Authorities around the US participated in an investigation into an illegal online gambling operation, and on Wednesday that investigation ended with 25 people being indicted for their roles in the operation.
The Queens district attorney’s office is prosecuting the case, but the law enforcement reach spans much farther than New York. Authorities in five states issued arrest warrants Wednesday, and multiple other agencies helped during the investigation, which lasted more than 18 months.
Brandt England, Stanley Tomchin, and George Molsbarger were charged with money launder, conspiracy, and enterprise corruption. The other 22 people were indicted for their roles in the betting scheme. England will also face a charge of promoting gambling.
According to authorities, the operation crossed several continents, and took in over $50 million in online sports bets. Whether or not those figures are true may have to wait until the trial, as England’s lawyer was adament his client was innocent.
“We certainly intend to defend this matter vigorously in court,” said Attorney David Chesnoff.
The laws in the US have become murky regarding Internet gambling in recent years, but one area of the law that remains unquestioned is that sports wagering is illegal on the Internet in the country. Other countries have more liberal sports betting laws, but the US has maintained the assertion that betting on sports online is against the law.
There are several countries that have become home to Internet gambling companies. Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Panama have become home base for dozens of online sports book operators. The countries have licensed online gambling operations, but the licensing does not hold up in the US.
One of the major companies identified in the Wednesday indictments was Pinnacle Sports. The company is one of the biggest online gaming providers in the world, and its founders claim they were operating within their legal limits regarding this case.
“Regarding the recent allegations surrounding the individuals allegedly affiliated with Pinnacle Sports, please be reassured that no Pinnacle employees have been arrested or charged, and Pinnacle Sports itself was not charged in the indictment,” wrote Pinnacle in an email statement. “We expect no interuptions to our day to day business activities at this time.”