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Gaming experts unable to determine size of illegal gaming

Reported by: Sergio Avila
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Updated: 7/16 2:02 am

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Illegal sports betting is in the spotlight this week after eight people were charged with running an illegal sports book out of hotel rooms at Caesars Palace.

This group is charged with taking bets on the World Cup.

The problem, is the experts can't quantify how large it is because it's an illegal business that doesn't report to anyone.

News 3 is told that revenue from illegal sports books dwarfs the gaming revenue seen in Nevada.

Wei Seng Phua, also known as Paul Phua, was arrested last week with his son and six others. They're all facing federal charges of running an illegal sports betting operation out of three rooms at Caesars Palace. The hotel is not believed to be connected to the operation.

David Schwartz at UNLV's Center for Gaming Research said he doesn't think this case harms Nevada's reputation when it comes to gaming. "This kind of thing can happen anywhere. In many cases as with this case, the casinos cooperate fully with the authorities, so I don't think it has any negative impact on Nevada," someone said.

During an interview with federal agents, Phua's son told them his father owns the betting website IBC bet.

One expert says illegal sports betting sees more action than any legal operation in the states. The draw for both operators of these sites and its customers is living tax free. It may be that people don't want to pay taxes if they win. It may also be they can't find a legitimate operator who would take their money, especially if they want to make a big bet, like tens of millions of dollars.

The FBI led this investigation with the help of local gaming officers and the department of Homeland Security.

After learning about possible illegal activity, the feds shut it down after about three weeks, although prosecutors believe Phua and his associates may have been operating the illegal sports betting operation since early June.

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