Police Net $4.3m Cash, Supercars, Gold Bars From Legendary Sports Bettor in Florida Raid

  • Feds have not yet filed criminal charges against Clarence “Gary” Austin
  • His alleged illegal internet gambling enterprise made over $34m
  • Austin reportedly owns and operates an illegal online sportsbook out of Costa Rica
  • Authorities allege Austin operated a domestic and international money laundering operation
  • Austin once had his own ESPN show and ran a popular sportsbook across from Caesars Palace
Police cars at night with handcuffs in the foreground
Federal authorities have revealed details of the April raid on the Florida home of renowned sports bettor Clarence “Gary” Austin, with seized assets including 61 gold bars, supercars, and $4.3m in cash. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Feds release news of April raid

Federal agents have released details of a raid on the Plantation, Florida home of renowned sports gambler Clarence “Gary” Austin, which netted 61 gold bars, supercars, around $4.3m in cash, and a Miami Heat championship ring.

The recently released federal documents relate to an April raid on Austin’s home in the luxury community of Hawk’s Landing. Texas federal court, which is pursuing the alleged illegal gambling operations case, has not yet filed criminal charges against Austin, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Austin’s attorney stated on July 21 that it was “too early to say” if charges against his client were forthcoming.

Federal documents cataloguing the April raid on Austin’s home list seized items that include a Lamborghini, a Porsche Cayenne, a Land Rover Range Rover, two Mercedes Benzes, and millions of dollars in multiple bank accounts and life insurance policies. The filings do not elaborate on how Austin came to own the Miami Heat ring, or mention its origins.

illegal Internet gambling enterprise has produced in excess of $34 million”

Citing federal documents, the Sun-Sentinel reported that “Austin’s illegal Internet gambling enterprise has produced in excess of $34 million in illegal proceeds during its operation.”

Focus on Costa-Rica-based sportsbook

According to the Sun-Sentinel, prosecutors allege the ex-husband of supermodel Lynda Diaz is the owner of Costa Rica-based sportsbook website Tradewinds and that he’s been operating the site illegally since 1998.

An investigator working the case revealed Austin had set up a complex “domestic and international money laundering organization and methods to surreptitiously conduct monetary transactions with the bookmakers and bettors located in the U.S. in order to ultimately receive and utilize the illicit earnings.”

Federal documents further allege the high-profile sports gambler established multiple “domestic and offshore corporations, business entities, and trusts” to store the money.

The Sun-Sentinel added that neither a spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s Office nor the federal prosecutor assigned to the case responded for comment.

High rolling since the 1970s

Austin’s name became synonymous with the Las Vegas sports betting scene in the 1970s, his $30m a year wagering outlay on major league US sports capturing the public’s attention.

Austin said sports wagering was a “full-time job, and you have to work very, very hard at it.”

In an interview with Sports Illustrated in 1980, Austin said sports wagering was a “full-time job, and you have to work very, very hard at it.”

At the height of his high-profile status on the US betting landscape, Austin had his own weekly show on ESPN in which he handicapped National Football League games, plus he ran a standalone Gary Austin’s Sportsbook just across the Strip from Caesars Palace.

Austin’s empire started to crumble in 1988, however, when sheriff’s deputies arrested him and three others in a raid on a $1m-a-day bookmaking ring in Manhattan Beach, California.

Austin married Costa Rican supermodel Diaz in 2002 and gained a reputation in the Central American country as being a pioneer of its sportsbook industry.

In the fall of 2020, another Costa Rica-based, US-facing sportsbook, 5Dimes, agreed to a $46.8m settlement with the US government, following a money-laundering investigation by the feds. As part of the deal, 5Dimes consented to stop accepting bets from US gamblers while operating from the Costa Rica.