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BetOnSports Founder Sentenced to 4 Years in US


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This week a U.S. judge found Gary Kaplan, the founder of leading UK
online sports betting site BetOnSports, guilty on fraud and racketeering
charges and sentenced him to four years in prison and ordered him to forfeit
$43m (£26m) in illegal online gambling earnings.

Kaplan, and many other BetOnSports executives including CEO David Carruthers,
landed themselves in hot water when they were arrested by U.S. authorities for
what essentially came down to encouraging and allowing American gamblers to
place sports-related bets with BetOnSports.

It is illegal in the United States for people to bet over the phone or internet.
And according to court documents, U.S. authorities had been investigating
offshore online sports betting sites from as far back as 1997, and specifically
BetOnSports and many of its top executives since 2001.

The matter first came to light in July 2006 when David Carruthers was arrested
in the United States. Shortly afterwards, BetOnSports fired Carruthers’ and took
down its website. But U.S. authorities clearly intended to make an example of
the UK online gambling firm and its executives.

In March 2007 Gary Kaplan was arrested in the Dominican Republic and extradited
to the U.S. In August this year he pleaded guilty to three charges, including a
racketeering charge. The 50-year-old admitted to setting up businesses in
Antigua, Costa Rica and Aruba to target Americans.

In court this week in St Louis, Missouri, Kaplan’s lawyers requested leniency
for their client, arguing that he was prepared to found charitable projects
aimed at helping the community. However, U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson said
Kaplan knowingly disrespected and broke U.S. laws.

She said, ‘Mr Kaplan made an educated decision, a gamble if you will. Now,
here’s the payoff.’ Kaplan launched BetOnSports in 1995 and by 2004 had built up
a business that employed 1700 people. The firm was based in Costa Rica and at
its height boasted almost one million customers.

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