Spain’s second-largest newspaper, El Mundo reports that Austrian online gaming company Bwin is a frontrunner in a bid to purchase a 30% stake in Spain’s State Lottery. Other companies interested in the purchase of the stake include Spanish companies Codere, Cirsa and Recreativos Franco as well as Italy’s Lottomatica.
The Spanish Government announced plans this week to partially privatise the lottery in order to cut debt and expects to raise €5 billion from its sale. The State lottery has an estimated €2.6 billion ($3.5 billion) revenue for 2010 and is renowned for its considerable El Gordo and El Nino draws.
An un-named source told El Mundo that the company is closely watching developments in Spain but continues its focus, for the moment, on its online business.
Former Betonsports co-owner Norman Steinberg sentenced to home probation
Norman Steinberg, described by the St. Louis press as a “key player” in the historic prosecution of the erstwhile BetonSports online gambling group some years ago came home to the U.S. briefly this week to plead guilty to conspiracy in the illegal online gambling affair.
His appearance before U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson was brief and his sentence was a year on probation, with permission to serve it at his home in Costa Rica.
The quid pro quo for this was that Steinberg agreed to drop a “mysterious civil lawsuit” naming the U.S. government and filed under seal in the federal court for the eastern district of Pennsylvania. No further information is available on the nature of the suit.
Steinberg’s legal representative Jason Kreiss declined to reveal more to reporters, saying only: “The civil lawsuit was instrumental in our ability to resolve this matter in the fashion it was resolved in. We’re prohibited by court order from saying more.”
The agreement with Steinberg entailed the federal prosecutors withdrawing multiple racketeering-related charges.
Other high profile names in the rise and fall of BetonSports included founder Gary S. Kaplan, who in August 2009 was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to forfeit $43.65 million on multiple charges of conspiracy to violate the RICO Act. BetonSports chief executive David Carruthers, detained in Texas whilst in transit to Costa Rica from the UK, was sent to prison for 33 months and ordered to pay $75,000 for racketeering conspiracy.
Described by his lawyers as “No. 3 on the totem,” Steinberg’s original sentence of three years on probation and a $10,000 fine was significantly more low profile and mostly ignored by the media, although he was cited as co-owner with Kaplan of the Togel Singapore BetOnSports subsidiary, Millenium Group, which operated telephone services and Internet gambling websites in Costa Rica.
Eleven individuals were eventually indicted on 22 diverse charges by federal enforcement agencies back in 2006; local newspapers report that the only outstanding indictment is now one against Gregory James Haggard, who remains at large and has been classified as a fugitive from justice.