A young Haden Ware at the WSEX offices in Antigua. He received a lenient sentence from a federal judge this week after 13 years on the run.
Haden Ware, a co-founder of sports betting site World Sports Exchange (WSEX) who spent 13 years as a fugitive from the US government, has been spared a prison sentence by a federal judge.
Ware was a pioneer of online gambling through his establishment of Antigua-based WSEX, one of very first sports betting sites, and for some time one of the most successful. But in 2002, he was indicted by US authorities for violation of the Federal Wire Act, for taking bets from Americans illegally over the internet.
Ware, 41 and originally from Boston, returned to the US to face the music in January. It was the first time he had set foot on US soil since he quit his job at the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco to found WSEX 20 years ago.
Ware told U.S. District Judge William Pauley of the US District Court of Manhattan that he was ‘extremely grateful to cast that weight behind me and move forward past it.’
‘Why you waited so long to come back to the United States, only you know,’ said Pauley, who sentenced him to six months’ probation. ‘But I sympathize with the fact that this hung around your neck all these years.’
Another WSEX founder, Jay Cohen, was indicted by the government in 1999 and returned to the US a year later, believing that he could argue his case and prove that WSEX operations were legal. It turned out to be a miscalculation for Cohen who was sentenced to 17 months in prison, receiving the dubious honor of becoming the first online gambling operator to be prosecuted under the Wire Act.
A third founder of WSEX, Steve Schillinger, was found dead, an apparent suicide, in 2013, the day after the company went under.
Lindsey Graham Sneaks RAWA-Like Measure Into Senate Appropriations Bill, Still Hopeful for Passage
The Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), the bill that seeks to prohibit online gambling at a federal level, may have died a death on the legislative rocks late last year, but its proponents are by no means finished.
Lindsey Graham hoped the tiny RAWA-esque paragraph he tacked onto the 141-page Senate Appropriations Bill would not be spotted. (Image: yaplakal.com)
Which is why Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has just snuck something similar to RAWA onto the enormous Senate Appropriations Bill, hoping, perhaps, that no one would notice. The failed US presidential candidate, you may recall, first introduced RAWA to the Senate in June of last year after it had been presented in the House by Representatives by Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
Low Priority Legislation Largely Ignored
But it was a fairly unpopular piece of legislation on Capitol Hill, with many politicians preferring to leave the issue to individual states to decide, or simply not feeling it very high on their priority list for consideration.
The original RAWA was the brainchild of Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson, whose revilement of regulated online gambling in the US is believed to be motivated by a desire to suppress competition to his land-based casinos.
RAWA alienated many of Adelson’s natural allies in the Republican Party, because of its trampling of states’ rights. The original bill contained no carve out for those states that have already opted to legalize and regulate online gambling within their own borders, and would even criminalize online lotteries.
The language entered into the Appropriations measure constitutes just one paragraph of the 141 page bill, and yet it is unmistakably RAWA-ish. It states:
Since 1961, the Wire Act has prohibited nearly all forms of gambling over interstate wires, including the Internet. However, beginning in 2011, certain states began to permit Internet gambling. The Committee notes that the Wire Act [itself] did not change in 2011. The Committee also notes that the Supreme Court of the United States has stated that ‘criminal laws are for courts, not for the Government, to construe.’
This is not the first time that anti-gambling lawmakers have tucked their legislation in through the back door. Lest we forget, in 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which prohibited financial institutions from processing online gambling transactions, was tagged onto the end of the completely unrelated Safe Ports Act, and signed into law.
The Safe Ports Act was, as the name suggests, was a series of measures designed to increase security at US ports.
Graham’s latest tactic might not be quite so successful, however. The bill goes next to the House Appropriations Committee, whose chairman is Representative John Culberson (R-Texas), a strong proponent of Second Amendment gun rights and, like most Texans, no great fan of centralized federal controls.
Culberson has the power and the inclination to delete Graham’s sneaky wording, and he may well. We just hope he’s paying attention.
Bernie vs. Goliath
Sanders didn’t only go after Trump on Monday but also Carl Icahn, the billionaire that acquired the Trump Taj Mahal in February of this year.
‘Billionaires like Carl Icahn, worth $21 billion, come in here and attack the standard of living of dishwashers and maids. We are going to tell the Carl Icahns of the world that greed is not acceptable,’ Sanders affirmed.
Icahn’s conglomerate company in which he owns over 90 percent is notorious among unions and local workers for being a takeover specialist.
Icahn fired back at Sanders by publishing a statement on his personal website.
‘Bernie Sanders . . . has made several remarks tying me to the difficulties facing Atlantic City https://myfreepokies.com, without even bothering to give me a call to hear my views and the real facts,’ Icahn wrote. ‘Few would disagree that the Taj would have closed with thousands of job losses if I hadn’t come in and provided tens of millions in capital to save it and save those jobs.’
History Presents Problem
While Sanders was decrying billionaires for ruining Atlantic City, opponents to the self-described democratic socialist highlighted the fact that Democrat and liberal politicians have long controlled the town.
