ESPN investigation finds gambling in South Florida youth football league

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Gambling cowboy

Adults bet thousands on youths

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Gambling cowboy hearsay video

Postby Fell В» 08.12.2019

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But as day turns to night, and the boys on the field get bigger and older, the crowd grows and the atmosphere begins to shift. Groups of men in their 20s and 30s fill the stands and sidelines, to the point that passers-by must jostle for space as they walk along fences separating the bleachers from the field. And then something else becomes obvious: Wads of bills start switching hands; cheers and fist pumps are followed by exchanges of money; and men debate how much to put down next time.

Marijuana smoke is often in the air, and adults walk around with cups of alcohol seemingly without concern. An "Outside the Lines" investigation found such scenes several times this past fall in the South Florida Youth Football League, which is made up of 30, children ages 5 to 15 from Palm Beach to Miami. In the packed crowds, OTL producers saw men holding stacks of bills -- often in large denominations -- as they watched the games.

Using hidden cameras, OTL recorded the men openly exchanging money with one another, even as they were just a few feet from a uniformed police officer in one instance. But the exchange of money in the stands was the small stuff, OTL found -- sometimes the games had tens of thousands of dollars bet on them, and players were often paid for making big plays. Former players and coaches say the gambling and paying of players and their parents has gone on for years, yet some league and law enforcement officials told ESPN they were not aware of the extent of the problems until "Outside the Lines" conducted interviews and showed the officials its undercover video.

One man seen on video exchanging money in a group at the league's super bowl is a longtime coach in the league and city recreation leader. Wesley Smith, a local pastor who had his son switch leagues a couple of years ago because he was worried that an argument over high-stakes gambling debts would lead to violence at one of the parks.

Ron Thurston, 34, who has been a head coach in the league since and is a Broward County sheriff's deputy, estimates that about a fourth of the crowd at games is criminals. He recalled an incident when an off-duty detective alerted him to a guy who was threatening to shoot a coach. When Thurston got to him, "sure enough, he has a loaded gun on him, a 9-millimeter, one in the chamber. Harris recounted a game in which he butted into a group of guys and asked them what they were up to.

They got a point spread for little league football," he said. Thurston said the bigger bets often take place before the games. But the behind the scenes, those are the ones that are scary.

Thurston and Harris, who are friends, said it wasn't always like this. When they played in the league in the s, they said, a more family-friendly crowd of moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles attended games. Now, the games draw high school coaches looking for recruits and guys from the neighborhood looking to make a quick buck.

Teams in the league often draw from the region's rougher, low-income neighborhoods, where football fields are next to housing projects and drive-by shootings can break out just blocks away. In the past two years, records show that police responded to more than 5, incidents within about a quarter-mile radius of Fort Lauderdale's two city football fields, hundreds of which were violent crimes. Thurston said he tries to keep his players isolated from negative forces, including the gambling.

He said he pushes homework, demands to see report cards and won't let kids play if they don't make grades. They don't have fathers at home," he said, noting that he has arrested several of the players' dads for other offenses.

Before some gamblers bet on a team, they'll invest in it, said Smith, the local pastor. Gamblers study kids, and they find the good players whose dads are in prison and whose moms are barely making ends meet to put food on the table for their children, he said.

According to Smith, the gambler's point of view is, "I'm recruiting these kids to play for this team because this is the team I'm going to be betting on all year. Although the parents should know better, Harris said it's hard to blame the players, who often receive cash for making big plays. These kids may use that money to help Mom pay the rent," he said.

Rob Glover was one of those boys. In the late s, Glover was a 9-year-old star running back with the Pompano Beach Cowboys who attracted a lot of attention -- and money. I didn't know what was going on," said Glover, who is now It was good at the time, but now I know it's a bad thing to do. They got an education. They stayed within school. Glover said he spent the weeks waiting for the weekends, when he knew he would get paid, sometimes into the thousands, he said.

He ignored his schoolwork. As a teenager, he couldn't make it in high school and dropped out. That's also when he started getting in trouble with the law. Gamblers pay children who become "superstars," who believe football is their "escape out of the hood," Smith said.

The majority of these kids, when they reach ninth grade, they're too old to play little league ball," Smith said. The kids cannot keep a C average. If you don't keep a C average, you can't play ball. He and others said the boys lose respect for school, parents, coaches and the law, as the drug dealers who are often supporting them bring them into their fold. Look how he's living,'" said Harris, who is And now when you go to the games, you see those same guys and they're watching the games now, not in school, just hanging out," he said.

Despite what seems like common knowledge of the gambling and the problems it can cause, league and law enforcement officials say it's a difficult issue to address. South Florida Youth Football League president Michael Spivey said he wasn't aware that gambling was such a problem until "Outside the Lines" showed him video shot at some of the games.

