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Russian Authorities Arrest 100 People in Illegal Gambling Crackdown

The Russian police have revealed an underground casino network in Moscow during a joint operation of several investigative offices. Following a long investigation and more than 80 searches of businesses and homes, authorities have detained 100 people, including the leader of the criminal organization, A. Bazhanov.

The news of the massive operation that uncovered one of the largest criminal syndicates in the Russian capital was announced Wednesday by the press service of ICR, an abbreviation for the Investigative Committee of Russia, which is the country’s anti-corruption agency. The investigation, however, was conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the FSB, the Federal Security Service, which is the main successor agency to the former KGB.

With this large-scale operation, authorities revealed that the criminal organization has created a sophisticated network of 15 illegal casinos and gaming clubs in Moscow. They operated under the guise of legal bookmaker Panorama LLC since May 2016 and provided illegal gambling outside Panorama’s official premises. The betting company is working under several brand names, including GreenBet, UnionBet, and WinLine. Members of the criminal organization managed to conduct unsanctioned gambling operations using specialized equipment.

Investigators have cracked down on the activities of 15 Moscow casinos and detained 100 individuals after a huge number of offices and apartments were searched, ICR’s Yulia Ivanova said. Initially, 47 of them will be charged with different crimes, she added. According to her office, investigators have united a total of 12 criminal cases. This is certainly one of the largest operations against illegal gambling businesses in Russia in the past few years.

Underground Casinos Earned Millions of Rubles Every Month

The criminal syndicate that organized the illegal gambling and betting operations probably started as a much smaller activity of A. Bazhanov. Over a period of 2 years, the network expanded to around 15 gaming clubs and casinos, which generated revenues worth hundreds of millions of rubles every month. The leaders of the group had a lavish lifestyle, according to investigators. They purchased a top-tier real state, as well as expensive cars and other luxury items.

The structure of the network was neatly set up, so the different levels of the operation functioned separately. Many of the individuals did not know their fellow syndicate members but it was the leaders of the organization who were surrounded by the ultimate secrecy. Various technological innovations were used such as IP phones and messaging apps, there was a strict hierarchy, and accomplices’ tasks were clearly distributed.

This is not the first investigation against illegal gambling groups in Russia, with various underground betting shops and gaming clubs being uncovered across the country. According to the data revealed by authorities, however, this large-scale operation has eliminated one of the largest networks of illegal casinos in Moscow. The organization led by Bazhanov is also one of the biggest criminal groups uncovered in the capital.

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2018/2019 WSOP Circuit Carries on with William Watson’s Title in $400 No-Limit Hold’em

The fifteenth season of the World Series of Poker is currently running at the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek in Florida. The Circuit has given away yet another WSOP gold ring during the fifth event of the festival as William Watson defeated 56 players and won $6,805 in cash.

This is the first WSOP title and the first ring in Watson’s career, although he has played in many other tournaments under the same brand. Last month, he finished second in Cherokee, North Carolina, where another stage of the Circuit was held. For his runner-up position in the $600 No-Limit Hold’em, Watson received an attractive cash prize of $28,986, significantly more than he won in Coconut Creek on Tuesday. With his latest finish, his total live earnings are now close to $200,000.

On Monday, he took part in the $400 No-Limit Hold’em, the fifth event during the 2018/2019 WSOP Circuit which continues at this venue until September 23. The tournament did not manage to attract a large entry field, with only 57 players registering for the event. The total prize pool was $18,150, so only the top 6 players finished in the money and received a guaranteed minimum of $1,071.

The 29-year-old William Watson, who is a professional poker dealer from Lexington, Kentucky, became a chip leader even before the official final table was set. On Monday, he led the last 10 players with his 198,100 in chips. Only two players had a chance of reaching him, as they stacked a little over 100,000. Ian O’Hara had 140,000, followed by Stephen Bierman and his 103,000 in tournament chips.

Things rapidly changed and on Tuesday, when the surviving 5 entrants returned to the tables, Greg Paryani from Jacksonville, Florida, was the big stack with 237,000. The first player to bust was Matthew Bretzfield, who received $1,398 for his fifth place. Despite his initial advantage over the others, Paryani followed him in fourth place, cashing $1,906. Zo Karim, an experienced poker player from Orlando, Florida, was then eliminated in the third place and Watson had to meet Ian O’Hara (Boca Raton, FL) for the title.

The professional poker dealer defeated O’Hara in the heads-up, receiving his first WSOP ring and the top prize of $6,805, while the runner-up took home $4,211.

