Bookmaker admits handling online sports bets on college, pro games

A fourth man has been charged in the investigation of illegal online sports betting on college and pro games in a South Mississippi–Costa Rica connection.

Robert J. “Bobby” Keller pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to transmission of wagering information. The investigation was first made public four months ago with one man’s arrest, followed by the arrests of two others.

Keller is accused of committing his crimes in Diamondhead and Biloxi from May 2012 through April 2014.

He was a bookmaker and used the internet to send in bets on college and professional football and basketball games, and other sports events, said a bill of information signed by Acting U.S. Attorney Harold Brittain.

The bets were made through websites with password-protected access in the U.S. and Costa Rica. Online sports betting is illegal in most of the U.S., but not in Costa Rica.

Keller also used the internet to receive money and credit for placing others’ bets on sporting events and contests.

He is free on an unsecured $25,000 bond pending his Aug. 3 sentencing.

The charge carries maximum penalties of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

South Mississippians Russell Miller and Christopher U. Anthony were sentenced April 19. Miller was fined $5,000 and given three years of probation. Anthony was fined $3,000 and put on probation for one year.

Kenneth Schmitt of Diamondhead was fined $5,000 on March 23 and given three years of probation.

Federal law prohibits sports betting in all states except Nevada under the Professional and Amateur sports Protection Act of 1992.

The American Gaming Association has spoken out in favor of lifting the prohibition, saying it could be a new amenity that consumers want.

A recently released Morning Consult poll shows 51 percent of New Orleans Saints fans support lifting the federal ban on sports betting.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews