If you’ve been following the astronomical rise of sports betting in the United States, there’s one name that you have likely heard: Vegas Dave.
Of course, Vegas Dave is not his birth name. His real name is Dave Oancea. And perhaps you have heard his name bouncing around the internet streets, posting outrageous videos to Instagram or bragging about his betting prowess on Twitter.
Or maybe, you saw him claiming to be the world’s #1 sports information consultant on one of his TV appearances. Believe it or not a guy going by the moniker, Vegas Dave, has appeared on all of the major networks: ESPN, Fox Sports, Yahoo Sports, Showtime…
The list goes on and on.
The point being—whether you love him or hate him, Dave is undeniably part of the sports betting ecosystem—and he is likely here to stay. So let’s take a look into this oft discussed character and see if he has earned the self proclaimed accolades!
The Early Years for Vegas Dave
Dave Oancea was born on December 10, 1976. And despite what his moniker might suggest, he was not actually born in Las Vegas, but rather in balmy Saline, Michigan. He spent most of his formative years in Ann Arbor, Michigan, near the University of Michigan.
Just because he grew up near one of the most notable universities in America, it didn’t mean he was destined to be a scholar.
Instead, in 1997 at the age of 21 he moved to Hawaii. There, he allegedly became stricken with sports betting. At least that’s how he explained it to Forbes when they did a piece on him back in September 2020.
“I bet $300 on a Titans and Raiders game and lost. But I fell in love with sports betting.”
It was then that he made the first of a series of—erhm—questionable decisions. He informed his parents that he had plans to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Then he picked up anchor from Hawaii, and set sail for Sin City, USA.
Dave Takes on Vegas
When Oancea told his parents about his plan to move to Las Vegas, he wasn’t lying. But he certainly left out some of the key details of his plan. Like I mentioned, he told them he was going to Vegas to attend the University of Nevada. And while he allegedly did take out a $10,000 student loan, he never actually used it for school.
Dave claims that he took it all and put it on red during a game of roulette. He alleges he won, doubled his funds, and from that moment forth—Vegas Dave was born.
According to the Forbes article, all that glittered for Dave was not gold, and his winning streak fizzled out. Within one year of moving to Las Vegas, Oancea filed a voluntary petition for personal bankruptcy. According to the official court documents, the man who claims to be Vegas’ most potent sports bettor had just $820 in assets at the time.
Vegas Dave Deploys Some Shady Tactics
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a grown man that goes by the name Vegas Dave, the entirety of Oancea’s operation was not exactly legitimate.
After the rough patch he hit early on in his career, Dave decided to do what many down and out gamblers do. Scheme.
His scheme of choice, you ask? Oancea allegedly began to place a plethora of bets at different sportsbooks under fraudulent Social Security numbers. According to court documents, he started this practice as early as 2007.
His plunge into the seedy gambling nearly cost Dave everything. The debts started to pile up and by 2010 his house was foreclosed on and he picked up a DUI. In 2013, he was arrested at the Cosmopolitan in Vegas under suspicion of possessing cocaine.
It only got worse from there too. In 2016, on the very same evening that he had to fork over $1 million on a misbet UFC fight, he got into a physical altercation with his girlfriend which led to a domestic battery charge.
And then there was the whole federal investigation thing… Yeah, by 2016 Vegas and the Feds had caught onto Oancea’s Social Security scheme. He was indicted on 19 felony charges.
Lucky for Dave, legendary Sin City defense attorney, David Chesnoff, helped him to negotiate a plea bargain. So instead of being tagged with 20 felonies, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, forfeited half a mill, and was banned from Las Vegas sportsbooks for three years.
Big Bets, Bigger Wins
You don’t become a world famous sports bettor without throwing around hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars on some extravagant wagers. And that’s exactly what Dave did.
His first highly-publicized payday came in 2015. That’s when he won 2.5 million dollars on a futures bet after the Kansas City Royals won the World Series. Then, in February 2016, he cashed in another 2.3 million dollars when the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50. Unfortunately for the popular sports handicapper, he couldn’t collect the full amount because he was still being investigated by the Feds for that aforementioned social security scam.
Dave’s Love Life
Vegas Dave hasn’t been in the public spotlight for too long, so most of his relationships haven’t received a whole lot of media attention. His most publicized relationship was easily his on-again, off-again fling with former Golf Network host Holly Sonders.
The couple first started dating back in December 2019, and a few weeks later they were already announcing their engagement. Holly was just coming off a relationship with Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, and it was looking like she had found her soulmate.
But, like most hollywood relationships, this one did not last. By April 2020, Sonders was already searching for a new partner to quarantine with during the Covid-19 pandemic. The couple did get back together that summer, but Dave broke things off once again when he found out that Holly was releasing her own version of an OnlyFans page.
Following their breakup, Dave spoke about what he looks for in a woman. During the interview, he claimed that his relationships rarely last more than a month because he ‘gets out when he sees the red flags.’ He also explained why he’ll never speak to Holly again, claiming he has no respect for women who “show their body parts for money online.”
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Dave’s Memorabilia Business
Oancea’s banishment from the sportsbooks in Vegas pushed him into the world of memorabilia collecting and sales. And as with anything Dave has done, he did it big. He has made quite a name for himself in the space.
Although much like the sports betting world, he has just as many detractors as fans in the memorabilia game.
I suppose it is the gambler in him, but for whatever reason, Dave can never seem to leave well enough alone. At every turn in his “career,” he can’t help but push the boundaries of the law.
Take 2017 for example. Oancea sold a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card for $18,000. The only problem? When the buyer brought the card to the National Sports collectors Convention in Chicago, it was determined to be a counterfeit.
And because Dave is, well, Dave… He told the buyer he did not know that it was fake and subsequently refused to give a refund.
So, Is Dave Oancea a Bad Guy?
Vegas Dave is a complicated figure. He is so popular on social media and amongst his fanbase that it is easy to overlook his shadowy behaviors.
The simplest way to sum him up, to me, is that at his core Dave is a gambler. All he sees is winning, losing, and dollar signs. And no pesky laws or moral values will get between him and that sweet green.