BetOnline Founders, History and Owners

Onlinebetting.com Disclaimer of Non-Bias

We represent this to be the truth of Betonline. Various claims have been filed against Betonline as with almost every online sportsbook. Many claims stem from fraud players or spook competitors. Legitimate payment issues are always resolved, unless fraud is highly suspected. In accounts where slow payments have arisen, it is generally due to seized funds by the US DOJ in which is out of the control of Betonline, in either case payments are made but due to the nature of the business it sometimes can take longer than expected. As a general attitude this is one of the most bet at sportsbook on the internet, my estimates place it the 2nd most popular US bookie. One complaint I concur about this company is their Panamanian email, phone, and live support personnel being very rude and not taking much attitude back from customers. In result, many complaints have risen about the company on this account alone.

Begin Review and History of Betonline.ag / .com

BetOnline, www.Betonline.com, is the flagship brand of a sport gambling operation started in Rochester NY back in 1991. In December 2000 operations were moved to Costa Rica, and then in May 2004 to Panama. Prior to acquiring the domain betonline.com (April 2007), they were known as “BestLine Sports”. As is the case with most US facing gambling sites, the current owners prefer to remain anonymous. Therefore it’s not possible to be 100% certain who owns them, but there are plenty of names surrounding this company that I’ll mention in this article.

BetOnline Founder Joe Junior

Joe Junior, legally named Joseph J. Fafone, was 29-years old when he opened his first illegal bookmaking shop in Rochester NY back in 1991. Although highly illegal to run books in the United States, Junior was no stranger to crime. His father is a man I became familiar with while just a child and always knew him as associated with Genovese crime family. I’d personally have pegged him as a bookie myself, but Google searching a bit I found most of his time in the tank involved crimes related to cocaine distribution; something I don’t have the first clue about. Also, apparently his ties were more to Gambino than Genovese, but tomato, tamahto to most, I suppose.

I’m not sure at what point Joe Junior made it out to Costa Rica, but in December 2000 (around the time Ron Sacco was with BetCRIS) he rented a very tiny office in San Jose where he started BestLine Sports. The initial website was nothing impressive. However, equipped with his client list from Rochester NY he eventually grew into a much larger office inside the newly built San Pedro Mall and got his website redesigned. In May 2004 he took on a larger partnership and moved operations to Panama City, Panama. Along the way a new partner was introduced who used the alias John Magnum, little is known about him though rumor has it he later sold his share to Charles Bauer, the former CEO of Infinity Sports.

Potential Partner Eddie/Bama (Charles Bauer)

Charles Bauer (who used to go by the alias Eddie Robbins III) was a very successful bookie from the early days of offshore gambling. He was only 23-years old when Infinity Sports International launched from the Dominican Republic in 1994. Coming from a very small town in the Alabama (150 miles outside Birmingham) and developing a taste for gambling while just in grade school, the opportunity to work for a bookie was dream comes true for him. When the owner had a religious epiphany and decided to give up gambling, Bauer negotiated its purchase.

In 1996, the same year the first ever sportsbook was established, 25-year old Charles Bauer moved Infinity to Costa Rica and began building a sports business that involved personal touch. No client who signed up for Infinity in the early days did so without personally speaking to him. This method was far different than those follow Jay Cohen WSEX embraced but worked well, and there were many punters very loyal to Charles, but by mid-2000 the internet was such a part of sports betting his company had no choice but to adapt. In June 2000 betinfinity.com was born using then leading software IQ-Ludorum. Interesting is this website went out of its way to flaunt how legal their operation was because it operated from Costa Rica. Judging by interviews, this is something Charles apparently believed firmly himself. In his mind, the business was legal in Costa Rica and therefore he wasn’t breaking any laws in the US.

After Jay Cohen of WSEX (pictured to the right) was sentenced to 2-years in prison, and dozens of other bookies were indicted by US authorities, Charles Bauer began to realize the potential heat he was facing. He soon later sold his business and for an undisclosed amount. In 2003 he reentered the industry but this time used the alias Bama, and then later Eddie. For most of his career he was a brand manager for the BetOnSports side of Infinity who eventually took over this brand.

