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U.S. Feds Seize Gambling Domain Names

Published April 16, 2011

Five domain names associated with popular gambling sites have been seized and eleven defendants indicted who have been charged with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offences.

Additionally, the US Government has seized assets and frozen over 75 bank accounts associated with those involved.

The FBI and United States Attorney Southern District of New York issued a joint statement stating the defendants, eight of whom reside full or part-time outside the United States, lied to banks about the nature of their business and knew that dealings with U.S. based customers and banks was illegal.

The United States established the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act ("UIGEA") in 2006, which outlawed gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments from illegal online gambling and the government alleges companies involved, located offshore, continued operating in the United States. The press release references an announcement by one of the companies soon after the Act was was written into law, effectively thumbing its nose at the legislation and stating its intent to continue its operations.

It's alleged that due to U.S. banks refusing to do business, some of the defendants arranged for the money received from U.S. gamblers to be submitted as payments to online merchants selling other merchandise - but the merchants never existed. Some of the defendants are payment processors who were complicit with the transactions. When the ruse was uncovered and accounts shut down in 2009, the U.S government alleges the defendants persuaded the principals of a few small, local struggling banks to continue the processing of payments in exchange for investment in the institutions.

The Indictment and Civil Complaint seek at least $3 billion in civil money laundering penalties and forfeiture from the companies and the defendants. Lengthy jail sentences will also be sought.

The domain names seized in the incident now display U.S government messages stating the FBI has taken control of the domains and the nature of the seizure.

In Australia, the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) makes it an offence to provide an interactive gambling service to a person located in Australia and applies to all interactive gambling companies, whether based in Australia or overseas.

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