US Indicts 25 in Nationwide Crackdown on Illegal Sports Betting
Officials for the Nevada State Gaming Control Board’s Enforcement Division, working in concert with the FBI and Queens County (NY) authorities, arrested eight Las Vegas-area men in connection with a large internet-based gambling ring, including Cantor Gaming’s sportsbook director, Mike Colbert.
The 32-year-old Colbert was employed at Cantor’s “M” Casino, several miles south of the Strip. Cantor officials met with authorities in connection with Colbert’s arrest, and have yet to release a formal statement on the matter.
Seven other Vegas-area men were also arrested in connection with the alleged sportsbetting ring, which was part of a greater, ongoing sweep connected to “Operation World Wide Wagers,” conducted by the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau, with 25 people named in the indictments.
Indictment details confirm that the arrests were connected to activity on Pinnacle Sports (PinnacleSports.com), and also mentions four other sites connected to the activity—Jazz Sports, Wager4You, PlayHere (also known as GoPlayHere), and BetCris.
In addition to Colbert, two men with poker backgrounds were among the seven Vegas-area residents arrested. Paul Sexton, a former minor Full Tilt Poker “Red Pro” (related to other FTP red pros, Keith and Matt Sexton) was among those detained, as was Steven Diano, a frequent WSOP participant with seven lifetime cashes at the Rio.
A press board issued by the Queen’s County DA’s office in connection with the case lists Colbert as an “agent” for the operation, also describing him as a “V.P. of Cantor Gaming.”
According to an accompanying press release, agents “were to build a clientele of bettors who would regularly bet with the enterprise, and were responsible for 'squaring up’ or 'settling up’ with the bettors – usually on a designated day each week – by collecting and paying out money owed.
Diano was described as one of the ring’s “bookmakers,” with the responsibility of overseeing agents such as Colbert, while Sexton was listed as an alleged “collector/distributor” of money, which, for some of the collectors name, involved helping to move money between the US and the offshore sites in Panama and Costa Rica.
The arrests and accompanying court-ordered seizures netted more than $7.6 million in cash and gambling chips from those who were detained. The nationwide ring is alleged to have earned at least $50 million in profits over an 18-month period by acceptng wagers on horse races, pro and college football, basketball, hockey and baseball.
A second press release issued in conjunction with the arrests confirms that the investigation into the ring’s activities began in 2011, and included “ties to traditional organized crime, operating in several states as well as at offshore locations.”
Pinnacle Sports, the world’s largest and one of the most respected online sportsbooks, officially withdrew from the US market in 2007. It operates fully licensed in over 100 countries. It used to operate an online poker room, but closed it due to not holding the required licenses in many European countries.