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Nine youth football coaches in South Florida face felony charges related to a high-stakes gambling operation for little league football.
The nine men charged with crimes allegedly engineered a bookmaking and gambling ring for games played by five to 15-year-olds, reports ESPN. Some of the suspects are ex-convicts with a history of criminal violations from drug charges to assault.
The coaches have been charged with felony bookmaking, essentially organized gambling, and each could face up to five years in prison.
In the games, police say that the coaches would take and place bets from $20,000 to $100,000. Betters were reportedly seen in the stands and along the sidelines exchanging large amounts of money in plain view of other fans and children, reports ESPN.
Police believe that the coaches themselves were responsible for promoting and organizing the bets and setting point spreads on the games. The most notable coach charged may be Brandon Bivins, a successful youth football coach of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes. He is alleged to have owned a barbershop that served as the front for the gambling parlor.
Police surveillance video reportedly show a line of a dozen men entering the shop and one officer says that he once counted 50 men walk into the barbershop, past empty barber chairs, to enter a back room.
In Florida, "bookmaking" is generally defined as any act of taking or receiving any bet or wager that is based upon the result of any trial, contest, or game of chance. Typically, taking bets of more than $500 a day or $1,500 a week would support the bookmaking charges. The crime is automatically considered a felony in the third degree.
The youth football coaches may face bookmaking charges, but their biggest crime may be robbing the innocence from the children's game. Who knows if the coaches pushed their players through injuries, ordered hits on other players, or took other extreme action just to win their bets.