One of the co-founders of World Sports Exchange (WSEX), Steve Schillinger, passed away on the weekend. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, 60-year-old Schillinger was found in his Antigua apartment by neighbours who had gone there to invite him to a social function. According to Antigua police, Schillinger had a single gunshot wound to the head and a pistol was found next to his body.
The tragic death came during unfortunate times for Schillinger and the company he founded along with Jay Cohen and Hayden Ware. WSEX was forced to stop its business activities due to what was described on its website as “inadequate capitol resources”. This had followed reports that the company had been slow in paying players their funds for at least a year. Given the latest announcement, the likelihood of WSEX having the ability to pay players their money does not seem very high.
Reports dating back to 2011 suggested that WSEX may have owed at least $300,000 to players who were subscribed to its service. A report last year suggested that the figure was more than double that at $700,000, which WSEX blamed on processor issues. WSEX decided to shut down its exclusively dedicated poker service, World Poker Exchange, in February 2012 due to its debts and dwindling popularity among players.
Schillinger, Ware and Cohen, who had all worked as stock traders in the US, launched World Sports Exchange in November 1996 after relocating to the Caribbean island nation of Antigua some time before. WSEX attained some popularity and success after the launch, perhaps due to it being one of the few offshore online gambling services of its time. Schillinger likened WSEX to “combining the stock market with sports gambling.”
By 1998, the three co-founders were charged by the US for violating the 1961 Wire Wager Act due to the availability of WSEX to US citizens. Schillinger, along with Ware, refused to go to the US and answer the charges, maintaining that he did not break US law as, in his view, betting on WSEX took place in Antigua. Cohen, on the other hand, did face the charges imposed on him, was found guilty and sentenced to 21 months in prison before being released in March 2004.
Despite the failure and debts of WSEX, Schillinger had been described by those who knew and met him as cheerful, smart and generous. He is survived by two children, who are believed to be living in the United States.