Another online sportsbetting ring bust

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MORE U.S. SPORTS BETTING ARRESTS

Costa Rica the base for online sports betting site

Reports from Reuters and the Washington Post this week indicate that U.S. authorities have arrested eight people involved in a Costa Rica-based online sports gambling operation.

Reports suggest that the prosecutor has taped conversations of the men talking about bets and payments of bets that were being made online, and there are claims that the ring used a Pakistan based cash processor to transfer money back and forth between the United States and offshore accounts.

Twelve accuseds are named and face charges including conspiracy and illegal gambling in an indictment unsealed on Monday in Manhattan federal court for their role in operating a gambling Web site and call centre that allegedly serviced U.S.-based sports bookies.

The US attorney in the Southern District of New York, which charged the group, said that the websites had gathered millions of dollars a year from hundreds of bookies since at least 2005.

U.S. prosecutors said that starting in that year Carmen Cicalese headed the operation out of Costa Rica, charging several hundred U.S. bookies weekly fees of $15 to $30 for each gambler they registered.

The gamblers then placed sports bets either via a toll-free number or on Web sites including datawager.com and betwestsports.com, the indictment specified. While the operation set the odds for the bets, the payouts were left to the bookies. U.S.-based "runners" for the operation collected the fees and transferred the money back to Costa Rica through couriers, credit cards and electronic funds bank transfers.

Eight arrests were made in the states of New York, Massachusetts and Maryland. Subsequent reports indicated that Patrick Cicalese, Carmen Cicalese, and Francis "Butch" Pugliese, all named in the indictment, pleaded not guilty to charges which include gambling and conspiracy counts.

Prosecutors said the online gambling operation was run by Carmen “Buddy” Cicalese. His accomplices included men with a list of colourful pseudonyms, such as Louis “Lou the Shoe” Santos, Marc “Box” Group, and Carl “Sheepshead” Muraco. The case has been handled by the organised crime unit of the US attorney’s office.

Joe Kelly, a law professor at Buffalo University, told reporters: “If [online sportsbetting] is done offshore, there is still a grey area. If you are dumb enough to do anything in the United States, you are asking for trouble.”
 

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