Thursday, July 20, 2006

BETonSPORTS vs. The U.S.A., Round 2

Curious about the latest in the legal battle between the United States Department of Justice and BETonSPORTS PLC [BoS]? A couple of days ago we noted the seizure of BoS CEO David Carruthers at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport; Carruthers was at a stopover on a flight from Great Britain to Costa Rica, and his arrest was most curious, given that Carruthers is a British citizen, and BoS is a legal, publicly traded British company.

More about the BoS background has re-surfaced, in particular the unusual way in which it secured its publicly traded status, even as original BoS founder Gary Kaplan --- an American citizen long a fugitive from this country's judicial system --- was later forced from the workings of BoS in order to get that company's licensure through the British system. And yet that didn't seem to matter, based on the arrest of Carruthers and the restraining orders/indictments against the BoS family, Kaplan-less or not. Carruthers' own mercurial background is also now receiving greater scrutiny.

The most recent development affecting players is that BoS has ceased providing access to its system to all U.S. citizens, so if you currently have a BoSPoker account, you're likely left in the lurch. That the machinations of this one have wider implications goes without saying. Not only BoS, but all the internet-gaming concerns listed on the London exchange have undergone wild market swings in the wake of the Carruthers arrest, and the implied message sent out by the DoJ seems loud and clear.

Much of the heat here seems due to two key points. First, BoS accepted much of its sports bets through traditional phone banks, and some of those may have had America-based relays. (If so, this could be a strictly interpreted violation of the Wire Act's proscription against telephone wagering.) Second, BoS also appears to have made a point of extending credit and directly accepting credit-card payments where other online firms have scaled back on the practice, making this another way of attracting the DoJ's ire.

BoS seems far from lily-white in this one, just barely sliding inside a whole bunch of reporting and procedural requirements as a way of growing their business. However, the overreaching of the DoJ --- and BoS's reacion to the high-profile arrest and indictment --- continues to be the greater concern.

Stay tuned on this one. There's guaranteed to be more of interest in the weeks and months ahead.

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