After almost a month-long period of speculation and uncertainly, many questions became answered on Wednesday as large offshore wagering operator 5Dimes reached a financial agreement settlement with the US Department of Justice.
As part of an official release, United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that the internet sports betting company, 5D Holdings Ltd. (operating under the unincorporated brand name, “5Dimes”) and Laura Varela, have agreed to forfeit more than $46.8 million in gambling proceeds as part of a settlement agreement in a criminal investigation into 5Dimes’ sports betting operation based in Costa Rica that allowed American gamblers to place bets, primarily through its website www.5Dimes.eu, in violation of US law. Beginning in at least 2011, 5Dimes accepted wagers from and made payouts to US bettors, and transferred more than $46.8 million in proceeds earned from its illegal gambling activities in such a manner as to attempt to hide the nature, location, source, and control of the funds.
5Dimes was previously owned and operated by Varela’s husband, William Sean Creighton (aka “Tony”), a US citizen who moved to Costa Rica, where he created and operated 5Dimes in violation of US law. From 2011 until approximately September 24, 2018, the US DOJ reported Creighton exercised full and exclusive control over 5Dimes, although he hid his control over the company by utilizing an alias and operating the business through several shell companies.
In September 2018, Creighton was kidnapped and subsequently murdered. Over a year later, Creighton’s remains were discovered and positively identified in Costa Rica; Creighton’s death has been ruled a homicide by Costa Rican authorities.
According to the terms of the settlement agreement, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has agreed to not criminally prosecute 5Dimes or Varela for any crimes committed prior to September 30, 2020 (except for criminal tax violations, if any, as to which EDPA does not make any agreement), and will not file a civil action relating to the conduct described in the settlement agreement.
In commenting about the agreement US Attorney McSwain said:
The settlement agreement announced today is a victory for the United States in ceasing the illegal activity of a company that was being investigated for a multitude of crimes, including a sophisticated money-laundering operation. It is also a testament to the dedication of the investigators and prosecutors who doggedly pursued this case even after the primary target was kidnapped and murdered. As the Office has done with a variety of criminal and civil matters, we will use every tool at our disposal to hold individuals and businesses accountable and ensure their compliance with federal law.
The first announcement of 5Dimes withdrawal from the US market was announced on their website with explicit directions to their US-based customers on September 7th.
Subsequently, any 5Dimes customers who did not request a withdrawal of their funds by September 25th or get paid out by the 30th will have those funds transferred to Epiq, a third-party claims administrator, who will deliver the funds to the account holder. Players do have time to get in touch with Epiq and get their funds. By agreement, players have a year, as any customer funds that are not claimed by September 30, 2021, will be forfeited to the US government.
Thoughts vary on what comes next for 5Dimes once the smoke clears regarding this chapter.
Some believe the company has enough resources and customers throughout the world to continue and pursue their successful online wagering business in other countries. More popular opinion is directed toward the potential for an agreement akin to how PokerStars (The Stars Group) was able to launch back into good graces in the US. Today PokerStars is part of Flutter Entertainment, after settling a similar multi-million-dollar lawsuit with the US government.
Supporting that claim came recent news that the company has applied for a license to do business in New Jersey. The coming weeks will confirm which direction the very well-known name of 5Dimes and sports wagering in the US will turn.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
Email: [email protected]
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