Indiana Man Charged With Running Bookmaking Scheme Involving $17M in Bets

Posted on: September 3, 2019, 04:55h. 

Last updated on: September 3, 2019, 01:40h.

An Indiana sports wagering operation where gamblers placed more than $17 million in bets since 2016 has led to the arrest of one suspect just as the Hoosier state begins to offer legal athletic betting.

The Ameristar in East Chicago Indiana is one of three venues in the state to start offering legal sports betting. Authorities recently charged a man who allegedly ran an illegal sports betting scheme in Indiana. (Image: EastChicago.Ameristar.com)

The scheme, allegedly co-run by Bret A. Wells, 46, of New Palestine, earned more than $1.8 million in profits, according to the Greenfield Daily Reporter. The illicit operation involved more than 176,000 wagers since 2016, authorities revealed.

Wells faces six charges. They include: a Level 5 count of corrupt business influence, a Level 6 count of professional gambling and knowingly engaging in bookmaking, and two Level 6 charges of promoting professional gambling, the newspaper said.

He was also charged with two counts of Level 6 theft where the value of property is between $750 and $50,000, the newspaper report said. That stemmed from stolen items allegedly found at Wells’s business.

If convicted, he could face a sentence of up to six years in prison for the most serious felony, the newspaper reported. It is not clear if other suspects will be arrested, based on statements from a local prosecutor to the Reporter, or if Wells could face other charges.

Wells appeared before Judge Scott Sirk in Hancock County Circuit Court last week. Wells was released on a $2,500 cash bond.

Wells Was Kept Under Surveillance, Tracked

Details on the gambling operation were provided in an affidavit compiled by investigators who work for the Indiana Gaming Commission. The scheme was allegedly run by Wells and an unnamed business partner who has since quit the bookmaking business.

Seven agents allegedly collected money for the gambling operation in central Indiana. The operation also used two websites, identified by investigators as www.lockandloadsports.com and www.bigdogsportswagering.com.

Wells allegedly gave the web addresses to the bettors via text messages. He also provided them passwords so they could access the sites, the affidavit said.

Wells met with gamblers in Indianapolis bars to collect money, investigators claim. Accounts were allegedly paid up on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Investigators said they watched Wells at the bars. They also used a court-approved tracking device on Wells’s pickup truck as he went to meet with customers, authorities add.

Among the sporting events allegedly bet on were those involving New Palestine High School’s football team.

Legal Sports Betting in Indiana

The arrest comes as Indiana on Sunday commenced legal betting in the state. Patrons can now or will soon be able to wager on some pro and college sports in person, either at most casinos or off-track betting venues.

The first three sportsbooks opened on Sunday. They are Indiana Grand Racing and Casino Shelbyville, Ameristar Casino East Chicago, and Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg. Later this week, Horseshoe Hammond and French Lick Casino will take legal wagers on sporting events.

Currently, all but one of the state’s licensed casinos applied for a sportsbook license. Developers of the planned Hard Rock Casino do not plan to offer in-person sports betting, but are interested in accepting mobile sports wagers.

Eventually, Indiana will likely allow online and mobile sports betting. A launch date is unclear.

Indiana will tax legal sportsbooks at 9.5 percent of gross revenue. Once the market matures, officials expect sports betting to generate about $11.5 million a year in revenue.

Indiana is the 13th state to allow sports betting. A year ago, the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) — which banned most forms of sports betting — was overturned by the US Supreme Court.