Jerusalem Post published an article disclosing the details of a recent round of internet gambling busts in Israel. Seven people were arrested and eighteen were detained for questioning concerning allegations that they were involved in the operation of illegal gambling web sites that earned millions of shekels and then laundered the money.
International and Serious Crimes Unit teamed up with the elite Gidonim Unit—the operational arm of the Israeli Police’s Lahav 433’s unit which is also sometimes referred to as an “Israeli FBI”. On January 1st they raided the suspects’ homes, Play 2 Bet’s Tel Aviv office and Many Changers’ office in Ramat Gan.
The forces were able to indentify four of the suspects: Eliran Oved, Aryeh Avraham, David Hachmon and Yossi Ben-Shitreet. Their remands have been extended until Friday.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the International and Serious Crimes Unit began an undercover investigation after the Northern Fraud Squad received information claiming that the “Play 2 Bet” web site was offering illegal gambling. Police were able to uncover their money trail tracing it through to KG Money Changers where they would launder the money domestically as well as overseas. Police also believe that much of the money coming through Play 2 Bet belonged to crime syndicates that had earned it through other illegal enterprises.
Investigators from the case revealed a complex system in which bets were placed by third parties through regional and group leaders. They were able to access the site via a “closed” list and so each gambler received a personal log-in name and password after they placed a significant initial down payment to start betting with.
The web site’s managers would not accept credit cards, a clear indication of suspicious activity. Once a week, according to police, a messenger would visit each gambler’s house to pick up cash and to pay the winners.
The site offered various types of wagers, most of which involved sports. For instance, people could bet on teams, halftime scores, number of yellow and red penalty cards and even on penalty kicks.
According to police, bets could be placed for sums ranging from hundreds to tens of thousands of shekels per week. Police claim that most of the money used wasn’t money earned on the black market although some was earned through illegal activities such as prostitution, drug dealing and loan sharking. Some may have also been taken on the “gray market” – loans that are taken from unlicensed lenders who do not charge excessive interest.
Police were keen to emphasize that the site’s operators, “had an interest in influencing the results of games. One of the suspects was already convicted in a separate investigation of charges involving bribery and threats against players of the Hapoel Beersheba soccer team and of attempting to influence the results of matches.”
It is illegal gambling rings such as these that give the gaming world such a bad reputation. Yet, most nations remain insistent on banning legitimate forms of gambling allowing for affording seedy operations such as this the opportunity to exisit.market in which they can exploit. Hopefully countries like the United States, Germany, Sweden, Finland, France and the many others that are only slowing down the fight to legalize gambling will realize that their moral crusades are creating more evil than good.