Two poker players are learning the hard way to watch where they bet their money. Paul Sexton a former pro player from the Full Tilt Poker room and Steve Diano, a regular player at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) tour are facing charges of involvement in an illegal sportsbetting ring. If found guilty the poker pros could have to fold their hands for good as the sentence could be a possible 25 years behind bars.
The indictments are due to the actions of an organization known as World Wide Wagers. The company allegedly accepted over $50 million in professional sports wagers going as far back as April 2011. The investigation was jointly conducted by the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the NYPD because the operations crossed state boundaries. Under federal law in the United States, orchestrating national gaming operations is against the law.
Diano stands accused of acting as a bookmaker for World Wide Wagers while Sexton is charged with allegations of money collecting for the organization. Also included in the list of indictments is online gambling website Pinnacle Sports, which is suggested to be the middle man or ‘wire room’ for the illegal bets. In total up to 25 different names are listed for their connections to the sportsbetting ring, and over $7.6 million in cash has been seized by the authorities in their investigation so far.
Nevada District Attorney Richard A. Brown spoke about the size of the investigation and the magnitude of the illegal operation. He says that only with the NYPD and the FBI “assistance could we bring these defendants to justice.”
“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.”
The charges on Diano especially, with his former ties to Full Tilt Poker, will serve as a reminder to players of the magnitude of poker scandals. The Full Tilt Poker site is set for relaunch near the beginning of November.