Case No: 99CO256S

14 June 1999


Ari Jubelirer,
on behalf of himself and all others
similarly situated,



MasterCard International, Inc. and MBNA America
Bank, National Association


Case No: 99CO256S



NOW COMES Plaintiff, Ari Jubelirer (hereinafter "Plaintiff') on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, by and through his undersigned attorneys, and for his Complaint against Defendants MasterCard International, Inc. and MBNA America Bank, National Association (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Defendants", or "MBNA", or "MasterCard") states and alleges as follows:


1. Plaintiff brings this action on behalf of himself and other similarly situated MBNA cardholders to challenge the practice of MBNA and MasterCard of facilitating, participating in and profiting from flagrant violations of state and federal laws against gambling in general and the use of interstate telephone and wire lines to promote, facilitate and profit from gambling through the use of so called "Internet Casinos".

2. MBNA and MasterCard have, through their participation in charging, clearing and paying of credit card charges by and to illegal gambling operators, and then collecting or attempting to collect the illegal gambling debts of bettors thus created, violated the laws of the United States, and the laws of this and other states, facilitated, aided and abetted others in violating those laws, and have sought to collect legally unenforceable debts, all as more fully set forth below.

3. This action seeks to enjoin the collection of all debts for illegal gambling charged to MBNA credit cards; have such activity declared unlawful; and seeks an accounting of and reimbursement for all principal, interest and penalties collected by MBNA, arising from debts created by illegal gambling activities.


4. Plaintiff is a resident of Wisconsin and at all times relevant hereto has a MBNA MasterCard card issued by MBNA. His account has been charged, and Defendant MBNA has attempted to collect from him an illegal gambling debt.

5. Defendant MASTERCARD INTERNATIONAL, INC is a New York corporation with its principal place of business located in New York. During the period covered by the Complaint, MasterCard International knowingly engaged in and/or facilitated illegal Internet gambling and the collection of illegal Internet gambling debts.

6. Defendant MBNA America Bank, National Association is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business located in Delaware. During the period covered by the Complaint, MBNA knowingly facilitated illegal Internet gambling and engaged in the collection of illegal Internet gambling debts.


7. This is an action brought for violations of 18 U.S.C § 1084, et. seq.; the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq.; and for declaratory relief.

8. Jurisdiction is conferred on this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, 28 U.S.C. § 1367, and 18 U.S.C. § 1964.

9. The amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 exclusive of interest, costs and attorneys' fees.

10. Venue is proper in this Court because the Plaintiff resides and the Defendants have caused injuries to occur within the jurisdiction of this Court.


11. This action is brought by Plaintiffs as a class action under the provision of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for compensatory damages, exemplary damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and any and all relief incident and subordinate thereto, including costs, on their own behalf and on behalf of all persons in the United States who have gambled on the Internet and lost money that MBNA and/or MasterCard International has collected and/or is trying to collect resulting from gambling debt incurred at so-called on-line casinos, Internet Casinos, and other gambling "web sites."

12. The members of the Class are so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable. On information and belief, Plaintiff alleges that the class will number in the thousands or tens of thousands across the country. Plaintiff further alleges, upon information and belief, that the practices complained of may have been ongoing for a number of years.

13. The Plaintiff herein is representative of all such persons.

14. Plaintiff s claims are typical of the claims of the members of the Class. While physically located within this state, Plaintiff accessed Internet Casinos which do not reside in Wisconsin, and incurred gambling debt on his credit card through Internet transactions with these non-resident Internet Casinos. By the very nature of Internet communications, gambling data and data related to the collection of this gambling debt traveled across state lines on telephone and wire communications facilities.

15. Plaintiff will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the members of the Class and has retained competent counsel experienced in class litigation. Plaintiff is a member of the class and does not have interests antagonistic to or in conflict with members of the Class. Neither Plaintiff nor Plaintiff's counsel has any interests which might cause them not to vigorously pursue this claim. Plaintiff s claims are the same as those of the claims of the class, which all arise from the same operative facts and are based on the same legal theories.

16. A class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of this controversy since the membership of the Class is so numerous and so geographically widespread that joinder of all members is impracticable.

17. The relief sought is common to the entire class and there are common questions of law and fact in the action that relate to and affect the rights of each member of the class. The common questions include, but are not limited to, the following:

    a. Whether the use of telephone and data transmission lines for Internet gambling constitutes a violation of federal law;

    b. Whether the use of telephone and data transmission lines by Defendants to credit the Internet casinos and to debit the accounts of Plaintiff and the Class for Internet gambling debt constitutes a violation of federal law;

    c. Whether the use of telephone and data transmission lines by Defendants to credit the Internet casinos and to debit the accounts of Plaintiff and the Class for Internet gambling debt constitutes an aiding and abetting violation of federal law;

    d. Whether Defendants' contracts with Plaintiff and the Class as to Internet gambling debts are legally void, or voidable, and unenforceable, because they are illegal obligations pursuant to specified federal statutes, regulations and public policy;

    e. Whether Plaintiff and the Class are entitled to have their accounts credited for the amount of outstanding Internet gambling debt currently; and

    f. Whether Plaintiff and the Class are entitled to a refund, or credit, of the amount of Internet gambling debt and interest and penalties thereon already paid by them.


