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    Rogers played larger role in pitching casino, handicappers

     

    This article was produced collaboratively by Atlanta Unfiltered and The News Enterprise, a student reporting initiative of the Emory College Journalism Program.

    By DAVID MICHAELS/The News Enterprise

    July 26, 2012 — Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, while serving as a freshman legislator, regularly oversaw production of promotional mailings that advertised over-the-phone sports handicapping services and an offshore casino, former printers and a onetime associate in the handicapping industry say.

    Two Atlanta-area printing companies worked closely with Rogers between 1998 and 2004 to produce the promotional booklets, called Schedules USA, according to the former owner of one printer and a former employee of both businesses. The booklets contained game schedules and extensive advertising for the online Oasis Casino & Sportsbook, based in Curacao, as well as ads for pay-per-call tip lines that offered gambling advice.

    Daniel Sneed, who handled the Schedules USA account for one printer from 1998 to 2003, said he worked directly with Rogers to produce the mailers.

    “He was the guy who brought me stuff and then said, ‘Here’s what we want to print, here’s the files and here’s the list where they are going,’” Sneed said.

    Mark Roesler — who owned the second printer, the now-defunct Webwise Press Corp. in Decatur — said he can’t recall who paid to produce the booklets but remembers that Rogers managed the process. “Who placed the order, who dictated what happened, who told us where to send them, who directed the book and who brought the business was all Chip,” Roesler said.

    Rogers did not respond to requests for comment. His campaign staff on Monday acknowledged receiving a reporter’s written questions about the publication.

    Atlanta Unfiltered reported in May that during much of the 1990s, Rogers appeared in TV infomercials and on telephone hotlines, often as Will Rogers or Will the Winner, to promote paid handicapping services. (See sidebar.) Although Rogers claimed in one infomercial that he was selling picks made by “myself and my staff,” he later said he was only a performer reading a script for a client, OTM Sports, an Alabama-based handicapping service.

    “I was hired to play a part on a TV show,” he told WSB-TV in May. Although Oasis Casino was an advertiser on the show, Roger said he had no idea it was a sponsor.

    Rogers’ connections to OTM and Oasis, though, extended beyond the TV show.  Sneed and Roesler described a six-year working relationship with Rogers producing Schedules USA and its ads for OTM’s tip lines and Oasis Casino. Sneed said he brought the account with him in 2003 when he went to work for Webwise. Roesler said the relationship continued until 2004, when Rogers had finished his second year in the House and was running for a state Senate seat.

    Roesler said Rogers gave specific instructions on how the mailers were distributed. “We shipped them over to Alabama for mailing and no copies ever went into Georgia, because Chip was running” for the Senate, Roesler said. “He wanted to make sure nothing went into Georgia.”

    Webwise also printed mailers for Rogers’ 2004 Senate campaign, Roesler said. Campaign disclosures show Rogers’ election committee spent more than $27,000 with Webwise between April and December 2004.

    John Edens, a longtime friend and former associate of Rogers in the handicapping industry, said the Cherokee County Republican produced the mail advertisements on behalf of OTM Sports to promote its handicapping services.

    Oasis’s sponsorship, Edens said, paid for the production costs of the mailer.

    “The whole key to having offshore people involved in your enterprise was to get them to pay advertising bills for you and you in essence would get your advertising for free,” he said.

    Edens said he used that tactic during the 1990s with another offshore sportsbook, Paradise Casino.

    “It’s not some idea [Rogers] thought up on his own. That was all learned through me,” Edens said.

    Schedules USA was a 30- to 40-page booklet containing schedules for several weeks of college and professional sporting events. Some listed games were accompanied by tips on a team’s performance against the point spread or handicappers’ over/under numbers for recent games.

    In two 2003 editions obtained by Atlanta Unfiltered and The News Enterprise, each page featured an advertisement for Oasis Casino or a telephone number linked to one of OTM’s sports information services.

    Some of OTM’s toll-free numbers advertised instant access to information on odds, trends and injuries. One such phone line was The Superphone, a service that Rogers promoted on a 2000 cable TV infomercial called The Sports Insiders.

    Other phone numbers in the mailer were for pay-per-call services that directed callers straight to handicappers’ predictions for upcoming games.

    The cover of the January 2003 edition includes fine print that reads, “For entertainment purposes only not intended to violate any local, state, or federal laws.”

