Two men, one a former professional baseball player, pleaded guilty on Monday to operating an illegal gambling business. 45-year-old Wayne Nix, who pitched for several years in the Oakland A’s minor league system, will be sentenced on July 20 and faces up to eight years in prison. His business partner, 44-year-old Edon Kagasoff, is scheduled to be sentenced a week later.
Nix pitched from 1995 to 2001, missing the 1996 because of injury. His career was unremarkable, hence why he didn’t make it past AA ball, but he did make enough contacts in the game to enable him to generate a client list to launch his bookmaking operation in 2002. He operated the business through a Costa Rica-based website called Sand Island Sports, making millions of dollars over two decades.
Nix and Kagasoff, according to Fox 11 Los Angeles, used both the website and a call center to take bets.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Nix hired three former Major League Baseball players to help run the business and had a client list that included current and former professional athletes, coaches, and broadcasters.
Though the names were not released to the public, notable clients included a professional football player who paid Nix $245,000 to cover his betting losses in January 2016, an MLB coach who paid him $4,000 in May 2016, and a sports broadcaster, who got Nix to reactivate a closed account in 2019 and then told him he was going to refinance his house to pay his outstanding gambling debt.
Also detailed in the plea agreement were a customer who wagered $5 million in the Super Bowl three years ago and someone who bet $1 million a year.
Nix also admitted to failing to pay taxes on $1.4 million in income in 2017 and 2018.
In March, Major League Baseball said it was investigating the situation, but at the time did not know of anyone in the league who was involved.
Several other people were involved in the illegal gambling business, including Joseph Castelao and Kenneth Arsenian, who both pleaded guilty. Castelao was allegedly the owner of the betting website itself.
Informants tipped off the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, setting off the investigation. One of the information actually said that his goal in talking to the authorities was to try to avoid paying a $6 million gambling debt. One would imagine that in getting Nix’s sports betting business taken down, the informant would likely be off the hook.
Investigators gained warrants to tap the phones of Nix and other suspects, thus giving them the opportunity to record conversations of customers placing bets.