San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Sports betting

US man accused of funneling gambling money to Costa Rica

A District Court in Bloomington, Minnesota accused Gerald J. “Maverick” Greenfield, 68, of running an illegal gambling operation using servers located in Costa Rica.

An indictment filed last year in April and unsealed Tuesday states Greenfield was charged with one count of conducting a sports betting business, one count of interstate and international wire wagering, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, reported.

Over a four year period Greenfield allegedly received some $10 million in bets per year with gamblers. He took bets over the phone, through email and via a website.

Most of the gamblers were from North Dakota. He was funneling the money back and forth between North Dakota, Minnesota and Costa Rica, the court report states.

Greenfield has been under federal custody since escaping from a Duluth jail in 2013 while serving a four-year sentence after after pleading guilty in a $2.5 million property fraud scheme, according to

Contact L. Arias at

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I have been reading TicoTimes and feel the need to post now. Everything Ben says I basically totally disagree with on every post and this time is no exception. I just don’t think gambling is an immoral activity. If Ben is against gambling then I want to hear him preach against the evils of Las Vegas, and Macau as well.

Lets not forget about all the money these gamblers bring in to the country. There are a lot of Ticos that make $5000 a month or more at these sportsbook. BetCRIS, the biggest operation, has hundreds of employees. I know for a fact there are Ticos at BetCRIS making 10k a month in salary, plus bonuses every year. But Ben would prefer if all those ticos lost their jobs because “those are the kinds we dont want” I bet those Ticos would disagree, and their families would as well.

You can focus on one bad character, and I’m sure in every industry you can find bad people. If you have a grudge you can try to paint everyone in the industry as bad but most common sense people would never believe it.

Costa Rica has chased a lot of these operations away with their anti-business policies and 28% tax on employment. It won’t be long until they are all gone regardless. I don’t know one person who does business in Ticoland that says “wow, what a great place to do business!”. I only hear complaints and dreams of Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, Panama or Chile.

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I know many people that work at BetCris that do not make $5000 a month they make $900 a month your numbers are very wrong and you can go to the CAJA and see how much money they really pay it might surprise you. These gambling outfits you say make lots of money why don´t they invest in the country? 90% of all money sports books make goes back to the US owners it does not stay in Costa Rica. Sports Books use under the table staff and very little Costa Rican staff thats a fact. Many of these gambling houses don´t even pay taxes to Costa Rican Goverment and also don´t pay taxes to the US goverment even though they take bets from US citizens. As for Las vegas and Macau my thought are the owners of the Casino´s make billions and the workers at the Casino fight everyday to survive. Gambling does very little to help the poor or middle class even President Obama said Gambling helps a few. You should look into the owners of BetCRIS there not the most honest types. CAJA and Immigration go to BetCRIS every other week. BetCRIS is not something to be proud of in Costa Rica. There are some Gambling house that do right by the staff and Costa Rica they can stay.

