Three more arrests in Sports Offshore credit betting bust

TAGs: Antigua, sports offshore, WTO

Sports-Offshore-Credit-BettingThree more men have been charged in the Sports Offshore case, the first example of prosecutions stemming from alleged violations of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. While the prosecutors are having great fun mentioning Antigua every chance they get, has established that the individuals charged in this case did not have a license to operate in Antigua. Sports Offshore was a credit operation, with most of the money changing hands within US borders, in cash. Operating a credit betting outfit is illegal in Antigua, and thus even if the operators had sought a license, none would ever have been granted. So, far from this being an example of Antigua enabling people to break US laws, it’s a case of US citizens exploiting Antigua to get around the laws in their home country.

Post-up wagering, in which a punter needs to fund an account before any betting can commence, is legal in Antigua, assuming you can obtain a government license. The right of Antigua to issue such licenses was validated by the World Trade Organization way back in 2004, a ruling that has been upheld in every appeal launched by US trade representatives. Despite these victories, the US continues to thumb its nose at Antigua, and by extension, the WTO and the entire system of international commerce.

Besides being the first ever example of the UIGEA being used to prosecute anyone, what makes this Sports Offshore case even more unusual is that it’s not really a particularly apt test of the UIGEA’s specific prohibitions. But that’s pretty much par for the course. The UIGEA was recognized as a daft piece of legislation from the moment it was written, which is why it was only passed after being attached to a completely unrelated port security bill in the dead of night after little debate. With banks resisting its onerous imposition on their activities, it took four long years for the legislation to even take effect, and now, with the favorable reception given to HR2267, Congress is moving in the polar opposite direction. Given the prevailing sentiment, it’s entirely conceivable that the UIGEA will not be around in another year or so, so if the Sports Offshore guys are convicted for their activities, they may go down in history as the only scalps on the UIGEA’s lodge pole. Read more.


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