Something Stinks! Could it be the timing of BetOnSports founder Stephen Kaplan’s arrest?

by Lou on April 3, 2007

Last Friday, US Attorney Catherine Hanaway (pictured right) had BetOnSports founder Stephen Kaplan arrested in the Dominican Republic and charged in a 22-count criminal case as the company’s top official. Hanaway’s spokeswoman Jan Diltz said a hearing on Kaplan’s detention will be held on April 4th.

Is Kaplan’s arrest a ploy to deflect attention away from the United States’ defeat at the World Trade Organization?

The timing of Kaplan’s arrest makes him look more like a pawn in a chess game than a fugitive from justice. Hanaway’s announcement of Kaplan’s arrest appears timed to deflect attention away from the World Trade Organization’s announcement that the US failed to change its ban on Internet betting to comply with the WTO ruling that US legislation unfairly targets offshore casinos.

Antigua contended that barring US residents from betting at offshore casinos harmed their efforts at economic diversification and that US trade commitments were violated by restrictions on Internet gambling.

Thirty-two licensed online casinos in Antigua employ 1,000 people and produce yearly revenue of $130 million. Seven years ago, prior to what Antiguan authorities contend are unfair US actions, casino annual income in Antigua was nearly $1 billion.

Why now?
Catherine Hanaway presumably could have popped Kaplan anytime. He could have been arrested when Former BetOnSports PLC Chief Executive Officer David Carruthers was busted some months back. So why now? The timing looks anything but coincidental.

Could this arrest be just a trap designed to be sprung once the US received the predictably unfavorable ruling from the WTO? Done that way, the impact of the WTO’s decision is minimized and attention is deflected away from Antigua’s victory and onto Stephen Kaplan’s arrest instead. The perp walk is always good for footage on the eleven o’clock news, even when it’s sound over substance, and even when nothing further will come of it.

Isn’t this overkill?

The prosecution is being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri and the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and is a joint investigation by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Does this sound like overkill to you? These resources ought to be spent tracking terrorists and criminal enterprises whose actions threaten people’s lives and security, instead of squandering resources prosecuting actions based on how people spend their discretionary income.

The 1961 Wire Act shouldn’t frighten poker players one bit

If all of this was designed and orchestrated as a pot shot to be taken at the online poker community, remember this: These arrests were made under the 1961 Wire Act, a law that to my knowledge has never been successfully used against poker players. While the Department of Justice is fond of telling anyone within shouting distance that the Wire Act does cover poker as well as sports betting, courts don’t see it that way, and when it comes down to arresting people, neither do the actions of DOJ.

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