Philadelphia Police smash sports betting ring

May 15, 2008 4:09:15 PM PDT
Police say they've never seen anything like it: a highly-advanced, big money sports betting operation was operating out of two buildings in West Philadelphia. This is just the start of this investigation as Philadelphia Police feel confident this operation must have links to the mob.

Chief Inspector William Colarulo put it this way: "This was an extremely elaborate and sophisticated sports betting operation."

You wouldn't know it from the outside of the places police raided last evening: two windowless cement buildings, one in the 600 block of Atwood Road, the second around the corner behind a pizza parlor at 6550 Haverford Avenue.

Police say inside, nine men were taking bets on all kinds of sporting events from baseball to horse racing to golf, taking in and paying out more than two-and-half million dollars each week.

Chief Inspector Colarulo says, "It was very sophisticated where you couldn't just pick up a phone and phone in a bet. It had to be someone with an account you were given an account number to place your bet."

Police displayed computers and sophisticated servers used to place and track bets. Last night, when officers moved in, the Phillies game had just started and, police say, the phones were ringing off the hook with people looking to place a bet.

Lt. Charlie Green says, "They actually had the statistics of the pitchers and the various weather conditions on the computer itself so when you called in these people taking the bets had all this information in front of them."

Police say they also had plenty of cash on hand, thousands of dollars. The nine men lived all around the region. Tonight they're locked up in the same Philadelphia jail as police look for links to organized crime.

"This was not one of your run of the mill gambling operations. This was a complex and very involved organization," said Colarulo.

All nine men are charged with bookmaking. It's just a misdemeanor. Police say that's exactly why such gambling operations are setting up shop in Pennsylvania. Illegal sports betting in places like New York is a felony.