Trends in Organized Crime

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 262–277 | Cite as

Illegal gambling businesses & organized crime: an analysis of federal convictions

  • Jay S. Albanese


Illegal gambling operations have been alleged to support organized crime and victimize participants, rather than benefit them. This is said to occur through cheating in the games provided, defrauding the government of tax revenue, and funding other illicit and criminal activities. What has been missing is a systematic analysis of actual cases involving illegal gambling businesses to determine precisely who is involved, how these businesses operate, the nature of the threat posed, and the law enforcement response to it. The analysis reported here examines all federal convictions involving operation of illegal gambling businesses during a single year. There were more than 80 persons charged and convicted of participation in illegal gambling businesses, centered around 40 distinct enterprises. The results indicate that illegal gambling businesses in the United States are long-term operations consisting of four general types, and that enforcement of existing laws, particularly related to illegal online sports betting, are not working effectively.


Illegal gambling Organized crime Illegal gambling businesses On-line betting Offshore betting Animal fighting Racketeering Money laundering Extortion Loansharking Forfeiture Prosecution 


Compliance with ethical standards

This study received funding from the American Gaming Association. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the AGA. This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author.

Conflict of interest

The author received research funds from the American Gaming Association to carry out this research. The author declares that he has no conflict of interest. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the AGA.


