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Publicly Traded Optimal Agrees To Online Gambling Settlement With US

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Optimal Group, Inc., a Canadian company that is publicly traded on the NASDAQ, agreed on Friday to a settlement with the US regarding past processing of online gambling payments to and from US residents. The agreement, which includes no prosecution, will cost Optimal $19.2 million.

The company was processing payments to online gambling sites from 2004, all the way up until the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was created in December of 2006. While there were no specific laws against Internet gambling before 2006, the US has continued to go after companies associated with Internet gambling before the UIGEA.

PartyGaming and BetOnSports have both had their time in US court. PartyGaming settled their dispute with the US regarding Internet gambling earlier this year. They are publicly traded on the London Stock exchange.

Optimal is no longer in the payment processing business. Today, the company focuses on consumer electronics and toys. That was not always the case, however, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation uncovering over $3 billion in online gambling merchant transactions.

Most of those transactions, eighty percent, were involving US customers. It further displays what members of the global Internet industry have been saying for years, the US is the biggest online gambling market in the world.

Representative Barney Frank is leading a charge by lawmakers to overturn the UIGEA. Frank believes that online gambling is an activity that should be regulated, not criminalized. He currently has sixty-two co-sponsors for legislation he proposed earlier this year.

While Frank and fellow lawmakers are attempting to overturn the UIGEA, other parts of the government are preparing to enforce the law. The US has already seized bank accounts this summer that were being used to pay US online gambling customers.

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