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Costa 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 casinos.
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 U.S.-based bets.
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."
Agami agreed.
"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 sports.

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