Man Faces Charges for Generating $17m from Illegal Sports Betting Scheme

  • High school football games included in illegal wagering scheme
  • Mastermind operated sports betting business since January 2016
  • His agents would collect bets placed in eight state counties
  • Businessman now faces six charges, including corrupt business influence
man in suit stands inside a stadium holding dollar notes in hand
The illegal sports betting scheme saw businessman Wells net a profit of over $1.8m. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Illegal bookmaking business

Bret A. Wells of New Palestine, Indiana is facing six charges related to illegal bookmaking. The forty-six-year-old was found to be operating a sports betting business that took in over $17m in sports bets over a three-year span.

The operation

According to investigators, the illegal bookmaking operation saw over 176,000 betting transactions from January 2016. A former business partner assisted in the investigation to uncover the details.

the illegal bookmaking operation saw over 176,000 betting transactions

The operation saw seven agents working for Wells who would collect bets in eight counties located in the central portion of Indiana. The former business partner also revealed that Wells used two websites for gambling, lockandloadsports.com and bigdogsportswagering.com.

Wells would use his mobile phone to text bettors, providing details of the betting sites as well as passwords to access wagering. Investigators were able to track Wells last year, watching him as he went into bars in Indianapolis to collect money. According to the affidavit, Mondays and Tuesdays were the ‘settle up’ days.

Gaming commission investigation

After Wells was observed by investigators, officials sought permission from the court to place a tracking device on his pickup truck. Surveillance showed that Wells met with several people for short periods of time, and that packages were exchanged.

Text messages exchanged between Wells and the bettors revealed the network involved in the operation. The accused was found to have offered bets on New Palestine High School during their 2018 Football Playoff games. Texts showed him contacting bettors in his network to offer action on the games, with no juice.

I got New Pal -10 tomorrow night. Who wants it? No juice. Straight action. Take all you want.”

Of the six-member group in the text, at least two bettors wagered. One placed a $200 bet that New Palestine would cover the spread. Wells offered bets on several games involving the high school team, including ones against Michigan City and Harrison.

The charges

Wells faces six charges relating to the illegal bookmaking enterprise which netted him over $1.8m in profits. He has been charged with corrupt business influence as well as professional gambling and knowingly engaging in bookmaking.  

Wells also used his business, Wells Lawn Care, to steal equipment. According to his former business partner, this resulted in two charges of theft involving property valued at $750 to $50,000.

Officials are taking the charges against Wells very seriously. The suspect faces up to six years in prison if found guilty of the most serious charge.