Exploring the “Very Predatory” World of Illegal Betting That Tempted Shohei Ohtani’s Interpreter

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In a narrative that unfolded through conflicting accounts, Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, initially disclosed to ESPN that they had accessed Ohtani’s bank account together multiple times in 2023, wiring increments of $500,000 to Mathew Bowyer, an alleged illegal bookmaker under federal investigation.

However, shortly after Mizuhara retracted his initial statements and was dismissed by the Dodgers, Ohtani revealed to the public that the interpreter had stolen the money to settle his gambling debts.

The perplexing question arising from both versions of the story was: Why would a bookmaker extend a line of credit amounting to at least $4.5 million to someone reportedly earning an $85,000 salary as an interpreter for the Los Angeles Angels? This question became more comprehensible to those familiar with the intricate dynamics of gambling markets.

Chris Grove, a gambling industry entrepreneur and investor, explained, “Credit is the lifeblood of illegal bookmakers. So we shouldn’t be surprised when an illegal bookmaker utilizes credit to attract a high-value customer, especially when that customer has shown they are good for it.”

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani (Credits: KTSM 9 News)

This scandal not only captured the attention of the baseball world but also shed light on the intertwined relationship between gambling and sports consumption. Despite Ohtani’s denial of betting on baseball or any other sports and the absence of accusations against him, Major League Baseball launched an investigation. Concurrently, the IRS’s Los Angeles field office collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security to probe Mizuhara and Bowyer.

Furthermore, this narrative provided insight into the clandestine world of illegal bookmaking. Even though the majority of states have legalized sports betting following the Supreme Court’s decision in 2018, a significant portion of Americans still engage in illegal gambling activities. According to a 2022 report by the American Gaming Association, Americans wagered a total of $63.8 billion with illegal bookies and offshore sites in 2021.

The allure of credit plays a pivotal role in attracting bettors to illegal bookmakers. Experts in the field emphasize that bettors are drawn to these operations due to factors such as privacy, tax evasion, the absence of betting limits, and convenience. Despite the rise of legal betting platforms, the illegal market thrives by offering services and incentives that regulated platforms cannot match.

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani (Credits: Tribune Chronicle)

The investigation into Bowyer is reminiscent of previous cases, such as the one involving former minor-league baseball player Wayne Nix. Nix’s operation demonstrated the modernization of illegal gambling practices, relying on websites and telephone lines rather than traditional methods.

The personal relationships cultivated by bookies with their clients, alongside various incentives and leniency in debt repayment, further contribute to the appeal of illegal bookmaking. These factors, coupled with the absence of legal consequences for bettors, reinforce the persistence of illegal gambling activities despite regulatory efforts.

Mizuhara’s case underscores the predatory nature of illegal bookmaking, where individuals struggling with addiction are exploited through the provision of credit. Despite the risks involved, bettors often find themselves ensnared in a cycle of debt, highlighting the darker aspects of the gambling industry.


By Christopher Kamila

I am an experienced content writer with a specialization in WordPress. I have written engaging articles for various websites that have achieved a total of 5,500 monthly views. In addition, I have played a key role in boosting their organic traffic by 30% and achieving top Google rankings through SEO. My passion lies in creating user-friendly content.

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