Authorities in New York have charged four men with running an illegal online sportsbetting operation that raked in at least $927 million in wagers last year from National Football League (NFL) games alone.
In bringing the charges Thursday morning, Ken Thompson, District Attorney For Kings County, alleged that the individuals offered lines and wagering opportunities via a toll-free telephone service as well as through a series of password-protected websites including WagerABC.com, Hustler247.org and TheWagerSpot.com.
Thompson stated that 58-year-old Crestline, California, resident Gordon Mitchnick was the group’s ringleader as he spent roughly $200,000 a month employing staff in San Jose, Costa Rica, to facilitate the bets. The 57-count indictment also names fellow Californians Joseph Schneider, 39, and Claude Ferguson, 43, while the operation’s east coast partner was purportedly 66-year-old Arthur Rossi, who lives in Manhattan. If convicted on the most serious charge of enterprise corruption, the defendants face up to 25 years in jail.
“Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime, it preys on peoples’ vulnerabilities and directly leads to money laundering, loan sharking and a host of other crimes,” read a statement from Thompson. “This huge gambling operation, possibly the biggest one ever to be dismantled by a local prosecutor’s office, allegedly moved millions of dollars around the United States and the world.”
Thompson, who presides over the New York borough of Brooklyn, charged that the syndicate used a variety of methods to allegedly launder payments and proceeds including transporting, transmitting and transferring cash, electronic wire transfers and other financial transactions. As an example, prosecutors declared that their investigation discovered that Mitchnick had purchased over 20 houses as a way to launder his proceeds.
Although Nevada is the only American state to fully offer legal wagering on sports, the United States Conference Of Mayors used it 84th annual meeting last week to call on authorities and lawmakers to find a “new approach” licensed sportsbetting. The organization represents 1,407 cities with a population of at least 30,000 and estimates that $149 billion was placed last year in illegal sports bets.
“Current law is out of step with public attitudes as the vast majority of football fans, 65%, say legal [and] regulated betting will protect the integrity of the games or have no impact on outcomes,” read a resolution passed by the United States Conference Of Mayors at its Indianapolis, Indiana, summit. “The United States Conference Of Mayors and the nation’s mayors believe it’s time for a new approach to sportsbetting in the United States that could include strict regulation, rigorous consumer protections, taxation of revenues to benefit local communities and robust tools and resources for law enforcement to root out illegal sportsbetting.”