Featured in this article:
  • Broward County Sheriff alleges his office busted a major sports betting ring.
  • Investigation seized over $1.2 million in assets from targets.
  • Charges have yet to be filed, but Sheriff seeks permanent forfeiture.

3 Minute Read

Florida sheriff wants gambling proceeds forfeited.

A Florida county sheriff alleges his office has busted an illegal gambling and sports betting ring. The Broward County Sheriff, Gregory Tony, now seeks to have over $1.2 million in funds tied to the alleged illegal activity permanently forfeited.

The case highlights problems that exist as regulated Florida sports betting remains in legal limbo. While no one is yet facing criminal charges, at least four individuals are out a significant sum of money.

Asset Seizure Can Precede Charges

It is common that during criminal investigations, assets like money and valuables are seized by authorities. Though America features the presumption of innocence for all citizens, this presumption does not necessarily apply to tangible items. Therefore, law enforcement can take anything they believe to be involved in or the proceeds from criminal activity.

poker chips on pile of money

Law enforcement alleges the men participated in illegal Florida gambling.

In this case, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office has targeted four men for investigation into illegal gambling activity: William Cascioli, Martin Zarcadoolas, Todd Schettino, and Harris Steinhart. The assets seized include over $1.22 million in cash, poker chips, and gold coins.

Even though the assets have been seized, the Sheriff needs court approval to formally proceed with forfeiture. After civil forfeiture, the funds would be placed in a trust fund for local programs. Law enforcement has filed the forfeiture case, but the targets of the investigation are fighting the case.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, they received an anonymous tip regarding illegal bookmaking in 2018. All four men have been informed they are official targets of an investigation. Court documents also indicate law enforcement anticipates filing formal charges but has yet to take this step.

Florida Sportsbook Law Faces Uncertain Future

For years, lawmakers have tried to bring regulated sportsbooks to Florida. However, it was not until 2021 that they made tangible progress, only to have federal law intervene. Now, voters may be asked their thoughts on how much legal gambling should be allowed in Florida.

The Broward County case shows there is strong demand for sports betting in the Sunshine State. It is also a cautionary tale for bettors to be careful placing unregulated wagers. While it appears law enforcement is only targeting ringleaders of the operation, even small punters may be affected.

The money seized may have been the bookmaking operation’s bankroll, from which it paid out winners. So, there may be people who placed successful wagers only to have their bookie’s cash suddenly dry up.

Additionally, all four men are clearly being watched, which means low-level wagerers may have been seen by law enforcement or sources placing bets. Those that used online or mobile devices to make bets, either through a website, app, text message, or phone call, may run afoul of the federal Wire Act.

There is also the possibility that the allegations do not pan out and the money is returned to these individuals. No charges may ever be filed, either because the men did nothing illegal or the government fails to build a complete case. Still, these problems could be mitigated by legalizing and regulating sportsbooks in Florida.

Arthur Crowson

Arthur Crowson writes for GambleOnline.co about the gambling industry. His experience ranges from crypto and technology to sports, casinos, and poker. He went to Douglas College and started his journalism career at the Merritt Herald as a general beat reporter covering news, sports and community. Arthur lives in Hawaii and is passionate about writing, editing, and photography.

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