BetOnSports pleads guilty to racketeering charges in US

Gambling website operator BetOnSports has pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges, prosecutors, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.

The Associated Press report said US Attorney Catherine Hanaway's office has been pursing a 22-count criminal indictment against the London-based company and its top executives since July.

Her office settled civil charges against BetOnSports in November, permanently barring the company from accepting bets from gamblers in the US, the report said.

BetOnSports founder Stephen Kaplan and CEO Carruthers remain under arrest, and the company's plea deal will not end their prosecution, Hanaway said.

Now that the legal case is settled and access to the US market is banned, BetOnSports is going out of business,  the Associated Press report quoted Jeffrey Demerath, an attorney representing BetOnSports in St. Louis, said.

BetOnSports had refused to send attorneys to criminal hearings in St. Louis federal court, claiming that Hanaway had no authority to charge the foreign company, which took a majority of its bets from US customers but processed the wagers in Costa Rica and elsewhere, the report said.

The report further said the case has been closely watched by the online gambling industry, which generates about $6 billion annually in the US.

BetOnSports is scheduled to be sentenced October 19. The company faces a fine up to $500,000 and possible forfeitures.