Nevada Gaming Control reviews details of fabricated tickets; site apologizes

By David Payne Purdum / @DavidPurdum

Nevada Gaming Control was reviewing details Monday to see if any state laws were broken by the handicapping service that used fabricated betting tickets from three Las Vegas sportsbooks as a marketing ploy.

ATSConsultants.com sent out a press release Saturday, showcasing what have proven to be illegitimate tickets and claims, including winning over $600,000 on a futures bet on the Miami Heat placed at the MGM Grand, among other big bets.

‘Give me 10 grand on Ryan Newman to win $200K.’
‘I’m sorry, sir, we only allow a total win of $25,000 on NASCAR.’

Jay Rood, sportsbook manager for MGM, confirmed the ticket was fake Sunday and reported the incident to Gaming Control.

The Baltimore-based site also showed pictures of a fabricated ticket from the MGM Mirage on the New York Giants to win the Super Bowl that paid more than $1 million and one from the M Resort on Ryan Newman to win the Goody’s 500 that paid $206,000.

“We don’t let you win more than $25,000 on NASCAR,” said Mike Colbert, sportsbook director for Cantor Gaming, which operates the M Resort. “It’s not real, not even close.”

ATS Consultants issued an apology Monday, saying the tickets were “only done as a dramatization of winning wagers and the firm didn’t have any intention of trying to cash the tickets.”

“Instead, they were just trying to convince clients to purchase their service by making false claims,” a snarky reporter at David Purdum Sports said. “We can only hope that these fine, honorable folks will win some integrity on their next big bet.”

“We overstepped on this, and take full responsibility for it,” ATS Consultants president Jordan Runco was quoted as saying in the release. “Our marketing team is always thinking of ways to showcase our successes. We did make these predictions, and the amounts shown on the images were a projection of the money our clients won based on these forecasts. We thought having images of winning tickets would make these successes more easily relatable to current and prospective clients. In hindsight, it was just a poorly conceived marketing tactic.”

David Purdum Sports has sent multiple comment requests to ATSConsultants.com via email and Twitter, asking to know how many people work in the site’s marketing department and what can be done to assure customers that information will not be fabricated moving forward. No answer had been received as of Monday afternoon.

“I apologize to anyone who was misled or confused about this. That includes our current and prospective clients, members of the media, and casinos in question,” Runco said in the release. “I know we’ll take a credibility hit in some circles for this – and we deserve that.”

Since there was no attempt to cash the tickets, it’s unlikely legal action will be pursued by the NGC or the MGM.

Maryland Customer Affairs said the FBI handles cases of internet fraud in the state.

Editor’s note: David Purdum Sports would like to thank BeyondtheBets.com for their staff’s continued diligence in helping expose the shady element of sports betting, which continues to give the entire industry a black eye.

If you know of fraudulent or unethical behavior, please don’t hesitate to contact me at davidpurdumsports@yahoo.com.

Illegitimate betting tickets could have handicapping service in hot water

By David Payne Purdum / @DavidPurdum

From artificially enhanced Twitter followings to make-believe handicappers, the shady element of the sports betting industry will stop at nothing to take advantage of the gullible among us.

But the fine folks at ATS Consultants may have crossed a line that could have them in trouble with Nevada Gaming Control.

What’s wrong with this picture? (Photo courtesy of Beyond the Bets).

As first reported by the sharp scoops at Beyond the Bets, ATS Consultants published an approximately 800-word story on its site, claiming to have won $625,815 on a futures bet on the Miami Heat to win the NBA title. The handicapping service also nailed the New York Giants to win the Super Bowl for a “seven-figure” payday. They even have pictures of the tickets as proof of how deadly accurate they are.

The only problem — the tickets aren’t real.

When was the Super Bowl played again?

“It’s not legitimate,” MGM sportsbook manager Jay Rood said in an email. “They didn’t even proof read them well. Look at the Giants ticket. Event date and the ticket written date, among a few other BIG mistakes but, won’t go into details so they won’t be better on the next scam. Sad, Madoff-ish, presenting false results. Maybe the government should provide them with something to do like picking up trash on the highways.”

Rood contacted Gaming Control on Sunday to report the altered tickets. Gaming Control was reviewing the case Monday.

The story also features a NASCAR ticket from the M Resort. No one from Cantor Gaming was available Sunday to confirm if it was also a fake.

ATS Consultants is located in Baltimore, Md., according to the site. You can give them a shoutout on their success at 1-800-772-1287 or via email at sales@atssportsline.com.

