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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Gambling Web Site Draws 24 Criminal Charges

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Criminal charges have been brought against more than two dozen individuals and corporations in four states in connection with a billion-dollar-a-year gambling Web site, authorities said Wednesday.

Authorities declined to name any of those charged. One of the corporations is an offshore Internet company with an American counterpart, said Kevin Ryan, a spokesperson for Queens, N.Y., District Attorney Richard Brown.

First time that a Web designer corporation and the companies that maintain the Web sites have been charged Police said the arrests were made in New York, New Jersey, Florida and Nevada.

The scheme involved placing sports bets through bookies via a secure Internet site.

Ryan said the arrests by the DA's office and the New York Police Department represent the first time that Internet gambling charges have been brought since President Bush signed into law last month the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

Hard work paid off Ryan said arrests had been made in four states, and "we have initiated a US$500 million asset forfeiture case," one of the largest in state history.

The charges come after a two-year international investigation that focused on Internet gambling.

Brown and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly scheduled a midday news conference, at which seized cash and assets -- including artwork, jewelry, gold coins and sports memorabilia -- were to be displayed.

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