Online Poker

Poker Players busted in Huge, Illegal Sports Betting Ring

by Jeremy

The biggest general gambling news from this week involves US authorities busting a huge, illegal sports betting ring. The ring included 25 people in all, and a couple of fairly prominent poker players were among them. Ex-Full Tilt Poker Red Pro Paul Sexton and WSOP fixture Steve Diano were the two busted players, and they’ll be facing charges of money laundering, promoting gambling and conspiracy. You can read more about each player and their involvement in the ring below.

Paul Sexton

San Diego native Paul Sexton is best known for his online poker play, but he has a decent live resume too. He finished fifth in a 2005 WSOP $2k NL Hold’em tournament ($147k), and has earned almost $300k in his live tourney career.

In regard to Sexton’s position in the illegal betting ring, he had a dual role that involved being an agent for interested bettors and collecting money from losing players. He helped World Wide Wagers collect over $50 million total over the past year and a half.

Steve Diano

Las Vegas resident Steve Diano has seven WSOP cashes to his credit including a third place finish in a 2006 WSOP $1.5k Seven Card Razz event ($61,411). The 48-year-old allegedly served as a bookmaker and created some of the group’s betting lines.

As for the overall operation, 15 of the involved individuals acted as bookmakers while the other 10 were agents/money collectors. A large portion of the $50 million that was bet back and forth came through PinnacleSports.com and other internet websites.

When US authorities rounded up the 25 perpetrators, they seized $7.6 million, several properties and gambling chips - we’re not sure what the latter has to do with the sports betting case. Queens County District Attorney Richard A. Brown discussed the case by saying the following:

Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime. Those who participate in these criminal enterprises often use threats, intimidation and even physical force to collect debts and oftentimes charge usurious interest rates on outstanding debts. In addition to our NYPD and FBI partners, I want to thank our other law enforcement and governmental colleagues and authorities.

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