There has been a rather significant development in the professional sports gambling world, namely the arrests of 25 people last week throughout the U.S. There is much to discuss with this case, but here is a concise summary (from pokernews.com) for now:
Twenty-five people, including the three owners of online sports betting site PinnacleSports.com, have been indicted on charges of operating an illegal sports betting ring in multiple jurisdictions in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada and California.
According to a press release issued by the district attorney in Queens County, N.Y., an 18-month investigation resulted in the arrests and seizure of real property and more than $7.6 million in cash and gambling chips across the country. The press release says that the operation involves 15 defendants involved with illegal bookmaking, and ten defendants who acted as agents, money collectors or banks.
According to the indictment, between April 13, 2011 and Oct. 18, 2012, the defendants conspired to acquire money illegally through the operation of an unlawful gambling enterprise involving the use of Internet web sites that accepted bets on sporting events. The operation, dubbed World Wide Wagers, is accused of illegally accepting more than $50 million in a year and a half, according to District Attorney Richard A. Brown of Queens County.
The indictment also alleges that the ring used nontraditional “wire rooms” in the form of off-shore, Internet-based gambling services – such as www.pinnaclesports.com, used by bettors and agents to actually place their wagers. Pinnacle Sports owners Stanley Tomchin, Brandt England and George Molsbarger were all included in the indictment.
As I have noted many times before, offering timely insights into fast-paced events like this during an academic semester is trying for me. Thus, I’ll revisit this when time allows. Until then, please find below some of the news items I found noteworthy regarding the recent developments. In advance, also know this is precisely the subculture and “big-time” sports betting syndicate underworld exhaustively detailed in Gaming the Game. I spent three years researching this fascinating world, examining everything from the sociology of Las Vegas (runner, movers, sportsbooks, and so on) to the movement of hot money via offshore sportsbooks around the world (including such traditional locales as Curacao, Antigua, and The Bahamas) and via agents in the US (especially the “triangle” of Boston/New York/Philly, Florida, and Nevada/California) to the manipulation of betting lines around the globe, and many other aspects of professional sports gambling. I also researched the federal government’s ongoing investigations into this sort of activity (serious followers of my work may recall I explained the case against former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was essentially a nuisance to law enforcement authorities who were actually probing offshore sports betting and who discovered the 2003-07 NBA betting scandal as an aside), and that I was aware of a massive developing case targeting no less than two consequential figures in the “big-time” sports betting world (neither of whom was arrested this past week, by the way; as such I highly doubt this case/investigation is anywhere near over).
The current case is also important and timely when considering the various initiatives to legalize sports gambling, and also regarding the notion of a “bookmaker”. On a personal note, given my primary research agenda, I am especially interested to see what evidence exists to support the headlines about the case such as “Betting syndicate has ties to organized crime.”