Wayne Root didn’t recall interview with Ga. Senator Chip Rogers

By David Payne Purdum / @DavidPurdum

Politician and sports handicapper Wayne Root does so many interviews that he says it’s easy to forget who’s interviewing him – even if the interviewer is the majority leader of the Georgia Senate.

In May, Root said he had never met Ga. Senator Chip Rogers, who is under fire for his role as a TV tout and sports betting operation in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Root has been a sports betting prognosticator and pick seller for years and still owns WinningEdge.com. He has emerged in the political scene and was the 2008 Libertarian candidate for Vice President.

[Read the interview here].

But Root appeared on a radio show guest hosted by Rogers on Dec. 9. According to audio obtained by David Purdum Sports,  Rogers, who was guest hosting the Martha Zoller Show on 103.7 FM in Georgia, opened the interview by saying, “always good to hear from you” and closed it by saying, “Wayne’s a great guy.”

It certainly sounds like Rogers and Root had met before. Maybe their paths crossed in the sports betting world or in the political arena. But it also could have been just radio rhetoric. Or maybe Rogers was just pretending again, like he did when portraying a role of an expert sports handicapper Will “The Winner” Rogers.

Root maintained that he had never met Rogers in an email exchange this week, adding, “If I spoke to him one time on phone as guest host, who cares? I did not know it. It was just another guest host/voice on the radio. I don’t understand why you would care? I don’t think it’s a crime to have been a guest on a show one time with ANYONE!”

Meanwhile, Georgia voters are at the polls today to decide whether or not Rogers will win another term.

BetED sportsbook operator pleads guilty

By David Purdum / @DavidPurdum

Darren Wright, one of two men indicted on gambling charges last May for operating the now defunct online sportsbook BetED.com, pleaded guilty to conducting a gambling business charges Monday in Maryland District Court.

Wright was sentenced to two years probation and was required to pay a $100,000 assessment. According to court documents, he paid the amount in full.

Meanwhile, BetED customers, who had their accounts shut down without notice last May, have not been reimbursed.

Wright was facing a maximum punishment of five years of imprisonment without parole, followed by a term of supervised release not to exceed three years and a fine of $250,000. But Wright is likely looking at a much less severe punishment.

David Parchomchuk, the other man indicted in May 2011, also pleaded guilty to conducting an illegal gambling business and was sentenced to two years of probation on June 8.

Wright’s attorney Douglas Applegate did not return emails requesting comment about customer funds or Monday’s arraignment.

Parchomchuk’s lawyer Jeff Ifrah told David Purdum Sports in June that his client was never in charge of nor had access to client funds. “He is very concerned about customers who cannot access their funds,” Ifrah added in an email.

In his plea agreement, Wright admitted to operating BetED.com from at least October 2009 to April 22, 2011. BetED was located in Costa Rica and had at least 20 employees.

He was caught after signing an agreement with Linwood Payment Solutions, a processor set up by the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

From the plea agreement:

New Jersey sports betting: Odds are against it

New Jersey is attempting to defy the odds–and the federal government–by offering sports betting as early as September.

By David Payne Purdum / @DavidPurdum

Few believe New Jersey gamblers will be betting on the NFL in September, but that doesn’t appear to be slowing down the state’s efforts.

A day after New Jersey gaming enforcement posted proposals for sports betting regulations, Monmouth Park said it would be the first track or casino in the state to take bets on sports.

“We’re the only ones who appear willing to go forward right now,” Monmouth Park operator Dennis Drazin told NorthJersey.com’s John Brennan on Tuesday. “Everyone else wants to wait and see how it plays out.”

Meanwhile, count the oddsmakers at prominent online sportsbook Betonline.ag among those who don’t believe it’s going to happen. The book posted odds on whether or not New Jersey gamblers will be able to place a  wager on an NFL football game in Week 1.

“No” is an overwhelming 1/9 (-900) favorite, with “Yes” paying 11/2.

Dave Mason, brand manager for BetOnline.com, said his company isn’t overly concerned about a big drop in business, if and when New Jersey does get up and running.

“Sure, it will take some business away, but we don’t feel it will be “significant” by any means,” Mason said in an email Tuesday. “If I’m not mistaken, folks still have to get in their cars and go to the casinos/tracks to get-down. And there are other conveniences when you bet online like bonuses, way more options, better odds. Also when you win big at the casino, I’m sure they’ll be handing you a tax form.”

