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Ohio Bookie Avoids Prison In Sports Betting Case

A bookie near Cleveland took a plea deal and will spend three years on probation, along with forking over more than $800,000 to the feds.




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Ohio Bookie Avoids Prison In Sports Betting Case

A northeastern Ohio man who admitted running a sports-betting ring will be on probation as a result of his illegal bookmaking.

On Wednesday, federal authorities for the Northern District of Ohio announced that 48-year-old Ryan Driscoll of Aurora was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to forfeit $628,950 in cash seized from his home during the execution of a search warrant.

He must also pay $208,693 to the IRS as restitution. He pleaded guilty on Jan. 15 to running an illegal sports gambling business with other persons, laundering the proceeds, and filing a false income tax return.

The government alleged that from 2015 to 2019 Driscoll “operated as a bookmaker for his clients and provided them with access to offshore sports gambling websites.”

It’s unclear how large the sports betting operation was in terms of handle.

Authorities alleged that Driscoll kept bundles of $10,000 in cash in his home.

Driscoll’s case is one of at least two recent alleged illegal sports gambling cases in northeastern Ohio. Late last year, federal authorities alleged that a bookie in Mentor laundered $1.5 million from 2012 to 2016 at the table games at the casino in downtown Cleveland.

Ohio considering legalizing sports wagering

Driscoll was operating as a bookie in Ohio at the same time neighboring Pennsylvania passed legislation to make sports betting legal. The Keystone State in 2017 legalized sports wagering for companies willing to pay $10 million licensing fees and pay a share of their winnings to the state through taxes.

The Buckeye State is currently mulling proposals to legalize sports wagering for its casinos and racinos. One goal cited by proponents is to squeeze bookies like Driscoll and other illegal operators out of the market.

In May, a sports betting bill cleared the Ohio House. It awaits consideration in the Senate.

Ohio’s sports betting market would more than likely include licensed online/mobile sportsbooks. While the books must have some presence in Ohio and pay taxes, many aren’t American companies.

Michigan legalized sports wagering in 2019, and it could begin online/mobile betting later this year.