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Online Casinos Industry Can Only Meet Overseas
Toronto’s tourism Web site promises warm spring weather and hundreds
of great restaurants. But for a group of Internet gambling executives
gathering today in Toronto, the absence of American law enforcement
authorities may also be a big draw.
Operators of overseas online casinos – an industry with millions of
American customers- are under threat of prosecution because much of what
they do is illegal in the United States. According to legal experts and
the organizers of the conference, called the Global Interactive Gaming
Summit and Expo, the operators could face arrest if they entered the
"They’re exiles," I. Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School in
California, said of Americans who have moved overseas to run Internet
gambling sites. Although there may not be warrants for their arrest, Mr.
Rose said, "they can’t be sure." The Justice Department did not respond
to questions about the legal status of operators of overseas online
That the conference is being held outside the United States – even
though nearly half of all online bets are placed by people in the United
States – shows the legal tangle the industry faces.
The federal government contends that under the Wire Wager Act it is
illegal to offer sports wagering over the Internet. And the Interactive
Gaming Council, a trade association for online casinos, has in the last
several months asked five online sports betting sites to resign their
Legal experts said that while it is not clear whether federal law
forbids forms of gambling other than sports betting, many states make
all online gambling illegal.
Keith Furlong, deputy director of the council, said lawmakers might be
more flexible on the issue of legalizing online casino gambling than
sports betting, given the federal law.
"This was a political decision dictated by the U.S. market," Mr. Furlong
said of the move to drop sports sites from the organization. He added
that the council’s members felt "they would have more success advocating
for" licensing of casino gambling without being hampered by the question
of sports wagering.
Online casinos are legal in some countries, among them Britain and Costa
Rica, where many sports betting operations are based. Indeed, the World
Trade Organization ruled in March that the United States was in
violation of its free trade obligations by prohibiting Internet
entire article at:
The Wilmington Star
2004 Online Casino News Archive