworld figures was dramativally captured on security footage.

People caught breaching the bans face a $2000 fine, a penalty described by one senior Victorian detective as "nothing more than a round of drinks".

The bans do not extend to interstate or casinos or racetracks.

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