    Federal law prohibits casinos such as Oasis from accepting sports wagers over wired telecommunications systems. Prosecutors have won dozens of convictions and forfeitures against offshore sportsbooks under the U.S. Wire Act.

    The return address on the promotional schedules was a mailbox in Duluth that Edens says belonged to him. Edens said he played no role in producing Schedules USA but let Rogers use the mailbox and provided him with at least some of the addresses for the booklet’s mailing list.

    Edens said he had compiled those addresses over the years from calls to his 800 and 900 handicapping lines, some of which he operated under the name Johnny DeMarco.

    “Sometimes I would trade for a Johnny DeMarco ad in [Rogers’] book,” Edens said. “There was a lot of trading and stuff that went on.” Other times, Edens said, Rogers bought the mailing lists from him.

    OTM Sports owner Mike Lorino, in a brief telephone interview, declined to comment.

    “I told you, don’t bother me anymore,” Lorino said.

    David Michaels is an intern with Atlanta Unfiltered and a recent graduate of Emory University where he studied journalism and political science. His email address is david.michaels18@gmail.com.

     

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    12 Responses to “Rogers played larger role in pitching casino, handicappers”

    1. Wow!!! says:

      How will Chip Rogers explain this story? I am sure he will try to come up with a “good one.” I just hope people will finally realize that Chip is not the man he claims to be. We need honest, moral, and ethical people in office. I certainly do not believe that Chip fits this description. Thank you for all of your work on this article.

    2. Anyone But Chip says:

      Unfortunately, I don’t think it will amount to that much. The Chipster is a slippery one and seems to dodge most of the flak from his sleazy dealings. As Wow!!! said, ‘we need honest, moral and ethical people in office’ and my hope is that this type of article allows his constituency to see him for what he really is.

    3. sfb says:

      Why hasn’t someone asked the Fulton D.A. to investigate this character? The evidence is mounting. Thank you for great investigative reporting.

    4. sfb says:

      Also, did the $27K that Rogers’ campaign paid to Webwise include the cost of the sportsbook?

    5. nancy carter says:

      I only wish this information reached more people. Thank you for doing the research and trying to educate us. Chip Rogers has no shame or he would resign.I am a 79 year old female who taught civics to eighth graders and they would have known what to look for in a person who wanted to make laws that affected the public and it would not have been the likes of Chip Will Rogers. He is an embarrassment to Georgia.

    6. Geeezz... says:

      Please Cherokee and Fulton do not vote for this guy… Thanks for the solid reporting David. Have you guys brought this to the AJC? Other news stations? Word of this needs to spread. And it needs to spread quickly

    7. BIG DEAL says:

      None of this matters at all. Nothing he did here is illegal. Youre talking about our future govenor.

    8. sfb says:

      Really?

      16-12-26.
      (a) A person who knowingly prints, publishes, or advertises any lottery or other scheme for commercial gambling, or who knowingly prints or publishes any lottery ticket, policy ticket, or other similar device designed to serve as evidence of participation in a lottery commits the offense of advertising commercial gambling.
      (b) A person who commits the offense of advertising commercial gambling shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

      16-12-28.
      (a) A person who knowingly communicates information as to bets, betting odds, or changes in betting odds or who knowingly installs or maintains equipment for the transmission or receipt of such information with the intent to further gambling commits the offense of communicating gambling information.
      (b) A person who commits the offense of communicating gambling information, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years or by a fine not to exceed $5,000.00, or both.

    9. BIG DEAL says:

      HE WON THE ELECTION ANYWAY. IMAGINE THAT.

    10. BIG DEAL says:

      16-12-28.
      (a) A person who knowingly communicates information as to bets, betting odds, or changes in betting odds or who knowingly installs or maintains equipment for the transmission or receipt of such information with the intent to further gambling commits the offense of communicating gambling information.
      (b) A person who commits the offense of communicating gambling information, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years or by a fine not to exceed $5,000.00, or both.

      SOMEONE BETTER GO ARREST THWE ASSOCIATED PRESS.

    11. sfb says:

      Yes, imagine that. And a special election will be just one more added expense.

    12. randy says:

      well….it happened. that added expense: $500,000

      https://twitter.com/BachmanWSB/status/276393310778703872

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