Federal Prosecutors Widen Illegal Sports Gambling Investigation

The United States investigation of an illegal gambling ring continues to expand, stretching from its East Coast to its western Las Vegas desert. With the recent guilty plea of former Cantor Gaming executive Michael Colbert, federal prosecutors are turning their attention further up the Cantor Gaming ladder. Cantor Gaming handles many of the sports betting operations for Las Vegas and Nevada casinos.

The investigation centers around a suspected illegal sports bookmaking operation originating from the New York City borough of Queens. There, the “Jersey Boys” gambling ring allegedly used “runners” to place illegal sports bets in Nevada casinos. To prevent money laundering and out-of-state betting, Nevada makes it illegal to knowingly accept bets from runners.handcuffs

News of the illegal Queens-to-Las Vegas bookmaking scheme came to public attention in October 2012 when the Queens district attorney filed charges against 25 individuals, including Cantor Gaming’s Colbert. Eight other Las Vegas-area residents were charged in the same investigation.

Credited with revolutionizing sports wagering in Nevada, Cantor and Colbert gained notable prominence in the Las Vegas scene. The company expanded sports books to include new gaming options such as fantasy sports betting for U.S. football and basketball and launched mobile gambling. Visible for his position at the M Resort in Henderson, Nev., Colbert often offered analysis and game betting information to local and national media organisations.

The arrests by the Queens’ district attorney spurred a federal investigation and an examination by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. With Colbert’s Sept. 21 guilty plea, federal prosecutors are now looking further into the ranks of Colbert’s employer, Cantor Gaming.

Cantor Gaming was founded by New York brokerage and securities firm Cantor Fitzgerald nine years ago. The gaming unit was led at the time by Lee Amaitis, Colbert’s superior. Before developing Cantor’s gaming division, Amaitis managed Cantor Fitzgerald’s international operations in London. Today, Cantor manages the sports betting operations at eight Nevada casinos, including The Venetian, M Resort Spa Casino, Tropicana and Hard Rock Las Vegas. It also operates a sports book at the Atlantis Casino Resort in the Bahamas. There is no evidence the casinos participated in the alleged illegal bookmaking, nor is Amaitis currently charged with wrongdoing.

For his guilty plea, Colbert will be sentenced on Dec. 9. The Nevada Gaming Control Board reports that its investigation into Colbert and Cantor Gaming’s conduct will conclude forthwith.

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