$400 NLH Monster Stack to Exceed $100,000 Guarantee

There are a total of 12 official ring events during the poker festival currently underway at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. One of the most exciting tournaments, the $400 No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack already kicked off on Tuesday. There is apparently great interest towards this event, probably as a result of the amazing guaranteed prize pool of $100,000. There were 241 entries over the first starting flight and paying the $400 entry fee, they generated $79,530.

With another flight scheduled for Wednesday, the guarantee will definitely explode to a much more enticing prize pool. Only 28 players survived the poker action on Day 1A and will return to the tables for Day 2 on Thursday. Those who did not make it can try again on Wednesday during the second starting flight after cards get in the air at 11.00 a.m. The top players from the two flights will fight for the title on September 20.

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New Bill Envisions Legalized Sports Betting in DC

Several states have already legalized sports betting after the historic United States Supreme Court decision in May, which deemed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional. The next region to allow sports wagers may easily become Washington D.C. as a new bill was introduced Tuesday.

The legislation was proposed by D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) who said in a statement that if passed into a law, the bill would bring more revenue to the District. According to him, the District should act quickly if it wants to tap into this new and lucrative market. In order for the region to secure boost to city coffers, however, D.C. lawmakers should take action as soon as possible.

Neighboring Maryland already has casino gambling, while Virginia is considering sports betting. In his statement, Evans points out that the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia is currently targeting D.C. gamblers. In fact, this is the closest gambling facility available to D.C. residents as it is located only 75-minute drive from Washington Downtown. According to the Council member, the proposed bill would bring in revenue for the District rather than other jurisdictions making money off of D.C. gamblers.

The bill was introduced by Evans along with Council members Cheh, Gray, Bonds, and Todd. It is now being referred to the Committee on Finance and Revenue and needs to go through several procedures before being passed as law. Evans believes that the majority of his colleagues in the Council are in support of the amendment of the current gambling legislation. He says the bill has been drafted with the offices of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D).

The Washington Post published the Bill and contacted both the Mayor and the Council Chairman. While Mendelson told the paper that was against legalized gambling, he was a strong supporter of the amendment because it reflected the Supreme Court’s decision. He thinks that with the lifting of the federal ban on sports betting, an increased number of states would join New Jersey and would allow wagers on sports events.

Sports Betting Bill Highlights

D.C. Council member Jack Evans proposal would allow residents of the District of Columbia to bet both in land-based facilities and online on websites and on mobile devices. The terms “sports wagering” includes parlays and single-game bets, as well as live bets. Overall, all types of bets are being considered, including money lines, teaser bets, over-under, pools, exchange wagering, straight bets, and proposition bets.

The bill also consists of provisions regarding the sports wagering operators. For instance, the initial license term would be 5 years and applicants will need to pay a license fee of $50,000, with another fee of $50,000 payable at the time of license renewal. The proposed tax is 10 percent of the monthly gross revenue of the operator. However, there is no mechanism for collecting the taxes. Evans does not include an initial projection for the size of the market in D.C. and there are no estimates of the potential tax revenue received by the District.

Evans’ proposal was supported by the Mayor’s office. In a statement, Bowser’s chief of staff John Falcicchio said that legalized sports betting could help the District fund critical programs and create jobs for the residents. Half of the revenue would subsidize early-childhood care programs and some of the money would go to the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

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FanDuel Declines to Pay Out $82,000 Bet Due to Pricing Error

New Jersey bookmaker FanDuel has declined to pay out a bettor his potential winnings of around $82,000 due to a pricing error. The dispute has not yet made it to court but it was reported by a local TV station, which explains that the $110 bet on Broncos was placed at the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

The gambler, identified in News12 New Jersey as Anthony Prince, made an in-game bet on Sunday, relying on Denver Broncos trailing the Oakland Raiders 19-17 in the fourth quarter. Prince went to the counter to place a bet after quarterback Case Keenum passed to the Oakland 18-yard line. FanDuel’s system immediately updated the odds in order to reflect the new situation – Denver had to become a -600 favorite. However, a glitch occurred in the live feed and the odds were displayed differently, putting the Broncos as +75,000 underdogs.

As a result, Prince placed his $110 bet on incorrect 750-1 odds and on his ticket, the potential payout was $82,610. In reality, the correct odds of -600 should have earned him $18.35, ESPN’s David Purdum explains. Eventually, Broncos scored a 20-17 win and Prince went to the counter to collect his winnings. The FanDuel Sportsbook replied that it could not pay him on the 750-1 odds displayed on his ticket. The gambler was instead offered $500, along with skybox tickets to three New York Giants games.

