Legends Sports ‘Bookie’ to Remain Behind Bars: Deemed a ‘Fight Risk’

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Legends Sports ‘Bookie’ to Remain Behind Bars:  Deemed a ‘Fight Risk’

While three of four individuals arrested in Florida for their role in a massive multi billion dollar sports betting ring have been released on bond, one will remain behind bars.

Prosecutors claim Philip Gurian, 51, acted as a “bookie” out of his Boca Raton home on behalf of Panama-based Legends Sports.  The Sun-Sentinel reported Monday evening that Gurian had employees working for him in 10 different states and 6 countries.  He is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Bell asked the judge not to allow Gurian bail, noting that he has two previous convictions and left the country on both occasions. 

Gurian was convicted of a fraud-related charge in a stock scam case allegedly perpetrated by the DeCavalcante crime family in New Jersey.  Authorities stopped Gurian at the France/Switzerland border attempting to use a fake passport at the time those charges were lodged against him. 

Canadian authorities sent Gurian back to the US in 2008 following the issuance of an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court on a civil matter. 

The Albany County Sheriff’s office initiated an investigation into the international gambling ring tied to Legends Sports, one of the first US-facing sportsbooks to set up a call center offshore in the mid-90’s. While authorities refer to Legends as an "online operative", the majority of its business is believed to have been handled via the phone with some money transactions allegedly handled on US soil through so-called "agents" and "runners". 

34 individuals with direct ties to Legends Sports were indicted last Wednesday by the US Justice Department out of Oklahoma City. 

Law enforcement utilized wire tapping of Skype conversations to build their case against Gurian, it was revealed on Thursday.  Federal authorities have only released three transcripts of the Florida bookmaker’s phone calls, one of which has him claiming he “could bet up to $10 million at a time”.  Authorities seized about $100,000 in cash and $15,000 in poker chips from Gurian’s home.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman called his decision to keep Gurian behind bars a "close call" but acknowledged that the accused initial impulse in the past has been to flee. 

If convicted, Gurian could face up to 20 years in prison.

Another man charged in last Wednesday’s indictment, Spiros Athanas, was arraigned on Friday in a Boston court.  Athanas, also known as “The Greek”, had run Olympic Sports (TheGreek.com) up until a year-and-a-half ago before returning home to take care of a sick relative.  He is named in last Wednesday’s indictment as an “owner” in Legends Sports.   

Legends Sports continues to operate. Management insists all customer funds are safe.  Some players have indeed reported receipt of funds since the indictments were announced last week. 

- Chris Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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