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CEO of Web gambling firm stays in jail

/ Source: The Associated Press

The chief executive of BetOnSports PLC, a major online sports-betting operation, remained in custody Friday on racketeering and conspiracy charges after his lawyer asked to postpone a bail hearing.

The hearing for David Carruthers will be held instead in federal district court in St. Louis. No date was set.

“We are very optimistic that the court in St. Louis can fashion some reasonable conditions for his release,” said Carruthers’ lawyer Tim Evans after the brief hearing before a magistrate in U.S. district court.

The executive was arrested Sunday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport as he waited to board a flight to Costa Rica, where the company has a major operation.

Carruthers and 10 others, including the founder of BetOnSports, were named in a 22-count indictment unsealed this week by federal prosecutors in St. Louis. The government says BetOnSports fraudulently took bets from U.S. residents by phone and the Internet, and failed to pay excise taxes.

The company this week shut down its U.S.-facing Web sites to comply with a federal judge’s order, which it plans to challenge.

Friday’s hearing lasted less than five minutes. Evans declined to say precisely why he preferred to move the detention hearing to St. Louis.

Carruthers did not speak. He was shackled at the ankles — handcuffs were removed shortly before the judge arrived — and he was dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit and matching canvas slip-on shoes instead of the jeans and T-shirt that he wore at a court appearance Monday.

The lawyer said Carruthers was in good health and “doing very well under the circumstances, similar to how you would be doing if you had an orange suit on.”

After the hearing, he was expected to be returned to a federal facility in Fort Worth to await travel to St. Louis.

The case has attracted intense media interest in the United Kingdom, from where Carruthers hails. Reporters representing three major London daily newspapers traveled to Fort Worth to cover Friday’s hearing.

Carruthers’ arrest triggered a sell-off this week of stocks of online betting operations that are publicly traded in London.

Experts who follow the industry say the real target of the indictment appeared to be Gary Stephen Kaplan, the BetOnSports founder. He is a former New York-area bookie now living in Costa Rica and remained at large despite the indictment.

The Justice Department is seeking the forfeiture of $4.5 billion, cars and computers from the defendants.