The Department of Justice has brought indictments upon 34 individuals and 23 companies over illegal activities involving Legendz Sports. Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman and US Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma Sanford C. Coats have spearheaded the indictments that allege illegal gambling activity on United States soil.
According to the 95 page indictment, the alleged operatives offered online and telephone sports betting services to customers in the United States through sites under the Legendz Sports operation. The individuals supposedly offered sports book services to a nearly exclusive United States client base and provided services such as “post up” and credit wager options. The report alleges that this illegal gambling operation has been running since the inception of Legendz Sports (formerly MVP Sports) in 2003.
In addition to the individuals, Payment processors and companies related to the operation were also named in the indictments. Legendz Sports founder “Luke” King and current CEO Edward Buonnano were included in the list of individuals related to this case. The charges against the individuals and companies include illegal gambling operation, wire fraud, and money laundering.
The Department of Justice is currently seeking more than $1 billion in forfeiture, prison time for the individuals, and assets such as cars and real estate. The document contains evidence of numerous email and telephone correspondences as well as a plethora of financial transactions involving various payment processors and wire services. As for the Legendz Sports operation, the Department of Justice is seeking the forfeiture of six dotcom addresses even though the indictment names 22 domains connected with the online sports book.
This latest indictment sheds light on the crackdown on illegal gambling sites by the US Department of Justice and the role of the black market in the unregulated country. The first major online gambling indictments came about during April 15, 2011 when the DoJ of SDNY brought charges against three major poker sites, Absolute/UB, Full Tilt Poker, and Poker Stars. The Department of Justice followed the events of “Black Friday” with indictments against lesser known sites within the Merge Network. In 2012, the DoJ struck again with separate indictments for online sports book operations, Jazz Sports and Pinnacle Sports.
After a decade of unmitigated growth, black market online gaming operations have been hammered by the series of indictments brought on by the US Department of Justice. The post Black Friday online poker scene has been reduced to unreliable operations and a player base that numbers in the thousands. The online sports book black market may also see a similar decline after the recent series of indictments.
The indictments also show the need for regulated markets for games that are extremely popular in the United States. For nearly a decade, millions of US customers have placed wagers on black market sites that catered to a starving populous. Even with the indictments, black market operations will continue to exist in unregulated markets, which may lead to disasters such as the Full Tilt Poker debacle. Although it may be more difficult, certain companies will take the risk to cater to a lucrative and popular industry.
The recent activity from the Department of Justice has also coincided with the regulation of online gaming in Europe and the United States. Different jurisdictions have attempted to regulate online gaming to curb black market activity as well as gain revenue from the popular gambling industry. A regulated market offers security to customers and prevents criminal activity such as money laundering and stealing.
The indictment of Legendz Sports is another sign of a changing times and the dawn of a regulated era. The black market operations truly flourished in the first decade of the new millennium, but the turn of the decade has proven to be disastrous for many of these companies.