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Shohei Ohtani's ex-interpreter was really bad at sports betting, according to court documents

Lloyd Lee   

Shohei Ohtani's ex-interpreter was really bad at sports betting, according to court documents
  • Ippei Mizuhara was charged with stealing more than $16 million from the Dodgers' superstar Shohei Ohtani.
  • Mizuhara, Ohtani's ex-interpreter, used the money to pay off a gambling debt, federal prosecutors alleged.

Ippei Mizuhara, Shoehei Ohtani's now former interpreter, was charged on Thursday with stealing more than $16 million from the Dodgers superstar ballplayer.

Federal prosecutors accused Mizuhara of using Ohtani's money to pay off a massive gambling debt; he was charged by authorities with bank fraud.

Mizuhara's attorney declined to comment.

According to the federal complaint, records showed that Mizuhara had won $142.3 million in bets but lost more than $182 million, leaving a total net loss of about $40.7 million.

"I'm terrible at this sport betting thing huh? Lol," Mizuhara wrote before proceeding to ask to place another bet, according to the documents.

But just how "terrible" is he?

Federal prosecutors alleged in the complaint that Mizuhara placed about 19,000 wagers between December 2021 and January 2024.

The complaint doesn't say exactly how much money Mizuhara placed in bets each time, but federal prosecutors alleged that the average amount he wagered was roughly $12,800.

His total net balance was negative $40,678,435.94, the complaint said.

That's not great, even in the fickle world of gambling, according to Tim Williams, the director of public relations for BetUS, an online sports betting platform.

The typical returns in sports betting would depend on the type of bets Mizuhara placed, Williams told Business Insider.

For example, straight bets or a moneyline wager involves betting on a single game or contest. For straight bets, the "house edge" — the percentage profit a casino or a betting platform like BetUS can make off a bet — is around 5%, Williams said, or 5 cents for every dollar.

With these types of bets, Mizuhara's negative return is almost "unheard of," Williams said.

The BetUS director told BI that, according to the allegations made in the federal charges, Mizuhara did worse than someone placing bets as if they were "throwing darts" or "throwing spaghetti on the wall."

There are some wagers, however, that are riskier, including parlays or long shot wagers, in which a bettor is not depending on the outcome of a single event or contest but, say, the winner of a championship, which depends on the outcome of multiple games.

In those cases, Williams said he could imagine where people may get the kind of returns Ohtani's former interpreter saw.

Prosecutors don't say what kind of bets Mizuhara was placing. They alleged in the complaint that records don't indicate "any bets on baseball games."

Overall, the number of wagers and the amount of money Mizuhara is accused of working with themselves are so bad that Williams wanted to preface the interview with BI by stating that BetUS would "never take action like that."

Williams surmised that the high wagers Mizuhara placed indicate an "illegal" operation with a "predatory" bookmaker.

In March, reports from the Los Angeles Times and ESPN, Mizuhara was accused of wiring millions of dollars to a suspected bookmaker Mathew Bowyer, from accounts in Ohtani's name. Bowyer has not been charged with a crime, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Bowyer's attorney, Diane Bass, declined to comment to Business Insider.

Legal sports betting is predicted to become a $45-billion business, according to Goldman Sachs. Some forms of sports betting are legal in at least 38 states, according to the American Gaming Association. It is illegal in California.

Other forms of sports betting, including betting with offshore books or with unlicensed bookmakers, remain illegal, according to the association.

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