Optimal Group Forfeit $19.2m Over Online Gambling FirePay Payments
Online company Optimal Group Inc. have been forced to hand over a staggering $19.2 million to New York State after their eWallet service was linked to online gambling operations, it was announced yesterday.
The United States District Attorney for the Southern District of New York revealed that they have reached a non-prosecution agreement with the company over the billions of dollars that their Firepay service processed from 2004-2006.
Online gambling payment processing remains illegal under several United States laws, meaning that the debit, credit and electric cheque payments handled by the Optimal Group on behalf of overseas gambling operators were unlawfully conducted.
The company was found guilty of processing payments up until October 2006 – by which time the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act had been fully passed into law – and as a result the Optimal Group has now handed over $19.2 million in illegal payments to avoid being prosecuted for their activities.
As part of the agreement, Optimal have been forced to acknowledge that many of the online gambling merchants connected with their Firepay service were violating federal law by providing in the Unite States. These merchants are now likely to be liable to face criminal proceedings themselves in the coming months, though debate will certainly continue over the fairness and clarity of current gambling legislation.