5Dimes, the Costa Rica-based black market sports book with ambitions of going legit, has applied for a New Jersey gambling license, according to the widow of 5Dimes’ former owner.
Laura Varela is the new owner of 5Dimes. Her husband, William Sean “5Dimes Tony” Creighton, was murdered in 2018 after a botched kidnapping.
Last month, Varela agreed to pay $46 million to the US government to settle a money laundering and tax investigation into her late husband.
Speaking to The Philadelphia Inquirer Wednesday, Varela said gambling industry lawyers in Philadelphia and Washington are currently trying to transform 5Dimes into a legitimate, licensed, tax-paying sports betting company, first stop New Jersey.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming enforcement (DGE) declined to discuss 5Dimes’ application when contacted by the Inquirer.
But crucially, the federal government agreed that Varela had not been part of the illegal business, and the change of hands could potentially open the door to the US markets.
The Department of Justice understood. I felt their sympathy throughout this long process,” Varela told the Inquirer. “I am very, very happy and very excited the agreement reflects the fact that I was never involved in any of the wrongdoing.”
5Dimes’ US customer accounts have been on hold since September 21.
Murder of 5Dimes Tony
West Virginia native Creighton was facing charges of tax fraud, money laundering, illegal gambling, and payment fraud charges at the time of his murder. Much of this related to his use of Amazon gift accounts, false names, and credit card processors to illegally process deposits and withdrawals for gamblers based in the US.
According to Mike Lowe of the DOJ’s economic crime unit, Creighton was close to accepting the charges and cooperating with the government when he was kidnapped, the Inquirer reports.
In September 2018, Creighton’s Porsche Cayenne was waved off the road by two bogus policemen. He was bundled into the back of a pickup and taken to an apartment in San Jose.
Varela paid $1 million of the $5 million bitcoin ransom demand before the line of communication with the kidnappers went dead.
Creighton’s body was found almost a year later in a cemetery in a small fishing village 100 miles from where he was abducted.
Twelve people have been arrested for their involvement in the scheme, and their trials are due to get underway shortly.
Should 5Dimes be permitted to enter the regulated US markets, it would immediately become a major player. As one of the biggest US-facing unregulated sports books, it is used to handling billions of bets per year. It employs 270 people and boasts a customer database of over a million players.
That database could be a sticking point. Regulated operators will argue it was compiled while 5Dimes was brazenly flouting US law, and that it will give the company an unfair advantage in the regulated markets, essentially rewarding it for its illegal past.