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Deyan Dimitrov February 6, 2024 3 min read
FanDuel Asked to Reimburse $20M Stolen by Former Jaguars Employee
The team hopes to recover at least some of the funds gambled away by a former finance manager, but initial reports suggest that the operator may not be willing to comply
The Jacksonville Jaguars are communicating with FanDuel to seek reimbursement for approximately $20 million lost on the platform by a former employee. The perpetrator stole millions from the team, using most of them to wager on FanDuel’s daily fantasy sports offerings. Despite these assets’ stolen nature, the operator’s legal obligation to return them remains unclear.
The Perpetrator Faces Severe Punishment
Amit Patel, an ex-Jaguars finance manager, recently pleaded guilty to embezzling $22 million through a virtual credit card system used by the Jaguars for expenses. The perpetrator reportedly lost around $20 million of the misappropriated funds on daily fantasy and sports bets at FanDuel, with an additional $1 million on DraftKings.
Patel’s embezzlement spanned three and a half years, and he now faces up to 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. FanDuel reportedly alerted the NFL to Patel’s betting activities in January 2023, leading to the discovery of the embezzlement scheme. Online records reveal Patel engaged in extensive high-stakes and high-volume daily fantasy play on FanDuel and DraftKings, incurring impressive losses.
Patel lived extravagantly during his time with the Jaguars, chartering private jets, staying in luxury hotels, and indulging in various lavish expenses. His attorney denies allegations that Patel funded his lifestyle with stolen money, attributing his actions to a misguided effort to pay back previous gambling losses. Patel has acknowledged a gambling disorder and is undergoing therapy.
Legal Loopholes May Allow FanDuel to Keep the Funds
Patel allegedly transferred the stolen money from the team’s virtual credit card to FanDuel, triggering discussions among FanDuel, the Jaguars, and the NFL for a potential settlement. However, sports media outlet ESPN recently revealed that the operator was adamant in its position, viewing the funds as legitimately obtained despite Patel’s crime.
While it’s unclear how the Jaguars might recoup the losses, legal experts note that FanDuel has an obligation under federal law to ensure that funds used for sports betting are legally obtained. Daily fantasy regulations are murkier, but gambling sites must still perform anti-money laundering and know-your-client procedures. FanDuel’s status as an official NFL betting partner further complicates this situation.
Where the size of a customer’s bets far outweighs their income, red flags are present and should require additional due diligence to confirm the funds are clean.Stephen Bell, business litigation attorney
The outcome of discussions between the Jaguars and FanDuel will likely have implications for future handling of misappropriated funds involving online gambling platforms and the responsibilities of operators in such cases. The case sheds light on the legal challenges of enforcing regulatory compliance and responsible gambling practices in the industry.