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U.S. Steps Up Push On Online Casinos and Internet Gambling
Federal law enforcement officials routinely seize money they suspect is
connected to activities like money laundering, terrorism or drug
smuggling. But in early April, United States marshals seized $3.2
million from Discovery Communications, the television and media company,
in an aggressive effort to crack down on a new target, Internet
The money initially belonged to Tropical Paradise, a Costa Rica-based
Internet casino operation, which in October paid Discovery for
television spots to advertise an online poker room, ParadisePoker.com.
According to court documents, the government seized the money and told
Discovery, which is based in Silver Spring, Md., that it could be party
to an illegal activity by broadcasting such advertisements.
Federal prosecutors contend that online gambling sites are illegal,
but the offshore casinos fall outside their jurisdiction. So for nearly
a year, the government has been trying to curb the sites’ activities by
investigating and pressuring American companies that provide services to
offshore gambling sites on the theory that they are "aiding and
abetting" the operations.
Until now, the effort has largely involved seeking information from
American companies, including major broadcasters, Web portals and
industry consultants. The seizure of money significantly escalates the
The move has raised strong criticism from First Amendment experts,
media industry executives and people involved with offshore casinos.
They assert that the federal government is relying on an untested legal
theory in taking action against American companies, and using tactics
more typically used against organized crime activities.
"This is not drug money or terrorist money," said Rodney A. Smolla,
dean of the University of Richmond School of Law. "The fact it is being
treated as such shows a crusader’s zeal against offshore gambling."
entire article at:
The New York Times
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