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Israeli Police Arrest Suspects for Operating Online Casinos

Israeli operators of online casinos were arrested and charged with money laundering, among other offenses, even though Israel permits ownership of online gambling sites as long as Israelis are barred from participating.

Authorities from the Israeli International and Serious Crimes Division arrested three citizens this week on charges of operating online casinos. Asi Vaknin, Naftali Goldman, and Yonatan Grimberg are suspected of money laundering and extortion in support of online gambling operations.

The arrests took place in the town of Lod, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. A hearing Friday morning before Judge Esther Nachlieli-Khayat saw the defendants' attorneys question in what way the business is illegal, or differs from other Internet gambling sites operated by Israelis.

"The company in question has licenses," attorney Sasi Gez told the court. "Everything is public and visible."

The judge noted that many Israelis own gaming operations, some listed on the London Stock Exchange, and asked why this case would require arrests and prosecution.

Police spokesmen said that this particular online casino operation was committing some of its activity in Israel, which would be a violation. However, defense attorneys said that, as long as Israelis are barred from gambling, servers and portals can exist legally in Israel.

The judge said complex international questions needed to be answered regarding the case before its disposition could be determined.

Published on September 13, 2009 by TomWeston

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