BetCris Histroy – Fastest Paying Sports Book is a popular online betting site well known in Spanish speaking markets. They have significant offline presence in the form of multiple casinos, sports clubs, or betting shops in Mexico, Venezuela, and Panama with a smaller brick and mortar presence in other countries as well. Although they’re best known today for the version of football played with one’s foot, their roots are tied to the other sport called football (gridiron). Back in 1994, shortly after America’s top bookie Ronald Sacco was arrested, his former crew was recruited by a man named Harry Craft. Together Mr. Craft and what was left of Sacco’s operation set up shop in Costa Rica under the name Costa Rica International Sportsbook (CRIS).
Where the Line Originates
Only months after settling in Costa Rica, in 1995 the higher ups at CRIS decided to take a major risk. As one the largest shops with about 4% market share in the US alone, they began questioning “what if we could beat Las Vegas to the punch?” The group then hired talented handicappers to try something no bookie had dared since Gary Austin Sportsbook failed. These handicappers would give their opinion of what they believed the correct point spread should be for each NFL football game. Less than a year later they perfected their model well enough to start posting odds a full 24 hours before Las Vegas. This process was repeated for other sports and before long bookies that used to have agents on standby at all major Nevada sportsbook, now simply needed to be on the phone with CRIS at the time odds opened for NFL, NCAAF, NBA, NCAAB, MLB and NHL.
Ron Sacco and CRIS
Although he was in prison at the time, it was widely known during the 1990’s that CRIS was established by the former crew of America’s top Bookie Ronald “The Cigar” Sacco. After earning many millions by leveraging his outstanding reputation, CRIS made good when Sacco was released from prison on May 15, 1998. Although on supervised release at the time – he believed Costa Rica was non-extraditable for bookmaking and similar crimes. Most likely using a fake passport, he fled there and took on a consultant position with CRIS which was the equivalent of a top executive roll. The success CRIS experienced with his name, face and voice now truly behind the brand was amazing. For detailed information read our article on Ron Sacco – the Cigar. Launches
BetCRIS receives a lot of attention as being the first, but keep in mind this only applies to “offshore betting targeting the US via call centers”. Intertops was the first sportsbook, and many other sites such as BetMaker, WSEX,, VIP, Pinnacle Sports etc. were all online before CRIS. When they do come online though, BetCRIS spared no expense when launching their first interactive betting website in March 2000. This website branded with the words “our motto is we can’t pay you fast enough” and it featured an endorsement from Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, the man depicted by Robert De Niro in the 1995 Martin Scorsese film ‘Casino’. It was actually Lefty who first coined the saying “where the line originates” when referring to CRIS. The company later decided on that as their website tagline.
CRIS also had the mentality they wanted to take on the world. Although United States media portrayed CRIS as a US operation using Costa Rica as a safe haven, true to their name Costa Rica International Sportsbook the company has always been global. In February 2001 a Chinese version of BetCRIS was launched at, and over the next couple years a half dozen additional sites would open targeting Norway, Sweden as well as Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries.
BetCRIS Marketing Boost
Oddly enough it was Ron “Cigar” Sacco getting arrested in Costa Rica in March 2002 that helped put BetCRIS on the map with recreational sports gamblers. Although true Costa Rica was virtually non-extraditable for bookmaking and similar crimes – Sacco was caught having two passports and eventually as a result was deported to the United States on the Fourth of July in 2002. During his plea, details of the BetCRIS operation were released in court documents – which were soon used by gambling portals to help market how safe and secure a gambling website truly was.
These documents showed that even though their founder Harry Craft was apprehended in the United States in 1998 and convicted for running his earlier Santa Monica operation, the CRIS brand never skipped a beat. It pointed out that today (March 2003) Costa Rican International Sports is a legally licensed and legitimate Costa Rican corporation that pays all required taxes and fees, and is run by a president, vice-president, general manager, corporate counsel, supervisors and has some 140 employees. It furthered showed their operation was divided into separate departments which were the wagering department, marketing department, finance, Asian operation and European operations.
Considering for many years the US authorities and media had portrayed the “Sacco operation” as the America’s largest bookmaking organizations that illegally booked hundreds of millions of dollars in bets per month (billions per year), was now an easy sell. Here you could point out this was the largest gambling website in the world, and even though numerous associates have been indicted, arrested and convicted, including unique heads of their operation in 1998, and 2002 – this company has NEVER missed a payout. When you wager with most bookies you need to worry “will they pay?”, “what will happen if they get busted?”, while wagering with your money is safer than it would be wagering with a Nevada sportsbook. Of course, that later part is a stretch, but at the time many websites did point out the occasions where legally licensed Las Vegas sportsbook went bust and couldn’t pay back their post-up phone account bank, or cash winning tickets once they closed.
BetCRIS Paints the Story

