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Flyers' Roenick Spent Thousands For Betting Tips

Monday, August 16, 2004; Page D02

Flyers star Jeremy Roenick paid more than $100,000 to a Florida firm that made millions selling betting tips to gamblers, law enforcement officials told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Roenick was never the target of an investigation and was not involved in any illegal activity, said Lee County Sheriff's Capt. Mike Johnston, who worked with the FBI on an investigation of the firm.

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Investigators said they found no evidence Roenick bet on hockey.

In an interview with the newspaper for yesterday's editions, Roenick said he was a client of National Sports Consultants and had bet on sports for years. But Roenick said he had paid the Fort Myers firm much less for tips, with total bets between $50,000 and $100,000.

"I enjoyed it, but I don't think I had a problem," Roenick said. "I shut it off cold turkey."

Roenick said he stopped gambling in January after a warning from Flyers General Manager Bob Clarke. Roenick said the Flyers did not know about his association with the tip service.

A Flyers spokesman said yesterday the team was declining comment until it had all the facts.

Messages left yesterday by the Associated Press with Roenick's agent and Johnston were not immediately returned.

Roenick's name was discovered during an investigation of the firm. Eleven of the firm's handicappers have pleaded guilty to federal gambling charges that they falsely claimed to have inside information about games and took kickbacks from offshore Internet casinos.

Johnston said only that Roenick's bets were all made within the year prior to the operation's closing.

Unlike the NFL, the NHL does not ban players from betting on team sports -- other than hockey -- or associating with gamblers. Six of the firm's handicappers told the newspaper that Roenick paid for tips on football and basketball.

Roenick, a forward who played with the Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes before joining the Flyers in 2001, is to earn $7 million next season.

"People should just understand that gambling is dangerous, and you can get hurt from it," he said. "I learned the hard way."

-- From News Services


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