Feeds

Justice Department defends using 'dated' laws in gambling arrests

High Wire Act

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The US Department of Justice has admitted that the 1961 Wire Act which it uses to prosecute executives of online gambling companies is "dated". The Department insists, though, that the law is sufficient for the prosecution of gambling executives.

Referring to the laws under which it prosecutes, including the controversial 1961 Act, Justice Department spokeswoman Jacqueline Lesch told OUT-LAW: "They include language about a wire communication facility which we believe includes the internet. They are dated but they cover online gambling."

Two UK businessmen have been arrested in the US in recent weeks in connection with internet gambling. Betonsports chief executive David Carruthers and Sportingbet chairman Peter Dicks were arrested at US airports when they landed. Carruthers's case is being handled by the DoJ, while Dicks may be prosecuted under state laws by the state of Louisiana.

The latest edition of OUT-LAW Radio looks into the confused legal status of online gambling in the US. "It is certainly very confused because they are relying on statutes that date back to the 1960s and you have the added complication of states interpreting them in different ways," said John Hagan, a lawyer at gambling law specialist firm Harris Hagan. "Certainly I'm confused and no doubt the online gambling operators are equally confused and when you're talking about the risk of criminal penalties and being arrested in transit through the states it's not a very satisfactory state of affairs."

"We don't think it is confusing," the Justice Department's Lesch said. "We think it contravenes three statutes, the Wire Act, the Travel Act and the Illegal Gambling Businesses Act. This has long been a concern of the DoJ."

Many legal observers question the use of the 1961 Act to prosecute individuals for using technology and services that were not invented when the Act was written. "They are certainly taking a very strong view of outdated legislation and applying an interpretation for their own purposes," said Hagan.

A new law which would outlaw all internet gambling has passed through the House of Representatives in the US but has not yet passed through the Senate. Most observers believe that it will not be passed. "The chances of it actually passing through the Senate are quite low," said Wayne Brown, an analyst at Altium Securities who follows online gambling firms. "The same bill has in various other forms been tried to pass over the last few years."

The DoJ spokeswoman said that it intended to continue prosecuting under existing laws. "When the evidence allows, we will continue," she said.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.