An Intriguing Look at Sports Off Shore and the Bookmaker Political Connections

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:
Aug/28/2023

Last week we learned that one of the operators of a pioneering sportsbook in the world of offshore sports wagering, 73-year-old Richard Sullivan, finally met his fate at New York's JFK Airport after being on the lam for nearly 13 years.

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Sullivan was arrested and taken into custody, indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston in August 2010 with racketeering (RICO), operating an illegal gambling business, transmission of wagering information, money laundering, and interstate travel in aid of racketeering. This prosecution marked one of the first times that individuals were charged with violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and the first in Massachusetts. 

Sullivan and his three co-conspirators – Todd Lyons, Robert Eremian and Daniel Eremian – operated Sports Offshore (commonly referred to as SOS) out of the online gambling hub of Antigua.

According to a Justice Department presser, this prosecution marked one of the first times that individuals were charged with violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and the first in Massachusetts.

Interestingly, however, Sports Off Shore (SOS) barely operated online post 2008 when the UIGEA went into effect. Robert Eremian's troubles started long before that time.  He was arrested and extradited back to the US by Antiguan authorities earlier that decade despite holding a gaming license issued by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.  He once headed a quasi trade group of sports betting operators during the 1990's and early 2000's on that Caribbean island consisting of the likes of World Wide Tele Sports, Post Time Sports, Carib and World Sports Exchange (WSEX).  Eremian is widely believed to have fallen out of favor with government officials there.  They apparently revoked his license prior to his extradition back to the US. 

At the time when Gambling911.com was a mere embryo, the G911 crew, Payton O'Brien, Chris Costigan, Flash Calahan among them, enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Eremian at his home, which also served as the SOS call center.  Web gambling really was never a thing with this company despite the suggestion that Sullivan's arrest is said to involve violation of a law geared towards the internet.  Everyone back in those days spoke highly of Eremian's customer service call center manager Barb.  Eremian had a reputation for hiring folks on the island even if he didn't necessarily have a job position for them. 

One alleged incident involving Eremian is forever the stuff of folklore.  It is said that, upon landing in San Juan en route back to the US following his arrest, Eremian darted off the plane and was chased around the airport tarmac.   Whether true or not - we can't confirm if it is - this still makes for some great story telling.

Bobby plead guilty in 2002 to just one count of tax evasion, spent two years on probation and paid nearly $60,000 in restitution as well as $458,000 in back taxes.

Early Antiguan-based offshore sportsbooks were known to be operated by individuals with close political ties simply as a result of birthright. 

Long before Doug Ducey became Governor of Arizona, his uncle, Bill Scott (Americanized from the Italian “Scotti”), founded what was one of the first offshore sportsbooks on the island, World Wide Tele Sports (WWTS).  There was a period in the late 90's when WWTS was bigger than all of them.  Scott's business partner at WWTS was the granddaughter of one time North Dakota Governor John E. Davis.

And then there were the Eremian brothers.

During the time in which they ran their offshore sports betting enterprise, John Tierney served as a congressional representative in the commonwealth of Massachusetts.

In 2010, the feds indicted his wife, Patrice Tierney, for aiding and abetting Sports Off Shore. 

Patrice is the sister of Bobby and Daniel.  In addition to the aiding and abetting charge, the feds also indicted her for tax fraud.  Prosecutors claimed that Ms. Tierney managed the bank account of her brother Bobby, which received more than $7 million in online gambling proceeds. An artist rendering of her court appearance is shown below.

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Excerpts from that complaint included:

Patrice Tierney testifies that her brother is a "consultant," to a gambling business, not the owner. p. 13

Patrice Tierney writes checks to "Benevolence Funding" instead of her brother p. 26

Patrice Tierney writes herself checks, "gifts" from her brother. p. 45

Patrice Tierney would write checks to her mother, who would endorse it back to her. p. 47

"It's a lot of money?...I did a lot of work." p. 51

Patrice Tierney manages Red Sox tickets p. 59

Patrice Tierney testifies that her brother paid for her son's attorney p. 74

"Do you agree with your husband...that you were a victim of your brother's deception? No" p. 77

Last week's arrest of Sullivan appears to be the final chapter in this long running saga few of the next generation of sports bettors appear to be familiar with. 

The indictment alleges SOS employed approximately 50 gambling agents in the United States, who solicited hundreds of customers and collected gambling debts, forwarding the illegal gambling proceeds to Antigua so that authorities could not detect U.S.-based financial transactions involving Sports Offshore.

More than $22 million was collected for Sports Offshore through the illegal gambling operation and more than $10 million in checks and wire transfers were laundered, the complaint alleges.

- Alejandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com Senior Correspondent

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