"Rebating," the controversial practice of returning money to horse players to attract their business, showed its dark side last week with the arrest of 17 people, some of whom were linked with organized crime, on charges of participating in a gambling conspiracy, money laundering and race fixing at a New York track.
Charged with race fixing were New York Trainer Greg Martin, harness driver Rene Poulin and gambling operative Gerald Uvari. They allegedly fed the horse A One Rocket a so-called milkshake to enhance his performance in a race on Dec. 18, 2003. The horse won by 10 lengths.
The money laundering allegedly involved Richard Hart, 45, and Jonathan Broome, 49, the general manager and assistant general manager, respectively, of Lakes Region Greyhound Park in New Hampshire, reportedly one of the country’s largest rebate outlets. However, it was noted that neither the track, nor one of its principals, Allan Hart, uncle of Richard Hart, were indicted.
According to the indictment, Richard Hart was a principal in International Players Association LLC, a Concord, N.H., company that was used to transfer illegal gambling wagers and proceeds to a European outlet. It was alleged that the Uvari Group, involving Gerald Uvari of Florida, Cesare Uvari of New Jersey and Anthony Uvari of Las Vegas, would establish secret betting accounts that would have the Social Security numbers of one of the Uvari Group. Those wagers were used to report income and losses to the IRS. The bettors would utilize the New Hampshire firm as a transfer agent, the indictments alleged.
The practice of giving rebates to horseplayers was growing among some Las Vegas race books during the 1990’s but it later was banned by legislative action. It then became a major practice at other sites in the U.S., including New Hampshire, Oklahoma and North Dakota, as well as in the Caribbean. The North Dakota operation involving Racing Services Inc. developed into a scandal when federal and state authorities charged Susan Bala, founder and owner of RSI, and her associate, Raymundo Diaz Jr., with operating an illegal gambling site that did more than $100 million in business.
Following the New York indictments, it was noted that investigators had developed a link between the North Dakota off-track betting site and one of the persons indicted. He was identified as Marvin Meyerowtiz of New Jersey who was said to have received "a delivery of gambling records" from Racing Services.
The trial of Bala and Diaz is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 18, although it was indicated over the weekend that Diaz would cop a plea and would testify against Bala.
Those indicted in New York are scheduled for arraignment this week.