Efforts to bring legal sports betting to New Jersey residents have earned Gov. Chris Christie and state Sen. Ray Lesniak ‘juice’ in the Garden State’s sporting world, according to a Star-Ledger writer. Steve Politi’s list of the state’s top 25 sports figures ranked Christie No. 1 in part because Christie “hasn’t been afraid” to challenge the four major pro sports leagues, the NCAA and the Department of Justice to be allowed the same sports betting privileges as residents of Nevada. Lesniak, the chief architect behind the sports betting legislation that Christie signed in January 2012, bookended the list at #25.
Christie and Lesniak’s efforts to give their citizens the right to bet on sports without fear of federal agents breaking down their doors is undeniably laudable. If such privileges were granted nationwide, it would give the DOJ things to do other than filing indictments like the ones unsealed Friday against nine members of a Philadelphia credit betting operation. The investigation was led by the FBI, the IRS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations as well as state police in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The betting ring utilized password-protected online sites such as 247fantasysports.com and YourBetsOnline.com to enable its customers to place their sports wagers. If convicted on all counts, the two ringleaders face life sentences while the other seven defendants face maximum stints of 20 years.
On Thursday, a California man was handed a 16-month sentence for his role in the September 2012 sports betting and poker ring bust in Oklahoma City. As part of his guilty plea, Richard Allen Hancock agreed to forfeit $1.45m on top of the over $1m he’d already turned over at the time of his arrest. Another member of the ring, Gary John Gibb, was also given 16 months at his sentencing a week earlier after agreeing to forfeit $500k.
Finally, another week promises another DOJ payday stemming from April takedown of that Russian mob-led New York/Los Angeles VIP poker and sports betting ring. First Hollywood producer Bryan Zuriff copped a plea and $500k then two more figures forked over a combined $400k. The New York Daily News has since reported that Edwin Ting and pro poker player Justin Smith will enter guilty pleas in federal court on Sept. 4. Smith will reportedly admit to processing online gambling payments while Ting will plead guilty to running an illegal gambling business. The amount of their contribution to the DOJ’s forfeiture piggy bank wasn’t specified, but will likely be in the mid six-figure range.