Ad Execs Plead Guilty To Promoting Gambling

Speech Not So Free Anymore

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Here’s something you probably didn’t even know was illegal in the US, also known as "a free country": interstate transportation of gambling paraphernalia. Does that include poker chips, playing cards, lottery tickets? Probably not, but for one advertising executive, it means he’s guilty of telling other people about online gambling.

Crackdown on Draconian Gambling Laws

William Hernan Lenis, his son, Will Lenis, and his nephew Manny Lenis pleaded guilty to federal charges levied by the Department of Justice in the latest crackdown on draconian gambling laws. All three men, who were indicted for their role in promoting Britain-based BetOnSports.com, pleaded guilty to avoid a long and costly trial.

In short, the government extorted guilty pleas out of three men to advance an already controversial and globally criticized agenda. The British CEO of BetOnSports was arrested two years ago after his plane touched down in Florida. No jail time for him, presumably because of lack of jurisdiction, but the company did settle a civil suit with the US government and pledged to bar any online wagering from the US.

William Lenis, who didn’t actually run an illegal operation, pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of gambling paraphernalia because he sent motor homes advertising the website to sporting events in various places around the country, where nobody at all was harmed. His son pleaded guilty to "transmission of wagering information," which sounds vague enough to include telling someone what Vegas odds are, and Manny Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for failing to pay a wagering tax.

Even though wagering is illegal. Next time you look at the tax code, also note the IRS wants to know about any income earned through theft, and recommends taxpayers return stolen goods immediately. This is the level of bureaucratic logic we’re dealing with here.

Papa Lenis also admitted to mailing ads about the website.

Just so it’s chronicled properly, let’s review: Prosecutors in a free country where betting on horse racing and buying state-run lottery tickets is okay but gambling online is not, have handed a criminal record to three ad executives because they bought into the idea freedom of speech was enshrined by the constitution of said free country, and as such had the nerve to tell other people about a foreign gambling operation based in a country where such freedom is allowed. The government didn’t like what they were saying and nailed them for it. 

It’s a shame the Lenises had to cave to the federal authorities because of money. It would have been great to see this get tossed out of the Supreme Court and some sense of justice prevail.

Ad Execs Plead Guilty To Promoting Gambling
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