If you’ve been reading the news lately, you may have noticed an increase in the discussion about online gambling legalization- specifically in regards to the states of New Jersey and New York. It’s a hot topic lately, with some people agreeing that online gambling should be legalized in more areas, and others fiercely opposing the movement.
One of the most important arguments for legalization of acts like online gambling is that it helps protect customers and prevent fraudulent websites being created. Before the legalization of online gambling, the scene was awash with illegal websites and scammers just hunting for victims to take advantage of.
Now that online gaming is being legalized and regulated more, there are less scams and fraudsters to be worried about. Being able to monitor websites, check audience data and regulate activity online has led to a much safer environment for gamblers to enjoy spending their money and playing games in.
This isn’t exclusively true, though.
Unfortunately, some criminals still seem to slip beneath the radar every now and then. One particular case that has rocked the media and gambling worlds alike is the latest illegal casino website bust in New Jersey and Staten Island.
Six criminals from Staten Island and New Jersey collectively were recently brought to justice after running an illegal gambling operation that raked in eleven million dollars in profits, between two seperate websites. This immense operation bust has brought to light the importance of stricter regulations within the gambling world, and the danger of fraudulent websites.
The six defendants all pleaded not guilty to gambling promotion and conspiracy, when they were bought before a Supreme Court judge in Brooklyn. They were subsequently released without bail, and many of them have not been responding to requests for comments by the media.
In an intriguing press release, Eric Gonzalez (Brooklyn District Attorney) had some interesting words to share, as noted by the New York Post. He stated that ‘illegal gambling is not a victimless crime’ and elaborated by discussing how illegal gambling is often connected to loansharking, money laundering and organized crime as a whole.
This rings true when considering the illegal gambling scenes that have risen and fallen all throughout history. More often than not, illegal gambling rings and organizations have always been connected to the mafia or other organized crime groups. They are often tied in with other illegal acts like fraud or money laundering.
The prosecutors in this case noted that the illegal operations took place between two betting sites- known as playbig365.com and gameday365.ag respectively. What many gamblers and gaming fans reading this will notice is that the names share many similarities with existing, popular betting websites and that they could pass easily for valid websites.
This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to always double check the validity of a website before spending your hard earned money on it. If you’re a gambler who enjoys playing online games, please make sure to do your research before playing on a new website, mobile application or game. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to money.
We reached out to Alex Kapinsky who owns NJGamblingFun, a New Jersey-based aggregator of licensed casinos, to take his opinion on illegal gambling sites. He had this to say: “There’s an amazing allure to online gambling in the Garden State. You may not realize it if you’re outside of New Jersey, but many Millennials love to pass their free time playing casino games online over here. Last year, gambling revenue in New Jersey surpassed 4 billion dollars. So what you’re dealing with is hundreds of new bettors looking for the best new casinos and bonuses on Google. In an overcrowded market, it’s no surprise that illegal gambling is flourishing. Because most people don’t do enough research before signing up for new casinos. And that’s a problem.”
The defendants in this case appeared to have all their bases covered in the illegal operation, as they took bets through their two illegal websites, over the phone and even directly in person. One of the websites was allegedly being run from Costa Rica.
One of the main criminals in this case, Branca, was hit with a money laundering charge. He was allegedly guilty of laundering 100,000 dollars, but he plead not guilty to this accusation. It will be interesting to see where this particular charge goes, as he seemed to be the ringleader in this illegal gambling operation.
As noted by Patch, the defendants will be returning court on March 9th of this year. This is a case that the media has been covering extensively, and it’s sure to be a fascinating case to observe. We’re sure that the gaming and gambling industries will be watching this case very closely, as will their customers.
The main thing to take away from this is that it’s important to be careful when gambling online.
If you’re someone who enjoys playing online casino games or betting on sports matches, do your background research on websites and games before using them. If you have friends who gamble, ask them for recommendations and make sure to not play with unverified gambling websites that you have never encountered before.