British online gambling company BetonSports has pleaded guilty to racketeering, including fraud and money laundering.
The firm was one of the biggest players in the controversial US online gaming market in the early 2000s and, at its height, drew in record numbers of players and revenues of over £800 million every year.
However lady luck appeared to leave BetonSports in 2006 when chief executive David Carruthers was arrested in Dallas amid a crackdown in the US on online gambling. Founder Gary Kaplan was also arrested in the Dominican Republic in March this year and was extradited to the US. Mail and wire fraud, operating an illegal gambling business and money laundering are among the charges BetonSports pleaded guilty to. The company will be sentenced in October but, in a twist to the court proceedings, the company has promised to provide evidence and witnesses to help the prosecution of Mr Carruthers.
"This plea, combined with the terms of the civil junction, should put an end to the BetonSports illegal gambling empire," prosecuting lawyer Catherine Hanaway said in the court in St Louis, Missouri.
However the case is likely to be praised by many opponents to online gambling in the US, including president George Bush. The politician and many of his supporters argue the multi-billion dollar craze is unethical and unmonitored, yet critics say the moral stance masks the president's intent of protecting the US' own gaming industry from foreign contenders online.