This March 8, 2019 photo shows giants video screens inside the sports betting lounge at the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City N.J. Figures released on March 13, 2019 show New Jersey gamblers have wagered almost $2 billion on sporting events since it started nine months ago. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Texans are famous for escalation and pushing the envelope as far as possible, including when it comes to illegal gambling. Three members of a Texas family pled guilty in a federal court recently. They admitted to running an unlawful gambling racket for thirty years. According to federal authorities, the business is one of the most significant illegal sports gambling and money laundering operations in America. The culprits include Larry Tillery, his son Brian Tillery, and his wife, Kay Tillery. They pled guilty to structuring their money transactions to evade the internal revenue service requirements. The prosecutor claims the family operation may have processed as much as 33 million dollars in six years between 2010 and 2016.

Point of weakness

The family kept their nefarious activities hidden using their family-owned Daylight Motors dealership. It was a front, which laundered the funds from their gambling operations. Their operation started to fall apart in 2014 after a federal agent investigating another illegal operation got a tip about Larry. The implication was he was the one to see for high stakes gambling in Beaumont. The agent got information that Tillery could handle bets over 100,000 on sporting events. Those figures would likely get backing from criminal organizations rather than any individual, hence the raised eyebrows. A formal investigation commenced complete with surveillance and wiretaps for the next three years. In 2017, law enforcement conducted an operation resulting in the arrest of Larry and his wife.

Settlements and sentencing

In the plea agreements made with the state prosecutors, Larry and his wife, Judy agreed to hand over $1.7 million in revenue confiscated during the operation. They also agreed to forfeit jewelry, luxury watches, and sports memorabilia items. The agreement meant they would also have to go through a financial audit for the $32 million. In other words, the amount they processed during the entire time their business ran. US attorney Joseph Brown stated the Tillerys ignored the laws of the state and the nation concerning gambling and so the government intends to collect every bit of the money judgment issued. Larry Tillery is expected to serve ten years in the prison, and his wife and son are set to serve at least five years each. The state attorney made sure to illustrate Larry’s sentence as a message to other criminals that there are consequences.

Other cases

Larry Tillery’s case was significant, but it interestingly does not come close to the record for the state. In 2013, law enforcement in Plano and the federal government shut down operations headed by Albert Reed handling 5 billion dollars in sports bets over four years. This is to mean sports’ betting has been a significant part of the Texas criminal economy. It generates revenues well over 300 million dollars and apparently will continue to do so.

Conservatives in the state are against gambling, stating it is a means by which the companies target the poor. However, tribal casino interests in the adjacent states seem to have made betting in Texas harder than usual. The stakes against sports betting are quite strong, meaning it may be hard to legalize fully. As long as this is the case, illegal sports betting will continue to be rife in the state. Larry Tillery is not the only one running a gambling racket successfully in the area. Others have been caught, and it barely scratches the surface in an industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The demand does not subside any time soon, so there is a definite need for legalization to reduce the rate of illegal operations.

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Thomas McCoy was born in Bethesda, Maryland and studied finance at the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington D.C. before heading to New York and a job as a forex trader on Wall Street. Successful enough to launch his own, online forex trading platform, Thomas has long had a keen interest in the places where the worlds of finance and technology meet. As a prolific blogger, Thomas considers himself an expert on cryptocurrencies, casino asset restructuring, and emerging technologies set to change the way people do business.