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Felony charges against 17 for running Internet gambling ring

New York authorities on Oct. 29 participated in the arrest of 17 persons spread through four states for running what the police called a "highly sophisticated" crime enterprise centered around gambling on the Internet. The alleged group members used offshore gambling websites in their sports betting business. Police charged them in a 24-count indictment with felony charges called enterprise corruption .

A statement issued by the Queens County District Attorney indicated that 14 of the defendants had been apprehended but that three of them remained at large. Most of the individuals were found on the West Coast, but the participation of the Queens District Attorney indicates that at least some of them are located in New York. His statement also presumably indicates that some of the alleged illegal activities operated here.

The group allegedly laundered tens of millions of dollars through banks in the United States. The website run by the defendants allegedly dealt with sports betting and had about 2,000 bettors. The Queens D.A. compared Internet betting to the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s and 90s and offered his conclusion that Internet gambling is not a victimless  crime.

However, critics of that argument counter that sports betting is a widespread social activity in the United States, including in New York, and that people have legal ways to gamble, including arguably through Nevada bookies and even on Indian reservations. Betting on horse races is perfectly legal in many communities, and generally speaking, many types of gambling are no longer illegal in a large number of states. Critics call this -- from a broad societal point of view -- another governmental expenditure of substantial human and economic resources on pursuing and incarcerating non-violent offenders for felony charges in an revolving doors process that ignores the source problem, i.e., the gambling addictions that fuel these enterprises.

Source: CNBC, "Sports Gambling Ring Busted, 17 Indicted: Officials", Alastair Jamieson, Oct. 29, 2015

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