Previously convicted bookmaker Gregory Emmett Paloian, 66, has been charged with running an illegal sports betting operation in Illinois once again.
Paloian, who allegedly has long-standing ties to the local mob, Chicago Outfit, began his latest sports betting business in 2015. According to the two-page charging document, he operated in Chicago, Melrose Park and Elmwood Park.
According to the charges, prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of $274,000 and a 2017 Audi from Paloian.
Paloian has already served time for illegal bookmaking
In 2002, Paloian was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for running a mob-connected bookmaking operation. He took in millions of dollars over 20 years.
“If I didn’t book, I wouldn’t be here,” Paloian said in a 2004 sentencing hearing, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
In the case court filings, Paloian admitted to some “frightening behavior” toward customers who couldn’t pay their debts. Prosecutors found that he’d refer those people to feared mob enforcer Jimmy Inendino or threaten to refer them for juice loans.
“Paloian said that a bettor would be told cannons would be pointed at his head if he didn’t pay,” prosecutors wrote in a 2002 sentencing memo, per the Chicago Tribune.
In 1998, police raided Paloian’s house.
They found $157,000 in cash stacked in safes and on tables. They also found jewelry, loose diamonds and gold Krugerrands.
In the present, Paloian has been charged with one count of conducting an illegal gambling business. He could face up to five years in prison.
On the heels of Casey Urlacher gambling scheme
Casey Urlacher, brother of Chicago Bears legendary linebacker Brian Urlacher, was arrested in February for alleged participation in an illegal gambling ring.
In July, a member of the ring pleaded guilty to the charges. That was Eugene “Geno” DelGiudice, who faces up to five years in prison.
Urlacher allegedly recruited bettors and collected and delivered payments, and also organized their wagers. In return, he would allegedly receive a cut of the losses.
DelGiudice also allegedly served as a middleman for the operation, similar to Urlacher.
And yes, Urlacher allegedly served as the middleman for the operation while also serving as the mayor of Mettawa, IL.
Why legal gambling in Illinois is better
Nothing is stopping an illegal bookmaker or offshore website from withholding your winnings for as long as they want.
Licensed and regulated operators, on the other hand, must pay out winnings in a timely fashion. And if there’s a dispute, Illinois sports bettors can contact the Illinois Gaming Board for help.
However, the illegal market doesn’t offer any such protections.
Illegal bookmakers also tend to seek out compulsive gamblers because encouraging unhealthy behavior is part of the business model. And if they can’t pay their debts, well, see above.
On the other hand, the legal market offers free assistance for those with gambling issues in Illinois.
On a macro level, legal sports betting also helps the state of Illinois, whereas illegal gambling doesn’t.
In August, legal sports betting generated $1.2 million in tax revenue for the state. And that number climbs as the market matures and more legal sportsbooks in Illinois launch.
That means better public services for Illinoisans. No, legal sports betting won’t solve Illinois’ budget issues alone, but it helps.
Now that sports betting is legal in Illinois, every illegal wager is a missed opportunity for the state.