New details emerge in alleged gambling ring behind Shohei Ohtani-Ippei Mizuhara scandal

FILE - Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani walks with interpreter Ippei Mizuhara at batting practice during spring training baseball workouts in Phoenix on Feb. 12, 2024. The former longtime interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani has been charged with federal bank fraud for crimes involving gambling debts and theft of millions of dollars from the slugger. Federal authorities announced the development Thursday, April 11, at a press conference in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Shohei Ohtani is still just playing baseball after being all but cleared in the Ippei Mizuhara scandal. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

If you were curious about what exactly happened to Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani’s money after it was allegedly stolen by his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, a new report from ESPN’s Tisha Thompson has shed new light on the situation.

The man at the center of the alleged illegal gambling ring that received Ohtani’s money was Mathew Bowyer, who has been under investigation by federal authorities since last year. Ohtani was only roped into the scandal when authorities noticed his bank information among the payments to Bowyer.

Mizuhara reportedly funneled weekly $500,000 payments from Ohtani’s bank account to an associate of Bowyer’s to cover his illegal gambling losses. ESPN reports that associate would then deposit the money into accounts with Resorts World, a Las Vegas casino opened in 2021, and Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, California.

Bowyer and the associate would then allegedly convert the money to playing chips, gamble with it and cash out if they won. Bowyer reportedly lost $7.9 million at Resorts World from June 2022 to October 2023, a span of time in which he was receiving money from Mizuhara.

This is all apparently part of a much larger trend in the gambling world in which illegal bookies in Southern California use Las Vegas casinos to launder money. Twelve people have reportedly been charged and convicted, while two Vegas casinos have agreed to pay fines.

There’s even a tangential connection to LeBron James. The Los Angeles Lakers star’s friend and business partner, Maverick Carter, reportedly admitted late last year that he bet on NBA games via an illegal bookie. ESPN reports that bookie, Wayne Nix, has since pleaded guilty to operating an illegal gambling business and filing a false tax return. NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen and former MLB star Yasiel Puig also reportedly made bets through Nix.

In the case of Bowyer, he reportedly boasted more than 600 bettors and was known as a whale in Vegas, with a reputation for bringing between $250,000 and $1 million with him as often as two or three times per month.

As far as Ohtani, the Dodgers and MLB, the Ippei Mizuhara situation is in the rear-view mirror.

Mizuhara turned himself in on a federal charge of bank fraud earlier this month and is currently out on $25,000 bond. His attorney released a statement soon after indicating Mizuhara’s desire to cut a deal with prosecutors rather than go to trial, in which he would face up to 30 years in prison:

Today Mr. Mizuhara voluntarily surrendered, made his initial appearance, and was released on bond as agreed to with the government. He is continuing to cooperate with the legal process and is hopeful that he can reach an agreement with the government to resolve this case as quickly as possible so that he can take responsibility.

He wishes to apologize to Mr. Ohtani, the Dodgers, Major League Baseball, and his family. As noted in court, he is also eager to seek treatment for his gambling. We have no further comment at this time, but Mr. Mizuhara will be providing further comment as the legal process proceeds.

To date, no reports of a deal have materialized, but that doesn’t mean negotiations aren’t happening.

Meanwhile, MLB has released a statement recognizing that authorities see Ohtani as a victim, leaving them little to investigate.

This is about as good of an outcome as Ohtani and his people could have hoped for after his name popped up on an illegal bookie’s ledger, but it remains a very sad situation. It has become clear that Mizuhara was both very close to Ohtani and suffered from enormous issues with gambling addiction.

Now, Ohtani is just focusing on baseball again, while Mizuhara is sorting out an unenviable legal situation.

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