Comment requests made to ATS Consultants via email and Twitter were not immediately returned.

(Update: It appears ATS Consultants have taken the story down from their site. Too bad for them, they also sent it out as a press release and screen shots are easy to archive).

Compulsive gambling: Arnie Wexler stands behind those who can’t stop

I have covered the gaming industry for four years, writing hundreds of stories on pointspreads, big bets and long-shot parlays. Sadly, this is my first on gambling addiction. As a member of the media, I need to do more. Arnie Wexler already has.

By David Payne Purdum / @DavidPurdum

It was 1968 in North Bergen, N.J. Two grand bought a new car. Compulsive gambler Arnie Wexler was down $5K, approximately a year’s salary.

He was on his way to see the man.

Wexler, a 30-year-old plant manager for a Fortune 500 company, stepped inside his regular social club. He walked through the downstairs card room, where he had played in a Greek Rummy game full of “bookmakers and shylocks” since he was a teen.

Then, he headed up the stairs to Petey’s office.

Wexler had spent a lot of time in that office, which had a refrigerator, five telephones and minimal furniture. He had worked the phones and hooked up bettors with Petey for years. He received a cut of the players’ losses, but almost always gambled away any profits before he saw any.

Five months earlier, in November of 1967, Wexler had borrowed $5,000 from a loan shark, who also happened to be Petey’s brother. He had been paying $550 a month in interest, while making $125 a week. He was betting much more, sometimes on 50 games over a weekend.

Married with two kids, Wexler’s home life had fallen apart long ago. He had made three trips to the racetrack while his wife went through 37 hours of labor during the birth of their first child. With six outstanding loans, he’d look at his family, swear that he’d stop gambling then cry himself to sleep. The first thing he did when he woke up, however, was buy the daily racing form. When a bookie cut him off, he went straight home and sold the family car to a neighbor. It was one rock bottom after another.

But this particular April day was different. He entered Petey’s office, looked at his longtime bookie and told him that he was a compulsive gambler and was quitting.

Petey wasn’t buying it.

“He opened a drawer, and said, ‘I don’t care where the fuck you get the money,’ and pulled out a gun and gave it to me,” recalled Wexler.

It’s now been 44 years since Wexler last placed a bet.

On Opening Day of the 1968 baseball season, he put $20 on a two-team parlay. Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals cashed the first leg of his parlay. He needed Tom Seaver and the Mets to beat Juan Marichal and the Giants to cash.

“In the bottom of the ninth, the Giants came up with four runs and beat me,” Wexler said during a recent phone interview. “That was the last bet I ever made.”

Days later, he was in Petey’s office, contemplating the offer of the gun. Wexler left the gun there and came back to see Petey 10 straight days until he finally convinced him to take a $25-per-week payoff plan.

Fans of Arnie: From Oprah Winfrey to Howard Cosell

It was 1994. The phones kept ringing.

Wexler, who was head of the Council on Compulsive Gambling at the time, had just done the Oprah Winfrey Show.

He and his staff were manning six phone lines. They couldn’t keep up with all the calls from distressed gamblers looking for help. At the end of the day, the phone register showed 5,000 calls. By the end of the week, there had been 10,000.

Wexler wants to help them all, but admits keeping 1 of 10 clean is a lofty goal. But even now, the 74-year-old tries. He and his wife Shelia have trained approximately 40,000 casino employees on the signs of compulsive gambling. He blogs and sends out press releases about his story. He holds nothing back.

“Why do you open yourself up like this and admit these things publicly?” Howard Cosell once asked Wexler.

“The answer is I’ve been there,” Wexler replied. “I know what it does to people and that’s what helps me recover, opening myself up and be real about what I did with my life. But the real thing that I’ve done is the recovery piece.”

Arnie Wexler contact info. http://www.aswexler.com/

‘He’s saved a lot of lives’

I’ve been covering the gaming industry for four years. I’ve written hundreds of stories about big bets, line movements and crazy long shots. Sadly, this is my first about compulsive gambling.

“I am sure you have come in contact with lots of addicted gamblers and never knew it,” Wexler told me. “And they for sure would not tell you had the addiction; some may not have known it. Gambling is the invisible disease. There are no track marks, dilated pupils or the smell of alcohol. I’ve had judges refuse to acknowledge it.”

There is no debate that compulsive gambling can be destructive.

