New York poker pro Jay Sharon has been accused of heading an illegal sports betting ring that banked more than $3.5 million annually.
Despite competing on the tournament circuit since 2012 and notching up $214,258 in career earnings, Sharon has been named as one of eight men indicted by Queen’s District Attorney (QDA), Richard Brown.
In filing his indictments, Brown explained that he’s been investigating the illegal gambling ring since December 2014 with the help of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) Organized Crime Unit.
Naming Sharon as the alleged leader of the ring, QDA Brown believes he’s uncovered a complex network of online and telephone betting services that handled around $3.5 million in annual wagers.
Following a series of raids on ten locations in Queens, New York, and Nassau, Bahamas, the NYPD recovered $93,000 in cash and a stash of gambling records reportedly outlining the books offered by the group.
Joining Sharon in prison cells in New York and Las Vegas while they await arraignment are: Joshua Handler and Jonathan Cianciotto who were named as Sharon’s main agents as well as Emilio Testa, Christopher Hansen, Frank Nista, Gary Schreiber and Vincent Zaccario who were reportedly accomplices.
If the men are found guilty of running an illegal betting ring they could face up to 25 years in prison.
The latest indictments are part of an ongoing crackdown on illegal sports betting operations that are worth an estimated $148 billion annually in the US.
“Over the last few years we have taken down a number of these operations and put them out of business. These cases, I believe, have put a significant dent in illegal gambling nationwide and have saved individuals across the country millions of dollars in gambling losses,” said QDA Brown.
Probably the most famous incident involving an alleged illegal betting involved billionaire businessman and poker player, Paul Phua.
After being arrested in Las Vegas back in 2014 for supposedly running a FIFA World Cup betting ring worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Phua was eventually acquitted after the FBI’s case against him collapsed.
While Sharon’s alleged crimes aren’t on the same scale as the case brought against Phua, it does show that illegal sports betting is still an issue in the US.
In fact, the main argument for the regulation of all forms of online gambling in the US, including poker, casino and sports betting, is that it would help reduce the influence of illegal operations and generate a significant amount of tax revenue for the US as a whole.