He rejected it, insisting that they owed him the winnings from the ticket. Apparently, Anthony Prince plans on hiring an attorney and demanding the $82,610 payout in court, as it becomes clear from the News12 New Jersey coverage. While the bettor has not yet taken the dispute to court, the case is under investigation by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which is the state gambling regulator. Citing New Jersey regulations, ESPN says that betting operators do not have the right to void wagers without approval by the DGE.

FanDuel’s Response

Prince expressed his disappointment with the sportsbook, saying he thought the operation would be much better and safer now that it is legal and regulated. Illegal bookies might still be a better option, however, he noted. In an official statement on Tuesday, FanDuel explained that glitch in their system and said that over an 18 second period, there were several bets placed at the erroneous price during the Sunday game.

The sportsbook added that it paid out all winning bets but at the accurate market price. This is not just an industry practice but such unfortunate cases are specifically addressed in FanDuel’s house rules, the statement continues. Betting companies’ rules and policies, however, should always comply with the state or national regulations. Sportsbooks in other jurisdictions address such issues in a different way. In Nevada, for instance, sports betting operators are required to inform the Gaming Control Board about errors of this nature. An investigation determines whether the bet would be paid off or canceled.

Things are bit different in the United Kingdom where betting regulations are generally very strict and cover any situation. One of the largest bookies in the country is Paddy Power Betfair, the gambling and betting group that owns FanDuel. Whenever glitches in the live-odds feed occur, they are called palpable errors and such bets are void.

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Formula One Inks Historic Sponsorship Deal to Launch Live Betting

Formula One, the highest and most prestigious class of auto racing sports in the world, has surprisingly changed its years-long attitude towards sponsorship by bookies on Tuesday. The brand’s owner, Liberty Media, announced it has signed a sponsorship and data rights deal with Interregional Sports Group and Sportsradar.

As part of the groundbreaking partnership, the first ever F1 betting offering will be created, allowing fans to place live bets on the competition. According to an official press statement, released Tuesday, the deal enables the development of in-play betting markets. For the first time in the history of Formula One, millions of people around the world will be able to wager easily on Grand Prix.

This is the first strategic partnership for Formula One and according to media reports in The Edge, the contract between Liberty Media and the two companies costs US$8 billion. The Financial Times estimates that the deal will be worth at least $100 million over the next five years. Interregional Sports Group (ISG), which is a London-based marketing agency, will grant betting partnership rights to various betting brands in regulated markets. This will include on-screen graphics, trackside signage, as well as digital integration with the social platforms of Formula One, the statement reveals.

Although the details of the deal are still unclear, ISG would make an upfront payment to Formula One and then, it would sell the access rights to gambling companies. The other company in the partnership is Sportsradar, a sports betting and data analyzing firm, headquartered in Switzerland. According to the press release, the company and its Fraud Detection System will provide assistance with the safety and integrity policies. It already works with various rights holders and helps them prevent and fight match-fixing. Some of these leagues are NBA, NHL, FIFA, World Rugby, ITF, UEFA, AFC, and more.

F1’s First Betting Sponsorship Deal in 40 Years

During Bernie Ecclestone’s era, which continued for 40 years, the endorsement from betting companies was not allowed. Ecclestone who ran Formula One since the 1970’s did not want the brand to be associated with gambling in order to preserve its glamorous image. Most sports, leagues, and teams, on the other hand, have signed multi-million sponsorship deals with sports betting and gambling companies over the years. Such partnerships have increased in value in recent years, earning fortunes to some of the most successful teams in the world.

The deal with ISG and Sportsradar will not only allow fans to place live bets but it will also enable advertisements to be displayed on electronic billboards track-side. Gambling brands will be flashed on the track and on-screen during televised races. After this partnership takes into effect, Formula One will become a lot like English football, for example. This season, 17 of all 24 Championship clubs and 9 of all 20 Premier League clubs are sponsored by sportsbooks, which names are clearly displayed on footballers’ shirts.

The move is an important shift in the business strategy from what was practiced over decades under the previous owner. But it also comes in a time of controversy regarding the influence of gambling giants on sports groups and major sporting leagues. For this season, Formula One has 21 races which take place worldwide. Some of the countries where they are held, however, prohibit or restrict gambling ads during live broadcasts.

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