Popular sportstalk radio host Sid Rosenberg knows all about it. He’s struggled with compulsive gambling off and on and first met Wexler on a Friday night at a Gamblers Anonymous meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., sometime in the mid-1990s. They’ve been close friends ever since and stay in regular communication.

“The guy has saved a lot of lives, a lot of lives,” Rosenberg said of Wexler.

On July 12, it will be eight months since Rosenberg has placed a bet, he says. He credits Wexler in his recovery, but says he still plans on talking point spreads when he takes over the morning spot on WMEN-640 AM in August.

“I can’t stand those guys who used to smoke cigarettes, but now says he can’t stand them,” said Rosenberg. “I’ve been through about everything and don’t look down on people who use drugs or gamble. But I just can’t do it anymore. It’s caused my family a lot of heartache and a lot of money out the door … a lot of people knocking at my … it just caused my family a lot of heartache.”

Before our final phone interview, Wexler had just hung up with a concerned mother of a professional poker player. He has worked with several poker pros as the game’s popularity exploded in the last 10-15 years. This mother was particularly scared.

“This kid won a couple million dollars playing poker, but has a house in foreclosure in Florida,” said Wexler. “The last word he told his mother yesterday that he wanted to kill himself.”

Wexler’s voice quivered when he said it.

‘A special place in heaven’

Professional handicapper and Libertarian politician Wayne Root remembers meeting Wexler on a TV talk show in the late 1980s.

The two came from opposite sides of the gaming industry but became immediate friends.

“He is like an uncle to me,” Root said of Wexler in an email. “He is one of those special souls you meet just a few times in your years on this planet. There is a special place in Heaven for him.. Arnie cares for people with the worst gambling problems. No matter what they’ve done, no matter how bad they’ve been, Arnie is there for them. When you see something like that, how can you not help?”

Help is exactly what Root has done. He is one of the only—if not the only—professional pick seller who has a link to Wexler’s site and phone number for his gambling problem hotline listed on his own site, Winngedge.com. Root has also made numerous donations to Wexler’s cause.

“I built a wonderful career as a professional sports handicapper,” added Root. “And while 99 percent of my clients enjoy sports gambling and see it as a combination of entertainment and investment, it is a fact that some gamblers have addiction issues.

“Those of us who do well in this industry have an obligation to help that group,” he continued. “Arnie Wexler is the best in the world at doing that- because of his background (he’s been there) and because of his compassion. So I’ve always made it my obligation to donate to his cause and to be sure my clients knew that help existed if any of them should ever need it. That’s why the banner for Arnie’s organization has been on my homepage since the first day my site went up in 2000. And that’s why when Arnie called for financial help, I was always there.”

Q&A w/ Arnie Wexler

Q: What is the closest you’ve come to gambling in the last 44 years?
A: “I was speaking in Oklahoma City and was in a cab on the way to the hotel. I saw this sign that says, ‘Get your juices flowing.’ A new racetrack was opening. It showed a jockey on a horse, and I got juiced up just looking at this ad. We got to the hotel—I’m 20-25 years clean at the time—and ask where this racetrack is. And the doorman says, ‘It’s not open yet.’ “

Q: How many games were you betting at your peak?
A: Every game on the board. It wasn’t like I was smart enough to pick two or three games.

Q: What was the biggest bet you ever placed?
A: In December of 1967, I’m in a phonebooth in Queens. I put in the 10 cents to call the guy. I said, ‘Matty, I want to bet a 36-hundred-dollar round robin.’ The bet is $10,800. At that point, I’m making $90 to $100 a week. He says to me, ‘Arnie, don’t jerk me around. If you don’t have this money, don’t make this bet.’ I told him I had the money, but if I would have lost the dime in the phone booth, I couldn’t have called him back.

Q: Do you think you’ll ever place another bet?
A: I can’t answer that. I hope not. No one knows the answer to that question. I’ve seen too many experiences, people who’ve been clean for 20, 30 or 40 years, that go back to gambling. But I think I have enough protection in place that it shouldn’t happen to me.

Q: Your thoughts on Pete Rose?
A: I once did an ESPN special, “Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame?” My take on it is, yeah, he should be in the Hall of Fame. But it’s his fault that he’s not in the Hall of Fame, because if he turned around and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to a 12-step program. I’m in recovery, and I’m not gambling anymore.’ I think he’d be in the Hall of Fame.”

