US Gamblers To Get Frozen Assets Back, Feds Still Looking For A Crime

from the there-must-be-a-crime-somewhere dept

Are the Feds going soft in the war on online gambling? For the last couple of months, gamblers in the US have been stuck in limbo as popular money transfer firm NETeller was unable to return to them funds that were being held by the company. While the government has gone after online gambling firms and the financial institutions that abet the business, it's not clear that the actual act of placing a bet online is illegal, so it didn't make sense to victimize gamblers themselves. It now appears that NETeller has reached a deal with the Department of Justice to return $55 million in frozen assets at some point in the next 75 days, although the details of this transfer have yet to spelled out. It's great that the DOJ is concerned about getting people their money back, but it appears it might have an ulterior motive here. As part of the agreement, NETeller will undergo a complete forensic audit that will allow the Feds a detailed look into how the whole business works. It bears repeating that NETeller isn't itself an online gambling firm. It's basically the European version of PayPal, and, as PayPal used to do, it helps people transfer money to online casinos. The company's founders were arrested back in January, but so far haven't been formally charged with anything, so it seems as if this forensic audit is basically a way for the Feds to figure out what, if anything, the NETeller founders can be charged with. Meanwhile, the cost and effort associated with this whole anti-gambling push continues to escalate, and it's still not clear who the victims are or why this is a government priority at all.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 8:37am


    NETeller founders have been arrested but yet to be charged. Now all of a sudden DOJ wants to run a full all out audit on them.

    That's a fishing expedition if I ever heard one.

    I'm willing to bet that somehow the Feds will end up with a list of all the customers that do business iwth NETeller.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    simon, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:07am

    mony lounder

    as usual when it comes of casinos... money lounder from drugs/weapon trade, IRS stand-off... whatever..

    if they can't control-it proper, like any other financial enterprise, they don't want-it, period.

    if they would had wilder activity, no suspicion. casinos ... fast money moving under real cover operations, easy to infiltrate and outcast lots of money, no questions asked... well, catches eyes pretty fast...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:32am

    Re: mony lounder

    I didn't understand a word of that. Please don't post if you can't make coherent sentences. "But English isn't my first language," you say? Great, then go post somewhere your language is spoken.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    PopeRatzo, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:35am

    Another example of the fact that despite all the lip service from conservative Americans about the "free market", they really don't want a free market at all.

    What they want is a market that is free for them to plunder.


    Forget evangelical christianity, the real religion of the conservatives is rapacious greed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    _Jon, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:38am

    Geeze, has Congress appointed another "Special Prosecutor" that needs to justify his jihad?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 10:41am

    Re: Re: mony lounder

    I think he/she was pointing out that online gambling is an example of the government wanting to eliminate something that it cannot control.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    old_devil, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 11:09am


    From abroad it is frightening to see what bin Laden and Bush have done to to America. It seems that freedom is constantly under attack in a country which claims to be the apex of global freedom. Why are American citizens allowing this to happen? Is it that Democracy has been replaced by Idiocracy earlier than predicted by the movie of the same name?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Matt, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: mony lounder

    another great example of someone who comes and has nothing relevant to say so they just bitch about someone's grammar.

    on topic.. this is just another example of the Feds using their limitless power to stick their noses into everything we do...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Disgusted, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 1:02pm

    All I have to say is Ewww......

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 1:32pm

    related to this - apparently the ban on online gambling in the USA - but allowing it inside the states, is against free-trade agreements:

    The Commission for the European Union has demanded that countries that promote domestic gambling but do not allow out of country sports betting or Internet gambling must open up their borders or risk being taken to court.
    So far, it's Denmark, Finland, and Hungary that face prosecution if they continue to promote internal gambling without allowing free trade for online gaming compaies, but the same legislation could be used to go after the United States, which is in contravention of both EU and WTO rules since it banned Internet wagering last year

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 1:54pm

    Just say NO to no limit!

    Online gambling is the replacement for the failed grass roots drug wars of the 80's. We need Nancy Reagan!

    "Just say NO to no limit! (Unless it is in a state and federally sanctioned (ie: taxed) casino)."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 5:35pm

    gambling's bad... umm kay

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    .., Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 3:49am

    Illegal under Right to Financial Privacy Act 1978

    That is so illegal its incredible the DOJ lawyers don't remind them it's a criminal offense to do it.

    There is a US law, "Right to Financial Privacy Act" and that law protects peoples financial transactions from WARRANTLESS searches. They can only get it through a proper subpoena, or by making a request to the customer concerned and then only for targetted searches not fishing expeditions like this one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 7:45am


    Surely there must have been reasonable suspicion that the NETeller staff arrested were involved in criminal activity before they were arrrested. However, what they did outside the USA is outside US juristiction, so thay would not ahve committed any crime under US Law. Furthermore, there is the question of chrages, since if they are not charged, they would have to be set free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    BTR1701, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 12:18pm


    > but the same legislation could be used
    > to go after the United States, which is
    > in contravention of both EU and WTO
    > rules

    The WTO is one thing since the US voluntarily signed on to that organization, but since when is the US required to follow EU rules?

    We're not a member of the EU and the EU has no legal authority to bind the US to anything, certainly not in the sense of proseucting us in court.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    jim, Jun 6th, 2007 @ 3:30am

    Online Gambling US

    These days gambling games are loosing popularity due to US laws. Several offshore gaming websites have suffered a major set back after FBI started poking its nose in poker and casino related gambling websites. There is a danger of the US government popularising badly regulated offshore gambling sites.The US legislation, approved by President George W Bush, is expected to hit UK firms, as it closes off a large part of the global market. Costa Rica, the country which hosts the most internet gambling sites in the world, advertises its "lack" of regulation. A Casino Website based in Costa Rica says: "When you use an Online Casino based in Costa Rica you are playing at your own risk and you are at the mercy of the online casino's good faith to fulfil its representations."Casinos may decide at their own discretion not to pay what you have earned and there is no way you can collect those monies since it is illegal in Costa Rica to collect money based on gambling." It is quite strange the U.S govt is also planning to ban non-gambling related websites. So basically any website which promotes the idea of online games are under sctrutiny. Several recreation gaming websites are facing the brunt of U.S gambling laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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