The Course - Part Two
Professional gambler and
golf course developer
Billy Walters arrested for
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
May 23, 2016
LAS VEGAS - On May 18, 2016, the
FBI arrested Las Vegas sports bettor Billy Walters for what they described
as an insider trading scheme.
The May 19, 2016 New York Times
page story, "Insider Trading Case Links Golfer, Banker and Gambler,"
described Walters as a high-rolling Las Vegas kingmaker, often considered
the most successful sports bettor in the country.
"Federal prosecutors in Manhattan on
Thursday unveiled criminal charges against Mr. Walters, saying that illegal
stock tips from Mr. Davis helped him generate some $40 million in profits
and avoided losses. They also charged Mr. Davis, who has agreed to plead
guilty and who is cooperating against Mr. Walters,"
stated the NY Times.
KTNV TV News
in Las Vegas headlined their May 19 lead story, "Sports gambler Billy
Walters released on $1M bond," and showed a video
of a disheveled Walters leaving jail.
The May 19 Daily Beast headlined:
"Las Vegas Bigshot Billy Walters Is Accused of Insider Trading."
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported:
"FBI arrests Las Vegas sports bettor Bill Walters in insider trading scheme."
Inside trader? Las Vegas kingmaker?
Long time INSIDE VEGAS readers will recognize
Billy Walters' name from AmericanMafia.com columns I penned in 2005 including
for the course."
I wrote about Walters having an ungodly
influence over local politicians. To his dismay, I had written how he held
political fund raisers at his Bali
Hai Golf Club at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. There, he would
invite his moneyed friends (including his business partner Las Vegas
Sun publisher Brian Greenspun) to contribute to the political candidates
of his choice while enjoying a lavish dinner.
I alleged that Walters' invited guests
to his golf club to contribute cash or post dated checks to his select
group of politicians in order to avoid being accused of "bundling" political
contributions, money that may not have been declared on the candidate's
financial disclosure form, or was deposited at a later date to hide the
fact that the funds were all collected on the same date in the same place.
His favored candidates would only disclose
on their campaign contribution form that Walters contributed an "In kind"
donation for what he called "food and beverages," usually in the range
of several hundred dollars. However, his politician friends were
greatly indebted to him knowing that the cash and checks received at Bali
Hai Golf Club were because of Billy Walters' sole efforts, and many paid
him back generously while they were in public office - often at taxpayer's
In ex-LV city councilman Michael McDonald's
case, the then-city official spearheaded the sale of 160 acres of city
owned land to Walters for pennies on the dollar, and is now living in a
Pinto Lane mansion owned by one of Walters' companies, CLUB BR, LLC.
This was one of Walters' biggest scores
in his Sin City history.
In 2005, I also authored several articles
for Travel Golf Magazine about Billy. He tried to have the articles
removed, but the publisher of Travel Golf, a national publication,
refused. In a desperate move, Walters acquired Travel Golf, changed
its name, and removed my articles. Below are links to the articles he removed.
Please read them because they were a harbinger to this month's national
headlines about the man (Editor's
Note: Why is it that so many people Steve writes about in his column end
up in the slammer?):
The above banned articles describe in detail
what many in Las Vegas believe is just another example of Billy Walters'
insider trading, and the ill-effect it has on average citizens.
In 1999, when Walters bought the city land,
"Councilman" McDonald's only income was his $33,000 per year council salary,
and he lived in a tiny bungalow valued at $46,140 by the Clark County Assessor.
Today, Michael McDonald is Chairman of
the Nevada Republican Party, and lives in Billy Walters' luxurious 2520
Pinto Lane house.
The house is valued at over one million
dollars, features a twelve car garage, and sits on an acre in one of Las
Vegas' most plush neighborhoods near Rancho and Alta Drives. McDonald's
salary as chairman of the state GOP barely covers the estate's utility
bills, and he has no other known income.
McDonald purchased the home in 2005, but
was about to lose it in a 2009 bankruptcy when Walters stepped in to buy
the property while allowing McDonald to remain its sole resident. Its not
currently known whether McDonald pays Walters rent for living in the rescued
In 1999, Michael McDonald. as a LV Councilman,
fought for Walters' ability to purchase the 160 taxpayer-owned acres for
only $894,000 ($5,600 per acre) when adjacent land was selling for $30,000
- $40,000 per acre according to county records. McDonald did so based on
the promise that Walters would charge low green fees for locals, and accept
a permanent deed restriction to limit the land's use to golf course
only. McDonald argued vehemently that the $894,000 was desperately
needed for parks. He and then-Mayor Jan Jones scoffed at protesters including
a certified land appraiser who testified that multiple parks could be built
if the city would sell the 160 acres at fair market value.
After the land appraiser told the council
that the land was worth more than $40,000 per acre at the time of the hearing,
Jones angrily held up a front page article I authored, and said, 'I know
what ex-councilman Steve Miller thinks is true, and I take exception. Land
is worth what land is worth. You can speculate. Maybe someday this will
be worth a lot of money. Maybe it won't."
Soon thereafter, Walters was charging everyone,
including locals, $200 - $260 in green fees. Then to add insult to injury,
he began selling "golf course frontage" for $130,000 per acre, and later
on was accused of letting the fairways and other facilities deteriorate,
claiming the golf course was a failure and he needed to have the deed restriction
removed so he could redevelop the land into a higher and better use.
In 2005, after many more Bali Hai political
fund raisers, Bill Walters was allowed to sell the once-city-owned land
for $54 million, the same year Michael McDonald moved into his Pinto Lane
Five times over the] past two decades,
state and federal law enforcement agencies have investigated Walters, but
on all occasions he got off. Previously, all the investigations were conducted
by Nevada based agencies where Walters is known to wield powerful influence.
In one case, former Nevada Attorney General George Chanos paid a San Francisco
based law firm $250,000 to investigate Walters and his ties to Michael
McDonald, then-City of Las Vegas Public Works Director Richard Goecke,
and former LV Mayors Jan Jones and Oscar Goodman. Chanos requested all
of my stories about Walters, and I was interviewed twice in person by his
In 2007, Chanos opted to not run for re-election.
Catherine Cortez-Masto was elected to replace him as Nevada A.G.
Cortez-Masto's first order of business after being sworn in was to drop
the Walters investigation.
The current indictment was issued by the
New York office of the FBI, and is not expected to be influenced by Nevada
MORE INFORMATION ON CHAIRMAN McDONALD: