Action sought from Justice Department against illegal offshore sportsbooks

by Stephen Bittenbender, Just the News

A bipartisan group of 28 U.S. House lawmakers has put the Department of Justice on notice that they’re concerned about illegal sports betting.

Those representatives – 15 Democrats, 13 Republicans – signed a letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday asking that the DOJ “make a concerted effort to fight illegal offshore sportsbooks.”

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018, legal sports betting has proliferated. According to the American Gaming Association, 30 states and the District of Columbia currently have operators taking bets; five more states have approved it.

That means more than 157 million U.S. residents can place legal wagers from a regulated sportsbook either now or soon. That figure does not include residents from places like Kentucky and Missouri, who can travel short distances to place bets in neighboring states.

But it’s not just the legal market that’s growing, according to the lawmakers. Searches for offshore sportsbooks grew by nearly 40% last year, faster than searches for licensed operators.

“These dangerous operators are not relegated to the dark web, but instead are easily accessed through any computer or smartphone,” the lawmakers wrote. “This creates confusion for many consumers who may not even know they are wagering illegally.”

Lawmakers pointed directly to three – Bovada, MyBookie and BetOnline – they said have platforms that look similar to regulated operators. Despite not being licensed, these sportsbooks still get promoted by “reputable sports media channels” and can offer enticing odds to bettors.

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who co-chairs the Congressional Gaming Caucus with U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., told The Center Square in a statement that the offshore books pose as legitimate businesses. She and Reschenthaler sent the letter to Garland.

“In reality, these illegal operations have no systems in place to protect customers, exposing users to various financial and cyber vulnerabilities, and do not provide the proper protection for users regarding sports integrity, age restrictions and problem gaming,” Titus said. “Additionally, these unregulated sources are utilized by various organizations that take advantage of a lack of vetted protocols to engage in money laundering.”

Rest is here…https://justthenews.com/nation/states/center-square/action-sought-dept-justice-against-illegal-offshore-sportsbooks

NFL hires David Highhill as first executive dedicated to sports betting business

by David Purdum, ESPN

The NFL on Tuesday announced David Highhill as vice president, general manager of sports betting, the league’s first position solely focused on overseeing its business in the legal sports betting industry.

Highhill, who has been with the NFL for 10 years, moves over from the corporate strategy group, where he led the league’s go-to-market sports betting initiatives. In his new role, he’ll be tasked with leading efforts to protect the integrity of the game from gambling-related harm, advance the league’s brand and reputation, grow the value of the NFL’s data and intellectual property and drive fan engagement globally.

In 2018, the United States Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, the federal statute that had restricted regulated sports betting to primarily Nevada. Since the ruling, 30 states and the District of Columbia have launched legal betting, and five additional states have passed legislation.

“It’s a growing market, it’s grown a lot in the last three or four seasons,” Highhill said. “What’s ahead is the exciting part of the opportunity.”

Highhill begins his new position in the early stages of the NFL’s pivot on sports betting. Advertisements for sportsbooks aired during NFL games for the first time this last season. The league has also formed partnerships with multiple sports betting operators, and official data is being sold to bookmakers in the U.S.

Rest is here…https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34162879/nfl-hires-david-highhill-first-executive-dedicated-sports-betting-business

“There Is a Tendency to Romanticize the Gutter”: The Rebirth of Times Square, Port Authority and Bryant Park – An Oral History

by Peter Moskos, Vital City

In 1981, Rolling Stone dubbed 42nd Street between Times Square and Port Authority Bus Terminal the “sleaziest block in America.” The city’s decline could be seen all along 42nd Street. From Grand Central Terminal to Bryant Park to Times Square to Port Authority Bus Terminal—despite a heavy police presence—beggars, drug addicts, hustlers, pimps, prostitutes, con artists, and legitimate stores relieved visitors of their cash by request, guile, or force.

Midtown Manhattan is unique in New York City in that it has deep-pocketed constituents with the financial means to invest in the area’s well-being. At a time when Bryant Park was considered by many to be a lost cause, the Rockefellers helped establish the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation in 1980, which became a business improvement district (BID) in 1986, soon after Albany permitted neighborhoods to establish business improvement districts. The Times Square BID began operations soon after, in 1992.

That same year, Bryant Park re-opened to public and critical acclaim. The city’s crime drop had not yet happened, but the redesign of Bryant Park was a significant achievement in utilizing a broken windows philosophy to reclaim public space by reducing disorder, crime, and public fear.

Rest is here…https://www.vitalcitynyc.org/articles/peter-moskos-oral-history-times-square

Cory Zeidman, former WSOP bracelet winner, arrested on charges of fraud, money laundering related to $25 million sports betting scheme

by David Purdum, ESNP Chalk

A professional poker player was arrested Wednesday on charges of fraud and money laundering related to a sports betting scheme that brought in more than $25 million from alleged victims.

