This year’s World Cup in Brazil brought joy and excitement for sports fans and millions of dollars in profit for wagering companies, but it also created the perfect opportunity for illegal betting syndicates to thrive.
Two major scandals – Peter Foster’s Sports Trading Club and a suspicious betting operation led by Wei Seng Phua from his rented villas at Caesars Palace – are still under police investigation, but it’s not all bad news. For the fantasy sports industry, 2014 was a great year, with significant growth and promising perspectives.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most significant events that happened in the sports and wagering industry this year.
GamingZion: The Birth of Fantasy Sports Spawns Billion Dollar Industry
Fantasy sports have become increasingly popular over the past decade. At least in the US, where sports betting is illegal – online or otherwise. There are only four states where local players can legally wager on sports, but not via the internet. But players have found a way around these rules and discovered a new way to quench their thirst for gambling.
Fantasy sports are games where users take on the role of make-believe owners of professional sports teams. And what sports fan wouldn’t want to take a shot at managing their own football, basketball or baseball team? The options are endless.
Last year, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association made $11 billion in revenues. And while some play as a hobby, with their friends or coworkers, others enter that very grey area of American gambling laws and turn it into a fantasy sports betting operation.
ESPN, Yahoo!, CBS Sports, and the NFL are fully aware of how profitable this industry is becoming. The NFL itself has invested a lot of money in hi-tech platforms that support fantasy football league requirements.
Forbes: Will ESPN, Yahoo! Or CBS Buy This Fantasy Sports Startup?
According to Forbes, major companies like ESPN , Yahoo! and CBS could enter the fantasy sports scene in the future. The investors may be joining well established names like FanDuel and DraftKings, created in 2009 and 2012 respectively. But since it would take a long time to build a reputation, buying existing platforms makes more business sense.
Dan Ziernick, one of the most successful daily fantasy sports players has decided to invest in developing his own platform, to compete with FanDuel and other websites which have helped him earn win about $3.5 million throughout his career. This is how FantasyUp was born. The new platform’s major selling point is a no-rake policy which will remain in effect until April 1, 2015.
“The big vision in this industry is that the players like ESPN, Yahoo! and CBS, are going to enter this space once legalities of online gambling clears up,” Ziernicki said. “What we’re really focusing on is being the technological company for the future. To be able to process large amounts of data in real time. We are not there yet, but we are already able to handle the biggest daily fantasy sports day ever.”
The players believe another three to five years will pass before big names like ESPN or Yahoo will get into daily fantasy sports, but he is convinced that, by then, his platform will be a in the right place for a potential acquisition.
Sydney Morning Herald: Peter Foster implicated in international betting scam
Notorious conman Peter Foster was arrested at his luxury property near Byron Bay and could lose millions of dollars, after police found evidence linking him to an illegal operating ring called the Sports Trading Club. It is believed that he ran the business while hiding from authorities.
According to a police source, Foster had six mobile phones and several computers in a home office, which he used to operate a betting syndicate that claimed to be based in London, Sydney and Hong Kong.
The source added: “It doesn’t matter what they claim on their website, Fosters’ home in Byron Bay was the headquarters. This is another massive scam that is only coming to light now. It will collapse like a house of cards.”
Sports Trading Club, also known as STC Sports Trading Club and The Sports Trading Club Partnership accepts money from high-paying clients and “invests” it in international sports betting. This July, the company claimed to have made $150 million by backing Germany to win the World Cup.
Review Journal: International mob-connected ring linked to illegal World Cup betting at Caesars
Shortly after the World Cup in Brazil ended, the police have shut down an alleged multimillion-dollar illegal sports betting business operated from three villas at Caesars Palace. Authorities believed the ring was run by Malaysian and Chinese nationals and led by poker player Paul Phua. Police said his son, Darren Wai Kit Phua, was also involved.
In a criminal complaint, Las Vegas FBI Agent Minh Pham claimed Wei Seng Phua was “known by law enforcement to be a high-ranking member of the 14K Triad.” His lawyer denied these claims.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Frayn wanted to keep both father and son under arrest, saying they were threats to flee, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Bill Hoffman ordered their release, imposing several restrictions including a $2 million bail. Phua also had to put up his $48 million private jet as collateral.
Phua was arrested on similar grounds on June 18 in Macau, where he and 20 other people were accused of running a large gambling ring that accepted hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal bets.
There was no shortage of news last week around the world so lets look back at some of the biggest stories that snatched the headlines.
Authorities in Ferguson Missouri were forced to call in the National Guard as widespread rioting overwhelmed the beleagued police force following the jury verdict finding Officer Darren Wilson inculpable after the August 9th shooting that saw him gun down the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. With buildings set ablaze and numerous arrests the riots mark a low point in the relationship between the almost entirely white police force and vastly black population they serve. Officer Darren Wilson then resigned from his position, a move that has done little to quell tension in the town.
The teenage daughters of President Obama came under fire from Republican Elizabeth Lauten who posted on Facebook following their appearance at the turkey pardoning ceremony alongside their father at the White House. “Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar.” She said of the 13 and 16 year old girls outfits, adding that she felt they lacked class but lamented, “your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter. So I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department.”. She then deleted the statement and apologized insincerely, much to the annoyance of the internet.
The Black Friday chaos proved to be a little less fraught this year as many stores tried to ease the rush by beginning their sales on Thanksgiving itself. As millions of Americans sat down to eat with their families and then went out to grab some early Christmas shopping bargains with very few instances of trouble, across the Atlantic in the UK (which doesn’t even celebrate thanksgiving) there were scenes of unbridled consumerist madness with the police being called to deal with trouble at several stores that began their sales at midnight and saw pandemonium break out upon opening their doors to the great British public.
In sport the Cricketing world paid its respects after the sad death of 25 year old Australian Phillip Hughes who died last week having been hit by the ball. The tragic accident has placed the first test between India and Australia, due to start on Thursday in Brisbane, in doubt and an already busy schedule may mean it won’t go ahead at all. Negotiations between the teams on the matter continued into the weekend and to find out if or when it goes ahead you’ll have to check our daily news pages regularly but in the meantime here’s some of the stories that hit our headlines last week.
1. Despite his conflict with Borgata, poker pro Phil Ivey has endorsed the casino’s new partner, the Pala Casino online gambling site.
2.The Florida Lottery has a bright future ahead. Lottery sales in the Sunshine State already reached an impressive $5.3 billion and now lawmakers are considering introducing online sales in the state.
3.Neteller co-founder’s biography was released. Readers could discover the story behind the successful and controversial John Lefebvre.
4.The recent casino cheating case involving US Navy Rear Admiral Timothy Giardani got everybody’s attention.
5.What seems to be holding back the growth in the Macau casino industry?
6.Favourit and EveryMatrix launched multi-lingual online and mobile platform to the delight of players.
7.The Polish government is considering reviewing their policies on international gambling operations.
Meanwhile the queen of the crime novel, PD James, died peacefully at the age of 94 in her Oxford home having written 20 books including “Children of Men” and the massively successful series featuring the detective Adam Dalgliesh that were adapted for television, and in Hong Kong protestors attempted to move on the Chief Executive’s office only to be met by batons, pepper-spray and water hoses from authorities tired of the softly-softly approach. Will there be more chaos on the streets of this gambling capital? You’ll have to check in with our daily news pages to find out.