  1. Albanese JS (2015) Organized Crime: From the Mob to Transnational Organized Crime. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. American Gaming Association (2016) Accessed 11 Aug 2016.
  3. Borden S (2012) Neighborhood bookies putting lines online. NY Times 161:9Google Scholar
  4. Cabana PF (2014) Improving the recovery of assets resulting from organised crime. Eur J Crim Crim Law Crim Justice 22:13–32Google Scholar
  5. Curnow J (2012) Gambling in Flores, Indonesia: not such risky business. Aust J Anthropol 23:101–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dobuzinskis A (2011) More than 70 reputed armenian gangsters arrested. ReutersGoogle Scholar
  7. Donovan T, Hoover K (2014) The Elements of Social Scientific Thinking. 11th ed. WadsworthGoogle Scholar
  8. Dunphy K (2014) Following suit with the second circuit. Brooklyn Law Rev 79:1295–1331, Spring Google Scholar
  9. Field C (2014) Men Charged in Gambling Bust to Forfeit $20 Million. wyff4.comGoogle Scholar
  10. Gambits (2014) Gaming Law Review & Economics 18:516–518Google Scholar
  11. Glanz J, Armendariz A, Bogdanich W (2015) Finding ‘Who’ and ‘Where’ Within the Sports Cyber-Betting Universe. The New York TimesGoogle Scholar
  12. Gurliacci D (2014) Stamford man in mafia-related gambling biz sentenced. The PatchGoogle Scholar
  13. House of Representatives (1970) Rep. No. 91–1549, 91st Congress, 2d Session (1970) and 1970 U.S.C. Congressional and Administrative News, at 4007, 4029Google Scholar
  14. Kelly JM (2011) Sports wagering prohibition in the United States: an exercise in futility and the best development for organized crime. Gaming Law Rev Econ 15(May):257–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kelly JM (2015) U.S. online gaming conference: states and stakeholders in I-Gaming regulation. Gaming Law Rev Econ 19:279–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kelly BD, Kole M (2016) The effects of asset forfeiture on policing: a panel approach. Econ Inq 54:558–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. King C (2012) Using civil processes in pursuit of criminal law objectives: a case study of non-conviction-based asset forfeiture. Int J Evid Proof 16:337–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Laffey D, Della Sala V, Laffey K (2016) Patriot games: the regulation of online gambling in the European Union. J Eur Publ Policy 23:1425–1441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Larson S (2015) Online sports betting guru Tony Chau pleads guilty to tax fraud and illegal gambling. legaluspokersites.comGoogle Scholar
  20. Lattanzio V (2013) Loansharking ring used hatchet, gun to threaten customer: fed prosecutors say the group allegedly worked over customers in city restaurants, bars and businesses. NBC10.comGoogle Scholar
  21. Loseke DR (2013) Methodological thinking: basic principles of social research design. Sage PublicationsGoogle Scholar
  22. Lycka M (2014) Regulating online gambling markets: regulatory guide. Gaming Law Rev Econ 18:383–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McCaw CE (2011) Asset forfeiture as a form of punishment: a case for integrating asset forfeiture into criminal sentencing. Am J Crim Law 38:181–220Google Scholar
  24. Miers D (2016) Social responsibility and harm minimization in commercial gambling in Great Britain. Gaming Law Rev Econ 20:164–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Morse EA (2007) The internet gambling conundrum: extraterritorial impacts of U.S. laws on internet businesses. Comput Law Secur Rev 23:529–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. National Criminal Justice Association (2015) Law Enforcement: Multi-jurisdictional Task Forces and Gang. Accessed 15 Dec 2016
  27. National Gambling Impact Study Commission (1999) Final Report.
  28. Nguyen TH (2004) The business of illegal gambling: an examination of the gambling business of Vietnamese Cafés. Deviant Behav 25:451–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Plachta M (2005) Joint investigation teams: a new form of international cooperation in criminal matters. Eur J Crim Crim Law Crim Justice 13:284–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pontell HN, Geis G, Brown GC (2007) Offshore internet gambling and the world trade organization: is it criminal behavior or a commodity? Int J Cyber Criminol 1:119–136Google Scholar
  31. Rhodes W, et al. (2009) Evaluation of the Multijurisdictional Task Forces. Abt Associates.
  32. Rodefer JR (2002) Internet gambling in Nevada: overview of federal law affecting assembly bill 466. Gaming Law Rev 6:393–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rose IN (2014) Court: poker is a state, not a federal, issue. Gaming Law Rev Econ 18:4–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Smith RG (2004) Criminal Forfeiture and Restriction-of-Use Orders in Sentencing High Tech Offenders. Australian Institute of Criminology.
  35. Spapens T (2011) Joint investigation teams in the European Union. Eur J Crim Crim Law Crim Justice 19:239–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Srikanth V, Mattamana AB (2011) Regulating online gambling: the Indian perspective. Comput Law Secur Rev 27:180–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Trumbull M (2011) Crackdown on full tilt poker clouds future of online gambling. Christian Science Monitor 1Google Scholar
  38. United States of America v. Jimmy Hsieh et al. (2013) Case No. 11–00082, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55025 (District of Guam, April 12, 2013). Gaming Law Rev Econ 17: 522–530Google Scholar
  39. United States of America v. Tokhtakhounov et al. (2013) US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Sealed Indictment. 13 Crim 268Google Scholar
  40. US Attorney’s Office (2012) Alleged organized crime associates among 20 charged with operating illegal gambling businesses in Connecticut. District of ConnecticutGoogle Scholar
  41. US Attorney’s Office (2014) Connecticut man pleads guilty to gambling charges. Western District of New YorkGoogle Scholar
  42. US Attorney’s Office (2014a) Rochester man pleads guilty to gambling, extortion and money laundering charges. Western District of New YorkGoogle Scholar
  43. US Attorney’s Office (2014b) Three plead guilty in gambling case and forfeit $20 million. District of South CarolinaGoogle Scholar
  44. US Attorney’s Office (2014c) Armenian power associate sentenced to more than 13 years in federal prison for racketeering conspiracy. Central District of CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  45. US Attorney’s Office (2014d) Two defendants sentenced for participating in racketeering conspiracy with Russian-American organized crime enterprise operating international sports book that laundered over $100 million. Southern District of New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. US Attorney’s Office (2014e) Defendant sentenced in manhattan federal court to five months in prison for role in gambling ring. Southern District of New YorkGoogle Scholar
  47. US Attorney’s Office (2014f) Two Tennessee men plead guilty to conspiracy to operate illegal cockfighting & gambling business criminal enterprise collected more than $100,000 in proceeds. Middle District of TennesseeGoogle Scholar
  48. US Attorney’s Office (2014g) Operators of “big blue” cock fighting pit in McDowell, Kentucky, plead guilty. Western District of VirginiaGoogle Scholar
  49. US Attorney’s Office (2014h) Strong sentences handed down by Alabama court in historic dog fighting case. Middle District of AlabamaGoogle Scholar
  50. US Attorney’s Office (2015) Four sentenced in dogfight gambling enterprise case. Middle District of GeorgiaGoogle Scholar
  51. US Department of Justice (2014) Stamford Man Sentenced To 15 Months In Prison For Role In Organized Crime-backed Gambling Businesses. Office of Public Affairs, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  52. US Department of Justice (2015a) Leaders of Violent Loan Sharking Ring Sentenced to 168 Months and 147 Months in Prison. Office of Public Affairs, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  53. US Department of Justice (2015b) Forfeited assets seized in internet gambling and money laundering case distributed. Office of Public Affairs, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  54. Wang P, Antonopoulos GA (2016) Organized crime and illegal gambling: how do illegal gambling enterprises respond to the challenges posed by their illegality in China? Aust N Z J Criminol 49:258–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. White E (2014) “Godfather” of dog fighting ring sentenced. Worldnow.comGoogle Scholar
  56. Womack AP (2015) Bibb prosecutors strike $1 million settlement in civil gambling case. The TelegraphGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wilder School of Government & Public AffairsVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

Personalised recommendations