While individual players are generally safe from legal retribution, illegal gambling operators must face a very different fate in the US, as demonstrated by the case of online sportsbooks Legendz Sports.
Since American gambling laws contain some strict regulations on both online gambling and sports betting, it came as no surprise that some US citizens who ran an offshore betting business ran afoul of the law very quickly.
Acting upon federal charges a US District Court in Oklahoma City indicted 34 people and 23 companies on charges of racketeering, money laundering and operating an illegal gambling business.
According to government claims, Legendz founder Bartice Alan “Luke” King (42) from Texas headed the operations, organizing online and over-the-phone wagering from Costa Rica, and then from Panama, in an attempt to circumvent US regulations.
Legendz “took wagers almost exclusively from gamblers in the United States seeking to place bets on sports,” claims the indictment.
Although there are a host of online casinos and sportsbooks based outside the US that provide American players the possibility of online and even mobile betting, there is very little the US government can do against them. Attempting to intimidate a whole country into disallowing its online casinos from soliciting American business is not a very effective thing to do, as the recent US-Bahamas conflict has shown.
In this case, however, the operations were run by American citizens, so the US government’s jurisdiction is unquestionable. According to U.S. Attorney Sanford Coats, “the defendants cannot hide the allegedly illegal sports gambling operation behind corporate veils or state and international boundaries.”
Legendz is alleged to have taken in over USD 1 billion in bets before being shut down. The government would like to see a forfeiture of at least that much in funds, as well as decades-long prison terms for the chief culprits.
So far 22 of the 34 defendants have been arrested, but King himself is still on the wanted list.