Sports Book Scene March 1st 2000

Cohen Guilty Verdict Is Black Eye for US Justice

The same system of U.S. justice that gave us Tragically Flawed, Outrageously Off the Wall, Flat Out Wrong jury verdicts in Sacco-Vanzetti and O.J. Simpson went for the Hat Trick on Monday.

Jay Cohen, founder of World Sports Exchange (WSEX) in Antigua, was convicted in a New York district court of violating the Interstate Wire Act for operating a bookmaking company that targeted American customers.

That this 40-year-old statute should be the vehicle by which Cohen, whose firm took bets over the Internet, was found guilty is ludicrous. After the verdict his attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said that Cohen should have been excepted from the law. “It is no crime in Antigua to take a bet,” he pointed out.

Jay is free on bond until sentencing May 25. After that, who knows? The Department of Justice wants him locked up because WSEX continues to not only conduct business, but to thrive as a successful off shore sports book.

In this case, it quickly became painfully obvious to observers that presiding Judge Griesa was sympathetic to the prosecution to an embarrassing degree. His questionable decisions on what evidence to admit and what to preclude give Jay an excellent chance for an appeal, we’ve been told.

According to a source in New York who spoke with the jurors, several said they wanted to acquit the defendant, but given the strictness and narrowness of the judge’s charge to the jury, simply couldn’t.

Work on the appeal will start immediately. “I want to file June 1,” asserted Cohen.

As a supporter of Jay and one who believes in the righteousness of his position, it is impossible to write objectively or dispassionately about what we perceive as an absolute travesty of justice. A 32-year-old entrepreneur is being robbed of his life by his own government. His crime? Fighting an archaic statutory presumption that providing punters with a reliable, licensed outlet to bet on sports in a jurisdiction where the business is legal, is breaking the law.

Only in America.

Dime Line Flap Continues. We’ve gotten lots of feedback from last week’s column reporting that many top-rated off shore books are considering saying sayonara to the 10-cent line in baseball.

We would like to remind bettors that we are simply reporting what is happening, not advocating it. We fully agree with those who say they won’t bet into the 20- cent line, which is being floated as a replacement to the dime line.

Meanwhile, back east – where the 20- cent line has been standard – we have been told that the top bookmakers will go with the 10-cent line this season, in a direct challenge to off shore shops. One source told us, “Those big books back east, they’ll take on anybody. They lost business to off shore, and now they’ve got a chance to get it back.

“What they’re shooting for is to get volume in for baseball, and keep it for football. When they heard that off shore was going to a 20-cent line, it was great news for books in New York.

“They want to send shrimp and lobster to the meeting that is scheduled in the Caribbean.”

The source suggested that off shore books should never have instituted the dime line in the first place. The better way of dealing with customers is to offer the 20-cent line – and if they ask for it, give them the dime line, he stated.

Meanwhile, one bookmaker who switched to the 20-cent line last year, Carib Sports Book’s managing director, says it is no panacea. “It doesn’t stop the wiseguys; it just slows them down,” Jon Rogers explained.

With all the books last year that operated using the 10-cent line, Carib and others offering a 20-cent line continued to do strong business. However, one bookmaker from New Jersey told us flatly, “The player can’t win with a 20-cent line.”

Despite all the commotion caused by reports of the 10-cent line’s demise, bettors should not despair. There will always be plenty of shops that will continue to offer a 10-cent line, due to the forces of competition.

And with fewer books taking such action, they just might attract enough volume to make it less of a losing proposition than it has reportedly been in the past.
The same system of U.S. justice that gave us Tragically Flawed, Outrageously Off the Wall, Flat Out Wrong jury verdicts in Sacco-Vanzetti and O.J. Simpson went for the Hat Trick on Monday.

Jay Cohen, founder of World Sports Exchange (WSEX) in Antigua, was convicted in a New York district court of violating the Interstate Wire Act for operating a bookmaking company that targeted American customers.

That this 40-year-old statute should be the vehicle by which Cohen, whose firm took bets over the Internet, was found guilty is ludicrous. After the verdict his attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said that Cohen should have been excepted from the law. “It is no crime in Antigua to take a bet,” he pointed out.

Jay is free on bond until sentencing May 25. After that, who knows? The Department of Justice wants him locked up because WSEX continues to not only conduct business, but to thrive as a successful off shore sports book.

In this case, it quickly became painfully obvious to observers that presiding Judge Griesa was sympathetic to the prosecution to an embarrassing degree. His questionable decisions on what evidence to admit and what to preclude give Jay an excellent chance for an appeal, we’ve been told.

According to a source in New York who spoke with the jurors, several said they wanted to acquit the defendant, but given the strictness and narrowness of the judge’s charge to the jury, simply couldn’t.

Work on the appeal will start immediately. “I want to file June 1,” asserted Cohen.

As a supporter of Jay and one who believes in the righteousness of his position, it is impossible to write objectively or dispassionately about what we perceive as an absolute travesty of justice. A 32-year-old entrepreneur is being robbed of his life by his own government. His crime? Fighting an archaic statutory presumption that providing punters with a reliable, licensed outlet to bet on sports in a jurisdiction where the business is legal, is breaking the law.

Only in America.

Dime Line Flap Continues. We’ve gotten lots of feedback from last week’s column reporting that many top-rated off shore books are considering saying sayonara to the 10-cent line in baseball.

We would like to remind bettors that we are simply reporting what is happening, not advocating it. We fully agree with those who say they won’t bet into the 20- cent line, which is being floated as a replacement to the dime line.

Meanwhile, back east – where the 20- cent line has been standard – we have been told that the top bookmakers will go with the 10-cent line this season, in a direct challenge to off shore shops. One source told us, “Those big books back east, they’ll take on anybody. They lost business to off shore, and now they’ve got a chance to get it back.

“What they’re shooting for is to get volume in for baseball, and keep it for football. When they heard that off shore was going to a 20-cent line, it was great news for books in New York.

“They want to send shrimp and lobster to the meeting that is scheduled in the Caribbean.”

The source suggested that off shore books should never have instituted the dime line in the first place. The better way of dealing with customers is to offer the 20-cent line – and if they ask for it, give them the dime line, he stated.

Meanwhile, one bookmaker who switched to the 20-cent line last year, Carib Sports Book’s managing director, says it is no panacea. “It doesn’t stop the wiseguys; it just slows them down,” Jon Rogers explained.

With all the books last year that operated using the 10-cent line, Carib and others offering a 20-cent line continued to do strong business. However, one bookmaker from New Jersey told us flatly, “The player can’t win with a 20-cent line.”

Despite all the commotion caused by reports of the 10-cent line’s demise, bettors should not despair. There will always be plenty of shops that will continue to offer a 10-cent line, due to the forces of competition.

And with fewer books taking such action, they just might attract enough volume to make it less of a losing proposition than it has reportedly been in the past.

thedailyspread.com | March 1st, 2000

– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
A long time sports betting columnist, Buzz Daly

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