18. Within the last decade, the Internet has become an increasingly popular medium for the transmission and receipt of information. Sources vary in their estimates, but it is clear that tens of millions of Americans have Internet access at home or work.

19. The Internet, generally speaking, refers to a vast network of computers, connected to each other by telephone and/or cable lines. Individuals access the Internet from individual computers, most often by connecting their computer to a telephone line through a device known as a modem.

20. As the number of individuals with Internet access has expanded, more and more types of businesses have established a presence on the Internet by creating an informational resource page or "home page" for their business. The burgeoning growth in Internet commerce, and commercial Internet recreation sites, is an oft-reported and commonly understood phenomenon in the business and communications world.

21. With the rapidly expanding popularity of the Internet, numerous sites have been created to offer the opportunity to engage in illegal gambling on the Internet. Many of these sites operate from outside the borders of the United States, but through use of the Internet and interstate telephone lines they can be accessed easily from any computer in the United States with Internet access.

22. Many of these sites allow persons with credit card accounts to gamble using their credit cards, Whether the gambling is characterized as chips, credits, points, or in other ways, the end result is the same: a charge for gambling losses is submitted on the credit card, and the player is gambling with real money.

23. Plaintiff activated the Casino 21 web site and was instructed to open an account with his credit card. Plaintiff did as instructed, including placing a deposit of $25.00 in order to receive 25 chips. At each wager Plaintiff was required to authorize credits from his credit card. At all times Plaintiff was on the Casino 21 internet casino web site. Even while establishing the account and placing a bet, Plaintiff never left the Casino 21 web site. He was encouraged to use his MasterCard for each bet and never presumed or understood the credit could be spent anywhere else but at the Casino 21 gambling website. Plaintiff won at the game of blackjack approximately three times with bets of between $20.00 to $25.00. Plaintiff continued to play and subsequently lost four times leaving him with a debt of $20.00 plus a $4.95 processing fee, for a total of $24.95. Plaintiff paid the debt and incurred finance charges on his January 1999 statement of $7.75 plus interest on his credit card balance at a rate of 17.65%.


24. The Internet Casinos are responsible for devising the scheme to violate federal law. MasterCard, by the use of its computer payment system, and MBNA have actively participated in and aided and abetted this scheme.

25. MasterCard is responsible for the operation and upgrading of its computer payment system. This consumer financial transaction processing system provides authorization, transaction processing, and settlement services for approximately 10 million merchants worldwide. Every MasterCard transaction passes through this system. Because MasterCard processes every charge submitted by the Internet Casinos, it is aware of the illegal nature of the gambling debt.

26. MBNA participates in the MasterCard computer payment system.

27.In the application process and/or in the subsequent operation and administration of the account, Defendants have received information sufficient to identify the illegal nature of the operations of the Internet gambling companies.

28.Defendants, therefore, knowingly facilitated the operation and use of on-line gambling services by aiding and abetting in the collection of illegal debts.

29. The proceeds received from gambling debt collection, are "upstreamed" from cardholders to MasterCard International and MBNA. The proceeds are included in the financial statements of Defendant which are used to generate capital investments that in turn are used to fund the banks' operations, including the collection of illegal gambling debts. As such, the scheme does not begin and end with the Internet Casino; it integrally involves MasterCard and MBNA.

30. Together, the Internet Casinos, MasterCard, and MBNA have formed an enterprise to engage in and facilitate illegal gambling in violation of federal law and to collect gambling debts incurred by card holders who place bets.

31. The ability to bet with credit cards greatly assists the ability of the Internet Casinos to operate over the Internet and to violate the law, and tremendously increases the potential profit available to them.

32. Similarly, by participating in the use of its credit cards in Internet gambling, Defendants have created a large, but illegal new source of revenue for themselves.

33. Defendants facilitate the illegal gambling; then facilitate the collection and/or collect the gambling debts they have helped to create, plus interest and penalties.

34. In collecting or attempting to collect the gambling debt, MBNA sends statements through the United States Mail to its credit card holders. The statements represent that the gambling debt is a legitimate, legal debt and a legal obligation of the credit card holder.

35. MasterCard also receives revenue from the Internet Casino. Because MasterCard International allows Internet Casinos a method to pay for gambling, through its credit cards, MasterCard charges the Internet Casino a fee for each use of the credit card. Therefore, MasterCard has a second source of income from this illegal gambling enterprise.

36. In sum, Defendants' relationship with one another facilitates the use of Internet gambling and profits the Internet Casino, MasterCard International, and MBNA.

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