Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 11:09 AM
…it came as no surprise to me a couple weeks ago when Congress passed legislation which not only made financial transactions between U.S. banks and online gambling casinos illegal, but also rendered online gambling as a thriving industry in Antigua effectively out of business.
But this followed an earlier article in July in which I warned that:
…if the fate of Betonsports were not suffocating enough, what little life remained in online gaming in the Americas was effectively snuffed out on June 11 when the U.S. Congress voted overwhelmingly to pass “The Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act.” Because this Act will ban not only sports betting but all Internet gambling…period!
[Recall that Betonsports was the world’s oldest and biggest online gaming group before it was forced out of business within days after federal agents arrested its CEO, David Curruthers, at the Texas International Airport whilst he was awaiting a connecting flight to Costa Rica from London.]
However, in that same article I offered the following advice:
Therefore, I urge online gaming operators to limit their customer base to people outside the U.S. Because freedom and a market share of an industry valued at over $6 billion is clearly preferable to ending up like Cohen, Curruthers and others now in hiding….
Unfortunately, executives at NETeller, the world’s largest processor of Internet gambling transactions (think PayPal for online gamblers) based in the Isle of Man, did not heed my advice. Because just yesterday, federal authorities arrested founders John David Lefebvre and Stephen Eric Lawrence (both Canadian citizens but cuffed in California and U.S. Virgin Islands, respectively), and charged them with “funneling billions of U.S. dollars in gambling proceeds to overseas betting operations.” Of course, given the Betonsports precedent, this means that NETeller will probably cease business operations within days.
However, at least one online gambling operator appears to have taken heed. Because on Friday, perhaps in the nick of time, when eager sports gamblers logged on to place their bets, Pinnacle Sports, based in Curacao, greeted them with the following (get out of Dodge) announcement:
It is with sadness that we have chosen to leave the US market, but we are so grateful for all the customers we’ve acquired throughout the years.
Now, who wants to bet that these Pinnacle shysters will ever honor their promise to pay people whose account balances they absconded with?
Alas, as I predicted over six months ago, where online gambling – even if only remotely connected to the U.S. – is concerned, all bets are off!