The NYPD and FBI shut down a $3.3 billion Internet gambling ring, arresting 27 people and seizing $7 million in cash and assets worth $500 million, including four Manhattan condos. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called shutting down website Playwithal.com "the largest illegal gambling operation this department has ever encountered." Here's how it worked, according to the Daily News:

Traditional bookies would give bettors a secret code to use the Internet gambling site, authorities said. Bets were taken on all kinds of sports, including football, baseball, basketball, hockey, auto racing and golf - and at the end of each week, the bookies would pay off or collect from each client.

"They laundered and stashed away millions in winnings using shell corporations and bank accounts in Central America, the Caribbean, Switzerland and Hong Kong," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who led the 28-month probe.

And when people wouldn't pay up, there were "enforcers" to make sure the bettors paid up.

For the tech geeks out there, the authorities were able to make the bust when the head of the ring, James W. Giordano, went to a wedding, giving the police a chance to look at his laptop. The police were able to search his Long Island hotel room, "cloned the hard drive, then put the computer back in his room." And not realizing the police had gained access to his computer, Giordano kept using his computer, allowing the police to monitor his online activities.


Giordano, a nationally ranked poker player, was arrested at his Florida home yesterday. Among the seized items were paintings by Peter Max and Salvador Dali, autographed photos of Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, and a 1969 victory football from the NY Jets. And one of the bookies was a scout for Washington Nationals, though Major League Baseball believes that no baseball games were affected.

And why was this national gambling ring taken down in part by the NYPD and the Queens DA's office? The Post says it's because "authorities there got wind of the operation while investigating a prescription drug resale scheme linked to the Bonanno crime family in 2005" - one of the people in the drug ring told the police about the betting ring. There is never any loyalty amongst thieves.

Photograph of the cash and goods seized from the Internet sports gambling ring by Mary Altaffer/AP