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2014 in Sports Betting: From Fantasy Sports to the Sports Trading Club Scam

Dec 16, 2014
Betting news in 2014

How did the betting business do in 2014?

From the rise of fantasy sports to notorious wagering scams, 2014 was an exciting year for the sports betting industry.

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.

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Conman Peter Foster Arrested for Involvement in International Betting Scam

Oct 31, 2014
Peter Foster arrested (Photo: The Australian)

Peter Foster arrested (Photo: The Australian)

Police revealed that Peter Foster scammed investors out of more than $10 million, in an international ponzi scheme.

The man allegedly ran a betting scheme called the Sports Trading Club, conning hundreds of Australian families. According to online gambling news, Foster told investors that he could make them a fortune through the sports betting site, an operation he ran from a hideout located in the Byron Bay area.

Using the alias Mark Hughes, the conman tricked his victims into giving him millions of dollars. Newspapers said he had raked in more than $10 million in the last few months alone, and he spent part of his illegal income on a yacht.

Police found several computers in Foster’s home office, as well as multiple mobile phones registered to different names. The equipment was all part of the plot.

The Age: Peter Foster implicated in international betting scam

Hundreds of investors could lose millions in an international betting scheme run by Peter Foster, following the notorious conman’s dramatic arrest at a luxury property near Byron Bay. The man was hiding from Australian authorities and it is believed he operated the Sports Trading Club from his hiding place.

Police raided his house on Tuesday afternoon and found six mobile phones, as well as several computers in his home office. Foster tried to flee but crashed into a neighbour’s fence and got tackled by a police officer. He allegedly tried to grab the officer’s gun and was charged with assaulting him.

The betting syndicate has offices in London, Sydney and Hong Kong, but Foster’s hideout is said to have played a key role in the operation. Sports Trading Club takes investments between $50,000 and $250,000 and places bets on sports scores, in major events around the world.

In June, the company’s UK communication manager, Patrick McMahon, told reporters that investors had received a 1900% return since January 2013. “We don’t gamble, we trade,” he said. “We make money out of other peoples’ mistakes. When one side gambles and the other trades, it is like owning the casino.”

In July, the trading company said it had gained $150 million by backing Germany to win the FIFA World Cup. It also scored a “multi-million-dollar win” by betting against Serena Williams and Novac Djokovic at the Australian Open.

Brisbane Times: Conman Peter Foster tracked for a month before arrest

Serial conman Peter Foster spent more than a year on the run before police finally arrested him in his hideout near Byron Bay. The conman had been wanted since September last year, when he failed to show up for his court date at Brisbane Federal Court. The judge found him guilty of contempt of court.

NSW Superintendent Stuart Wilkins told reporters: “We had information from the last month or so he was in and around the Byron Bay area but not a specific location so this is a good result all round. As the result of excellent community consultation and a group of people working together this person has been arrested and will be now going before courts.”

Foster, 52, is known for a series of weight loss product scams, including a nasal spray called Sensaslim. His most recent appearance in court was for breaching a previous order to stop selling these products. Over the past year, the man had been telling the media that he was in Fiji, even sending photos of himself relaxing in a chair and reading a newspaper printed in Fiji.

The police said they were not sure how long he had been hiding at the Ewingsdale property where he was caught and arrested this week. He was chased by local detectives and a TV camera crew before being tackled.

He was charged with assaulting police officers and resisting arrest, but Detective Senior Constable Gary Sheehan told reporters: “He did show a great deal of concern about his mother…but other than that he was quite cooperative. He was very cooperative, quite remorseful and, in fact, he actually apologized to me in the courtroom.”

Daily Telegraph: Con man Peter Foster pleads guilty to assault after grabbing detective’s gun

While authorities have their doubts about Peter Foster’s claim of looking after his ailing mother, the conman pleaded guilty of assaulting detectives during his arrest at Byron Bay. He was transported to the Arthur Gorrie prison in Brisbane.

Foster blamed his actions on the news crew’s “Rambo style” pursuit, and his solicitor said he had been “confused” after attempting to run away from the cameras and escape through a back gate.

“He had an adrenaline rush. He wanted to get away from the film crew,” solicitor Terry Fisher explained.

According to Fisher, Foster had been looking after his mother and living the life of a “monk” for the past 11 months. “He has effectively been living like a monk. He should have just blended in with the locals (in northern NSW). The fact that he’s separated from his mother is causing him a great deal of pain. That is ffecting him quite deeply,” he added.

On the other hand, Tweed-Byron Local Area Commander Superintendent Stuart Wilkins claimed that Foster had been living with a male friend. Authorities did not want to comment on the allegations that Foster was running an online betting operation.

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