PayPal settles gambling allegations

The online payment service will pay the US government $10m to clear itself of transferring funds to illegal gambling ventures
Written by Declan McCullagh, Contributor
PayPal will pay the US government $10m (£6.16m) to settle allegations that it knowingly transferred funds to unlawful offshore gambling sites.

The US Department of Justice and the online payment service, which is now owned by eBay, said on Thursday that they had entered into the settlement agreement. The government's claims, disclosed in March, asserted that PayPal had violated the USA Patriot Act and the Wire Wager Act.

Raymond Gruender, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, said in a statement that "offshore sportsbooks and online casino gambling operations which do business in the United States generally do so in violation of federal criminal laws. Therefore, we will continue to investigate and pursue such activity."

The US Attorney's office had alleged that PayPal had provided services to offshore sites in violation of 18 US Code 1960, which prohibits transmitting funds "derived from a criminal offence," and 18 US Code 1084, which relates to the transmission of information about wagers. The $10m settlement represents what both parties agreed represented forfeitable revenue that PayPal obtained from processing the gambling transactions.

As part of the settlement, PayPal also agreed to maintain a corporate compliance programme for at least two years.

In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year, PayPal disclosed the existence of the investigation being conducted by the US Attorney's office. "PayPal acted in the good faith belief that its conduct did not violate" the law, said the filing, which estimated that about 6 percent of PayPal's revenue in 2002 came from gambling.

When eBay acquired PayPal last October, it halted the practice of processing online gambling payments.

The US House of Representatives in May approved restrictions on Internet gambling, but the Senate has not acted.

On Thursday, eBay reported a big leap earnings of $109.7m for the second quarter, compared with $54.3m for the same quarter last year.

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