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State inquiry into Cantor Gaming creeps along slowly


A state investigation of sports book operator Cantor Gaming, launched after a company official was indicted for his alleged involvement in an illegal bookmaking and money laundering operation, has gone radio silent.

That doesn’t mean the matter has been swept away — not by any stretch.

Sources confirmed last week the Gaming Control Board’s inquiry into Cantor is moving forward, albeit at a slow pace.

Agents are trying to determine to what extent Mike Colbert, Cantor’s former sports book director, had with the betting operation, which was associated with offshore Internet wagering sites.

Investigators also are trying to determine if any of the illegal bookmaking allegations can be linked to Cantor. The state-licensed sports book operator was not a target of prosecutors, nor was the company even mentioned in the New York-based indictment.

After the inquiry opened, Cantor instituted damage control measures. The company distanced itself from Colbert, immediately severing ties with the oddsmaker.

Cantor went about its business. The company operates eight Las Vegas race and sports books — The Venetian, Palazzo, M Resort, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Tropicana, Silverton, Hard Rock and Palms — poker rooms, and manages a line of mobile gambling products.

However, Colbert has suddenly resurfaced.

Cantor officials can’t be too happy about this turn of events.

Colbert, 33, was the most prominent name among the 25 individuals indicted in October by New York authorities on allegations of ties to the illegal betting ring. Law enforcement alleged the operation yielded payouts of $50 million over an 18-month period.

Colbert, according to the 259-page indictment, is accused of being a “money collector/agent” for the betting ring. He was arrested in Las Vegas, is free on bond and is awaiting trial in New York. He faces 25 years in prison on charges of enterprise corruption, money laundering and conspiracy.

Colbert spent four years with Cantor and a decade in sports wagering. At the time of his indictment, he had been considered one of the betting industry’s up-and-coming personalities. He was routinely quoted by national publications and sports talk radio programs on sports wagering issues.

So it only seemed natural when Colbert resurfaced Aug. 9 on “First Preview,” a locally produced sports betting show aired daily on ESPN Radio 1100.

Cantor has been a major sponsor for some of Las Vegas’ sports-oriented radio programing.

Colbert, who ran the company’s sportsbooks, including the flagship operation at M Resort, was a frequent guest on the shows and was credited with helping several programs get off the ground.

Colbert’s LinkedIn page now lists him as the CEO/owner at Mike Colbert Sports Consulting. During his “First Preview” appearance, he offered his opinion on key major league baseball games and the upcoming National Football League exhibition contests.

Host Scott Spreitzer welcomed Colbert back to the airwaves. But it was never explained why he had been off the air since October. Those circumstances will be explained sometime down the road, Spreitzer said.

With the college and professional football seasons fast approaching, Colbert might be paving some type of path back into the spotlight. His attorney, Michael Cristalli, did not return phone calls seeking comment about his client’s recent actions.

Gaming sources seemed surprised by Colbert’s radio appearance.

Most individuals under indictment lay low — especially someone who was a well-known sports book director charged with helping an illegal betting ring build its client list.

The indictment alleged Colbert, who was accused of collecting wagers and paying out winnings, arranged for the transfer of $100,000 in gambling proceeds between Las Vegas and New York.

The allegations, which originated with the district attorney of Queens County, N.Y., involved the New York City Police Department’s Organized Crime Investigation Division. Several federal agencies are also embroiled in the ongoing investigation.

Cantor officials were clearly displeased Colbert’s indictment linked the company’s name and reputation to the whole scheme.

Cantor Gaming, which is an affiliate of the New York-based brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald, has cooperated with Nevada gaming authorities to try to put the investigation behind them.

The events surrounding the illegal betting operation may have influenced Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett’s decision to oppose Senate Bill 346 in the recent legislative session.

The measure would have allowed private equity firms and hedge funds to place wagers at casino sports books on behalf of investors.

The bill, which was supported by many in the gaming industry, died after it failed to get out of committee.

Burnett, however, questioned how the state agency could manage the regulatory task, especially with most of the entities located out of state. Also, wiring the funds for use in the sports wagers seemed to fly in the face of federal law.

The betting ring was uncovered around the same time New Jersey was headed to court in an effort to legalize sports wagering.

Meanwhile, the matter continues to linger in Nevada.

Howard Stutz’s Inside Gaming column appears Sundays. He can be reached at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.