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Was Chip ‘Will the Winner’? Or wasn’t he?
By DAVID MICHAELS/The News Enterprise
July 26, 2012 — “Will The Winner” and “Will Rogers” were just characters, Sen. Chip Rogers has said, created by a client who hired him to perform as a sports handicapper under both names.
But records obtained by Atlanta Unfiltered and The News Enterprise show Rogers used those monikers in a manner that was unrelated to any role that he may have played on TV.
To the Federal Communications Commission, he was Will Rogers. When he bought Cartersville radio station WYXC-AM in 1999, the license application filed with the FCC listed Rogers’ email address as email@example.com.
To the World Wide Web, he was Will the Winner. The 1999 registration for the radio station’s website listed Rogers’ email address as firstname.lastname@example.org.
The senator, whose legal name is William Rogers IV, did not respond this week to requests for comment. Previously, he has acknowledged appearing under those names in the 1990s in TV infomercials and other media. But he said he was merely reading a script with someone else’s predictions about sporting events and that his client, OTM Sports, owned the rights to those characters.
Rogers has also denied being the Will Rogers who wrote a 2001 column titled “Bet on Football and Win” for AskMen.com. That Will Rogers, credited as being a sports handicapper, recommended that readers place bets with the offshore Oasis Casino & Sportsbook and said he had referred clients to Oasis since 1996.
“If an article was submitted under the name Will Rogers it has nothing to do with me,” Rogers wrote in an email to Atlanta Unfiltered in May. “I have gone by Chip Rogers since birth. Someone or some entity using a name that has nothing to do with me is not something that concerns me.”
The column suggested that placing bets with Oasis, based in Curacao, was a convenient alternative to gambling with bookmakers inside the United States, which is against the law in every state except Nevada. “The services, odds, hours, and payouts from an offshore sportsbook are far superior to any illegal local bookie,” the author wrote.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Fagan, who prosecuted approximately 30 cases against offshore sports betting operations from 1997 to 2008, says extensive case law establishes the illegality of using wired phone or Internet services to wager on sporting events. “The law is quite clear that telephone and online gambling, particularly sports gambling, are violations of the Wire Act,” he said.
The senator has other ties to Oasis Casinos. He was featured on a 2000 episode of “The Sports Insiders,” a cable TV show that featured several ads for Oasis. In addition, two metro Atlanta printing companies say they worked closely with Rogers over a six-year period to produce promotional mailings that featured Oasis advertising. (See main story.)
This article was produced collaboratively by Atlanta Unfiltered and The News Enterprise, a student reporting initiative of the Emory College Journalism Program. 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 email@example.com.