5Dimes a Lady: Long-Term Offshore Operator Aims to Secure Legal US Market Place

Author Thomas Wolf
February 22, 2021 3 min read

One of the most famous names in the offshore US betting market, 5-Dimes, is pushing for a place on the list of certified operators in new US markets.

The operator has one of the most interesting histories of any well-known gambling operator, including massive fines and the unsolved 2019 kidnapping and eventual murder of its founder Tony Creighton.

5-Dimes started back in the 1990s and has illegally served US customers from its Costa Rica base since then. Although entirely against US law, 5-Dimes has developed a reputation as one of the more trustworthy offshore betting sites – as its longevity suggests.

However, since cutting off its US customers in September 2020, the company has pivoted towards a potential entry into the newly-legal US markets.

It settled with the US Department of Justice for $47 million last year and is now reportedly eyeing up the legal New Jersey market as its entry point.

Pivotal Moments

The driving force behind this change has been Mr. Creighton’s widow, Laura Varela. Mr. Creighton was close to a guilty plea at the time of his kidnapping and eventual murder.

His widow has carried on that sentiment but was allowed to keep the 5Dimes business as long as she ceased handling all bets from US customers.

5Dimes also takes legal bets from all over the world from its Costa Rica base. It turns over an estimated $2 billion in bets a year and employs around 300 people, all of whom will keep their jobs under the current plan.

“The Department of Justice understood. I felt their sympathy throughout this long process, I am very, very happy and very excited the agreement reflects the fact that I was never involved in any of the wrongdoing.”

Varela to the Philadelphia Enquirer in 2020.

The DOJ’s inquiry found that Ms. Varela had not directly participated in any wrongdoing. Much of her husband’s illicit fortune was confiscated – but she kept the legal parts of the 5Dimes brand and operation under her control.

New License

In the latest piece of news to the story, 5Dimes has secured an Isle of Man betting license, further putting it on the path to becoming a fully legitimate international operator.

An Isle of Man license isn’t the most respected in the world, but it’s a step up from the Costa Rica license the company currently owns.

It allows 5-Dimes to legally serve European customers for a start. This may eventually prove to US regulators that the operator is capable and trusted to run a fully legal operation.

“The Isle of Man sets high standards for its gaming operators and players, and we look forward to upholding the same level of principles and innovation with the launch of 5Dimes. This license is an exciting milestone for the 5Dimes brand”

Laura Varela

Existing US customers of the 5Dimes brand who have yet to withdraw their balances have had their funds transferred to a third-party administrator who will attempt to contact them and return the money.

Any customers who haven’t provided the correct contact details or otherwise can’t be reached by September 30, 2021, will have their funds claimed by the US government. 

Author Thomas Wolf


Thomas Wolf

396 articles

Thomas Wolf is our editor in chief. With an extensive background in online gambling (both working for casino operators and game studios) as well as an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, he's a proper authority on online casinos. When not running the day to day operations or reviewing new operators Thomas is a blackjack aficionado with some seriously big wins recorded at land-based casinos in both Las Vegas, Monaco and Macau.

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