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Betonsports Negotiating With US Justice Department

by Glen Shapiro, LawAndTax-News.com, New York

22 September 2006


The US ban against UK-listed gaming company Betonsports was extended until October 16th by US District Judge Carol Jackson in St Louis at a hearing this week to allow the Justice Department and Betonsports lawyers to negotiate a settlement of the charges against the company and its officers.

BetOnSports lawyer Jeffrey Demerath told US District Judge Carol Jackson: "What we are interested in doing is resolving this matter." And Assistant US Attorney Michael Fagan told Judge Jackson, "I think we can resolve matters." Demerath said that discussions were aimed at resolving both the civil and criminal charges.

An evidentiary hearing before US Magistrate Judge Mary Ann Medler is scheduled for 22nd January next year.

At previous hearings, the company declined to be represented in the St Louis courts by a lawyer, suggesting that the company is taking the stance that the US authorities have no jurisdiction over its non-US operations. "By not coming to court, you can make the assumption that since we weren't served, we can carry on our business in a normal capacity," Kevin Smith, a BetonSports spokesman, said in August.

Betonsports and 12 individuals were indicted June 1st by a federal grand jury. Charges include racketeering, mail fraud and facilitation of gambling across state and national boundaries. Trading of Betonsports stock in London was suspended on July 18th at the company's request. The company ran its US Internet business from Costa Rica and Antigua.

Founder Gary Kaplan and British CEO David Carruthers were among those indicted. Carruthers, 48, was arrested in July as he changed planes in a Dallas airport. At a hearing in August, Carruthers pleaded not guilty to the charges of fraud and racketeering in St Louis. Under the terms of a bail agreement negotiated between defense lawyers and prosecutors, Carruthers was bailed under a $1 million bond and is under house remain in the vicinity of St Louis. An arrest warrant has been issued for Gary Kaplan.

Previous, similar cases suggest that the Justice Department would probably be successful in its case against Betonsports, which has already ceased to accept bets from US residents, although the company's lawyers would have fought the indictments on the grounds that the US has no jurisdiction over internet transactions taking place outside its borders.

The company announced on 11th August that BetOnSports would no longer accept bets from US customers, and that it would refund customer money when it became available.

Gambling stocks dropped after Carruthers was arrested, and after Peter Dicks, chairman of British-based Sportingbet, was held in New York on similar Louisiana charges. However, Dicks was released on bail this week, and has left the US. He will appear at another hearing in New York on September 28th.


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