Feds: Man faces charge in illegal sports betting case

A South Mississippi man faces prosecution in an illegal sports betting enterprise involving Internet-based sports books in Costa Rica and the United States, a court record shows.

Kenneth Schmitt, accused of committing his crimes in Diamondhead and Biloxi, is set for an initial appearance Dec. 20 in federal court.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged Schmitt in a bill of information alleging he transmitted wagering information for 4 1/2 years, from September 2008 through May 2014.

Before computerized betting came about, agents or others who handled bets were called “bookmakers” or “bookies.” Now, they’re generally referred to as agents.

It’s unclear if Schmitt was placing bets, accepting bets, or providing information on access to the sports books.

The conspiracy involved the set-up of illegal web-based sports books and a network of agents and others to oversee different groups of gamblers, according to the charging document.

Biloxi and Mississippi have great opportunities to benefit from legalized sports betting, says Geoff Freeman, president of American Gaming Association.

Defendants and gamblers allegedly were given user names and passwords to have regular access to the sports books on sporting events.

Schmitt, for instance, cashed a check for $2,370 that was related to the conspiracy on May 21, 2014, the document says.

He and co-conspirators reportedly concealed the existence and nature of the sport books and tried to shield gamblers and others from detection and prosecution.

Jim Davis, Schmitt’s attorney, could not be reached for comment Sunday.

After Schmitt’s initial appearance, he is scheduled to waive the right to indictment and change his plea to guilty, court records show.