Q: Tim Donaghy?
A: “When Tim got in trouble, we met twice and I helped him and got him in a 12-step program. I was in the court room for his sentencing and ended up sitting next to his father when he got sentenced. I was talking to Tim every week, but I’d say over the last six months we haven’t communicated much.”

Q: Nevin Shapiro?
A: “His lawyer contacted me several times and wanted me to don an evaluation on him, but it never happened. Six weeks later, I saw him getting sentenced.”

After losing billions, J.P. Chase chief: ‘We don’t gamble;’ Billy Walters might disagree

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of J.P. Chase & Morgan, the largest financial institution in the U.S., testified that his firm doesn’t gamble.

American investors might disagree.

Dimon was in charge during the multibillion-dollar investment losses that fueled an economic meltdown.

In testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services on Tuesday, Dimon explained the difference between gambling and investing to Rep. Gary Ackerman.

“I think when you gamble you usually lose to the house,” Dimon said.

Ackerman responded: “That’s been my general experience with investing.”

“I’d be happy to get you a better financial advisor,” Dimon added.

Las Vegas businessman Billy Walters thought he had the best financial advice around, when he invested millions in four publicly traded companies a decade or so ago. That didn’t turn out to be the case.

Walters, considered by many to be the most successful sports bettor ever, remains heavily involved in the stock market. But like a lot of American investors in today’s economic climate, he’s not exactly thrilled about it.

“I have a much bigger presence in the stock market than I do betting sports,” Walters said in a phone interview. “The only reason I do is, because it’s a much bigger market; you can play a lot higher. Betting on sporting events is a much cleaner, much more honest game than buying stocks. I can tell you that for sure.”

Walters says he lost $12 million on four publicly traded companies: Purchase Pro LLC, Enron Cooperation, WorldCom and Tyco.

“I relied on audited statements that were done by Big Six accounting firms,” he explained. “I relied on a board of directors that looked like a social registry of the United States. I relied on the SCC. I relied on all these analysts from all these brokerage firms. And everyone all said the same thing that these numbers were factual and had been checked and you could rely on them. I bought stock in them. I lost $12 million. And every one of them proved to be a fraud. People went to prison for them and everything else. The government didn’t give any money back from that. You just lost your money and that was that.”

[Wall Street Journal] [New York Times]

Tim Donaghy wins $1.62 lawsuit against ex-publisher

By David Payne Purdum / @DavidPurdum

Ex-NBA referee Tim Donaghy has a million-dollar court ruling in his pocket, but knows he still has a ways to go before he receives retribution from his former book publisher.

After a more than two-year legal battle, Donaghy was awarded $1.62 million Friday in his breach-of-contract suit against his former book publisher and current political talk show host Shawna Vercher.

“I don’t know that it’ll change my life right now,” Donaghy said in a Saturday phone interview. “But knowing the things she’s tried to pull off, I’m sure she’ll try to get out of paying.”

A Florida jury backed Donaghy’s allegations that Vercher failed to pay royalties on his book, “Personal Foul” and took steps to discredit the former ref, who was booted from the NBA for his role in a gambling scandal.

Donaghy claims that Vercher orchestrated the creation of the website, TimDonaghyRevealed.com, and posted negative and erroneous stories about him. The URL is no longer working.

“We were able to trace the website that was set up with fictitious names and emails,” Donaghy said. “Some of her employees told us that they were directed to create this website with untraceable emails and web addresses; then she put up all the information.”

Vercher did not address that specific allegation, but told David Purdum Sports in an email that her attorney Khurrum Wahid had already begun work on an appeal.

“We are confident that – once we get beyond a court in Mr. Donaghy’s back yard (and that of his attorney) and to an appellate court – we will be allowed to call witnesses, to present evidence and to provide enough evidence to prevail in finally having a judge rule that Mr. Donaghy must stay away from me and my family,” Vercher added.

Donaghy resides in Sarasota, Fla. His attorney, Nick Mooney of Bromagen & Rathet, P.A., works out of St. Petersburg.

In response to Vercher’s statement, Mooney said, “We look forward to continuing the legal process and getting it finalized. I assure you that Mr. Donaghy has no interest in going anywhere near Mrs. Vercher or her family.”

Donaghy says he believed Vercher had some creative ideas at the time he was looking for a publisher.

“She claimed that she had worked with Jeb Bush and President Obama and, at the time, seemed like a person that could get the project done and was a trustworthy person,” Donaghy said. “If she would have been, it would have been a huge success for both of his. Instead, she chose to go down a path that wasn’t beneficial.”

