Just when the online gaming industry was showing signs of recovering from the shock arrest of former BetOnSports CEO David Carruthers, authorities in the US have detained and arrested another industry executive.
Peter Dicks, the Chairman of SportingBet Plc was detained Wednesday in New York on a fugitive warrant, only two months after Carruthers’ arrest and detainment. Dicks was arrested at the JFK International Airport on an outstanding warrant issued by the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division.
Louisiana state law makes it illegal to place a wager on the Internet and/or to operate an Internet casino. The law claims the state is concerned about the protection of its
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citizens, especially underage gamblers, from “the pervasive nature of the gambling which can occur via the Internet”.
Antigua has recently enacted Article 21 of the World Trade Organization bylaws, claiming the US push to illegalize online gambling is in breach of WTO regulations. Numerous analysts have stated Antigua appears to have a very strong case, and the WTO plans to form a three-person arbitration board to hear submissions from both Antigua and the US before handing down its decision. The panel was formed last Monday and will release the results of their deliberations in three months.
The Director of Gaming in Antigua’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC), Kaye McDonald, believes that the US detainments of Antiguan online gaming operators may be discriminatory measures due to Antigua’s WTO challenge:
“On a general note, we can obviously speculate that only Antiguan licensees are being detained. There are lots of different arguments and legal opinions on this whole matter, does it have to do with the WTO, or like it as the US government is stating – a crackdown on internet gaming. It certainly is of great concern for FSRC as a regulatory body that companies that are so transparent, particularly traded companies, their executives are being suspected of being involved in racketeering.”
US officials have not yet released the reasons for Peter Dicks’ detainment, although the hearing was to have taken place Thursday evening in New York. Analysts speculate the likely charges will be racketeering-related.
It appears almost impossible to predict how this story will end – one thing is for sure, there are sure to be tough times ahead for the online gaming industry, and Antiguan operators in particular.
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