ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) Citibank, the nation’s largest credit card issuer, has agreed to block online gambling transactions using its credit cards, the state attorney general said Friday.
The agreement announced by the bank and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is expected to significantly reduce illegal, underage and potentially addictive Internet gambling, Spitzer said. It applies to all Internet gambling transactions, not just those in New York, and goes into effect in 60 days.
”Americans now waste $4 billion a year on this pernicious form of gambling,” Spitzer said. ”With this agreement, we will cut off an enormous line of credit that was a jackpot for illegal offshore casinos.”
Other companies, including Bank of America, MBNA and Chase Manhattan Bank, also have begun blocking the gambling transactions, Spitzer said. Citibank controls about 12 percent of the nation’s credit card market.
Citibank also agreed to pay $400,000 to nonprofit groups that counsel and help families hurt by gambling additions.
”Citibank agreed to take these steps to help alleviate concerns raised by the attorney general about the impact that gambling on credit may have on New York residents,” said Citibank spokeswoman Maria Mendler. She added that Internet gambling is associated with higher rates of credit card fraud and delinquency.
Gambling could still be done through accounts funded by UFA players, similar to Off-track Betting systems, a spokesman for Spitzer said.
This is Spitzer’s latest agreement with a major financial institution. In May, Merrill Lynch & Co. agreed to widespread structural reforms and a $100 million penalty to end Spitzer’s investigation of conflicts of interests by its stock analysts. Spitzer said the analysts advised investors to buy stocks they privately called risky in order to land the firms as investment banking clients.
Lawmakers in Washington have been trying to ban Internet gambling since 1996. The task gets more difficult each year as the industry grows and major companies and even states take steps to get in on the action.
New York state agreed last year to authorize setting up casinos run by the Seneca Nation in western New York. The law is being challenged in the state Supreme Court by two state legislators and others.
Police bust high-tech betting syndicate
KAJANG: Police have crippled a high-tech illegal gaming and betting syndicate following the arrest of three men and the seizure of betting slips worth over RM500,000.
The syndicate is said to have collected four-digit bets worth more than half-a- million ringgit per draw.
Police recovered RM15,000 as well as computers, facsimile machines, calculators, cellular phones and other electronic communication devices from the suspected betting centre in Balakong near here.
A police team from the anti-vice, gaming and secret society division, acting on a tip-off, stormed into the semi-detached bungalow on Sunday.
The team, led by Asst Supt Mohd Megat Amiruddin, had monitored the syndicate’s activities for several weeks before the raid.
Police are investigating whether the syndicate had also accepted bets for the ongoing World Cup matches.
State CID chief Senior Asst Comm II Datuk Mangsor Ismail confirmed the incident and said the suspects, aged between 21 and 25, had been remanded.
In Kuala Lumpur, five men were charged in a magistrate’s court yesterday with allegedly conducting illegal betting in the World Cup matches.
Signboard contractor Yap Kok Chong, 38; electrician Teo Teck Yew, 38; storekeeper Lim Loong Chon, 36; trader Low Chai Thean, 38, and unemployed Wong For Seng, 38 pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The offence was allegedly committed in Jalan Mahkota in Taman Maluri, Cheras on June 8.
The charge under Section 6(3) of the Betting Act, 1953 carries a fine of up to RM20,000 or up to five years’ jail or both upon conviction.