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New York online gambling racket goes postal

Squawking like canaries on crack

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House of Cards America's online gambling purges continued at the state level today, as a major bust in the New York City area snared over 60 individuals, with more to come.

According to Gambling911.com, the gambling ring operated in conjunction with Costa Rican online service provider 50ksports.com.

The arrest list is a veritable who's who of American gambling habitues - it includes a former NYPD organized crime officer, a former NYPD vice officer who had already served time for protecting drug dealers, an employee at the postal service who placed bets for his postal service overlords, a Merrill Lynch trader (who among others was already under indictment for insider trading on internal "squak boxes" at esteemed New York financial houses), and a secretarial manager at a midtown law firm who midnighted as the owner of a New York strip club.

Now that's an honor roll. Obviously, gambling appeals to a broad cross-section of Americans, including management in the federal postal system.

Of course, the billions wagered online by Americans before the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) said a lot about the gambling habits of your average American.

"When it comes to internet sports gambling rings operating in Queens County, all bets are off," the wry Queens DA Richard Brown said. "My office has zero tolerance for such illegal activity."

Fifty thousand hours worth of taped conversation (and God only knows how many total man hours) later, defendants in this case are "squawking like canaries on crack", according to the report.

Who really knows how many offshore operations use these kinds of runners?

The more interesting issue now is whether other states will follow the New York lead or start to explore online gaming programs at the state level. New York, with its long history of powerful organized crime families, could well end up being fairly unique in its needs regarding gambling prosecutions.

Of course, a more civil national policy on this would be constructive. But that still looks like a long shot. ®

Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office

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