Rica’s online casinos look to remain in business after top
online casinos firm CEO arrested
Costa Rica's online
casinos and gambling firms said Friday they will lobby the
government to remain open despite the closure of one of the top
online casinos firms because of legal problems concerning online
casinos in the United States.
The online casinos firm that is in trouble, the Central American
country's largest online casinos company employing nearly 2,000
people, said Friday that it was shutting down its online
But there are more than 200 other online casino companies still
in operation and employing a total of 10,000 people in Costa
Rica, where the online casinos industry is unregulated. The
online casino industry is not legal in the United States, and
the online casinos industry faces many controversies in going
forward in that nation
The president of the Costa Rican Electronic Gambling
Association, Eduardo Agami, said Friday the online casino
industry planned to lobby Costa Rican officials to allow the
online casinos to remain in business.
"The case of (the top online casinos firm) is between them and
the U.S. government," Agami said. He said the online casinos
industry's fate was in the hands of Costa Rican officials.
The net gambling firm faces a 22-count indictment on fraud and
racketeering charges in the U.S. District Court in St. Louis.
David Carruthers, the online casinos firm's former chief
executive, remains in jail in the United States after being
arrested while changing planes in Texas. Prosecutors are seeking
the forfeiture of US$4.5 billion (euro3.5 billion), plus several
cars and computers from Carruthers and 10 other people
associated with the gambling operation.
The judge contends the bets were placed illegally, violating the
1961 U.S. Wire Act. The order, which expires Monday but could be
extended, also prevents the online casinos firm from taking
Agami said his association's members planned to analyze the
situation and work on a plan to "calm the firms' employees, the
clients and the government."
Costa Rican Justice Minister Laura Chinchilla said recently the
industry needs "serious regulation."
"We believe that the industry could be productive for Costa Rica
and should be allowed," he said. "In the United Kingdom, for
instance, they regulate it with operating licenses. Here they
need to establish the limits."
Meanwhile, the company that is in trouble’s offices at the San
Pedro Mall in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose were a
whirlwind of activity Friday with former employees and
government officials coming and going.
A U.S. federal restraining order issued last month requires the
firm in trouble to return any money that American customers have
tied up with the site. Almost all the wagers placed on the
firm’s site come from the U.S.
For the 53 weeks preceding February 2005, the company's sports
betting operation had more than 71,000 active customers who
placed 9.9 million bets. The average bet was US$109 (euro85).
Prosecutors said 97 percent of the bets are made on American