Justice Department insists illegal offshore gambling operations remain a priority

Gambling regulators have called on the Ministry of Justice to step up enforcement against illegal offshore gambling sites.

Apr 8, 2024
2 min read
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland's Department of Justice claims that illegal gambling
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland's Department of Justice claims that illegal gambling remains a top priority for federal law enforcement. Gambling regulators in seven states recently asked the Justice Department to better target offshore casinos and sports betting sites targeting U.S.


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Justice Department insists illegal offshore gambling operations remain a priority

In April, gambling regulators in seven states filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Justice. They called on the Department of Justice to step up investigations and prosecutions of illegal offshore gambling sites that target domestic players. The Justice Department responded in a letter this week stressing that the agency remains committed to combating this type of illegal online gambling.

Legal online casinos are still limited to just six states, as only New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Michigan allow iGaming with interactive slots and table games. Nearly 30 states, as well as Washington, D.C., offer online sports betting. legal.

Despite the expansion of legal online sports betting, offshore sports betting continues to target U.S. bettors. As legal online gambling remains limited, many unregulated internet casino platforms operating in foreign jurisdictions continue to target U.S. players.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates that more than $500 billion is illegally gambled on unregulated gambling sites each year. The casino lobby said it would cost states about $13 billion in lost tax revenue.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) makes it a federal crime for a company to operate an online casino unless the company is licensed in a state where such gambling is legal. USA. The Wire Act of 1961 also prohibits interstate or nationwide wire transactions for gambling purposes.

State Petition

In April, gambling regulators from Nevada, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Louisiana and Mississippi wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking the nation's top law enforcement official to Devote more resources to illegal online gambling operations.

As the lead regulator of legal gambling in our seven states, today we are calling on the Department of Justice to prioritize cracking down on illegal offshore sports betting and online casinos. The dangers posed by these illegal activities are well known and include a lack of investment in responsible gambling schemes, loss of government tax revenue to fund important initiatives, no age verification requirements to protect minors, no controls to prevent money laundering and a lack of safeguards Customers receive fair payments and more,” the letter reads.

“States that have legalized gambling have made significant efforts to adopt strong gambling laws and regulations to ensure that each state protects its citizens and regulates gambling in an efficient and effective manner,” the letter continued. “In these cases, these are strictly regulated. Offshore operators offering products in regulated state jurisdictions are violating not only state law, but federal law as well.”

Appeal Heard

Megan Bennett, the U.S. Department of Justice's intergovernmental liaison, wrote a letter responding to gambling regulators in seven states. Bennett said federal law enforcement values ​​states' input and stressed that combating illegal gambling is a top priority for the Department of Justice.

The Department takes the issue of illegal gambling, including illegal online gambling seriously, and continues to successfully investigate and prosecute illegal internet gambling," Bennett emphasized.

Their response coincided with the high-profile arrest of Richard Sullivan, 73, who has been under scrutiny since his 2010 indictment on charges he ran a multimillion-dollar sports betting ring in Antigua. Wanted by the Department of Justice.

"The department recognizes the negative impact illegal gambling has on individuals and communities and will continue to use all available tools to detect, investigate and prosecute this type of illegal activity," Bennett added.

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