Online gambling is illegal in numerous countries, yet people across the world consistently find ways to circumvent the law and participate in forbidden activities such as virtual casino gaming, poker, bingo, and sports betting. Those who find themselves addicted to the thrill and instant gratification on online gambling are at serious financial and personal risk, which is one reason why so many countries attempt to block their citizens' access to such activities. In addition, the monies taken in by these unauthorized sites are often used for illicit purposes, such as organized criminal activity.
Unfortunately, illegal cyber gambling activities are easy for the average citizen to access through a cell phone or personal computer, and difficult to regulate. Authorities across the world continue to investigate and arrest suspects involved with online gambling rings, but many perpetrators still remain a large. In the past seven months alone, investigators have made a small dent in the number of worldwide online gambling perpetrators. Here are some of those cases.
July 2012: Over 50 Arrested in China
According to the South China Morning Post, Shanghai police arrested over 50 people and confiscated 13 million Yuan in the bust of an online gambling ring in July 2012. Participants in this ring are said to have been betting on European football game outcomes and playing casino games online. The website in question was linked to at least 20 server sites overseas, making this the first time an illegal Chinese gambling ring was found to be associated with other countries in such a remote way.
Since January 2012, bets of approximately 70 million Yuan passed through the ring. Many of the people involved were college students and executive businessmen, according to Shanghai authorities. “The ring had a bad effect on society,” said Qu Weifang, head of the Shanghai police, referring to the devastating financial, moral, and social effects of pathological online gambling.
August 2012: Seven Suspects Headed for Deportation from the Philippines
During 2012, authorities in the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) encountered multiple difficulties with Korean nationals who would enter the islands on tourist passports and proceed to set up illegal online gambling shops there. Notably, on August 30, seven Koreans were arrested in Pasig City for violating the Philippines Anti-Gambling Law. These seven accused men now face the consequence of deportation by the Bureau of Immigration, as well as additional prosecution for violating the Filipino law.
October 2012: American Sports Gamblers Arraigned in the United States
A U.S. investigation that lasted over 18 months and spanned several states and continents led to the arraignment of 25 American citizens for their involvement with illegal online sports betting in October, 2012. While some countries, such as Costa Rica and Panama, permit sports betting, this activity remains illegal in the states. Some sources have estimated that the activities of this multinational betting business added up to $500 million U.S. dollars, although the investigation was still ongoing at the time of this writing.
Although wagering money on the outcome of sports tournaments is clearly against the law in the U.S., laws concerning the government of American online casino games are less clear. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 attempts to prevent “unlawful Internet gambling” in the United States, yet it never specifically states what that entails. Because of its vagueness, the law has caused a lot of confusion among American citizens, and is open to different interpretations.
Individual states are left to enforce their own individual regulations. In the following states, it may be considered illegal to gamble online: Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin. Citizens of these states should exercise caution before entering online casinos. Because the UIGEA is so confusing, some choosier online casinos reject all American gamblers, to stay on the safe side of the law. Other American online casinos, however, are not so scrupulous or picky.
November 2012: Two-Year Investigation Leads to the Arrest of Three in Canada
Because of investigative work conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in an operation called “Project Amethyst," which began in September 2010, an illegal site stationed in Ottawa, Ontario was taken down in November 2012. Three men were arrested, two of whom are thought to be affiliated with illegal betting on NHL, NFL and Olympics outcomes. Canadian authorities have noted that the activities of these three perpetrators created a significant threat of violence in Canada. The case continues to be under investigation.
January 2013: Seven Suspects Arrested in Vietnam
According to tuoirenews.vn, the Ministry of Public Security arrested seven members of a transnational gambling ring on January 17, 2013. The arrests took place in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi over a site called M88, which featured illegal online gaming as well as betting over well-known international football tournaments in the UK, Spain, Germany, and several other European countries.
Police seized VND 600, the equivalent of approximately $28,800 U.S. dollars. Gamblers would deposit their betting money to the website by phone, or via a special bank account opened specifically for use with M88, and receive credits with which to bet. Police continue to investigate this case, as it is suspected that other international perpetrators are probably involved.
January 2013: Nine Suspects Arrested in Indonesia
Authorities in Indonesia took down two illegal gaming websites, ibcbet.com and sbobet.com, which were allegedly being used by suspects in Jakarta. Stationed in Johar Baru, Central Jakarta, the business had been operating since 2010, with the sites taking in up to Rp 50 million per day. Nine suspects were arrested, with the possibility of up to 150 other involved parties still at large. The suspects' illegal activities included online casino gaming, sports betting, and involvement with togel, Indonesia's illegal lottery.
Online gambling can be a dangerous, addictive force, and the Internet is a vast, difficult-to-monitor venue for illegal betting. Authorities worldwide continue to pursue those who break the law, and law-breakers continue to pursue ways to outsmart them.