Controversial high-stakes sports bettor turned tout “Vegas Dave” Oancea faced up to 40 years in prison on 19 felony charges, but walked out of federal court on Monday a free man, sentenced to three years probation, 150 hours of community service, and mandatory gambling treatment. He is also banned from Las Vegas sportsbooks for three years.
Oancea already a prolific gambler for a decade, rose to prominence in 2015 when he went on a terrific run, betting longshot futures. He bet $100,000 on the Kansas City Royals, picked to finish last that season, to win the World Series. When they came through, he won $2.5 million. It was the largest payout on a future bet ever. A couple weeks later, he put $20,000 on Holly Holm to beat undefeated and insanely dominant Rhonda Rousey in a UFC bout at +1,100 odds. Holm shockingly won and Oancea cashed for $240,000, a record for a UFC Bet. He also placed a future bet on the Denver Broncos the following year and won $2.3 million when the team claimed the Lombardi Trophy. He had made his name.
In 2017, though, he was indicted on charges that he used other people’s social security numbers to open player accounts at Las Vegas casinos from about February 2015 to February 2016. He claimed that he had to do that because the casinos wouldn’t take his business because he was a winning player. In the end, he pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of “causing a violation of record keeping and procedures.”
Vegas Dave is someone that is known to only a niche group of people, but the recent Showtime documentary series, “Action,” got his face and name out there to a much wider demographic. In the program, he comes off as by far the least likeable person the film crews followed, obsessed with the perception of success and how luxury items further that image. He is your classic, loud-mouthed tout, selling his sports betting picks for hundreds and even thousands of dollars a pop. On the show, he gave viewers a look at purchases being made in real time, how he made hundreds of thousands, and sometimes over a million dollars, in a single day or weekend simply selling his picks. He wasn’t making money betting; he was making money convincing people to buy his “expertise.” And when his picks lost miserably, he moved on, not seeming to care at all that he was draining people’s money.
I have no idea if he is a nice, likeable person in private, but his public persona is cringeworthy. He comes off as a combination hype man/motivational speaker/grifter.
In a 2,000+ word screed on Facebook this week, Oancea wrote, in part:
For the last three years, I’ve faced the biggest gamble of my life being indicted by the Federal Government on 19 felony counts carrying a potential sentence of 40+ years in federal prison. But true to who I am — a gambling man — I bet on myself and decided at that moment to stand up for my constitutional rights and to defend my freedom and innocence. Today, I walked out of the federal courtroom a free man with zero felonies and zero prison time.