Cory Zeidman, of Boca Raton, Florida, faces federal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering as part of the scheme that spanned from 2004 to 2020, according to a two-count indictment out of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

A law enforcement source confirmed to ESPN that Zeidman, 61, is a professional poker player who won a bracelet at the 2012 World Series of Poker.

According to the federal indictment unsealed Wednesday, Zeidman and his unnamed co-conspirators received more than $25 million in interstate wire transfers and private commercial carriers over 16 years from victims who were led to believe that the organization had privileged information that made betting on sporting events a no-risk proposition.

As part of the scheme, Zeidman and his co-conspirators placed misleading radio ads in various U.S. markets, claiming to have a “sophisticated white-collar approach to gathering sports information.”

Rest is here…https://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/33983292/cory-zeidman-arrested-charges-fraud-money-laundering-related-25-million-sports-betting-scheme

Looking back at four years since PASPA: Jan. 9, sports betting’s almost doomsday

by David Purdum, ESPN Chalk

The sports betting evolution in America began on May 14, 2018, when a landmark decision from the United States Supreme Court changed everything.

Four years later, Americans have bet more than $125 billion according to the Associated Press and legal sportsbooks now operate in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Betting advertising is everywhere, and some stadiums even have sportsbooks. Once-stingy bookmakers are handing out sign-up bonuses worth thousands of dollars, as they fight for a share of what’s expected to mature into the largest sports wagering market in the world.

In the first quarter of 2022, a record $26.3 billion was bet with U.S. sportsbooks, generating $1.58 billion in revenue, according to the American Gaming Association. But there’s an underlying concern about what the U.S. betting market has become. Bookmakers fear the massive, complex betting menus with modern offerings like same-game parlays leave them vulnerable to a potential doomsday.

“I think potentially there is a black swan event, where everything clicks,” Karol Corcoran, general manager of FanDuel’s online sportsbook, said, adding that such an event could be “existential” for smaller operators. “Yes, it could happen, and the chances of it happening are the same every day.”

It nearly did on Jan. 9, 2022.

A wild night in American sports betting

The night of Jan. 9, 2022 will not only go down as one of the wildest in American gambling history, but also as a warning of what sports betting has evolved into — a 24/7 high-stakes battle between cutthroat bettors and paranoid bookmakers who fear an unavoidable black swan event, like the one that almost occurred that memorable Sunday, will someday rattle the industry.

It was Week 18 of the NFL season. An epic upset Sunday afternoon had turned the final game of the day between the Chargers and Raiders into the biggest decision of the season for sportsbooks. Shortly after the NFL primetime game kicked off, though, bookmakers were forced to fend off another threat from bettors, who were reacting to late-breaking news in the NBA.


That call to action was posted by an ex-radio DJ in Indianapolis at 8:35 p.m. on Jan. 9 in a private online sports betting community called Marcus & Beau VIP.

Bettors had just minutes to capitalize. Their quest: Bet as much as possible at the longest odds available on the under on Draymond Green‘s points, rebounds and assists before the Warriors and Cavaliers tipped off at 8:40 p.m.

At 8:31 p.m., the Warriors’ PR team tweeted that Green would be on the court for the opening tip to honor the return of Klay Thompson, but would not participate in the remainder of the game due to left calf tightness. At 8:32, NBA insider Shams Charania amplified the news to his one million-plus Twitter followers. The news traveled quickly in the betting community on popular online forums like MoonshotHQ, Establish the Run and Marcus & Beau VIP. Sportsbooks all the way in Australia felt the effects.

“It speaks to just the speed of how quickly information travels,” Corcoran said. “It’s like lightning.”

Rest is here…https://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/33904446/sports-betting-almost-doomsday


by Richard Shuetz, GGB News

We have a new player in the sports betting conference space and his name is Spanky. He isn’t a hedge fund, a private equity firm, or any of your typical conference controller behemoth type of things. Nor is he a professional conference company that applies a common template across various conference verticals. He is just a very tough and very smart man who has an attitude that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things—oh—and there is a Spanky way of doing things. Bet Bash II was an example of that Spanky way of doing things. Look out world, the conference space is getting real.

There was something unusual about Spanky being in the sports betting conference business in that he had essentially no experience in conferences and a huge amount of experience in sports betting. That is materially backward from the norm. And when I say he knows about sports betting, that is like suggesting that Einstein understood physics. Spanky has forgotten more about betting than most in the industry will ever know—and he learned it by doing it—and what he could not do, he tried to invent.

Rest is here…https://ggbnews.com/article/spanky/

Former minor league baseball player among those charged with running illegal sports gambling operation

by, David Purdum, ESPN Chalk


Federal authorities on Thursday released details of an illegal sports betting ring that was run in part by a former minor league baseball player and involved current and former professional athletes and a sports broadcaster.

Five California men and a check-cashing company were charged in the bookmaking operation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. Charges included operating an illegal gambling business, tax fraud and money laundering.

Wayne Nix, 45, of Newport Coast, California, agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business that took millions of dollars in bets through a Costa Rica-based website, Sand Island Sports, according to the Department of Justice. He faces up to eight years in prison.

