Posted on: April 30, 2021, 03:56h.
Last updated on: April 30, 2021, 04:31h.
Sports bettor Rob Gorodetsky, whose brash, showy Instagram persona once got him featured in USA Today as the “future face of sports gambling,” was sentenced to 28 months in prison Thursday for wire fraud.
The 2017 USA Today profile described Gorodetsky as one of the “most compelling and controversial” figures in sports. He hung out with celebrities and beautiful women, the newspaper explained. He drove fast cars, while “winning and losing millions of dollars” in what he called “BigRobStyle.”
But a federal court in Chicago heard during his trial that this persona was largely the invention of a once painfully shy kid from the city’s affluent North Shore suburbs.
According to his lawyers, Gorodetsky moved to Las Vegas to reinvent himself, whereupon he transformed into a “living meme.” Defense lawyer Chris Gair argued “BigRobStyle” was living a lie. And Gorodetsky’s sports betting prowess was a lie, too.
The USA Today profile caught the attention of the FBI and the Nevada Gaming Commission, which launched investigations into Gorodetsky. In January 2020, the FBI charged him with bilking a single investor out of $9.6 million between 2014 and 2018.
The victim is described in court documents as a successful New Jersey ophthalmologist who is the father of Gorodetsky’s ex-girlfriend.
Gorodetsky had promised to reinvest the money in sports betting and other ventures. But according to prosecutors, he reinvested a nominal amount, but spent more than $2.2 million on travel, entertainment, a Rolls Royce, a Bentley, two Lamborghinis, and $324,000 worth of jewelry.
In a recent court filing, Gair described his client as a “pathological gambler” who was suspended from his high school for setting up a “gambling hall” and taking his classmates’ money at poker games.
According to Gair, throughout the fraud, Gorodetsky “could only concentrate on one thing: the rush he felt from his gambling wins.”
Gorodetsky spent $1 million gambling in the week USA Today shadowed him for the 2017 profile. Back then, there was talk that the federal ban on sports betting might soon be lifted in America. If that were to happen, as it did a year later, Gorodetsky would go on to be “America’s leading sports bettor,” according to his hangers-on.
When it goes legal, we’re going to be billionaires,’’ one told USA Today. “We’re the No. 1 entity, and we’re going to have a market share of at least 5 percent of a $150 billion industry.’’
Before he was sentenced, Gorodetsky apologized to his victim.
“You are very young,” said US District Judge Elaine Bucklo. “But it’s just a massive, massive fraud.”
Bucklo sent Gorodetsky to prison and ordered him to repay $7.2 million in outstanding losses.