The SCALER Weekly 3/13/24

Pennsylvania Man Indicted for Sports Betting Fund Fraud in St. Louis

Elijah A. Goshert, a 47-year-old man from Pennsylvania, has been indicted in St. Louis on charges of wire fraud, accused of deceiving investors in a sports betting fund over a period of more than five years. The indictment alleges that Goshert, while holding a day job at a telecommunications company, misrepresented himself as managing the Magellan Sports Fund, claiming to use a sophisticated computer algorithm to minimize risks in sports betting. Investors were assured they would only incur costs if the bets were profitable, but according to the indictment, Goshert diverted their funds for personal expenses such as Disney vacations, private school fees, and mortgage payments. He allegedly fabricated updates and account statements to mislead investors and obstructed their attempts to withdraw funds. The indictment suggests that over $500,000 was lost by at least 10 investors. Goshert pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis following his arrest in Pennsylvania on February 28, 2024. While these charges are accusations and not proof of guilt, if convicted, Goshert faces a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison along with hefty fines. The FBI led the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Wiseman is prosecuting the case.

In a similar fashion, in 2022 a former professional poker player, Corey Ziedman, was indicted on charges of money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and mail fraud from a $25 million betting scheme. Accused of placing radio ads to “lure victims to retain [his] organization for sports betting advice”, promising that “privileged information” meant that the bettors would have no risk, the United States Attorney, Breon Peace stated, “Today’s indictment serves as a reminder to all of us to be wary of so-called investment opportunities that purport to have inside information, as they are really a gamble not worth taking.”

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Alabama Gambling Bill Shrinks to Lottery Focus Amidst Senate Debates

The proposed Alabama gambling bill, once extensive in its scope to legalize sports betting and establish brick-and-mortar casinos, has been reduced to a narrower focus on legalizing the lottery only, following the Senate Tourism Committee’s decision to strip away provisions for sports betting and casino establishments. This shift comes after contentious discussions involving concerns raised by Senators about inclusion in the decision-making process, as well as input from religious and responsible gaming groups advocating for enhanced protections for vulnerable individuals. Additionally, representatives from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians expressed reservations about fully supporting the expansion. Under the revised proposal, gambling would be permitted at existing racetracks and bingo halls statewide, with a special election slated for September 10 for voters to weigh in on the measure, addressing Alabama’s status as one of the few states without a lottery. However, the bill’s fate remains uncertain as it heads to the full Senate for a vote, requiring approval from the House once again due to the significant alterations made. With ongoing deliberations expected before the legislature’s planned adjournment in May, the bill’s passage hinges on securing a three-fifths majority in both chambers. Despite advancing swiftly through the House initially, the bill has encountered hurdles in the Senate.

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Washington D.C. Taps FanDuel for Sports Wagering, Ending GamBetDC Era

The Washington D.C. Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG) has announced FanDuel as the new subcontractor for sports wagering under Intralot, providing residents access to FanDuel’s sports betting app, website, and retail platforms. The transition will replace GamBetDC’s retail kiosks with FanDuel’s offerings gradually. Frank Suarez, Executive Director of OLG, expressed optimism about the partnership’s potential to increase tax revenue while delivering an improved experience for residents. Although the exact launch date for the app is yet to be confirmed, the deal involves a one-time payment of $5 million from Intralot to be paid within the current fiscal year.

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Comcast Launches Interactive Sports Features for Xfinity X1

Comcast has unveiled new interactive features for Xfinity X1, enhancing the live sports viewing experience for customers. With Xfinity Odds Zone, viewers can access live odds from DraftKings directly on their TV screens while watching major sports events, starting with THE PLAYERS Championship. This feature allows users to seamlessly place bets through the DraftKings Sportsbook app without interrupting the main screen action. The launch coincides with Comcast Business’s partnership with THE PLAYERS Championship, offering an immersive viewing experience aggregating coverage from multiple networks and streaming services. Customers can access interactive features such as an interactive course tour, dynamic scorecards, and live leaderboards by using voice commands. Additionally, the integration of Xfinity Odds Zone provides a convenient way to view tournament odds and place bets via the DraftKings mobile app. These enhancements aim to elevate the sports viewing experience for Xfinity X1 users while showcasing the platform’s capabilities during major sporting events like THE PLAYERS Championship.

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West Virginia Sports Betting Bill Targets Harassment

A West Virginia sports betting bill, House Bill 4700, which is intended to address the issue of frustrated bettors harassing players, coaches, and officials, has advanced to Governor Jim Justice’s desk for approval. This bill, similar to Ohio’s sports betting legislation from 2023, grants the state’s betting regulator the authority to prohibit individuals from participating in betting on West Virginia sports betting platforms and at physical sportsbooks if they are found to be engaging in harassment toward players, coaches, or officials, whether in person or via social media. The push for such legislation stemmed from incidents during the 2022-23 college basketball season, notably when Dayton men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant highlighted the harassment his players faced online from disgruntled bettors. This led Ohio to pass a bill addressing this issue, prompting West Virginia’s efforts to follow suit. Although a similar bill in West Virginia stalled in 2023, House Bill 4700 has now gained momentum, progressing through both the House and Senate.

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