Justice Department Makes Illegal Offshore Gambling a Top Priority

Published on: August 30, 2023, 12:12h.

Last updated on: August 29, 2023, 03:48h.

The United States Department of Justice recently responded to a petition from gaming regulators in seven states to increase investigations and prosecutions of illegal offshore gaming websites that cater to US players. The Department emphasized their commitment to combating illicit online gaming activities.

Justice Department illegal gambling offshore gaming
US Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice claims illegal gambling remains a priority for the federal law enforcement agency. Gaming regulators in seven states recently pleaded with the Justice Department to better target offshore casino and sports betting websites that cater to gamblers in the US. (Image: Getty)

Currently, legal online casinos are only available in six states, namely New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Michigan. On the other hand, online sports betting is legal in nearly 30 states, including Washington, DC.

Despite the expansion of legal online sports betting, offshore sportsbooks continue to attract US bettors. Additionally, due to limited legal iGaming options, many unregulated internet casino platforms from foreign jurisdictions still target US-based gamblers.

According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), over $500 billion is illegally wagered on unregulated gambling websites each year. This results in states missing out on approximately $13 billion in tax revenue.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 makes it a federal crime for a business to operate an online casino without a state license where online gaming is legal. Additionally, the US Wire Act of 1961 prohibits the use of wire transactions across state or country lines for gambling purposes.

States’ Petition

In response to a letter from gaming regulators in Nevada, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Louisiana, and Mississippi, Attorney General Merrick Garland was requested to allocate more resources to combat illegal online gaming sites.

The primary regulators of the legal gaming industry in our seven states urge the Department of Justice to prioritize fighting illegal offshore sportsbooks and online casinos. These unlawful operations have significant risks, such as a lack of investment in responsible gaming programs, loss of tax revenue, absence of age verification requirements, money laundering concerns, unfair payouts, and more,” as stated in the letter.

The letter further emphasized that offshore operators offering services in regulated state jurisdictions are violating both state and federal laws.

Appeal Heard

Megan Bennett, an intergovernmental liaison at the DOJ, responded to the seven state gaming regulatory agencies. She expressed the Department’s appreciation for their input and reiterated their commitment to addressing illegal gambling activities.

The Department takes illegal gambling seriously, including online gambling, and will continue to investigate and prosecute such activities effectively.

Bennett’s response coincided with the arrest of Richard Sullivan, a 73-year-old individual wanted by the DOJ for his alleged involvement in operating a multimillion-dollar sports betting ring from Antigua since 2010.

Bennett added, “The Department acknowledges the negative impact of illegal gaming on individuals and communities and will utilize all available tools to detect, investigate, and prosecute such illegal activity.”

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