Current Mayor Don Guardian is a Republican who took office in 2014 after six consecutive Democratic mayors dating back to 1990.
According to 2011 Atlantic City voter registration statistics supplied by the state, 12,063 residents listed as Democrats while the Republican Party tallied only 1,542. Nearly 6,400 were unaffiliated.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) is at odds with Guardian on how to lead the city out of near bankruptcy. Christie and State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) are trying to assume control of the town’s financial governance, but Guardian and State Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D) are asking for a bailout and two-year rebuilding period.
Riviera Presents $16 Billion Hurdle to Las Vegas Economy If Famed Venue Demolition Blocked
The Riviera closed its doors on May 4, 2015, bringing to end a sixty-year history. The famed icon of the Las Vegas Strip represented the glitz and glamour of Sin City during its storied run, but today the property presents an economic hurdle for local lawmakers.
Prep work on demolishing the Riviera has already begun, but a petition filed in Clark County is seeking to halt the removal of the famed Strip casino icon. (Image: Jae C. Hong/AP)
Purchased for $191 million in February 2015 by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and zoned to house the future expansion of the Convention Center, a local resident is seeking to block the Riv’s demolition through a petition titled ‘Save the Riviera.’
Filed in Clark County, a five-person panel has signed the petition. Kelden Engel, Hilary Engel, Aaron Engel, Austin Sessums, and Leslie Porter are seeking to institute an ordinance to ‘legally prevent the demolition of any structures that are currently or have ever been situated on land denoted by Clark County Assessor’s Parcel Number 162-09-703-001.’
The affidavit states, ‘The buildings that currently meet that description constitute the historic Riviera Hotel, a landmark that has stood in the Las Vegas valley for more than 60 years.’
Billions of Problems
The Convention and Visitors Authority is none too happy to be in receipt of the Riviera petition. Delaying the former casino’s demolition would bring serious economic harm to the area, according to the agency’s board of directors.
The LVCVA commissioned a financial impact analysis of allowing the Riv to remain vacated in its current state.
Should the ordinance be granted, the LVCVA claims $213,795,001 will be lost in Year One alone. That translates to a 30-year cumulative impact of $15.8 billion in missing economic output, per the Visitors Authority data.
‘The property is a key component of the Las Vegas Convention Center District project and provides the footprint for the expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center,’ the LVCVA said in a press release. ‘[It] provides connectivity to the current LVCC campus and will allow Southern Nevada to materially grow existing tradeshows and conventions as well as attract new business to the destination.’
The Visitors Authority argues that during inspection of the Riviera, hazardous materials, including asbestos, were found and that significant renovation is required.
The board also states that ‘at this time there is no compelling evidence that a private firm has the interest or wherewithal to acquire this property’ for hotel or casino purposes. That’s the LVCVA’s main argument in allowing it to move forward with demolition and make way for a building that can be used to improve the region’s economy.
Just Sign Here
The next step in the Riviera defense is to obtain the necessary signatures for the petition. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Richard Velotta, petitioners need 15 percent of the last general election vote, or about 51,000 signatures, to have their voices be heard.
The deadline for obtaining the required John Hancocks is July 1. It’s somewhat unclear what happens next if they can obtain the requisite signatures. Presumably it would go to a referendum vote of some kind, but we were unable to ascertain this specifically.
Work on bringing down the Riv has already commenced, but the venue’s two hotel towers are scheduled to be imploded sometime this summer. That might not happen if the Engels, Sessums, and Porter can manage to persuade locals that preserving the landmark is in the city’s best interest.
FIFA 2026 World Cup Bidding Process Overhauled as Soccer Body Continues Repairing Public Image
FIFA President Gianni Infantino continues to make changes to how soccer’s governing body does business, and this week he announced new protocols for selecting the 2026 World Cup host. (Image: Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press)
The FIFA 2026 World Cup bidding process will be a four-phase process that is designed to better vet potential host cities and countries on a series of conditions. The bidding procedure overhaul is the latest change at soccer’s governing body devised to repair its damaged image and improve public perception of its leadership.
On Tuesday at the 66th FIFA Congress in Mexico City, the Council announced that the four-phase scheme will begin with a new ‘strategy and consultation’ period that will run now through next May. Bid preparation and receipt will be the next phase (June 2017 through December 2018), followed by bid evaluation in 2019 and a culminating final decision in May 2020.
FIFA has been engulfed in a widely publicized international scandal since early 2015 when seven current FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich on corruption charges and suspicions of accepting $200 million in bribes over the last two decades.
Though he stands only 5′ 3″, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was the biggest figure in soccer for nearly 30 years. FIFA’s Ethics Committee banned him from the sport for eight years (later reduced to six) last December amid the scandal.
Gianni Infantino replaced Blatter in February, and the organization moved quickly to repair its highly tarnished reputation. In addition to imposing term limits on presidents, FIFA launched a reform committee to lead the association’s restoration.
‘I will work tirelessly to bring football back to FIFA and FIFA back to football,’ Infantino said after taking the presidency. ‘This is what we have to do.’