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Former World Sports Exchange Employee Returns to Face Gambling Conspiracy Charges

January 27, 2016

On Veteran’s Day, Haden Ware pled guilty to charges of conspiracy in New York. Ware was a long time employee of the defunct site World Sports Exchange, which offered online sports booking in violation of the Federal Wire Act. The charges were initially leveled against Ware in 2002.

World Sports Exchange was founded by ex-employees of the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco in the ‘90s. The company was based in Antigua, with the hopes of avoiding trouble with the Federal Wire Act, which prohibits the transference of wager funds by remote communication. In 2000, founder Jay Cohen was convicted of violating the Wire Act, and served 21 months in prison. It was one of the first times the Wire Act had been invoked in court. Ware’s indictment came two years later.

After the passage of the Bush administration’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, the World Sports Exchange’s operations suffered and the company began to experience financial hardship. In addition to the prohibitive U.S. laws, the Exchange poorly policed its games of cheating and the usage of bots, and saw players discover and exploit nonrandom patterns in a Pai Gow room, undermining the credibility of the site. The company suffered from several years of self-described “processing issues” which led to months-long delays in payouts. Eventually the company collapsed with the burden of over $700,000 in unpaid winnings. It shut down in 2013; co-founder Steve Schillinger was later found dead in his apartment. The Antiguan government declared his death to be suicide.

Ware returned to the U.S. “to resolve this.” He plead guilty to the charge that he “took wagers over state lines,” and plans to protest any jail time. He was released on a $150,000 bond so he could see his parents, who live in California and Massachusetts, for the first time in two decades.

“It is not fun to have any country, whether it’s the most powerful country in the world or any country, deem you to be a criminal,” said Ware. According to his lawyer Jim Henderson, Ware was “no big shot.”
“Who wants to be an international fugitive when you are a U.S. citizen?” said Henderson.

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