Since being banned by the NBA in 2005 and serving 15 months in jail, Donaghy has been publicly ridiculed and had his credibility tarnished. He was frustrated throughout the lengthy suit, but says the advice from a Portland Trail Blazers season-ticket holder helped him stay professional while interacting with Vercher.

Attorney Dorothy Kemp corresponded with Donaghy after reading his book and helped him communicate with Vercher.

“She told me, ‘at some point, this is going to go to court, and you don’t want anything in writing or have done anything that can cause you harm when it does,’ ” Donaghy said. “I had to be extremely professional and let [Mrs. Vercher] go down the unprofessional road.”

Donaghy currently provides NBA analysis for the site, SportsConnectionWins.com, and says he plans on staying in the gaming business.

BetEd justice, just not for clients

By David Payne Purdum / @DavidPurdum

Justice is being handed out to the two men indicted for running the online casino and sportsbook BetED.com.

The same can’t be said for BetED clients, who saw their accounts closed and funds vanish last May, when the Maryland Dept. of Justice seized the domain name, indicted operators Darren Wright and David Parchomchuk and effectively shut down the business.

Parchomchuk plead guilty to conducting an illegal gambling business and was sentenced to two years of probation June 8.

He faced a maximum penalty of five years in prison without parole, followed by a term of supervised release not to exceed three years and a $250,000 fine. But pleading guilty to Count 1 and exposing details of the operation, including highlighting Wright’s role at BetED, earned Parchomchuk a reduced sentence.

Wright will make his initial arraignment appearance July 16.

As part of the plea agreement, Parchomchuk agreed to forfeit the contents of three bank accounts located in Panama.

In the DOJ’s eyes, they did not seize customer funds, rather the company’s funds, a spokesperson told David Purdum Sports on Wednesday.

In an email, Parchomchuk’s lawyer, Jeff Ifrah, said his client was a computer programmer who earned $100,000 year from ThrillX, the company that operated as BetEd. Ifrah added, “Parchomchuk was never in charge of customer funds and never had access to client funds. The government has never stated otherwise. He is very concerned about customers who cannot access their funds.”

Three times more money has been bet on Tiger Woods than any other golfer

By David Payne Purdum / @DavidPurdum

More bets have been placed on Matt Kuchar and Jason Dufner to win the U.S. Open than on Tiger Woods at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino SuperBook.

But three times more money has been bet on Woods than any other golfer, according to SuperBook manager and golf odds specialist Jeff Sherman.

Woods is the favorite at 7/1 at the SuperBook.

“With his odds being short, you see a lot of the larger bets. People come up and put $500 or $1,000 on Tiger,” said Sherman. “They generally don’t do that with those longer shots.”

The SuperBook is facing a pretty big liability on Woods if he was to win, something in the five-figure range, estimated Sherman.

Luke Donald has the second most money bet on him, but it’s nowhere close to what’s on Woods.

US Open betting factoids

–The over/under on the winning score is 278.5 (-1 ½). Bettors initially took the under, but Sherman said a lot more money has came in on the over since, forcing him to push the juice up to -150 to bet the over.

Last year, the projected winning score at par-71 Congressional was 281.5. Rory McIlroy won with a 16-under, 268.

“No one knew that coming,” said Sherman. “A lot of people who like the over are thinking that the USGA is going get back at everybody for what happened last year.”

–Speaking of the defending champion, the betting action on McIlroy has been slim. He began as the favorite, but was surpassed after Woods won the Memorial. McIlroy is now 15/1, the highest he’s been since Sherman opened the U.S. Opens directly after the Masters.

“It’s not like there’s anything overwhelming coming in on [McIlroy] at 15/1, but I’m not going to go 20/1,” said Sherman. “I think at 20/1, we’d get a lot of action there.”

–The length of Olympic Club (7,170 yards) will leave golfers with lots of 175-200-yard approach shots. Bubba Watson leads the Tour in relative score to par from that distance.

–“I wouldn’t bet anyone that’s lower than double digits to win the U.S. Open.” – Jeff Sherman.

–Lee Westwood (12/1) is Sherman’s No. 1 power rated golfer,

–The SuperBook is on pace to eclipse the handle from last year’s U.S. Open.

–U.S. Open setups force golfers to make 3-to-5-foot putts. Louis Oosthuizen has made 82 of 86 putts from that range this year on Tour.

–Sherman’s two players to watch in the matchups – Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia.