Internet Gambling Crimes
This month, three Florida men and their corporate front were found guilty of money laundering, racketeering, and conducting an illegal gambling business. The men were charged and convicted in federal court for their central roles in operating the sports betting site Legendz Sports, starting in 2003 and running through 2013. The website was part of a massive sports betting ring, involving several related gambling sites hosted in Costa Rica and Panama in an attempt to avoid the reach of the federal government, as well as bookies posted in several states to take bets both online and in person. Over a billion dollars of illegal gambling proceeds were laundered through various shell companies before being pocketed by the individuals who were convicted. Their company will be subject to civil and criminal forfeitures, in amounts that remain to be determined, and the three perpetrators will be sentenced later on this spring.
Prosecution of Unlawful Internet Gambling
Much of internet gambling operates in a legal grey area, because the application of laws in the internet is still being sorted out. The main law on the books is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, passed in 2006. It makes operating an online gambling business unlawful, prohibiting website owners from knowingly accepting payments in connection with a bet or wager. The act does not criminalize the placing of bets, but instead targets those who accept the bets. In order for an action to be penalized under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, it must first be unlawful under any federal or state law, and must also involve use of the internet.
The law does not provide a blanket prohibition on online gambling, however. Fantasy sports are specifically excluded from the statute, and as such, businesses can legally accept bets from online bettors. The law is silent on many other activities, however, including interstate betting on horse racing. Common examples of internet gambling that is considered criminal activity by the federal government, and where enforcement efforts have generally focused, include:
- Taking sports bets on a server located in the U.S.;
- Taking sports bets over U.S. phone lines;
- Taking sports bets on a foreign server;
- Facilitating the transfer of funds to online casinos (payment processors), and then visiting the U.S; and
- Accepting advertising for Internet gambling, in the major media.
Let Us Help You Today
With less than 20 years of legal precedent, the laws governing internet gambling are constantly taking shape, with new regulations, cases and statutes on the state and federal level always emerging. In this quickly evolving legal landscape, Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. will work to help you avoid criminal charges. If you have been charged, we can counsel you on your options and represent you in state or federal proceedings. We have years of experience working with internet and computer crimes, and we adapt quickly to new developments in the law and prosecution strategies. Contact our office today to schedule a complimentary consultation on your internet crime case.