Once several key American states get all their legal ducks in line for online gambling, we’re thinking the Department of Justice is going to go through some major staff cuts; but for now, they have job security up the ying yang. Yet another crackdown on an “illegal” operation this week, this time centered around large Costa Rica and Panama-based Legendz (aka Legends; maybe they have one site for spellers and one not so much?), a huge online sportsbook operation whose top execs are all U.S.-based, and thus subject to U.S. online gambling laws, the DoJ contends.
“Cannot Skirt Laws of U.S.”
The DoJ unsealed the just-made indictments in Oklahoma City against 34 people and another 23 companies that are connected to the online sports betting operator. (Eight of those indicted are Oklahoma City residents, it appears.) The allegations include being guilty of offering online and telephone sports betting services out of their off-shore gambling site to a player base that is pretty much all American. The 23 companies named are accused of moving money between gamblers and the Legendz site; namely, they acted as “skins” to buffer the fact that the money was coming from the U.S. and going to an online gambling site, and then back to winning players again. Of the specific people named, thirteen are said to be U.S.-based “agents” (how dark does that sound), four are accused of being “runners,” and five are said to be “bookies.” All we need is a pillory and some scarlet letters and we can throw tomatoes for these crimes against humanity like they did back in the good ol’ Puritan days of yore.
In making the indictments, Jim Finch, representing the Okie branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), noted that individuals “cannot skirts the laws of the United States by setting up illegal Internet gambling operations in a foreign country, while living in the United States and enjoying all the benefits of [being] U.S. citizens.” We bet that’s not what the attorneys for these guys told them when they set all this stuff up: whoops.
As if having the FBI up your business isn’t bad enough, the IRS, U.S. Marshall’s Service, and Homeland Security are all on board with this investigation as well. Anyone watching out for that dude in North Korea with all this manpower being dedicated to this oh-so-threatening case?
Forfeitures of Big Money
Not ones to kid around, the DoJ wants “at least $1 billion” in traceable assets turned over, including bank accounts and cash, real estate, some pretty nice cars, and a top-of-the-line private jet. This investigation apparently dates back a decade, and includes boatloads of money laundering issues with banks, credit card companies, Western Union and MoneyGram (none of which have been named in these indictments, to our knowledge.)
Looks like this betting operation just lost on its own horse.