The Lookout
  • lombardi trophyThis coming Sunday, the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers will take the field in Super Bowl XLV, a sporting spectacle of the grandest scale -- and one that just gets bigger and bigger each year. It's also a huge day for American commerce, with people flocking to bars, purchasing NFL merchandise, and throwing parties where they down copious amounts of food, soft drinks and booze. But few single industries benefit as much as betting operations -- or, as they're known in their Vegas and offshore habitats, sportsbooks.

    According to recently released figures, Las Vegas sportsbooks have raked in cash nine out of the past 10 Super Bowls. The forces behind the Super Sunday gaming explosion aren't hard to single out: There's the NFL's enormous popularity and there's the boom in online gambling via offshore internet sportsbooks like Bodog.com and SportsBook.com. Taken together, these trends all but guarantee that bookmakers will be big winners this Sunday.

    Read More »from Will America lose its shirt gambling on the Super Bowl this weekend?
  • madoffYesterday we told you about a lawsuit accusing JPMorgan Chase of being "at the very center" of Bernie Madoff's $50 billion Ponzi scheme. The suit (pdf), filed by the trustee representing victims of the fraud, seeks $6.4 billion in profits and damages from the bank.

    In unusually dramatic language, the lawsuit calls Chase, which for over 20 years, served as the principal banker for Madoff's operation, "complicit" in his crimes. But how, exactly?

    In short, the trustee, Irving Picard, alleges that Chase should have known that Madoff's profits were fraudulent, and failed in its duty to adequately monitor his account's activity. The suit documents how senior bank executives expressed serious suspicions about Madoff's operation, but continued to do business with him anyway. Picard's complain also charges that when Chase finally did begin to remove most of the money it had invested in Madoff-linked funds, the bank still didn't alert government regulators to its suspicions, or freeze Madoff's account.

    Read More »from Chase exec in 07: Madoff returns ‘are speculated to be part of a Ponzi scheme’
  • Controversial Park51 imam out

    AP101001140769A controversial imam who was serving as an adviser to Park51—the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero—is stepping down from his post.

    "It is important for me now to devote my time to the completion of my book which assists English readers in understanding and facilitating the language of the Quran," said Shaykh Abdallah Adhami in a statement. "I wish the project leaders well."

    Adhami drew criticism for past comments suggesting that people who leave Islam should be imprisoned and for saying homosexuality was often rooted in a history of sexual abuse. He was appointed to the post a month ago.

    (An early conceptual sketch of Park51's design: AP)

    Read More »from Controversial Park51 imam out

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  • Factbox - Lionel Messi's 10 greatest Barcelona goals

    MADRID (Reuters) - Following is a selection of 10 of Barcelona forward Lionel Messi's greatest goals for the Spanish club. Messi on Saturday set a La Liga scoring record of 253 goals, surpassing the previous record of 251 set by former Athletic Bilbao forward Telmo Zarra six decades ago. * A floppy-haired Messi scored his first La Liga goal against Albacete in May, 2005, a delicate chip over the keeper from a Ronaldinho through ball. * The goal Messi scored against Getafe in April, 2007, has been compared to Diego Maradona's brilliant effort for Argentina against England at the 1986 World Cup. ...

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