Bookmakers for online sports betting operations fined, avoid prison

Two South Mississippi bookmakers have been fined for their roles in secret online sports-betting operations in the U.S. and Costa Rica.

Russell Miller and Christopher U. Anthony each faced maximum penalties of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine at their sentencing hearings Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Chief Judge Louis Guiorola Jr. fined Miller $5,000 and ordered three years of post-release supervision.

Guirola fined Anthony $3,000 and placed him on probation for one year.

The men were sending the bets — primarily on football games — to offshore online betting houses.

They and a third South Mississippi man had each waived the right to indictment and accepted plea bargains on a charge of conspiring to transmit wagering information.

They were involved with web sites with password-protected access to sports books that used a network of people to oversee groups of gamblers, court papers show.

Miller was involved in the conspiracy for nearly seven years, from September 2009 through April, a bill of information said.

Anthony’s involvement began April 4, 2014, and continued through April 24, 2014.

At their plea hearings in January, Miller and Anthony admitted they went to Costa Rica on April 24, 2014, as part of the conspiracy to deliver a payment to the person who set up gambling websites for sports books.

Most online sports gambling is illegal in the United States, but not in Costa Rica.

Kenneth Schmitt, charged in November, was part of the conspiracy from September 2009 through May 2014, when he cashed a $2,370 check related to the conspiracy. He was fined $5,000 and received three years’ probation at his sentencing in March.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews