International edition
September 26, 2021

Ending a lengthy investigation and prosecution

BetOnSports founder Gary Kaplan jailed in US

(US).- The founder of the online gambling site BetOnSports.com was sentenced Monday to more than four years in prison, and was ordered to forfeit more than us$ 43 million in illicit earnings as part of a plea agreement. Gary Kaplan had admitted various charges of fraud and racketeering related to his company, BetOnSports.

T

he London-based company encouraged American gamblers to place bets online, an illegal practice in the US. Prosecutors say that Gary Kaplan still has millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts. US authorities have been investigating offshore sports gambling since 1997, and BetOnSports since 2001. Gary Kaplan also has agreed not to block another us$ 7 million being forfeited by associates.

Kaplan pleaded guilty in August to racketeering conspiracy, violating the Wire Wager Act and conspiring to violate it. He admitted setting up offshore businesses in Antigua, Costa Rica and the Caribbean island of Aruba, to provide gambling for US residents through the internet and toll-free telephone numbers. He said BetOnSports had 1 million registered customers and accepted more than 10 million sports bets worth more than us$ 1 billion in 2004 alone.

His lawyers had asked for leniency, arguing that their client wanted to set up charitable projects to help the community. But US District Judge Carol Jackson, in St Louis, Missouri, said Kaplan "continued to disrespect" the law and broke laws he didn't agree with. “Kaplan made an educated decision, a gamble if you will. Now, here's the payoff," she added.

She said Kaplan would not be allowed to launch or run a business without the permission of the probation office. Kaplan founded his offshore betting company in 1995. She also ordered him to substance and mental health counseling, and to earn a high school diploma.

Kaplan, a high-school dropout who started out as a New York bookie, founded the offshore betting company in 1995, setting up entities in Aruba, Antigua and eventually Costa Rica. The firm solicited U.S. citizens to place sports wagers by phone and over the Internet directly from their accounts.

By 2004, BetOnSports' main base in Costa Rica employed 1,700 people and had nearly one million registered customers, the St Louis Business Journal reported. In that year, Kaplan sold BetOnSports shares on the London Stock Exchange which netted him more than us$ 100 million, according to prosecutors.

Online gaming is illegal in the U.S., and in 2006, a federal grand jury indicted Kaplan, his company and several associates. Three other former executives, including two of Kaplan's siblings, have pleaded guilty and will be sentenced Tuesday. A fourth will be sentenced later.

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