5Dimes Settles with Feds, Forfeits $46 Million as Offshore Sportsbook Seeks Path to US Legitimacy

Posted on: September 30, 2020, 11:58h. 

Last updated on: February 11, 2021, 03:23h.

The US Department of Justice announced Wednesday it reached an agreement with 5Dimes, the offshore sportsbook. The company agreed to forfeit more than $46 million to settle a federal criminal investigation that began in 2016.

5Dimes US
William McSwain, the US Attorney for Pennsylvania’s Eastern District, claimed victory in reaching an agreement with offshore sportsbook 5Dimes. (Image: WHYY.Org)

Shortly after the feds release was issued, 5Dimes produced one of its own announcing what had been anticipated for most of this month. The Costa Rican book made the deal in an attempt to position itself to legally enter the US market. It already has filed incorporation papers in Delaware.

Along with a team of trusted advisors, I am exploring how we might relaunch 5Dimes as a legal sportsbook and casino in the legal, regulated US market to continue serving our many loyal customers,” said Laura Varela, widow of 5Dimes founder William Sean “Tony” Creighton.

Creighton established 5Dimes in 1999 in the Latin American country. Over the years, he got scores of US bettors to create accounts with the illegal offshore book. Federal authorities said 5Dimes use of third-party payment processors allowed US bettors to make deposits and hide the true nature of the transaction. They also claim he laundered money through the purchase of gold bullion, coins, and rare and expensive sports cards.

Creighton led 5Dimes until kidnappers abducted him two years ago. His body was found a year later. Varela eventually took responsibility for 5Dimes, but did not have a managerial role with the sportsbook.

Widow Initiated 5Dimes Settlement Talks

Both parties said Varela took it upon herself to resolve the matter with the feds, contacting the US Attorney’s Office in Pennsylvania’s Eastern District, which initiated the investigation in 2016.

In all, 5Dimes and Varela agreed to surrender goods and money totaling more than $46.8 million for violations of wire fraud, money laundering, and transmission of gambling information. In return, the feds agreed to neither pursue criminal penalties or seek a civil suit for any crimes committed before Wednesday.

The lone exception to that is possible corporate tax violations, which are out of the US Attorney’s office’s purview.

In a statement, US Attorney William McSwain said the settlement is a victory for the country, as it stops a company that was conducting several crimes, including a “sophisticated money laundering” scheme.

McSwain’s office was assisted by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Pennsylvania State Police.

“Through our 5Dimes investigation, Homeland Security Investigations illuminated a massive global network of criminals whose profession was to launder proceeds for drug cartels, kleptocratic regimes, illegal mining operations, and fraudsters,” said Brian A. Michael, HSI’s special agent in charge for its Philadelphia office.

How Bettors Can Get Their Money

On Sept. 21, 5Dimes suspended US accounts from being able to wager on the site. On the 5Dimes website, the sportsbook said that decision was a “direct result” of the agreement between it and the US Attorney’s Office.

“We recognize that the timing was less than ideal, but it was out of our control,” the sportsbook’s statement read.

In addition, Sunday was the last day for US customers to request payouts. The sportsbook is processing those requests and said in the Wednesday post that customers should have their payments “within the next seven days.”

US bettors who did not submit their withdrawal request in time now have had their funds transferred to a third-party claims administrator. Starting Thursday, 5Dimes customers can go to PlayerRefund.com and learn more.

“We look forward to relaunching 5Dimes as a sportsbook and casino in the legal, regulated US market and bringing the same great experience to all our customers,” 5Dimes statement read.