Online gamblers subject to gaming laws

The New York State Supreme Court has ruled that online gamblers in the state are subject to gaming laws regardless of where the gambling company is based.

An Internet gambling company, World Interactive Gaming Corp. (WIGC), had claimed the state had no jurisdiction over it because the company's computer servers are located and licensed in the Caribbean island of Antigua.

But Justice Charles Edward Ramos said the claim was immaterial because the World Wide Web site acted as a "virtual casino" for its users and was in violation of federal and state laws.

State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer viewed the judge's ruling as precedent-setting and as a testimony to the strength of the state's gaming laws. "If New Yorkers are approached by someone, whether it's on the street or on the Internet -- and New York state laws apply -- they will be prosecuted if they violate state law," said Paul Larrabee, a spokesman for Spitzer.

The case began in February 1998 with allegations that WIGC had illegally sold shares in the business to 114 investors for $10,000 each. Ten of the investors were from New York.

A hearing on restitution for investors has been set for Sept. 9.

WIGC plans to appeal the ruling.

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