During the 1980’s and 1990’s Ron Sacco appeared on popular television shows (including 60-minutes), was discussed in magazines, had books written about him and with him now apprehended in the US there was no shortage of media attention in 2003. Rather than distancing themselves from their former employee who was being charged, as most corporations would, BetCRIS embraced it. Advertisements featuring a burning cigar were used and their about us page was written to claim they’ve been a leader in sports betting since 1985. CRIS has always lived up to his reputation and standards, so I guess how much involvement Sacco truly had in their brand was irrelevant. During much of 2003 though, they used the media attention for all it was worth. While previously using a flashy homepage, the new homepage was a letter signed by John Melton (most likely an alias) which read:
We at Costa Rica International Sports have redesigned our website to reflect our reputation in the industry. We are a straight forward sports book with no flashy graphics and no BS. Our competitors know CRIS as “Where the line originates”, because most will not make a move before we do and our customers know CRIS for our company motto, “We can’t pay you fast enough”. Everyone knows CRIS was the first offshore sports book to open in the mid 1980’s and not one player has ever been kicked out for winning. That’s a track record no one can match!!!
We invite you to join the world’s oldest and respected sports book and if you want to take a break from the sports action check out our poker room and casino. Also, don’t forget to enter our loyalty program to qualify for our prizes and bonuses. Contact one of our online representatives if you have any questions or comments.
John Melton
This was the first time the claim “not one player has ever been kicked out for winning” was ever made, and when the Ron Sacco media hype stopped it was what CRIS pushed and became known for. This was a site where winning bettors could wager $10,000, $20,000 or even $40,000 on an NFL side win at a huge clip and still not be banned. CRIS further showed their dominance from 2003 to 2006 when they bailed out a good 80% of sportsbooks that failed during those years.
BetCRIS Acquisitions and Bailouts

One of the first sportsbooks to set up offshore was Diamond Sports International, now operating at (more about them in our article on history). This once reputable sportsbooks ran into major financial struggles in 2002, which start with a dispute between owners. When the dispute was settled new management was hired to run the brand, but then a dispute between management and ownership started. By early 2003, everything was shambles. Perhaps not profitable to do at the time for most – CRIS was thinking “long term”. They ended giving major financing to this brand for a share of equity, which including leasing them a small 40 desk spot in their building, full use of their software, support and other facilities as needed in exchange for equity profit sharing. Had it not been for this, players would have been stiffed as even salary to employees was well past due.
Perhaps seeing the response this got on forums relieved CRIS had bailed them out – this is became a routine thing for CRIS, though future bailed out brands were generally, but not always, shutdown and migrated to Some of the many sportsbooks CRIS bailed out between 2003 and 2006 include Option Sports, Get More Sports, ASAP Sports, Rich Coast Sports and TCBets. In these cases bettors would have been have stiffed had CRIS not come to the rescue making good on player’s balances. Closes to the US
On March 1, 2007 all US players had their BetCRIS account migrated to Bookmaker (now operating at This is a brand CRIS had acquired when purchasing the BetMaker group in August 2006. The plan going forward was for CRIS to focus on the European market while Bookmaker was their US brand. This is how it worked for a while, until late-2010 when BetCRIS and Bookmaker separated entirely. Today Bookmaker accepts players from all over the globe still operating from the old BetCRIS office in Costa Rica, while the new BetCRIS is licensed in Malta and has some form of “legal physical presence” in Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Panama, Brasil, Panama, Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, Honduras and Rwanda. Their website is extremely popular in many Spanish speaking countries and they are one of top brick and mortar betting shops in Venezuela.
Today BetCRIS is about “legal” sports betting. For the continued history of their US operation which dates back to operation started by Ron “The Cigar” Sacco in 1985 that was once managed by Tony Ballestrasse and Marisa Lankester refer to our article on the history of

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Anita Abedian

Hi. I’m a researcher looking to speak with anyone who knows anything about Internet gaming sites in Costa Rica.

