A Splendid Week for Lawsuits Indeed

1 May 2001
Siblings Lisa and David Crocker filed a $1 billion lawsuit late Friday afternoon against several large corporations accused of law violations linked to the operation of wire communication-based gambling services.

The suit, filed late Friday afternoon in the Madison County, IL Third Judicial Circuit Court, seeks class action status and names Starnet Communications International Inc., the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Sportsline.com Inc., CBS Corporation, Viacom International Inc, Secure Entertainment Corporation, Acorn Development Group LLC, Bank of America, Visa USA Inc. and MasterCard International Inc. as defendants.

According to the 300-plus-page complaint, the plaintiffs were "injured and damaged by the defendants through the pattern of racketeering and the collection of unlawful debt and the conspiracy to participate in a pattern of racketeering and collection of unlawful debt, in that they individually, and as members of a class of individuals, sustained losses of personal property, specifically money lost from gambling on the Internet or by telephone wire."

The suit also claims that the defendants may have violated federal anti-racketeering laws. Further, the defendants are accused of publicly misrepresenting "material facts about their business and the legality of their operations," as well as conspiring "to misrepresent their business and the legality of their operations to the public."

IGN spoke with representatives for two of the defendants, neither of which had seen the suit yet. NCAA spokesperson Jane Jankowski said that the case was "without merit."

Sportsline.com rep Larry Wall hadn't even heard about the lawsuit.

Attorney Kevin McClain, representing the Crockers, indicated that neither sibling had lost great sums of money via the interactive wagering services. Instead, the pair is concerned about the many people that may have been victimized by the sites.

According to news reports, David Crocker had once published a newspaper in Venezuela that reported on Internet gambling operations that were said to be operating illegally on Margarita Island. After the articles were published, Crocker reportedly received anonymous threats and was questioned by authorities. He eventually moved his family out of Venezuela. McClain declined to disclose the name of the newspaper.

McClain also said that the gaming sites were operating illegally from Venezuela and Margarita Island. In fact, the $1 billion figure for damages was picked up from the Sportsbook.com site, which says the company is the first online gaming company to record $1 billion in wagers during a single year.

While the suit is currently only targeting 24 sites based in Venezuela, McClain insinuated that sites in other locales could be included.

IGN will publish further information about the case as it becomes available.