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BetOnSports founder Kaplan jailed for four years

Racket rumbled

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The founder of BetOnSports.com was imprisoned for four years and three months on Monday after pleading guilty to violating the Wire Wager Act and racketeering offences.

Gary Kaplan, 50, pleaded guilty to the offences and agreed to pay $43.6m as part of a plea bargaining agreement. The huge fine reportedly amounts to around half of Kaplan's net worth.

Kaplan, who's been languishing in jail since his March 2007 arrest in Puerto Rico, may have to spend a further year behind bars. Three other BetOnSports.com execs have also pleaded guilty to various offences and face a sentencing hearing later on Tuesday, with a fourth facing sentencing at a later date, AP reports.

BetOnSports.com fell foul of US prosecutors for falsely advertising that its online gambling operations were legal and that money deposited in accounts was available for immediate withdrawal. Punters lost more than $16m when BetOnSports closed is books in 2006.

Kaplan received legal opinion that BetOnSports.com operations, licensed in the Caribbean, flouted US laws as far back as 2000. Despite this the online gambling firm continued to solicit business from US gamblers.

In the run up to sentencing by a Missouri Court, Kaplan made six-figure contributions to St Louis area charities over recent months. While acknowledging this generosity, District Judge Carol Jackson said she was "a little put off" by letters to her in support of Kaplan that followed these charitable contributions. ®

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