I’m particularly interested in BetCRIS. Anyone who knows anything about it, please contact me as soon as possible, and let me know how I can get in touch with you. I can be reached at: Thanks!

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There is a lot of truth to both what Ben and Ken have written. But industries like gambling and prostitution have been around since the beginning of time. They will always exist in some way shape or form. I feel it is better to regulate them. Just as it is better to regulate drugs, and tobbacco and alcohol. The war on drugs has been a huge failure. Non-regulation of these industries causes the corruption. Education needs and rehabilitation centers should play a major part in the “sin taxes” that need to be collected. Collecting tax revenues from these industries is a boon to many economies. Just look at Colorado (pot) and Las Vegas (gambling). Any business left unregulated will be of major concern, and creating a black market for them will increase corruption.

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Economist Joseph Stiglitz touches on why taxes needed to be directed at corporations, to get them to pay their fair share. I think his assessment is also very relevent to inustries like gambling. The most detrimental industries on society need to be taxed the highest. I think this is true, and for all sin taxes, no matter alcohol, gambling or environmental. The collection of these taxes should go directly to the funding of programs that will be of benefit to society. i.e. a large portion of gambling tax revenue should go to fund programs of addiction and education. This video is not only pertinent to the USA, but also to small developing countries like Costa Rica:

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Ken Morris

I have only know one person who worked at one of these places, and his story substantiates Ben’s concerns. He was a gringo on a tourist visa, and thus not eligible to work in Costa Rica legally to begin with, but needed to earn money for his own habits of drugs, womanizing, and gambling. Even he was a decent enough fellow to volunteer that the job was pure slime. The odds were rigged against those he called, and he had to make cold calls to people with gambling problems. He told me that one person he called started crying and begged not to be called again, since he was trying to beat his gambling problems and really didn’t like to be tempted.

I don’t have any moral qualms about gambling either, and I’m sure some of the businesses are perfectly legitimate. However, it is an industry that attracts unsavory types, and based up my limited exposure to it in Costa Rica, I’m sure that some additional regulation or enforcement is in order.

More broadly, I don’t see why any of us would favor an industry that exists here only because it is illegal elsewhere, and also an industry from which the profits tend to go to foreigners in foreign countries. Moreover, while Ticos working in the industry may be well paid, I have to ask myself what kinds of skills they are developing that will contribute to overall economic development as well as national dignity. La Nación ran a piece not long ago about those working in call centers (not even in gambling) and painted a pretty gloomy picture of that line of work. It has to be even gloomier in the gambling operations.

I don’t know where exactly Ben stands on this issue, and I won’t presume to defend him. My own view is that there is some slime in this business that needs to be rooted out and that long term it is not an industry that deserves to be favored. Short term, as long as the business is operating legally and honorably (e.g., not hiring illegals to cold call known problem gamblers) I have no problem with it.

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Anita Abedian

Hi Ken. I’m a researcher looking to speak with you about Internet gaming sites in Costa Rica.

Please contact me as soon as possible, and let me know how I can get in touch with you. I can be reached at: Thanks!

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You are right, they do pay a lot of money to their employees. And the Ticos I know who work for them typically really like their jobs.

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There is a ton of these operation in Costa Rica go La Sabana or San pedro. Some of these Gambling operation are run by New york Mafia types. I wish this type of business would leave Costa Rica. These type of business are also run by Cartels and used to run money through them. I am looking into three of the larger operation in Costa Rica. What i have found out was that money goes into these gambling business is they never pay any taxes and have not been regulated at all. When you look in to owners of the gambling outfits you see excons and people that own 4 or 5 houses in Costa Rica or Europe. I even looked into one Gambling outfit that was controlled by a Britsh Indian man married to a Costa Rica. His wife is 25 young then him and his wife is very connected to PLN party and EX prez Oscar Arias. Some of these operation pay off police and goverment workers to look the other way. I will write more about this and put some names and address. I am ready to expose these mafia types.

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