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Founder of BetOnSports Pleads Guilty in U.S. Court


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American-born online sports betting pioneer, Gary Kaplan, recently
pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to charges of conspiring to violate U.S. federal
racketeering laws, and agreed to forfeit over $43 million he earned ‘unlawfully’
through his popular online sports betting site, BetOnSports.com.

The 50-year-old online gambling entrepreneur was one of the first victims of the
U.S. Department of Justice’s online gambling witch hunt in 2006. On July 17 of
that year, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri office issued
a 22 count indictment for Gary Kaplan and 8 other BetOnSports executives.

The U.S. Attorney cited the Federal Wire Act of 1961, which specifically
prohibits the use of a wire communication facility to transmit bets across state
or foreign borders. But the charges did not end there as Kaplan and his
co-accused were also charged with many other violations, including tax evasion.

Despite Kaplan’ recent guilty plea and payment of $43,650,000 – which he had
wired to the United States from a Swiss bank account last week – he is still not
off the hook. Kaplan’s plea and money forfeiture were part of a plea agreement
that could see him still spend between 41 and 51 months in prison.

That is if the judge in the case accepts the deal. His hearing has been set for
October 27. The online gambling executive has been in jail without the
possibility of bail since he was arrested in March 2007, and is eager to put the
whole episode behind him. But customers of BetOnSports  have also paid a price.

When BetOnSports stopped trading in 2006, customers reportedly lost up to $20
million. Kaplan founded BetOnSports in the late 1990’s growing it rapidly. In
2004 he listed the company on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and by 2006
BetOnSports had reportedly processed over $4 billion in wagers.

Said FBI special agent John Gillies, who is charge of the case against Gary
Kaplan, ‘The guilty plea should have a lasting effect because Kaplan was not
only the founder of BetOnSports, but he was also one of the pioneers of illegal
online gambling.’

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