Online Gambling taking Heat over Money Laundering Rumors

Are online casinos mainly just harmless fun for those who want to wager a little money? Or is there something more sinister behind some of these internet casinos in the form of money laundering?

US authorities would like people to believe the latter, as a recent Los Angeles Times piece explains. The L.A. Times reports that the FBI has been on high alert over criminals who allegedly use online gambling as a front for moving cash around. The fear is that criminals can use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to hide their true location and make it seem like they’re located somewhere else.

“Like criminals during Prohibition, cyber thieves employing this method depend on anonymity, access, and the river of money that typically flows through an online gambling site,” states McAfee, a cyber security company.

The FBI also chimes in by warning that online gambling is the perfect tool for carrying out bribes. “A criminal might intentionally lose a game to a public official in order to effect a bribe payment,” states an FBI spokesman.

We’re not sure if the FBI is referring to a heads-up poker game, where one could actually lose on purpose to their opponent. But it’s very possible that this is the message behind their statement. Poker has been on the American government’s mind ever since Black Friday, where several of the world’s largest online poker rooms were busted for a variety of crimes, including money laundering.

Full Tilt Poker, for example, disguised player deposits as transactions for golf balls, flowers and jewelry to get around the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Since this time, the US Department of Justice and FBI have been keeping close tabs on the unregulated internet gambling situation. But in the case of this L.A. Times article, it seems like the FBI is worried about more than just a gaming site circumventing American laws to accept player deposits.

It’s hard to say where these claims of criminals purposely losing money to public officials are coming from. Whatever the case may be, online gambling certainly won’t be slowing down any time soon. The latest McAfee report shows that the four major forms of internet gaming – casino games, bingo, poker and sports betting – will combine to generate $43 billion in revenue by 2015. Additionally, the industry will show a 7.3% growth rate.