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BetonSports pleads guilty

25 May 2007

ST. LOUIS, Missouri -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- BetonSports, PLC, pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges, U.S. Attorney Catherine L. Hanaway for the Eastern District of Missouri announced.

BetonSports, PLC, admitted today to its involvement in a racketeering conspiracy. As part of the plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri agreed that as long as the company lives up to its obligations under the plea agreement, including supplying witnesses and evidence in the pending cases against co-defendants, no further criminal prosecution will be brought in this District relative to its participation in the Kaplan Gambling Enterprise between July 2004 and the present date.

"This plea, combined with the terms of the civil junction should put an end to the BetonSports illegal gambling empire," said U.S. Attorney Hanaway. "BetonSports, PLC is presently the corporate parent, based in the United Kingdom, of the companies comprising the vast illegal internet gambling operations described in the indictment. BetonSports, PLC had been failing to appear and answer the criminal charges in the indictment and Judge Jackson had imposed sanctions against the company. This plea constitutes a submission by the company to the U.S. justice system."

By pleading guilty to the racketeering conspiracy charge, BetonSports admits that it conducted an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering acts, including repeated mail and wire fraud, operated an illegal gambling business, laundered money, and admitted to multiple state gambling felony charges. As the corporation admitted in federal court, the Gambling Enterprise began as an illegal sports betting business in New York City in the early 1990s. After its founder's arrest on New York State gambling charges in May of 1993, the founder relocated his illegal gambling operation to Florida, continuing to take sports wagers from bettors in New York by telephone. In 1995, the Enterprise moved to Aruba, in the West Indies. To facilitate its U.S. operations, the enterprise established and controlled toll-free telephone services to accept sports wagers from gamblers in the United States. It also started to accept sports wagers through the Internet. In 1997, the Enterprise relocated to Antigua, and then to Costa Rica.

Among the Enterprise's first computer-based sports book was one called the North American Sports Association International, which evolved into, advertised as the largest online wagering service in the world. This website gave gamblers in the United States the opportunity to illegally wager on professional and college football and basketball, as well as many other professional and amateur sporting events and contests. Members of the enterprise formed a corporation, BetonSports PLC, in 2004, which subsequently solicited and accepted wagers from individuals in Missouri and elsewhere throughout the United States. Entities and individuals associated with BetonSports PLC also caused fraudulent promotional materials to be available to prospective and actual bettors and used interstate facilities to further wagering activity in, to and from Missouri, as well as throughout the United States, in violation of federal law.

The company faces a fine of up to $500,000 or more, in that the maximum fine can be double the financial gain from or loss caused by the enterprise. It also faces possible forfeitures and the company is subject to a permanent injunction which requires it to repay money received from U.S. gamblers held by the company as of June 1, 2006. As noted in the plea agreement, at the present time there is no intention to charge any past or present individual BetonSports PLC director, other than those already charged. Sentencing has been set for October 19, 2007.

This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri and the Criminal Division's Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, and is a result of a joint investigation by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the FBI. Assistance has also been received from several state and local police departments, including Chesterfield Police Department and departments in Florida and Washington.

No trial date has been set for the remaining co-defendants.

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