BetOnline Partner John Magnum

Little is known about John Magnum of BestLine Sports, though it has been leaked/rumored that in early 2006 he sold his share of this company to John Bauer.

Eric Davis Harp of Las Vegas Nevada

This is another individual little is known about his history; however he was named in an October 2009 indictment as an alleged ring leader.

“District Attorney Brown said that, according to a 131-count indictment filed in Queens County Supreme Court the gambling ring promoted illegal sports betting in Queens County and elsewhere and that the top two defendants – alleged bookmakers Joseph J. Fafone and Eric Davis Harp – used various Internet websites, including betallsportshere.com, justwagers.com, betmsg.com, betonline.com, and betrr.com, as well as toll-free telephone numbers to accept wagers. The defendants also allegedly controlled a non-traditional “wire room” in the form of an off-shore.”

Note that Joseph J. Fafone is the well-known founder of BestLine Sports who was part owner BetOnline. The only time the name Eric Davis Harp has ever appeared associated with this operation was inside this indictment. It’s quite possible one of the other names in this article is his alias and Eric Harp is his real name.

There are 28 other names of people accused of BetOnline involvement mentioned in this indictment: http://www.queensda.org/newpressreleases/2009/october/betting_it_all_10_21_09.pdf . This is a decent video overview from NY1.com about the arrests in 2009.

Potential BetOnline Partner Dalton Wagner

In 1998, one of corporate world’s top recruiters was on vacation in Costa Rica with his wife, when he unintentionally met the founders of BetMaker during a poker game. Thinking nothing of it at the time, he’d later remember these men when he read a magazine article about one of them coming to Costa Rica with only credit cards to live on, and then selling his sports gambling business for $20 million USD. Financially secure and not all that happy with what he was doing he headed back to Costa Rica where he launched Players Superbook as a phone-in shop and v-wager as the industry’s first “internet only” sportsbook. This man of course was none other than Dalton Wagner. Although he had no clue about sports betting, he was a master networker, made the right contacts and quickly grew his operations.

Back in the late 1990’s and on until about 2001, tout services following the footsteps of The Austin Edge were heavily marketed in the United States. Even CBS was in the business, and the Sports Channel and ESPN would have programs covering handicapper’s picks. Dalton Wagner was one of the first to see this as an angle for marketing. What he did was create dozens of partnerships. For example one of his brands was MVP Sportsbook, here if you purchased any picks from “handicapper Leo Shafto” your MVP Sportsbook balance would be credit with the same amount you paid for the pick. Dalton used to give these guys a $250.00 per head commission for each player they referred.

Another of Dalton Wagners innovations was “Pay Per Head”. He’d supply any local bookie back in the US with the use of his software, customer support, and phone center, on a cost per player basis. This is where his company grew huge. In 2005 Dalton Wagner’s brands, part of what was named the VO Group, were massively successful and it was time for him to find a buyer willing to pay more than they were worth. He ended up finding this late that year with BetOnSports.

Many former MVP and V-Wager clients were outraged at Wagner’s decision to sell, or more so upset he sold to BOS. This was a company well known cheating and stiffing players. To Dalton’s credit, while his sites were far from the fastest to payout, he wasn’t a cheat and always did pay (the same never true for BetOnSports who financed huge advertising and affiliate budgets by flat-out stealing from players). After the sale Dalton Wagner assured players there would be no issues and stayed on board managing the brands separate from BOS. However, as anyone around at the time already knows, on August 11, 2006 BetOnSports went out of business, due issues with the US government. Although at the time they assured players all funds were safe, as of 2011 – we’re still waiting on our liquidation settlement that is now rumored it will amount to 3.5 cents on the dollar. Lucky for Dalton Wagner, BetCRIS did bail out many of his players at VO Group brands, leaving his reputation “somewhat intact”.