The league could fire any coaches or officials caught gambling, but that's about all it can do, Spivey said. Then Spivey watched more video, including a clip that showed men exchanging money within six feet of a police officer. He said officers at those games are preoccupied with crowd control, breaking up fights and keeping people off the field. Yet Adderley said gambling is not something that should be tolerated. Adderley said if he saw men who appeared to be gambling, he would issue them trespass notices and eject them from the park.

Actually making arrests and getting convictions would require using undercover officers to try to engage the gamblers in a bet, he said. But that's a lot of work to get a few guys convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor, which is about as serious as driving with a suspended license, said Sgt. William Cunneen, who is in charge of the organized crime unit with the Broward County Sheriff's Department. Cunneen also doubted that an undercover officer could pull it off because the gamblers are from the neighborhood and would spot an outsider trying to place a bet, he said.

Officers could ask neighborhood informants to do the job, but he said there was no benefit to outing an informant to get convictions on such a minor crime. After watching the OTL video, Adderley said that he doesn't doubt that gambling occurs but that it's simply something people don't complain about. Others could be afraid to talk, as "Outside the Lines" found out when several parents, who were upset with the gamblers, refused to talk because they feared retribution.

But Adderley said people have several means of contacting the police while staying anonymous, including a hot line that received thousands of complaints about other crimes, such as drug dealing and burglaries. The chief lives across the street from one of the parks, and he said people complain to him about all sorts of things -- but never gambling. If this was really a big concern of the neighborhood, we would have had complaints," he said. On the surface, I think you can come to a fair conclusion to that," he said.

Small, who used to coach Glover, is still coaching with the Pompano Beach Cowboys and has worked as a recreation leader for the city of Pompano Beach for more than 20 years. You can't do it, it can't be done. But we can deter it as much as we can to keep it away from the kids. However, Small didn't appear to be deterring gambling when spotted on video of the league's super bowl game in November.

Instead, he was exchanging money with several men who appeared to be gambling in the stands. When asked whether he was gambling, Small said he never bet on his team and was only "holding money for an individual. And I gave most of it, I'll give it all back to 'em," he said. Small, 44, said he's around a lot of men with criminal backgrounds because he works as a bail bondsman. He said he has told the men around him that he doesn't want to take part in their gambling, but, "I'm one of the guys they trust, I guess.

I am not the enforcer to the league. I'm not a police officer. I'm not going to put myself at harm being known as the gentleman who's doing this and that, doing the telling. I can't do it," he said. But as far as that gambling goes, they were gonna, they were gonna do it.

If the boys he coaches today saw him in the stands with the men who were gambling, he said it would probably be a "big blow" to them, but he said he hoped they would still trust him. I felt that I am one of the strong leaders and possibly made a mistake by being around certain individuals," he said. One of those boys who counted on Small was Glover, the former player who took money from gamblers as a boy. Small had been his coach, and was his bail bondsman when Glover was arrested in On an evening in late March of this year, Glover sat in a plastic chair behind an acrylic glass window during visiting hours at a Broward County jail.

He had landed there about three weeks earlier after violating the terms of his probation: He was convicted of felony cocaine possession in The married father of two was released from jail a few weeks ago and is back washing cars with his uncle, which he said is the only job he could get. The money he got from playing little league ball is just a memory, yet it's a reality he faces when he runs into the guys who used to bet on him.

The only thing I got was a couple thousand dollars going down the drain tomorrow," he said. Her work appears on "Outside the Lines. Producer Greg Amante contributed to this report.

To help make this website better, to improve and personalize your experience and for advertising purposes, are you happy to accept cookies and other technologies? Skip to navigation. OTL: Gambling in youth league. Last-minute NFL free-agency nuggets: Contracts to watch and more. Carolina Panthers. Baltimore Ravens. NCAA prez: Gobert test ended hopes for tourney. Tennessee Titans.

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Re: gambling cowboy hearsay video

Postby Mazragore В» 08.12.2019

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Re: gambling cowboy hearsay video

Postby JoJohn В» 08.12.2019

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Postby Mazusida В» 08.12.2019

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Re: gambling cowboy hearsay video

Postby Meztigar В» 08.12.2019

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Postby Milkis В» 08.12.2019

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Re: gambling cowboy hearsay video

Postby Toramar В» 08.12.2019

If an attorney finds his work too stressful and gambles because of it, I advise him to get video. For that reason, he added, no one from the athletic department felt the gambing to inform the National Collegiate Athletic Association that Schlichter's behavior had at least aroused the suspicions of hearsay police departments. After their 18th birthdays, they bet for themselves, the only difference being that Schlichter usually had more money to invest. Yet Adderley said gambling is not something that should be tolerated. But cowboy gambling then gambling never to the extent it was viceo Baltimore.

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Postby Kesho В» 08.12.2019

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Re: gambling cowboy hearsay video

Postby Maura В» 08.12.2019

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Re: gambling cowboy hearsay video

Postby Vimuro В» 08.12.2019

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Re: gambling cowboy hearsay video

Postby Shaktisida В» 08.12.2019

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