Gambling Portals Consider Legal Action vs. BoS

23 August 2006

Online gambling information portals The Online Wire and Gambling 911 have jointly filed a complaint with the Alternative Investments Market Regulatory News Service against BetonSports' (BoS) board of directors for false corporate statements made in an Aug. 11 announcement.

"Nowhere in our statement does it specifically say Neteller is holding our funds."
- Kevin Smith

The board stated in a release when the company shut down its Costa Rican and Antiguan operations, "[Payments] will take time and their successful completion will depend upon the company's ability to persuade banks and cash processors to release its funds."

Roberto Castiglioni, editor-in-chief of The Online Wire, and Christopher Costigan, founder and president of Gambling 911, filed the complaint on Friday after Castiglioni posted on his Web site an e-mail he received from Andrew Gilchrist, vice president of corporate development and communications for payment processor Neteller, in which Gilchrist stated that BoS's funds are not being withheld or frozen by his company.

The e-mail, which Gilchrist has acknowledged sending, stated that Neteller halted all transfers to following the indictments by the U.S. Department of Justice against BoS and certain related companies and individuals, but has continued to allow transfers from the company to facilitate member payouts. Transfers to and from, BoS's Asia-facing sports book, are operating as usual.

The e-mail states:

Neteller is not holding any funds from and, thus, has not frozen or held any reserve funds from this company. These business controls continue to be in place. Neteller has indicated to its members that all transfers from must be initiated on the Web site and has provided customer service contact information to reach

BoS Director of Communications Kevin Smith does not think the portal' complaint against his company is reasonable.

"The nature of the (BoS board's) statement forced us to be as vague as possible," Smith said. "But nowhere in our statement does it specifically say Neteller is holding our funds."

"My only concern is that the players get paid, even if it's just the initial deposits."
- Roberto Castiglioni
The Online Wire

Castiglioni said the complaint is just the first step in a long process toward filing a class action suit on behalf of the BoS customers who have not received their money since the BoS Web site was shut down on July 19. He and Costigan have met with several law firms in the United Kingdom (one of which has already declined to represent them due to a conflict of interest) and they expect to secure counsel this week.

"Customers, vendors and those other than shareholders cannot file claims with the London Stock Exchange," Castiglioni said. "Our claim was taken into consideration because of alleged corporate fraud. . . . We need to clearly understand if the company has assets, if there is cash at hand, before we decide whether to pursue a class action suit in the interest of the players."

If and when they establish that, he said, account holders who want to pursue legal action would be able to do so through them.

"The class action will be our burden, our duty, our cost," he said.

Castiglioni considers himself an advocate of the so-called jilted customers. He said he is doing this strictly for the players and that he is upset that the media has paid so much attention to David Carruthers and BoS and so little to the account holders.

"Nobody talks about the players, and there's over 53,000 of them, including non-U.S. residents," Castigiloni said. "My only concern is that the players get paid, even if it's just the initial deposits."

Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.