Current BetOnline Ownership

Who actually owns BetOnline.com today, is a well-kept secret. What I can tell you is that Joe Junior is very likely no longer with the company. This is because in October 2009, Joseph J. Fafone was arrested at the Greater Rochester International Airport on charges of bookmaking. Gambling911 reported in April 2010 that his share of the company was purchased by former MVP Sports owner as well as a man tied to sportsbook.com. However, the rumors on forums that Dalton Wagner is a partner in BetOnline started as a soon as BestLine Sports had purchased them. A partner – just a rumor at this point, involved –well, it’s pretty well substantiated as near fact that he at bare minimum sold the BOS customer list, and equipment to BetOnline and then became involved in their pay per head side of the operation.

BetOnline Mafia Ties

Obviously, all online gambling sites servicing the US market sites servicing the US market are illegal under US law. Therefore US sports bettors shouldn’t be too turned off at the idea of patronizing Mafia backed betting sites. Would you rather deal with: organized crime that will pay you when you win, or with disorganized crime that once busted has no money or staff available to pay you? This choice is rather obvious, so don’t take this final section as anything all that negative. Anyways…

In December 2007, 26-members or associates of the Lucchese crime family were charged in New Jersey with the running of a multibillion dollar sport gambling operation. State Attorney General Anne Milgram revealed “the ring processed $2.2 billion in wagers in little more than 15 months”. Among those charged were two of the Lucchese family’s three New York bosses and the highest-ranking member in New Jersey. According the court documents two of the website trusted bettors were given to make these wagers were betonline.com and bigactionsports.com.

Of course we already established earlier in this article that Joe Junior, founder of BestLine Sports, which was a precursor to BetOnline, is the son of a known associate of the Gambino crime family. His father was actually one of thirty named in the indictment that came following Joe Junior’s arrest; many of the others were affiliate agents of BetOnline operations. These are only some of the arrest associated with BetOnline. In 2011 a police officer was and sent to prison for his refusal to give up the name of an agent he was placing sports bets with. This was part of a large indictment involving one boss and three known crime family associates. A mainstream newspaper mentioned one of BetOnline’s known Pay Per Head shops in an online article that reported on the court proceedings, but took this story was taken offline entirely only 9-hours after it was posted.

Does the Mafia Own BetOnline?
No, probably not. It’s far more likely that legit businessmen own BetOnline.com and crime members are leasing their pay per head service. Of course, none of this would be an issue (who is tied to who) if the US would realize how wacky it is that in Nevada anyone can place a bet, but gambling is serious “victim” crime in 49 other states? Or that in other civilized societies such as much of Europe, and even Canada and Taiwan – there is nothing illegal about betting on sports. I guess I’ll save that rant for another article. To conclude here: BetOnline has strong ties to former BetOnSports associates, and their origins date back to “BestLine Sports”. Nothing is public knowledge regarding their ownership and there is no “100% conclusive” evidence that anyone named here in this article has ever owned BetOnline.

Rumor dismissed: For reasons that BetOnline started offering reduced juice right after Pinnacle Sports left the US market, some forum posters spread a rumor about these two brands being connected. This is not true. The only brands BetOnline has a connection to are Lowvig.com who leases their software, and BestLine sports which is their old name. There is no connection to the current company but it is worth mentioning is the original owners of the domain betonline.com now run EasyStreet Sportsbook.

Final Thoughts

To BetOnline’s credit – who owns them shouldn’t be a major issue. You see ever since the BestLine Sports days, and still true today, this company has gone out of its way to pay winners. In legal papers it was revealed in one instance a high roller had $553,000 cash delivered to his hotel room personally by Joe Junior. I can tell you first hand I’ve received payouts via methods such as ***Pal that are not allowed in the US. As long as BetOnline trusts you, they’ll find a way to get you paid very fast. If they’re not sure if maybe you are a fed, you might need to wait a 1-3 weeks to get a check, but when you win, no doubt about it at all, you will get paid.

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