NJ.com – Working as a bookmaker for the mastermind of illegal sports gambling, Ron “The Cigar” Sacco, I’ve seen it all.
I began clerking for Sacco in Los Angeles in 1986, when his organization was taking in a meager $40 million a year in bets. Raids on his offices in the United States eventually prompted Sacco to relocate offshore to the Dominican Republic, where gambling is legal. The feds were not deterred and Sacco was captured in 1993. By then his business was generating an estimated $1 billion a year in bets.
Fast-forward two decades: U.S. News and World Report estimated that $380 billion was bet illegally in 2013. Others put the figure closer to $500 billion. Law enforcement has been going after bookmakers since 1961, when the Federal Wire Act decreed gambling illegal. Yet innumerable arrests, fines, prison terms and the confiscation of assets have done nothing to deter Americans from gambling or bookmakers from taking their bets.
There are plenty of bookmakers running clean operations offshore. Sacco was one of them. His players knew that they would get paid if they won and that earned Sacco legions of loyal customers.