Sportingbet, a London, England-based gambling company, has been ordered to pay $33 million in a non-prosecution settlement to resolve a long-time suit with United States prosecutors. Sportingbet was charged with disregarding the United States’ ban on Internet gambling and accepting payments from American gamblers. In addition to the $33 lawsuit brought against Sportingbet, its chairman was briefly imprisoned in 2006 as a result of the same dispute. Peter Dicks was arrested at John F. Jennedy International Airport during a business trip to New York, NY and held at Rikers Island prison complex before being allowed to return to Britain.
Sportingbet ceded to the fact that it purposely attempted to conceal the fact that it was dealing with American gamblers by masking winnings paid out to these individuals, as well as accepting various payment methods that were designed to hide the fact that many of its clients were American citizens and therefore prohibited by American law to participate in online gambling activities.
The United States’ declaration of online gambling as illegal has resulted in other lawsuits brought against foreign gambling companies that have continued to do business with American gamblers, despite its illegality. In April 2009, Partygaming, one of Sportingbet’s rival companies, reached a $105 million deal as a result of similar charges. Other gambling executives have been required to serve prison time as a result of their firm’s actions; David Carruthers, the former head of Betonsports, a gaming company, was sentenced in January 2010 to 33 months in prison for organizing an illegal gambling racket.
US law makers have argued that allowing American gamblers to participate in online sports gambling and games such as poker through online gambling sites based in England and other countries results in significant amounts of money flowing out of the gamblers’ home country and that it is an inappropriate act that circumvents a gambling company’s gaming license.
American gamblers may no longer have to seek out foreign online gambling sites to do their gambling, as congressional Democrats have been working on a bill that would repeal the 2006 Act that deemed online gambling as illegal. With the Federal deficit so large and continually increasing, it is becoming more and more difficult for members of the Federal Government to ignore the billion and billions of dollars in tax revenues that legalizing online gambling would bring. This proposal may come to an end after the November elections, however, if the Republican Party, many of whose members strongly oppose the repeal of the Act, gains control of the House.