An illegal online sports betting ring that networked across America has been busted by the FBI and local law enforcement agencies following a nationwide operation spanning 20 months.
Seventeen individuals involved in the running of the 365Action.com website were taken into custody this week, said the Queens County District Attorney’s Office in an official statement, putting to an end an operation that was pulling revenues of $32 million.
Millions of dollars were seized from the home of the alleged ringleader, bookmaker Cyrus Irani, 37, of Santa Clarita, California.
Police allege Irani oversaw an operation that had more than 2,000 active bettors.
365Action.com appears to have been a “price-per-head” site.
Price-per-head bookmakers act as agents, supplying clientele with the services of “post-up” offshore online sportsbooks anonymously, using automated sports betting software systems.
365Action.com used an 800 phone number to take wagers on professional and college basketball, football, hockey and baseball.
Last year police arrested and tried owners of price-per-head site Beteagle.com, who were proved to have links to the Genovese Mafia.
Police said that the investigation into 365Action began when NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigation Division, in conjunction with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau, caught wind of an illegal betting ring operating in Queens County.
The subsequent investigation included physical surveillance, intelligence information and court-authorized electronic eavesdropping that intercepted hundreds of hours of incriminating conversations in New York, Nevada, Arizona and California.
“The defendants are charged in a 124-count indictment with enterprise corruption, as well as money laundering, promoting gambling and conspiracy,” read a police statement. The ring is also accused of “laundering its criminal proceeds by depositing and withdrawing large sums of cash from various banks throughout the United States.”
Each defendant faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
“This case is a great example of a collaborative approach by the government to tackle a criminal problem. As alleged, Cyrus Irani ran an extensive offshore internet gambling ring. The FBI, in coordination with our local partners, have carried out search warrants and seizures of alleged profits from this online gambling ring.”
The American Gaming Association (AGA) said recently that a conservative estimate of $80 billion will be bet illegally on sports in the US this year.
AGA president Geoff Freeman called for urgent regulatory reforms to prevent this money ending up in the hands of organized crime syndicates.
“It speaks to the utter failure of the law we have in place,” Freeman said. “This is one that’s completely ignored.”