It looks as if American Pharoah owner Ahmed Zayat will not be vacationing in Costa Rica any time soon after reports have surfaced that he owes $1.6 million in gambling debts racked up at an offshore sportsbook located in the Central America country between 2003 and 2005.
Zayat is being sued in United States District Court in New Jersey by former associate Howard Rubinsky, who claims Zayat racked up gambling losses at the offshore sportsbook Tradewinds, which was rebranded as Justbets in 2006.
Rubinsky was a runner who was convicted in 2008 for his role in an illegal bookmaking operation with two brothers, Michael and Jeffrey Jelinsky. Zayat has acknowledged that he is friends with the Jelisky brothers.
According to stories in the New York Times and Gambling 911, Rubinsky opened up a $3 million line of credit for Zayat at Tradewinds Sportsbook. Zayat proceeded to lose $2 million wagering on horses and sports. He reportedly paid back $350,000 and was set up on a payment plan, but stopped making payments.
According to the New York Times article, federal agents informed Zayat that the Jelisky brothers were scamming him by touting horses that could not win that Zayat would then wager on.
“So I would lose because they were giving me the wrong horses,” Zayat admitted.
Zayat is denying he owes any money. “The rhetoric accusing me of owing monies over gambling debts is a pathetic attempt to extort me and we are expecting this meritless lawsuit from a convicted felon to be dismissed,” Zayat said in a statement sent to Blood Horse.
My sources in Costa Rica claim there are other sportsbooks that Zayat owes money, and they plan on exposing him.
The website ahmedzayat.com appeared online on Friday morning with stories of Zayat’s gambling activities including the New York Times article.
The headline on the website simply reads, “How important is integrity? You be the Judge.”
It is unclear who started the website, although the name Angus Hamilton was added on Friday morning. According to the website, Hamilton is an international freelance journalist, sports gambling consultant and co-founder of Sporting Index in the UK, specializes in international sport and horse racing.
Zayat ran up a gambling debt of $286,000 with a New Jersey advance wagering company according to an article in 2013 at NorthJersey.com.
The article claims Zayat wagered $200,000 per weekend and over $8.3 million overall. The debt was satisfied several months later. It is illegal for an ADW in New Jersey to accept wagers that exceed the balance in the wagering account.
Zayat said the sports authority had made “many mistakes” regarding the bookkeeping on his account according to the article.
“I am extremely proud to support the sport and bet legally,” Zayat said. “I am a preferred client, and I am treated as such.”
The same cannot be said in Costa Rica. My source said sportsbook owners “are going ballistic over Ahmed Zayat and the debts he apparently owes them.”
It could be a very long two weeks for Zayat.
Michael’s Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire Belmont Stakes Day card. Report will be available by June 5.
The third jewel of the Triple Crown features an outstanding day of horse betting that also includes the Grade 1, $1 million Manhattan, the Grade 1, $750,000 Longines Just a Game, the Grade 2, $500,000 Woody Stephens, the Grade 1, $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap, the Grade 1, $1 million Ogden Phipps, the Grade 1, $750,000 Acorn, the Grade 2, $500,000 Brooklyn Invitational, the Grade 3, $300,000 Jaipur Invitational, and the $150,000 Easy Goer.