An Ohio man who pleaded guilty to his role in an illegal gambling ring is further evidence that crime doesn’t pay.
The man acted as a bookmaker for offshore gambling websites for years. The fines he now faces are likely much more than he profited from the operation.
Details on the Ohio illegal gambling ring bust
Ryan Driscoll, 48, will avoid prison time with his guilty plea. He will also be on probation for the next three years.
In addition, Driscoll will be working for many years to pay off his new debts.
The court ordered Driscoll to forfeit over $628,000 that the FBI seized while executing a search warrant. Additionally, Driscoll’s sentence requires him to pay over $208,000 to the Internal Revenue Service as restitution.
According to the charges that Driscoll pleaded guilty to, he was an illegal bookie from July 2015 to August 2019. During that time, he used country club memberships and vehicle payments to launder his money.
Driscoll used offshore websites to manage his clients’ wagers, but handled the cash transactions locally. Court documents note that he underreported his income during that time by $825,323, leading to the IRS’s involvement.
Further consequences for people who used Driscoll’s services could be forthcoming. His guilty plea gives prosecuting attorneys more leverage to win convictions if cases should actually go to trial.
It’s possible that those who wagered with Driscoll could work out plea deals as well, depending on the prosecutor’s willingness to make such concessions. The biggest lesson for everyone in Ohio, however, is that using an illegal bookie or offshore sports betting website isn’t worth the risk.
Legal sports betting options for Ohioans now and in the future
Three states which border Ohio offer legal, safe, online betting options. Those are Indiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. If you’re at least 21 years of age, all you need do is cross the border into one of those states and then place your wager with one of the sportsbooks that state has licensed.
If you’re uncertain whether an online sportsbook you are considering is licensed in the state you’re in, it’s simple to verify. Somewhere within the app/website’s landing page should be a disclaimer indicating the sportsbook is registered with that state’s regulatory body.
Online sportsbooks will launch sometime early next year in Michigan as well. Of course, the ideal situation would be for Ohioans to be able to legally wager without having to leave their state of residence.
There has been some momentum for that, fortunately. In May, a bill to legalize sports betting in the Buckeye State passed the state House. Gov. Mike DeWine has expressed his support for such a measure.
In the next legislative term, it’s possible that lawmakers could get a bill through. If that happens, legal sportsbooks could be up and running sometime next year.
For now, the best option is to make the trip to one of the three surrounding states with legal frameworks. That way, you won’t have to worry about ending up like Driscoll.