A former minor league baseball player is now in hot water with the law after evidence has surfaced that he has been involved with an illegal sports gambling ring. Wayne Nix, who played for the Oakland Athletics, was able to establish connections with prominent former players from the Major League Baseball (MLB) and a former National Football League player with whom he ran the operation.
Recruiting Others and Running the Business
According to prosecutors who reported on the case on Thursday, Nix accepted wagers from players who were still active in baseball in violation of established laws. The MLB was caught by surprise in the matter and said it had begun an investigation of its own following the announcement.
Essentially, the league did not know that other individuals apart from Nix had been involved in the bookmaking operation. However, official documentation into Nix did not reveal much. Court records mostly focused on the amounts wagered, won, and lost, rather than the names of the other participants.
The Associated Press looked into the documents and found out that a pro football player paid Nix a total of $245,000 in losses for 2016, and another coach had to pay Nix another $4,000. It wasn’t immediately clear what they had bet on – whether it concerned other games in the MLB, an attempt to fix games, or their own performance.
As in every Major League in the United States, betting on the sport you participate in or using insider information to feed other betting advice is strictly prohibited and could lead to suspensions. Last year, the San Antonio Sharks hockey player Evander Kane was investigated for placing bets on his own games.
The actual size of the gambling ring was much bigger though. Records showed that a Los Angeles check-cashing business admitted to having processed $18 million in checks from two bettors. Another client wagered $5 million on the Super Bowl, but the court did not have information on whether the wager had succeeded.
In light of these charges, Nix agreed to plead guilty, and he now waits to be sentenced. One of the possible penalties includes up to eight years in prison. He has also agreed to pay $1.25 million in tax and has had $1.3 million seized by investigators.
Operation Going on For Decades
It’s understandable why Nix may have thought that he doesn’t have much to worry about. He had been running his business for at least 20 years, prosecutors argue. He started dealing with bookmaking in the wake of his career in the minor league and has been running it from multiple states.
The customers and contacts he built over the years were happy to participate, and many of them included former professional athletes. Eventually, he began using a business in Costa Rica, Sand Island Sports, to automate some of the processes, including tracking betting limits and owed payouts.
Bets would be placed through phone calls and Nix paid out winners while keeping the bulk of any losses realized by the customers. The court named Edon Kagasoff, another former pro, as Nix’s business partner who also helped run the business, including setting up limits for customers, cutting off those who couldn’t cover their debts, and more.