Nix, a fourth-round draft pick of the Oakland A’s in 1995, began operating the bookmaking operation around 2002, court documents show. He was in the A’s farm system until 2001.

According to the Department of Justice, Nix used his contacts in the sports world to develop a client list that included current and former professional athletes. He employed three former Major League Baseball players to assist with the business, according to the Department of Justice.

Nix’s plea agreement, which was unsealed this week, highlights multiple incidents with unnamed professional athletes, coaches and a sports broadcaster:

  • On Jan. 7, 2016, Nix received a check for $245,000 from a professional football player for gambling losses.

  • On May 31, 2016, Nix received $4,000 from a Major League Baseball coach.

  • On Feb. 13, 2019, Nix agreed to reactivate the betting account of a sports broadcaster, who said he was refinancing his home mortgage to pay his outstanding gambling debt.

Rest is here

Who is Kenny Gamble? From Philly soul to Universal Companies, here’s what to know.

by Nick Vadala, Philadelphia Inquirer

At the federal trial of City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, some testimony concerns the financial issues of Universal Companies, which federal prosecutors have accused of bribing Johnson and his wife Dawn Chavous, in connection with the redevelopment of South Street’s Royal Theater.

Rest is here…https://www.inquirer.com/news/kenny-gamble-universal-companies-philadelphia-kenyatta-johnson-trial-20220330.html



Organised criminals infiltrating teams to fix matches, Garda warns

by Conor Gallagher, The Irish Times


Organised criminals are infiltrating Irish sports clubs in order to fix matches, Garda fraud detectives have warned.

The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said on Tuesday it was conducting multiple ongoing investigations into suspected match fixing.

It is one of several categories of corruption and bribery investigations currently being undertaken by the Bureau’s Anti-Corruption and Bribery Unit which was established in 2017 to investigate both foreign and domestic corruption.

Det Supt Catharina Gunne said gangs were attempting “to infiltrate themselves into clubs and teams” to rig matches by having a key player deliberately underperform “to ensure a match or a game goes a certain way”.

Organised criminals are using these fixed matches both to “gain illicit funds” and to launder money. The corrupt bets were typically made through unregulated betting channels, she said.

Betting patterns

“We’re involved in investigations but we can’t go into details as they’re active investigations,” Det Supt Gunne added.

Among the investigations launched by the bureau is one into suspected match fixing in the League of Ireland. This was launched after it detected unusual betting patterns during a match in 2019.

Det Sgt Daniel McGinty said bribery did not have to involve money being handed over, and that even the offering or request of a bribe constituted an offence of corruption.

Under the offence of corruption in public office, it was not required for a public official to be paid a bribe, he said. “The public official just has to make a corrupt act in their office which benefits someone else.

“That could be interfering in a procurement process to ensure a particular company they favour gets a contract unfairly.”

Bribes “can also be favours and influences. And if you’re talking about a public official, it doesn’t necessarily have to benefit themselves,” he added.

Rest is here

Calvin Ridley Actually Bet More On Falcons Games Than He And NFL Revealed

by Brett Smiley, SportsHandle

Documents obtained and reviewed by Sports Handle show Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver Calvin Ridley wagered more than the $1,500 he claimed on NFL games and placed more than the widely reported three parlay wagers involving Falcons contests during a six-day stretch in November 2021.

Ridley wagered a total of $3,900 across six separate bets on or including Falcons games. Five of the bets were parlays in which the Falcons’ moneyline was included, and one was a $1,300 in-game wager on the Falcons’ team total placed during the second half of a 21-14 victory by Atlanta on Nov. 28. All six of the wagers involving the Falcons were graded as losses.

The parlays were headlined by a $300, 11-leg bet on NFL games placed on the morning of Nov. 28. At odds of 481/1, the bet would have paid more than $144,000 if successful.

Ridley placed the bets during a period spanning Nov. 23-28, at a time when the receiver was away from the team on the non-football illness (NFI) list. He needed a break from football to focus on his mental well-being, he had written in an Oct. 31 statement.

[Also see: NFL Punishments For Watson And Ridley Aren’t Equal — And They Shouldn’t Be]

As a result of the league’s findings that he violated its gambling policy, which Ridley has acknowledged, the NFL on Monday suspended the 27-year-old former first-round pick indefinitely. The suspension runs at minimum through the conclusion of the 2022 NFL season.

The former Alabama star placed two additional $100 wagers on NFL games not involving the Falcons, winning both, for a profit of $654. According to investigative records, Ridley also placed 33 additional wagers on other sports and leagues for a total of $32,733, with a profit of $2,744.

His net loss across all wagering at the sportsbook — the Hard Rock Online Sportsbook operating in Florida at the time through the Seminole Tribe of Florida — was $1,186. Ridley established the account on Nov. 23.

Ridley’s agent, Ben Setas of SportsTrust Advisors, did not immediately respond to Sports Handle’s request Friday morning for comment on his client’s betting activities.

Rest is here