FBI Raids on Gambling Rings in the US

13 April 2013 – By Jane Spiegel

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In present day, the online gambling industry is worth billions of dollars, as millions of people from all over the world enjoy their favorite online casino style games, from the comfort of their own homes. Because the gambling market is so attractive, many legislators and regulators have been stressing that online gambling activity can be used for money laundering. On April 16, news broke out about nationwide FBI raids on gambling rings in the United States. This confirms the fact that money laundering involving both land based and online activity was actually happening. Several locations in New York City and other major cities in the US, like Miami, Los Angeles and Philadelphia were raided. Dozens of people were arrested, most of them from New York, for charges including gambling and money laundering. One of the most high profile locations in New York was an art gallery on Madison Square, owned by billionaire Helly Nahmad.

The raids were connected to a federal investigation on Russian organized crime groups that ran high-stakes poker games and offshore online sports betting. During a Department of Justice briefing, it was revealed that the illegal activities involved Wall Street financiers, Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes. Among the names we can find poker professionals like Bill Edler, Peter Feldman, Abe Mosseri, Joe Mancuso, Vadim Trincher, John Hanson and Eddie Ting. Also, besides Helly Nahmad, the defendants also include poker organizer Molly Bloom, known for organizing card parties with celebrities like A-Rod, Tobey Maguire, Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon.

Tens of millions of dollars were moved by the Russian organizations, using a sophisticated money-laundering scheme. According to reports from NBC 4, card games and illegal gambling websites were involved in moving money from the former Soviet Union through shell companies in Cyprus into various investments and shell companies in the US. The FBI estimates that over 100 million dollars were laundered using this complex scheme. One of the big names involved in this activity is professional poker player Vadim Trincher, who is believed of running the world’s largest sports book out of his apartment. Also, the prosecutors claim that Trincher won hundreds of thousands of dollars at an illegal poker game at The Plaza hotel.

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