Multiple Las Vegas sportsbook managers have said they strongly doubt New Jersey will be up and running in time for this NFL season.

“It’s not happening until 2014 at the earliest,” a Vegas bookmaker told David Purdum Sports last week.

Here’s a quick look at some of the notable regulations proposed Monday and posted on the New Jersey Register:

13:69N-2.1 Betting on behalf of another prohibited

Persons shall place a wager at a sports wagering operation only on their own behalf and shall not wager on the account of or for any other person. Any person wagering or attempting to wager on behalf of another person shall be subject to the civil penalties set forth in the Casino Control Act. No licensee shall accept a wager from a person on the account of or for any other person.

13:69N-2.3 Patron wagers

(a) A wagering operator shall not accept any wager pursuant to this chapter unless it has provided written notification to the Division of the first time that wagering on an event is offered to the public at least two business days prior to accepting a wager on such event, provided that notice is not required whenever the odds change on a previously offered event. The Division reserves the right to prohibit the acceptance of wagers, and may order the cancellation of wagers and require refunds on any event for which wagering would be contrary to the public policies of the State.

(b) A wagering operator shall only accept wagers on events for which:

1. The outcome can be verified;

2. The outcome can be generated by a reliable and independent process;

3. The outcome would not be affected by any wager placed; and

4. The event is conducted in conformity with all applicable laws.

13:69N-2.4 Layoff wagers

A wagering operator may, in its discretion, accept a layoff wager from another New Jersey wagering operator. A wagering operator placing a layoff wager shall disclose its identity to the wagering operator accepting the wager. A layoff wager and, if applicable, a resultant payout shall not be included in the calculation of gross revenue.

Donaghy’s probation officer investigating ex-NBA ref’s current employer

By David Payne Purdum / @DavidPurdum

Tim Donaghy’s probation officer has been in contact with the ex-NBA ref and is currently conducting an investigation of his employer, a sports handicapper with a federal conviction on gambling charges.

Donaghy has been working as a handicapping consultant for Danny Berrelli at SportsConnectionsWins.com since October of 2010.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Berrelli is an alias for Daniel T. Biancullo, who was convicted in 2004 for his role in a sports gambling operation in Florida.

Donaghy is prohibited from associating with felons while serving probation for his role in a gambling scandal during his time as an NBA official. His probation is set to end later this summer.

“We are investigating the true identity of Danny Berrelli,” Steve Beasley, Deputy Chief U.S. Probation Officer for the Middle District of Florida, told the Daily News on Monday. “We were not aware that Danny Berrelli had any other names.”

Donaghy said in an email early Tuesday that he planned on visiting his probation officer’s office to discuss the report.

“We are supervising Mr. Donaghy and have been in contact with him about this,” Beasley said in a Tuesday afternoon phone interview.

Beasley said he could not comment on whether or not this type of probation violation could land Donaghy back in prison.

Biancullo was one of three men who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transmit wagering information in May of 2004. He worked for Player’s Edge Inc. and National Sports Consultants Inc., offering supposed inside information for a fee and referring clients to specific offshore gambling casinos that then provided money back to the companies.

“We’d entice people to join up with us,” Biancullo was quote as saying in a 2004 article in the Naple News. “We never really had ‘information.’ Our job was to get you to bet as much as you could. The more you take the more you make — that was the motto there.”

Biancullo was sentenced to sixth months of home detention and three years probation.

Donaghy, who served 13 months in prison, joined Bianculla’s handicapping service as a consultant in October of 2010. According to the Daily News, he denied knowing of his boss’s past conviction. In a recent phone interview, Donaghy told David Purdum Sports how grateful he was to Biancullo, who prefers to be called Danny B.

“If Danny didn’t reach out to me, honestly, I don’t know what I’d be doing,” Donaghy said.

But now it seems like Biancullo might have brought Donaghy some unwanted attention, just weeks after he won a million-dollar lawsuit against the former publisher of his book, “Personal Foul,” Shawna Vercher.

Vercher, now a political radio talk show host, is appealing the ruling.

The Daily News reported that Donaghy was making $50,000 in salary plus car payments from Berrelli. Donaghy owes the NBA $250,000 in court-mandated restitution.

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.”