|A total of 27 people, including a professional baseball scout and a renowned poker player, have been charged in connection with a $1 billion-a-year gambling ring that reportedly rivalled casino sports books. |
According to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the illegal betting scheme was orchestrated through the website, Playwithal.com, by 52-year-old poker player James Giordano. The scam was reportedly uncovered last year when FBI agents retrieved information from Giordano’s laptop computer while he was attending a wedding.
Among the arrests was that of Frank Falzarano, also 52, identified by prosecutors as a scout for the Washington Nationals and a former scout for the San Francisco Giants. It is alleged he was a top earner in a network of 2,000 bookmakers who took more than $3.3 billion in cash wagers since 2004.
“This is the largest illegal gambling operation we have ever encountered,'' Kelly said at a news conference. “It rivals casinos for the amount of betting.''
The gambling ring differed from the conventional online operations that fall under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, with the scheme involving the placing of sports bets through bookmakers, who would assign bettors a secret code to track their wagers and monitor point spreads and results through the secured Web site.
The prosecution is seeking the forfeiture of $500 million in assets, “among the largest such cases ever filed,'' Brown said.