PlayUSA Rewind: An Offshore Gambling Ring Bust, Plus Plans For Streaming NHL Games

Posted on February 24, 2020 - Last Updated on March 30, 2020

Stop us if you’ve heard this: Legalized sports betting is expanding. Quickly.

A few more states, namely Alaska and Wyoming, have introduced legislation to regulate wagering, bringing the country’s total to 21 states with standing legislation.

One byproduct of legalizing the industry is to crack down on illegal betting. Of course, eradicating offshore gambling seems an impossible task.

That has not stopped law enforcement from continuing those efforts, however. And now they have proven that no one is safe, regardless of status or family name.

On to the Rewind:

Chicago-area mayor arrested in illegal gambling ring

The name Urlacher carries legendary status in Illinois. Unfortunately, that name won’t carry much weight now.

Casey Urlacher, the brother of legendary Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, has been charged as part of a federal indictment going after 10 individuals who allegedly operated an offshore sports gambling ring. To boot, Casey sits as the mayor of the small Chicago-area town of Mettawa.

Casey was charged with conspiracy and running an illegal gambling business, one that authorities say generated millions of dollars from hundreds of area gamblers. Urlacher is accused of “acting as an agent” for the gambling ring, which involved recruiting bettors in exchange for a cut of their losses.

Urlacher, mayor of Mettawa since 2013, allegedly worked under a man known as “Uncle Mick,” collecting cash from bettors and paying out winnings. He then received kickbacks from gamblers’ losses.

All told, agents searching the home of “Uncle Mick” seized nearly $1.1 million in cash and nearly a half-million dollars in silver bars, gold coins and jewelry.

NHL games streaming at select legal sportsbooks

While the NFL and NBA attract much of the betting attention among professional leagues, the NHL will not be left behind.

As a way to drive fan engagement, IMG Arena has secured the rights to stream live NHL games to US sportsbook partners. The agreement allows operators to air “select out-of-market” matchups.

IMG has streamed NHL games to European markets for a few years, and it also provides official data for tennis, UFC and the PGA Tour.

In Europe last year, over 56 million unique viewers worldwide consumed more than 175 million hours of IMG content. Certainly, IMG is no slouch in this area.

The NHL commented that this deal is part of a “progressive approach” to legalized sports betting and that IMG Arena “provides another innovative touchpoint for fan engagement.”

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Washington sports betting bill faces an uphill battle

The latest effort to regulate wagering in Washington passed through the House. But in no way does that mean the road is wide open for the bill to pass.

In fact, it could face quite a legal fight.

An emergency amendment from Rep. Jim Walsh would legalize sports betting right away rather than requiring a minimum of 60% voter approval. Opponents believe the amendment was included because legislators are well aware they won’t receive that approval.

The amendment notes that that immediate action to legalize sports betting “is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately.”

Regardless, some have the means to put up a legal fight, and they have threatened to do so should the legislation pass.

After all, there’s no real “emergency” for this amendment to be included, some argue. As one opponent detailed, gaming legislation alone does not qualify as emergent. To boot, the bill does not add revenue to the state government, meaning there is really no true immediate need to enact this legislation.

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.

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