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Gaming Guru

Chris Sieroty
 

Cantor Gaming sports book director arrested, faces eight charges

25 October 2012

LAS VEGAS -- Cantor Gaming sports book director Mike Colbert was arrested Wednesday in Las Vegas by state gaming agents in connection with a warrant filed by the district attorney in Queens County, N.Y.

Gaming and legal sources confirmed the charges involve Pinnacle Sports (PinnacleSports.com), one of the largest offshore sports wagering websites. Sources said agents for the website were arrested in several cities Wednesday.

Colbert, 32, was booked into the Clark County Detention Center. He faces eight counts of conspiracy, money laundering and enterprise corruption and is scheduled to appear Monday in Clark County District Court.

Jerry Markling, the Gaming Control Board's chief of enforcement, said Colbert was arrested at 6 a.m. at his home a short distance from the M Resort in Henderson. He was one of eight people arrested in Las Vegas on the New York charges. Others were Las Vegas residents Kelly R. Barsel, 42, Jerry M. Branca, 67, Steven S. Diano, 48, Brandt A. England, 49, and Joseph D. Paulk, 35, and Henderson resident Paul Sexton, 29.

Colbert is thought to be the only one with ties to Nevada's gaming industry.

Control board agents will continue to investigate the matter to see whether there were any regulatory violations, but Markling declined further comment on the matter, referring additional questions to New York prosecutors. A news conference is scheduled for this morning in Queens .

"It's a New York case. We are working with them," Markling said.

According to its website, PinnacleSports.com was established in 1998 and is licensed by the government of Curacao and the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.

Gaming and legal sources said the matter does not involve Cantor Gaming and is unrelated to its business in Las Vegas, which includes leased space in seven Las Vegas-area casinos - M Resort, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, The Venetian, Palazzo, Tropicana, Hard Rock and Palms - where it operates race and sports books.

Colbert oversees the company's race and sports book business and is chief oddsmaker.

Cantor Gaming officials would not comment on the arrest. The company is cooperating with Nevada gaming authorities and met with officials Wednesday at the M Resort, where Colbert is based.

M Resort opened in March 2009 as Cantor's first Las Vegas sports book and often took big wagers. M Resort officials did not respond to calls seeking comment Wednesday.

According to sports wagering publications, Colbert is a 10-year veteran of Nevada's race and sports book industry.

He is considered one of the industry's most respected personalities and routinely is quoted on sports wagering issues by national publications and on sports talk radio programs, including The Las Vegas Sportsline.

In an interview last week with SportingNews.com, Colbert said that the National Football League and other groups opposed to New Jersey's efforts to legalize sports wagering lack strong arguments and that Cantor Gaming would explore opportunities there.

"The integrity argument, to me, is a complete facade," Colbert told SportingNews.

"It's a smokescreen that they're putting up there because it sounds good to maybe the average guy who doesn't understand the business. But if you're in the business and know what's going on, you know that if there is ever anything close to something shady, that we will be the ones that are able to point it out. That argument is so bad, and they continue to say it. It's kind of silly."

Colbert was described in a 2010 interview with Wired Magazine as someone who "has been around gambling all of his adult life."
Cantor Gaming sports book director arrested, faces eight charges is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.