One of the longest lasting online sportsbooks located offshore in Panama has now closed their doors, thanks to all the indictments handed out to the infamous owners such as Spiros “The Greek” Athanas. In total there were 34 people arrested which literally wiped out the entire company. The defendants were charged with several offenses including: racketeering, money laundering, conspiring to commit money laundering and operating an illegal Gambling business. All the player’s accounts have now been moved over to Wagerweb, an established sportsbook in Costa Rica.
Once the indictments were handed down to the owners and staff of Legendz sports, the country of Panama and officials quickly revoked their gambling license and ordered them to shut down immediately. Legends also had several affiliated sports book sites that were shut down as well. There were a total of 23 companies connected to the main brand that assisted in moving money between gamblers and the Legendz site. Most of the players in the book were from the US, so the transfer of accounts and funds were selected to go to Wagerweb, since it does and always has accepted US players.
Wagerweb and Legendz had to negotiate an agreement that took over a week to come to a settlement. One of the main sticking points was the player’s account balances and the rollover requirements they would have to play in order to get their money out. The final rollover amount was 5 times which came down from 10 times. The good news is that the player’s full account amount remained intact and that they could continue playing as they were at Legendz.
The ironic thing is that Legendz originally started at Mall San Pedro in Costa Rica where they operated under the MVP Sportsbook brand. Then they eventually moved down to Panama. Over time they continued to do business in Panama and had built a solid reputation over the years. It was the police who tapped a video conferencing call between Michele Laso, located a Panamanian but lives in South Florida who was talking to her boss Philip Gurian, located in Boca Raton, Florida. The feds heard them talking about wiring hundreds of thousands of dollars from an illegal gambling site to bank accounts in Panama. Police were able to listen to them talk on a wiretap and record the conversation. Looks like they the individuals caught were unaware that Skype conversations can be tapped and recorded.
One of the people convicted was making up to $150,000 a day from collecting money placed on bets. It was the state of Oklahoma that handed down the indictments to the many owners and operators at Legendz. US Attorney Sanford C. Coats of Oklahoma's Western District stated: "The defendants cannot hide the allegedly illegal sports gambling operation behind corporate veils or state and international boundaries. I thank the IRS and FBI for their diligent work over several years to investigate this billion dollar international gambling enterprise."
Seems more and more offshore sportsbooks are getting shutdown and the industry is shrinking. It’s only a matter of time before more sportsbooks will be investigated and shut down by the feds in their ongoing attempts to decimate the offshore online gaming industry. One other book that has also recently gone under that was a pioneer in the gaming industry starting in Antigua, and that was World Sports Exchange (WSEX). In this case the book simply ran out of money and the owner committed suicide, as he was unable to pay players. Time may be running out for some of these large offshore companies, as the feds are really starting to make headway in shutting them all down. It’s now just a question of who will be next to have the US feds on their doorstep.
Even professional gamblers are starting to shy away from these offshore sportsbooks thinking they could be closed down anytime. Some of these smaller books are having problems paying out players and others are making attempts to stay off the radar hoping things cool down.
In the nineties and early to mid 2000’s offshore companies and operators were making millions before the feds started coming after them. The first was BetonSports back in 2006 when CEO David Carruthers was arrested in a Dallas airport. Since then individuals like Calvin Ayre of Bodog and a host of others are not able to go though the US and remain located in undisclosed areas. Now that the US market is opening up and states are licensing online gaming brands the climate has changed and soon it will be viable industry in the US; and soon everyone will be reminiscing about the old days of offshore gaming.